Thursday, 27 August 2009

Bill's Produce Store, Lewes, East Sussex

Bill’s is a greengrocer’s, deli and café in the quaint town of Lewes – the only town with its own currency - that sells both locally grown produce and food made from it. I’d been there once before in winter and really enjoyed it, but sitting at an outside table by a wall covered in ivy in the August sun it was even better. I went with my mum and even though it was a weekday nearly all the tables were occupied when we arrived.

I had smoked mackerel, spinach, grilled tomato and poached eggs on toast which was fantastic. The mackerel was the best I'd had in ages, sweet and not too smoky, and the grilled tomatoes were intensely tomato-y and slightly charred. I meant to take a photo of it when it arrived couldn't resist diving into it first.

My mum had a plate of salads which included shaved fennel and sprouted seeds, Israeli cous cous and a sort of coleslaw with red cabbage. Most of the vegetables and fruit sold at Bill's are grown locally and all of these were really fresh and tasted strongly of themselves.

The bread that came with both these dishes was fantastic - toasted sourdough with mine and, if I remember rightly, olive bread for my mum.

I bought a loaf of sourdough in the shop afterwards and am keen to make things-on-toast: fried tomatoes, sardines, mushrooms, and maybe the smoked mackerel, cheese and cream on toast from Nigel Slater's 'Appetite' book.

The shop attached to the cafe was a greengrocers, Willy Wonka style: piles of vegetables in amazing colours (I particularly liked the yellow and orange beetroot), huges bunches of herbs and dried chillies hanging from the ceiling, and armfuls of wild-looking flowers.

As well as the sourdough I also bought a slice of sheep's cheese called Duddleswell that is sweet, nutty and almost crumbly. The two make a good combination.

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