London – Camden Markets & Fifteen

Posted on 21st Nov 2012 by ian under Travel Tales | No Comments »

This fine Saturday morning Annie and Laura went to Camden Markets. The thought of 1000+ shops and possibly 10,000+ people wasn’t exactly my cup of Twinings, especially as I planned to try getting through the day sans wheelchair. They had a very enjoyable potter about the stalls and the locks and we met up in North London at No 15 Westland Place, N1. To be precise, Jamie Oliver’s restaurant, Fifteen.

Established in 2002 it is celebrating ten years of using the magic of food to give unemployed young people a chance to have a better future. In those 10 years, 95 apprentices have graduated to become professional chefs.

Love the concept, loved the food.

You can get a two course set menu for £26 (AUD$43) but we went ‘freestyle’ and it came in at about the same price – started with a selection of Italian breads with Puglian extra virgin olive oil and a bowl of giant green olives from Puglia… and for the main I went for Thirsk farm lamb (with cicerchia beans, cime de rapa and wild garlic pesto) – wow – it was simply THE best lamb I have ever tasted.

There was, however, one downside.  My MS means that stairs are a bit of a challenge and I phoned to check that they had an accessible bathroom with no stairs to negotiate.  They did.  And following the meal I couldn’t spot it so I asked.  It was through an unmarked door just behind where they had placed a diner and his partner.  He was asked to move so I could get to the door and, on entering, I was glad I had a cane for mobility assistance and not a wheelchair because they used that facility to store a couple of high chairs and other furniture.  And it was a little disconcerting to exit and find the diner sitting at his companion’s side of the table, waiting, and other diners’ eyes watching.

And this lack of attention to detail is why I shan’t be buying his latest cookbook, Jamie’s Fifteen Minute Meals.  He doesn’t mention the other half hour that it takes to prepare and clean up and, if you have seen his TV series of the same name, it doesn’t happen there either – and it might as well be called learn to juggle fifteen balls.  Not all of us can sauté spinach and garlic with the ledft hand, blend a mango and pepper salsa with the right hand, check that rthe pan-fried chicken is humming along while the chocolate soufflé rises in the oven.  Whew.  I think it might be a phone-in-a-pizza night.