God’s Own Junkyard

Behind an industrial estate isn’t the first place you’d go hunting for gourmet food, drink and a miniature Blackpool illuminations. However, in Walthamstow such a wonder exists.

God’s Own Junkyard

Firstly drink. The Wild Card Brewery can be found at Ravenswood Industrial Estate.


At weekends it opens up its Brewery Tap bar and several street vendors join in the fun providing tasty lunch options to hungry locals.
I’m still very much a newbie when it comes to Korean food so I went to Busban’s BBQ. Not knowing what to pick, as it all sounded so good, and to be honest and I hadn’t got a clue as to what most of the ingredients were, I plumped for the Doshi-rak (or lunch box as it’s known to you and me.) This meant I got the best of both worlds – two sliders – the bulgogi burger and pork belly slider.
M went for the Kim’s Long ‘Un which was a meaty pork hot dog, butter fried kimchi, spicy gohujang ketchup and cheesy sauce.
I’m still not sure that either of us are any clearer on what any of those ingredients are!  It was however full of flavour, if a little too oily for my liking.
Within a stone’s throw is ‘God’s own Junkyard’; an eye watering and brain dizzying display of neon signs and gigantic mirror balls.
Head over to the Ravenswood Estate at the weekends to escape the crowds and sample something a little different. Find the Wild Card Brewery here. Follow them @WildCardBrewery

Hovis Ads and Swedish Vallhunds

So far I’ve blogged lots about what M and I got up to on our Easter weekend getaway, such as visiting Durdle Door and Abbotsbury, but in reality they were an hour’s drive from our actual accommodation.

It’s definitely about time I told you all about the delights closer to our (Airbnb) home. We picked this beautiful studio called the The Coppice Studio Retreat set just outside the village of Shaftesbury. Shaftesbury is made famous due to its starring role in the famous 70s Hovis bread ad. Although the ad made out the location in question was Yorkshire, in actual fact it was all filmed on Gold Hill in Shaftesbury, Wiltshire. On the first evening M and I went to see what all the fuss was about.

Gold Hill 

We met a lovely woman with her two dogs. I’m pretty knowledgeable on my dog breeds due to an avid fascination with Cruffs, but I had never seen anything like these two! They were exactly like a cross between a husky and corgi. Their owner proudly told me that they were Swedish Vallhunds. If you look closer at their tails, you’ll see that the one on the left has a far fluffier tale. Their owner told me that the two dogs were bothers and that the other dog had chewed its brother’s fur off and it had never grown back!

After our evening stroll around Shaftesbury, we went back to the studio for a dreamy dinner in the garden, enjoying the unseasonably warm weather and all the sounds of the wildlife around us.

The Coppice really is a retreat for anyone wanting to escape the city and immerse themselves in nature. The owls even woke me up at night hooting so loudly. Amazing.

There’s lots to do in Shaftesbury and its immediate surrounds, but its central location is what really recommends it. Bath lies an hour to the North, Salisbury and Stonehenge are 30 minutes to the East, while Dorset and its many delights are an just an hour’s drive South. A perfect weekend getaway and just a couple of hours drive from London.

Durdle Door

On the Dorset coast lies an impressive archway made of rock called Durdle Door.

Having parked at the top of the cliff, M and I walked along the cliff path, along with a fair number of other people, it has to be said, and descended to take a closer look.

Durdle Door, like Chesil Beach, belongs to a piece of Jurassic coast which is a mind boggling 140 million years old. After a great deal of research i.e. dragging up my memories from GCSE geography I recalled how archways like these are formed.

If I remember correctly, the force of the waves erodes the rock. The level of erosion completely depends on the hardness of the rock – with soft rock being eroded first. Coupled with the direction of the layers of the rock, this provides the unique conditions for Durdle Door’s archway to be formed.

Eventually the roof of the archway will collapse due the force of gravity, its mass, and lack of support and all that will be left of Durdle Door will be a couple of stumps. I have a feeling that this will look far less impressive.

I was very jealous of people who were coasteering and leaping off the side of Durdle Door into the sea.

M and I decided to escape the crowds at Durdle Door to scramble up a hideously steep and high cliff path.

We climbed the stupidly tall cliff

After much cursing it was deemed definitely worthwhile. Just look at that view!

If you do get around to visiting the Dorset coast, make sure you give Durdle Door a visit, preferably when the sun is sparkling on the waves and everything is just magical.

Rolling Hills and Homity Pies

Last weekend M and I escaped the Big Smoke for the Wiltshire/Dorset border.

St Catherine’s Chapel – Abbotsbury

Boy, am I fan of that area. It’s just so incredibly…British. Think gently undulating green hills and the most picturesque villages. I could practically hear my old school song, Jerusalem, playing as we drove around. I’m pretty much sure that Jerusalem is everyone’s school song; M tells me it was his.

In this region time seems to have stood still. Not in a rubbish dated way, but in a perfect unspoiled kind of way.

Abbotsbury is one such perfect village. Nestled in the bottom of a valley, right on the Dorset coast, Abbotsbury is an idyll of thatched cottages and high hedged lanes. It helps that the coast against which it lies is a famous UNESCO site, an 18 miles long stretch of Jurassic coast line called Chesil beach.

We walked along the pebbled beach before climbing up to take a closer look at St Catherine’s Chapel which sits at the top of a high mound, overlooking the village.

