Thinking back to 3 weeks spent in the United Kingdom this past summer discovering the amusements of the country, I conjure up memories of four must-stop sweet spots I came across while getting off the beaten path in each chosen location. Sometimes I chance upon places and things by following the way of tourist and other times by following the way of the locals. The unexpected findings are usually the ones I enjoy the most.

Princi in London

Hidden in the heart of London's Soho, there's a gem of an Italian bakery named Princi (135 Wardour St.; tel. 020/7478-8888; When it comes to culinary delights one can say that Princi is angelically good for your taste buds. The London location was brought to life by Rocco Princi and Alan Yau (of Wagamama fame) based on the original Princi bakeries in Milan.

As one enters the establishment one encounters what appears to be a seductive world of baked goods. As your feet hits the threshold you get a whiff of fresh croissants hitting your olfactory system (£1.40-£2) with such effervescence you'd think it was the first time you'd ever smelled one. This is followed by an array of other delicious pastries that range from chocolate and walnut tart (£3.00), to Leggerezza ai frutti di bosco (berry cake £4) then followed by a bombardment of savory goodies such as quiche for £3.80 to pizza farcita (meaning filled or stuffed) be it with four cheeses, ham, tomato, brie and a mound of other choices for £4.20. Princi also has a great selection of hot and cold foods which one can eat-in or carry-out.

Shakeaway in London

If you are native to the United Kingdom and are reading this article you will no doubt recognize the unique Shakeaway cup. Specialty milkshakes at your service launched in 1999 by Rob Hazell and Peter Moody with a dedication to 'keeping cows in employment' as they put it. Shakeaway has got to be one of the UK's best kept secrets. Sure, in the states we have Millions of Milkshakes located in California; however, hands down, Shakeaway definitely and undoubtedly gives them a run for their money. After all, Shakeaway was around first.

Shakeaway takes ice cream, chocolates, chocolate bars, cookies, cakes, fruits, nuts, Nutella, cheesecake, peanut butter, honey and hundreds of other ingredients, which we might eat daily as mere snacks, and mixes them as you like it to create your own made to order milkshake. How about a shake made with vanilla ice cream, chocolate Hobnobs, Cadbury's caramel, Nutella, topped with amaretti? Unless you are ordering a shake from the menu, chances of you and your best friend having the same thing is nearly impossible. Certainly, we could all make our own shakes at home if we all had blenders, but the staff at Shakeaway has that special touch which draws you in. This is where you drink your milkshake and use a spoon to scoop up all the yummy bits as well. This is the Shakeaway experience. It's better than being a kid at Dairy Queen. Prefer your milkshake thicker? They can work that out. Can't stand nuts; need gluten free or non-dairy, veggie or vegan? No worries! Shakeaway can sort that. At Shakeaway your milkshake wish is literally their command. A regular sized shake sells for £2.80 while a large is £3.80. If you want to experience milkshake goodness, which thousands flock to every time a new store location is opened in the UK, while in London head down to their store in the Angel/Islington area for this one of a kind dairy treat (The Iconic Angel Kiosk, 27 Parkfield St., N1 Shopping Center, Islington; tel. 020/7359-4450;

Cocomaya Chocolate Shop and Artisan Bakery in London

Everyone loves chocolates and bakery goods. When it comes to Cocomaya, the best of both worlds can be found in two spots: at their chocolate shop and their artisan bakery. Cocomaya's chocolate shop is adjacent to the bakery, though each is listed under a different address. One can enter the chocolate shop (3 Porchester Place; tel. 020/7706-2770; and savor a line up of chocolates ranging from innovative creations such as chili and strawberry truffle, saffron and pistachio, coffee and cardamom and many more. Cocomaya chocolates aren't mere morsels to be devoured; they are gems to be admired. With each chocolate so exquisitely handmade, one cannot help but gaze at its beauty before popping it in one's mouth. A single piece retails for £1.50, but trust that it is definitely worth the money. If one helping is not enough, you can buy a bag or box of your own assorted selections. The tea chocolates are lovely and consist of flavors like Assam chai, earl grey, genmaicha and jasmine. Now that's a unique way to have your afternoon tea. These range in price from a bag of 6 pieces for £6 to a box of 24 pieces for £24.

Though the chocolate shop has faired quite well, owners Walid Al Damirji, Joel Bernstein and Serena Rees (founder of Agent Provocateur) made a bold decision when they decided to take Cocomaya to the next level by opening an artisan bakery right next to it at 12 Connaught St. (, which seems to be paying off. A definite great addition to the Marble Arch area of London creating more than 70 kinds of bread and pastry, which livens both your sweet and savory tooth with madeleines (£0.90), pain au raisin (£2), honey cake (£4) and traditional bits like clotted cream and jam (£1.50). Cocomaya's artisan bakery is a place to sit, relax and take in the sights of its quaint location. Do take note that prices for the bakery vary based on whether one decides to eat-in or take out. The pricing for take out tends to be less by a few pence. The prices listed here are all based on eating in.

Angel Food Bakery in Brighton

If you are a true lover of baked goods and are willing to travel way, way beyond the beaten path, then you'll discovery heavenly cupcakery in Brighton. When one steps off the train upon their arrival in Brighton, it is not unusual to get caught in the mass crowd steadily gravitating towards the beach. After all, you can spot it straight on and the notion of salty air just seems to pull you forward until your feet touch water.

In the midst of all the water playing, people watching and carousel riding, it's easy to get tempted by the foodie bliss which the pier at Brighton has to offer. Who can refuse an assemblage of fresh seafood, traditional fish and chips, and, of course, donuts freshly fried right in front of you to perfection? As enticing as all these may be, stray a bit and find your way into The Lanes -- Brighton's shopping district -- filled with shops, amazing restaurants of all types to satisfy any palate and a great cupcakery owned by Hannah Davis, called Angel Food Bakery (20 Meeting House Lane, Brighton; tel. 01273/208404;

Hannah was inspired to open her own shop after falling in love with the bakeries and patisseries in New York during a visit to the U.S. in 2004. At Angel Food Bakery cupcakes range in size from babycakes, regular sized cupcakes to giant cupcakes. Banana, lemon, coffee, red velvet, devil's food are just some of the flavors that can be your pleasure. Topped with frosting, sprinkles and an endless choice of decorations ranging from strawberries, stars, butterflies, and chocolate curls, just to name a few. There is a cupcake for everyone at Angel Food Bakery, including those needing gluten free or vegan choices. Prices ranging from £0.95 -- £1.75 per cupcake cannot be resisted. What makes Angel Food Bakery a standout cupcakery is the overall quality and care they put into what they create. Biting into one of these confections is like experiencing an explosion of flavor in the mouth. If you're eating a banana cupcake you will think you've put the actual fruit in your mouth. Try a lemon cupcake and feel as though you've squeezed a fresh one, letting the juices flow unto the tip of your tongue. Cupcake heaven has been discovered in Brighton in every way -- taste, creativity and presentation.