Newest Review: ... the durian. When I visited, seeing that strange fruit took me back to backpacking in Asia, as it is much loved in that part of the World... more
Know your Ridley Road - Hackney's most diverse market
Ridley Road Food Market (London)
Member Name: danrkelly
Ridley Road Food Market (London)
Date: 07/04/06, updated on 06/05/06 (5637 review reads)
Advantages: Provides a unique blend of cultures in London.
Disadvantages: Can be smelly at clear up time.
I have lived in Hackney for over six years and was lucky enough to buy a flat with my partner about eighteen months ago that is within walking distance of Ridley Road in Dalston E8. I felt sure we had found a convenient location within the borough, nestled as we are between the gentrified attractions of Stoke Newington, Newington Green and London Fields, however I had not realised the joys that living in close proximity to the market would bring. Yes, I use the word joy with reference to Ridley Road market as I can honestly say a saunter through the highly eclectic mix of stalls never fails to lift my spirits, raise a chuckle or more often than not surprise the hell out of me (giant land snails inching there way out of baskets in the summer).
I’ll talk a little bit about what I see as the essentials on Hackney’s most diverse market. I’m a patron of Ridley Road’s one and only egg stall, run by a friendly middle aged couple who stock big free range eggs from Roydon near Harlow (low food miles), some organic varieties and great trays of farm eggs which you can hand pick yourself. Although the egg stall is not present every day, it is there on Thursdays which is by far the best day on the market. There are a several note worthy green-grocers stalls on Ridley Road, the best examples being located between the high street and about halfway down towards T.F.C. (the Turkish Food Centre). Be choosey about your fresh herbs (dill, parsley or coriander), look out for the unwashed new potatoes, cooking apples and even spot currently fashionable produce such as Bok Choi. There’s something satisfying about taking your shopping home in little brown paper bags rather than a sea of plastic. Thursday seems to be the best for fresh fruit and vegetables on Ridley Road.
Fish is a prominent feature on the market but many of the varieties on sale such as Red Snapper and Cod are sourced from hugely over-fished stocks so should be avoided. You may like to do some research of your own (http://www.fishonline.org/) but so long as the fish have bright eyes and the stall is well packed with fresh ice then you shouldn’t have any problems other than ethical ones. Personally I have bought sprats (pan-fried with lemon and buttered brown bread) and even had a go at filleting Tilapia to.
Aside from the excellent grocery shopping on Ridley Road I have bought amongst other things a decent watch strap, socks, a large non-stick pan, wonderfully pungent natural soap and batteries. Depending on your background you may wish to purchase some of the more obscure items available but frankly I have trouble identifying some items so I recommend a visit at the earliest opportunity.
Although not strictly part of the market, the Turkish superstore is definitely worth incorporating into a Ridley Road excursion. Known as T.F.C, it can be found at the east end of the market and is one of several branches in north London. I regularly take advantage of the colourful range of chilli peppers in the lengthy fruit and vegetable isle, the olives and feta cheese on the deli counter, tasty natural yogurt from Tim's Dairy in Buckinghamshire and ‘Lava’ brand humous made locally in N16. You will also find an extensive range of olive oils, herbal teas, pickles in jars (roasted red peppers are a favourite), tinned or dried pulses and not forgetting the excellent onsite bakery.
Before I conclude I’ll put a word in for one of the many butchers in the area, namely Murray’s, an open fronted shop by the side entrance to the shopping centre. The staff at Murray’s are great characters and along with their professional manner I’ve been enticed back by their un-smoked back bacon and generous selection of sausages. Ridley Road is not just about the market but the whole Dalston shopping experience which is why I have mentioned other retailers here. In order to enjoy Ridley Road market at its best, try to visit in the morning, on a bright day and if you can make it a Thursday, even better.
Buses run from Waterloo, Liverpool Street, London Bridge and Victoria to Kingsland High Street for Ridley Road. The Silverlink North Woolwich to Richmond railway also calls at Dalston Kingsland station opposite the end of Ridley Road.
Summary: Visit Ridley Road in the morning on a Thursday if you can.