The Maltby Street Food Market

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Having promised ourselves a nice relaxing weekend of not doing all that much, when it came to finding entertainment, we decided to keep it local and go for a wander in Bermondsey. We’d been told about the Maltby Street market just a couple of weeks ago, by the lovely Pru from Sparrow Gin at the StockMKT night market nearby….. and we owe her a big thank you for the introduction!

Just a few minutes away from Tower Bridge, but far enough that you feel off the beaten track, a small community of foodies has been growing over the last few years. Under the railway arches in Bermondsey, a bunch of independent food and drink makers and sellers, have moved East from the over-crowded Borough Market, to create a hub of gastronomic treasures each Saturday morning. Buyers and sellers alike enjoy the space, lack of tourists and cameras, and the fact that repeat local business is not only just possible, but inevitable.

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We found the market really easily, having taken the walk across Tower Bridge, down Tower Bridge Road, and hung a left just before the Premier Inn. The stalls collect each Saturday from 9am to 2pm, under the arches and along Maltby Street, against the wonderful backdrop of Lassco’s reclamation yard. It’s brilliantly theatrical, with coffee sellers in between racks of old radiators, and bakers nestled into arches filled with bamboo floor boards, not to mention the darling camels guarding the gate! We took a walk through the showroom first of all, and found stacks of treasures in the shape of roll-top baths, butlers sinks, piles and piles of ancient doors, and period costumes. Given space and a good budget, we could very happily buy up half the place!

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From there we began to explore the stalls….. St John has recently set up a stall in front of its arch, selling incredible loaves and cakes straight from the oven…. their custard filled doughnuts are legendary, and immense! Neals Yard Dairy and Monmouth Coffee, two of my Borough Market favourites, have also set up in the arches, and open up to sell their incredible cheeses and the best roasted coffee beans in London on Saturdays. We fell in love with the Green Chilli Jam and Smoked Tomato Tapenade from Pink’s, and so bought up a stock to cook with at home. But it’s not all fancy luxury stuff though, as we found Booth’s arch filled up like a good old school green grocers, bursting with colour and smelling incredible.

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Confused by too many coffee choices (there is also a Turkish coffee stall and several local roasters), we opted for gin instead….. We very much wanted to thank Pru of Sparrow Gin for tipping us off about the market, and once we’d found her we didn’t want to leave their glorious little space right in the middle of the action. Having set up a darling little cocktail bar within one of the arches, their retro melamine tables and mis-matched chairs now spill out into the market, creating the perfect place to kick back and people (and dog) watch.

With a larger cocktail list than we saw at the StockMKT, and their trade mark collection of vintage glass and service ware, I adored their set-up, right down to the vintage decanters filled with wild flowers, the piles of old books and the paper doilies each drink is served on. Oh, and the little bowl of water and sign for customers dogs is just darling…. we saw lots of super cute hounds in fact!

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Each cocktail is based around something from one of the amazing sellers on the market….I opted for their version of the Bloody Mary, the Maltby Mary which is served with a divine black pudding, whilst Adam went for the Golden Nest which is mixed with a yummy cider. Mine was served in a handled jam jar, with a generous hunk of black pudding pinned to the celery stick with a beautiful silver Cockerel cocktail stick…… the black pudding was an amazing accompaniment to the perfectly mixed cocktail, and probably made it the best Bloody Mary I’ve had. Adam’s vintage cut-glass tumbler looked like summer itself, rammed with Pimm’s fruit, and gloriously golden…. it was plenty boozey but terribly easy to drink! And because we’ve developed a taste for the grapefruity gin, we couldn’t avoid buying a bottle to take home!

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Having had my main course (a Bloody Mary can be classified as such, honest), we headed to the Eden Ice Cream stall for some of their very special chocolate loveliness. Using cream from the famous Roskilly herd in Cornwall, alongside Colombian cacao, fruits and panela, the ice cream is dreamily creamy, and divinely flavoured. All four flavours are reassuringly natural in colour too, and a percentage of the purchase price goes towards helping the Eden Project, so everyone’s a winner. Oh and I can’t not mention their darling little dog, Saucisse, a rescue dog from France, and certainly a highlight of our visit!

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Not really a market so much as a fabulously convenient collection of delicious delights, each stall boasts a personality that I think has been largely lost at Borough Market. The emphasis is on all things local, the experimental, and a buzzing atmosphere that you just want to spend hours in. Dubbed the food market for Londoners, I know I’ll want to return again and again, comfortably free from hoards of tourists, cameras, the over-priced and samey-samey.
Before heading home, we took the opportunity to have a snoop about the two larger antiques warehouses very near by….. again, I know we could spend a fortune in these given the space to keep our treasures in! And if you fancy a whole day out in the vicinity, there’s also the Bermondsey Square Farmers market just a few minutes away to boot!
Viva South East London!

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Something from the weekend……. a night market, a wedding, and London’s oldest Music Hall

Another amazing few days this weekend! We didn’t ram as much in as we sometimes do, but it was certainly fun filled!……

On Friday after work, Adam and I met up with our good friends Kate and Jason at the Bermondsey Square Night Market, “The StockMKT.” It’s silly that I’ve not made it to one of the markets there before as it’s so close, and we enjoyed a lovely walk over to the other side of the river from home. The whole square was filled with food stalls, bars, crafty things and vintage treasures, as well as a band tent. The latter was hosted for the evening by the fabulous Albert Ball’s Flying Aces, whose wonderfully retro sounds had us all toe tapping.

