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Below The River magazine editor Kate Burt talks about discovering an ‘amazing south London’

I recently interviewed Kate Burt, editor of south London’s new daily online magazine, the great belowtheriver.co.uk She told me a bit about herself, the magazine, what’s great about south London living and why Londoners CAN move around the capital!

Londoners always seem quite tribal about being from north or south of the river. Do you think that still applies?
Yes and no. There’s a hard core who will always feel that way, but it saddens me. What it really comes down to is not superior places, but familiarity – and where your friends live. I’m in south London because I was born here and my best primary school and secondary school friends still live within walking distance. But my boyfriend is from north London – and I have loved being given the tourist tour of all his favourite places, ditto with Below the River’s sister site, Kentishtowner:  through them I’ve discovered heaps of north London gems I’d never have known about and enjoyed.  (I should point out however that my boyfriend and I recently moved in together… in south London… ha ha.)

Royal Festival Hall

Royal Festival Hall – one of Kate’s picks when I asked her what came to mind when I said ‘south London’

Are people more willing to migrate either way?
See above. Though I do think that was an unusual exception. That said, I know of various people who have recently made leaps both ways. I think there’s actually something lovely about moving somewhere that people feel tribal about – because they will generally be gentle with you as they know how big a move it would be the other way. Ultimately, though, London – until you hit the suburbs – is pretty small and everywhere is accessible. We should all make more use  of that as well as the stuff in our community and on our doorsteps. It is a great city – north, south and east (I would falter at west, however… that does feel like a different city in places – just me?)

As you say in your intro to the magazine, south of the river used to get a fairly bad press. What do you think marked the change in attitudes and when do you think the change began?
It’s cheaper. Eventually all things come to what they can afford – and decide to love it.

South of the river is a huge area to cover – how do you try and make sure you’re covering all the areas?
It’s hard! But the area we’ve naturally decided to cover – broadly the blob that spreads downwards along the curves of the Thames beneath London Bridge/the tip of Southwark – feels like a natural trail in a way. I live in SW9 but spend lots of time in SW2, Herne Hill, Loughborough Junction, Peckham, Camberwell, London Bridge, Deptford, Waterloo, the South Bank… And I think other south Londoners will have equivalent orbits. And I have stringers in the most far flung spots! That said – we are after new writers and reviewers – so please email kate@belowtheriver.co.uk if interested.

What have been the main challenges in setting up belowtheriver?
To do it well you need to have more hours than the ones available. Other than that, I’m quite astounded at how smooth it’s been to go from a blank website (in Feb 2013) to launching in March, to gaining 20,000 monthly readers during the subsequent four months… and SO much positive feedback. It feels like we are part of a family that was there waiting to welcome us. People seem to really like what we do. 

Have there been any stand-out highs and lows so far?
I’ve lived in south London all my life. Starting this website I have seen it almost as a tourist and discovered so much great stuff and fantastic people doing amazing things locally that I just didn’t know about. Knowing I’m now in a position to share all this great stuff to other people who didn’t know about it is pretty exciting too. Lows? Gah. Time versus money, the usual. But mainly we (as in me and the little publishing company behind Below the River and the award-winning Kentishtowner.co.uk) are just excited about the plans we have and how we are doing the best jobs we could ever have imagined doing.

Kate Burt: editor of Below The River Magazine

   Kate Burt: editor of Below The River Magazine

 As a born south Londoner are there any particular features you especially love about the vibe of south London  and how do you think it’s changed?

I love that it’s got a bit more respect these days. And that taxis don’t flinch when you tell them where you want to go. I love that – in my bit of south London, and – pretty much – Below the River’s patch – it is a hugely varied, vibrant place. I fear for the bland, over-priced homogenisation of certain corners however…

Brixton Village and a lot of privately funded housing is going up in and around south London – obviously we need a lot more housing – what is your opinion on the gentrification debate. Ie development being good for an area but sometimes leading to locals being priced out?
I get very emotional about gentrification. It’s great that Brixton Market is now full of life again – but do the people flocking to eat from delicious menus ever do their shopping from the greengrocers and butchers there? I think the problem with it is that there’s no Gentrification Monitor to say when enough is enough – there’s always a tipping point, though I like to think people have learnt from Spitalfields. Change – and young, independent businesses – arriving: amazing. Lack of integration: saddening. Hiked prices, ditto. It’s about balance and that is something that is often lacking. It’s extremely complex – and I wish I was the Gentrification Monitor. I would be totally fascist about using the arrival of good new stuff to support the good old stuff and make everyone appreciate each other. But that would probably never work.

If I said ‘south London’ to you – what six buildings/communities/events would spring to mind immediately? 

