Tucked away in a side street off London's Marylebone High Street, there is a tidy, pale-grey-fronted shop, with a blackboard stacked against the wall inviting you to enter. Enticed by a strong aroma of cheese, coffee and fresh breads, you will be drawn in through a narrow entrance lined with seasonal vegetables displayed as if just harvested. Cancel appointments and make sure you have time to linger. You are in for a treat!
The proprietor and creator of this wonderful delicatessen and cheese shop, Patricia Michelson, has translated her knowledge, expertise and passion for good food into creating perhaps the nearest experience to a perfect shop in London. Clustered in small rooms, fabulous cakes, breads, cured meats, olive oils, teas and coffees jostle for attention. Baskets of seasonal vegetables inspire the cook and – heaven couldn't be better – a wooden trestle table acts as a home-baked cake display.
A dedicated air-conditioned cheese room celebrates the best of Italian, continental and British artisan cheeses. Giant wheels of the best aged Parmigiano-Reggiano stand proudly beside shelves bulging with artisan cheeses, all in prime condition; knowledgeable staff are on hand to assist, offer tastes, and wrap the cheese with care. Patricia refers to her cheeses as "treasures" and indeed they are treated as such. Ahead of the trend, she has always championed the small producer, the organic supplier, the artisan expert.
And if, like me, you want any excuse not to leave, choose a corner seat on the long dining table and select a treat from the simple hand-written seasonal menu, a glass of wine, a cup of coffee, a cake ... Linger and enjoy!
La Fromagerie, 2-6 Moxton Street, London W1, 020-7935 0341; lafromagerie.co.uk
Camisa and son A visit to Camisa's is a nostalgic, evocative experience. The last of the original Italian delicatessens in London, the smell alone is worth it.
61 Old Compton Street, London W1, 020-7437 7610
Stein's Deli I love Rick Stein's fabulous deli and shop, which sells a great array of local seafood and produce.
South Quay, Padstow, Cornwall, 01841 533209; rickstein.com
Heart Buchanan Fi Buchanan has created a wonderful shop with delicious light breakfasts and lunches, great produce and home-cooked food to take home.
38 Byres Road, Glasgow, 0141 334 7626; heartbuchanan.co.uk.
'Valvona and Crolla: A Year at an Italian Table' by Mary Contini, Ebury, £25Reuse content