If you’re a regular reader, you already know how we feel about the market which lies on Ellie’s old doorstep on Electric Avenue. We both live a short cycle ride away now, and still swing by after work for weekly supplies of fresh herbs, vegetables and sundries. Our experience of shopping at the market and in the Portuguese delis on Atlantic Road over the years has inspired our recipes and how we cook, eat and savour food. Something we could never say about standing in the permanently long queue squashed between the biscuits and soft drinks in Brixton’s Sainsbury’s Local. We are acutely aware that the produce on the market is rarely locally sourced and has no doubt travelled many miles to be there. However, for us it feels more important to support the local stall holders and shop owners who work day in and day out with broad smiles (the occasional inappropriate sexual remark aside), whatever the weather. Remember to say no to the plastic bags though – in the bat of an eyelid they’ll have double bagged your parsnips.
Here are just 7 things from a recent market shop that brightened up our kitchens:
1. Generous bundles of fresh herbs—mint, flat leaf parsley, coriander, thyme—for 50/60p at any of the vegetable stalls or shops, our favourite being Danny’s Greengrocers. Forget paying over £1 for the sad sprigs trapped inside supermarket plastic.
2. Vine tomatoes, limes and bulging spring onions for tiny prices at Nour cash and carry.
3. Glass bottles of leite con chocolato from chatty Manuel at O Talho are ideal for hangovers and take me straight back to South America.
4. Condensed milk, labneh and tamarind from Nour. We recently made fantastic cardamon kulfi with condensed and evaporated milk. Labneh (strained yoghurt) with some sea salt, black pepper, torn basil and a drizzle of olive oil makes a delicious, fresh dip. Tamarind pulp is quite messy to prepare but an ideal alternative for lemons in Asian cooking – this packet made its way into a slow cooked beef rendang at our last Kitchen Club supper.
5. Cheap bags of spices and this beautiful tube of harissa again from Nour.
6. Lemon grass and chillies from Wing Tai. Also the place to go to for fresh galangal, pak choi, noodles, chilli sauce, wasabi peas and the best cheats’ rendang paste if you’re feeling lazy.
7. Meat is one thing we don’t buy at the market. We would often watch the meat vans arriving from Ellie’s living room window in the early hours and let’s just say that keeping the carcasses off the tarmac is seldom a priority. These plump British Spring lamb chops were from Brixton Farmers’ Market which sets up on the other side of the railway bridge every Sunday. Although I’m happy to pay a fair amount for good quality meat, and the farmers’ market does have a good range of quality British meat, in other departments it’s a rather lacklustre, over-priced version of the market 400 yards away. It seems crazy to buy vegetables here for almost triple the price and with none of the atmosphere, even if they are organic.
Rosie & Ellie