- Ben Tish is culinary director of The Stafford Collection, including the recently opened Norma. He reveals the indies he shops at in East London.
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I’m lucky to live in deepest darkest East London, between Limehouse, Whitechapel and Mile End. The area is incredibly diverse and exciting. While there is some gentrification, it’s a slow burner, unlike most of Hackney. I love it for this. My shopping depends on my eclectic tastes when it comes to home cooking. For spices and exotic Asian and Indian products there’s no better and cheaper place to go than the Bangla Bazar on Salmon Lane. It’s popular, so everything is turned around quickly and is super fresh. Their range of spices is also awesome. They do things like date paste and wild and wonderful green chutney sauces that I love to experiment with.
It’s a short walk up the canal for me to get to Victoria Park village which I’m convinced holds some of the best local shopping in London – with the best shops all within a stone’s throw of each other. Ginger Pig is the best butcher around by far and I always buy my Sunday roast meat from there. Jonathan Norris is one of the last great fishmongers and there’s always some hot smoked salmon for my dog. Wine is from the brilliant and knowledgeable Bottle Apostle and beautiful, fresh vegetables from the organic veg shop. I will grab a loaf of sourdough and some homemade lemon curd on my way home through Victoria Park from my favourite place there, The Pavillion Café & Bakery. They also do a wicked vegetarian breakfast.
I spend a lot of time working in the West End so often do a bit of shopping there for the weekends. Coffee is a big thing in my house so I stock up on mocha parfait blend coffee at the Algerian coffee store. They grind and weigh it for you there and then you can get a brilliant, quick espresso on the way out for £1.
Over the road I head to I Camisa – the oldest Italian deli in London and somewhere I’ve been going for many years. Great pasta and cheese but if you are in the know you can ask for ‘behind the counter’ fresh fennel and pork sausages. They either have them or they don’t, and they are amazing. They also have fresh black and white truffle in season at sensible prices. My work also occasionally takes me down to St James’s, so if I’m around there I always pop into Fortnum’s and stock up on some of their own-brand chocolate. It’s not cheap but if you want the ultimate indulgent shopping experience then this is the place to go.
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