diamond geezer

 Saturday, September 20, 2014

Some Sundays you have lots planned - a trip out, a day with the family, a long walk in the country. But other Sundays are much more fluid - you crawl out of bed, sit around, check Facebook, head to the fridge to find it empty, think about going to the supermarket except it doesn't open til twelve, wonder what your friends are up to, maybe get a boxset out, open a bag of nibbles, waste the day away. Or at least I imagine you do.

On a slobbier Sunday, there's Wapping Market. There's also a shedload of other streetfood vendors popped up across the capital, obviously, but for those of you within dressing-gown distance of E1 or E14, Wapping's probably your nearest.

It's fairly new, about three months young, and a sister to the longer established Brockley Market south of the river. You'll find it tucked in by the dockside near the Prospect of Whitby pub, alongside Shadwell Basin, on a tongue of land that's empty the rest of the week before being taken over by stalls and vans on a Sunday morning. From about ten til about two, to better capture the "I'm not sure what to do for brunch" audience.

The website's not a lot of help in knowing what to expect, as if the organisers asked a mate to make a homepage but never got round to asking for more. There's a Facebook presence, obviously, and a Twitter feed that fires out a torrent of close-up photos all week in a desperate attempt to lure you in. But essentially it's two dozen food-related presences cooking and selling, that's all you need to know.

If you can't be bothered to cook a meal, someone here'll do it for you. It might even be a bloke with a greased handlebar moustache - I saw two of them. Dining options include salt beef, braised ox cheek, Vietnamese duck and chickpea flatbread, plus something pancakey to wrap things off. Enough choice that a group of friends could turn up and each find something, most probably, then sit on one of the concrete ramps round the basin's edge and enjoy their haul.

My Sunday was fairly unplanned so I was in the mood for a burger, lining up at Mother Flipper so the guys could do me something with cheese. As they grilled my meat they joshed with the bacon merchants nextdoor in a kind of culinary bromance, then squirted special sauce (which might have been ketchup) in artistic swirls across my brioche. Once ready I wandered off to devour my prize, but I should also have taken a napkin to wipe my gloopy fingers after the plate was cleared.

Others come here to take away stuff to consume later. Very homemade cheese, iced-high cupcakes, charcuterie, veggie balls, that kind of thing. For those planning to cook themselves a proper meal later there was butchered meat and locally-ish-sourced vegetables, plus a variety of special sauces (seriously though, World of Zing?). Or for those with snackish tastes one stall boasted some rather expensive doughnuts - I watched one particularly happy couple swagger back to their warehouse apartment with a dozen dangling in a bag.

Some customers were clearly making this a regular event, they arrived with empty bottles for a burgundy top-up from the stall with barrels to empty. For others, this was probably their first trip to Shadwell as a hungry family or a group of mates, and much happy munching and quaffing was in evidence. It's a bit on-trend, and not for you if Lidl or the food bank's as far as your wallet stretches. But if you're a Sunday bimbler on the lookout for something that beats the sofa, Wapping Market might fill a hole.

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