“Mr Whippy it ain’t” – A review of Dark Sugars Chocolate shop in Greenwich

We ended up outside the Dark Sugars Chocolate shop after a lunchtime lockdown walk. I peered in, half desirously but also wincing a little at the open pools of chocolate delights. Ingestion of chocolate isn’t strictly listed as a WHO contamination risk… but just doesn’t sit right with these paranoid times. In the end, it seemed churlish to avoid the treats you ARE allowed, whilst languishing resentfully about the small pleasures we’re currently denied, so we settled on ice cream – blood orange chocolate ice cream, on a freezing cold day. Mostly because it looked pretty seriously chocolatey.

I have ice cream issues. It took me years to understand that the reason that everyone ELSE was raving about ice cream, was because it is quite nice, but my lactose intolerance and sensitive teeth were blocking the ‘nice’ bit for me. After much consideration, I have come to terms with the fact that it’s not shameful to own up to not-actually-liking-ice-cream, with the exception of when its just about to be served at dinner parties. However there is a small space in my heart for very dark rich ice cream which I consider, not ice cream, but dense chocolate and cream mixed together which happens to be cold.

Hence, I agreed with my husband, I would have half a scoop of in a black cone.

The ‘half a scoop’ did seem to cause some contention as watched from outside the shop so as to abide by their COVID rules, watching a slightly annoyed shop assistant. I was surprised, we hadn’t to pay only half the price. Surely this formula was quids-in for them. My husband exited with a cone looking to be about a scoop AND a half.

“I think that she thought I was a controlling husband who was trying to keep my fat wife’s weight down” my husband said soulfully as he came out. “That’s the look she gave me when I ordered” It needs to be noted (as if my blogging was not evidence of this) that ‘controlling’ could be an hysterically laughable IRONIC nickname for my husband, who is marvellously supportive and lets me steal his jokes when my blogs just ain’t shining. Also, I have a perfectly healthy BMI, thank you very much.

On the other hand, I can’t say that the over-sized ice cream, when I had done every effort on my part to be good, was something that I could hold against Dark Sugars. It was delicious. It did disappear very quickly. And it was the source of no food guilt whatsover. If that ice cream made me put on 2 pounds of weight, then it was worth the hard work to lose it.

NB. They appear to be delivering: https://www.darksugars.co.uk I suspect this does not include the ice cream.

Don’t forget to purchase your copy of HELEN AND THE GRANDBEES – “Engaging & Uplifting” (Daily Mail) HERE:

I would like to tell you how my husband’s beer battered haddock was..

A Review of the Vanbrugh Pub, SE10

We were crowded out of Greenwich on Saturday lunch. We should have spotted the inevitability of this, when we couldn’t even park before getting to the eating stage. We popped our head around the door of so many places that I have yet to review: Heap’s sausages, the replacement to the Spread Eagle that has strange coloured cakes, and all they could offer was outside seating. It was about 2 degrees outdoors, so eventually we got back in the car and went to the Vanbrugh. Nestled in its own personal hill (that’ll be Vanbrugh Hill), the Vanbrugh’s pastel colours have caught our eye a few times.

Amongst the Vanbrugh’s recent improvements are a light and airy extension at the back with a visible kitchen that promises good things, or at least an absence of things that you wouldn’t be prepared to do to people’s food when they are watching… like defrost it for example. Next to the kitchen is a blackboard of events, I peered through to take a look…. all of the events were football matches to be shown on the TV, which was a bit disappointing. We sat in the extension. There were after all sofas, and sofas are good for Saturday afternoons and we drank Meantime beers  although with one of us being a driver we pondered the necessity of Meantime to produce a non-alcoholic version.. so long as they are not chicken..

