There’s been a growing buzz of excitement and anticipation locally. On Virtual Norwood, they’ve been talking about little else. Now finally it’s here, the most eagerly awaited happening in SE19 for as long as anyone can remember. No! Not the launch of my new blog, but the opening of Good Taste Food, deli and café, on Westow Hill.
As lovely as Crystal Palace is, it has been bereft of certain things for far too long. One of course being a cinema, and another being a decent range of small, independent food shops to balance the might of Sainsbury’s, but also to provide a range of specialities that the supermarket seems unable to provide.
Behind this new deli, is Manish Utton-Mishra, who has clearly put his heart and soul, not to mention his friendly demeanour and community spirit into this exciting new venture. Like me, Manish has had a bit of a career change. While I made the comparatively small leap from interior design to interior photography, Manish has swapped molecular biology and medical publishing for the world of cheese and charcuterie. Quite some leap.
Since leaving home, and his mother’s Indian cooking, Manish has grown more and more passionate about good food. Moving to London opened up a world of possibilities food-wise, but finding unusual ingredients in this corner of southeast London would often prove frustrating. So, passion for good food, a lack of local shops selling interesting ingredients, and a concurrent stagnation in his career, presented Manish with an opportunity and a new direction in life.
From the start of this new venture, long before the doors opened at No.28 Westow Hill, Manish has sought to learn as much as possible from the experts, attending tastings at the Guild of Fine Food, an industry body, and learning from respected cheese expert, Juliet Harbutt, who organises the Great British Cheese Festival. In setting up the shop, Manish is determined to do things a little differently, and with a restrictive budget, has been forced to think creatively. Informality is the key, so rather than regimented rows of shelving and traditional counter, products are arranged in old wooden crates and a welsh dresser. In the middle is a wonderful old Devon dairy table where customers are encouraged to stop and sample what’s on offer. So when you’re passing I recommend you pop in for something delicious, and maybe stay for a chat with Manish and his staff, and a coffee & croissant from Kurt’s Volcano Coffee Works.
Primarily, GTF specialises in British produce. Among the cheeses on offer, Montgomery’s Somerset cheddar is a favourite of Manish’s for its nutty, earthy flavour, but also to be had, are unusual items such as the Lancashire Bomb, a black wax coated ball of cheese, the like of which I’ve never seen, and Blue Monday, produced by Rory Stone in Ross & Cromarty to a recipe by Juliet Harbutt & former Blur member, Alex James. Away from cheese, the coppa air-dried ham produced by Trealy Farm in Monmouthshire stands comparison with the best Italian varieties. It’s intense piggy flavour not overpowered by the curing process. In addition there’s a selection of British ales, cider and wine.