I’m lucky to live just the other side of the park from the Deli Downstairs in Victoria Park Village (or Lauriston Village to use its proper name). It’s a wonderful place to pop in for a treat- they do beautiful pies, quiches, sausage rolls and cheeses. I’m a fan of their black pudding scotch egg. You can also bring your own bottle to fill with some red or white from Borough Wines. But the real reason why I love it is because it stocks the odd unusual ingredient that is just a bit harder to source- wild garlic or goats curd for example. Or a bag of pearled spelt grain for the bargainous price of £1.50.
I’d never cooked it before, but this ancient grain turns out to be fantastic stuff. It has a slightly nutty flavour, but much more neutral than something like pearl barley, which I always think tastes like musty, damp socks. You simply boil it until tender and then use it as a side dish, instead of rice or in a salad as you would do with cracked bulgur wheat or couscous. I decided to go down a more risotto-esque route by stirring in some creme fraiche, feta cheese, lime zest and thyme. Along with a colourful salad of tomato, peppers and chorizo, this made for a satisfying supper which I highly recommend. You just might have to pop down to South Hackney to get all the ingredients.