To market, to market…

June 29, 2010

Last Saturday, I made my first trip to Borough Market since moving away from the area. As I’m relatively settled for the next four or five weeks in Clapham with my lovely friend Lene and her two equally lovely sons Wesley and Dexter (are you embarrassed yet, boys?), I thought I should get back into the cooking swing of things.

It was both comforting to be back on familiar territory and a little freaky, knowing that it wasn’t actually, strictly speaking, my territory any more. However, the (several) bags of goodies I managed to purchase in a very short space of time made up for any hesitation I may have felt.

Unfortunately, what I did forgot was that it was no longer a quick five-minute stroll along the road back home, but that I had to drag my bags to Clapham on a very hot and sweaty Tube. Not nice. Luckily, my memory is short, and once I got thinking about what to cook, the journey was soon forgotten.

Lene spends most Saturday nights DJing, and as she was booked to play in both Brighton and London last weekend, I said I’d make dinner for her, Dexter, and Dexter’s friend Jacob, who was having a sleepover, so she could get herself ready to go out. (Wesley, having just finished his GCSEs, was nowhere to be seen…)

Now, I don’t have much experience cooking for kids, and the impression I get is that many are not too open to the idea of unusual flavours and ingredients. However, not being particularly tolerant of fussy eaters, I decided to just cook what I wanted to cook, and see what happened.

So, the menu was fried plaice fillets (courtesy of Shellseekers), delicious, organic new potatoes, and saffron cauliflower with olives – an Ottolenghi recipe I’ve made before. On the side, we had a huge loaf of my absolute favourite bread – a tortano ring from The Flour Station, which is an Italian bread made with potato flour.

Well, I’m pleased to report that the meal went down very well with the two 12-year-olds – although, being nice, well-brought-up boys, they could have just been being polite.

But, hopefully, the empty plates were a sign they were telling me the truth!

So, I have just finished my third week of sofa surfing, and it’s not going too badly. I’m getting used to living out of a suitcase and sleeping on unfamiliar beds. I’m even getting used to not having all my many, many pairs of shoes immediately to hand (or, maybe I should say, foot!).

But, most surprisingly, I’m actually getting used to not having my own kitchen to cook in. To be honest, it’s quite nice to have a rest from cooking every night, and the great thing about staying with friends who are also good cooks is having dinner made for me.

There is one foodie thing that I have not been able to give up on, though, and that’s my sourdough starter. I made a few loaves with it when I was in my old London flat, and took it to my sister’s in Brighton when I moved most of my things there last month. And a rather strange thing has happened – the starter has gone completely bonkers.

It was always a fairly frothy, smelly mess, but since it has had a blast of sea air, it’s just exploding all over the place. I know that it is the yeastiness in the atmosphere that makes a sourdough starter what it is, but I wasn’t expecting this. And when I made my first loaf with it a couple of weeks ago, the flavour was amazing.

I’ve made a point of making some sourdough every weekend since moving in with little sis and her husband (a small thank-you for putting up with me), and I’m happy to say, it’s just getting better and better. Holey, strong-flavoured, moist of crumb and crunchy of crust, it’s become something of a Sunday-breakfast ritual for us.

Even Archie the greyhound is enjoying a few morsels – although I’m not sure I’m too happy about him getting his chops round my hard work. But I suspect I don’t have much say in the matter…