Monty’s Deli

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Maltby Street food market is another super cool food destination to put on our growing list of super cool food destinations. Just over the river in some random railway arches in Bermondsey (how do these things start?), is a collection of fabulously curated food stalls. Perfect for a Saturday morning mooch we hopped on the bus and did just that. And came away half a stone heavier.

We’d actually come to try a legendary Reuben special sandwich at Monty’s Deli after seeing them on a re-run of a Tom Kerridge feature on Saturday Kitchen. Our mouths were watering just watching the sandwiches on TV, so we absolutely had to try the real thing and we weren’t disappointed.

The reuben is skyscraper sandwich is packed with melt in your mouth salt beef and smoked pastrami, home-made sauerkraut, sauce, sharp mustard, Leerdammer cheese and topped with super light toasted bread. Then it’s crammed into a sandwich toaster for what seems like an age when you’re hungry. The place was as rammed as the contents of the sandwiches too but the staff were coping well though, keeping the queue moving and the fast turnaround of tables meant there were seats on the communal benches.

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When the Reuben specials arrived I was actually a bit scared. It was huge but the toasting had compressed the sandwich so it didn’t look too overbearing. But it was still more than enough and it looked sooo good. Tender pink meat crammed tightly, oozing molten cheese, crisp sharp pickles and a can of time travelling cream soda (well it took me back). To die for. Literally.

There’s no airs and graces here. It’s basic, comforting food of the highest quality. Jewish soul food in fact. Monty’s speaks of passion and late nights, of trying new things, getting it right and wrong, burning the candle at both ends and an unswerving belief in what they are doing. You can even wash your hands in their sink if you want.

Post sandwich we waddled around the market feeling comfortingly full, nursing our salt beef babies. It’s a good job too as the rest of the food on offer looked just as good: tartiflette, fresh bread from St John, smoked Oysters, home cured salmon, delightful French pastries, tapas, local gin…the list goes on.

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Chole – Chickpea Curry

My first two dishes from the Prashad Cookbook were relatively simple affairs even for the novice cook that I admit to being. Wanting to push the boat out a little after my modest success, I was eager to cook Chole – a cinnamon spice chickpea curry that I had on my very first visit to their fab little restaurant in Bradford (& shortly Drighlington). This, of course, is the dish that propelled them into the homes of millions after Gordon Ramsay picked this one out as his personal favourite

The cookbook advises that the spice preparations make all the difference to the flavours of the finished dish. Having now made the dish I can report it also gives me an altogether different appreciation of eating it too. Coriander seeds, cinnamon, red chillies, cloves, peppercorns, bay leaves & cumin seeds are all tossed in a pan & fried to create a garam masala for the upper flavour. Unfortunately, on my first attempt, I set the heat too high causing it to burn, having to re-prep & do it all again….not the best start on a tired Friday evening

Cumin seeds cooked with onion form a base note and these are fried separately (Note – 2 pans!) with tomatoes followed by ginger, salt, red chilli powder, turmeric and sugar. I thought this was a simple dish of essentially 3 tins of chickpeas & some other spicy stuff but it is a very sophisticated and complex dish, with layers of flavours

The chickpeas are boiled in a large pan (that’s 3!) & I think this is where my dish went slightly wrong. I added additional warm water (as instructed) to my boiled chickpeas that had been left in their cooking water when adding the garam masala and cumin/onion mix. Ultimately it left the dish overly wet despite the additional cooking time employed

The consistency of the dish failed to live up their restaurant standard but the taste sensation was most definitely on the money. A point worth mentioning here, is this is a super cheap meal to make. With tins of chickpeas 50p a pop or less, it is fantastic food for a low outlay. We also had half left over which we took ‘en-flask’ to our annual salmon jumping expedition the following day. I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it was 2nd time round, sitting by Stainforth Falls on a cold Saturday afternoon, with the chilli heat ‘warming me cockles’

Wahaca – Covent Garden

On a walk across London to collect our Paralympics Opening Ceremony tickets we, quite by chance, stumbled across a Wahaca. We had no plans for lunch, other than to try something new, so as soon as my son realised there were Churros on the menu we decided to give it a go. It was a bonus for us that they don’t take bookings as we were able to stroll straight in and were taken down to the brightly decorated basement seating area.

We have Thomasina Miers ‘Mexican Food – Made Simple’ Cookbook so I knew we were in for something spicy. The waiters were great at suggesting milder options for George though, or offering to put the spicy salsa on the side.

Because we wanted to make sure we tried lots of different things on our trip the Street Food part of the menu was ideal, allowing us to try several smaller plates of food, leaving room for something else later. I started with a beer and the boy had a freshly made lime and mint soda to wash down the tortilla chips with an excellent guacamole that we both loved. This must have been obvious to our waiter as he offered to refill our tortilla tin; we finished them off in seconds.

Next we had Cactus Tacos: Pretty damned spicy grilled cactus with courgette, topped with grilled cheese on soft corn tortillas. My favourites were the Chicken Guajillos and George loved the Taquitos, so much so that we had to try to recreate them at home. The boy got his Churros that came with a cup of strong dipping chocolate. I thought it was nice that the waiter said we were welcome to just come in for Churros anytime, no need to have a whole meal if that was all we fancied.

It’s a good place to stop off for something fresh and tasty for lunch and it seems that Wahaca’s are popping up all over the place as we saw one later at Westfield, just outside the Olympic Park. The Street Food dishes are all under £4 too, so it’s good value.

We’d definitely go again, not least because we didn’t take Ed, so he wants to join in on our next visit…perhaps then we can hit a few of the 100% Blue Agave Tequilas.