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Monday 12 August 2013

Pizza Pilgrims - Camden Beach - Camden Lock Night Market

Thursday 8th August - I first encountered the Pizza Pilgrims boys back at Feast in March, but I didn't manage to try it then as the queues were ridiculous.  I eventually got my hands on their Nduja pizza at a festival on Southbank.  They have been collecting fans for months with their traditional, Neapolitan pizzas, cooked in an oven in the back of their 3 wheeled van, but they have now finally opened the doors to their Soho Pizzeria on Dean Street.  I went along with food fan Rosie to try them out.

Piaggio Ape Van - "Conchetta"
They have set themselves up for takeaway as well as sitting in, and most of their trade when I was there seemed to be takeaway.  There isn't much space upstairs, with more seating downstairs, but we decided to stay where there was some natural light, and the option of Soho people watching.  It's an open kitchen, and it's wonderful to see the pizzas going into their beautiful oven, and to chat to James and Thom Elliot, the men in charge.  We shared Salsicce and Friarielli (fennel sausage, broccoli, fior di latte, parmesan, basil, olive oil) and Portobello Mushroom and Truffle at £10 each. They were incredibly tasty, right up there with my current favourites Franco Manca (who have the upper hand on price).  The dough is squishy and moreish, and the toppings are of the highest quality, particularly the fior di latte (cow's milk mozzarella) which features on several pizzas.

Drinks are of the Negroni / Campari / Aperol variety plus some simple options for beer and wine.  I would like to see a couple more exciting beers on there, but that's just me!  We greedily decided to get their Nutella Pizza Ring for the complete experience.  It was wonderfully decadent, oozing out nutella and cream every time you cut into it - highly recommended.

The van is still operating in Berwick Street most days, and at various festivals and street food events, but I would go for the Pizzeria experience myself - the pizzas were bigger and doughier, and the menu is more extensive.  I wouldn't be surprised to see more branches popping up soon - they have opened their first one opposite Pizza Express after all!  They have also released a book (they don't waste any time do they?) which you can buy here on Amazon.  

Later on that same day, I made my way up to Chalk Farm with List Leaders Natalie and Lauren to try out two things near the top of my list.  First up was Camden Beach at the Roundhouse - a free to enter popup beach terrace which is open until the 24th August.  On sunny days it gets very busy and can reach capacity so go as early as possible to make sure.  The weather wasn't great when we visited, but the atmosphere was still there.  They have got food and drink sorted with 3 bars (happy hour 5-7) and several places to eat, including the pop-up sit-down (can I trademark that?) restaurant Fishy Business - book for 3 courses and a drink for £24.75 which guarantees you entry to the beach.  A more expensive way of ensuring you can enjoy the area is booking a beach hut for the whole day (£240/£290), which comes with all sorts of food and drink included.  On top of that there are beach balls, tennis tables and trapeze artists on hand to keep you entertained, and "beach patrol" to keep you safe including one lucky member of staff who gets to sit at the top of the ladder all day.

After a couple of amusingly named drinks (Natalie couldn't keep hold of her Ginger Gayboy), we moved on towards Camden Lock to enjoy the Night Market which takes place there every Thursday until 29th August (3 to go!).  There is live music, street food, restaurants and bars with special deals, and backyard cinema all packed in to the picturesque lock area, and the atmosphere was buzzing. We decided to purchase some tokens from the Sailor Jerrys bar boat for the cocktail trail (4 cocktails for £20, or £6 on their own), which sends you off to various bars/shops around the lock for a variety of cocktails.  We were joined by Lee (part of Team Bermondsey) and started with a Monkey Shoulder whiskey cocktail served with CHOCOLATE COVERED BACON from Mighty Fine Choc and Fudge Kitchen - not half bad for £5!

Free tear-off Sailor Jerry posters
We wandered around surveying food options for later, and had a few free tasters along the way (several at Hola Paella!) before getting our second cocktail from Cafe Chula - a very drinkable iced coffee with Tia Maria, Vodka and Espresso.  Natalie decided to channel her inner Guy Secretan and eat all the coffee beans, which she instantly regretted.

Our third drink was a refreshing combo of rum, homemade lemonade and soda water from Honest Burgers (read about my visit to their Brixton outlet here), who have recently opened their third place here.  They are just across from Chin Chin Ice Labs who were sadly just shutting when we arrived - they are an experimental gelateria, and are high up on The List.  We decided to get food at this point, and all went for different things - curry, pulled pork, steak sandwich. There is a wide range of street food which should suit everyone, though not quite as exciting as I have come to expect from events like Street Feast and Real Street Food Festival.

We ended up back we started, with Mojitos all round at the Sailor Jerrys boat, made with the utmost care by a bartender who was losing the will to live after making the same drink all night.  The cocktail trail was a perfect way to experience the market, forcing you to move from your canalside spot and walk past the music, the food and the bars.  On our travels we spotted Backyard Cinema who show a film at 9pm every Thursday.  We never found the table tennis Pongathon challenge (pictured below) but I'm sure they will turn up at another event.

Backyard Cinema

It's a shame they are running for such a short time, but the lock is a great place to go all year round so make sure you head over there if you haven't been before.  I can't get Green Wing out of my head after Natalie's coffee eating shenanigans so I'll leave you with a couple of my favourite clips (email readers might not be able to see these) - enjoy!

Square Meal

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