I have been living in London for nearly eight years now, half of which were spent in south London. Before, when I was living in the north, I rarely had reasons to venture south of the river as there is so much happening in central and east London. Not least, my work and my friends. But after moving to the south west, I have felt in love with the area, the lifestyle, the proximity to the river. I am happily settled there now.
My home is in between Clapham and Brixton, so I can enjoy a bit of both worlds (in two words: polished vs rough). When it comes to food though, I prefer Brixton with its vibrant and multicultural Brixton Market and the foodie haven Brixton Village, where you can find out about dishes, traditions and ingredients from around the world.
When Fox & Squirrel invited me to join their food walk through Brixton I was very excited to have the opportunity to discover “secret shops and in-the-know restaurants” in my neighbourhood. Surprisingly, nearly all the places we visited (except one) were completely new to me.
Fox & Squirrel’s Food Walk through Brixton Market explores one of the most exotic, eclectic and unusual markets in England today with a chance to meet the traders and chefs who have made this place such an exciting culinary destination.
The tour took place on a Saturday last month and lasted for about four hours. Our guide was American food journalist Lindsay Faller, who has lived in the area for years and writes for the Brixton Blog and Brixton Bugle.
We set off from Station Road and the bustling food and crafts market. We stopped outside Shawl Cafe, to assist to a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony.
Under a canopy outside the cafe, the lady who owns the shop roasted the green coffee beans over hot coals in a brazier.
The roasted beans are traditionally ground in a wooden mortar and pestle, then brewed in a boiling pot called jebena. The coffee was served to us with sugar and ginger.
After the coffee ceremony we moved inside the cafe to share a platter of Ethiopian food: vegetables and lamb stew cooked with berbere, a spice mixture made with several spices and herbs (ajwain seed, cloves, fenugreek, ginger powder, tellicherry black pepper, cassia, cardamom, coriander and pequin chilies). The food was served on Injera, a sourdough flatbread with a unique spongy texture. You eat with your hands, breaking pieces of bread and using them to dip in and pick up the food.
From Station Road we turned right into Pope’s Road and stopped at Las Americas Cafeteria to try their weekend special: la Lechona (Colombian-style stuffed pork), empanadas and arepas.
Part butchers, part money transfer shop, part Colombian cantina, it’s a bit of a mish-mash but there’s always a lively atmosphere and they sell authentic homemade Colombian hot snacks. [London Munchies]
The cafe was packed with Colombians and everybody was speaking Spanish. I never even noticed there was a cafe at the back of this shop and I was surprised to find it so busy with people eating Colombian snacks. The food was delicious, especially the arepas de queso, small corn cakes made from maize flour and cheese.
Afterwards we walked along Station Road and stopped outside Brixton Brewery, which is located under one of the railway arches.
Lovingly handcrafted and skillfully made, Brixton Brewery is making beer in the heart of Brixton. We’ve followed a long, great tradition of craft brewing and have pushed some boundaries along the way. Our signature beers pay homage to the rich heritage and modern-day character of our home. [Brixton Brewery website]
The friendly owner showed us around the tiny brewery, explaining us everything about hops and ales and stouts and about how the beers are produced. Followed by a little tasting of their Brixton-inspired beers: Electric IPA, Effra Ale, Reliance Pale Ale, Atlantic APA and Windrush Stout.
Making the most of the warm sunny day, we strolled towards Brixton Village, the market arcades that have become Brixton’s main attraction in the recent years. I blogged about it two years ago:
Formerly known as Granville Arcade, the 1930’s market was revamped two years ago thanks to an initiative of the Lambeth Council and Space Makers. The vacant market units were offered rent free for 3 months to community projects and business start-ups in the hope of attracting new traders. It worked! Slowly, the new Brixton Village came to life and it is now home to beautiful restaurants, cafés and fashion shops.
Our stop inside the village was Fish, Wings & Ting, a Caribbean food joint by Trinidadian chef Brian Danclair famous for its traditional jerk chicken served with home-made spicy tamarind BBQ sauce.
Here you can find Caribbean regional classics and street food dishes, such as Codfish Fritters with Ginger & Lime Aioli.
Our tour ended with at Kaff Bar on Atlantic Road (update: the café is now closed) where we shared one of their Southern American style sharing platters. Chef Richard Myers, originally from New Orleans Louisiana, has embraced the local influences of Brixton and mixed his culinary traditions with Jamaican cuisine. Don’t be surprised then to find jerk chicken and rotis on the menu alongside jambalaya, crawfish, tacos and savoury waffles.
This ended my interesting and exciting food tour of Brixton with Fox & Squirrel. Their tour was a great way to discover Brixton’s culture variety and hidden places. If you love trying different cuisines but everytime you come to Brixton can only go as far as Franco Manca or Honest Burgers, then this tour is perfect for you!
Disclaimer: I was invited by Fox & Squirrel to attend and review the event. All opinions are my own.