Singer Paloma Faith told Stylist magazine recently that if she were Queen for the day she'd move Buckingham Palace to Holland Park, just so she could be close to Gelato Mio - an amazing Italian ice cream shop. I was in the neighbourhood with friends and, it being a scorcher and us being partial to ice cream, we decided to give it a go.
The queue snaking out of the door was encouraging, if a little frustrating on this balmy day but only served to tantalise us as lucky people squeezed by us, slurping waffle cones piled high with creamy goodness.
As we got nearer the front we strained to see what was on offer but could only see a price list for milkshakes and larger tubs. This was a bit unhelpful as it meant we didn't know what flavours were available while biding our time.
As we got closer to being served we jostled in the heat to spy the rows of gelato, looking luxurious and cool in their icy metal containers. The curved nature of the display counter made it hard to see the individual flavours but from what I could take in there was plenty of choice - all looking very tempting, from Biscotto (cookies and cream) to Limone (a refreshing sorbetto). I noted they had Stracciatella which took me back to a Florentine holiday where I first discovered the vanilla gelato with dark chocolate flakes and ate far too much.
Finally a young Italian, hot enough to melt his stock, took my order. The pressure was on to pick well from such an array of temptations. I plumped for Black Forest - an oozy dark chocolate number bursting with cherries and Lampone - a fruity raspberry sorbetto.
I'm pleased to report that both were delicious. Posters inside the shop boasted of real fresh fruit ingredients and my taste buds can verify. The raspberry was tart and moreish. The Black Forest was equally yummy but was pure chocolate, no cherry. I only found one cherry morsel in mine but I didn't complain because it was so velvety and delectable that I was joyfully scraping the remnants from my tub.
My friends were equally delighted with their choices of creamy, fruity happiness in a scoop.
The price was fairly standard for London at £3.90 for a double helping which was definitely on the generous side. Importantly they didn't scrimp on cones either, which were of the crunch waffley sort and my tub came complete with sigaretta wafer which was a welcome touch.
Inside the shop there is room to perch on stools but it being a rare hot day most people took their ice cream out for a stroll, trying to eat it quickly as the plentiful portions melted fast, trickling down fingers.
The only real downside to Gelato Mio is the lack of a menu while you wait but my understanding is that this is because their menu changes monthly, which makes them even more impressive in my eyes.
Paloma was right; if Her Majesty is an ice cream lover then being close to Gelato Mio would be worth the move, if a little dangerous for the royal waistline. The good news is that gelato has less fat than traditional ice cream (it's also denser and served at a slightly warmer temperature) which slightly takes the guilty edge off a double helping.
If you're an ice cream fan then Chalk Farm's Marine Ices is also worth a try. It too has a celebrity patron. I once spoke to David Miliband in the queue, with his kids, and he asked us to save some mint choc chip for him.
Forget Mr Whippy, you can't beat an independent ice cream parlour on a beautiful summer's day. Definitely worth the wait.