I’ve become a regular at Covent Garden Real Food Market now, every Thursday, without fail. Up early, making and baking. Bread, roasts, chorizo and pork rolls, tarts and now also soups. It’s a very long day. Starting at 5.30 am and finishing, without a break at 9pm, it’s usually approaching 10pm when I drag my weary bones home, shattered.
I’m always fine until I know it’s over. That’s the way I work. I can run on adrenaline until I know I can stop and then, knowing iot’s over, I relax, and slowly start to fall apart, needing my bed or at least a glass of wine pre bed fairly urgently. When I get very tired having pushed myself to extremes, which I tend to do alot, I get restless and itchy. It’s not nice for anyone seeing this restless, itchy lump on the sofa cradling a glass of red wine and usually wrapped in a bright red woolly blanket.
But I do it. For the love of food, and I do enjoy the market.
How to make it even more of a challenge? There must be a way. How about starting a new job (which is great!), which has a Wednesday evening meeting that finishes late. Oh, I know, more! What about doing the market 4 days in a row, solo, all the cooking and the serving, and the transporting, setting up and packing? That doesn’t sound like enough. What about, after the first day of market, pushing the boat out, and going out with some fellow bloggers to try some of the London Restaurant Festival menus? Good company, food & wine, perhaps a cocktail and at Rules? A late night before getting up to bake again? I can do it, can’t I?
Well, friends that is academic, as sadly I just do. The meeting was interesting and fun, and made for an very intense Thursday morning prep experience. I had a brilliant time with Sig, Dan and Mathilde, doing a mini incomplete restaurant crawl to try the menus at various places in the area. We failed to make the dessert, through a combination of a delay with the main course and frenetic, wine fuelled chatter which distracted us from the project at hand. Lots of fun. We finished the evening with a vesper martini at Rules, which was fantastic and like a trip back in time. It’s a cosy, elegant space and feels very indulgent and very right.
A success, no? But what about Friday morning? Can I just say ARGH! I was tired, hungover, disorganised, but more than these three things combined I was determined. I managed to get everything done and made it to market with a new addition to the menu – soup. Now, I love soup, always have. I make it a lot, especially in Winter. I love traditional soups but also more interesting creative ones. Over the three days to follow I served three types: Spiced Pumpkin, Tomato, Lentil & Chickpea and Black Bean Chilli, soups for £3 and chilli for £3.50. All vegetarian, and all went down very well, much to my delight. I’ll have soup every day at market now. I also served organic Irish smoked salmon bagels with cream cheese and cucmber pickle which also went down very well.
Friday was one of those days were everything went wrong. I burned myself, the table collapsed, spilled some prosecco, the weather turned, we had lots of rain and it was generally a bit of a disaster. I refused to let it bother me as I can’t control it now, can I? Can I? No, I can’t, more’s the pity. So I was ill prepared for the scorcher on Saturday and the very busy day presented to me.
Saturday was just great. Brilliant atmosphere, lots of hungry people, lots of thirsty people. It was vibrant and interesting and fun. We should have a Saturday food market at Covent Garden Market every week. Honestly, it was excellent. Lots of people asked if we would be there every Saturday and were disappointed when I said no. Covent Garden, can we please have a Saturday market?
I added another new menu item over the weekend. Overnight roast shoulder of lamb with smoky aubergine relish. That, with the soups, is now my favourite item on the stall. The lamb even trumped the pork and sold out first, and considering how popular the pork is, that is saying something.
So, that was it. Four days in a row, new job, big night out, recovery. I did it and I was very proud of myself indeed. Back to market tomorrow with more slow roast shoulder of lamb, and slow roast shoulder of pork and soup. There’ll be other things too, there are plans afoot. I’ll try, try, try to get a menu up in the morning but I’ve another late night at work tonight, and I’m only human, even if I may be in denial a bit about that ;)