Archive | May, 2011

Tow Path Cafe

30 May

My last trip back to London was glorious, and reminded me of the many reasons to love the city. I put it down to two significant factors. The Royal Wedding and an extended period of good weather. For some people the Wedding was a joyous moment for the nation, for others it was a tedious media circus best used as an excuse to leave town. Whichever way you looked at it London was the winner. The masses that chose to get away left a half empty city full of happy people enjoying the sunshine and revelry.

I spent a morning on The Regents Canal enjoying the contrast from one side of the water to the other. It seems odd that the extremes of expensive  modern or renovated buildings and the local authority stock of Hackney can exist peacefully with only a slip of water to separate them. I loved the irony of Orwell Court and its many ‘surveillance’ cameras (a really good reason not to love London).

But what I loved most of all was starting and ending at The Tow Path Cafe. I remember first hearing about it when I bumped into my friend and the head chef Laura on the Eurostar to Paris. It struck me as a lovely idea but not one that would necessarily last. However thanks to her excellent food and the endeavours of the owners it seems now both very sensible and well established.

The food is delicious and based on a simple rotating seasonal menu including a very indulgent toasted cheese sandwich, rilette of duck with St John bread, mozzarella and prosciutto, English peas, and now best of all superb soft serve ice cream. Apparently the machine alone costs £4000 so the fact that a generous single serve costs only £1.50 makes it a deal not to be missed.


Maltby Street Market

17 May

I always travel across Waterloo Bridge, best view of London in my opinion, plus you get to see whats going on at the Hayward Gallery

Moving to a new place is always hard, you take for granted all the small connections that go into making a place home and it is only when you leave that you truly appreciate what you had. Over the years I have slowly cultivated my own personal list of the best food purveyors in London. Unsurprisingly it has changed over time, and places I once considered high quality have been replaced either by newcomers or my ever increasing standards.

Ham and Cheese Company

Working at Borough Market for Sally Clarke was my first real interaction with London’s top producers and importers. It was here that I learnt about  provenance and seasonality. Thanks to an unwritten rule of trade discounts and end of the day swaps we were able to sample each others wares and slowly I was able to separate the wheat from the chaff. I can now manoeuver my way around in about 20 minutes thus avoiding the frustration that comes from getting stuck amongst the slow-moving herd of grazers that populate the market.

Nothing like a good picnic spot

Whilst efficient it is not much fun, hence my attraction to Maltby Street. I am not sure exactly how it begun but for the time being it remains a grazing free zone and for that I am thankful. In truth it is not really a market at all, more a collective of like-minded people. Following the lead of Monmouth Coffee Co and Neal’s Yard Dairy several other companies decided to base themselves in the Railway arches around Bermondsey, and this little foodie enclave has developed. Luckily for me all my favourite Borough stalls are here (except the Ginger Pig). So while I am finding my feet in a new city you can enjoy the one I left behind.

Monmouth coffee, old school but still the best.

Neal’s Yard Dairy, for British cheeses (and parmesan) the best around.

Ham and Cheese Company, unrivalled parma ham, mozzarella, chorizo, Jesus salami and more.

St John Bakery, fantastic bread and the best sugar-coated custard doughnuts in the world

Fern and Verrow, impeccable fruit and veg but at a price! (Booths around the corner offers a cheaper alternative)

For all the others see the Maltby Street website.

Save the best for last....St John custard doughnuts.......