Tucked away on Ezra Street, in a side alley marked "The Courtyard" sits an unassuming cafe by the name of Lily Vanilli. Every Sunday along with the infamous Columbia Road Flower Market, the baristas open shop and offer their flowery goods to swarms of enthusiastic patrons.
Despite it's relatively comfy layout, demand for Lily Vanilli's treats makes elbow room scarce each Sunday as happy clients try not to crush each other's fresh flowers while they order coffees and cakes from the busy tart-laden counter.
This Sunday was my first visit to the heavily lauded cafe and it did not disappoint. Even carrying an armful of pink anemones and creamy summer narcissi, I was able to goggle at the baked goods at my own pace without getting trampled by my co-customers. Everyone seemed more than happy to take their time trying to decide which delicate flower-themed treat would be the most satisfactory. The problem is, it's like comparing apples and oranges. One tart is delicate and buttery with edible wildflowers sprinkled atop it's perfectly placid lemon custard, while the apple rosemary olive oil cake next to it with bolts of rosemary and apple crisp jutting towards the sky from it's crown is much fluffier, but does fluffy cake trump lemon custard? and the brownie just to the left of those two?? Well, let's just say it looks like art more than a brownie.
But don't worry... beauty doesn't come before taste. I only had the apple rose tart (see the picture above!) but according to the unabashed satisfaction and delight that played over my "neighbors'" faces as they each bit into their own little treats, I believe it's safe to say all of Lily Vanilli's baked goods live up to expectation....
In between buying your bouquets and exploring the little sideshops of Ezra Street, take a little wander into The Courtyard for some incredibly edible works of baked heaven.... Lily Vanilli is a different kind of flour market, check it out: