My home, for the past year.
When we’re in town, this is what a Saturday looks like.
Wake up. Check whether it’s sun or sleet out the window.
Grab the canvas shopping bags, sunglasses, empty flagons, wallet, keys, spouse.
Walk down to the markets (sometimes even hand in hand). We like to go first thing in the morning. There are less people and the produce may still boast a sheen of dew.
Some mornings I have to pinch myself . To be within a five minute wander of one of the best markets in the world seems stickily wrong. Perhaps it’s how those who were born with perfect teeth feel. Undeservedly blessed.
It’s October and there’s a slight nip in the air. This means less tourists than high summer.
It means figs and pumpkins, apples and some artichokes.
On a Saturday at the front of the markets there’s a stall which serves as a warden for what we should be looking out for. Whatever is discounted here is usually what is in seasonal glut. So this morning figs it shall be. We start to plot. Perhaps a fig cheesecake with amaretti biscuits. Perhaps grilled with prosciutto and goat’s curd and hazelnuts. Or maybe just left to wallow in a paper bag on the bench until they burst their skins and ooze with jam and juice.
But the real first agenda is coffee. The queue at Monmouth is bound to be frustratingly long. But the people watching is priceless.
And the snaking line of caffeine desperate souls means that while The Hungry One waits, I can run and grab my breakfast.
For me it’s a toasted piadina from Gastronomica ( if you head in from the back and turn right just before the man offering free samples of curry).
Filled with prosciutto, oozing cheese and the green kick of rocket, folded up into a neat handkerchief. A considered combination of squish and bite. Add a latte from Monmouth and plotting for meals for the rest of the week and it’s hard not to feel satisfied.
Next task; fill up the wine for the week. This is where the flagons come into action. At Borough Wines we can refill our glass bottles for £5 a litre with highly quaffable table wine from Spain, Italy and France . First we taste from plastic thimbles. Then we choose. This week, it’s going to be two litres of a spicy red with a good back twirl of tannin.
And lastly, once we’ve looked at the breads and cheeses, chosen our dinner (fat lamb chops from The Ginger Pig with bloated Spanish white beans from Brindisa roasted with garlic, green olives and cherry tomatoes), tasted the salamis and spiced nuts, and debated the merits of goat’s milk ice cream at 10 am, it’s time to find breakfast for The Hungry One.
I can never truly pick what my husband will be drawn to. Some days he can’t make it past the chorizo rolls. Others it’s relative restraint of a pan e chocolat. But this Saturday he heads straight to the raclette.
In the shadow of Southwark Cathedral there are two hulking curves of cheese, bubbling and burnished. The molten cheese then gets scraped onto potatoes with pickles. The only thing more extreme than the raclette is the toasted cheese sandwich.
It’s two slices of Polaine bread and a foolish amount of Montgomery Cheddar. The sandwiches are stacked in the glass display container like the bricks they will become in your gut. Once they’ve been half toasted they’re gilded with onion, leek and garlic for extra bite.
It’s a glorious oozy mess. It’s a grand way to start a weekend. From here we’ll buy the papers, or wander up to the Tate. We might walk to Jose for a late lunch. Or sit by the Thames and watch the river boats float past.
I’ve read that a home is where you leave part of your heart.
And with each week this place is feeling more and more like ours.
Even if the part of our heart we’re leaving here is merely arteries that are blocked by dribbling streams of cheddar.
London Bridge, London