It is no secret that anything remotely hipster makes me deeply uncomfortable because I am as mainstream as it gets. I would feel like Justin Bieber at a party thrown by Of Monsters and Men – decided at random to use them as an example because I’m listening to this:
(Sorry if that’s not indie enough for you, hipster friends. It’s the best I can manage without shriveling up and dying from all the raw talent and mind-blowing literary genius.)
So it’s quite a feat really that I actually went for the Sluice Art Fair at Bermondsey on Sunday.
Ok, not that much of a feat given that I was there for one reason only: the afternoon tea hosted by CAFF.
CAFF is a project by Crystal Bennes for the 2013 Sluice Art Fair on 19 & 20 October. Inspired by Gordon Matta-Clark’s 1970s New York City artist-run restaurant, FOOD, four artists have been invited to create an artist-run cafe to run over the two days of the Fair during Frieze week in October.
Situated in one of the Fair’s gallery pitches, artists Freddy Tuppen, Berta De La Rosa, Josh Bilton and Chloe Rachel McClellan have opted to turn the kitchen inside out and make visible the act of preparing dishes which will later be served – also by the artists – three times per day. In this way, the preparation of the food becomes as much of a performance as the communal mealtimes.
Visitors to the Fair can pre-book for lunch, afternoon tea or dinner. Each artist has taken responsibility for the design of the space and menu for one specific service, all of which is detailed below, while the afternoon tea has been designed by Bennes in collaboration with all of the artists.
It seemed like a good idea at the time, so I dragged my friends, H, M and W along with me for the afternoon tea session on Sunday.
The Sluice Art Fair itself started at 1PM but we took a bit of a detour and met up at Borough Market first since we were in the area. Always a fail-safe way to spend an afternoon!
While waiting for them to arrive, I got my salt beef bagel on, always a staple when I go to Brick Lane, which, sadly enough, really isn’t that often anymore.
But you know, you can take a girl out of Brick Lane but you can’t take the Brick Lane out of a girl. I was one of the first in line so I got first pickings of the salt beef, freshly sliced off the steaming hunk of meat. They serve it in a bagel or sandwiched between slices of rye bread, with/without mustard and gherkins.
Salt Beef Bagel (£5)
Salt beef and mustard make for some major tastiness.
This hotdog was pretty mahoosive, as all real hotdogs are supposed to be. W will never let me forget the time I said to her in Barcelona, “Don’t you just love the feeling of a big, fat, juicy sausage bursting in your mouth?” When it comes to saying inappropriate things without realizing it, I am queen.
BUT IT’S TRUE. What more could you want from a hotdog?! This bratwurst did just that. It was nicely charred on the outside, the casing wasn’t tough or chewy – which is something I worry about with sausages – and it was meaty and tasty without being too salty. Plus sauerkraut is always awesome.
Jerk Chicken with Rice and Peas and Coleslaw (£6)
I think this was my favorite. Decent portion piled into a paper box, served piping hot. The stall-holder asked me which toppings I wanted and I said EVERYTHING!!!!!! Because that’s how it should be done. (He just laughed and imitated me…) The rice and peas weren’t mushy or wet or claggy, which is a problem you often get when you cook a huge amount of rice in advance. The chicken was tender, juicy, wonderfully seasoned and ever-so-gently spiced, and the cool, creamy slaw mellowed the flavors out nicely.
So I paid £6 for this, and £5 for that bagel. No prizes for guessing which was better value for money.
This was a massive brick of a brownie. Intensely chocolatey and fudgy, it actually felt very solid and heavy in your hand… Which is always a good sign with brownies.
The great thing about food markets is the amazing variety of food and cuisines. This was Indian – rice, dahl, vegetable curry, spiced potatoes.
We ended off our visit to the markets with some apple fritters.
There’s a funny story behind these fritters, actually. Earlier on, while waiting for my friends, I had heard a few passersby talking about some amazing apple fritters, and those words just stuck in my head, so I was determined to track them down. And so, after doing more than our fair share of guzzling, we embarked on our hunt, but those damn fritters were NOWHERE TO BE FOUND!!!! I was really upset but was trying to hold it together because I am a mature, well-adjusted twenty-one-year-old with full control over my emotions.
