Tag Archives: Broadway market

Great tasting grub and fanatical foodies at Broadway

There are so many great food stalls at Broadway Market there is literally too much to digest in one sitting. Following on from my review last week, read on to discover more mouth-watering food and drink and the inspiring people behind the stalls.

Mushroom medley
The inviting smell of intense mushrooms leads me to The Sporeboys mushroom stall. They’ve been selling an impressive range of wild, exotic and cultivated mushrooms to supermarket-weary folk at the market since 2005.

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There is a meandering queue of hungry diners waiting patiently for legendary mushroom sandwich, and a huge pot of unctuous-looking mushroom risotto, to be served. The sandwich is a favourite with their customers and I wanted to see what the fuss was about. A mixture of interesting mushrooms are sautéed in butter and garlic, sandwiched between sourdough bread and finished with parsley, pecorino and olive oil. Although slightly tricky to eat while standing up – with a few precious mushrooms falling to the kerb – it was tasty. Nice and garlicky, with the parsley and salty cheese complimenting the earthiness of the mushrooms.

Perfect Persian
Zordasht has a colourful and pretty display of fresh, healthy-looking food. An ex-menswear designer called Soli decided to follow her other passion – food. She set up the food stall four years ago with recipes inspired by the traditional Persian cooking she grew up with. There are Kookoo’s –  mini aromatic fritattas – such as spiced beetroot  and herbs; pea, chilli and corriander piled up on plates, and beautiful stuffed dates scattered with pistachio and rose petals.

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It all looks very inviting but I wanted to try her signature dish: the saffron chicken and orange. It gets a mention in Timeout’s 100 best dishes in London so it came with a high expectation tag. With subtle spicing and a lovely fragrance: it didn’t disappoint; utterly delicious. I have earmarked a visit to Cafe OTO to try more Soli’s beautiful Persian food, where she is resident chef.

Vibrant Vietnamese
Being a fan of Vietnamese cuisine I stopped by at Hanoi KitchenNigel, the founder, says he found inspiration for the stall from the amazing street food he ate while living in Hanoi. “The food just blew me away”, says Nigel. Unable to find anything as good back home, he decided to start up the stall at Broadway.

His specialty is ‘Bún’, which are aromatic, warm noodle dishes. The dish consists of meat or spicy tofu with a fragrant broth served over vermicelli noodles, crispy salad, fresh herbs and finished with peanuts, crispy shallots and chilli sauce.

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The preparation for today’s pulled pork starts off early on Friday. Good quality pork is dry-rubbed with a spice blend then very slowly braised for eight hours with garlic, ginger and chillis. The broth is reduced and more aromatics such as lemongrass are fried and added at the end. It’s a surefire winner: a warming pot of healthy, delicious goodness with punchy flavours that sets my taste buds alive.

Baguettes with a difference
Banh Mi11 
is also serving up tasty Vietnamese dishes that sing with flavour and freshness. This hugely successful stall run by Van and Anh, both from Hanoi, hand pick their produce from the best markets in London. They make everything from scratch: meats are massaged with seasoning blends, julienned vegetables are pickled and noodles are handmade. “Flavours emerge with time, through meticulous marinating, pickling and well-honed techniques.”

Bahn MI11 are serving up steaming pots of spicy Pho but they are perhaps more renowned for their bahn mi baguettes. Today’s signature filling was British pork marinated in caramel and lemongrass, twice-grilled and served with salad and herbs in a fresh baguette. A happy customer told me: “it’s both sweet and savoury; fresh and satisfying.”

First class smoked salmon
Attracted by lines of vibrant deep orange I arrive at Hansen & Lyderson. Neat rows of white sourdough (from Elliots Bread), each with a layer of thickly cut slices of smoked salmon topped with crème fraiche and dill. A row of hanging smoked salmon sides swing gently in the wind as I chat to Malek, who works regularly on the stall.

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Ole Hansen, the founder, sources the freshest sustainable salmon from a family run Norwegian fishery. Following an 80-year old recipe devised by his great-grandfather the salmon is cured in salt then slowly cold-smoked using a unique mix of juniper and beech wood shavings. According to Ole: “It’s farmed with respect rather than just eyes for profit.”

It’s all produced by hand and traditionally made in a tiny kiln in Stoke Newington. Currently, about 120 sides are smoked per week, whereas up to 150 sides per day were produced during the run up to Xmas – their busiest time of the year. Unlike a lot of smoked salmon that is injected with dyes to enhance the colour, this couldn’t be produced more naturally. Marek tells me that the fish never comes into contact with plastic, no chemicals or additives are ever used and even the wood shavings used are responsibly sourced.

The taste is sublime and without wanting to sound over zealous – this is undoubtedly the best smoked salmon I have ever tasted. It’s intense without being overpowering, as soft as butter and incredibly smooth in texture. The taste must surely be credited to the care and passion poured into this top quality product.

