Taste Talk: First-time cafe and shop owner Emily Wright


She's not even thirty yet but Emily Wright has already done what so many secretly dream of -- opening her own cafe and shop. She's the founder, manager and sole employee of T&SHOP in Newington Green in North London. She lives upstairs, bakes all the goodies and scours vintage furniture markets and local producers for quality stock. Oh and mere months after opening a Hollywood movie star has already become a repeat customer, while the local Turkish population has warmly welcomed the 29-year-old's impressive work ethic and ridiculously fragrant rose tea. Amongst all that she kindly took the time to talk with Tasting Pages, thanks Emily!   

How would you describe T&SHOP to people who've never been?

T&SHOP is a lifestyle concept shop with tea, coffee and food, where you can buy the chair you're sat on while having a cuppa.

When did you open T&SHOP?

It was born end of May this year and is still teething. It took about 9 months of prep so I feel like it is my baby; I imagine it to be emotionally similar.

How did the idea come about?

I have always loved tea... and cake. I like to host and bake and feed people, and I have a big family to practice on. I think I'd talked and dreamt about having a shop long enough that I had to make it happen and I realised I had nothing to loose and a lot of support around. Plus also to be honest, I had a big break-up shake-up!


Back, with Balls

Eating and chatting are two things I do a lot of but this blog came to a halt a couple of years ago when nausea and fatigue supplanted them. When you're pregnant people regularly ask with giddy anticipation what your crazy cravings are but I'm afraid I pretty much lived on Carr's water crackers and ginger ale for the first half of bumpdom and lucky you were spared posts on those culinary firecrackers. Then before I knew it my bump was a toddler, and boy does he love to eat. I'm inspired to get back to cooking and baking, and uh even better, get OUT OF THE HOUSE to try what all the amazing talent out there is whipping up.

As my son seems insatiably hungry (wonder where he gets that from...) I'm on the look-out for quick snack recipes that are low sugar and low salt but tasty enough to inspire the yum-yum dance. I was without an oven for a couple of weeks recently as ours went kaput, but sought baked-good style snackage. A recipe for no-bake energy bites caught my eye and after trying it once we are now big on balls in this house.

They are that magical combination of easy to make, store and transport as well as wholesome, yet just sweet enough to feel like a treat. Great to grab when you don't have time for a proper breakfast, perfect to pop in your mouth with an afternoon coffee, and ideal for stashing in a packed lunch. And because these balls are bespoke, you can roll them into whatever size you like; I do about a third of the batch to suit toddler paws.

No-Bake Energy Balls 
Adapted from: Gimme Some Oven 

1 cup dry oatmeal
2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes (do toast, it's much tastier plus your house will smell like vacation)
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup dried fruit (I've used dried blueberries and cherries)
1/2 cup nut butter (I prefer almond butter)
1/3 cup runny honey or maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Yields: Approximately a dozen balls
Take your rings off. Stir all the dry ingredients together in a medium sized mixing bowl, then add the wet and sticky stuff. Get your hands in and really combine the mixture. Lick fingers. Put a plate over the bowl, place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Now you're ready to be a baller. Put the chilled plate on the counter. Scoop up some of the mix and roll it between your hands then place on the plate. Continue creating balls of whatever size you like until finished then pop them all into an air-tight container and store in the fridge (no one wants sweaty balls). I like to put mine in the freezer for about 15 mintues to firm them up.

Try alternating what type of dried fruit and nut butter you use, maybe add a dash of chia seeds or go wild and toss in some chocolate chips. Kids love them, adults love them. Balls for all y'all.


London Food Tour - Covent Garden with Celia Brooks

On a chilly and bleak London morning I huddled outside of Covent Garden tube station with a small squad of hungry strangers. We'd all be invited to try out Celia Brooks's new food tour of the area, and fortunately she knows how to get a group giddy and chatting right from the start.

Once introductions were made she simply opened a box procured across the road from legendary macaron-maker Ladurée, and the brilliantly coloured discs instantly lit up the atmosphere. Pistachio, black currant, salted caramel... there wasn't a wrong choice to be made and the box was soon empty.

Celia is a cook, food writer, and guide of London gastrotours around Portobello Road, Marylebone, and now, Covent Garden. Over several hours she led us to some top quality shops, market stalls, and cafés where we tasted everything from English cheese to Venezuelan corn cakes to Indian street snacks. She offers nuggets of historical trivia along the way, and her love for food is clear when she introduces each of the producers on the tour.

Our first stop was for cheese, glorious cheese....


St. John Hotel: London City Centre Accommodation with Great Taste

Famous for introducing nose-to-tail eating into the general dining lexicon, St. John Restaurant is now looking after overnight guests with the same thoroughness at its St. John Hotel. You will feel comforted from head-to-toe relaxing in this sleek London city centre inn.

Our stay here was a surprise for my birthday plotted by Alex. A night at a chic hotel in your own city is a thrill. It's not everyday that I pack an overnight bag and hop on the local bus. We alighted in China Town, and walked under a canopy of festive lanterns, until we stopped before a brick frontage that belies its glamorous interior...


Mad Men Party Canapés (Betty and Joan would approve)

Please, do not host a Mad Men viewing party. Terrible idea. Watching Mad Men is like reading a brilliant book; you savour every line, become mesmerised by the poignant storyline, and everything else around you fades away. The experience doesn't benefit from someone wedged on the sofa next to you, gnashing snacks and shouting out observations over the dialogue.

I watch it alone, in a dimly lit room. Just me and some beautifully damaged characters, trying to find our way in this crazy world... some of us a little drunker than others.

So, no, I won't be attending any giddy gatherings the night the new season debuts here in the UK. I can't abide all the silliness that's sprung up around the show recently — retro costumes, wacky internet videos. I'm not a kill-joy but this isn't Beach Blanket Bingo people. Mad Men is not goofy. The wackiest thing that ever happened on it involved a run-away riding lawnmower and (spoiler alert) that did not end well.

But the day aprés episode I can't wait to get social about Don Draper and company, and this is when a Mad Men party is ideal. Invite some fellow fans over and serve up retro cocktails and canapés to compliment the era you're all engaged in.

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