Archives for posts with tag: market

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I finally got to Mercato Metropolitano today.

This relatively new Italian marketplace opened last September by Italian businessman Andrea Rasca who has two matching spaces in Italy. He espouses the same principles as one of the other concepts he is involved in: Eataly, supporting small producers, showcasing the best of Italy and creating a good eating experience within an old industrial space in an interesting part of the city.

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Given all the talk about Eataly opening in London, or not, it seems he just got up and opened this in the meantime. It is hip and trendy making the most of an old paper factory just around the corner from Elephant and Castle which is a developing area in its own right. It sort of reminds me of so many of these concepts in New York with all that grunge factor, graffiti styling, brash colours and the obligatory coffee vehicle.

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This is a high open industrial space, with uncomfortable bright yellow seating, lots of street food-esque stalls in pop up wood chip surroundings and an outdoor garden area. Signage is classic black and white. Staff are all young. There is a retro cinema and if you read more on their website lots of community things going on. In time it will settle into itself and I am sure in the Summer it is packed. It was certainly full of lots of young Italians today.

Perhaps I am just getting too old for this trendy happening vibe, or I have seen too many things repeated again and again, but the food stalls were a little bit dull for me…the industrial vibe a bit contrived… and the seats a little bit too thin and hard. I think Eataly has so much more elegance and style which for me is a better mouthpiece for all things Italian. After all style is one of their strengths.

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The best part of the whole thing was the Sicilian market which is a fab shop for all things authentically Italian. The brands there are truly Italian and not seen in any other places around. The shopping experience embraces the whole family with fun baskets and comfy seating areas interspersed between the produce. Everything is fresh and colourful, simply prepared and packed and served by Italians who know their stuff.

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The counter is packed full of wonderful meats and an impressive array of specialist cheeses. The pastas, beans and rice all better than anything you get anywhere else. The antipasti simple and tasty. And it doesn’t seem to be too pricey either. If you want to buy Italian then it is definitely worth the trip. Just take it home to savour in the comfort and warmth of your own home.

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Many years ago when I was working at M&S in Lewisham, I would also relief manage the shop in Brixton. It was at the time of the riots and as someone who dipped in and out there, a lesson in dealing with shoplifters and community issues.

Rolling forward some twenty five or so years later I went back to meet friends and discover the burgeoning food scene in this neck of the woods. As I came out of the tube, M&S was opposite me with a new fascia but the same foundations underneath the railway arch. And the same can be said for Brixton itself which has now become gentrified to within an inch of its former life.

Brixton Village has long been a place of great food. Home of the first Franco Manca, the first Chicken Liquor and the first Honest Burger. It has a huge variety of cuisines reflecting the cultural diversity of this city of London. Brixton has long been part of the history of our great city from way back when and the markets here were central to that story. In 2009 the local traders and residents fought hard to stop the development plans that would have destroyed those markets and they were awarded with Grade II status that have protected them and supported them into becoming what they are today.

Mostly it is a story of the inherent community pulling together to protect their independence and build a Microtown that rewards not only themselves, but also everyone in London.

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We started our Sunday tour with gin & tonics in Brixton Village made by a Spaniard who was doing much the same as we had in San Sebastian at the Gintoneria. We progressed from their to Pop Brixton which sits behind the Village as the newest addition to the area having opened in May 2015.

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This community space houses Asian, Ghanian, Indian, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Spanish and much more set in a relaxed conglomerate of shipping containers cleverly decorated and arranged to create a fun space to enjoy. There are raised beds of herbs and plants, music stages, craft beers and many artistic stands that come together with a space on top to chill out.

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After that we went back through the original market admiring the local produce and amazing fish stalls who would put stands at Barcelona’s La Boqueria to shame. Then one final spin around the enclosed units that house such diversity of food: cheeses, meats, BBQ, Champagne, cakes, crepes, seafood and much more, before grabbing a final gelato back in the Village itself.

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All in all this is a great place to go, to chill and to admire what can be done with the support of all the wonderful young, passionate, driven people that want to do it. Go. Support. Enjoy.