It’s Saturday. I have nothing planned other than a long list of household chores. What a bore. But wait, the sun is out. OK, you got me there, it’s not really. But there’s just a little peek over the clouds and deep in my heart, I know where I really want to be today: Brockley Market.
Brockley Market ticks all the boxes for what makes a good food market. There are a myriad of foods available from a long list of both permanent and changing food sellers: fruit and vegetables, breads, cakes, spices, cheeses, milk, meat, beer, wine, fresh pasta — and the list goes on. You can even get your hands on some home-made cordial or a pot plant to spruce up your home.
Then there is the atmosphere; the market draws in all sorts of people from young to old, families and couples, groups of friends — all laughing and having a good time. But what really makes me keep coming back is the quality street food. We have the big boys such as Mother Flipper and Sub Cult. There are also lesser known characters such as the Jhalmuri Express. I have made it my mission to get round to sampling dishes from all these vendors, but today I was limited — I had only £14 in my pocket! (So far, I have found only two downsides to Brockley Market: i) most of the stalls are cash only ii) there are not nearly enough seats available.)
So, I had a little food math to do as I walked around each stall salivating with every sniff and sight of food. I set aside £2.50 for a coffee; that’s a given. Then £4 for a dessert. That left me with £7.50 — the exact price of a ‘Sub-Marine’ from Sub Cult. I looked on into their Sub-Roller van: brioche roll got a toasting then the lemon and parsley mayo was spread onto its soft fluffy flesh. A few leaves and handful of roast pork shoulder added then the freshly cooked ingredients piled on: seared scallops and calamari rings. Finally, a dash of lemon juice and a sprinkling of chillies and pork scratchings completed the dish. After only waiting a few minutes, the sub was mine. And it was delicious. Although the roast pork wasn’t as succulent (compared to the first time I had the Sub-Marine months ago), the seasoning was spot on. The delicate flesh of the scallops melted slowly in my mouth and the calamari had a good bite yet still maintaining softness. The lemon mayo, lemon juice and chillies lifted the heavier flavour of the pork. And the crackling — well who doesn’t love that crunch? This sub has it all — it is the king of subs.
Now it was time for dessert. I reached for the £4 and went straight for the crepes queue. I had seen their cute van on numerous visits to the market. But when it came to desserts I had always reached for an ice cream from Ruby Violet’s ice cream van. Since it was getting colder (and because Ruby Violet’s van was not present today) I was looking to try something a little different. After 5 minutes’ wait to order and another 10 minutes’ wait for the preparation, my salted caramel galette, made with organic whole buckwheat flour was ready. I cut a piece from the edge and took a bite. What a disappointment — it just tasted of bran flakes. The only positive I found was that it was thin and crispy. I bit into a piece which was covered in salted caramel thinking that this mouthful would change everything. It didn’t really; the flavour of salted caramel was present but it was just another bitter flavour. The dessert had no complexity to the taste, no richness, and not much sweetness — a component that you would expect from a dessert. Having seen that queue and waited so long I really expected something tastier and more creative.
It was starting to turn cold and the guy at Kooky bakes had sold all but two of his cakes. It was time to end on a high by getting myself a flat white from Dark Fluid. Dark Fluid use their own-roasted Schrodingers espresso blend and their baristas are espresso-making robots — churning out hot drinks at a fast pace. But they are not really robots and they love a good chat especially if you take interest in their cute dog, Cara. I don’t mind waiting in the long queue of caffeine addicts because it’s not just a caffeine hit that I’m getting, it’s because the baristas at Dark Fluid consistently produce a velvety smooth flat white. Something that is not easily done from my experience of coffee shop hopping around London.
And so concludes another feast at Brockley Market. On most occasions, I had felt so guilty for shovelling too much food in my mouth that I would take an hour-long brisk walk home in an attempt to burn off some calories. But I just remembered that I still had a list of household chores that I dropped to have a three-hour lunch break! Oh well, can you blame me? There is only a small window of opportunity with Brockley Market: it is open on Saturday’s between 10am and 2pm. Chores? They can be done at any time. ∎
(Photography: Sarah Chu for Bubbobar)
Saturday 10:00 – 14:00
Lewisham College Car Park
London SE4 1UT