Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Covent Garden Things: Antiques, Puppets, Ice Cream, and Tea

Benjamin Pollock's Toy Shop

In my quest to find the perfect souvenirs for my family in anticipation of an upcoming trip to the States this weekend, I found myself again in Covent Garden at their Monday antique fair.  I found vintage purses, silver-plated trays, and delicate 1940's cups and saucers.

I also found a new favorite: Benjamin Pollock's Toyshop.  The Toyshop claims to be "the only traditional toyshop in the West End," specializing in "puppets, toy theatres, and old fashioned toys." Absolute gem of a place, gently full of goods as advertised that are durable and stir the imagination - just what toys ought to be.  I will be returning when I find a little girl for whom I can buy their adorable wooden tea set.

wooden tea set

Inbetween shopping and the now-staple perfect, cheap haircut at Hair by Fairy (with complimentary water and "I can play my own ipod music through the PA system if I'd like" hospitality), I trolled two of my favorite Covent Garden haunts: the Tea House and Scoops.

Ah, you ask what a good Mormon could possibly be doing in a tea shop?  It is true that I do not drink "hot drinks" as proscribed by the Mormon health code known as the "Word of Wisdom."  But this revealed language has been interpreted by more modern prophets and leaders than Joseph Smith, to whom the initial revelation was revealed, as tea and coffee.  Further, tea is split into proscribed drinks which contain actual tea leaves--black, green, and white--and those permitted types without tea leaves--and thus not truly "tea"--known as "herbal tea," "infusions," or "tisanes."

Although "herbal" selections are often limited to chamomile, peppermint, and the occasional fruity tea, there is a proliferation of unique blends here in the land of tea.  Recently, I have enjoyed Iranian rosebud tea from Selfridges.  Before that, passion fruit, mango, and rooibos tea from Whittard and a staple, mint, rose, and licorice, also from Whittard.  When I can afford it, there is a lovely blend called "Twilight" from the Tea Palace (also in Covent Garden), but the Tea House is still my favorite tea hot spot, as everything is not only made locally, but it is much more inexpensive than its rivals.

As for a good Mormon being spotted at Scoops, anyone who knows Mormons (or my own family) well would not be surprised in the least that I frequent one of the best ice cream joints in England.  Ice cream in Mormon culture often acts as a substitute for the things proscribed on the health code list: coffee and alcohol.  Similar to friends meeting up for a quick drink, Mormons will meet up for icecream during the day, or go "get icecream" after dinner or a show.  (I may or may not have substituted ice cream for meals multiple times in college and law school.)  Perhaps there is some subliminal correlation between ice cream being associated with happiness and Mormons being an overly-happy people...

Tea House storefront on Neal Street
Scoop is on Short Gardens, right off of Neal Street
Hair by Fairy shopfront - I was informed by the owner/manager I had posted an out-dated picture from my last post!

1 comment:

  1. When you come, please bring some Scoop's ice cream with you! ;)