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Caribbean Swedish vegan treats to get you through winter

If you listen to companies that advertise on TV, Christmas starts the day after Boxing Day. If you listen to traditionalists, maybe it starts with advent on the 1 December. And if you listen to kids, it starts as soon as humanly possible.

Christmas for me starts when the Finnish and Norwegian churches in London open their doors for their annual Christmas fair, and the Scandi Market sets up shop just outside. It's always at the end of November, and it's the earliest I can even begin thinking about Christmas.

If you're looking for a lovely way to fire the starter's gun on the festive season, then getting down to Albion Street for the Scandi Market is the way to do it. There's sparkly lights, traditional decorations, stalls selling mulled wine and seasonal bits and pieces. I've been going there for almost as many years as I've been in London, and it's been gratifying to see how many more vegan options there are now than I when I started visiting.

I think for the first time, the Scandi Market had a wholly vegan stall: the CaribSwede Vegan Bakery.

On its website, the CaribSwede Vegan Bakery says it offers Swedish bakes with Caribbean flavours, and that's what we got a taste of when we visited the stall.

This beautiful piece of pastry work was a mango mazarin, a tropical take on a traditional Swedish almond cake. I've never got a chance to try a mazarin before, but as a reference, it reminded me of a frangipane tart - a dense, chewy mound of almond in a pastry shell. 

I tend to avoid mango desserts normally, as I find them a bit on the sweet side -- and plus mangoes are perfect just as they are. The CaribSwede mazarin was a beast of a dessert, and could easily have fed me twice over. It was perfectly sweet too, so while I could have stopped eating after half of the pie and saved me a chunk for the next day, I kept right on eating. 

Can you blame me? Look at the colour of that gorgeous filling:

For anyone after a straight Swedish bake, there were berry mazarins too, but having tried the mango version, I know which one I'll be going for if I get a chance again.

There were also Swedish classics on sale, including cardamom and cinnamon buns:

Look at this beauty though. It's just a perfect festive knot of pastry to warm the soul, with the sort of glorious seasonal spice that just makes you feel cosy just to smell it. 

There were loads more vegan goodies on sale at the CaribSwede stall, including bread and a variety of patties with appealing sounding fillings. Next time I see CaribSwede, you can bet I'm going to taking a load home with me. If their savoury goodies are on a par with the sweets we tried, they're going to be gooooood. 

With winter drawing on and daylight drifting away, the world needs more pastry to keep us cosy. CaribSwede has the festive tastes that make you remember all the good things of winter, and the sunny flavours to tell you summer isn't so far away. It's just the right mix for the start of Christmas. 

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