Thursday, 12 November 2015


I never thoughts I'd be writing a piece about carob. Especially after seemingly abandoning my blog for so long.
Here's my memory of carob;
Sandra Boynton's lovely little book about the history of chocolate in which she compares it to carob thus;

A scratch and sniff picture of carob comparing it to soil.

Carob bars turned up in dusty health food shops in the 1970's and '80's at a time when chocolate was seen as unhealthy (horror of horrors). It tasted awful.  The carob not the chocolate.  Of course we all know better now. It's sugar that's evil and chocolate that's good. Carob got left by the back door.

Fast forward a number of years to an ice cream maker in the Algarve. There amongst the usual flavours was fig. almond and carob.I tried it, I liked it, much to my surprise. On previous trips to the south of Portugal I'd seen carob for sale in markets. Now with new awareness it was everywhere; carob jam, carob liqueur, paired with figs of course, and in cakes and puddings. 

As a crop it's been grown for thousands of years.
If like me you've always thought of carob as the poor relation of chocolate give it another chance. You may be pleasantly surprised.  
Better people than I have already written extensively about carob
Next time I'm in Portugal I'm looking forward to trying more carob products. I still don't want to eat it  as a chocolate substitute because that way lies disappointment. But as an ingredient in its own right? 

                               Carob, almond and fig ice cream

Thursday, 21 August 2014


I've just found a strange little piece I wrote in 1990. I was living in a new town where  the age of consent had just been lowered to 40. It hadn't really, I just invented that, it was still 45. I was bored and lonely, and the elderly man next door had given me a few of his allotment grown tomatoes. That entire summer before moving, I’d been entrenched in a restaurant kitchen prepping ingredients. The scent of a tomato had brought back a memory which triggered this piece.
Years later, there I was cutting up tomatoes taken from a bag on which was written ‘grown for flavour’.

Slippery acid red sweetness. Pile high on the chopping board. Intense smell, condensed smell from memories childhood picture.

Half a tomato on the yellow and black patterned table. A tomato cut into eight. The knife eases through red juice, creating swirls of pips on the Formica. Like a bird, I'm waiting to be fed, I want to be fed. Feed me daddy. I don’t remember him doing anything as carefully, fragrantly as parting the flesh from the skin, blushing glowing particles roll and fold under his nails.

Tiny coffee spoon comes towards my mouth. Did I like tomatoes. I liked the ceremony. The skilful separation of edible from indigestible. The attention.

Memories are so complex, and tomatoes are just tomatoes. The memory scent never hit me till now. This summer, cutting up tomatoes. Tinned tomatoes, my hand reaches into giant tins, crushing them into sauces and purées. Spanish, English cherries, gardeners delight. Green striped tomatoes with polenta. Dried Italian tomatoes, saturated in the murky yellow depths of olive oil, sweet and intense. Ovals of tomato, the curved shiny end, that’s where the smell, the memory holds. Acute, acid, saccharine as sick. I hold it up to the light in the steam of the kitchen and watch the veins in their woolly prison, delicate and attuned to their fate. Guilt traps me. A kitchen is no place for the admiration of nature and artistry is in creation.

Memories are so complex, and we can’t always do what we wish. The only place in my room for the desk is in the window alcove. As a result, the time for words and writing is linked to the obsessive gardening habits of the man next door. I watch him battling to keep the wild and unruly away. I would like to throw a packet of wild flower seeds out of my window. Watch them take root in this so tidy town. See them unfurl, fast and furiously into the minds of these people who meet to defeat nature.

Conformity annoys the hell out of me. Makes me bloody minded and…

And I wish there was a market place. A loud place, a messy place where people could raise their voices and opinions, where the stall holders are racist, but tomatoes are cheap. 

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Totteratti Top 20 things to do in Tottenham.

No apologies for a very local posting. Things are moving in our neighbourhood. Tomorrow night the V&A is hosting a Tottenham Takeover.  Tottenham is starting to be noticed.

Over the last six or seven years I’ve tried to keep a count of destination restaurants and pubs within our neighbourhoods. Places to take friends, to find a decent coffee.
This isn’t the ultimate list; I’ve pruned down my original 7 pages so please; fill in the gaps. I’ve concentrated on N15 and N17 and for this piece, left out the extras that are just over the borders.

