Having returned from a wonderful holiday (blogpost to come!), and noticing how bare and un-autumnal our flat looked having ditched our flowers before we left; we planned a day out to Columbia Road Flower Market.
For those that haven’t been there, it’s a fantastic road in the East End littered with lots of cute shops and boutiques, and the most amazing flower market on a Sunday (open 8am-2pm). You will be spoilt for choice with fresh seasonal flowers and plants, and for you out of towners, you will get to hear a few legitimate East End accents. Bring sharp elbows, as you may need them to wade through the crowd – it’s especially busy in summertime.
We went on a cold Sunday in November, apparently catching the arse end of Storm Angus, so the crowd wasn’t as bad. But it was definitely chilly! We went with the intention of picking up some wild flowers and grabbing some lunch in the area…
Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the wildflowers (low maintenance, don’t have to water, look great as they dry – I couldn’t sell them to you enough – especially the LOW MAINTENANCE part as we tend to forget to refill vases). Bearing in mind our proximity to December/Christmasfest but refusal to get festive before December (seriously guys), we got some Ilex Berries, Baby’s Breath and Thistles. They have really brightened the place up!
After nipping into a few shops, one of the most noteworthy being the stationary craft of Choosing Keeping (I wish I could buy everything there even though I wouldn’t have use for a £45 hand crafted paper journal); we headed to Laxeiro Tapas Bar at the end of Columbia Road for a spot of lunch, and to get warm.
Fortuitously, we were able to get a table for two in the rammed restaurant immediately due to our opportunistic vision; whereas other people had to wait 20mins when it was at max capacity – so do bear this in mind if you have to wait outside in the cold (not hard to do in summer with a beer or a wine).
With two steaming black coffees defrosting our hands, we ordered our food.
It started with a beautiful pan con tomate, which arrived quickly and didn’t touch the sides going down. This is one of our favourite Tapas dishes, consisting of toasted baguette slices topped with cold smushed tomato and garlic, and a drizzle of olive oil. And it was incredible. The mild heat of the garlic is offset by the acidity of the tomato, the bread providing the perfect delivery for this appetiser.
Next, our feast arrived. We had croquettas (you can’t go to a Tapas bar and not order them… or at least, we can’t), grilled squid, fava bean and chorizo stew and THE BARBECUED COURGETTES WITH HONEY AND MANCHEGO.
Got excited there, sorry. The croquettas were ham and cheese flavour, the melty interior and the crunchy exterior taking us back to Barcelona and Seville (and Clapham!) where we have sampled some of the best. These were a real treat, very fluffy and warming.
The grilled squid (calamares) were served with chilli and garlic. We found it a little chewy, but the flavour accompaniments were perfect – perhaps our barbarian palettes have been destroyed by years of crunchy calamari, or perhaps we just weren’t ‘feeling’ the grilled squid on our cold November Sunday. Either way, they were still tasty.
The fava bean (fffffava beans for you Hannibal Lecter fans!) and chorizo stew was warning and hearty, with the right amount of saltiness and smokiness coming from the chorizo and the broth; the soft beans imbibing the flavour and adding their own creaminess to the stew. This was perfect, and we could happily have eaten a bowl of it each… maybe (DEFINITELY) with some bread to soak up the sauce.
Okay, onto the star (apart from the pan con tomate, you will always be our shining star). THE BARBECUED COURGETTES WITH HONEY AND MANCHEGO were simply… heavenly. The charred flesh of the barbecued courgettes* was enhanced with a topping of sweet Spanish honey and salty, flaky, lovely Manchego cheese. Taken together, these created a wonderful umami flavour that hit all the right spots on your palette, and we would beg anyone who entered this palace of Tapas to try the dish.
After a modest bill and refraining from the vino, we headed home to unwrap our flowers and give them a place in our flat. We stopped on the way to snap them all wrapped up.
Not quite Christmas, here we come!