Two Foodie Reasons to Visit Portobello Road


© Copyright Danny Robinson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

So, on my recent visit to London,  I made my usual pilgrimage to the Portobello Road market. For those who are wondering what this is, its basically (in my opinion anyway) one of London’s best clothes/jewelry/vintage markets all along the Portobello Road in  Notting Hill. It is generally viewed as a fashionista’s go to place. However, its foodie credentials are less well publicised, despite it being the home of two of my favourite places- The Humingbird Bakery and Books for Cooks.

The Hummingbird Bakery is an American style bakery will all the classic cupcakes, brownies, bars etc. Its red velvet cupcake was hands down the best experience I have had in 2011 (and last weekend I had not one, but two kittens to play with, just to give an idea of scale). While I always love red velvet cake at first, it tends to be a rollercoaster experience that turns from love to hate and nausea after 3-4 bites. This one was amazing, light red sponge, with a rich and creamy frosting, but not so rich or sweet as to be sickening.  The bakery is also fantastic for having a good range of gluten free cakes (coeliac disease is a big problem in Ireland, and having several friends with it, I am very aware of how many amazing food experiences they are missing out on). It also has an amazing cookbook with some fairly epic food porn. (They also have two more branches in Soho and Kensington if you can’t quite make it out this far west).

The second reason to visit is the Books for Cooks shops just off Portobello Road. The name pretty much says it all, it is a cookery book shop with an amazing range, and a test kitchen at the back where they serve different food every day. The selection is very impressive, and the staff happily will leaf through books with you to find a recipe you are looking for. I am almost scared to visit because I know I will leave with another twenty books on my wishlist. They also do great slim paperback volumes of their favourite recipes for a very reasonable £5.99. If you are a cookbook hoarder like me, this is definitely the place to go.

The Hummingbird Bakery

133 Portobello Road,Notting Hill, London W11 2DY

Books for Cooks,

4 Blenheim Crescent, Notting Hill, London, W11 1NN


8 thoughts on “Two Foodie Reasons to Visit Portobello Road

  1. OMG I can’t believe the pic of Portobello Road, it looks so chic, it used to be a scruffy place when I live there, mind you that was 20 years ago and it was still a cool place. I have always wantednto visit Books for Cooks too…..maybe one day!

  2. I’ve heard about books for cooks before the cafe sounds amazing! Probably a good thing that I haven’t been to Notting Hill for about 12 years, I would leave with too many books and a lot less money. I do miss London though, sigh, it’s the inspiration you get from everything, windows, architecture, food, people, and shops obviously!!

  3. About 20 years ago I discovered Books for Cooks, when Clarissa Dickson Wright was still at the helm, and so began my pleasure in the very best of food literature. Your picture of Portobello is beautiful and makes me feel nostalgic as I haven’t been in London for a long time.

  4. How funny! I got one of those teaser emails from WordPress, chose this post and here you are enjoying red velvet cake, which I have been ranting about. Now I’m off to read about leeks in cream.

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