Dreyfus Café in Hackney – A Review

Hackney is a great place to grab some Saturday breakfast, with so many choices and new cafés opening at the drop of a hat. A couple of weeks ago I decided to try the new café Dreyfus, in North Hackney, on the edges of Lower Clapton, as it looks very inviting from the outside and I live literally around the corner.

Dreyfus outside

The airy two-room interior sits nestled in one of the corners that overlook the beautiful, late Georgian Clapton Square. The décor is relaxed and very cosy, with retro, framed posters all over the walls and a strong 1950s feel. My visit there was filled with sun shining through all the windows, which made the place even more welcoming and warm.

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The menu nods to a slight American good-food trend and is largely destined for breakfast, brunch and lunch meals. It includes some classics – eggs Benedict, Florentine and Royale, muesli and full English; and some surprising options such as pancakes with Speculoos sauce – which, outside of Belgium, I’ve only ever seen in New York so far – pancakes with grilled bacon and maple syrup, and pastrami and sauerkraut on rye bread.

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The great thing about ordering eggs here is that you don’t have to necessarily get two, which means that you can mix and match or, if like me, you find the cake counter too inviting to resist, you can just have one, and leave a little room for dessert.

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Speaking of cake… their selection is very rich and inventive, and when faced with the impossible choice between Hungarian bread and butter pudding with a spongy meringue topping and white chocolate and orange cheesecake, the kind man behind the counter sensed the mild panic that took over me so he offered I’d have half a slice of each. “Can I really do that?!” They were both even better than I expected, but the cheesecake won my heart. Their cake and sweet bakery selection, however, is ever changing, so it is worth going back every now and again to try different desserts.

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Other than that, I had an egg Florentine, which was spinach-rich and helped me feeling less guilty about my second “course”, and Rol had a full English – the sausages were very flavoursome and herby.

The only tiny teeny ickle downside about this great place is the wait. I think we had to wait about 25 minutes for our breakfast, which is not an eternity, but it feels worse than it is if you are borderline ravenous due to the previous night’s antics.

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I am definitely looking forward to going back, as I am yet to try their Nordic meatballs with lingonberry and beetroot sauce.

If you are in Hackney, give this place a go, it won’t disappoint.

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Colour Feature: Orange*

Orange is the first colour I ever remember someone disliking. I was seven or eight, not yet into black, and I was surprised to hear my mother say she found orange-coloured things repulsive. I hadn’t imagined people could dislike colours. I mean, sure, it made a kind of sense: I certainly knew which foods I disliked, for example; it just hadn’t occurred to me that colours were up for discussion. I knew I liked tigers, and that they were mostly orange. It was an earthquake of a moment.

Balenciaga S/S ’12

My mother, like all mothers, was half-right. Orange mixes its messages. It’s both warning and invitation. It has connotations of illness, of plague, of those glistening little rainforest dart frogs that exude poisonous syrups – and yet think of apricots, the nudity of peaches, the juice of tangerines and of, well, oranges. It’s sweet, is what I’m getting at, with all the sin and danger that word implies.

NORDSTROM Herschel Supply Co. ‘Walton’ Duffel

But we’re talking blaze orange here. Saturated safety orange. The colour of road cones and the Plymouth Barracuda. The colour of easyJet aeroplanes and the mobile phone company. That bright, toxic, new-basketball orange. The shade of deer-can’t-see-it orange you’d find in a hunting store. It’s the colour of autumn, of change – halfway between the self-sure reds and yellows of this world, it’s the colour of construction, of caution on building sites. Primordial, volcanic. Of something not yet fully made-up. A Halloween melding of this world and the other.

ASOS Denim & Supply Ralph Waxed Jacket

It’s a colour that’s been creeping up slowly. Oriental. Creeping onto shoes and bags, Sartorialist posts, the floor of Prada’s Men’s Fall/Winter 2012. It demands attention and works well with black, white, or dark brown. With leather. With wool. It’s one of the few colours – purple’s another – that asks something of the wearer. It confers a kind of power, a double-edged radiance you would do well to respect, and, like Alice Walker says of purple, I think it pisses God off if you walk by it and don’t notice.

From The Sartorialist

Prada F/W ’12

Do not wear more than one orange item. That one thing should be protective or functional rather than decorative, i.e., a coat, a hat, a tie, or shoes/boots. Don’t wear it with green. Don’t wear bow-ties. Don’t live alone.

Brioni F/W ’12

*This article was written by my friend and colleague Sam Eckett, press release editor and writer with a unique sense of style and a passion for all things beautiful.

Savoury Fruit Salad

Last Saturday was very warm and sunny here in London. There was no way I was going to  have a proper lunch, so thought I’d make a salad. Put together a few ingredients and then realised that yep, they were all fruit, rather than vegetables: orange, avocado and tomato. It’s a fruit salad!

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I dressed it very simply with a mixture of extra virgin olive oil, cider vinegar, Maldon salt and white pepper.

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It’s summer!

Super Special Carrot Cake

Let me give you a bit of a background on this recipe. About three years ago I found it on the BBC Food website and made the cake for a picnic. I was very happy with the results so decided I would have made it again ‘soon’. That ‘soon’ arrived about two years later, when I looked for that same recipe high and low on the internet for hours, without ever finding it again. Bitter disappointment kicked in. Ah, if only I had made it more often, I probably would have remembered the recipe by heart! Then, about a couple of months after that sad incident, I decided to tidy up the two boxes on top of my wardrobe and there it was, a print-out of the recipe! I had completely forgotten I had printed it out. I thought I was going to faint from the excitement. Instead, I transcribed it into my recipe book to keep it safe and that’s how I can bring it to you. I recently made this cake for the office, and my colleagues wolfed it down, which I took as a good sign. So here’s what you’ll need:

For the cake

  • 250 g unsalted butter
  • 375 g caster sugar
  • Grated rind of 2 oranges
  • 4 eggs
  • 450 g carrots
  • 150 g chopped nuts (I generally use walnuts but you could try almonds or pecans)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 250 g plain flour
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp salt

For the icing

This will yield plenty of icing, a little more than you’ll need for the cake, but it’s so rich and tasty, you’ll want to use it on everything! Otherwise you could reduce all of its ingredients of 1/3.

  • 225 g mascarpone cheese
  • 65 g unsalted butter
  • 400 g icing sugar (I never said this recipe was low-calorie!)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and grease a 23cm/9in tin. Grate the carrots and orange peel, then beat the softened butter, sugar and orange rind together until light and fluffy.

Gradually add the eggs to the mixture and then fold in the carrots and grated nuts. Add the vanilla essence and the orange juice. The mixture will look very liquid at this point but fear not! It’s all under control. In a different bowl, sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and mixed spices together and fold into the mixture gently. It will still look pretty runny and pale, but this is good, because it means that your cake will be soft and moist. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 50 to 70 minutes, depending on how efficient your oven is. You’ll know the cake is ready once its sides come away from the tin and a skewer comes out clean, if a little wet. Don’t worry if the final result looks much darker than the mixture you initially placed into the oven, this is completely normal. Finally, make the icing by creaming the mascarpone and softened butter together until smooth, add the icing sugar and vanilla essence and mix until it is all homogenous.

This frosting is amazing! Spread it generously onto the cake once it’s cooled down a little and enjoy.