A few years ago I had the priveledge of visiting Neal’s Yard Dairy, cheese headquarters under some railway arches near Bermondsey. Two large airconditioned arches store the cheeses they wholesale as well as maturing many cheeses for months at a time, nurturing them until they reach perfection. Under the roar of the constantly passing trains overhead , on their way to and from London Bridge I learned how the cheesemakers closely liase with Neal’s Yard during their production in order that all parties are happy with the end results. It was a real eye opener for me knowing this was all going on in an urban enviroment.
More recently I went to a talk by a delightful cheesemaker who works under another railway arch at Peckham. A unique addition to the London food scene, Gringa Dairy makes Mexican cheeses selling mostly to the restaurant trade, Honey & Co being one who use their cheeses in their cooking. When setting up this organic cheese dairy, Kirsten the dairy maid as she calls herself, decided it was easier to bring the milk to London than to take the finished cheeses from a rural dairy to the city customer.
When I discovered the Little Bread Peddlar, also in Bermondsey it got me thinking about just how many food businesses were nestling underneath the arches. The LBP bread is fantastic, it has everything I like in a sourdough loaf; flavoursome, tangy,chewey, moist, crunchy, just perfect. Their rye and porter loaf is a mixture of rye grains and stout mixed with rye flour and fermented slowly to make a dark luscious loaf.
So I am now on the look out for more of these hidden artisans. Another inspiring organic baker in a railway arch is next to London Fields Overground Station. E5 Bakehouse have the adjacent Mill House where they actually mill flour on the spot for the bakery. They make a wonderful variety of breads. Baguettes, free form loaves, rolls all with super crunchy crusts and moist crumb. They beat a lot of bakers hands down for flavour.
Like many a modern baker there is also a busy cafe here serving coffees, brunches and more. The choices of pastries are many but it doesn’t surprise me to see customers just having hot buttered toast. Why wouldn’t you. The bread is fantastic and soughdough makes wonderful toast, especially thickly sliced. Whilst all this is going on the bakers are working away in the background whilst next door wheat is being ground into flour. There is a real enthusiasm in the air for what they believe in here.
If you have a spare 25 minutes you can walk from E5 Bakehouse, through London Fields, Broadway Market, across the Regents Canal and through Haggerton Park and all the way to Hoxton Station, where you’ll find Fabrique under the railway arches. I’ve already mentioned Fabrique in my Swedish bakery blog post as it is a favourite place of mine. Here they make authentic Swedish breads and sweet buns. When you are there you can’t help but notice opposite the Geffrye Museum, not only a museum with a herb garden that explores the home since 1600s but the location of a Sunday Food Market as well.
Back in Bermondsey, all of life’s food essentials are here under the arches at Spa Terminus. Go down on a Saturday with a large shopping basket. As well as Neil’s Yard Dairy there are several bread bakers and other cheese purveyors including the excellent Swiss cheese specialist Kase Swiss, also you will find an English Charcutier, Crown & Queue making salamis and more. The London Honey Co, sells English honey including some from London roof top hives. There are several fruit and veg suppliers, a butcher, plus breweries and a gin maker.
As you follow the railway line towards London Bridge you are accompanied all the way by a view of the Shard in the distance and the delightful aromas of cheeses, meats, bread baking, fruit, gin and beer brewing, all wafting towards you and beconing you into their archway shops.