Working close to London’s Oxford Street is a double-edged sword. It’s a shopper’s paradise, there’s no doubt about that, you can find just about anything here, and there’s always Regent Street just around the corner for anything you can’t find. I’ve spent many a lunchtime browsing (and buying). Of course the downside to this is the money spent, usually on things I wouldn’t otherwise have bought had I not been lured by the shops on my break. The other problem I find is how busy Oxford Street gets, more and more so in the months leading up to Christmas. I find this particular frustrating when I leave the office, tired and anxious to get home. Battling with the crowds is the last thing I want to be doing.
But overall this famous street is good to know. It’s bustling with London life and character and, despite how busy it gets, it does have a certain magic about it at Christmas time. And in recent weeks something else has made me very happy to be working nearby – ladies and gentlemen I give you the new Waitrose food hall at John Lewis.
Described as ‘an emporium for food lovers, bursting with seasonally-sourced and speciality foods’, let me tell you this is a gastronomic heaven. Well, as much as it can be under the umbrella of a supermarket. I was very impressed by the array of fresh meat, fish and vegetables and I was particularly pleased to see such a high percentage of free-range or organic meat, along with a rather fantastic selection of game – yes my friends, game, in a supermarket. Let me see, off the top of my head, I recall partridge, pigeon, quail, venison, select cuts of mixed game for casseroles, and I know there was more but I just couldn’t take it all in.
The hall boasts a fabulous cheese room filled with over 100 fine cheeses and offers daily cheese sampling and a gift box service which allows you to put together your own cheese board, with portions cut to order and wrapped in parchment. And as if this wasn’t enough there is also a bakery and a patisserie. What’s more, there are 20, count them, 20 tills with a post office style queuing system and a member of staff directing customers to the next available till. At first glance the queue looks horrendous but it moves so quickly you hardly notice it. John Lewis are certainly giving Selfridges, home to another fabulous food hall in the vicinity, a run for their money. The food hall is well worth a visit if you happen to be in the area.
I thought I’d pop in today to pick up some lunch and something up for dinner, but the problem I had is what on earth to buy when faced with such a choice? I was literally wandering around wide-eyed and completely unable to decide. After a phone call to Rob for inspiration, I picked up some Welsh organic minced lamb, some rocket and four rustic rolls, for home made burgers for dinner. I followed my burger recipe, adding a crushed garlic cloves and a pinch of dried chilli flakes, crushed down. Fantastic!