Please comment, and add your suggestions.  

Walk along the river Lea
I moved here because of the view from my balcony of the river Lea. If you're in a car you'll probably miss it. Get out and walk or cycle and you'll find Tottenham’s lungs. Naturally it's badly polluted. Theo Thomas of
Thames 21 
has done so much good work to draw attention to the state of the Lea and the rivers that flow off and around it such as The Moselle.

Plenty of good people are aware of the pollution and trying to do something about it, even if the official agencies don’t seem to be bothered. During the Olympics one section of the Lee was cleared, the rest stayed as mucky as ever. You can cycle to Crystal Palace and the Olympic Park along the river path, cross the Walthamstow marshes and beyond. It’s glorious to amble across the marshes and watch trains cross in the distance. A hard edged urban oasis. Check out the Hope and Anchor pub near Springfield park.

Cycle north,  and you’ll pass Stonebridge Lock. Living Under One Sun, in conjunction with other local groups are in the process of opening a cycle hire/ training centre and café there. I’ve not been able to get updates so please do shout if you know more.

Love the marshes offer events and walks and information about the Marshes and the Lee Valley Regional Park.

Postartists are bringing Canalology to the river Lea on Saturday May 3rd.

Find a decent coffee; Bom Pecado Portuguese Café on West Green Road is my favourite café.
Lovely coffee and natas that come with a little cinnamon shaker. 

Find a decent restaurant. Miracle of miracles, there’s actually a restaurant that got runner up in the best cheap eats in the Observer Food Monthly Awards; Autograf on West Green Road, N15 the Turnpike Lane end.

Check out The Beehive. It’s part of a small group of pubs that includes The Chequers in Walthamstow, The Three Crowns in Stoke Newington, The Lock Tavern in Camden and Pub On The Park in Hackney.

They were absolutely amazed by the amount of people who came to their opening night. Adie told me;
‘There was a manager from one of our other pubs who came and ended up being roped in to working behind the bar to help with the demand!’

Tottenham was an obvious choice for them because ‘the area needs a good pub’ They’ve kept the Grade 2 listed interior and made the pub into something that's family friendly and hopefully befitting to the local community.
She said;
‘We've had loads of people tell us they're meeting their neighbours here for the first time, which is amazing!’

Plans include a Game Of Thrones quiz plus hopefully a general pop culture quiz.

In the refurbishment it’s gone from this;  to this 
No more tvs, no fruit machines. A more than decent range of beers, sustainably sourced ingredients in the kitchen. A games room and a garden with fairy lights.
It was packed on opening nights and deserves to do well. We need places like this in Tottenham so if you’ve not been yet, what are you waiting for?

FIVE Eat at a local Supper Club
Lo and behold we actually have two supper clubs in Tottenham with a third to follow soon.
Both are highly recommended. The last time I went to eat at Soul Food Girls, people had journeyed from Brixton and Camberwell.

Lets Go In For Dinner; Seven Sisters
Portugese and Spanish Tapas

Take tea in the park
Lordship Rec
At the One World Music Festival last summer, the local church were doing a roaring trade in home made cakes at the open for the day new café space. Has it opened up yet? We can only hope for decent coffee and home made cakes. A real shame it’s not being used on a regular basis.

Downhills Park
Run by people with learning disabilities
Just wonderful. Friendly, charming service and a great institution.

Markfield Park;
Pistachios in the Park. Chain who run park cafes in and around London. Basic but ok for a drink. Friendly, good for kids and dogs.
Markfield also has the  which has a huge adventure playground. Originally for disabled young people, it’s now open to all comers several times a year.

Support your local breweries

Redemption Brewery; award winning craft brewery. Until recently the only place you could buy their beer was at the Tottenham Conservative Club. Now it’s available at The Beehive and ofcourse, at the Tottenham Ploughman events. And now that they’re bottling, chances are it’ll be available further afield.

Coming soon;
Beavertown Brewery, Tottenham Hale.
Woo hoo, competition for the Ferry Boat.
Beavertown will be brewing and selling from the same light industrial unit opposite the allotments.Summer 2014.

