Foodie Adventures: Brockley Market

A couple of weeks ago, the boy and I headed to Brockley Market on one of our weekend adventures.  It was a bit of a trek from North West London to Lewisham, but it was worth it for this lovely market, which was an absolute food geek’s paradise! Stall upon stall was laden with fresh, gorgeous produce, from artisan sourdough to homemade cordial, and almost every one was manned by a friendly stall holder, passionate about their wares and eager to explain the painstaking processes of producing their food.  It was great to talk to so many people so clearly pursuing their passions, and so proud of what they had to sell.

One lady explained to us what makes sourdough different from normal bread, before advising us on the best loaf for sourdough beginners (n.b. it was delicious). Another guy explained how he made his beautiful cheeses, while M made himself at home getting endless advice about different craft beers. We also tried some very VERY hot BBQ sauces, touted by some very eager guys who took great glee in our reaction to their mildest offering!

There were loads of street food trucks to choose from for lunch — our resolutions to save money and eat at home having rapidly disintegrated. After much deliberation, we went for the Saltwood Fish Bar. Matt had the fish and chips, which he declared to be one of the best he’d ever had. I had the calamari and chips — squid coated in polenta and deliciously crisp — alongside some wonderfully garlicky aioli. We ate this on several large wooden benches set at one corner of the market, alongside people enjoying everything from burritos to huge burgers from the other stalls.

I’d thoroughly recommend taking a trip to Brockley if you find yourself in the area. It’s a lovely way for anybody who likes food (isn’t that everybody…?) to spend a Saturday morning.

For the where, when and how, the website is here.

And now, for many many photographs…

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Listening to There is an Answer by A Great Big World, Wonderful Unknown by Ingrid Michaelson and 22 by Taylor Swift.

© Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Daytrippers: Brighton

Some photographs from a sunny day out in Brighton. It was our first visit to this lovely seaside gem, complete with window shopping, ice cream and lots of windy sunshine. We loved it!

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Listening to Photographs by Joshua Radin, Snow (Hey Oh) by Red Hot Chilli Peppers, This Kiss by Faith Hill and This will be (An Everlasting Love) by Natalie Cole.

All content is ©Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

The Friday Frame {16} Blooms Ahead

The clue is in the bicycle’s cargo: ‘kwiaty’ is Polish for ‘flowers’, presumably 50 metres further on. This bicycle was on a backstreet in Poznan; we discovered it during a very early morning wander: we were up at 6am in an effort to avoid the heat of the day. It’s such a beautiful signpost, how could I not take a photograph?

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All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

The Friday Frame {15} ‘A’ for Adventure

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Everybody loves a good quote, especially in a bookshop. This particular nugget is from the Waterstones in Covent Garden (well, Flaubert originally…). I had ten minutes to kill before an interview so I sought refuge surrounded by books: the best place to hide from the real world for a little while. Especially in the travel section.

Listening to: Style by Taylor Swift, Time Machine by Ingrid Michaelson, Poison & Wine by The Civil Wars, Irregular Heart by Schuyler Fisk.

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Foodie Adventures: Regency Cafe, Pimlico

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Regency Cafe

I found Regency Cafe during a post-interview wander, which left me floating around Pimlico in search of a late breakfast. I was instantly intrigued by how retro this place looked; white block lettering against a black-tiled exterior, with red and white checked curtains at the windows. Correctly guessing that this kind of place would not take cards, I walked past initially, found a cash point, then went back. Inside, it really was like a time warp. Faded photographs and movie posters in frames lined the cream- tiled walls, and the tables were like the kind you’d associate with a canteen. Linoleum. The menu was spelled out in white letters on those black boards that used to display cinema times: slightly wonky and with some of the letters handmade where they’ve been lost or damaged. The food on offer instantly reminded me of home: the North of England has managed to keep far more of these ‘greasy spoons’ open, and so the fried liver on offer was reminiscent of the tiny cafe where I waitressed growing up. In London, though, there are very few of these places left. The ones that do exist tend to have a manufactured kind of feel, like they’ve been created to look like this kind of cafe, rather than actually being the real thing.

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Specials Board (+ builders’ tea; bottom left)

In my pencil skirt and blazer (remember, post-interview), I was suddenly conscious of looking very out of place: the cafe was mainly filled with working men taking their mid- morning break; all steel-capped boots, dusty overalls and fluorescent jackets. The service was rough and ready, but that only added to the warmth of the place — you order at the counter and then, when your food’s ready, they call out the order and you go up to collect it yourself. The man behind the counter had the kind of infectious friendliness that afflicts all of the best cafe owners; he seemed to know most of the people who came in and out, and by the time you left he bid you farewell like a long-lost friend.

