Anyone who knows us will know that we like our food, so our team Christmas outing could not have been more perfect – a food tour around Brixton Market. Curated by Fox&Squirrel, our guides for the day were founder and MD Penelope Sacorafou and food writer (and Brixton local) Lindsay Faller.
We met at Brixton tube station, and as we headed towards Brixton Station Road our guides gave us a potted history of the area, and an insight into how recent changes have affected the area and the challenges facing Brixton Market today. First stop on our international tasting tour was Ethiopia – via the Shawl Cafe. Ethiopia is the world’s seventh largest producer of coffee, and 50% of their production is consumed domestically. We were treated to a coffee ceremony, which involved toasting the green coffee beans, which are then ground, and the grinds placed in a pottery vessel and boiled. During the ceremony frankincense is burned, popcorn is served, and, it being a cold day, we opted for a little ginger in our coffee to warm us up. We also tasted injera; a yeasty, spongy bread made from a fermented dough. Little piles of delicious stews and vegetables are served on top of the bread, and using our hands, we tucked in.
Next stop: Colombia. We headed towards the enticing smell of churros and into Las Americas – part butcher, part money transfer shop, part cafe – for fresh, hot empanadas and arepas, accompanied by the best homemade salsa in London. Lindsay and Penny talk us through the food we’re trying, and we try to reverse-engineer the salsa. Having heard Penny discussing the crispy pork belly (chicharron) they serve on Satrudays, we make mental notes to return… Feeling somewhat full, we head off to Lab G for a tutorial in artisanal gelato making. Chef and owner Giovanni showed us how he makes his Salted Caramel gelato mix (involving lots of sugar, melted to the point of burning to create a distinctive caramel flavour, lots of butter, egg yolks, milk and, of course, some salt). Once made, it goes into the machine and 15-20 minutes later, hey presto! We head downstairs to taste some of Lab G’s creations, and are treated to a gelato caldo – Salted Caramel ice cream with hot chocolate poured over it – heaven!
We wandered through Brixton Market with our guides pointing out weird and wonderful fruit and veg as we went along, including soursop, sorrel (a type of hibiscus), and the ubiquitous scotch bonnet chilli. Our penultimate stop was Fish, Wings and Tings – a tiny Caribbean restaurant run by Brian Danclair. He served up homemade eggnog (rum-based, with a dash of angostura bitters), and we sampled Codfish Fritters and Goat Roti, accompanied by Brian’s homemade sauces: Tamarind Sauce, Granny Suzy Pepper Sauce, and the blow-your-head-off Super Jerkily Pepper Sauce. Our day ended at a local bar Kaff where we had hot rum cocktails made with locally brewed ginger beer.
Huge thanks to Penny and Lindsay of Fox&Squirrel, whose knowledge – historical, social and culinary – really made this tour special for us. One of my New Year’s resolutions is definitely going to be to take more curated tours of London; the personal touch and expert guidance really does go a long way.