Portobello Produce

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

Today we went for a trip into London. This involved about 40 minutes of train travelling, from here to Baker Street and then onto Paddington. Paddington is one of the stations close to the company office in Notting Hill (closest station is Notting Hill Gate, but that would involve another train change). In the end the primary purpose of the trip turned out to be a dud, as I couldn’t get into the office thanks to a new security system; score security: 1, Yvan: 0. The secondary purpose was somewhat more successful, Kathlene saw a GP (which wasn’t much more expensive than Sydney for just a prescription re-issue) and we discovered that “The Pill” costs less here than it does in Sydney (not much less mind you) – same brand.

Along the way we discovered two new quests for the day; the first was sushi. There is a sushi “train” in Paddington station, conveniently close to the GP office that Kat choose (coincidence? I think not). I wont say much about this one, the sushi was disappointing – it wasn’t even close to as good as the lowest class of sushi train in Sydney and it cost more then the best one. Poor Kathlene is now resigned to having to wait to gorge herself on sushi on a yearly sushi pilgrimage back to Sydney. Come February next year Sydney’s sushi industry better be prepared as they will face a ravenous beast with a Godzilla like, fury-driven appetite for their fishy delights.

The second quest, also of a culinary nature, was somewhat more successful. We wandered to the street where the riches of ages are stowed to hunt produce, less endowed in the “ages” one hopes. While there we visited the best coffee place in the known England: the Coffee Plant (the owner of this fine coffee establishment believes that the US government blew up the WTO buildings… and wrote a book about it).

Also, while in the area, we visited a nearby Oxfam bookshop and bought a few books:

All for the tidy sum of £9.97. I haven’t looked at the bonsai book yet and the Japanese cooking one is a bit on the simple side (we knew that before we bought it). The French cooking book is well written and contains some interesting recipes, I especially like the way that the recipes all seem to have a story to go with them.

With books in hand we then did a trawl of the produce stalls, there are around three decent length blocks worth of the things – vegetables galore. Sold by a variety of people with a variety of accents – I wonder if some of them have driven across from the continent for the could of days of trading. There is some absolutely excellent stuff available there for very reasonable prices.

Our bag for the day was: four large and excellent Haas avocados (£1), two large and firm aubergines (£1.20) and four sweet and aromatic red peppers (£1.20). All significantly better than the stuff we can get in the local supermarkets and at a combined cost that is lower than the avocados would have cost us anywhere else (for comparison we saw Haas avocados at Tesco today which were almost as good but sold for 80p each!). Ouch! The red peppers were really especially fine, I didn’t pick them out for their looks – I smelt them as I walked past. I’m so used to sniffing the produce in the supermarkets and wondering if things have been substituted with wax versions.

If only it wasn’t a £4.80-each round trip to get in there 🙁 certainly the place to buy some vegies if we happen to be in London for other reasons anyway, but not quite worth it as a motivation in its self (if just one of us went in then the total cost would have been about the same as buying the same stuff from Tesco and thus probably worthwhile as a weekly trip (made borderline by the ~1.5 hours total train travel).

One aubergine and two red peppers were made into an excellent dinner. The remainder has been roasted up for use in this weeks sandwiches (saving significantly on buying roast eggplant and red pepper), the same fate awaits the avocados.

No, I wouldn’t normally use the names “aubergine” and “red pepper” – trying to pick up the local customs and all 😉