Imagine my glee when I realised that the building works that have been taking place for the last four and a half months, not far from my front door in the old Parkway tanning salon, were on behalf of a greengrocers. Yes, that’s right, a proper, old fashioned greengrocers, with brown paper bags.
Please excuse the rather local note of the post, but I am hopping with excitement at the knowledge that less than a minute away is a shop that sells everything I like to eat.
I just wish it had been open during the last three months of frantic cookery as I completed my first cookbook Friends, Food, Family, – which will be published here in the UK by Quadrille on September 25th.
(There’s a 15% discount on signed pre-order copies at Waterstones at the moment – click through box in the right hand side bar, or buy from Amazon here)
Camden in North London is blessed with lots of places to do your greengrocery shopping, but few of them are independent, many are expensive, and none of them sell everything you might need.
Store-wise I head mostly to the huge Morrison’s supermarket, which does have an exceptionally wide range, including, in season, samphire, kohlrabi, chard and other esoterica, but it’s far from perfect. Sainsbury’s and the Co-op don’t move much beyond the basics, Marks & Spencer quality is wonderful but stock is limited and Not Cheap, and Whole Foods’ veg prices are just ludicrous.
But my (and it is so going to be my) new greengrocers sells five types of carrot, eight types of onion, twelve types of tomato, thirteen apple varieties, three of cauliflower, three of beet, and every soft fruit you could need, from mangosteens to redcurrants (I know that out of season these are of limited appeal, but when you need to shoot a summer pudding in February, a redcurrant purveyor takes on god-like status).
And then there’s an entire wall of dried fruits, nuts, oils, vinegars, syrups and other cooking ingredients. Much of it organic, all of it keenly priced.
It’s no wonder that Mr Ottolenghi now does his daily grocery shop here.
But, most joyfully, the prices are absolutely bang on. £1.25 for the perfectly ripe avocado I had for my lunch. 35p for a single duck egg. Sure you can buy an organic English cauliflower for £2.25 (and you should, they are delicious), but there is an imported one for half the price too.
Edited to add: Parkway Greens now deliver to local addresses, as well as providing a wholesale service for local restaurants and food businesses.
Parkway Greens, 52 Parkway, Camden, London, NW1 7AH