Call me old-fashioned, but I love going to local delis to pick up fresh ingredients or cheeses or home made lasagnas for those days when I don’t feel like cooking. It’s always nice when the seller knows you and your preferences and gives you advice or recipe ideas to inspire you.
Lately I have been also going to my local farmer’s market where I buy fresh apple juice from Kent, lovely sun-blushed roasted tomatoes (perfect for salads or pasta dishes, or even on a brown buttered slice of bread, with ham and cheese), fruit in season and pasta sauces. It’s the relaxed atmosphere and the freshness of ingredients that attracts me and helps the community be closer to each other. With our high streets ‘crammed’ with estate agents, mobile phone stores and expensive dry-cleaners, delis or small cafes give you a respite and a chance to have chit-chats with locals or staff or just enjoy delicious food or drink while lazily looking around and gathering your thoughts.
But there is a downside sometimes and that is the ridiculous prices that some of the delis seem to charge. Recently my local butcher closed down after many years of very successful business and I nearly cried, as the whole team was lovely and humorous and the meat always tasty, fresh and honestly priced. there wasn’t another butcher within the walking distance, so when I heard that a big delicatessen was opening close by, with a butchers counter I cheered up but my joy was short lived, as the prices they charge for the meat are ridiculous, so instead I have to walk or drive to my local Sainsbury or Waitrose or pop into the butchers on the Marlybone High street when I am in the area to stock up on meat or sausages or poultry.
Today I was browsing in Clifton nurseries and decided to walk to the Clifton road, where they have Raoul’s deli and Baker and Spice. Raoul’s is great for unusual ingredients, but the staff is a bit stuck up and the prices are somewhat ‘grand’-for example they recently started stocking up Lucky’s luxury chocolate cakes which are tiny in size (90g) but cost almost £10-that’s about three bites of chocolate, albeit Valrhona chocolate-honestly, would you be tempted (the one I tried, a honeyed cake with apricot and brandy tasted way too sweet !) I would rather treat myself at Ottolenghi’s in Notting Hill where every dish, cake or salad looks mouthwatering, staff is friendly and the prices are way more reasonable. It all comes down to choice, price, preference and ambiance, doesn’t it?