3 Things I Learned On A Luxury London Dessert Tour
Written by Jaillan Yehia
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I turn tourist for the day and try out one of Urban Adventures’ London day tours.
And despite covering some well-trodden West End ground, I learn 3 things that even as a native Londoner I had NO idea about – until now – all while munching on lovely Ladurée macaroons along the way.
Read on to see if you’ll learn something new too…
The luxury dessert tour of London helps tourists get their bearings in the West End and aims to show London newbies the basics when it comes to central London sugary treats – telling you a few fun foodie facts as you walk.
Being a Londoner I had tried the wares in most of these spots before but you can never have too many macaroons, right?
Here’s What I learned on My London Dessert Tour
1. Fortnum & Mason started life as a second hand shop, and inspired the British love affair with the baked bean
The story goes that upmarket food emporium Fortnum & Mason was founded when Queen Anne’s footman needed a place to sell her used candles – she was given fresh new ones every night and the part-used ones were whisked away.
The enterprising footman turned all Sir Alan Sugar, started selling various royal odds and ends and made a business out of it. One day a Mr Heinz of the USA turned up asking if his wares could be sold here too, and Fortnum’s became the official UK pioneer of baked beans. It was the pioneer of the scotched egg too, so there’s plenty of food history inside these walls.
2. Ladurée in London’s Burlington Arcade is really a socialist outpost
Apparently Ladurée sell 15,000 macaroons a day worldwide – and at a cost of £2 each that’s a lot of dough for any bakery.
But what I learned about the celebrated French tea room famous for its macaron is that Ladurée’s original founder was actually a socialist, quite outspoken in his day about social reform, having penned pamphlets on the subject – so I wonder what he would make of the company today being a byword for luxury and sophistication.
While there we also got some tittle tidbits of gossip about which celeb actors go shopping here and let’s just say their name is Arcade, Burlington Arcade.
3. There are only 2 original 1920’s red phone boxes left in London
I grew up seeing the traditional London red phone boxes everywhere (and I’m old enough to remember using them frequently in the days before mobile phones were invented) but little did I know that there are only two functioning original red phone boxes in London and they’re both at the Royal Academy.
On further research it turns out that you can tell a lot about the age and history of a red phone box by the crown at the top, so even London’s phone boxes have hidden secrets.
There is one other thing I learned on my London dessert tour, and that is the existence of Choccywoccydoodah, a kitsch steampunk inspired chocolate shop with a really cool top floor secret garden cafe where you can gorge yourself on brownies and hot chocolate in private while looking down at unsuspecting tourists in Carnaby Street.
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