Monday, 24 August 2015

Bermondsey Mark III

A little while ago the Beeb showed a programme where curious cat owners strapped GPS 'cat cams' to their beloved felines and finally found out what they got up to every time they skipped out the cat flap - mostly eating a second dinner at someone else's house or trying to get friendly with the local bird population; my kind of life.   

While a mix of Google maps, social media and CCTV means the idea of not being able to pinpoint where we are at any given time is pretty redundant for humans, I'm pretty sure that my path, if tracked, would be almost entirely revolving around my bed, my sofa, my desk and a slice of the Big Smoke stretching from the Walworth Road to Wapping - centering in on a small strip south of the river on a Saturday morning.

So strictly this isn't really Bermondsey mark three on the blog - being as I've written about various incarnations of the Spa Terminus, Beer Mile and the Rope Walk before - but this little patch of South London just doesn't scan as well with four or five. And there's still plenty of things to eat and write about, including a fair few happenings (more of which later), but firstly let's go back to the stalwart that was the site of our very first pilgrimage to this neck of the woods, the Kernel at Spa Terminus.

One of the reasons I wanted to come back at such an ungodly hour - they open at 9 on a Saturday morning and get progressively more rammed until they close at 2 - is because from September they will no longer open their tap room for drinking their beers straight from the keg.

Mostly this seems related to their success, too many people and not enough space to comfortably sit and enjoy their superior brews -  although you can still come and buy beer from their shop front and their website does say we are working on a more suitable way to be able to serve beers directly to our customers, but this will take some time. so fingers crossed for a new space to enjoy your London Murky soon.

Obviously we didn't waste time on our last visit, making our way through pretty much the entire list of keg beers and all before 10 am. My pick of the bunch remain the London sour with raspberries and any of their pale ale/IPA with citra; although the brown ale was rather delicious, despite the prosaic name.

One Bermondsey brewer that seems to be going from strength to strength is Brew by Numbers, in nearby Enid Street. Here they have the advantage of being able to brew under the arches while their customers can congregate outside to drink - there are a few inside tables and sofas too - when the weather's not too inclement. 

They've also got some spiffy new glasses (my Nan would have called them spivvy - TE), which you can take home for three quid, but first of all I filled mine with a witbier, dry hopped with saaz hops for a lemony finish. Wheat beers aren't my favourite, after an unfortunate summer overdoing Hoegaarden back in my teens, but this was pretty nice to sip in the sun. Another weather appropriate beverage was the Ewing's saison, brewed with motueka hops from New Zealand and fresh lime zest, 

Previously, the wonderful Bea's Diner took top breakfast spot around these parts. Obscene slabs of oozy french toast, stacks of berry and bacon-spiked pancakes and buttery eggs benedict all served up in a railway arch. Sadly they have now moved on, but, as if someone had read my tiny mind for a suitable replacement, Monty's Deli has opened just next door.

Liver, lockshen and latkes, three little words that make me very happy. Add to that the classic special I chose for brunch, a towering mound of toasted rye stuffed with salt beef and pastrami, russian dressing and coleslaw and served with pickle and extra slaw on the side - and I was practically hysterical.

Of course, I had to leave a little room for a slice of sourdough, anointed with Hansen and Lydersen Norwegian smoked salmon, soured cream and dill. Something even Stealth is happy to stop for and still one of the best snacks to spend your pocket change on.

Another must have is the St John doughnut, often imitated but rarely bettered. Alongside the classic custard (just look at that creamy spurt) and chocolate versions our last visit also saw them offering a rather good gooseberry and apple number, although it wasn't saccharine enough for the sharp-edged Stealth.

While the old guard are still holding up their end there have been a few new and exciting things going on. Most notably with the opening of Druid Street market - established and curated by Toast magazine in Bermondsey - on Saturday mornings. A bigger space down by Anspach and Hobday that mops up some of the overspill from the Ropewalk with plenty of pavement to lounge around while enjoying your wares.

Combine a new market with one of London's new summer trends and you get Blu Top, purveyor of freshly made ice cream and cookie sandwiches, dispensed from their little blue van. Choose your ice cream filling, your biscuit bread and your sugary 'condiments' to finish up with something that beats a flaccid M&S pre-packed sarnie, even if your dentist might not share the sentiment. 

After making some big decisions - summer corn and blueberry ice cream any one? - we ended up with a sandwich to 'share'. Brown butter choc chip and double chocolate fudge cookies cradling a core of bourbon old fashioned ice cream, salted pretzels and Fatties Bakery caramel sauce. Stealth reported it delicious and I can confirm the few remaining crumbs were  certainly very enjoyable, especially the gooey fudge cookies and caramel.

In the interests of impartiality we also had to go back down Maltby Street to try a sandwich from Hector and Milo's, another frozen desert purveyor working out of a blue vehicle; this time a dinky little Piaggio van.

Here my choice was a classic choc chip butter cookie with another boozy filling, this time a superlative rum and raisin number topped with lashings of salted caramel. The cookies were a little wan compared with the Blu Top, but the fillings more than made up for it. And this time I actually got to get my chops around it, Stealth having slowed down in fear of ice cream headaches and type two diabetes. 

Both vans were super friendly and very enthusiastic, so get down there and sample them while the sun's still out. Druid Street also has some great looking savoury toasted sandwiches with kimchi and stilton from F.A.T, and Louisiana inspired street snacks like butter roasted oysters and boudin balls from Decatur  if all that sugar doesn't tickle your pickle

We finished our sugar-loaded lunch off with a few tinnies to wash things down as we traversed the streets of South London. There were six tins, but only four were sampled by me; but I guess that's another story...

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