unsurprisingly, it takes quite a lot of carrots to make roasted carrot dip for 100 strangers. same goes for the eggplant, red onion, and zucchini needed to make somewhere between 18 and 20 pans of roasted vegetable foccacia. rather than pay regular prices and lug massive bags home from the supermarket, our crew of rambling cooks – synnove, michelle, and myself – decided it would be efficient, cost-effective, and most importantly, fun to make an early morning trip to the wholesale produce market at new covent garden.
despite what the name might suggest, new covent garden market is absolutely nowhere near regular covent garden. in fact, the market is located on the opposite side of the river in the vauxhall area which meant we would need to obtain some sort of vehicle for food and person transport. luckily, synnove’s boyfriend pete generously offered us the use of his car and even more impressively, his services as driver at the ungodly hour of 5am for our fruit and veg quest.
up much too early but still raring to go, our car of intrepid adventurers drove off in search of fruit and vegetable treasures through the streets of london, still dark but already starting to bustle with lorry deliveries and early morning workers. we drove over the thames and made our way to a big warehouse complex, paid £4 for the car to enter, and made our way past a huge flower warehouse and story-high stacks of boxes to park our wee little car amidst an intimidating array of oversized delivery trucks.
the main produce wholesale area turned out to be one long corridor with tons of fruits and vegetables on display and larger storage areas to the side. although fairly small, the flourescently lit hallway was packed to the gills with bags, boxes, and bushels of nearly every fruit and vegetable i’d ever seen and quite a few i’d never seen. michelle and synnove and i did our best to stay on target with our grocery wishlist but couldn’t help getting a bit distracted by all the offerings. below is a mountain of shallots or some onion variation big enough to bury and suffocate a small animal if released from its netting.
i very much wanted to purchase pretty purple artichokes and fresh and sprightly looking lettuces, but restrained myself.
we stuck with the more affordable items like these monster bags of carrots and red onions. and i mean seriously affordable…synnove’s bag of carrots on the left cost somewhere around £2.50 or something insane like that.
if i had any extra time, money, and hungry pastry eaters around, i would very much like to make a lot of rhubarb tarts with these beautifully hued stalks:
or perhaps something with red currants. what does one make with red currants? at least i think these are red currants.
on the way there, we envisioned buying so much food that we’d be up to our ears in carrots, our laps jammed full with eggplant and zucchini overflowing out of the car windows. disappointingly, everything we bought fit perfectly into the trunk with room to spare.
our total acquisition: 1 bag of carrots, 1 bag of red onions, 1 box of eggplant, 1 box zucchini, 1 braid of garlic, 1 box of fresh cilantro, and a bonus box of figs. i admit, it’s not a very impressive haul. while it was a very enjoyable early morning activity, we could have done much better. if i ever go back, i’ll bury someone in rhubarb and red currants in the backseat and bake a feast of tarts, pies, and…whatever the hell one makes with red currants anyhow. well, i’ve got until the next new covent garden trip to find out!