I went to Brixton this week for the first time in over a year and couldn’t believe how fast the place has changed. Brixton is racing through it’s gentrification, as shops, market halls and houses are redeveloped, bringing increasingly affluent folk to this once dilapidated urban area. There’s the cafes and bars in Brixton Village indoor food market, the funky Pop Brixton ‘pop-up community’, the Railway Hotel old boozer pub transformed into a Wahaca Mexican restaurant, and the new Brindisa tapas bar and food rooms under the railway arches. These exciting changes sent me dizzy with foodie night out possibilities.
But then also I felt a sadness for the things that Brixton is losing too – the traditional fishmongers, the Portuguese deli under the arches that’s been there for ages, the iconic Town Hall. Everywhere you look there’s graffiti protesting how disgruntled some Brixton locals feel.
I love some of the changes that are happening in Walthamstow. Now we can get good coffee and cakes in lovely cafes, there’s more places to eat out in an evening with more on the way when Yum Yum opens, and there’s great pubs offering Sunday roasts, craft beers and comedy nights. We’ve got a well established Farmers’ Market and a growing Saturday street food market. We’ve even got a cinema again at last! And I’ve just heard that Clapton based Sodo Pizza are beginning work on The Grove cafe which is great news for us as we love their antipasti and pizzas, but again another small business closes.
So if we do head down the Brixton route and the small local businesses go, there’s some little shops and places I’d definitely miss. I’m still craving the amazing Thai curries that Kitty and her husband used to serve at the old-time Chequers pub. The main reason that we moved to Walthamstow, like so many did years ago, was because we could just about afford to live here – to eat and pay the rent. It worries me that Walthamstow will soon become yet another gentrified area for the better-off, and those on low incomes, the young and the old will be pushed further out of London. We stayed here because we fit in, such a diverse mix of people live here and I believe we are stronger as a community for it.
So here’s our list of just some of the things we’d miss if they went – I guess the message is shop local and maybe they won’t disappear:
- Fresh curry leaves, banana flowers, Sri Lankan spring onion flowers from Abina Supermarket (132 Hoe St, E17 4QR)
- Merguez sausage, marinated liver, fiery harissa and North African spices from Maghreb Food Store (222 Hoe St, E17 3AY)
- Nan bread and lamacun pizza wraps from the little Fresh Nan Bakery opposite Sainsbury’s (143A High St, E17 7DB)
- Slabs of baked cheesecake, cured sausages and sauerkraut from the Polish delis
- Algerian cakes and French patisseries from L’Hirondelle (160 Hoe St, E17 4QH)
- Plantain, okra, turmeric & tamarind from Super Grows Foods (235 High St, E17 7BH)
- Pomegranate and date molasses, figs and fresh garlic from Akdeniz (147 Hoe St, E17 3AL) or International (15 High St, E17 7AB) Turkish supermarkets
- Mugs of tea and salt beef bagels and salads from the old school Copperfield Cafe (212 High St, E17 7JH)
- Salt cod, Pastel de Nata custard tarts and Portuguese wine from Made in Portugal (171 Shernhall St, E17 9HX)
- Gozleme Turkish pancakes and baklava from Niyaza Usta bakery (254 Hoe St, E17 3AX)
- Fresh pasta, jams, game, fish, bread and cheese on the Sunday Farmers’ Market
- and finally The Bell’s amazing homemade Scotch Eggs! (617 Forest Rd, E17 4NE)