A Paraguayan Bakery may not be the most standard of faire on the streets of London, but that can only mean that this new café is something of a revelation. If you rurn off Brick Lane and head down Cheshire Street, you can’t miss Morena (the brunette girl or dark brown sugar – which ever translation you fancy) and not least because of its bright yellow exterior. The owner Marianna is herself a Paraguayan morena and is a fountain of knowledge about the cuisine and culture. Her café serves up sweet treats often laced with the outrageously good dulce de leche, a caramelised sugar that is a staple of many South American desserts.
All her cakes are baked on site by her team – who are not all from Paraguay, but considering there are only 300 Paraguayans in the UK, that’s understandable. Nevertheless, authentic sweets such as alfajores, rogel (a kind of millefeuille with a dulce de leche filling) a dulce de leche cheesecake and carrot cake (with yes, you guessed it dulce de leche) can be found. It’s all utterly delicious; this is the ultimate sweet tooth heaven. To wash down the treats there is a range of coffees and fruit juices and the very authentic drink Yerba mate. The herb drink is strong and smokey and designed to be shared as a group. Marianna also serves her drinks in traditional cups. The one we share is a polished bulls horn decorated with silver engraving. The dried herb soaks up the first lot of water she adds to the cup – “the first is for Saint Anthony” she tells me, as the liquid disappears. We drink the hot liquor through a cleverly designed silver straw. It’s an unusual and fun addition to the visit but it certainly isn’t for the faint hearted!
When Mariana is not serving from Cheshire Street she can be found at Brick Lane’s weekend markets, selling her goods from a stall. But, her beautifully designed café is something to behold. Decorated with handmade brightly coloured handmade lace, made by women from Paraguay and patterned leather stools, this is a great place to escape from the hustle and bustle of East London. (Words: Laura Thornley)
Morena Bakery is located at 40 Cheshire Street, E2 6EH.For more info, visit: www.facebook.com/pages/Morena-Bakery/342434109167888