Friday 12 December 2008

Deptford delicatessen

Just a few days ago I was bemoaning the loss of Deptford Properly (again!). Today I am delighted to be able to report on the opening of a new business in the same location.

I have occasionally harped on about the woeful inadequacy of Deptford High Street shops when it comes to cheese, ham and wine. We may have fresh fish and exotic vegetables galore, and the quirky groceries of Housewives Cash & Carry continue to delight, but when it comes to Mediterranean foods, it is a veritable desert!

But not any more! Ladies & gents, please join me in welcoming the Deptford Deli!

One of my readers alerted me to the presence of the deli, which apparently opened last weekend. I was quite surprised about it, having been down to Wellbeloved's butchers the very same day and not having noticed it. (They are going to have to ramp up the marketing a bit if they are going to get the passing trade!)

So I made a special trip yesterday to check it out - and I was not disappointed! As well as a cafe area where you can sit and drink coffee and eat delicious-looking cakes and muffins, there is a well-stocked fridge and shelves selling a much wider variety of food than you could imagine would fit into a shop of that size.

As well as various cold meats and salami, and a range of cheeses, the fridge also contains bowls of tasty-looking dips etc sold by weight (humous, vegan pesto and so on).

On the shelves, as well as fresh bread, are jars of Deptford Creek Honey, jams and chutneys, mincemeat (and vegetarian suet if you want to make your own), fresh bread, Nairns oatcakes and other biscuits, Rocks organic cordials, olive oils, vinegars, coffees and teas, and even boxes of clementines and tomatoes stacked up on the floor. This is only a tiny fraction of what they are selling; I urge you to go down there and check it out. There is a friendly welcome by the owners, who also run Feast Your Eyes at the Laban Centre.

The quality of the goods they are selling is of course reflected in the price, but I found it reasonable compared with the places I usually go for this kind of food - the Cheeseboard on Royal Hill and the Italian deli stall in Greenwich market, for example - and without the time and effort needed to get there.

Finally, to make my delight complete - I understand that they are intending to get a licence to sell alcohol, so good wine on the doorstep might be coming soon!

***Updated 13/1/09
I sampled the food at the weekend and am delighted to report that it lives up to all expectations. The blackboard menu suggests that it changes regularly; I had the pork and chorizo stew which was served with rice and salad, and was excellent value at just £6 for a large dish. The menu included soup, a smoked fish platter, and a vegetarian option, among others, and they also offer sandwiches made from deli-counter ingredients, and cakes of course. The coffee is also excellent quality, and very good value at £1.40 for a small cappucino.

Wednesday 10 December 2008

Wavelengths customer forum

Just a reminder about the customer forum at Wavelengths leisure centre tomorrow evening, Thursday 11 Dec.

The manager, Clare Motton, will be available to answer questions and take your comments about the pool, gym, classes etc etc.

She will be available from 6pm onwards, however if, like me, you cannot get there until 7 or later you will probably miss her, unless the turnout is more than the half dozen who came to the last forum. She is more than happy to take feedback and answer queries by telephone, which I found out today.

As well as raising the issue of opening hours (which I fear is not going to change any time soon), I suggested that the weekly timetable for the fitness pool should be put on display. At the moment the timetable, which shows the availability of lanes throughout the day, is kept behind the reception desk. She took on board the fact that it would be more useful if it was visible, so that swimmers would have more information to help them plan their visit (recently I found myself sharing the pool with a local swimming club who had booked half of it for a three-hour block in the middle of Sunday). Of course it would be even more useful if this information was on the website so we could find out without having to go to the pool, but it's a start.

Finally I mentioned the showers, which have been cold on recent visits. Apparently someone was there (again) today, trying to fix them; like the opening hours it seems this could be a bigger problem than was originally envisaged.

Saturday 6 December 2008

Deptford photography archive

A very pleasing synergy occurred today, when I found out about Jane Laine's project to create a digital archive of photographs of the Deptford area. She wants to collect photographs of Deptford, the people who live and have lived here, their homes and their lives. Jane had a stall at the Deptford Project christmas market to promote her project and to ask people to dig out their photos and bring them along to a collection day at the Albany in January.

If you want to participate, come along to the Albany Theatre on 21 or 23 January, from 10 till 6, and bring your photos!

Jane was keen to point out that this is not just a case of wanting to collect faded, sepia photos from the distant past; she is also keen to archive the here and now. The area is changing so much that it is also important to record Deptford as it is today. To prove this point, I offer a very recent photograph of something which is now, sadly, history.

Jane's plans link seamlessly with the collection of photographs I was sent by Steve Golton after my post about the Royal Albert pub (formerly the Paradise Bar and before that, the Royal Albert!). Steve told me that he had a collection of photos from the 80s of a band called Rubber Johnny that used to play regularly at the venue.

(Photo courtesy of Steve Golton)

Steve has scanned the pictures and uploaded them here - he is also on a quest to get in touch with any of the former band members. You can contact him via Flickr, or leave a comment for him here!

Tuesday 2 December 2008

Dog & Bell/Camra pickle festival

(The Dame's homemade mincemeat - best eaten hot in pies)

As if Deptford needed more excitement this weekend, it's the world-renowned Dog & Bell/SE London Camra pickle festival on Saturday!

For those pickle festival virgins, let me explain. Assorted hopefuls bring home-made bread, pickles, chutneys and preserves to the Dog & Bell on Prince St, and several large slabs of cheese are provided.

Everyone present then samples the aforementioned goodies, and votes on their favourites. There are also categories for arts and crafts, the entries for which are not eaten, just scored by people in the pub.

Winners are announced, certificates are distributed, and more beer is drunk.

Everyone goes home, replete!

If you've never visited the D&B, it's a great excuse to try out their wonderful selection of ales while snacking on some fabulous pickles and breads. But get there early, otherwise it is standing room only.

Submit your entries between 7.15pm and 8pm; judging starts at 8.30.