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An epic adventure at market: defining the boundaries or the lack thereof

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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?

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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.

Covent Garden Real Food Market Stall

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.

Covent Garden Real Food Market Stall

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.

Covent Garden Real Food Market Stall

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?

Covent Garden Real Food Market Stall

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.

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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 ;)



Filed under: Random


Cooking and travelling, and sharing it all with you.


  1. The incomplete restaurant crawl was great fun. Good food (Poulet Basquaise delicious!) and the wine gave us a great time.. Remember the few words printed on the bottle ‘Chateauneuf du Pape 2006’ – Un délice !

  2. Congrats on the new job. I can personally attest to the deliciousness of the pork and home made blaas on Sunday – definitely worth a visit!

  3. Niamh, terrible that you were hungover on the Friday – but what a cracking night on the Thursday eh? Really enjoyed having a drink, a meal and a good old chat with yourself, Sig and Mathilde – excellent evening.

    Well done for managing to still make food to sell at the stall! despite the hangover! so impressed with your grit….think I’d have phoned in sick ;)

  4. Kitchen Goddess says

    Niamh I envy that you have the chance to sell at Borough Market like that but I also admire your courage and skill :) You’re doing a grand job, I just wish I could come visit.

    “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.” – Now that sounds like me after my 15 hour shifts at work lol.

  5. gastrogeek says

    How on earth do you do it? I can barely cope with eating loads of food let alone cooking it. Well done on the new job!

  6. fleurs_lovecakes says

    wow you are wonder woman with what you pack into a day! well done on the new job… That lamb looks delicious and the thought of Irish smoked salmon on your stall now is making it even more tempting to pay a visit!

  7. Aedinka says

    Niamh, bravo! So proud of you but get some rest this weekend, woman-don’t want you slow roasted as well as the pork and lamb!!

  8. Oh Niamh, I felt for you that Friday morning. It was a fun night out on Thursday, methinks more progressive eating should definitely be organised. Frith Street perhaps?

    Pleased to read the market is going so well for you – a genuine enthusiasm really shines through :) Hope I can make it down next week, have heard fabulous things about your pork sandwiches. The crackling…nom!

  9. funthyme says

    Just round the corner from work.. Will swing by on Thursday and say hi!

    Funthyme x

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  12. Niamh! I’m so excited for you and can’t wait to buy from your stall. Cormac and I will be over this month. When’s good to see you in action ?

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