There is nothing better than fresh produce, seeing where something came from and meeting the people that made it, it gives real satisfaction. It also makes you appreciate the food you are eating so much more as you know exactly where it is coming from. Food today is so convenient and it’s so easy to not think about what you are eating or where it has come from. Producers are faceless, and all you think about is price. Meeting the person who made, say your cheese, changes all that.
One place that offers you the opportunity to buy beautiful food products straight from the producers is Spa Terminus in Bermondsey. It’s a short walk from London Bridge and the river and the perfect place on a sunny day to pick up items for a picnic in the park or down by the river!
Spa Terminus by their own definition is an area for food production and distribution in which likeminded businesses can grow and develop with the security of long term tenure. Located in a section of railway arches, they are working with Network rail and the local council to restore the area to an industrious manufacturing base supplying food destinations throughout London and the UK. This is an ingenious way of restoring abandoned pieces of London, using forgotten areas and bringing them back to life. Walking around the arches the food producers have really bought the area back to life.
First port of call if starting from the Bermondsey end is the Kernel Brewery, making beer that forces you to confront and consider what you are drinking. They make Pale Ales, India Pales Ales and old school London Porters and Stouts, so there is something for everyone. If you fancy a drink before you carry on shopping they have a small bar area next to the brewery otherwise fill your bags and carry on to the next arch which is the Ham and Cheese Company selling fabulous Italian cheese and cured meats. For the honey lovers amongst you there is the London Honey Co, who have their own hives on the roof of the building – watch out for the bees!
Crossing under a bridge to the next set of arches more wonderful delights await. For those that want some reasonably priced and fresh fruit and veg then head to South East Fruits, we picked up some amazing bargains. Further up is a cheese lover’s delight, Mons Cheese, Neal’s Yard Dairy and Kappacasein. There was so much cheese and so little time. Kappacasein won me over straight away, their cheese is made right there in the back of the unit, the Bermondsey hard pressed was only a few weeks old, but there was also the more mature version (great for cheese on toast). I loved the fact that the woman serving us could tell us the exact date the cheese was made – where does that ever happen! They sell their own butter which looked divine but dangerous for the arteries as well as their own buttermilk. On Saturdays they share the space with Neal’s Yard Dairy and they too offer a selection of great cheese, including St. James and my new favourite the Montgomery Cheddar.
Along the way there are also bakeries to stop at so you have something to go with all that cheese. A great place to stop is St. John Bakery which is further up on Druid Street and for something a little sweeter then definitely drop into Comptoir Gourmand for the best of French baking and patisseries.
From Druid Street you can turn off onto Maltby Street which offers even more fine food with their street market, or if you are laden down with goods then head to the riverside for a drink and if you can find a spot sit down and tuck into all that fabulous food you have just bought.
Spa Terminus is the perfect place to shop for fresh and well-crafted produce. Borough Market is just up the road and again I love to shop there but with the crowds it’s just off putting, so for a quiet food paradise head to the old railway arches in Bermondsey.