A Food Tour of Hackney with Elly Pear
Last month, I spent a very happy day with the brilliant food writer and owner of the Pear Cafe in Bristol, Elly Curshen, better known as Elly Pear. We share a lot – from favourite restaurants, teas and foods, not to mention a publisher. We got together to do a lot of eating and record a little food tour of Hackney in East London, where I live, but ended up chatting about a whole lot more.
We covered everything from how we started our careers in food, to our favourite garnishes, where we like to shop to what inspires us to create new recipes. We’ve edited our day into five snippets below and included links to all the delicious places we went at the end.
COOKING AS A CAREER
It seemed natural to start with how we got into food – I explain how a newspaper article drastically changed the course of my career within one week, and Elly tells me how losing someone very close to her pushed her into following her true passion – cooking.
WRITING A BOOK
We discuss the process of writing a first book. I talk about A Modern Way to Eat as a collection of food that had made up the tapestry of my day to day life until then. From a new banoffee pie I perfected over many birthday celebrations for my vegan brother, to the recipes I hadn’t used for books I’d written for other people because they were so stand-out delicious that I wanted to put my own name beside them.
Elly’s explains that her book, Fast Days and Feast Days, is an amalgamation of ten years of kitchen notebooks – from the famous cakes at her lovely cafe in Bristol, to the dishes she made at her celebrated supper clubs, and the fast day meals she makes for herself midweek.
Whether writing new recipes for a magazine article, or just looking for interesting things to cook for your weekday dinner, we both agree that inspiration is always important. Elly and I talk about obscure ingredients, shopping on Europe’s longest independent high street and a trio of chefs who have inspired me throughout my culinary career.
We turn to questions from instagram, and cover everything from our most-used kitchen tools to desert island foods, busy weekday breakfasts to the spring ingredients we look forward to every year.
A FOOD TOUR OF HACKNEY
The little corner of East London where I live is chock a block with interesting eateries, run by people who care about ingredients, quality and provenance. Here are the ones Elly and I visited:
Poco – a delicious and sustainable tapas cafe. Broadway Market, London and Stoke’s Croft, Bristol
Tiosk – serves premium loose leaf teas and natural foods. Broadway Market, London
Dandy – beautiful brunches and more in an old shipping container with plenty of character. Helmsley Place, London
E5 bakehouse – selling some of the best sourdough in London. Arch 395, Mentmore Terrace, London
Raw Duck – sister of Duck Soup restaurant in Soho. A safe bet for a brilliant breakfast. Richmond rd, London
Violet Bakery – home of my all-rime favourite ginger molasses cake. Sweet treats which will never disappoint. Wilton Way, London.
Videos: Orlando Mowbray
Illustrations: Jess Lea-Wilson