EIGHT Welcome our new Tottenham Green Market
It’s a travesty that Haringey doesn’t run a single street market in the borough. Not one. Ok so there are a couple of greengrocer stalls on Wood Green high street. Do tell me if I’ve missed anything else. What did they do with them all? I’m assuming that like other parts of London there were markets in place. 
A trial market for the green is due to open 28th June.

Soak up some culture 

No local cinema; quite honestly I’d rather get the train to the Hackney Picture House on Mare St than the Wood Green Odeon.  
However, there is the  
Tottenham film club

Meet up and get arty
Tottenham Art Group

A brilliant thought by local woman Taslima;  a social meet up group for locals living in and around Tottenham to get together and enjoy cultural activities.  
Email to be kept up to date with all future meet ups.

Tas has also set up life drawing classes and to her surprise they’ve been overwhelmingly popular. Thursdays at Tottenham Chances, Tuesdays at The Beehive

TEN; Tango
Another place I’ve always means to check out but never got round to.
An intriguing mix of yoga, tango, poetry and Tai Chi.

Learn to sing!

Unearth an artist.
EuroArt studios on Markfield Rd, open studios once a year worth attending

Learn Spanish!
Mondays 7pm at El Botellon

Make green things grow
The award winning Living under one Sun run various courses

Hug a tree
The actual Seven Sisters; seven trees on the corner of Broad Lane and the High Rd. Unmarked, no signs. The trees have been replanted several times over the years. You’ll have to go to Bruce Castle Museum to find out more.

SIXTEEN Get fit;
Take on a Zumba class
Markfield Park every Monday morning run by the enthusiastic Charmaine
07958 686 101
Every Monday evening Kemble Hall, Kemble Road N17

Try yoga
N15 Wood Green
Bikram yoga without the heat….

SEVENTEEN   Keep it grass roots

Campaign for Wards Corner
The friends of Wards Corner haven’t given up yet; check out the planning application online.

Join the Friends of Tottenham Green
Website not live yet
Currently planning summer solstice event for the opening of Tottenham Green.

Support the The Antwerp Arms; 168-170 Church Rd, London, N17 8AS
Anyone who’s been wondering what’s happening here, check this out;
Community take over time.

It’s not all jam making; Tottenham has its very own WI

Join your park’s Friends group.
Lordship Rec, Downhill’s and Markfields all have groups. 

Get competitive with your chutney; enter the
Lordship Rec 

Help to preserve and appreciate the beautiful buildings in Tottenham;

#7BG The Luke Howard House
The very first time I saw the plaque I was mesmerised. Who wouldn't be charmed; the namer of clouds lived here. For years I’ve grown more and more frustrated that the only blue plaque building in Tottenham has been allowed to fall into disrepair. The current owners are sitting on the site, after receiving planning permission a year ago to turn it into flats.  On twitter this week, @PostArtists got people to tweet pictures of clouds to mark Luke Howards birthday. I mentioned the shameful state of his house. Some people don’t know it’s in Tottenham. Many, like me are upset and angry that it’s been left to crumble into the ground.  @Dadzoola has done the groundwork and knows who owns the property. I suggested to Matthew Bradby, chair of the Tottenham Civic Society that a letter signed by as many of us as possible goes to English Heritage. Ideally I’d love the building to become a living museum and community space but we all know that’s not going to happen.

Support these two local projects to provide healthy, home-made, affordable food.

Broadwater Farm based collective, running various projects including growing food, café, selling locally sourced and organic produce to people who wouldn’t normally be able to afford them.   N17 at the Engine Room Hale Village every Friday 10.30am-3pm. Home made food using sustainable ingredients.

TWENTY Support your local events!
Bruce Castle Vintage Fair Saturday 29 March 2014
Stallholders selling vintage clothing, jewellery, accessories, books, furniture, kitchenalia, collectibles and records.
Vintage and vintage inspired gifts.
Entrance fee £1.50 only. Accompanied children free.
More here;

Support your local cheesemaker/bakery, brewery and more! 
The next Tottenham Ploughman event is at  Markfield Park, May Bank Holiday Monday 5th May 11am-5pm with Wildes CheeseFlourish Craft Bakery, Redemption Brewery plus Tottenham WI, Opera Ice cream...