I would like to tell you how my husband’s beer battered haddock was, but post chips calamari, and a burger where I didn’t even try to eat both sides of the bun, really there was no room to sample it. Here’s the evidence that the visible kitchen may be more than a party trick: the tartar sauce appeared to be truly homemade… the sample on the plate of haddock differed from that on the whitebait. There was very little fat on whitebait (with the recent chubby whitebait in Papa Charlie, I’m figuring whitebait has upped its game. Can’t they do this to calamari?) but chips were mega battered. Fair enough to the chips, they were called triple cooked and they were delicious, so I don’t find this as offensive as the lightly battered cod cheeks served down the road in the Cutty Sark.

Lunch at the Vanbrugh

Triple Cooked Chips and Burger

I shan’t be reviewing this honest fare type food again soon. There’s a heart to maintain, so make the most of it now. Dessert was a little disappointing. My pink lady crumple was only dusted with crumble.  I wonder if this was the chef’s conscience coming to the fore having served the earlier fatty dishes. The custard still tasted good with welcome flecks of vanilla, but it was more of a drink than a sauce. This makes me think of making a custard drink for the fireside to supplement, err… I mean alternate with hot chocolate and Bailey’s.

From traditional crumble the second dessert of salted caramel and chocolate brandy terrine with dulce de leche ice cream was more wannabe gourmet. And I say wannabe, not because it was bad, but because it did not actually arrive with dulce de leche ice cream. Now this is more forgivable in a pub than in Chapter’s where I have had a similar experience, so we did not complain, but I wish more places would pay attention to this detail, having promised much. That said, the salted caramel and chocolate brandy terrine was good enough in its own right.

 

As we laid back in the sofa, allowing as much space for our stomachs as possible, my husband’s phone buzzed to tell him that his hard won car parking space in Greenwich village was time up. A waste of the Greenwich cost of parking.       

“I wouldn’t have ordered glacé cherry icecream. You’d have been ashamed of me if I had.” A Review of Black Vanilla Gelateria, SE3

A Review of Black Vanilla, Blackheath. London

Ok, so i am a stubborn character. This is partly the reason i have resisted recommendations from friends and followers on Black Vanilla coffee. Also Black Vanilla is a gelateria, and not having the time and hands to rearrange a cone of ice cream into an Affogato, I have being buying 2 scoop cones. More seems greedy.

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And add to that, the ice cream in Black Vanilla is ok. Yep, ok. And that’s sad for the only local gelateria I have ever heard of. Take for example, sour cherry icecream. I have a quandary here. I have to remember whether it was cherry icecream or sour cherry icecream. But even without the ‘sour’ in the name, cherry is not without a little tartness, right? With the one exception of glacé cherry icecream. And it definitely wasn’t called that. I wouldn’t have ordered glacé cherry icecream. You’d have been ashamed of me if I had.

Lots of ice-cream at Black Vanilla

Lots of ice-cream at Black Vanilla

So the fact that the maybe-sour cherry icecream was all sweet, also made me pretty cynical about all of these coffee recommendations.

However this is winter. No one ponders icecream at 4pm on a December afternoon (although a surprising number of customers were), and I thought- why not try the coffee? No one would ever know I’d compromised my cynic’s principles.

First sip… Wow… Deep and rich and yet again that slight coconut undercurrent that I encountered in Chapters. Caught in the act, I have to admit this is the best coffee I have tasted in the village.

Coffee at Black Vanilla

Coffee at Black Vanilla

I’d arrived wanting cake, maybe cake with brandy… And I was a little disappointed by the selection.. The quite cupcakes may have been ok, and i have heard good things about the pastries. I sadly skimmed and dismissed the possibility of a crepe, waffles, because when I tasted the crepe that was ordered by my table it was fabulous and lemony and crunchy with sugar. I persuaded my husband to make pancakes shortly after to make up for missing them.

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The white hot chocolate came recommended too.
So that’s how it is, if I fancy good coffee and pancakes, I’ll be down at my local gelateria
Still have cold feet though.

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32 Tranquil Vale, Blackheath SE3 OAX