Royal Festival Hall

The Michael Faraday Memorial (aka, as I thought for much of the 1990s, the Aphex Twin’s House. I loved the idea of that) 

Lambeth Country Show/ Brockwell Park

The House in the Junction (a new addition – they really make me feel warm inside)

Vibes FM

Camberwell Art College

How much interaction are you finding with local writers, photographers and creative?
We’d like more! But there’s so much talent – they’re all really busy. So interaction in terms of people to write ABOUT has been amazing.

And lastly how important is social media to the magazine – and do you see a print version of belowtheriver in the future?
There are plans for some interesting print collaborations afoot… And as for social media – it is absolutely vital to us. 

Email Kate at  kate@belowtheriver.co.uk or follow her on twitter @belowtheriver @kate_burt

 


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Brixton Station Road: Foodie heaven as Food Corner market launches on 7 June 2013

Food Corner market: bunny chow

A rather upmarket version of Durban’s famous ‘bunny chow’

Hanoi kitchen will be offering hot pots, spring rolls and vermicelli noodles

Hanoi kitchen will be offering hot pots, spring rolls and vermicelli noodles

The all-important map of how to get to the Food Corner market

The all-important map of how to get to the Food Corner market

As someone who lived and worked in Durban for four years I can’t wait to head down to the new Food Corner in Brixton Station Road and try out Bunnychow’s version of Durbs’ famous bread ‘n curry treat.

Their photos show a more upmarket version certainly but I am sure the gorgeous curry sauce-melting-into-the-bread effect will be the same.

Will the curries be as hot as some of the Durban delicacies? I’ll have to wait and find out – and try and find room for some of the other goodies on offer.

Brixton Station Road Community Market is bringing five new hot food traders to offer lunch time specials for around a fiver. Aside from Bunnychow there will be Pangea, offering a wide variety of street foods, Bare Bone Cue with slow, pulled pork, Hanoi Kitchen with Vietnamese dishes and Woodbox Pizza.

All of them sound delicious so I expect to be buffeted around a bit while queuing.

Tomorrow’s opening market will be running from 11.30am to 2.30pm, on the corner of Brixton Station Road and Pope’s Road.

Usual operating hours will be from Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm and BMFT (Brixton Market Traders’ Federation) is aiming to develop the local market economy on week days.

Important news for local workers is that the BMFT will be offering a 10% discount to all Lambeth Council, Veolia Environmental Services, Police Station and Rec Centre staff who visit the Food Corner and show their badge/identification.

AND other organisations in Brixton can apply to join the discount scheme by emailing camila@brixtonmarket.net

 

So what do they say about the five food stalls?

 

BUNNYCHOW

The original urban Durban street food lands in the UK and debuts in Brixton. Little loafs hollowed out and crammed full of big global flavours. Big helpings of flavourful chicken, mutton, beef & vegetables all coated in bold delicious sauces served in award winning artisan little loafs.

Be one of the first to try the legendary bunnychow!

http://www.bunnychow.com/

www.facebook.com/pages/Bunnychow/426116440814204?fref=ts

Twitter: @thebunnychow

PANGEA

Street flavours from every corner of the world, regularly changing the menu, adapting to seasons and creativity. Rice meals, burgers, grills, kebab, and a wide range of vegetarian options and salads.

http://www.pangeastreet.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/PangeaStreet?fref=ts

@PangeaStreet

BARE BONE CUE

Low & Slow super tasty Pulled Pork! Smoked over apple & cherry with our own spices, rubs, sauces in sourdough from Blackbird

http://www.barebonescue.co.uk/

www.facebook.com/BareBonesCue

Twitter: @BareBonesCue

HANOI KITCHEN

Vietnamese hot pots, spring and summer rolls, and vermicelli noodles with a choice of beef, pork, prawn and vegetarian.

http://www.hanoikitchen.co.uk/

www.facebook.com/pages/Hanoi-Kitchen/129171240563221

Twitter: @hanoikitchen

WOODBOX PIZZA

Woodbox offers sourdough ‘street’ pizzas similar to the ones found all over Naples& the surrounding area & beloved by Neapolitans. They make them in front of customers in a wood fired oven from the freshest, ingredients we can find. The sourdough pizza is made from a traditional recipe, freshly prepared and proved for 24 hours. Their ingredients are sourced from quality British producers.

http://www.thewoodbox.co.uk/

facebook.com/woodboxpizza

@woodboxpizzavan

Camila Cabral, Marketing Manager of BMTF said: “We identified that there was a demand in Brixton for more options of high quality food on the go during week days, with great taste and affordable prices. We expect the FOOD CORNER to be a success, and that we can offer more trading opportunities in the near future.”


