I can't believe I was oblivious to the absolute pearl of an open market down Portobello Road! Only really knowing Notting hill because of the cheesy Grant and Roberts flick, I wasn't expecting what I found down the colourfully housed neighbourhood.
From fruit & veg stalls, to vintage camera sales, unique food stops, and even a vegetable peeler stall, Portobello market offers some delightful treats! One that specifically caught my eye was Popina, a lovely local bakery based in several farmer's markets all over London. What intrigued me initially was the large blackboard pictured above. As a food enthusiast, or just an overall consumer really, I like to know where my food comes from and this board did exactly that. Resourcing their ingredients from local farms all around Britain, you get the best of British quality pastries at Popina - healthy too! It was perfect I ran into it actually; I was starving while waiting for Lakwatsa to open for the afternoon and Popina offered exactly what I needed to reenergise!
The stall had many different pastries to choose from, both sweet and savoury, but at the time I had a craving for something light and savoury, so I went for the red pepper and goat's cheese quiche. This was part of their gluten-free products. It was my first time having gluten-free pastry, which was made from gluten-free flour (containing ray, potato, tapioca, maze and xanthangum... whatever that is), so I wasn't sure what to expect. The pastry was grainy and quite fine on the inside, yet crumbly on the outside.
The texture reminded me of the sweet snack called polvoron we have in the Philippines. A little off topic but if you haven't already, you should try some. ;) Anyway...
The pastry was still quite nice despite a little lack of seasoning, but the quiche filling made up for it. The red peppers were sweet but smoky too, like they'd been chargrilled before they were added in, or maybe it was just the richness of being locally grown in Britain. The egg was tender and moist as well as nicely seasoned, although for me there wasn't enough goat's cheese. I was really looking forward to its strong flavour but it's something the filling missed. Despite that, the quiche was delightful to have as a pre-lunch snack since it was light yet satisfying, considering my stomach was grumbling all over the place at this point. I do wish I'd gotten to try a sweet pastry too - I'll add that to my list of treats I need to eat.
Seeing Popina pastries revived my interest for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free food, so much so I think I'll pay extra effort in seeking out these foods more often. Having been pescatarian and vegetarian for a brief period before, I know how much meat-free foods can change the way you feel and behave; you have more energy, you feel lighter, and you're a little bit more motivated to do good in life... but, you know... chicken.
Seriously though, the next time you come across the vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free or even dairy-free foods you've never tasted at that restaurant you always go to, give them a taste! Open up those tastebuds! It's a primary step to experiencing real good food.