Hipster time: living between Shoreditch and Hackney

Hard to believe our time in Willesden is already over. With only eight weeks left in London it was time for a move again (every four weeks a new place till we leave). With all bags squeezed in a mini-cab we went up crawling slowly and awkwardly but well entertained to Shoreditch. Or Hackney. I’m actually not sure where Florida Street belongs to. Again we had found an apartment on AirBnB and again we were welcomed by Smatka, a nice German lady. It’s clearly a young musician’s flat (not hers!) – indicated by a few guitars standing around, questionable cooking supplies and  a slightly questionable attitude towards cleanliness.

Our flat in Florida Street

Saturday was probably the most beautiful spring day London has seen this year so it was not really a weekend for staying at home. There is an excellent wine shop pretty much just around the corner: 259 Hackney Road (that’s the address as well as the name). I will write a little more about this shop another time after talking to them a little more. But the selection of French natural wine is absolutely unique and I got the necessary beverages for a spring weekend.

Columbia Road Flower Market

Also just five minutes around the corner of our current home is Columbia Road’s famous flower market. What a luxury to be so close to it on a Sunday morning. With blue skies. The market started as a standard Saturday food market in the 19th century. To accommodate Jewish traders it was moved to Sunday and with the Sundays the flowers came and the food left.

Jones Dairy

Well, almost. The market still only takes place on Sunday mornings (till 2pm) and still has mostly flowers although a variety of shops selling artisan food (the Printers & Stationers is really nice, I picked up some bread at Jones Dairy shown above) and antiques. If you don’t know this area you probably now start to realise that it’s London’s hipster corner. Organic food, long beards, arts & crafts, … quite similar to Brooklyn (but definitively less jewellery designers) and we love it. There is music, good coffee … you can stay for a few hours and enjoy the atmosphere.

Musicians at the Flower Market

This Sunday we also had the big marathon in London so going down to Shadwell to cheer for my colleague David and Kelvin in memory of their mom. And much too fast it became Sunday evening and there goes the weekend. But not without tasting the two whites (ok, one didn’t survive last night) purchased on Saturday!

They do have a few things in common. Both are French, both are from the Jura area, both with minimal sulphur, ingenious yeasts. So the first one to try was the 2011 Vin de Pays de Franche Comté from the Domaine des Cavarodes. It’s a Chardonnay and it’s a cold climate Chardonnay how I like it. Not one of these buttery oak-bombs but actually quite light (12% alcohol). Unmistakable a natural with a nose of yeast, nuts, citrus and wool (which I only tasted after I read it – but then I did!). A full body, one of these wines where you really have something in your mouth lolling on the taste buds. A solid acidity, more yeast, nuts and leather, good finish, for this price point (under 10) a surprise and a strong recommendation.

Two Jura whites

The second one is made from Savagnin grapes (a typical variety for the Jura area): the 2011 Arbois Savagnin from the Domaine des Bodines. As I got told the key difference to the Chardonnay in the vinification process was that this one was allowed to oxidate a bit more. Not only tasting a little from a barrel from time to time is responsible for the wine slowly getting less and less. A process which of course replaces wine with no vacuum but air. And air leads to oxidation. Normally winemakers fill similar wine on the top (there are rules I suppose) to avoid oxidation. These guys don’t. And indeed, the oxidative smell is a little stronger, I’d suspect it’s with no added sulphur but don’t find anything on the inter webs. The wine has a good, strong colour and smells like honey (but in a very fresh way!), hey and a little vanilla. It is full-bodied as well with all the acidity it needs to complement apples, pears and nuts – in a concentrated, mineralic interpretation. Also a really good wine and not too expensive.

The next week will be busy! We’re going to fly to Nuremberg on Wednesday to visit the winery for a couple of days. We’ll spend some time at the Intervitis in Stuttgart, visit the vineyards and talk to some bankers. And of course taste some wine!

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