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Levi Roots and the Loughborough Junction Big Lunchers prepare for 2 June

Local Loughborough Junction Big Lunchers sample Levi Roots' Five Recipes for a Fiver

Local Loughborough Junction Big Lunchers sample Levi Roots’ Five Recipes for a Fiver

Local Big Luncher Hazel Watson tucks in to Levi Roots' Roasted Treacle Toffee Bananas

Local Big Luncher Hazel Watson tucks in to Levi Roots’ Roasted Treacle Toffee Bananas

 

Yesterday I got to see Levi Roots in action at the Marcus Lipton Centre. The consummate entertainer and chef demonstrated how to BBQ, grill or bake five recipes at a cost of £5 each for the Loughborough Junction Big Lunchers who are holding our BIG LUNCH on Sunday 2 June on the corner of Loughborough and Barrington Road.

First he had to ‘de-bling’ all his rings – luckily he’d organised for a ‘bling bowl’ to be on the table. And then straight into the recipes and a few stories along the way.

After all as Levi said, cooking in the Caribbean is all about being social, having fun and chatting, listening to music while the BBQ splutters in the background and the sun shines.

We had a lovely British grey sky but were soon enjoying the banter and after his trademark ‘Lord a mercy’ Levi launched into his recipes.

Hot cheesy potato skins went down a treat with the local ‘tasters’ and the prebaked (20 mins) and scooped out potato skins were filled with chopped spring onions (scallion) and thyme and then drizzled with olive oil and baked at Gas Mark 6 till brown on the outside – and then they were filled with the ‘magic’ Reggae Reggae sauce and topped with cheese before being bunged back in the oven till the cheese had melted. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and an optional pinch of sea salt on top.

Carnival food got a look in too – with corn on the cob – but whereas most Caribbean cooks put the whole corn, leaves and all on the BBQ, these were de-skinned and pre-boiled on the stove. You put them on the BBQ with salt and oil and serve it once it’s got that BBQ tinge with flavoured butter. (Levi suggests premaking the flavoured butter and keeping in the fridge – you add spring onion and garlic to softened butter and then wrap it up in wax paper ready to cut when needed). Delicious.

To add some spirituality to the mix we got an I-tal dish – vegan and made from local produce. You need flakes of thyme, 2 big tomatoes (from your garden or Brixton Market) sliced in 3 thick slices and chopped up garlic with a bit of chilli.

First toast brown bread with the crusts cut off and then rub the pieces with a slice of garlic. Mix the thyme, garlic and chilli in a bowl with olive oil and then pour mixture onto the tomatoes before grilling toms until they are brown. Press into the pieces of toast and then cut up – superb.

Then a dish that Levi said he’s added to his repertoire ‘because Halloumi cheese is not typically Caribbean’. Halloumi and melon wrap.

You cut up pieces of sweet melon or watermelon or even mango and put them into a bowl, then add some chopped mint and red onions and pieces of cucumber. (Levi’s tip is to de-seed even the cucumber or it gets into the teeth especially of elderly relatives). Then add chopped up chilli (with seeds for hotter) and cover with the juice of a lime. For the Halloumi, you can cut pieces and BBQ straight onto grid or place the pieces on tinfoil, which Levi prefers. After it’s ready you place the combo into wraps (or roti) and cut up or eat whole.

Wonderful food and a great vibe.

For pudding: bananas. Slit them along their skins the natural way from top to bottom and then cover the banana inside with a mix of yummy muscovado sugar, softened butter and vanilla extract mashed up together. Then whip them onto the BBQ. Optional extras are nutmeg and a tot of rum!

You stick them on the BBQ for about 20 mins until the sugar seeps around the banana and serve the hot insides with a dollop of cream. BOOM and it is ready, as Levi says.

The Big Lunch is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and led by the Eden Project and aims to encourage us to reach out to our neighbours, chat and eat together. This year’s event will be based around a carnival theme so keep your eyes and ears open and let’s get in the mood!

Angela Akinyemi, Events Coordinator, Loughborough Junction Community Action Group and organiser of the Loughborough Junction Big Lunch, says: “We can’t wait for our event on 2 June and we’ll definitely try out some of Levi’s recipes on the day.”

For more information about the BIG LUNCH visit www.thebiglunch.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Loughborough Junction: Takeaway Chicken and Fast Food Station

Site of one of the proposed chicken takeaways

Site of one of the proposed chicken takeaways

An issue that is worrying a lot of LJ residents is the over-abundance of fast food outlets – selling cheap, unhealthy meals – which often attract children.

