Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Maison Minimale

With the news that we are finally going to see the return of a Cinema to Crystal Palace, things are looking bright along Church Road. Number 46 is another bright spot, after many years as an empty unit. A gleaming white canopy, emblazoned with Maison Minimale, fronts a pristine white interior laid out with an array of modern objects for the home. Although in striking contrast to the established vintage and midcentury businesses for which the street has become well known, this new addition complements the existing shops perfectly with it's stylish selection of homeware accessories, gifts, cards, skincare and toys.                   Tashan Cian and Zahra Beedassy, who both grew up in and around Croydon, opened the shop last October, a culmination of their shared passions and training; his at the Fashion Retail Academy, and hers at the University of Arts where she studied advertising and graphics, followed by work in fashion PR and jewellery design. Both are enthusiastic and creative, and had long thought of going into business together. They were determined to open a store in an area they knew well and loved, stocking only things that they love. It took a year to clinch the deal on the premises, which gave them time to develop their ideas for the store. The main thing, reflected in the 'Minimale' of the name, was that it shouldn't be overstuffed with stock, and that items be merchandised simply, in a way that customers could visualise things in their own home. Many of the carefully selected products are made in the UK, some by local makers. Sustainability and organic materials are important factors in Tashan and Zahra's choices. In particular the skincare range is all organic, vegan and cruelty free. Future plans include more of their own branded products including graphic art and scented candles, and an online shop.
Like everyone else locally, they are excited by the opportunities and extra customers the cinema may bring in its wake. And while lately we have lost some local favourites, things on this side of the Triangle are looking up.

Zahra & Tashan

46 Church Road

Friday, 22 December 2017


The promotional material had promised us festive fun, so I looked forward to visiting armed with my camera, to bring you twinkling Christmas lights, Santa in his grotto, decorated log cabins fragrant with mulled wine and Bavarian nibbles, Christmas decorations and trinkets, the fun of the ice rink and the fairground rides, frosted Christmas trees, and maybe a reindeer or two?
Alas not, instead I bring you a mud bath...

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Christmas Markets

Today, there is a rare chance to visit the Crystal Palace Subway. You don't have to book, and you shouldn't need to queue, and what's more, there will be lots of lovely things to buy, by local artists and makers, including the wonderful printmaker, Sinead Taylor, who designed the poster above. You will also find my cushions featuring the subway itself, and our friendly neighbourhood dinos.

My other half, Jochen, has also been hard at work in his 'laboratoire', I mean kitchen, creating his delicious Ludwig London scented candles. As well as the popular Hansel & Gretel Christmas candle, there will be a special one that's been created in honour of the Crystal Palace. Catch the smoky aroma of 1936.

If you can't make it today, the cushions and candles will also be on show on Sunday 17th December at the Upper Norwood Library's Christmas Bazaar.

And these aren't the only markets in town this Christmas. The Alma plays host again to the Handmade Market tomorrow, and next Sunday, while, if it ever gets going, there's a planned Winterfest in Crystal Palace Park, from now until the New Year.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017


With rumours of a Herne Hill deli opening a branch on the Triangle, it seems independent South London micro chains are thriving. There's the long established Blackbird, now with branches in Peckham, Herne Hill and Balham; also Beer Rebellion and the newly arrived Craft Palace, both establishing themselves across South London; and of course the hugely popular Brown & Green cafes. And now we can add clothing store Lowie which opened a couple of months ago, on the site vacated by Glitter and Twisted.
Lowie was started by Australian, Bronwyn Lowenthal 15 years ago, originally as a market stall at Portobello and Spitalfields. She then began wholesaling, and also trying out retail with pop-ups in Covent Garden and Westfield, White City. That was followed by a further pop-up in Herne Hill. There, she kept extending her lease until it became her first permanent store. As she says, the pop-ups really helped with confidence building, and spreading the word about the brand. No doubt her degree in Retail Management and Fashion Marketing helped, along with a more recent MBA, also helped. Originally from Hobart, Tasmania, she worked in Australia for Westfield shopping centres in the marketing department, before coming to the UK in 1999.
The new store is bright and spacious, and is a simple, unfussy backdrop for her colourful merchandise, which is a mix of her own label clothing, alongside other clothing brands, skincare ranges, accessories, and gift items, but all essentially things that Bronwyn likes, and things that are fun. After the success of the Herne Hill store, she felt the shop's style was perfectly suited to the character of Crystal Palace, which she enjoyed visiting, particularly for the antiques and vintage, but which she had noticed, was distinctly lacking in the womenswear department. Now that's been remedied, who knows which other businesses might follow?

Bronwyn Lowenthal

25 Westow Street

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Salt & Pickle

I first met Interior Designer, Ian Haigh, four or five years ago. He'd recently moved to Crystal Palace, and had stumbled across this blog. It so happened he was looking for an Interior Photographer to shoot his latest projects, and happily he's been a great client and firm friend ever since. Quite possibly he spotted my very first post on the opening of Good Taste back in 2011, but anyhow, he quickly became a big fan of Manish and his wonderful cheese shop. One day Ian said to him that what the shop needed was a few tables and chairs, and so an idea was formed. Meanwhile, owing to the success of Manish's shop, he commissioned Ian to design an upgrade with new counter and shelving. A glance at the old blog post shows how different it used to look.
Salt & Pickle came about as a natural progression from the shop. It was to be somewhere that showcased the best cheeses, charcuterie, wine and beer, in simple surroundings, but with the addition of a chef to create exciting dishes around a theme of cured and pickled foods. Naturally all did not go smoothly in the long process of finding a site. Several sites were looked at, and a previous attempt to secure the lease on what had been Betty's Bakery, fell through. It finally all came together earlier this year, with Ian on board as a partner in the business. The budget was tiny, so Ian's concept, was one of minimal intervention, which would echo the ethos of the food. The suspended ceiling grid was dismantled, walls for kitchen and toilet were erected, and bar constructed. These main building elements were carried out by local firm, Living Funky, but thereafter it was down to the partners to roll up their sleeves and wield the hammers and paint brushes. Simple painted panels created a backdrop to the space, while through his industry contacts, Ian was able to procure lighting and furniture at cost. The one big ticket item which swallowed up a chunk of the budget, is the lovely copper counter top.
On the food front, talented young chef, and bass player, Henry Freestone was appointed. Having previously worked at the Westow among other places, he's creative and energetic, and works pickling wonders in the kitchen. And in addition to enjoying a meal inside No.67 Westow Hill, you can also take-away, including some pretty amazing sandwiches at lunch time. With regard to suppliers, many of the beers are familiar local names, but  according to Manish, the most important criterion for selecting suppliers, apart from taste of course, is that they are pleasant people to deal with.
With Manish at the helm, it was always going to be an entertaining, and memorable venue, and assisting him , he has a great friendly team, some of whom previously gained experience in the shop. But finally, he would like to introduce you to his newest member of staff, Coravin!  Coravin is actually a clever device which allows you to extract wine from a bottle without taking the cork out, thereby allowing expensive wines to be sold by the glass without spoiling the remainder of the bottle. Santé!

Chef, Henry Freestone, Manish Utton-Mishra, Designer, Ian Haigh


67 Westow Hill
020 8761 9739
Instagram/Twitter @saltandpickle