The three food hounds took a road trip (sadly, over the recent Bank Holiday – us & 16 million other Brits) to investigate & research possible new abodes for the coming year. Our current town of Seaton, Devon has been glorious over this stunning summer but winter’s nightmares still haunt. So we headed East & based ourselves in Hastings (did not make the grade) at the wonderful Printworks B&B (which mos def made the grade in spades).
The Old Town of Hastings was cool, just not a lot of it to explore & enjoy but a highlight was the Boulevard Bookshop, recommended by the folks @ the Printworks. It is a bookshop by day and the Thai Cafe by night. It was quirky and romantic with tables discretely tucked into various enclaves of book shelves (you are encouraged to browse whilst you wait or eat) and even a table in the kitchen itself. Opened in March 2009 & run by June & Graham, it is excellent, freshly made, cooked to order authentic Thai (June is Thai). It is a simple affair – 13 quid for 2 courses (starter & main) of your choice and only a 2 quid per person corkage fee to bring your own wine – deal to make ya squeal.
Our starters were SomTum- Ma Mung, a shrimp based fresh & tangy salad and veggie spring rolls – both winners. For our mains we chose Kai-Kra-Paow, a stir fried chicken with tamarind sauce and Panaeng Nau, spicy beef in a red chilli sauce. The mains were offered with the choice of mild, medium or hot heat – we opted for medium which had just the right burn level. And to wash it all down we had reluctantly picked up one of Tesco Express’s Finest – a Côtes Catalanes Grenache, which we thought immensely quaffable, and by pure coincidence, got a rave review in the weekend’s Guardian.
Hound #3 happy with anticipation – no Thai in Seaton!
Food halls are an idea or concept that has always been close to our hearts. Of course local farmers markets are most warmly appreciated & attended but many are monthly or even haphazard in their schedule and really do not offer a serious, daily alternative to the huge supermarkets. The convenience of supermarkets is one of their key attractive features – a one stop shop, and in today’s world it has even become one stop-click & shop. In the time deficit world most working people inhabit, there is little tolerance or desire to traipse all over town to shop for the daily or weekly food haul. But food halls are a most viable and appealing alternative to the supermarkets for many, many reasons. They offer the same one stop shopping under one roof but for far better produce and products – offered or made by independent producers & in a much sweeter environment. The producers or store owners who have stalls at the food halls are often there themselves and are most passionate & knowledgeable about what they have to sell & glad to answer questions or offer up a wee bit of produce/product education.
All of which made us slightly delirious to discover The Goods Shed food hall in Canterbury. As the above sign says, it is a 6 day a week farmers market but it is so much more. In addition to the farmers market veggie stand, there is a butcher, a cheesemonger, a baker, a wine stall, a charcuterie stall, a fishmonger and a general store. Plus there is The Goods Shed Restaurant offering up a most tempting array of plates – but unfortunately, Hound #1 was not allowed in so we happily settled for an outdoor table and one of the other food stalls on site – Patrick’s Kitchen.
Patrick’s ingredient sources are more than just local, they’re immediate, as in directly from the the Good Shed food hall itself. After we put in our order for freshly baked Mushroom & Porcini Lasagne (£3.75) with a sharable side of Greek Salad, a wander was required to Andrew Morgan’s the Bottle Shop where wines by the glass (and pairing advice) are available to enhance your meal. We chose a glass of one of our fave tempranillos ( a 2011 Biberius ‘Comenge’, Ribera del Duero) and took a vino punt on a newly arrived (still in the box) Portuguese red whose grape makeup was a mystery – both perfecto.
So if you find yourself in Canterbury for any random reason or cause, stick your noggin into the Goods Shed and simply, enjoy….