I started my tradition of Birthday Breakfasts over 10 years ago, when, being too busy to throw a big party, I thought It could be nice to start the day with a yummy breakfast surrounded by friends and loved ones… the tradition is based on the simple belief that nothing could go possibly wrong in a day built on such delicious and joyful foundations. So far my theory has proven 100% right!
So it goes that every year I start my birthday with the most amazing, often wonderfully random and yet perfect breakfast. Being on a warm African island in my bikini, or at the baker outside my office, the breakfasts are always unique and a first step on a path of love and discovery.
This year the birthday breakfast fairy brought me to find a little courtyard around the Columbia Flower Market in East London, where people flock by the thousands just to get a taste of Lily Jones‘ (aka Lily Vanilli) beautiful and delicious baking magic. Lily tip-toed her way in the cakes’ business a few years ago when, to make some extra bucks, she started selling her home-made cakes at Swanfield Market; she would pay 10£ for the pitch and go back home with 30-40£ earnings each week, until in 2009 a journalist from The Time wrote an article about her, and Lily Vanilli was born. Since then she has baked for the likes of Elton John, made a cake sculpture for V&A, created insect shaped candies for Alexander McQueen and the list could just keep on going. Every sunday Lily and her staff of 7 open their cake lab to the occasional Columbia Market’s visitors and tourists. It must be her way to inject good karma in this world, one tasty cake after another.
As far as my experience go, I have to admit, as I sat in the shop, it was not what I had expected to find. I was a bit put off by the amount of people crowding the place and the horrible paper cups, somehow I had imagined to get to a more private joint, with fine china tea-cups and grandmas’ type silver spoons to go with the freshly grinded coffies and fine teas. But As I gave a look at the Red Velvet Cake (my 1st birthday cake in a million years!), so luscious and beautiful, I understood that sometimes one should not pretend perfection in every detail, but just find that one fantabulous thing that would make the journey worthwhile. And – oh boy! – the Red Velvet sweetness of it, made it so worth it!
As a present to myself I bought the book Sweet Tooth where some of Lily’s recipes will be soon turned into Christmas presents to others…passing on the sweetness!
Big up for Lily Vanilli!
and now please meet Lily