Wine, cheese, bells, boxer shorts… there are tons of things made right here in the capital that you just wouldn’t expect. From ‘rolled gold’ spectacles in Hackney Wick to fuzzboxes in High Barnet, Eddy Frankel tracks down the locally made items you will want to get your hands on.
Vin d’Earls Court
You can keep your Chilean Merlot, your French Chardonnay and your Aussie Shiraz, because central London is now home to its very own winery. London Cru – which definitely isn’t a bad street-dance ensemble off ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ – is currently maturing its first batch of wine in a high-tech Earl’s Court winery, ready for affable quaffing (that’s what you do with wine) later this year. If you can’t wait, book yourself on to a guided tour.
Where to get it There are tours every Saturday. Wine will be available from the winery and various London restaurants. For more information visit londoncru.co.uk.
We may not grow our own silk in the city, but we sure know what to do with the stuff once we get our hands on it. Just look at purveyors of fine men’s apparel Drake’s for proof. Its ties, handmade on Haberdasher Street in the East End, are slicker than a swimming pool filled with hair gel and are guaranteed to turn even the slobbiest of slobs into a dashing, dapper gentleman. As you walk down the street, wearing one of Drake’s handrolled silken numbers, people will stare and whisper to each other ‘Who is that debonair fellow? I must talk to him about vintage racing cars.’ Guaranteed.
Where to get them Buy from their shop at 3 Clifford Street, W1S 2LF, or the factory store at 3 Haberdasher Street, N1 6ED.
Brick Lane tofu
You might think tofu is lovingly handcrafted by rosy-cheeked farmers in idyllic rural Japanese fields, before being shipped over to Europe to be feverishly devoured by gaggles of Birkenstock-wearing types in hemp trousers. And it is. But if you suffer from food-miles guilt, you can buy fresh organic tofu that’s made right here in London. Clean Bean Tofu has been using traditional methods to produce the best in beancurd for 15 years at its Brick Lane workshop. Don’t be a to-fool! Buy local, man.
Where to get it Whole Foods, Planet Organic, the Japan Centre and other health food shops stock Clean Bean
Most of the bikes you see racing through red lights or speeding along the pavement (thanks, London cyclists) are mass-produced in factories around the world. But London is home to a gaggle of fine bike-frame-builders who pride themselves on crafting beautiful machines that are a million miles away from your average steed in terms of quality. From Brompton folding bikes in west London and Roberts Cycles out in Croydon to smaller custom frame-builders like Saffron Frameworks and Oak Cycles, you don’t have to travel far for your dream whip.
Where to get them Bromptons are stocked all over the shop (brompton.com) but you’ll have to go directly to the suppliers (robertscycles.com, saffronframeworks. com, oakcycles.com) for your custom-made dream machine from.
We all know how cheese is made. It involves beautiful rolling pastures and remote caves with mysteriously perfect maturing conditions. It certainly doesn’t involve south London railway arches. Or does it? The likes of Gringa Dairy (specialising in Mexican queso, amigo) and the Blackwood Cheese Company, prove London is home to a nascent scene of curd-wranglers. In the case of Gringa, that home is beneath the Overground line in Peckham. London just got a whole lot stinkier, in the best possible way.
Where to get it Gringa is stocked by cool chile.co.uk. You can get Blackwood from Neal’s Yard Dairy in Borough Market and Covent Garden.
Cola from Dalston
You don’t have to settle for mass-produced, chemicallaced soft drinks in this city. You can go artisanal – thanks to Dalston Cola. Co-founder Duncan O’Brien tells us how he’s taking on the sugary-drink goliaths. ‘We’d been making Dalston Cola as a syrup mix in Passing Clouds, the Hackney nightclub, for about a year before deciding to bottle it and get our own space in January 2012. ‘Industrialised food production has ruined the quality of food and drink: there are flavourings, preservatives and all sorts of nasty chemicals. We’re essentially going back to an older, simpler way of doing things. The demand for it has been massive. ‘We could have found a cheaper, bigger space outside London, but there are so many positives to being here. Where else in the country could we find cola nuts or unrefined gum arabic? And bars and cafés are constantly opening, so there are always new opportunities. It really is the perfect place for our business right now.’
Where to get it: Check out dalstoncola.co.uk
Gents, look at what you’re wearing. How much were those trainers? £90? You must have splurged a ton on those skinny jeans. And there’s no way that stupid animal-print T-shirt cost less than £40. But what about your undies? Primark, right? £2? Shame on you. Your bits deserves better. And it doesn’t come much better than luxurious boxer shorts handmade in London by Burtonwode. The 100-percent-‘softened cotton’ material is printed in Carlisle before being assembled here in the Big Smoke. Treat yourself, and your crotch, even if it will cost you the princely sum of £35.
Where to get them Order direct from burtonwode.com.
You don’t have to go all the way to the mountains of northern Italy for salty, preserved treats – just take the tube to Islington. Cobble Lane Cured is the brainchild of three N1 butchers who have taken the best recipes from all over Europe and combined them with the finest British produce to create their very own London charcuterie. Salted!
