And so the journey begins. Not a million miles away. In fact, just down the road in South Kensington.
Every Saturday there’s a small farmers market tucked away down Bute Street. A tiny one-way street just by The Zetland Arms pub (once run by Charlie Chaplin’s brother). While the pub is packed with people eager to watch the rugby, I begin my search for the best of UK streetfood.
There’s about 15 stalls in all. Selling everything from baked cheesecakes and chutneys to free-range chickens and huge lobsters.
After a brief walk up and down, I decided to go for something pretty simple. A sausage roll. Well, two free-range sausages in a bap – finished with fried onions and mustard – courtesy of The Parsons Nose.
Waiting in the queue, the smells were getting stronger as I patiently waited for my turn. The old lady in front of me ordered one without the bap. Clearly never being asked this before, the guy behind the stall didn’t really know what to do next. His assistant came to the rescue with a plastic bag (interesting choice). LESSON NUMBER ONE – be prepared for the unexpected – even if you’re selling the simplest thing in the world – not everyone will want it that way.
When it was my turn, I was slightly disappointed that the guy behind the stall cut the sausages in half. Lengthways. Presumably to get them to fill the rather large, white, floury bap. I can see why he did it, but I prefer to bite into the skin of a sausage and let the pork juices burst in my mouth. Oh well. He did redeem himself shortly after by throwing in an extra sausage on top.
Standing outside the pub, I tucked in to the sausage bap. Personally I would have cooked them a little longer to get that lovely crunch on the outside. But the sausages tasted great. Meaty, juicy, with a hint of herbs and also a peppery bite. The sweet soft onions had also soaked into the bap – which, despite its size, didn’t feel like too much bread.
I took the opportunity to observe the queues and also how people behaved at the market. Many people were also being drawn to the sausage stall. Two young lads next to me actually went back for seconds.
And here was LESSON NUMBER TWO – if people can smell it, you will sell it. The stall was quite near the market entrance and it was the smell of the sausages cooking that drew people in. Perfect. The stall at the other end of the market had loads of great casseroles and stews covered up and no queue. They could learn a trick here. I also passed another stall on my way to the market where people were cooking something that looked like a thin pasty. However, as you couldn’t smell it – it really didn’t make you want to try it.
And that leads me on to LESSON NUMBER THREE – make sure you have some samples for people. A stall that had several samples of their organic chocolate cakes on show was surrounded by a passing group of girls. Which, I’m sure, wouldn’t have bothered if they couldn’t have tried a mouthful or two.
So, a very successful trip and a fair few lessons learned already. Looking forward to lesson number four and streetfood number two…
The Parsons Nose
Sausage bap with 2 free-range sausages and onions