Day 34 of 80 — Red Velvet

Around London in 80 days

In these uncertain times, I need a lifeline and a horizon so I have — somewhat arbitrarily I’ll admit — set a date. April 1st will be my horizon ; my lifeline will be the 80 days separating me from it.

And as I cannot go around the world right now, I give you A Mad Belgian’s “Around London in 80 Days” : eighty impressions of London, eighty stories, places, thoughts from my experience of this wonderfully mad and maddening city.

Day 34: Red Velvet

Ah, Borough Market and its culinary treasures! Whether you’re looking for a fine piece of meat or for a heart-warming tartiflette to go, Borough Market is the place. Any day but Sunday, you’ll find a heaving marketplace with tastings at every other stall. If you play your cards well, you could almost turn them into a free tapas-style lunch before deciding what treats to buy from this endless collection of delicatessen.

And once you have done your duty, been everywhere, tried everything and want nothing else than a warm cup of coffee, I’ve got just the place. For in a side street just off Borough Market is a heavenly tearoom, a tiny coffee and cake paradise.

On a cold winter afternoon a year or so ago, I pushed the raspberry-coloured door of this minuscule shop. As I was trying to navigate through the coffee menu (“What’s the difference between a latte and a flat white? Ah okay. And what’s a white Americano then? And a mocha?”), my eye was caught by a beautiful red cake.

“What’s that?”

“A Red Velvet, miss. It’s a special cocoa that gives it this colour.”

Intrigued, I decided to give it a try. I could never resist something this passionately red anyway. After a comfortingly hot sip of coffee, I had a first bite. Subtle, not too sweet, genuinely velvety, this cake was everything I wished a cake to be.

But what really stuck with me was that profound shade of red, a much-needed spark in a dark and grey winter night.

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