Sunday, 22 May 2011

Portobello Market

One of the benefits (if that's what you want to call it) of being made recently unemployed is not having to request annual leave from your employers, and you can make immediate decisions to go away somewhere for however long you want.  Well that's what happened last week, with the roof patch work completed we made an impromptu decision to travel down South to see family, so much apologies to my readers who wondered of my absence. 

On Saturday we went to one of U.Ks most famous markets in West London - Portobello Market.  Portobello Market goes straight through the centre of Notting Hill.  Some of you may have watched the romcom movie Notting Hill which was filmed in and around here.  Although an extremely successful movie, it was heavily criticised by local residents for not reflecting the true multi 'ethnic' and cultural diversity of Notting Hill and its roots. 

Back to the market, let me tell you, this is one of the busiest markets I have ever been too.  I mean after a while, I stopped saying sorry when accidentally bumping into people and took it in my stride of it all being part of the experience. Also it was very difficult to take photographs, pretty much every one had a camera but here are a few snap shots of what caught my eye.
 Rockabilly Buskers - actually they were very good.
 Some antique and vintage tins.
Look closely (or click on the image) and you see some white asparagus.  Guess how much it was?  2 for £1.50 !!!  I wanted to pick some up either for our meal in the evening; or to bring back up with us, but D discouraged me pointing out that I didn't want to be carrying fresh asparagus, especially at we were only at the start of our tour at Portobello Green Market.  Gggrrr I wasn't completely happy with his decision and wished I had picked some up.  On the right hand side of the photograph you will also see some mushroom, they almost look like carved wood. On this stall you could also find Japanese aubergine and kerala also known as bitter gourd - the bitter crocodile of vegetables becaue of its green knobbly skin.
 I quite like this artwork on the van - Enjoy your Bananas!
At first glance I thought it was a Health shop, but when we entered it we were pleasantly surprised to note it was a Vegetarian eatery.  The grain offers a number of vegan pies, sweet and savory pastries and sweets.  Other than a piece of toast, we hadn't eaten very much for for breakfast, so picked up a Schnitzel Pastry.  It was just okay.  It sustained us until our next foodie stop which was a Ghanaian stall called Spinach and Agushi owned by the runners up on BBCs The Restaurant.  As well as learning a little about Ghanaian cooking and ingredients, I really admired Adwoa Mensah-Haganhere passion for cooking.  Anyway, we bought a small portion of the Spinach with Melon seeds served on a bed of spiced rice to share.
As you can see it was busy ....
It got seek refuge from the hustle and bustle we turned into one of the streets.  I realised we had stumbled upon the Books for Cooks and The Spice Shop.  I was a rather overwhelmed with the selection of dried chillies and spices stocked here.  The next time I come here (and there will be a next time, unless I order online), I will make sure I bring a list with me. 
Books for Cooks reminded me a lot of Clarissa Dickson Wrights Cook Book Shop (closed in 2004) in Edinburgh (but later I discovered that Clarissa of Two Fat Ladies actually once worked there). I was surprised to find Books for Cooks crammed in such a small space.  In fact it was so small that people were constantly brushing past you and at one point, I actually knocked a few books off the shelf.  You may be surprised to note that I came out empty handed - I'm watching my pounds and pennies you see.
 A final walk through Portobello Market and one more snack to share.
When we originally entered the Portobello Market, one of the vendors at Mama's Jerk Station stall overheard me pointing out to D that they had some vegetarian offerings.  The lovely man called us over and offered us a piece of Jerk Veggie Bean Cake and my mother in law Jerk chicken.  He told us that the The Jerk Veggie Bean Burgers were made from sweet potato, kidney beans, black eyed peas, coconut, plantain, and Mama's Secret Jerk Marinade.  I could taste the shredded coconut.  We told him we'd probably get some on the way back, but when we returned instead of getting a Jerk Veggie Burger I opted for the Mama Jerks Veggie and Dumpling Soup - it was substantial, warm, hot and spicy - D declared it 'the best thing we had eaten all day'.  I totally agreed.


  1. No Portobello mushrooms then?!
    I would have loved to have been there too!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Sandie xx

  2. I am jealous of your walk through the market and your jerk soup - my sister lived in notting hill gate when I first visited london and I wish I had appreciated it more

  3. I like that huge teapot hanging in the air... such a nice environment in the market...

  4. That all looks and sounds amazing - yay for spur of the moment trips xx

  5. How fun! The farmers market I go to is in the open courtyard of a municipal building. While not much bumping goes on, there aren't any local businesses nearby to browse either. Great post!

  6. Sounds like a lot of fun! What a bustling neighborhood!

  7. I love Portobello Market. Even if it is crowded with tourists (like me!).

  8. Sandie.
    Nope, no Portobello mushrooms this time!

    Thanks Johanna GGG.
    We are still deciding whether move to Wales or England, the decision will be made for us if either one of us finds a job down south, but either way I know I'll be visiting Portobello again and I guess you'll be even more jealous when I show off my goods - just teasing.

    Your right, when its on your doorstep you take some places for granted. I know when I leave Scotland, I will be missing some of the sights and shops.

  9. Thank you Lrong.
    Yes the teapot is quite a feature.

    Thank you Taz.
    It was a good day out and one that will happen again. Hope your well xx

    Thank you Yummychunklet.

    Thanks foodfeud.

    Thanks spécialiste de l'éphémère.
    This time I too was a tourist at Portobello and contributed to the hustle and bustle of the crowds.

  10. Lovely photos - really capture the atmosphere. We were in London last week but no time to visit any markets sadly, although watching our pennies so maybe it was a good thing. Went to free museums and galleries instead! x

  11. Thanks Vintage Jane.
    Like you, I'm saving my pennies too. Other than food on the go, which D and me shared the only thing I did purchase was an old fashioned manual whisker for £4.00. My desire for new cookbooks will just have to wait a while. We also walked a little through Hyde Park and visited the Natural History Museum and V&A. Thank goodness for free museums and art galleries :)

  12. Lovely! Have you been to Borough Market? You must!

  13. Sorry to hear that you (or is it D?) has been made redundant. As hubby had that earlier this year, I am enormously sympathetic. But unlike you guys, we chose to stay in London while he job hunted both here and up north. That's what having kids does - ties you down!
    Portabello market - ahhh that's where I went in my youf. I wonder if the old camera stall is still there. The spice shop is a tad overwhelming so I prefer to shop online (I'm such a coward!!!!). I must try to visit this place again before moving up to Scotland.
    The jerk bean burger sounds interesting.

  14. Thanks Nome.
    No, I don't think I've been to Borough Market. Its on my list of do's when in London. Is Borough Markett where Market Kitchen - the Food programme is filmed?

    Thanks Plummy Mummy.
    We are actually both unemployed now, but it was me that was made redundant a month or two back. I'm sorry to learn of your husband being in the same position, but I remember you saying that he has found some employment in Scotland hence your planned move up here. When will you be moving up? It will be a big change for all of you, including your kids.

    There was an old camera stall there.

  15. My wife went to London and brought me a book from Books for Cooks. She loved that area. It wasn't nearly as crowded as the weekday she went. Great photos!

  16. Thank you Greg.
    May I ask what cookbook she got you? Or am I being too nosy, as we've only just met :)
    I hope to go back to Portobello and it will probably be the Saturday as i did really like the fruit and veg stall.


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