Brixton Market and Minestrone

mkt01Location: Electric Avenue and Pope’s Road, SW9

Brixton Market Traders Association: http://brixtonmarket.net/

This is another post in our occasional series about food shopping in Brixton. By Brixton Market I mean the more traditional street market; the actual stalls in Electric Avenue and Popes Road (Brixton Station Road deserves it’s own entry). It’s just enjoyed/suffered a makeover but the six or so food stalls, mostly selling fresh produce, amid the others with a mix of hats, hardware and other stuff, are still there. It might even still be recognised as a traditional street market by your genuine costermonger, keeping up the ancient tradition of closing down by 5:30 pm or earlier, as well as observing early closing day on Wednesdays. Continue reading

Spend Christmas 2015 in Brixton

You may have started buying what you need to celebrate Christmas, but here’s our advice on how you might get through this festive season without leaving Brixton. The ingredients of a good season for our family include decorating the house, plenty of booze and a good Christmas dinner, with the leftovers right up until New Year. Of course all the merriment is interspersed with the Christmas Eastenders, Dr Who, a few games on Boxing day and possibly a walk to Brockwell Park. It is now our 31st Brixton Christmas and so we do have things in the loft and under the bed that contribute to our traditions but there are always extra things we add each year. Continue reading

Kumasi Market

kumasi01

3rd Avenue

27-28 Brixton Village

SW9 8PR

020 7737 6277

Kumasi is a city in Ghana and the capital of Ashanti. It gives its name to Kumasi Market in Brixton Village, one of a trio of stores in Third Avenue selling mainly food and goods from West Africa. Together with the African Queen Fabric store, it’s like a little bit of Africa in the heart of Brixton. I have intended for some time to cover one of these stores in our series of posts on food shops in Brixton but I always found them a bit daunting. The dried and smoked fish is particularly exotic. However, I’ve occasionally chatted to the shopkeepers, and found that they are really helpful in explaining what they have on offer.

So, the intention in these posts is to buy the ingredients at a Brixton store and to make a typical meal. As we have reported before, we have been to Ghana and enjoyed the Ghanaian food at May Foods – see the report here – but this has been my first attempt at actually cooking the food. It has been more of a challenge, as many of the key ingredients are less familiar to those of us with a European background. This is particularly true of the key part of any true Ghanaian meal, the carbohydrate.

The dish I’ve gone for is chicken in peanut sauce served with banku and spinach. I’ve used an amalgam of different recipes. All of the main ingredients have come from Kumasi Market, apart from the chicken which came from Jones the Butcher.

The ingredients for the chicken in peanut sauce are: 1 kilo of chicken (legs, thighs and wings are best); 3 tbsp vegetable oil; 1 large onion, chopped; a 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced; 6-8 garlic cloves, chopped roughly; 1 kilo of sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks; 1 can of chopped tomatoes; 1 litre chicken stock; 1 cup groundnut paste/peanut butter; 1 cup peanuts, roasted; 1 tbsp ground coriander; 1 teaspoon cayenne; Salt and ground black pepper; and lots of chopped coriander as a garnish. Most of the heat in the dish, and in an authentic version there’s plenty, comes from the ground black pepper. I

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The first step is to brown the chicken and put to one side. Then fry the onions, adding the spices when it has softened. Finally you put everything in the same pot and stew until the chicken and sweet potato is all cooked – check after an hour. After it cooled a bit I removed the bones but this is a matter of taste. The finished article probably benefits from being left to stand for a while, before reheating. You can garnish with lots of coriander.

The accompaniments were banku and spinach. The banku is balls of fermented dough and takes a bit of getting used to, as well as being hard work to make. I did make my own, with a mixture of readymade cassava and corn dough bought from Kumasi and it was an education in itself. However, my tip is to buy it readymade from May Foods in Market Row. It should also be understood that the term spinach applies to almost any green leaves. I just chopped and washed mine and fried it in garlic infused oil.

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Everyone enjoyed the chicken and spinach but views were mixed on the banku. We found a little goes a long way. It would be good with rice of course.

Christmas in Brixton

You may have started buying what you need to celebrate Christmas, but here’s our advice on how you might get through this festive season without leaving Brixton. The ingredients of a good season for our family include decorating the house, plenty of booze and a good Christmas dinner, with the leftovers providing the basis for most of our meals right up until New Year. Of course all the merriment is interspersed with the Christmas Eastenders, Dr Who, a few games on Boxing day and possibly a walk to Brockwell Park. It is now our 30th Brixton Christmas and so we do have a number of things in the loft and under the bed that contribute to our traditions but there are always extra things we add each year. Continue reading

Butcher Shops in Brixton

Jones the Butcher,
Address: 1 Dulwich Rd, London SE24 0NT
020 7274 4629
http://jonesthebutcher.wordpress.com/
Opening Hours: Mon: 05:00 – 12:30; Tue: 05:00 – 12:30 Wed: 05:00 – 12:30 Thu: 05:00 – 13:00; Fri: 05:00 – 13:00; Sat: 09:00 – 13:00

