Taking a food tour through Soho is a fantastic way of discovering the food heritage of the area and appreciating the diversity of the food retailers, some of whom have been part of Soho life for more than a hundred years. Michelle’s London From Scratch Soho Food Tour takes about three hours whilst it winds in and out of The Soho stalwarts, China Town, the Italian family delis and takes in a couple of newbies. Despite having been to Uni here, I still discovered fabulous places I didn’t know existed.
Soho has changed in the past few years. Gone are most of the girlie bars, peep shows and the infamous Raymond review Bar. The neon signs are still there but much more discreet. The postcards and red lights have gone from the narrow Georgian alleyways, which have been renovated, with bright paintwork and clean stucco. But it’s still the home of the bohemian and the bastion of West End bars and restaurants.
We began with a fruited Manchet, a glossy, dark chestnut brown perfectly rounded bun, stuffed with fruit. A great beginning to our tour. Bought from a restaurant that has been part of Soho for nearly ninety years with a wonderful artisan bakery.
We went on to try salty olive bread sticks wrapped in perfectly cured Bresaola from an Italian deli Nigella uses.
Our next treat was chocolate coated coffee beans, thickly coated over gently roasted beans, full of fresh coffee flavour. We wandered back through Broadwick Street to our next destination. Almost a hole in the wall. A tiny Middle Eastern Restaurant brightly accented in yellow. The table was set with flat bread, Babba Ganoush and wonderful spicy, slightly sour tiny sausages, all served with olives and traditional pickles. The freshness of the mint and sweetness from the pomegranate seeds were wonderful with the aubergine.
The next visit was a fun aside. A trip through China Town to buy tiny custard filled fish. A baked, crispy outer coated little cake with a hot custard centre, bought straight from the tiny fish shaped ovens. A bit of theatre with a tasty result.
Back to Soho for Vietnamese rice noodle rolls, filled with tender pork and topped with bean sprouts, crispy onions and a fragrant clear sauce. A very new taste for me but utterly fresh and delcious.
Then, it was time for sweet, literally. Dark, crisp fine chocolate, filled with a generous flood of soft salted caramel. The hand made bitter chocolate, perfectly balanced with the sweetness of the filling. Finally it was time for the grand finale. A trip back in time to a restored 1930s marble and gilt pillared ballroom turned dinning room, where we had Cafe Gourmande or in our case Tea Gourmande. A perfect cup of English tea with tiny petit fours and a chance to catch up on all we’d seen.
Michelle gave us a real understanding of the history of food in Soho whilst pointing out great restaurants to try and coffee shops that could be relied on for a really good cup of coffee. As a final gesture, chef Michelle gave us each a lovely little packet of home made peanut and rose petal brittle as a delightful parting gift. I thoroughly recommend this tour, it’s fun, informative, friendly and very tasty.
Michelle invited me to join her on her walking tour. I wasn’t under any obligation to review the tour, but I’m delighted to do so. All opinions are my own.
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