Tags: Almond Kitchen, Botany, Botany Shop, Chatsworth Road, doughnnuts, Firefly Books, From Field and Flower, honey, jam, London Borough of Jam, marshmallow
I’ve just returned from a Sunday morning jaunt to Chatsworth Road, E5. I’ve not been down there for a couple of years and there are now so many lovely places to shop, eat and drink. Sunday (11-5) is market day. Here are a few my highlights from today’s visit:
This lovely gentleman at the ‘From Field and Flower‘ stall very easily talked me into buying a stawberry honey creme and some pollen (it’s full of vitamins and good for the joints). My friend and I were encourage to try lots of delicious Italian (and one English) raw honeys. I’ll definitely be going back once I’ve worked my way through the stock of Welsh honey I picked up on my recent-ish trip to Hay-on-Wye.
Some delicious home-made confectionery courtesy of The Almond Kitchen. The vanilla marshmallows were yummy and would be perfect for taking on a Famous Five expedition.
Ditto these doughnuts from London Borough of Jam. ‘Timmy’s just silly over those doughnuts’, we find out in Five Have a Wonderful for Time. Sadly, the lady in the LBJ shop informed us that the bakery who makes them forgot to put the jam in! So only custard available today.
But lots of jam in the shop itself. Amalfi lemon and vanilla, strawberry and rose, apricot and camomile and much more. Mmmmm. I can imagine Aunt Fanny or Joan the Cook making some delicious jams like these, using herbs and flowers from the Kirrin Cottage garden.
And another one for Aunt Fanny, the beautiful and serene Botany, which sells plants (lots of succulents in little pots and jars), local flowers, gifts for home and garden, and a wonderful curated selection of flora and fauna-themed books including novels, histories, pattern sourcebooks, growing guides and cookbooks.
Chatsworth Road also has lots of great charity and antique shops, fruit and veg shops and stalls, plus the excellent Firefly Books, where I picked up a copy of 1000 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up (still a little time for me, then) for a mere £2. Bargain.
Tags: breakfast, Christianna Brand, coffee, Five on a Hike Together, Fortnum & Mason, Hackney City Farm, honey, hot milk, Jane Brocket, Nurse Matilda, porridge
In the spirit of the previous post, it’s time to celebrate breakfast. This repast from Five on a Hike Together is a memorable and well-earned one. Dick and Anne have been separated from Julian, George and Timmy and end up spending the night at a horrible farmhouse where something strange happens… When the cousins are reunited the next day they sit down for a feast and an update on their adventures. I particularly like the idea of the children drinking coffee with hot milk – a mixture of sophistication and comfort:
‘A wonderful smell came creeping into the little dining room, followed by the inn-woman carrying a large tray. On it was a steaming tureen of of porridge, a bowl of golden syrup, a jug of very thick cream, and a dish of bacon and eggs, all piled high on crisp brown toast. Little mushrooms were on the same dish.
“It’s like magic!” said Anne, staring. “Just the very things I longed for!”
“Toast, marmalade and butter to come, and the coffee and hot milk,” said the woman, busily setting everything out. “And if you want any more bacon and eggs, just ring the bell”
“Too good to be true!” said Dick, looking at the table. “For goodness’ sake, help yourselves girls or I shall forget my manners and grab.”
Porridge is a staple breakfast food at this time of year and is memorably described in innumerable children’s books, from several of Blyton’s series (FF and the Barney ‘R’ stories immediately spring to mind) to the surreal breakfast in Christianna Brand’s 1964 novel, Nurse Matilda. Jane Brocket includes a guideline recipe for porridge (to be served with thick cream) in Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer. As she notes, some people hold that porridge should be made just with milk, others plump for a mixture of milk and water.
I’m definitely in the latter camp but proper FF porridge probably does need full cream milk with extra cream. It’s useful to know that the more you stir porridge as it cooks, the creamier it will be. Golden syrup is the topping of choice in virtually every children’s book I’ve ever read, but I’m a fan of honey.
Given the plight of British bees it’s important to try and buy British (and preferably local) honey – some beekeepers’ reports suggest that within ten years time the British honeybee will be a thing of the past. This Telegraph article from 2008 (yes, it is written by someone called Bee Wilson) is quite interesting. Apparently only 5 per cent of British honey is sold through supermarkets so visit your local farmers’ market or track down your local beekeepers through the official website of the British Beekeepers’ Association.
Fortum & Mason sell some fancily packaged and no doubt tasty British honey. If you have too much money you can buy this miniature bee hive complete with a pot of honey made by bees who live on the roof of Fortnum’s Piccadilly store (according to F&M they ‘visit only the best gardens’). Personally, I think it’s the rarefied atmosphere of London, and particularly the east end, that gives metropolitan honeys a distinctive flavour – honey from the Hackey City Farm is very good and is a fraction of the price.