I’ve been meaning to write about my favourite shops in Peckham for ages. Another local recently made a map of his and described me as an ‘expert’ on the area when it comes to food so I thought I’d better pull my finger out. Here are my recommendations.
1. Persepolis. Arguably the most exciting food shop in the area. I’ve written about it before, but damn, if it doesn’t just keep getting better. I call the shopkeeper, wholesaler and food writer Sally Butcher a friend, as I imagine many of her other regular customers do. If you don’t have her first cookbook, Persia in Peckham then you really should. It won Sunday Times Cookbook of the Year in 2007, which is seriously impressive for a first-time author.
Sally is currently building up a fresh deli section in the shop. I’ve been in already to check it out and scored myself a pot of the most incredible pickled garlic (£4.99/kg). That garlic has been pickling for 14 years! During this time the oak and spice flavours that develop are astonishing. Some pieces are softer and taste like well-matured chutney; those are the pieces good for spreading on bread. The firmer pieces are great sliced and dotted in a kebab; in fact they are perfect with any grilled meat. To be honest I’ve been eating them whole straight from the pot. Apparently the Iranians eat them “with everything”.
28-30 Peckham High Street
0207 639 8007
Persepolis is open from 10.35am – 9.59pm (yes really) – 7 days a week.
2. Khan’s. I’ve written a whole post about that place too. Sadly they’ve replaced the shabby yet charming sign above with a shiny new one sans tag line but I, hand on heart, will always ‘walk in & see the variety’. They sell the usual vegetables you can buy up and down Rye Lane like yams, plantain and tropical fruits but also things you don’t generally find like those lovely small cucumbers, mild Turkish peppers and herbs which are otherwise hard to find in Peckham, like dill (you’ll commonly find coriander, mint, thyme and parsley). The rest of the shop is taken up with ingredients you’ll want if you like Middle Eastern or Indian food. They also sell plastic animals.
Khan’s Bargain Ltd.
135 Rye Lane
The rest of Rye Lane is filled with food shops which pretty much sell the exact same things (along with hairdressers, nail bars, mobile phone shops and popcorn vendors). Everything the Caribbean and African cook wants, right down to the giant land snails. It’s just a case of working out your personal favourites really. They all compete on special offers and prices so look out for the best deal. I once bought a bag of 12 red peppers for a quid, now that’s a bargain.
3. Wing Tai Asian supermarket is incredibly well-stocked considering its size. I’ve never had any trouble finding ingredients here. In fact I spend hours roaming around inside, slinging unidentifiable things into my basket then trying to work out what to do with them. The staff are helpful in general if you don’t know where to start, although I have to say that the girl who works on the till is just astonishingly rude, so brace yourself for that.
Wing Tai Supermarket
Unit 11A Aylesham Centre
Tel: 020 7635 0714
4. Peckham Farmers Market is where you’ll find the middle class people of Peckham on a Sunday morning. The market is small, but it’s good quality stuff. There’s usually 1 meat stall, 1 fish, 2 veg and some people selling products like pies and sausages. They set up outside the library, probably Peckham’s most famous building after The Bussey.
Peckham Farmers Market
Every Sunday, 9-1pm outside the library (Peckham High St.)
5. Frog on The Green is a deli/cafe which, strictly speaking, is in Nunhead but it’s so close that I’m going to include it. The owner, Xhon has worked as a chef for the past 12 years, at some really fine restaurants, like The Square. I imagine running a deli is quite a change of pace. The fresh veg outside were picture perfect under streaming sunshine and I found unusual varieties like pale, bulbous Sicilian aubergines the size of honeydew melons. Inside, I clocked Brockley honey, lots of different types of pasta, rice and grains. Beans, jarred things. Cakes. There’s a small cafe section at the back. I bought some rustic hand-rolled Palestinian cous cous (“sorry it’s over-priced”) and ambled the 5 minute journey back to Rye Lane.
Frog on The Green
119 Consort Rd
Tel: 020 7732 2525
6. W. Bunting butchers has been trading from the same premises for over 30 years, owned by the same family. “I used to live above this shop as a lad” the butcher told us, “we had some great fry-ups I can tell you”. The shop isn’t particularly convenient for me as it’s on the other side of Peckham by the Old Kent Road, which I do try and avoid whenever possible. It’s a shame though, as the sirloin we bought was good; fairly well aged, nice bit of fat. If you live nearby I’d recommend it, although it’s easier for me to walk to the G. G Sparkes van on North Cross Road in East Dulwich (highly recommended).
For a short time, there was a greengrocers called Kilo next door to W. Bunting which looked really good. I never had the chance to visit and now it’s closed down. When I went to visit a sign in the window informed that they have ‘closed due to unforeseen circumstances’.
13 Peckham Park Rd
Tel: 020 7639 3718
Elsewhere in Peckham, buying meat is a gamble. Sally from Persepolis tells me there’s a good place near her but I’ve not had a chance to try it. There are many butchers up and down Rye Lane but I can’t recommend any of them and in some places I’ve had bad experiences; being sold minced lamb that had gone off was one of them. If you’re into cow feet, chicken feet or tripe though – everywhere.
7. Caribbean Spice Bakery is the sister shop to my favourite takeaway in Peckham, Caribbean Spice Jerk Centre. This place, funnily enough, is more about the baking. Hard-dough bread, bulla cake and patties galore. They do have a small selection of takeaway savoury dishes too but I’d suggest taking the short walk down to the Jerk Centre if you want anything other than baked stuff.
Caribbean Spice Bakery
170 Bellenden Road
Tel: 0207 639 8009
8. Anderson & Co. is a very new cafe/deli on Bellenden Road (the posh bit of Peckham) and I’m sure it will thrive. I was drawn in by the stack of hand made loaves in the window; they’re really filling a gap because elsewhere in Peckham you’d have a very hard time finding bread like this. You can buy hard dough, pitta and flatbreads like barbari and lavash easily but to find a sourdough or focaccia? Impossible, until now. They also had some really good looking sausage rolls which I only avoided because I’d just eaten a shedload of hummus plus a pumpkin kibbeh. Some feta and pumpkin seed muffins fresh from the oven were drawing gasps of admiration too. Apparently they’re going to open in the evenings but details are sketchy. I’m checking it out in a couple of weeks.
Anderson & Co.
SE15 (will update with the exact details when I have them)
Also on Bellenden you’ll find the Melange chocolate shop which I’ve heard is good. I’ve not been in myself so if anyone knows the place and wants to leave a comment below that would be appreciated.
A very ‘Peckham’ bag of shopping…
So, we don’t have a huge amount of shops but it’s a strong selection and I can honestly say that I very rarely shop in supermarkets nowadays. The independent places are more convenient and the ingredients I can buy more exciting. And much cheaper. It’s also more of an adventure shopping in Peckham; you never know what you’re going to find next. It keeps me on my toes, as a cook, which is just the way I like it.