A simple example of how even the top-end supermarket free range organic eggs compare badly to real farm eggs.
Working in Shoreditch, surrounded by people in scary clothes and shops selling stuff I neither want nor can afford, there are a couple of standout places. This one is a traditional “Pastaficio” with all pasta handmade and a little café out back. Unless you’ve been to Italy and had the same, you’ve not tasted anything like this. The pasta itself is just insanely good and the fillings diverse from meaty through to veggie.
I’ve filled a frequent-flyer card!
Apparently I’d been doing it wrong all these years. These are the rules for making stock:
- Thou shall use only the finest ingredients
- Thou shall not over cook thy stock
- Thou shall not sin by adding salt to thy stock
- Thou shall not cover thy stock with a lid
- Thou shall not boil thy stock for the chef loves the simmer
- Thou shall remove all iniquities and scum as they form
- Thou shall not stir thy stock
- Thou shall not corrupt the flavour of thy stock with strongly flavoured spices or herbs
- Thou shall cool and store thy stock correctly
Keep these precepts and thou will prosper and find favour with thy chef and flavour in thy stock
I have a screen grab of this on my kitchen wall. I almost always make fresh stock for the gravy for a Sunday roast.
Within central London, this is one of the few “real” markets I know of. There are plenty of nice coffee shops around, notably 46b Espresso Hut and L’épicierie from where I get my olive oil from the barrel. I tend to go there to visit The Dark Knights of Cholestorol purveyors of fine cheeses, today’s booty being a firm, creamy Italian mountain cheese whose name immediately left my head. Good though! Today also produced some lovely chutney from Urban Preserves, some kedgeree for lunch and could have given us local breads or fine olive oil from Spain, farm meats and some lovely art from Fur, Feather and Tails.
Contrast this with Broadway Market which is just enough inside the hipster catchment to sport even more coffee, gastropubs, designery clothing and so on. Oh, and the wonderful London Fields Brewery close by. Nice in the summer, and a nice stroll on the canal from Haggerston but Chatsworth Road just seems more real.
Got any unsung markets near you?
Historically, I’ve avoided these things like the plague, imagining they’re dominated by big brands with a few little fish round the edge. Turns out I was wrong. Whoop!
I know for next time how to play it:
- Avoid the booze at the start like the plague. Yes, gin at 11 in the morning is lovely, but a hangover at 12 can really put a crimp on the rest of your day.
- Pace yourself. You don’t have to sample all of the things. I was feeling a bit wobbly after we’d done the floor and couldn’t really face anything by the time we got to the balcony. The girl throwing up outside had clearly overdone it.
- Start savoury and build up to sweet. Don’t mix them!
- Take your TIME. There’s all day.
- Drink water.
- Learn to blank out Jamie Oliver
- Chillies are big. Save them for the last of the savoury.
- There’s a whole wine thing upstairs which you’ll miss if you’ve overdone the craft gin!
- Fancy tea and coffee is a big thing.
- Craft gin distilleries are springing up all over the country. And vodka. There’s a distillery bar in the City.
- There are lots of cookery courses.
- Every man and his dog is doing chutneys, sauces and condiments. It’s getting very hard to differentiate now.
So here’s a list of the companies that stood out to me.
- Farmison do deliveries based around Saturday Kitchen. Not completely sure how useful this is, but it’s a good tie-in.
- Simply Cook More recipe-based box setness
- Hellofresh Another recipe-based shipper!
- Lemporia Very nice array of Italian artisan food. They have a place on Maltby Stret Market on Saturday. Worth a visit. Interesting alternative to Borough.
- The Japan Centre That is all. Our supermarket in central London.
- Mr Todiwala His pickles and chutneys stood out in a very crowded market.
- Black Acorn do very tasty pork things.
- The Pelagonia Range do interesting and tasty Macedonian goodies!
- Equalitea Huge tea importer. Biodynamic so it’s nice magic is involved.
- Tea Studio. More tea. Cute postcards!
- Cupari wines I like Argentinian wines. That is all.
- Sea Island Coffee Weird and rare coffee from around the world. Want to try the Hawaiian!
There is so much more and something for every taste. Maybe there’s a case for going in with a mission, say, preserved meats, smoked foods, cheese or condiments and when you’ve exhausted that, go back and revisit things that stood out on the first lap. Certainly next time I’m going far better prepared!