A while back, street food trader par excellence The Ribman, normally to be found (depending on the day) at either King's Cross, Brick Lane or Hackney, made a very welcome appearance south of the river at Brockley Market, taking his place alongside such lauded vendors as Mike+Ollie, Mother Flipper, Red Herring, Luardos, Spit & Roast, Fleisch Mob, and Egg Boss.
Not having ever tried the Ribmeister's babyback ribs, rib meat rolls or wraps before, it was incumbent upon me to get down there stat. And thank the lawd I did - I had a doughy bun packed to overflowing with ridiculously tender and tasty pork, drizzled with BBQ sauce. Dribble-tastic.
Here's a video about Mark Gevaux (the man behind the stall):
While I was there, I also took the opportunity to get myself a bottle of Mark's famous Holy Fuck Hot Sauce, which is made with scotch bonnet peppers and naga jolokia chilis (second only, apparently, to the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion chili on the Scoville Scale). Frighteningly, this isn't even his hottest sauce - the big man also sells one called Christ on a Bike, with three times more naga chilis in it. But that's not his hottest sauce either - that signal honour belongs to his Holy Mother of God which comes with the following stark warning: 'do not buy this if you have a weak heart or are worried about your eyesight'!
Now, while I'm not exactly a chili-wimp, I'm far from being a chili-fiend either. But, especially considering I don't use chilis in cooking all that often (since my 'repertoire' is mainly British-ish/Spanish-ish/Italian-ish), I've surprised myself by how often I've been reaching for this bottle over the last several weeks - to add zing to a sausage butty, swirled into a bowl of soup, even dabbed onto a slice of pizza. So much so that it now resides on the kitchen top, next to the olive oil, salt etc., rather than in the dark recesses of a cupboard. Even then, this fiery concoction still felt it needed to make its presence felt - the other week it erupted, popping off its lid and splattering all over the splashback.
Anyhow, when I decided to make some dal for lunch today, rather than go out and buy some chilis, I asked myself 'why not use the Holy Fuck'? The answer, as it turned out, was 'no reason at all, son, no reason at all'.
I had rather a lazy time of it on Sunday, in that I didn't get out of the door (even though I'd run out of milk after breakfast) and spent much of the time sofa-bound, watching two films and reading a book. But I did manage to make a loaf of bread and this rather tasty and hearty stew - another wonderfully comforting dish following on from last week's meat and potato pie.
The only inhabitants of the vegetable rack were a solitary Cyprus potato, an onion and a head of garlic; there was a chorizo sausage and a roasted pepper in the fridge, left over from earlier in the week when I'd made this sandwich:
And on Saturday I'd bought two packs of pork cheeks from Morrisons (£5.20 per kg) with no particular recipe in mind. Although these are a regular item on the shelves of the Peckham branch they quickly disappear, mainly because there's a local restaurant owner who selfishly keeps buying up the entire stock. So if you ever see them there, grab as many as you can while you can, if only to piss the little fucker off.
Just to be clear - what we're talking about here, what Morrisons sell, are the nuggets of meat you get from the pig's cheek, not the entire cheek (see the photo below).
I find it hard to believe that I've not posted a recipe for this before now. Nothing, I mean nothing, speaks to me of comfort on a cold, rainy evening like the words 'meat and potato pie'. Maybe it's a northern thing.
At it's simplest, this would be made with only beef, onions, potatoes and water, topped off with a pastry of flour and lard, and accompanied by pickled red cabbage (and/or beetroot, and/or onions), mushy peas or simply malt vinegar.
In this version however, I've included, because I love it, a splash of Henderson's Relish (the balsamic of the North), a few mushrooms, some thyme and beef stock instead of the water. And that's probably about as far as you want to stray from the basic version - simplicity being part of this pie's charm.
I tend to serve it with ketchup, buttered cabbage and some crusty bread.
In an ideal world, of course, Al Read or The Clitheroe Kid would be on the radio, but you can't have everything.
I was pretty pleased last Saturday when I managed to grab the last pigeon (£1.99) at the new, and rather marvellous, butchery Flock and Herd - the opening of which being yet one more reason why the gastroscenti are increasingly referring to Peckham as 'The Ludlow of The South East'.
Mind you, as I'd only gone in for half a dozen eggs, when I got back home I had to think what to do with the little bugger - ideally with (as I didn't fancy going out again) what I had in the kitchen already. This risotto is the result. Although pigeon is available all year round, the gamey stock, red wine and porcini all go to make this a lovely and deeply satisfying autumnal dish.
I think that if I was making this for two or more people, I'd serve the risotto by itself, followed by the pigeon breasts in a salad with bacon and walnuts. Or something.
If you were to draw a line on the map from Khan's Bargain Ltd on Rye Lane to Sopers on Evalina Road, you'd find that the Skint Foodie Corp™ headquarters are situated at almost exactly the halfway point between the two. Which makes it, arguably, the most desirable piece of real estate in London.
Sopers is, simply put, the ideal of what a neighbourhood fishmongers should be. Mind you, they have had quite a while to perfect their offer, given that they've been trading since 1897.
There's a dizzying array of fresh fish on display, quite a bit of it bought from day boats operating in the coastal waters off Cornwall, Devon and Norfolk. One of my most frequent purchases here is spankingly fresh mackerel, for one of my favourite quick meals, along with gurnard, sardines, rock salmon, sea bream, flounder and pollock. I also love the Cornish squid and hake. And if they have any river trout when you visit, grab it - it's gorgeous.
SHORTLISTED FOR FOOD BLOG OF THE YEAR 2014