Although it’s based on Blenheim Crescent in the heart of London’s Notting Hill, there’s something of the Tuscan farmyard about Ceramica Blue. Even on the rainiest London morning, a cornucopia of mostly brightly-coloured tableware meets you inside. Distinctive items for the kitchen table seem to cry out for a bottle of olive oil, fresh ciabatta and an Italian family sitting down to a big bowl of handmade pasta.
As something of a pasta fanatic, I have bought several bowls from here, including a fantastic set in French stoneware from the Plume range by Jars Céramistes; pasta bowls are £22 and dinner plates are £24, and are both dishwasher and ovenproof. I also have a great range of mugs in English bone china by The Art Rooms. Depicting eight rural scenes photographed in the wilds of Yorkshire, they cost £15.50 each. The olive wood salad bowls from Kenya, hand-carved in one piece, are also lovely (from £44). As are the heart-shaped cheese boards in walnut and spalted beech (from £22.50).
Ceramica Blue was opened in 1987 by New Zealand-born Lindy Wiffen, who travels extensively throughout Britain, France, Italy and Sicily on the look-out for great ceramics. Despite this being a small store in modern London, you have a sense that somewhere out the back there must be a potter’s wheel turning away at a lump of freshly-thrown clay. It’s not so far-fetched: Lindy intends to start producing her own in-house range later this year.