Tottenham cake

Tottenham cake, à la Greggs

Somewhat randomly, I spent Thursday in Paris, savouring the cafés of St Germain-des-pres and the bold hawkers of Montmatre. I returned laden with fromage, saucisson et pain, which extended the joy. I very much respect the gallic food ethic, and thusly this morning was spent at the Stokie farmer’s market, a result of which is a looming, and deeply exciting steak dinner.

But a very interesting part of the last few days was actually spent far closer to home. Spending time in Tottenham has become considerably more attractive with the arrival of Marmalade, a Crouch End type cafe in Tottenham, if you will. all stripped floorboards and shabby chic, and with absolutely, stonkingly delicious food, it’s certain to become the meeting point for N17’s more select set, and even rope in out-of-towners such as myself. It’s at least, ooh, 20 minutes wal from my house.

Is Tottenham on the up? It’s an interesting thought. In the last twenty years, N17 has been suffering in the reputational aftermath of the Broadwater riots, so it’s certainly due a revival in fortunes. The tide of gentrification has spread out in waves from central London: the former ‘hood of Islington is now the select and increasingly homogenised Upper Street, with its boutiques and cute caffs. The aforementioned Stoke Newington is a further case in point, a shabby high street becoming today’s delightful Church St, with its farmers market, glam shops and artisanal bakeries. Witness also (to varying degrees) estate agents herculean efforts in Harringay, Holloway, Crouch End, Stroud Green, Walthamstow, and so on. Why shouldn’t Tottenham flourish?

The only reason most people have heard of the area is Spurs, of course. there’s precious little else to endear it to the outside: numerous chicken shops, grocers, and so on. But look deeper: here a yuppy cafe, there all the amenities you need, the edginess so beloved of the type of resident that made Shoreditch so popular, the multi-ethnic food angle (always going to popular around COUTTH Towers). Here a Tudor mansion, there an ancient park, here an overgrown cemetery, there a 20 minute train ride from the City.

I’m actually hoping that most people don’t read this post – as soon as I’m grown-up enough to buy a house, I’m looking at Tottenham. Preferably around the back of Bruce Castle Park, where I can roam the dog on the green and stroll down for a coffee and carrot cake in Marmalade. I’m a little bit jealous of my future self.

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8 Responses

  1. One of the more treasured antiques of Tottenham – not the cake but a local resident – did once tell me the history of the “Tottenham Cake”. The anecdote was so fascinating that I’ve forgotten it entirely. But Adele Prince’s photo –
    Tottenham Cake
    – and your post, prompts me to ask again.

  2. A cup of coffee and a Google search offers this explanation. It’s linked to the history of the local Society of Friends the Quaker community in Tottenham. Henry Chalkley, the baker, was a Friend and Tottenham Cake was served at Quaker meetings.

  3. Nice blog post. I won’t be able to concur through everything, yet you have numerous interesting ideas.

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