If you followed my little project a few weeks ago where I halved my food budget and shunned chain stores in favour of our local independent stores, then you’ll know it was a fantastic success and has changed the way I shop – forever. I do love a good walk, and I have been spending up to an hour a day walking to the shops, around the shops, around the markets, and back home again to get my food shopping. Not everyone has that time. Not even I do some weeks! So are there any shops that you could pop into locally, where you can get the ingredients for a whole amazing meal, but isn’t a boring, bog standard big chain supermarket and could still be convenient to go to on your way home from work? I’m on a mission to find out!
Monday: Istanbul Food Gate, 93 Mitcham Rd, Tooting, London SW17 9PD
This absolute wonder of a shop makes me feel like I’m on holiday. As the sign suggests, they stock a ridiculously large range of Turkish, Greek, Arabic, English and Eastern European foods. The array is dizzying. The pomegranates are as big as your head. The tomatoes look, and taste like real tomatoes. The vegetables aren’t wrapped in plastic (they do offer plastic bags, but you can take your own bags and use them – they don’t mind at all), the passages in the shop are narrow and the stock reaches the ceiling in some parts but there’s always some one on hand with a ladder to help you reach things. Right at the back of the shop there is a butcher’s counter, you can all to order but they seems to have most of the basics in stock all of the time – whole chickens, chicken breasts, lamb chops, beef mince. If you just wanted the ingredients for a basic spag bol, it would be there. There are so many options but I stuck with something simple, and its something that you can make in advance too.
Click here to get the recipe.
Tuesday: The Tooting Supermarket, 66 Tooting High St, Tooting, London SW17 0RN
The Tooting Supermarket, like most other supermarkets, stocks pretty much most things, but they are all condensed into a tiny space, again, like most of our local stores, everything is stacked to the ceiling, not wasting a millimetre of space. This shop, also like many others, starts on the outside. Tons and tons of fresh fruit and vegetables spewing onto the street as though it really can’t contains its own excitement for what’s on sale. There’s always pumpkin in Tooting, all year round and I’ve never been able to find out why, but I’m not complaining, I love pumpkin. Inside, the fruits and vegetables continue, the air inside is heavy with the scent of ripe Kesar mangoes, which are in season at the moment. Past the 6 feet high stack of trays of fresh bread, the magazines and the till, the real shopping begins. There is a fridge with the usual cheese, milk, cold drinks and some meats (mostly cooked and sliced and more like picnic food), but then there are freezers with a very impressive fish collection, including whole crabs and enormous king prawns. I’m not a huge fan of fish, and that wasn’t what I was looking for particularly, but after finding some frozen cassava, it got me to thinking, that a slightly exotic take on fish and chips would be nice. I’ve been missing the seaside recently, the sun is out so it makes sense, well, except for the not really like fish part…its more shellfish I’m not keen on but upon looking up I saw the solution. Vegetarian, gluten free, shrimp flavoured soy chunks! Next to them, some coconut flour and some polenta, looks like faux fried prawns for dinner. Spotting a bottle of Aunt May’s Bajan Pepper sauce in the next aisle, I decided to throw that over some cucumber and coriander for a dressing – heaven!
Recipe here – if you do like real prawns, then obviously use those instead.
Wednesday: Eating out at Camile Thai for a very special reason…
Ordinarily I wouldn’t go out for dinner on a Wednesday night, but this week, it was no ordinary Wednesday. For the fast couple of months I’ve been working on a collaborative project with Camile Thai in Tooting Bec on a guest dish for their menu. Before this, I’d ordered at least a couple of times a month from there, bit knew nothing other than the food was amazing. It was a surprise to find out that they are, in fact, largest Thai restaurant chain in Ireland! They’ve been doing lots of collaborative dishes in Ireland with various professional sports people and even Samantha Mumba (yep, I’m still a fan)! As you’ll have seen from following this blog, whilst I’m a fan of classic dishes, when it comes to cooking, I like to mix it up and I believe that flavours and styles are an ever evolving thing, as they have been for centuries, and some of our best loved dishes began as fusions, by accident, by necessity, by design…the reason doesn’t really matter. What matters is continuing to make sure that food is a joy. My dish, Ginger Pad Pesto, came about through experimenting with the Thai flavours that are familiar to us all, the style is just slightly different. The beef, chicken, duck or tofu that you choose as the protein in the dish is flavoured with ginger, but with the twist that it is marinated in dried ginger, rather than fresh, which gives it a warming deep flavour that still has a bit of a kick.
You can order my dish directly from Camile Thai online, or visit the restaurant at 326 Balham High Rd, Tooting Bec, London SW17 7AA.
Thursday: Broadway Market, 29 Tooting High St, Tooting, London SW17 0RJ
Due to having visitors srriving for the bank holiday weekend, Thursday is the last evening of cooking dinner at home this week. We are all off to spend every evening of the bank holiday a the 02 because…Take That are in town! Its very exciting! The food options at the 02 are less exciting… Ah well, I’ll find something to eat I’m sure.
Thursday was meant to be a trip to both Tooting Market and Broadway Market as I was going to pick up some of my ingredients at BYO – a zero waste store where you take your own containers for refilling, but I got there early, so I headed to new coffee shop Lomond to grab a drink and it turns out I can get my loose coffee there in future – good to know! I headed back to BYO and it still wasnt open, so I check twitter and it turns out they were closed as they were moving – doh! Oh well I’d had a nice coffee and a chat, and I headed to Broadway Market. I’d check out the ‘bowl people’ but they dodn’t have anything that shouted out to me. Reemember I’d said that you can ALWAYS get pumpkin in Tooting? Well, thet got me to craving pumpkin, so no matter what was for dinner, there would be pumkin.
I headed straight to Fresh Fruit & Veg and the back of the market. Last time I was here, I hadn’t gone into the back of the shop to scour the sleves for the most interesting products, but this time I did.
Among the endless bottles and jars of interesting flavours, I found this. Mauby syrup. I’ve never used it and had to google what it was, I decied to take a punt, and I’m glad I did. It smells like peppery vimto, with a hint of pumpkin pie spice and mulled wine. It’s complex, and delicious, and shouting out to be paired with pork. Pumpkin, red onion, coconut milk and Mauby syrup in hand, I headed for the butchers to pick up some pork belly. The resulting dinner was this:
Get the recipe here!