Easter is the time when chocolate truly comes into its own and you can gorge on sweetened cocoa beans for breakfast if you really feel like it. Chocolate eggs, chocolate bunnies or just slabs of the stuff, it doesn't matter what shape it takes, anything chocolate-coated goes. There are the off-the-shelf Cadbury's type of egg you'll find in your local newsagents but if you really want to spoil friends and family you'll have to dig a little deeper than that. Go the extra mile this Easter and invest in a very special egg by visiting one of our Top Chocolate Shops where everything is handmade and chocolate is elevated to an art form. The list includes London's well known purveyors of fine chocolates featuring experts like Paul A Young and William Curley who has shops in Belgravia and Richmond. Head to Notting Hill for Melt with its chocolate shots at the bar, a kitchen-within-a-shop, children's mini masterclasses and tasting sessions, and Biscuiteers who have personalised hand-iced Easter eggs as well as dark and milk chocolate eggs decorated with intricately iced colourful butterflies. And if these still haven't satisfied that sweet tooth, head to Roald Dahl's (author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) favourite chocolate shop, Prestat. The colourful treats on sale here are also a firm favourite with the Queen, they even produce their own range of patriotic chocs in special honour of Her Majesty.
London's Best Butchers
Easter is a time when the family gets together and a roast is the traditional way to mark the occasion - a real feast after the period of fast during Lent. A leg of lamb is a popular choice, ideally slow roasted with sprigs of rosemary to bring out the flavours, served with roast potatoes, steamed veg and mint sauce. For the best place to buy your joint look to London butchers who only stock meat from animals which have organically reared and fed to produce a tasty, tender and more succulent end result. At Lidgate's, a family run butchers for 150 years, David and his son Danny source their meats from Highgrove - home farm of the Prince of Wales - and Gatcombe Park as well as other smaller organic farms. The Ginger Pig is just as fussy when it comes to the welfare of the stock they sell with lamb, pork and beef all reared on their own 300-acre farms on the North Yorkshire Moors. Allens of Mayfair, suppliers of choice for top notch restaurants like Le Gavroche, The Dorchester and Claridge's, is particularly famous for its game. Although you can order online, it'd be a shame not to visit the Mount Street shop which retains some of its original Victorian features and plenty of old fashioned customer service. In Barons Court, HG Walter has been consistently winning awards for their organic meats - and Londoners happily travel across town for their stuffed chicken breasts and minted racks of lamb.
Fish on Good Friday
Many Christians opt for fish on Good Friday, a day of fasting. To get the catch of the day, London's best fishmongers head to Billingsgate Market at 4.45am every morning so, thankfully, you don't have to. Buzz words at Rex Goldsmith's Chelsea Fishmonger are 'line caught', 'non-destructive' and 'sustainable' fishing methods. Meanwhile, over at The Fish Shop at Kensington Place you can buy fish dishes pre-prepared at the Kensington Place restaurant next door. And FishWorks combine restaurants with a wet fish counter at the front of their three London restaurants in Marylebone, Richmond and Swallow Street. Many of London's best fishmongers are family run small businesses which have been in the trade for years like Walter Purkis, which has its own smokehouse, built in 1880, and has branches in Muswell Hill and Crouch End. Paul Meek's Meek & Wild supplies responsibly caught fish to Highbury residents including Nigel Slater. In Chiswick, Covent Garden Fishmongers, was set up almost 20 years ago by Philip Diamond who now runs the shop with his son, Gary, and is an expert in the field. Any of these excellent fishmongers will happily supply you with the freshest fish for Good Friday.
London's Best Easter Bakeries
Treating yourself to some baked goodies has long been synonymous with celebrating Easter in the UK, where hot cross buns, simnel cake and Easter biscuits have become cultural mainstays of the annual food calendar. For the most lavish spread of Easter goodies you should definitely pop into one of the six Konditor & Cook bakeries in London. The highly respected cake specialists offer a gloriously comprehensive coverage when it comes to Easter treats, including perfectly formed hot cross buns, a hearty glazed Easter Stollen with almonds and cranberries, an array of bunny shaped gingerbreads and shortbreads, and some traditional Easter biscuits. Another expensive but good bakery for all sorts of sweet and colourful cakes is Baker & Spice, the more refined sister of the Patisserie Valerie chain. For French style biscuits and breads head to La Patisserie Des Reves in Marylebone, or Poilane in Belgravia and Chelsea. On a Scandi note, the Nordic Bakery in Soho and Marylebone serves up huge rustic sticky cinnamon buns. Back to a stronger Easter theme, the Euphorium Bakery sells delicious hot cross buns in its eight outlets across London; while Gail's always impresses with its tasty spread of cakes, breads and biscuits so should hit home with some traditional Easter offerings.
London's Food Halls
The food halls of Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges and Harrods are seen as the finest in London and rightly so. They offer a mouth watering selection of hard to resist foods - and often stock brands that you won't find anywhere else. But we also like Partridges and Whole Foods which five branches stocking natural and organic food across London including large shops in Kensington and Piccadilly Circus. All of these food halls are far superior to your average supermarket and are the places to visit when you're on the hunt for fine foods - with each offering something slightly different. At Fortnum & Mason, for example, the famous hampers have an Easter theme - with baskets containing all the chocolate goodies you need for an Easter egg hunt. Simply hide the chocolate around the house and garden and let the fun begin. Head to Harrods from Tuesday 1st until Monday 21st April, to see the Faberge eggs in the Brompton Road windows and an exquisite Faberge salon and exhibition space on the ground floor. The store is closed on Easter Sunday but on Easter Monday it's the place to go to see the annual London Harness Horse Parade.