diamond geezer

 Wednesday, August 17, 2011


seeking out London's Underground food network
First edition - August 2011

Shepherd's Bush Market
While Borough Market may have the foodies buzzing, a new venture in W12 promises to make its mark on London's organic food scene. The monthly Farmers' Market On The Green is the brainchild of local entrepreneur Rosie McCann, a mother of three whose initiative has given her neighbourhood a premium boost. Now farmers from across Middlesex meet in Shepherd's Bush on the third Tuesday of the month, and workers from the surrounding office blocks all stop by for a delicious and sustainable bite. Favourite lunchtime choices include fajita wraps from Green Cottage and the legendary Hanwell Sausage hot dog. Take the tube down to the Market on September 21st for much much more.

Elephant and Castle
You wouldn't eat an elephant, but the streets around the Castle are well known for their pie and mash. Cockney wideboys love their minced beef double-crust pie, especially when it's served with mashed potato and parsley-butter sauce. Tradition insists that this delicacy is eaten only with fork and spoon, but rest assured that any diner plumping for jellied eels is allowed a knife instead! The sauce is often called "liquor", but there's no alcoholic content in sight, only cornflour. In a recent Evening Standard survey, pie and mash was voted London's 3rd favourite food, beaten only by curry and pierogi. Better luck next time, pie and mash.
If there are any other traditional London dishes you'd like me to research for future updates, just let me know!

King's Cross St Pancras
Hanging around waiting for the Eurostar, or just fancy a bite before leaping aboard the Piccadilly? For me at least, one famous St Pancras eaterie always springs to mind. The Bienvenue Bistro opened last year in the Food Court, and whenever I stop by there's always a cheery smile from the waitresses. The chef's speciality is cassoulet noodles fried in a red wine sauce, but his sparky confit de canard also has that inimitable je ne sais quoi. Now news reaches me of cut-price tapas every Thursday evening, plus a three-for-two cocktail offer, which has got to be one more great reason to stop by. Throw in a bottle of Ramillion Alsace, Lombardy's fizzing alcoholic treasure, and diners are in for a night to remember.

One of my very favourite recipes is for Victoria Sponge. Here's how.
      8oz butter
      8oz caster sugar
      4 medium eggs
      2 tsp vanilla extract
      8oz self raising flour

I wonder what station staff would say if you tried baking one on the platforms!

Canning Town
It's not a well-known fact, but Canning Town is so named because it used to be the site of London's first Heinz factory. The German tinned goods manufacturer moved here in 1857, attracted by convenient access to the dockside and an abundance of cheap labour. It wasn't long before the factory's trademark chimneys were a familiar sight on the West Ham horizon, and the smell of tomato sauce wafted across the terraced backstreets in the immediate neighbourhood. Alas wartime bombing destroyed first the warehouses, then the factory itself, and production of beans and ketchup has long since moved to the outskirts of Munich.

Marlborough Road
Wouldn't it be great if some of London's abandoned tube stations opened up again to the public? And wouldn't it be even better if you could book a table? That used to be the case at Marlborough Road station on the Metropolitan Line, where the old booking hall between Baker Street and Finchley Road was converted to become a Chinese restaurant! That's now closed, to the deep regret of all true Underground food addicts, but I'd so love to see a McDonalds at Brompton Road or tuck into a Thai at Aldwych. Are there any disused stations you'd like to see put to better use as a culinary hotspot?

In next month's edition:
» East Ham: Why pork's making a come back in Little India.
» What's for Pinner? We review Brent's premier cordon bleu restaurant.
» Burnt Oak: London's top chefs tell of their greatest kitchen disasters.
» Hollandaise Park: September's recipe is a creamy favourite.
» Ealing Broadway: How have the riots affected cupcake sales? An exclusive report.

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