Best new Brixton opening
There have been a few recent arrivals in Brixton which have garnered considerable press. By contrast, the chocolatier Paul Wayne Gregory, trained in Paris and maker of the Queen’s 80th birthday truffles, just turned up one day in a little sliver of a shop in Market Row. There are beautiful desserts, highly credible salted caramels and some superlative passion fruit ganache, all a five minute walk from our door.
Favourite new products
Following in the wake of the hipsters, I’ve been dutifully tromping through the optimistically named “Bermondsey Spa” most Saturday mornings, finding a new way to get turned around each time, but also discovering both some great new vendors, and outposts of Borough favourites (particularly Neals Yard Dairy and Mons Cheese) which are far less crowded than the originals. Three highlights:
Heather honey from the London Honey Company
Lots of India Pale Ales at the Kernel Brewery
Chicken from Fosse Meadows at The Butchery
Most enjoyable read
Notes from Madras, Colonel Wyvern (1878). Wyvern wrote for Englishwomen abroad and their native cooks, explaining how to prepare both Anglo-Indian and European foods.
Lamb pizza from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem. This may be no better than the fish cakes in spicy tomato sauce, or the hummus or stuffed peppers—all superlative. It gets the nod for perfectly recreating the soft, pliable dough of the lahmacun I ate in Istanbul last winter, and pairing it with a topping that is at once sweet with caramelised meat, crunchy with fresh herbs and sharp with pomegranate.
Best eating moment
A breakfast of chilaquiles—eggs, refried beans and tortilla chips covered with a cooked red salsa, garnished with sour cream, cotija cheese, avocado and coriander (cilantro)—at San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza Market, while watching the fog clear over the Bay Bridge.
Most memorable drink
Ruinart champagne at the Royal Opera House, just moments after receiving my engagement ring.
A custom mix of Formosa Lapsang Souchong and Higgins Breakfast tea from HR Higgins. We’ve been drinking their Creole Blend coffee for years; this is fast becoming the house tea: smoky, smooth and mouth-filling without being tannic.
Best evening out
A “Shambolic Sherry Tasting” put on by our local wine shop and held in a freezing upstairs room at the Dogstar pub. There were half a dozen non-sherry pours from natural wine importers, Les Caves de Pyrene, including a Savennières and a Jura chardonnay made in a vin jaune style, and quality nibbles aplenty. The sherries came thick and fast, and ranged from the merely very, very good to the absolutely exceptional (in the form of a rare Palo Cortado). We met a wine consultant working in Kazakhstan too, and heard all the gossip on the Brixton restaurant scene. And all for £7.50.