The Borough Market is where I do my fun shopping; Mary does the real shopping at Chapel Market near the Angel, Islington. That’s where she gets most of our everyday fruits and veggies.
Yes, that will do!
And there’s the coriander, a fresh generous bunch for 60p. I trim the ends off the roots and put it in water…
…whereupon it springs gloriously back to life.
I use a lot in my lunches, taking it fresh from the jar for a couple of days and then cramming the rest into a freezer bag. After such rough treatment, it’s not pretty enough to sprinkle on salads, but for cooking, I can take slices off the frozen ball and stir them straight in, and the strong coriander flavor survives. It ain’t elegant, but I can’t go shopping every time I want a few fresh herbs. The meagre little force-grown supermarket bunches are about the same price and totally useless.
Mary makes our wholemeal bread, but she sometimes has slices of baguette for lunch, and I’ll need breadcrumb topping for the cassoulet and also for starters—pain grillé spread with tomatade.
Tomatade? What the hell is that?
Be patient, you’ll find out later.
Mary gets our French sticks from the Chapel Market’s Stiles Bakery.
There they are.They cost 80p, which would get you about one thin slice of Poilâne’s finest.
Unlike most baguettes these days, even in France, they’re not only crusty, but the next day they haven’t turned spontaneously into hardtack. There’s density, substance and flavor to the insides. We cut them into short lengths and freeze them in plastic bags; when thawed as needed, there’s still life in them. Freezing only ages bread by a day.
Chapel Market also has a pie and mash shop that has been brought gloriously back to life. It’s not my thing, but I’m glad it survived.
There’s a neat little stall that sells nuts and other dry odds-and-ends.
And for a generous lunch, there’s Indian Veg.
It’s a sort of Vegan Salvation Army where you can get fed really cheap if you’re prepared to be preached to at the same time. Fortunately, the preaching is silent, in the form of texts on the walls. It’s not a hippy mess, but is neatly laid out and kept spick-and-span. A help-yourself buffet costs an unbelieveable £2.95, and the dishes are genuinely tasty. OK, so it hasn’t the vegetable elegance of Alain Passard’s l'Arpege, but it comes at about 1% of the price. And no surcharge for seconds.
Here’s what I helped myself to for lunch today. What gastronomic artistry! (I tried building a tower, but it fell over.) Note especially the carelessly-thrown-down whisp of onion bhajee, cleverly ballancing the whole bhajees on the other side of the plate. Truly a meal to be savored with the eye as well as the tongue.