I am, I am, I am.
Ok. So. I was this close to stamping my feet and bursting into tears like a brat, when H yelled, APPLE FRITTERS!!!!, W and M exchanged looks of immense relief, and I felt whole again.
The thin batter was light from the apple cider, and had a nice crisp texture and a delightfully sugary, cinnamonny crust. The tart apple was warm and slightly gooey, reminiscent of the inside of an apple pie.
If you can’t find it, I’ll make it easy for you – it’s sold at Fish!
Later on, we sniffed some fresh truffles like the true pigs we were and sampled some truffle oil and truffle honey. W and I each bought a bottle of white truffle oil for £7.
Thereafter, we moved on to *$ to get some pumpkin spice latte, which we didn’t really like, and salted caramel hot chocolate, which we did. We also dared one another to topple the pyramid of cups displayed in the window.
However, upon reflection, we decided that it wasn’t going to do very much to enrich our lives, and so we didn’t.
And that concludes our rather long detour.
When we finally made it to Sluice, in the rain no less, we tried our very best to enjoy it, but it was very, very hard because we JUST DID NOT GET IT. Maybe I just lack an artistic temperament. We did have fun, however, because it’s always fun to be in an uncomfortable position with people you are very comfortable with. In between a larger-than-life, wanking (according to E, hearing me use such words makes her life) puppet and free tattoos – coming in at the bargain price of AIDS, I presume – it was… interesting.
I did, however, get stuck in this book on the art of losing.
I really love the last one hahaha. Self-evaluation is a very hideous process for me.
At 4PM, we went for the afternoon tea hosted by CAFF, which was the only reason we were there anyway.
Crystal Bennes, one of the artists (who has really cool silvery hair) explained each item as it was served. It was obvious they all took pride in their work, and it was nice to see food and art being brought together in one edible masterpiece of deliciousness.
I really love deviled eggs. These weren’t particularly spicy though, and could’ve used more mustard.
There were also some smoked goat’s cheese truffles, coated with toasted sesame seeds, dried lavender and smoked paprika. I liked the smoked paprika one best. I personally would have preferred crushed pistachios instead of sesame seeds, and also think the truffles would’ve benefitted from a nice drizzle of honey. But all in all, a really nice idea, and so pretty.
You know what love is? Love is when your friends give you their share of cucumber sandwiches and deviled eggs when you are done with yours. And trust me, these are friends who love food as much as I do.
After we were done with the savoury stuff, we were given some sweets.
This was the matcha microwaved sponge (I’m pretty sure Crystal also said something about “nitro-…” but that is beyond me.) with a sweet Greek yogurt topping. Matcha wasn’t anything particularly exotic to us, and it could’ve been a lot bolder in flavour, but this was nice either way.
The chocolate truffles were meant to be infused with a mint tea but we couldn’t really detect it. The genius part about them was really that they were coated in toasted bread crumbs, which gave them a very interesting, pretty unmistakeable flavour.
To wash everything down there was a free-flow of really good tea from Rosy Lee Tea and the general idea was for people to relax into the cosy, comfortable atmosphere, surrounded by the aromas of food and tea, and talk.
Which we did. Probably terrorizing the lovely Freshfields lawyer we befriended in the process.
Overall, for £10, it really was quite a refreshing, interesting experience. But I think, after this rare foray into foreign territory, I’ve had my dose of hipsterism to last me for quite a while, thank you very much.
Now I really need to catch some sleep because there’s uni tmr and I’ve been sleeping way too little – even by my standards – of late. On the bright side, I’ll be ending classes early WHOOP WHOOP!
I actually almost cried from happiness when I found out that there’s no Intellectual Property lecture tomorrow. True story.
8 Southwark Street
OPEN FOR LUNCH
Mon & Tues: 10AM to 5PM
Weds & Thurs: 10AM to 5PM
Fridays: 10AM to 6PM
Saturdays: 8AM TO 5PM
*Sunday – officially it’s closed, but the stalls in Green Market still sell food, and some of the shops in Three Crown Square will still be open
*Unfortunately, this event is no longer available. However, do click on the link if you want to know more about the project.