- The executive chef for Holborn Dining Room talks about the South East London food scene
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I’ve lived in South East London for the majority of my life except for a couple of years in central (before the 2am bottle collections outside my window got too much) and I appreciate the different advantages both offered for food shopping. In the South East I have always felt that I can support local independent businesses with loyalty, whilst in the West End it was more about choice and the ability to jump on the tube to go and buy fresh babka or obscure cheeses and be back home in half an hour.
When I was living in Lewisham, I’d go to Gennaro deli for salamis, olives and thick, spreadable gianduja chocolate, which I have a slight addiction to (it’s probably my worst food vice). Strangely, I always struggled to find this in central London but recently discovered it in the Algerian Coffee Stores on Old Compton Street in Soho. I think when I have time I’m going to try to create an emergency supply map of the city.
I now live in Maze Hill in Greenwich and am surrounded by producers and independents, but the first port of call would always be the Brockley Market on Saturday mornings where you can find beautiful British charcuterie from Moons Green, sausages from Nathan at his The Butchery SE23 stand and teas from Good & Proper. I’m quite careful now with shopping for meat. I used to be terrible for buying from the supermarket and freezing because of the convenience but now try to be selective and buy just enough for a few nights a week but the best that I can afford. It means that I plan my meals more meticulously at home and really appreciate what I’m eating. I’ll go to Larder in Sundridge Park; I found it originally because it is near my mum’s house and I would pick up something to cook for a Sunday roast. They really care about craft and provenance there and I love to see the relationships they have built up with the locals when I’m in – it’s become a proper neighbourhood butchers shop in just a couple of years.
Fin and Flounder in Broadway market regularly has the finest fresh fish and shellfish offering in the city. I’ve seen wild pink bream, sea urchins and mahogany clams on the display there. It’s a dream to be able to get access to those ingredients in a shop, and the more people that are daring enough to try something different from a farmed salmon fillet, the more it encourages them to stock such beautiful produce. A recent find but probably my favourite is The Laughing Heart wine shop on the Hackney Road, E2. It’s run by a guy called Charlie who has an incredible knowledge of wine, but most importantly is utterly charming and makes you feel completely welcome. That is utterly priceless in retail and will have me coming back again and again.
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