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Condiments in technicolour

Builders’ tea; strong, milky and sloshed into plain white mugs, sat on most of the tables, accompanied by the full English breakfasts that you’d expect. Some people were tucking into large plates of rice and curry, despite the early hour: a chalkboard and the industrial-sized vat of mango chutney beside the till made it clear that this was the lunchtime special: Wednesday is curry day, apparently. The food was what you would expect: it was fresh, tasty and cheap. Definitely no frills, but this is the kind of place that shuns anything resembling frills at first glance. Standing at the counter and glancing at the menu, a man made a quip about Heston Blumenthal, that British gourmet chef famous for his weird, wonderful and very frilly creations (think, snail porridge) which I couldn’t quite hear. The owner replied jovially; ‘Oh yeah, Heston bloomin’ hell!’ It had been a long time since I’d heard anybody say ‘blooming’, and it reminded me instantly of my Dad, who is a fan of that particular exclamation of incredulity or annoyance. I’ve come to think of it as quite an old-fashioned phrase, and it made me realise that this cafe was filled with the invisible London which I hadn’t really experienced before.

Coming to London as an Oxford graduate, I’ve experienced a very particular face of the city. The posh bars and cafes, the professionals I meet when I go for interviews, and the other graduates who I spend most of my time with. But this cafe, and the people saying ‘blooming’, are more like the community I came from originally; using slang, and drinking tea from plain white mugs in cafes that only have two choices of bread (white or brown) and aren’t interested in any kind of smoothie. Don’t get me wrong, I love rye bread and passion fruit smoothies, but I also miss the simplicity of the small, rural place where I grew up.

When I went to Oxford, I was surrounded by people that mainly (not everybody!) spoke very stereotypically ‘British’ English; they were ‘posh’, I supposed you’d say, for want of a better word. Most people spoke very similarly, and I was instantly mocked for my deepened vowels, and the way that I said certain words, like ‘butter’ or ‘grass’. And even though most of it was just friendly teasing, it made me feel like I stood out. So without really realising I started to disguise my Northern accent; I didn’t let my vowels get too deep, and I rarely relaxed into the richness of slang and sayings that I’d grown up with. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the way the people in this cafe spoke reminded me inescapably of home, and that was really very nice.

Well, that turned into something of a tangent, but it comes down to the fact that if you’re looking for two eggs, chips and a Diet Coke for £4, then this place is ideal. And its friendliness is only enhanced by how rough it is around the edges.

Listening to: Warpath by Ingrid Michaelson, I Will Never Let You Down by Rita Ora, Strong and Wrong by Joni Mitchell.

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

The Friday Frame {14} Jeté

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This sculpture is on Millbank, beside the river, and I took this photograph on what felt like one of the first days of a blue-skied spring. It seemed to match the vitality of the chilly breeze and clean, bright skies. Entitled ‘Jeté’, it was created in 1975 by Enzo Plazzotta, and is modelled on the dancer David Wall. I love the unique combination of grace and power which male ballerinas seem to capture so perfectly, and the way that this sculpture manages to show a sense of movement so exquisitely.

Listening to: The Want of a Nail by Todd Rundgren, Walking on Broken Glass by Annie Lennox, Trouble by Ray LaMontagne, Piano by Ariana Grande.

(Adding current favourite songs to the end of each blog post is something I saw years ago on this lady’s blog, and it’s something I’d like to have a record of to look back on, so I think I’ll try to remember to keep doing it. You can also take them as a music recommendations if you like, although my taste is varied and I’m sure somewhat questionable at times!)

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

The Friday Frame {13} From the ground, up.

The understated grandeur of the painted fronts of Poznan townhouses almost made the unbearable 35 degrees centigrade heat worth it. When we told people we were going to Poland in July, most people suggested it might be a little chilly: we took coats. They were so incredibly wrong (and we were, evidently, so incredibly gullible for taking their word for it!) Of the four cities we visited, Poznan was the hottest — after the first day we took to going out at around 6.30am to fit in sightseeing before the hottest rays hit. By around 10am it would be searingly hot, sending us fleeing back to the hostel to lie around in very little, trying desperately to cool down and resolving to return to Poland only in the dead of winter. Beautiful buildings though.

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Townhouses in Poznan, Poland, Summer 2014.