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First off though it was a visit to the first bar we spotted….. and luckily it was a bar hosted by the very wonderful Sparrow Gin from Peckham! Serving a small but perfect list of cocktails, as well as good old fashioned G&Ts, the stall was super cool with jam jars, striped straws and vintage glasses and serving things. We got chatting to the lovely Pru who told us proudly about the gin’s super grapefruityness (although rather more eloquently than me) and gave us a taster of the tipple straight up. It is a beautifully fresh and citrusy gin, and almost a little herbal with the generous number of botanicals used in its production. It’s currently on very limited availability, so we did our best to drink up the current batch and encourage the guys to brew up some more….. the Negroni and the Martini were especially good (we tried the whole list), but I think, like Pru, I would prefer to drink it straight up, nice and cold.

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With drinks in hand, we took a wander about the stalls of pretties and treasures, finding the super Ink Heart Kicks which I’ve been oggling on Etsy, BG Design from where we bought some gorgeous cards, and Kamm and Sons  from whom we bought a bottle of delicious Ginseng spirit. I also picked up some great vintage post cards from a stall of vintage treasures, and we yummed up a very large slice of Yummy Boutique’s super delicious Red Velvet Cheesecake.

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Afterwards we made our way homeward, stopping off for a curry in the award winning Empress Curry House for supper. Although I’d not had a proper meal, I was really too stuffed with gins and cheesecake to need the several dishes I yummed up, so I did rather roll home.

Saturday saw the FINAL arrival of our friends, Matthew and Siobhan’s, wedding. I’d been excited about it for aaaages, but for the last week ridiculously so! After spending the entire morning primping and packing the various bags I ended up taking (shoes, hat, cameras, confetti……) we jumped on the tube to make our way to Putney. The venue for the whole day was the beautiful Star and Garter which is right on the river. The Ballroom has a gloriously high ceiling, chandeliers and stacks of natural light.

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Matthew was looking super hot in a beautiful kilt and tweed jacket, and seemed pretty cool as we chatted before the ceremony. I’d been lucky enough to see Siobhan’s dress at her fitting at Liberty, but I still felt my jaw drop as she walked into the room looking so incredibly stunning. Both of them were glowing throughout the ceremony, and I honestly can’t think I’ve ever seen two people look more happy. It was so touching to hear them exchange their vows, as well as bridesmaid Jo’s lovely reading….. I shed plenty of tears of joy too!

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After the ceremony we drank saucers of Cham in the bar downstairs whilst the happy couple had photos taken out by the river and the Ballroom was turned around ready for the reception. It was brilliant to have time to catch up with people and have some good chat time….. as well as a chance to sample some of the bar’s wonderful cocktails!

Back upstairs, we readied ourselves for the couple’s first announcement into the room…. I had made confetti in little vintage sheet music cones, which several of us sprinkled on them from our balcony seats as they walked in. Then it was a yummy buffet dinner at large round tables dressed with gerbera in vintage IRN BRU bottles, and hand made paper stars (good work Justine!). There were lots of personal touches that reminded us of Matthew and Siobhan too…. the tables were names after Radiohead albums, and they had prepared special CDs as favours, stamped with a cut-out style image of the two of them.

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We had so much fun, chatting and throwing balloons around and dancing the night away….. Matthew and Siobhan had created their own playlist for the night packed with floor fillers, and even Adam got up to dance (first time ever!). There was cheese, fruit cake and bacon rolls as a wonderful late night snack which kept us going, and I danced my last song, rather aptly to Tiffany, I think We’re Alone Now. It was such a joy to be part of their special day, and to see them enjoy it so much. Love you guys!

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It was a traditional lie in on Sunday, as we were feeling rather worn out. So we decided to keep it local and just popped over the road to Wilton’s Music Hall for a few hours in the afternoon. It was the last day the historical venue was open, before the refurbishment of the auditorium takes place. After we’d had a wander about and taken a few snaps, Artistic Director Frances Mayhew took to the stage alongside Capital Project Patron David Suchet who talked of the importance of the refurbishment and the continued fundraising necessary to protect the music hall.

We were lucky enough to get tickets for the final tour, and so ‘Deputy Tour Guide Chris’ gave us the lowdown on the history of the local area and the beginnings of Wilton’s, before Carole told us all about the history of the building itself and some of the most notable events in its history. It was wonderful to hear some of the stories about the place and I would highly recommend taking the tour there…… the auditorium is due to open in 2013 but until then the beautiful Mahogany Bar is still open for drinks, as will be the new cocktail bar which will open soon, and even some performances taking place in the smaller rooms (I very much want to go to the Horror! Horror! Halloween show!). I’m really looking forward to seeing the auditorium again once it’s finished, although we were promised that the appearance won’t change.

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After that it was home for a pot of tea, and to finish up a pot of clotted cream we had left over from my birthday…… I made up a large helping of what I’ve named ‘French Tea’ (strawberries, clotted cream and jam on thick slices of brioche in lieu of any scones!). And after that we were only fit to slob about and watch Planet Terror….. a nicely quiet end to a super weekend!

Hope you enjoyed yours….do share!

Ems x