Dombey & Son,
19 Market Row, Brixton, London, SW9 8LB
020 7274 1035
Opening Hours:: Tue: 07:30 – 17:30; Wed: 07:30 – 15:30; Thu: 07:30 – 17:30; Fri: 07:30 – 17:45; Sat: 06:30 – 17:45

Michael’s Meat Market
49 Atlantic Rd London SW9 8JL
020 7737 1069

There’s no shortage of places to buy meat in Brixton and we cannot claim to have tried them all. We are also not great meat eaters, at least when eating at home. Nevertheless, it’s time we had a look at butchers in our series of reports on Brixton food shops. The trouble is that while there are lots of shops selling meat, there are not that many I consider proper butchers. Also when you see a secondhand supermarket trolley full of carcasses being wheeled down Atlantic Road it does make you think of being a vegetarian. But there are places I have found that can be relied upon to provide value for money. Continue reading

Cinco Quinas

Talho01

13 Atlantic Road, SW9 8HX

020 7501 9540

Closed Sundays

This is a Portuguese butcher in one of the railway arches in Atlantic Road, so vegetarian readers might wish to stop right here. For some time I thought that the name was “Talho Acougue”, because that’s what it says most prominently above the shop. But this just means “butcher butcher” using two terms for the same thing, depending on what variety of Portuguese is being used. The shop sign also displays the flags of Portugal, Brazil, Madeira and the UK, which also suggests something of the background. Continue reading

Lidl, Acre Lane

Lidl (1)

71 Acre Ln, London SW2 5TN

I wouldn’t describe myself as a great fan of Lidl, but for some things it’s really useful. I rate their parmesan cheese and some consumer tests have given high marks to their olive oil. And it’s cheap. There’s also the entertainment value in checking out what random items they’ve got on special offer for that week. Recently I bought a weighing machine for the bathroom and a blood pressure monitor at prices that, compared to those at regular shops for such items, are ridiculously low. Their fruit and vegetables are often good quality as well and for something like gazpacho you can get a really great value meal, without any compromise on taste.

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Bad Boys Bakery

 

http://www.badboysbakery.org/

Bad Boys’ Bakery is a social enterprise based inside HM Prison Brixton. Their website gives the full history. It was set up by Gordon Ramsay in 2012 to train bakers on the inside so they might find work on their release from prison. Every Saturday since February they have been selling their wares in Brixton. They didn’t have a full setoff things when we arrived at 2.30pm because they sell out fast. But if you get there early enough you will see cakes and pastries such as Lemon Treacle Slice, Lemon Treacle Tart, Chocolate Pecan Nut Brownie, Marbled Chocolate Chip Brownie, Caramel Pecan Pie, Carrot Cake Loaf, Raspberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake, Lemon Drizzle Loaf and Banana Bread. Our favourite is the Lemon Treacle Tart as the acidity of the lemon makes the breadcrumbs and syrup less cloying. One goes a long way at 510 calories but delicious all the way through. They also produce bread with seeds or without, white, wholemeal and the usual sourdough. If you want to know all the ingredients then look up their website and you will see the .

Their cakes are not cheap but they are well worth it – £7.50 for a cake loaf but there are loads of slices in it. There is also the warm glow from contributing to a worthwhile outfit – although that may be the golden syrup.

Fishmongers

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For some time I’ve promised myself that I will write about shopping for fish in Brixton. Because one of the most fantastic things about central Brixton is the number of fishmongers. Across the country fishmongers have become an endangered species, largely replaced by supermarkets. But here in Brixton we have more fishmongers than there are in the whole of Hertfordshire. By this I mean proper fishmongers, where they offer a good range of types of fish with knowledgeable staff who will clean and fillet your purchases. This is great, of course, but it does pose a problem when you have to choose which shop to use. So, unlike earlier posts in our series about shopping, I’m not going to focus on a single shop.

I’ve actually lost count of the number of shops in Brixton that sell fish but not all of them, in my mind at least, count as proper fishmongers. Quite a few of the Afro-Caribbean grocers sell some fish and there are others that specialise in fish but just sell it frozen, straight out of the boxes in which it arrived. I rarely use these, apart from the fish section in the Wing Tai Supermarket in Electric Avenue which is often useful, particularly for prawns.

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Faiz Latin and Caribbean Groceries

faiz02

10-12 Granville Arcade
Brixton Village SW9 8PR

Telephone 020 7274 0005

Open 9:00 am to 6:00 pm (closed Sundays) Now open on Sundays as well

There are lots of shops like this in Brixton that fall into the general category of Afro Caribbean food stores. I’ve often wondered what’s the difference. How do you decide to shop at Abdul’s Fruit and Veg rather than the A1 Superstore? Or SW Foodstore rather than Brixton Foodbase? I’ve got a theory that they are really all the same. Certainly there doesn’t seem to me much competition on price, or service come to that. However, Faiz is my favourite. I’m not really sure why but the people who work there are friendly and helpful, the fresh produce is good and it’s got what you need if you are interested in Caribbean food.

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