Peckham's 'gentrification' continues, with the Bellenden Road area becoming more and more upmarket. Estate agents like to call it Bellenden Village to really drive those house prices up, but then most estate agents are, well, what the word 'Bellenden' is made up of. Artusi opened recently, to acclaim and for a while now The Begging Bowl has been quietly working away, serving some of my favourite Thai food. General Store, a few doors down is a gorgeous little shop; herbs and vegetables from farms in Kent are sold here, as well as top quality cheese, bread and cured meats. It is not the Peckham of yesteryear, though Rye Lane still bustles with Halal butcher shops, fishmongers and beauty salons; noisy, smelly and wonderfully hectic.
Just off Rye Lane is Southerden, a 'pastry store' that is an oasis of calm. The first time we came we grabbed a couple of cakes to take away. Various cakes, breads and doughnuts are displayed by the window, with a brilliant glass dome contraption where by a thick rope is pulled on and hooked, lifting all three covers simultaneously.
|Photo from @sharmilasub|
We visited again today and chose to sit in, nursing cups of tea. Inside, everything is brilliant white; the one large table in the centre of the room strewn with magazines and local newspapers, the cushioned bench, the chairs. A counter at the back displays more cakes, meringues and truffles, separated from the world by a glass sheet which I excitedly and inadvertently jabbed. Unfortunately my housemate was far too impatient to wait for me to take a proper picture, but the cake we shared was a beauty. Filled with stewed rhubarb in a buttery, flaky pastry case, the top is made of sponge cake, topped with some sort of red crumb, a curl of white chocolate and a quenelle of vanilla ice cream. It was really very special. The girls sitting opposite us exclaimed that it was the best cake they'd ever had.
Once we started, it was pretty difficult to stop and the homemade marshmallows kept catching my gaze. Toasted coconut, mango and lime, strawberry and basil, raspberry and champagne and blackberry and mint were on offer. Our raspberry cube was intensely flavoured with the fruit, with just a hint of the fizz. Foamy but not squishy and not over-sweet, it restored my faith in marshmallows, as I was previously a bit of a skeptic.
Lemon and poppyseed and raspberry macarons (and maybe a vanilla and cinnamon truffle...) ended our sugar binge. The lemon was my favourite, the sunshine yellow curd fragrant and sweet. For all this plus two teas, we paid £14 - great value for what is an incredibly intricate skill.
Next time, I'm totally going for these chocolate sticks - they are stirred into hot milk, creating a hot chocolate as they melt. They also sell breakfast boxes filled with croissants and cold-brewed coffee, as well as flour, butter and various pastries to take home and bake with.
46 Choumert Road
London SE15 4SE