Meringue Girls
A dazzling rainbow of meringues attracts people like bees to a nectar-laden flower. I’ve heard of the Meringue Girls; their rise to success has been meteorite and they’ve tasted sweet success astonishingly quickly. Alex Hoffler and Stacey O’Gorman applied to be on a TV show – Cooks to Market – in 2011, and needed a product. They came up with meringues, and devised innovative colours and flavours to make them unique. They won the show. Since then, their meringues are now stocked in Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Fortnum & Mason; they’ve launched a cookbook and have a whole host of famous clients.

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Visually the meringues look stunning. Natural dyes painted inside the piping bags are used to create the dramatic toothpaste stripe effect. Flavours such as gin and tonic, lemongrass and ginger, and Pina Colada rub shoulders with the more ‘ordinary’ chocolate, raspberry and hazelnut. They are anything but ordinary, as I bite into a raspberry meringue kiss. The flavour is intense and a crispy exterior gives way to a marshmallow-like middle: very moreish indeed. They’re not called The Meringue Girls for nothing.

Liquid dessert
After bracing the chilly wind for hours I was in need of a something warming and satisfying. I had gone past caffeine o’clock and I was too full for cake – as tempting as some of the sweet offerings looked.

The welcoming face of Jaz, one half of Jaz&Jul’s organic drinking chocolate stall, won me over in a flash. They use the finest chocolate sourced from single origin producers with spices and natural oils to create their delectable range of drinks.

Being a bit of a chocolate purist I opt for the Perfectly Simple hot chocolate, which has a cheeky smidgen of nutmeg added. Homemade marshmallows add a further naughty factor. Using their fine chocolate shavings the drink is ready in an instant and I’m soon cupping an intensely rich and warming hot chocolate that puts a huge smile on my cold face.

They sell some pretty interesting flavours: cinnamon and rose (bestseller); raspberry with a hint of lavender; caramel and lime; and an Indian spiced masala. Check out their quirky looking website for the full range.

Jaz told me: “We’re very strict in our criteria. Our chocolate has to be ethical, fully traceable, free from GMOs and delicious.” They mainly use a cooperative in Grenada and a family-owned company in Madagascar; it’s obvious they really care about the story and people behind the chocolate.

They also sell single bars of chocolate and Jaz let me try a sample from ‘under the counter’. Although this particular Brazilian chocolate wasn’t on sale, it gave a hint at the quality Jaz insists on. “We’re actually in the process of sourcing some more origins at the moment, so chocolate samples are arriving every few days from Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador.” If they need taste panel volunteers then I’ll be there in a shot.

Broadway market certainly lived up to its reputation and I left feeling resplendently satisfied on many levels. I’ve uncovered the passion and dedication behind some of the produce on offer and tasted some wonderful food and drink. This review is certainly not exhaustive so I suggest you pay a visit to this vibrant and diverse market very soon.

If you missed part one of my culinary Broadway Market review click here.


Eats from the streets for hungry hipsters

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Brimming over with artisan producers and suppliers, Hackney’s Broadway market is a mecca for discerning foodies. Armed with a mighty appetite I discover the passionate people behind the stalls and the best places to eat and drink.

I join a steady stream of people all heading towards the magical market I’ve heard so much about. I feel excitement at the thought of what lies ahead and my stomach gurgles in anticipation. Suddenly I’m struck by a hive of buzzing activity, the heady waft of tantalizing aromas and the babble of friendly banter: it’s Saturday; it’s Hackney’s Broadway Market.

This historic market is a riot of colour, cultures and flavours, with fruit and veg stalls nestling next to quirky arts and crafts, vintage fashion, and a shedload of artisan food and drinks producers. Being new to the area, I was keen to sample the gourmet delights that I knew awaited me at this top food destination.

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Magical spices
I follow the appetite inducing smell of spices that is filling my nose and discover a visual feast, too: a row of colourful Indian vegetarian dishes, from curries and dhal to samosas and bhajis. I get chatting to Gujarati Rasoi owner Urvesh who tells me the food is based on the traditional Indian cooking he grew up with.

The recipes have been passed down from his great grandmother who lived in Gujarati in the 1940s. “We always knew that what he had at home was something special,” he says with a smile. “I wanted to share that food and bring it to a new audience”. And so the stall was born.

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The business now runs a site at Borough Market and a thriving restaurant in Dalston; not bad for someone who started out with one pot on the stall 10 years ago. The love that goes into this nostalgic food is evident, and it’s mouth-wateringly delicious. Try the handmade samosas filled with peas, potato and carrots – fried until golden and crispy, they are finger licking good. The best quote of the day goes to a customer who returned to the stall after his meal and exclaimed: “It’s bloody marvellous!” I couldn’t agree more.

Beef it up
No visit to Broadway Market would be complete without visiting Ivan Lester’s legendary Jewish Deli. Ivan says: “A lot of people buy salt beef from Henson’s, which is mass produced, but I’m one of only a handful of suppliers who make it the traditional way.”

