This is for and about home cooks - the women all over the the world (and through the centuries) who put dinner on the table every night. They know how to cook quickly, easily, economically, healthily and satisfyingly whether for one or a dozen.

Part memoir, part diary of shopping, cooking, reading and thinking about putting supper on the table, by a former fashion/design writer/consultant whose secret love has always been food.  

 

North Cross Road Street Market

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Pasta di Grazia

Pasta di Grazia

I love the sense of discovery you find in London’s ever expanding street/farmer’s Markets.

As spiralling rents force small, more adventurous shops further and further out from the city centre, street markets have become the place to find things wonderful and new, with lots of enthusiastic startups offering home baked cakes, fresh pasta, pastries, artisanal bread, salamis and cheese (has everybody noticed how many great new English cheeses there are around now?) along with beautifully hand made baby clothes, great vintage jewellery and tableware, or the work of young printmakers/photographers. As the markets are usually on a lively neighbourhood shopping street, there is a warm sense of community, both among the traders and the shops surrounding them.

Lucky me, to have two enticing little markets nearby – the older and more established on Northcross Road

on Saturdays (with a smaller selection also on Fridays), off Lordship Lane in the yummy mummy land of East Dulwich; the other, more recently established, in equally yummy Herne Hill on Sundays (see recent post).

On Saturdays I head straight to Pasta di Grazia (above) to stock up on fresh ravioli - the big, round pumpkin with sage is my favourite (my husband prefers the equally classic ragu). Wild boar, goats cheese and a sensational truffle pasta are other choices and I always buy enough for at least two meals (each piece frozen individually so I can cook as many or few as needed, then tucked in a plastic freezer bag).

The Southeast Brownie Bar

The Southeast Brownie Bar

Cheeses are a must – either from Mootown or The Blackwood Cheese Company, depending on the week, followed by chocolate treats from The Southeast Brownie Bar or The Blackbird Bakery. There are fresh olives and salamis at The Oliveria, hand made fudge at Saucy Somerset Fudge, exotic little Brazilian cakes (some weekends) at Aguana Boca, and deliciously satisfying warm, garlicky pork baguettes from the canary yellow Viet Van while thick pork buns are at the hog roasters. Tierra Verde has just opened a second shop here, with Spanish cheeses and cured hams, and serves freshly made Spanish specialties like paella and tortillas just outside its windows on market days. 

Viet Van

Viet Van

Terra Verde

Terra Verde

The biggest lures, for me (after the food), are the vintage tableware dealers

Patterson

Patterson

Stuart Patterson brings robust, French country style platters, bowls and other pottery from his premises nearby at Vanguard Court, SE5, while in an open stall across the road you will find a constantly changing selection of pretty vintage china and glass, along with old painted furniture and mirrors and bright textiles. I bought my daughter-in-law an amazing mid century modern tea set here, of a design I’ve never seen anywhere else.

The Vintage Store on the corner of Northcross and Fellebrigg Road is open market days (Friday, Saturday) only and is packed with vintage tableware of every kind, lovely old biscuit tins, old tin buckets, painted furniture and an enticing selection of old, well pre-loved cookbooks.

The Vintage Store

The Vintage Store

 

Making the street even more of a destination are shops like Dr Boo, an independent beauty store with make-up and spa rooms attached; the recently opened Maison Dog, London – Antique Dog, specialising in canine collectibles, and Retro Dog, with recycled dog items of every kind. And to bring a fragrant bouquet or potted plant back home, Fresh Flower will do the trick.



Smoked Haddock Chowder with Crème Fraiche

Simple Supper: Chicken a la King