Have you ever wondered where TV chefs shop? Nigella Lawson pops into a fabulous bright red Italian Deli in Nigellissima and Lorraine Pascal peruses the produce under the extended awnings of La Pascalou, very nearly next door. This is the Fulham Road in London on the boarders of Chelsea and Fulham. This has always been a an enclave of interesting shops, bars and restaurants, with a lively nightlife, just a stones throw from the kings road.
Luigis, the ‘bright red deli’ has a Narnia feel about it. The minute you step through the door, you’re in Italy. The warm hearted banter between the staff in the store is solely in Italian and non stop. Discussions about the football are interspersed with requests to pass this or get that from the back. The shop is quite narrow but every inch is resplendent with the bright packaging of Carnorolli rice, tiny bottles of truffle oil, aged balsamic and an array of olive oils.
Below the laden shelves are cold meats waiting to be sliced, Parma Ham, Mortadella and Salami di Milano, nestle up with olives in herb oil or with chilli or garlic, shiny and fat and green to tiny, wrinkled and black. On a central table is a take away dream. The dishes of Italy just waiting to be sliced, boxed and packed. Chicken with olives and chilli, lasagne, rich and creamy, Cooked fennel sausages and for dessert – sicilian cannoli. This is a fabulous place to soak up the feel of Italy and be charmed by the service, right in the centre of London.
Almost next door is La Pascalou, a rather more sedate French-style delicatessen and mini market. It’s extensive outdoor awnings cover the fresh fish counter brimming with crab, snails, and clams as well as the day’s catch. Beside this, market stall like is the fruit and veg. Large purple green heads of globe artichokes, tiny tomatoes and fat, furry pods of broad beans share space with brightly coloured fruit and for this time of year the luxury of strawberries and raspberries.
The atmosphere is quieter, but all the French staples are available here including your morning croissant.
A little further up the road, on the other side is Tray Gourmet – Traiteur Francais. This is the stop for cassoulet, haricot and pate de canard, stout jars of traditional French goodies, a perfect addition to a stew, or a whole meal at the twist of a lid.
If a quick coffee is what you’re after, then pop in to Carluccios. It is a chain but the coffee’s good and those meringues in the window, like overblown blooms, would tempt even the hardest hearted to just take a look.
In addition to all this food, there are gems of interiors stores here. In amongst which is the eclectic and innovative Solid ID.
This is a mix of renovated vintage – re-painted wooden stools, smooth resin topped battered tables, wooden moulding converted to peg holders and new fabulous rugs, stoneware crockery and quirky tableware and accessories.
The painted wooden letters and re-labeled apothacary jars make great statement pieces.
If you’re not too laden, buy a bunch of flowers to remind yourself that spring really is on its way. I love a vintage vase of blooms on the kitchen table to inspire me to both cook and write.
Where’s your favourite street for a stroll?