Irish brisket is injected with a brine solution for up to three days then braised slowly with aromatics until meltingly tender. According to Ivan, brisket makes the best salt beef as, “It’s the softest, sweetest part of the animal”. Ivan’s family recipe is closely guarded and he wouldn’t even tell me the type of salt used. Fair enough: protecting the recipe preserves its specialness and that’s the way it should stay.

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Beef that tastes this good doesn’t need much adorning and it’s presented simply in a bagel with gherkins and mustard sauce. It’s salty, juicy and succulent. Having eaten at the famous Katz Deli in New York, famous for it’s giant pastrami sandwiches, Ivan’s wins hand’s down.

Finding a cure
Three Ibérico ham legs stand impressively on the Spanish artisan food stall, Santos & Santos. Accompanied by a selection of other cured meats such as chorizo and salami: it’s a meat lover’s paradise.

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Manuel De Los Santos, the owner’s namesake, proudly tells me how he travelled all over Spain, particularly from his local area of Andalucia, to source the finest ingredients from small artisan, organic producers.

The curing process of the hams is a fascinating process. After two weeks of salting they are hung in huge rooms for about a year, where they control the temperature by opening and closing the windows. Manuel tells me: “The best hams are cured in the mountains of mid and southern Spain, because you need cold dry winters to start the process, and a hot summer so the fat melts into the meat, giving them the richness of flavour”.  They are then matured for a minimum of 2.5 years and up to four, depending on the quality.

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The free-range black pigs are fed a diet of grass, cereal or acorns, but the best ham comes from pigs that are fed only acorns. I taste my way along the legs leading up to the best quality ham. Despite Manuel telling me it was too cold to appreciate the flavour fully, it was still very good indeed – almost sweet, with an incredible depth of flavour.

Murderous Macbeth
Being Scottish and having visited the McSween’s factory in Scotland, I’m naturally inquisitive about Deeney’s: a stall selling haggis toasties to hordes of hungry punters.

The Macbeth or Lady Macbeth sandwich (meat or veggie version) is haggis served in granary bread, along with caramelised onions, rocket, mustard and Scottish cheddar – all toasted to golden perfection. It’s perfect hearty fare for a cold, winter’s day and it’s proving very popular.

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Paddy and his partner, Carol, are bringing their own unique brand of haggis to London. Not wanting to use haggis that’s currently available on the market, they commissioned their own version, which was produced by an award-winning butcher in Dundee. They recently launched their unique haggis near Burn’s night to positive reviews. “People are really interested in the product – people with Scottish roots, tourists who want to try it or people who just love haggis.”

The carefully selected blend of spices is all-important to the individual taste, with cloves being a key flavour. Paddy says: “You can definitely smell the cloves when we cook it on the grill, but the rest is secret”! It certainly smells and tastes delicious.

American pie
In search of a sweet fix I arrive at Violets where a kaleidoscope of tempting goodies await. Cream filled whoopie pies, colourful cupcakes, gooey centred lemon slices and sugar-coated cinnamon buns, were just some of the delights on offer.

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Claire Patak, a pastry chef who worked at Chez Panisse, arrived from California and set up the stall nine years ago. As is usually the case, we Brits fall in love with all things American and Claire’s cakes were a huge hit. They proved so popular that she set up a café five years, which sells all her delicious cakes as well as a lunch menu.

Claire uses top quality, fresh and homemade ingredients to create the big flavours in her bakes. Think coffee eclairs using freshly brewed coffee and butter icing made with fruit purees. Choosing one to eat was difficult but Anais, who was running the stall that day, easily persuaded me with the butterscotch blondies. It was divine; I think it may knock the resident chocolate brownie off it’s perch for good.

Broadway beans
Feeling chilled and to round off my feast I wanted a coffee. I have always been seduced by the aroma of freshly roasted coffee, and today was no exception. I gravitated towards Merito, which had a reassuring steady queue of customers ordering from a hand-written blackboard menu. Swaying from my usual flat white I ordered a latte, which I can best describe as smooth, full-bodied and with caramel notes.


While sipping my latte I learned from the owner Jason about why his coffee was so good. The current expresso blend was made from 50% Peruvian Tunki coffee – which is some of the finest organic coffee available – with equal parts Cuban, Bolivian, Nicuragian and Malabar beans. Green Tunki coffee is sustainably shade-grown at high altitude, fed and washed by clear spring waters and has a clean, crisp taste. Jason buys these quality beans from the only authorized supplier in the UK. If you love your coffee then I would definitely recommend stopping by for your fix.

The market certainly lived up to its reputation and I left feeling resplendently satisfied on many levels. I’ve uncovered the passion and dedication behind some of the produce on offer but with more stalls, shops and cafes to discover I was already planning my next visit. 

Coming soon: part two of my culinary Broadway Market review.