It's comforting to know the chocolate and hot cross buns you tuck into are laden with symbolism
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The Independent Culture
Easter's just around the corner, and if you're not a Lenten abstainer, or your good intentions have fallen by the wayside already, here's your first chance to gorge yourself guilt-free since Christmas. It's also comforting to know that the copious quantities of chocolate eggs, simnel cake and hot cross buns you're tucking into come laden with symbolism and tradition. Take hot cross buns: traditionally eaten on Good Friday, they were supposed to be made from the host, marked with a cross and were said to keep for 12 months without going mouldy.

For those of you who don't fancy kneading and baking all Easter, you can always stock up in your local supermarket. But if you fancy the freshest, locally baked, croissants and pastries, you probably don't have the option available to the French of nipping down to the local boulangerie. Many restaurant owners have realised that people like to eat good bread and pastries at any time of day and not just when they go out for a meal. The result seems to be that fewer restaurants are content with just being a restaurant these days. They want to sell you the bread you eat, the olive oil you dip it in and the tart you have for pudding, all to go, and made on the premises. Euphorium in Islington, London, is the latest to react to consumer demand and open a bakery. Marwin Badran and her partner Francine Sumners felt that the area was lacking a local bakery, with produce cooked in situ. It has only been open two weeks, but Euphorium is already attracting Saturday-morning queues for its freshly baked chocolate croissants.

There are plenty of other London restaurants joining in on the act, too. Mash, in the West End, has a deli, Terence Conran's Bluebird has an entire supermarket, and Putney Bridge has recently opened a patisserie offering hand-made Easter eggs and simnel cakes. Alternatively, you could just head for Maison Bertaux on Greek Street in Soho and sample their delicious home-made hot cross buns. If you really want to get into the spirit of Easter, you could take your buns home and hang them outside your house as a charm against evil influences.

Euphorium Bakery, 0171-359 7146; Putney Bridge 0181-780 1811; Mash 0171- 637 5555; Bluebird 0171-559 1222; Maison Bertaux 0171-437 6007