Where to get some Various London restaurants and from cobblelane cured.com.
For the vinyl record
If you’re a hip kid (and hey, you’re reading this, so you must be), you’ll know that most of the vinyl records in your no doubt extensive collection of obscure jazz and classic shoegaze will have been pressed abroad. But there are still companies manufacturing vinyl right here in London. The Carvery presses custom one-off dubplate 12-inches for you to spin at the club while Curved will take care of everything from your first seven-inch single to your epic triple-LP concept album about a secret community of trolls on Primrose Hill.
Where to get some Order from carverycuts. com and curvedpressings.com.
Americans are hugely proud of their famed Liberty Bell: it’s a symbol of freedom and independence from their British oppressors. But guess who made it? That’s right, their British oppressors. Cast back in 1752 in what is now known as the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, that big ol’ ding-a-ling is a fine example of British craftsmanship, and the foundry is still going strong today. You can buy anything from a dainty hand-bell to a massive clanger straight from the shop.
Where to get them Buy direct from whitechapelbellfoundry.co.uk.
Smoked salmon from Stoke Newington
The limp orange slices of fish that supposedly pass for smoked salmon in UK supermarkets is but a pale imitation of the lovely handcrafted stuff produced by Stokey’s top Viking, Ole Hansen of Hansen & Lydersen. Here’s what he had to say about smoking out his neighbours in north London. ‘My grandfather back in Norway used to smoke his own salmon and I always remembered tasting that fish in the Arctic as the midnight sun came up. I started missing it very badly once I’d come to London, and wanted to bring that magic to this city. ‘I realised that the brick room at the rear of the warehouse I was living in could be used to smoke fish. So about seven years ago, I asked my landlords if I could rent it from them – I said I was starting a T-shirt printing business – and they said yes. ‘My grandfather had designed his own smoking chamber, so I got some information about it from my mother and started to rebuild it in this brick room using low-cost, reclaimed materials. I could have bought a German or Danish smoking chamber and just pressed a button to produce smoked salmon, but that’s the opposite of my ethos. ‘London is a powerhouse of creativity. I didn’t want to make smoked salmon in Norway and then send it to London; that wouldn’t have made sense for me. I want people to experience the magic of fresh smoked salmon and fall in love with it.’
Where to get it: Order from hansen-lydersen.com
Woodford’s scrump trump
Why should the West Country have the monopoly on cider production? Just because it has endless countryside and clean air while we’ve got tons of traffic and loads of concrete? Well, one group of Londoners has decided to stick two fingers firmly up at the rurally privileged by producing cider right here in the city. The folks behind London Glider Cider in Woodford simply knock on their neighbours’ doors and ask to collect apples from their gardens that would otherwise go to waste. Zero waste, loads of booze, and all well within the M25. Take that, the countryside.
Where to get some Direct from londonglider.com or at selected farmers’ markets.
Oi, four eyes, where’d you get them specs? Asda? Should’ve gone to Algha Works, mate. The Hackney Wick manufacturer has been producing unique ‘rolled gold’ eyeglasses in exactly the same way since 1932 – with a bunch of hulking, pre-war machines that creak and twist out perfect, stylish frames one at a time. Celebs including John Lennon and Harry Potter have sported their iconic specs, so you’ll be in fabulously talented/fictional company.
Where to get them From algha.com and various high-end opticians.
If you think being pressed faceto- armpit with another human in the middle of July on a packed, sweltering tube train is as sticky as London gets, you are sorely mistaken. All over the city, people have set up beehives and are producing honey by the bucketload. Our faves are Regent’s Park Honey, produced in London’s finest royal green space, and Capital Bee, based in a Brockley churchyard.
Where to get some Most are available from the Hive Honey Shop in Clapham at 93 Northcote Rd, SW11 6PL, which also stocks its own varieties of golden nectar.
Guitar effects pedals from High Barnet
When guitars sound like a thousand buildings collapsing, or like a rocket engine blasting off, it’s usually thanks to something called an effects pedal. Tim Webster, at Fredric Effects, assembles the noisy little blighters by hand in High Barnet. We asked him about making things go whoosh. ‘A lot of people don’t really know what a guitar effects pedal is, but once you explain that you need them to get that fuzzy Rolling Stones or Jimi Hendrix sound, they generally get it. I’d been playing electric guitar in bands and found that I loved messing around with pickups and the actual electronics as much as the musical side of things. ‘It was all DIY when I started, but now I get the boxes fabricated and screenprinted by a company in High Barnet. I make each pedal by hand and my partner Stacey does a lot of the artwork in-house. ‘About a year ago I was doing batches of 50 pedals, but now I’ve had to ramp it up to 100 at a time because the demand is there. It’s great to hear about the kinds of bands that are using my pedals – everyone from Kurt Vile and The Jesus And Mary Chain to the guitarists for Kylie and Boyzone!’
Where to get one Order from fredric.co.uk
For more handmade goods, check out London’s best markets.