I took Choc Star down to the new Sourced Market on Venn St last week. Lots of local traders are excited at the thought of a good South London hotspot for food other than Borough. Occupying that little road that also houses the Clapham Picture House, Venn St market has every potential to become South London’s answer to Broadway Market.
Of course it’s early days and there is still plenty of ironing out to do but the ingredients are there, namely: Neil’ Yard Dairy, Moxon’s fishmongers, Moen’s the butcher, Flour Station, Arabica Middle Eastern fayre, Peggy’s cupcakes, Happy Kitchen gluten-free cakes – plus others too many to mention.
Hordes of SW4ers descended on the market with relieved looks that they didn’t have to hoss it across town to get their high quality produce on. Being ever curious about the hot food on offer I was keen to check out some traders I hadn’t come across before. What a thrill when it came to lunchtime and I unearthed the brilliant Arancini Brothers. Before I’d even tried the grub I liked them immediately: good people with plenty of banter and very much from the ‘help your neighbour’ school of street trading.
In fact, as a trader, I was really happy about the general bonhomie amongst everyone. It’s that high-spirited, good humoured, all pulling together to try and make something work attitude that has always had me hooked on this world. Sure, it’s not always a walk in the park and plenty of diplomacy goes a long way in working market pitches with others, but it’s an industry that has always felt steeped in some really good old fashioned traditions.
I love to think that cockney rhyming slang was created by hawkers and costermongers back in the day, looking to protect themselves from the police who would seek to move them on. When you work on markets you feel connected to this camraderie – even if you’re legit and have the right to be on your pitch there is something about being part of a somewhat itinerant group that strengthens the bond.
Also at large were the Churros Brothers – resplendent in their bright Spanish coloured Citroen H-Van – we fell into conversation pretty quick. I like them, I like what they’re about. I’m sure we’ll be welcoming them into the eat.st fold in no time at all.
So anyway, back to that bowl of steaming arancini. The weather was weird, business not the busiest, but there before me sat the key to forgetting it all and absorbing myself in the moment. Risotto balls – oozing, creamy, crunchy globes of reassurance – atop hearty ratatouille and crowned with good garlic mayo. I retreated to the van to get fully stuck in. Hail bounced off the roof, the wind whipped by the hatch and sun and rain seemed to flank both sides of the street. Hot food within a chaos of weather. Inside yet outside. These are the alchemic extras that make a good thing taste even better – it’s all about the open air!