I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself
And falls on th' other.
Most people have rather lofty, or at least exciting, ambitions and ideas; if you’re Miss World then, naturally, it’s world peace; the Ewing wants a dog and a self-watering allotment (or perhaps a dog that will water the allotment) and Stealth quite fancies a pad in the Barbican.
Since accepting the simple things in life really are often the best – the first hard cox in autumn (steady), a letter through the post from my Nan, breakfast in bed with the Ewing – my recent, and rather more modest goal, was getting to Wapping Market on a Sunday morning before all the Crosstown doughnuts and Dark Fluid coffee ran out. (I do still harbour a secret dream to drive through all the mainland States in a faux wood panelled station wagon while living off cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon and Kraft macaroni cheese cooked on a camping stove.)
Since the market - sister of the burgeoning Saturday market at Brockley, which also proved quite an effort getting to - opened at the beginning of the summer, I have been taunted with an endless Instagram feed every Sunday of fried chicken, ice cream, local fruit and veg and, of course, the famed coffee and doughnuts.
Finally, after feeling thoroughly down in the dumps most the preceding week, I decided the only way to shake the gloom and spin out the last hazy day of August was by eating, drinking and generally making merry. So I roused the Ewing from her precious weekend slumber and dragged her all the way down to Brussels Dock for breakfast. Well, by the time we actually arrived, more lunch-ish.
First stop was a dash down to Crosstown for our fried dough fix. The Monmouth coffee custard stuffed square was a given, but the second choice was more difficult and saw a squabble ensue over whether to pick the ring doughnut stuffed with chocolate ganache or the salted banana caramel. the former won out, although I would have been more than happy with the cinnamon and sugar dusted number, while the chatty guy serving us had plenty of praise for the seasonal nectarine flavour. Decisions, decisions.
After nabbing a brace of 'nuts I patiently joined the queue for our iced coffee and americano from Dark Fluid, SE London based bean roasters with a mobile coffee cart, before finally find a spot down on the wharf wall to scoff our haul.
While I was impressed with the effort of stuffing the rich ganache into chocolate truffle ring doughnut, I found the crumb itself a little dry. Far more successful was the coffee number, which oozed it's caffeine-spiked loan obscenely with every bite and went down perfectly with my, very decent, cup of joe.
Of course it wasn't all stimulants and sugar, the Ewing also hit the Roadery's van to grab a pretty spectacular sandwich that saw slices 5hr slow cooked ox cheek being paired with peppery salad leaves before being stuffed between two slices of toasted milk'n'honey sourdough bread.
Highlight of our visit came, unexpectedly, in the form of a cone of apricot and Amaretto ice cream from the Ruby Violet van. Apricots don't normally do it for me (I'm pretty sure that's why the Ewing chose it as we were going to 'share'), but this was utterly exceptional. The flavour was sharp and bright, while the texture was butter soft and a little fuzzy - just like the skin of a perfect, juicy apricot - on the tongue.
There were also a few treats to take home; the first ears of the autumn corn, a big bag of greengages and a punnet of Victoria plums, as well as some proper English muffins and gingerbread. My favourite take home purchase was the Graceburn cheese, a soft cow's cheese in oil with herbs and garic that's made with unpasteurised organic milk by Blackwoods in Bromley. Very good with homegrown tomatoes and sourdough toast (or out the jar with a teaspoon).
After sunning ourselves with the friendly crowd that had assembled down by the water it was time for some proper refreshments. The market is, quite literally, a stone’s throw from the old stalwart and favoured drinking hole whenever I'm in these parts, the Prospect of Whitby. This time however we eschewed it for a visit to the Captain Kidd, back down on Wapping High Street, after we had to skipped past it on our last pub crawl.
The Captain Kidd is a Sam Smith’s, pub, a Yorkshire brewers known for its impossibly cheap and rather mysterious range of own brand beers, ciders spirits and mixers. You can imagine the disquiet this must cause the average drinker when they call in looking for their favoured American piss or pint of wife beater and instead are faced with ‘Alpine Lager’ or 'Yorkshire Stingo'. Something that’s apparent by the mild irritation of the staff and the slightly sticky laminated menus they have to provide that describe the different libations actually available.
Overall the Captain Kidd's a decent enough pub; the Ewing rates the Extra Stout and it also boasts the best garden and river views of the trio of hostelries that run from the Town of Ramsgate to the Prospect. There was also a particularly vocal, and very amusing, group of locals trading salacious stories at the bar on our visit. An increasingly rare find in the Big Smoke.
The beers themselves or the ones I’ve had the pleasure to try - mostly at the John Snow, a labyrinth-like Sam Smiths in the centre of Soho - range from the pretty decent to pretty unpalatable, but at £2.70 for a pint of the Best Bitter it’s hard to care too much. Yo ho ho and a bottle of (own brand) rum, indeed.