Two planning applications before Lambeth Council at the moment have especially caused comments. The one is for the site next to the Hero of Switzerland Pub on Loughborough Road and the other is for the site on the corner of Coldharbour Lane and Flaxman Road.

Both have been proposed as sites for chicken takeaways.

We have a lot of takeaway joints already and not many shops selling healthy fruit and veg, healthy meals or even aspirational shops providing jobs or fun affordable clothes or funky fashions.

Anthea Massey co-chair of the Loughborough Junction Group points out in her well-written piece for belowtheriver.co.uk, that the group has researched the issue and found “seven existing takeaways within a two-minute walk of the two proposed new ventures”.

And borough-wide the picture is even more depressing with Lambeth hosting some 91 and 173 fast food takeaways for every 100,000 residents, which is one of the highest ratios in the country.

So it’s a big issue! BUT I wonder what alternatives there are at the moment as recession bites into families’ incomes? You can get a fairly big bucket of chicken for a small amount of money … when you are strapped for time and money it’s an answer.

Some of the objections lodged with the council veer towards the patronising – with worries that locals won’t be able to see past the new venue and walk the extra few metres to the veggie shop or Tesco (a whole other debate) for fruit, veg and other goodies.

There is support for a proposal to stop any new takeaways being approved within 400 metres of a school in Lambeth’s new Local Plan, which is out for consultation.

Again I agree in principle but again it’s more complex than it seems as many of the new proposed businesses are franchise-owned takeaways, often the cheapest way for people to get into the food industry and start their business.

Perhaps we are fighting this issue too narrowly. While people in our areas are struggling with bills, frozen benefits and rising food prices we can’t afford to be too high-minded.

And Save Our School Food Standards! makes another valid point – banning takeaways from nearby schools will be an exercise in futility if Michael Gove’s academies are not subject to the same mandatory nutritional standards as state schools.

The School Food Trust’s 2012 survey of academies found nine out of every ten surveyed were “selling at least one of the snack foods high in sugar, salt or fat that had been banned from vending machines in other state schools”.

While the government refuses to apply the standards to all schools – including academies and free schools – a chicken takeaway or two might be rather beside the point?

There are excellent community projects in and around LJ already for instance Myatt’s Fields Park is growing fruit and veg in its community garden and holds cooking classes.

But without the luxury of time and money, people will use takeaways and surely that is their right unless we can all think of how we can support viable alternatives! SM

* Please feel free to blog about or comment on the situation


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Easter 2013 dates at Myatt’s Fields Park plus the big Easter Egg hunt on 5 April

The Little Cat Café will open on Saturday 31st March, but closed for Good Friday and Easter Sunday and if you’re in the mood for fresh hot cross buns you should head to the park on Saturday.

This week’s take away menu is a choice of slow-cooked lamb massaman, chicken yellow curry, stir fried veg and vegetable red curry.

Myatt’s Fields Park Development/education officer Victoria Sherwin suggests you book ahead for your food – due to the reduced opening hours – so please text Monique on 07984 519425 to order by the end of Friday 29th March. Portions each serve two people and cost £5 for meat curries and £3.50 for vegetable curries.

AND on 5 April there’s a FREE Easter Egg hunt from 2pm to 3pm for children aged 12 and under. Kids have to be accompanied by an adult and booked into the event.

All those interested should book their places before 29th March  (Good Friday) by contacting Nick Gibson on Nick.Gibson@pinnacle-psg.com or ringing him on 0203 664 1008.

Remember you have to book into the event before your child can take part! Have a very happy Easter.

Opening hours after Easter and for the whole summer will be 10.30am to 5pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

easter poster 2013


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Getting up to speed

The Loughborough Junction blog has been a tad inactive for a while. But it’s back … and will try and answer questions, provide room for issues to be debated and chat about the latest happenings in our area.

So please feel free to advertise your businesses innovations and creative ventures and also raise issues about the neighbourhood and we’ll try to get some answers – or at least provide details about how to get in touch with the relevant people.

There are new developments to keep an eye on, a slow but steady increase of interest in the area and great coffee and some good food to be had at the Beanery cafe.

As we’re not as up to speed as some of you about the area we will be making a point of visiting shops, checking out eateries and speaking to locals about the area.

If anyone has specific projects, shops or recommendations to make, please feel free!

For instance I already know I love Zest of India’s great cooking but am certainly willing to try more of their dishes in the interests of a review.

And oh yes, while Loughborough Junction is fairly clearly defined, we’ll still welcome posts about happenings in Brixton or Camberwell if they’re relevant. And link to all the sites we can think of…

Onwards and upwards