Just look at that sky and those clouds. Simply perfect.

After that climb, of course it was time for lunch. We walked back to the village and went for an explore.

We visited the Old School House which was quite frankly a bit of a shambles; our food took forever to come and we could hear some pretty sharp words being exchanged in the kitchen, but we took it all in our stride. After all we had nowhere to be any time soon, and, after the hustle and bustle of London, it actually made a welcome change.

As we like to try new things, both M and I chose the Homity pie – a regional dish made from wholemeal pastry, potatoes, garlic, and onion.

Old Mother Hubbard

I was away last weekend and, when I returned on Monday, I wanted something quick, healthy and tasty.

Having been away my cupboards were pretty bare so I thought that dinner was going to be a bit of a write off. Happily however, I was able to scrape together some pretty basic ingredients to make what turned out to be a wonderful dinner: sweet potato and lentil soup served with homemade Irish soda bread.

All the bread ingredients were lying around in the fridge and on my shelves, and although I didn’t have any butter milk, I got round this by making my own. I simply stirred 2 tsp of white wine vinegar into 500ml of milk and sat back and watched the miraculous chemical reaction take place (it takes around 10 minutes).

Sweet potato and lentil soup – serves 2

I really can’t recommend this recipe enough – the soup is silky smooth and incredibly healthy and filling owing the inclusion of the red lentils.

800g sweet potatoes
1.2L vegetable stock – a stock cube works just fine
100g red lentil
1 onion, chopped
300ml milk
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 tsp vegetable oil
Salt and pepper

1. Start by peeling the sweet potatoes using a potato peeler and cutting them up into large chunks. Place into a large microwaveable bowl with 3 tbsp of water and cover in cling film. Microwave on high for around 15 minutes or until the sweet potato is very soft.
2. Meanwhile sauté the onion and garlic off in a little oil until soft. Stir in the lentil and vegetable stock, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Season to taste.
3. Add the sweet potatoes to the rest of the soup mixture and blend with a stick blender.

This Irish soda bread recipe is lifted straight from the BBC Good Food website and produces fresh bread from start to finish in less than an hour. The absence of yeast and use of bicarbonate of soda speeds up the rising process.

250g plain white flour
250g plain wholemeal flour
100g porridge oats
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp salt
25g butter, cut into pieces
500ml buttermilk (shop bought or made using the technique above)

1. Preheat the oven to 200C and dust a baking sheet with flour.

2. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then rub in the butter. Pour in the buttermilk and mix it together quickly with a table knife, then bring the dough together very lightly with your fingertips.

3. Shape it into a flat, round load and place it on to the baking sheet. Score a deep cross in it to help the bread to cook through properly.

3. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow. Serve warm with lashings of butter melting all over.

Aura Rosa Cakes

I ventured East to visit Frankie in Walthamstow. She showed me the many of the delights of Walthamstow Village including a dreamy little ‘cakery’ called Aura Rosa.

Aura Rosa can be found at Penny Fielding Gallery and Interiors which is an eclectic mix of bric-a-brac, trinkets and interesting interiors. However, seeing as I’m always guided by my tummy, I immediately headed straight to the back of the store where Aura Rosa was hiding.

As you can see from the incredible array on offer, picking a cake was no easy to task.

In the end I went for the store’s namesake – the Aura Rosa.

A beautifully light rum soaked sponge was layered with creme patisserie, passion fruit and raspberries. Pure heavenly indulgence.

As I’d just eaten at Eat17, I took the cake away with me. Next time, if the weather allows it, I’m ordering another slice together with a pot of tea and enjoying it in their fabulous tea garden out the back.

Find Aura Rosa in Walthamstow Village. Follow them @CakesAuraRosa.

Maltby Street Market

Move over Borough Market, there’s a new market in town…

Maltby Street Market

I’ve always been a fan of Borough Market, after all I used to work at the Ginger Pig there. However, I find it pretty much impossible to go these days. If I venture there on the only day I can, Saturday, I’m overwhelmed by the huge number of other visitors making it impossible to get anywhere near the stalls. These days Borough Market’s also on the expensive side of things.

My friends Andy and Fiona live in Bermondsey and they’ve always told me that I must visit Maltby Street Market. When M and I ventured (slightly!) East to watch the London Marathon, I knew that it was the perfect opportunity to go.

Nestled under railway arches, Maltby Street Market is a hidden gem. It’s still small and local enough to maintain its charm. I’m still undecided as if I’m doing the right thing blogging about it…

It’s teeming with local food producers selling their exceptional street food and various drinks.

I went for this amazing gammon ham with spicy scotch bonnet jam from Mamas the Word.

Stage 1: close roll and tie up hair
Stage 2: how best to tackle this beast?
Stage 3: dive in 
Stage 4: progress check
Stage 5: mission complete 
M went along the breakfast roll route and chose a version complete with sausage and bantam egg.

Mamas the Word also sell their own homemade chorizo jam amongst other things.

We decided to buy some local mead after trying it at Carmela’s dinner party and then stopped off at Little Bird for a ‘perfect g&t’.

The rest of the afternoon was spent meandering along the narrow street taking in everything else on offer.

Maltby Street Market is open Saturdays (9am-4pm) and Sundays (11am-4pm). Bermondsey and London Bridge are the nearest tubes.