Friday, 4 September 2009

My Quest for London Zest

I hail from New York City and I have been in London for exactly a year! Can you believe it?! I am now a Londoner...or am I?

New York at first, felt like a cold cold place. Large avenues, with tall high-rises, of which you could hardly see the tops. Fancy fifth avenue shops crowded with fancy fifth avenue coop-owners and not-so-fancy midwest American tourists. Long long winters and cold cold autumns. It is, I must say, one of the most unwelcoming places on earth. But after much time and effort spent there, I finally made it mine. My New York. I searched hard and long, but the reward was priceless! The best part was: I found the gems and treasures of New York by being curious, and I was determined to feel at home. Needless to say, I uncovered my New York gems! From Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery on Rivington Street and Billy's Bakery on Ninth Avenue, where the Banana Pudding and the Red Velvet cupcakes melt in your mouth; to Honey in the Rough, THE one dress shop on Rivington, where my friend Ashley Hanosh, exquisite woman and boutique owner, has created a gem of a boutique, where you will find the most delicious dresses and accessories for an experience that is at once friendly and professional; my impression of New York changed once I set foot in these second homes. It is with great pleasure and excitement that I embark on a new journey to discover London's hidden gems and sterling secrets, in an effort to make London my new home away from home.

Billy's Bakery on Ninth Avenue and 21st Street, New York: Oh Yum!

I now live in Notting Hill, well Bayswater to be precise, and I spend hours walking around not only the neighborhood but the whole city, sniffing for the perfect gems, the perfect shops with the perfect stories to tell.I don't find myself in Islington very often. But if I do manage to drag my bumm up there, all the way up from Notting Hill- er I mean Bayswater- I'll make sure I make it a special experience. And it starts all the way from the top of Upper Street by the Highbury tube stop to the very bottom of St Johns Street. I'm not kidding, this is the best 20 minute walk in London (or hour and half depending on if you get lucky!). And this is why: the adorable, magical vintage boutiques of London are all located there, polka-dotting the Islington sidewalks left and right, so much so that you won't know where to look and what to do with yourself.

My journey begins in Islington, where the vintage boutiques and second-hand shops flourish by the minute.

My number 1: Labour of Love on Upper Street. I just love, love, love it! As my friend Liz Lemon from 30 Rock would say (and no she is not my namesake... "Lemon Zest???")... I want to go to there! I swear, you'll love it too! It has everything from one-of-a-kind costume jewelry, and nowhere-else-in-the-world fancy tops and dresses, to awesome repetto-imitation jazz shoes, for great prices! Plus the shop is so tiny, you'll feel like Alice and Wonderland after she's eaten the magic mushrooms.
Labour of Love, Upper Street, Islington

My number 2 has to be My Sugarland on St Johns Street.
Now this shop is for pros. The shop owner is a stylist called Zoe Lem and she has a gift. She can pick out fantastic pieces and has created such a beautiful place to display them in, that everything just works wonders. As I was strolling down St john Street, I took a peak inside this attractive boutique, and all of a sudden, found myself to be lured in by all of the fantastic colours, hats, gloves and tights that were on display, and before I knew it, I was touching everything! My fingers were caught in a whirlwind of beautiful vintage dresses and scarves and... I fell in love. The prices are not as kind as you'd hope them to be, but if you're lucky enough and it's sale time or if you happen to find a piece you know or think is calling your name, don't let it go. It's a sign from above!

My Sugardland on St Johns Street, Islington

My number 3 is called Dress for Less on St Johns Street and it is a charming spot. I walked in yesterday and I was completely smitten. The place is a whole in the wall and you probably wouldn't see it if you didn't know about it, but it is perfect! Walk in and find
a rainbow of vintage designer and second hand clothes, jewels and accessories, from the essential Burberry trench to the occasional Jigsaw necklaces and delightful Sonia Rykiel jumpers, all at a price you will not believe! The shop owner is an adorable woman who calls you sweetheart, luv and cheesecake, or something like that, and she makes her bazaar as cozy as your home. You can just walk in, unload, try on a thousand things at once and she will never cringe! It is truly a find and you must go!

Dress for Less on St Johns Street, Islington                  

Dress For Less Necklace, £20

After some intense shopping, walk down St Johns Street and make a right onto Myddleton Street towards Exmouth Market, where you will navigate your way through the fantastic smells of the food stands and go straight down the finish line to grab some green curry like you've never tasted. Finish your day by warming up with a delicious cappucino or latte and a piece of delectable chocolate pie or crunchy meringue from "Sweet Boulangerie and Patisserie." You will not regret it.


  1. Congratulations to your 1st post! Good to have you here. How cool that someone has a heart to review the neighbourhood for us. I'm somehow always drawn to the same places. Toy shops, supermarkets, baby Gap. Wonder why.
    Now, show some mercy with the visually impaired and increase that font size. You go girl!

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