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Foodie Adventures: Homeslice, Neal’s Yard

A little while ago, just before Christmas, a good friend and I went to the South Bank Christmas market; after working up an appetite browsing the stalls we wanted something to eat. Predictably, all of the nearby restaurants were packed and we decided to head somewhere off the beaten track in the hope of finding a table. And perhaps something a little different. We wandered quite far in search of the above, which I’m beginning to discover in earnest is something of an elusive quarry in London.

Eventually though, we came across Homeslice. We had to settle for a table outside, but we were suitably bundled up and the setting, on a tiny side street, meant that we were pretty sheltered and actually quite cosy. The service was fast and friendly —  and the waiter patiently deciphered the hipster chalk prices for us (yes, I am middle-aged, I know this) and brought us a generous bottle of tap water without any eye-rolling whatsoever.

We ended up going for one slice of each of the first three pizzas to share: Margherita/ Salami, Rocket & Parmesan/ Mushroom, Ricotta, Pumpkin Seeds & Chilli Flakes. As someone who is really not very adventurous, especially when it comes to savoury food, there were ingredients there that made me a bit antsy. Mainly ricotta and pumpkin seeds. I’ll admit I was sceptical. But I’m glad I branched out: the pizzas were all lovely. No grease in sight, just great flavours and ingredients which tasted really fresh. The base was light and just the right level of chewy vs. crusty in my opinion. And by buying by the slice, we had the perfect amount of food for a pretty reasonable price. (£12 altogether, so £6 each) The flavour combinations all worked perfectly, but my favourite was definitely the mushroom/ ricotta extravanganza that I’d been so wary of — adventurous choices rewarded. Homeslice’s website is here: you should definitely pay them a visit!

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Delicious, delicious pizza

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Foodie Adventures: The Haberdashery, Crouch End

Last weekend, my lovely friend Helen came to stay. We share an ardent appreciation of all things vintage, pretty and higgledy-piggledy — we spend a lot of time exchanging links to beautiful tiles and extravagant baking projects. Mainly on Pinterest. You get the picture. And so when she arrived off the train at King’s Cross from my home town, I really wanted to make the most of having her in London and go somewhere adorable and awesome. A quick Google search of something along the very predictable lines of ‘cosiest cafes in London’ yielded The Haberdashery: the name had me instantly hooked. It was only an easy half hour bus ride from where we were to Crouch End, so off we went.

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I didn’t manage to get my own photograph of the amazing interior; this one is from the cafe’s website

We loved it! The interior is stunning; vintage and chintzy in all of the best ways with excellent use of Victorian fireplace tiles and coffee bowls (yep, we saw people getting hot chocolate in what looked like breakfast bowls, heaven) hanging eccentrically behind the till. Our drinks came in glass bottles, and our food arrived on charmingly mismatched vintage plates. AND our butter came in an ancient looking ceramic tub that once contained ‘Sainsbury’s Freshly Made Bloater Paste’, which it turns out (thanks, Google) is a kind of fish paste made from Bloater fish, which is traditionally eaten on toast for afternoon tea. No actual fish paste on offer, sadly, so I had a Breakfast Roll with bacon and egg. The bread was lovely —  exactly the right level of toasted — sweet and chewy. The egg was fresh and cooked to perfection — the bacon just as good. I know, I know, it’s an egg and bacon sandwich. But that just seems like a massive understatement: it really was unlike any I’ve ever eaten.

I also had a yummy Elderflower Soda Jar, which of course came in an actual chunky jar with a handle. Again, it was like Elderflower cordial I’d had before, but just somehow better. The cakes looked amazing, but we were just too full after our delicious mains to sample any! I have vowed to return for afternoon tea very, very soon. Here’s the website: if you ever find yourself in Crouch End, definitely pop in. Actually scrap that, it’s worth making the journey especially, if only just to avoid another soul- destroying “Oh, I suppose we’ll just go to Starbucks, then” moment. I’ll certainly be back!

The Breakfast Roll of destiny

The Breakfast Roll of destiny

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Elderflower Cordial in a handy-handled jar

Helen with 'The Colonial' Juice: apple, cucumber, lime + mint

Helen with ‘The Colonial’ Juice: apple, cucumber, lime + mint

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015. Except the first photograph, which is from The Haberdashery’s website here.

The Friday Frame {12} Up the Wall

A mural on a backstreet in Warsaw. There’s just something about this that I love; it’s on the one hand very realistic, on the other strangely surreal. It’s also just amazing to create art on this scale, and in this environment —  I couldn’t help stopping for a few moments to gaze in wonder every time we walked past.

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Street art in Warsaw, Poland. Summer 2014.

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.