London is often referred to as a city of efficiency, where things ‘get done, on time’; but this summer has seen a slower counter-culture continue to emerge from the streets. As temperatures continue to rise, the pace has slowed and people have been strolling to work, taking longer lunch breaks in churches, gardens and bookshops and leaving work well before sunset to enjoy the city. The London Review bookshop launched its slow series of books ‘for advice on how to slow down, tune out and enjoy not doing much of anything at all’ while Rosy Oliver has continued to run her popular London in Slow Motion tour which flips the city’s addiction to speed on its head and reclaims our right to dawdle and observe.
Feeding into this ‘movement’, Rosewood London became the first hotel to launch a weekly slow food & living market which it hosts just footsteps from busy High Holborn in its serene inner courtyard every Sunday. With so many high end artisan and farmers’ markets in London this may not seem that revolutionary, but you only need to spend five minutes talking to the vendors to see why what they’re trying to do here is worth it. With lavender laced-chocolate from the Welsh hills and beautifully soft cheese from Bath to delicious salmon smoked in an old printing works in Stoke Newington and a beer which uses honey produced by urban bee keepers, this market is a wonderful showcase for innovative and creative produce from both the country and the city.
As well as getting to taste some exquisite food, the stories behind the produce and the passion of the people who make it really made visiting this market a refreshingly different experience. Hannah from Hiver honey beer told us why they think London honey, their ingredient of choice, is as unique in texture and flavour as heather honey and why understanding what the bees are foraging on is key to understanding its flavour. They ferment a mix of raw British honeys with malted barley and hops to create their unique beer and ale. Next on the drinks list was Lalani & co., who ‘curate’ small-batch seasonal teas from family gardens. Rather than ‘popping the kettle on’, they encourage you to savour each sip as you would with a good vintage champagne (not surprising then that co-founder Ben Ireson has a background in wine) – ‘each tea is a beautiful flavour expression of its terroir which whispers its provenance story to your palate with every sip’, he insists. It’s well worth taking the time to try their miniature tea ceremony where leaves are steeped and swished thoughtfully in rounded clear tumblers before being presented for tasting. For notes on hand rolled Himalayan tips and why Sencha is the perfect accompaniment to white truffle risotto why not dip into their tea journal.
The smell of freshly baked and salted focaccia from Oliver’s bakery caught our attention next, perfectly accompanied by salmon – cold-smoked the Norwegian way but in a brick house kiln in London – from Hansen & Lydersen. Our visit was finished off with an aromatic bar of Farmers’ Welsh Lavender chocolate by Nancy Durham who told us how falling in love with a magical lavender hedge whilst living in Oxford resulted in her pitching up on a Welsh hill 1,100 feet atop Maesmynis Valley some years later. The rich red earth ‘smelled like rain’ and helped root her 2,000 lavender plants which were delivered soon afterwards. Their unique lavender oil soon began to flow and she hasn’t looked back since…
For more information on Rosewood Hotel’s slow food market and talks please see here.