Archives for posts with tag: Climpson & Sons

There is no doubt that if you want to know what is happening in the burgeoning food scene in London you have to head East in much the same way that you have to head to Brooklyn in New York.

And Saturdays are a day to head to Broadway Market. It epitomises what my friend Howard Saunders, a constant source of controversial opinionated inspiration, calls a Microtown.

At the top end is the green open space of London Fields, The Cat & Mutton pub, Donlon books and the obligatory microbrewer: London Fields Brewery . At the bottom, just along from the canal which takes its waterway from the heart of London’s River Thames, is the equally trendy cycle cafe, Lock 7.

In between is the original F Cooke who are part of the history of the road, still selling pie, mash, liquor and jellied eels as they did in 1900. In addition there are all the traditional high street stalwarts that used to be prevalent before the supermarkets did their thing…

The Butcher – Hill and Szrok are a snazzy master butcher who also have their own cookshop where you can order your meat and then eat it there and then with a glass of wine. Apparently this was the 15th century inspiration for the restaurant scene, or so they say. Whatever it is, the meat is fab.

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The Baker – Pavilion Bakery. They sell artisan breads, make amazing meals from them and showcase some of London’s best: Chegworth Valley juice, De Calabria olive oil and Newton & Pott jam, who incidentally produce very near to here and also attend the Saturday market. Their simple window which serves as stock, display and temptation into the brand is simple yet incredibly effective.

CQYRfEMWoAAJKieThe fishmonger – Fin and Flounder who retain all the values of a traditional fishmonger supporting anyone wielding a recipe or helping customers with how to cook their huge range of fish.

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Alongside those, come a world of modern day retail classics and food or drink outlets, which start with the most important these days, a third wave coffee roaster and purveyor of a great cup of coffee: Climpson and Sons. I wrote about Climpsons last week after the Coffee festival so won’t bore you any more about their great coffee but believe me, the queue spoke for itself. Set in the middle of this thoroughfare it is the heart of all that Broadway Market represents.

And on a Saturday, the main street is packed full of the market itself which not only brings a snapshot of the best food and retail on offer but is also home for the day to stalls showcasing the many small food producers who are housed within this community. Alongside Newton & Pott are…

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Violet Bakery is Claire Ptak’s fabulous cakeshop/cafe. She was previously pastry chef at Chez Panisse and started her business on the market stall here, growing into her own shop in 2010. Whilst she is best known for her American style cupcakes, I remember her for the best birthday cake I ever received and know her to be absolutely finger on pulse with seasonal inspirational baking.

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Other producers in the area include the Meringue Girls, London Borough of Jam and Yeast Bakery who sell the best croissants in town (along with an impressive range of trendy Kouign Amann). Their hand crafted viennoiserie come from a team who set out to make the best croissant in London and I would argue they are there. In fact we sell them in Melrose and Morgan and it must be said our sales are stronger than ever.

There are many other shops and stalls to browse through with the extended market now in the schoolyard along with the Netil Market further up Westgate Street, just before the arches housing Yeast Bakery among others. You can have everything that you need to buy: flowers, cheese, meat, bread, fruit & veg etc. along with finding everything that is fashionable to eat: from Bao buns to pulled pork, southern fried chicken to cold pressed juices, toasted cheese sandwiches to salt beef bagels. Along the way are other local craftspeople making jewellery, clothes, accessories, and much more.

The whole area is thriving and is a great way to eat your way through a Saturday afternoon whilst getting a lesson in modern day community and retail. Forget Mary Portas and her governmental reviews, just head to Broadway Market which is estimated to be generating over £2 million annually and as such drives a thriving Microtown.  I highly recommend it for anyone who has an interest in the London food scene and wants to see the possibilities of modern day retailing.

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This weekend was the London Coffee Festival.

It is clear that coffee is a big deal. It has been a big deal for some time now. And anyone attending the festival this weekend will be as surprised as me to see just how big that deal is.

Based in The Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, there was room after room of bearded coffee geek. Beards are big in the coffee world too. As are Antipodeans. Why is it that the best coffee makers are from Aussie or Kiwi descent? They have a knack of drawing out the smoothest deepest flavour that make the most of the roasted bean and the creamiest tones in the milk.

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It all starts with the bean and these days we celebrate the speciality coffee movement known as third wave coffee. Whilst the history of roasted coffee goes all the way back to 1000AD, wave one was officially registered when coffee plants reached the new world in the early 18th century and became a worldwide commodity by the late 1800’s.

Speciality coffee evolved in the 1960’s with Espresso bars like Peet’s in the USA and was the platform from which Starbucks launched in Seattle in 1971 – generally acknowledged as the face of wave two. For decades it was de rigueur to know your tall from your short, your latte from your flat white and your wet from your dry. But as with all worldwide mass brands that invade the culture, there is a kick back against it.

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The third wave movement was that responder, celebrating the nuances of roasting coffee, in the same way that winemakers make wine. The beans are sourced not only from specific countries, but directly from farms and at times even from limited trees within that farm. The flavours are cultivated with careful, skilled, fresh roasting that draws out the unique characteristics of each bean as appropriate in each farming season. It has bred a world of micro roasters who are getting incredible flavour and specialising in the art of roasting.

The art of coffee also lies in the brewing method which has created an industry of coffee paraphernalia… and the milk. A few years ago I went to LAMill Coffee in LA which had a huge menu of something like 20 coffees and every which way to brew it. You had to choose your bean and then your chosen method of preparation. Then the experts would prepare your chosen beverage. The only issue is that my knowledge was not there, so I really didn’t appreciate which bean or which method. I just wanted a nice cup of coffee and even after a 12 minute wait, I have to admit it was one of the poorest coffees I had during that trip. Sometimes I feel that the madness becomes so insular that it forgets to bring the punter on board as well. So best to leave it to the experts and take their recommendations instead.

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I had a good chat with Climpson & Sons at the festival. They are the roasters we use at work and are based in Broadway Market, making really fab beans. They even treated me to what they said was the world’s best coffee… the Colombian Las Margaritas. I did enjoy it but honestly am not sure my expertise really appreciated just how special (or expensive) it was.

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Also at the show was a coffee/food as well as a coffee/wine pairing area; roasting workshops; a barista championship; latte art masterclasses and much more. For those in the know it was a great way to celebrate this ever growing industry and to share coffee stories with like minded enthusiasts.

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For others, just a chance to compare beards and play trendy games. But whatever your take from it, the celebration of all things coffee will continue for a long time to come and so for any discerning food business, you have to know to get on board and smell the coffee…just make sure it is a well roasted, perfectly crafted one!