Food shops, Green Lanes, Harringay, London

Green Lanes Vegetables

This street’s a Turkish delight

Step out onto Green Lanes in Harringay and you could be forgiven for thinking you’d taken a wrong turn somewhere and wound up in a marketplace in Istanbul. The Italian and I went there one morning just as the shopkeepers were putting their fruit and veg out on display. And what a fantastic display of colour it was.

FruitEverything was so beautifully arranged we wanted to buy the lot. Hot peppers were neatly laid out like rows of entwined fingers; in fact we counted eight different kinds of pepper on display at one shop. Huge red radishes, and giant white radishes, vied for attention with glossy aubergines. The letter P featured prominently – peppers, pumpkins, pineapples, pomegranates, plums, persimmons, plantains and something called picnic pears. There was every kind of familiar fruit and veg on show, along with some more esoteric varieties – yams, custard apples, chokos, or chayote, which is a bit squash-like and good lightly cooked or raw in salads, white courgettes from Pakistan and molokhia leaves, otherwise known as jute leaves which are used for soups and stews and are a bit slimy like okra when cooked. There were boxes of fresh olives, trays of Bobby beans and fat bunches of rocket, dill and spinach. Even the ordinary potatoes on display looked special.

We’re not going to mention any particular shops, they all looked good to us, and all were reasonably priced.

Cafe Mezzo

We stopped for breakfast at the Cafe Mezzo bar and restaurant and sat at a table in the upstairs area. It was a sort of chill-out space with pink walls and low tables with chintzy little lamps and seating covered with brightly-coloured satin cushions. Curiously, the Mona Lisa sort of half-smiled at us from between the row of books and magazines that were arranged on a shelf for customers to read.

We ordered espressos but could have had Turkish tea or coffee. The menu offered a vast choice; The Italian went for a traditional breakfast, a traditional English breakfast that is. I gave the Med breakfast Number Two a whirl – eggs, grilled halloumi cheese, salami, olives, salad and toasted Turkish flat bread. It was that or the menemen – an omelette made with tomatoes and green peppers. Anyway, a plate covered with food arrived and I just about managed to finish it. After a couple of sweet Turkish coffees we headed off to explore more of this incredibly colourful shopping street.

Cafe MezzoCafe Mezzo. 64, Grand Parade, London, N4 1AF
Tel 020 8800 8996

Hala Turkish Restaurant

By night Green Lanes really buzzes as people come out to eat and drink in the dozens of restaurants and cafes. We passed the Hala restaurant, through the window we could see women rolling out the gozleme, a traditional Turkish hand-made pastry that’s filled with spinach, feta cheese, egg or minced meat. The menu listed lamb and chicken shish, lamb patties, Adana kebab, a long brochette of minced lamb cooked over a charcoal fire, and home-made ayran, a yogurt drink similar to a lassi. The sign on the door told us that Hala has been awarded 5 stars by Time Out. So worth checking out.

Hala. 29 Grand Parade, Harringay, London N4 1LG
Tel 020 8802 4883

Yasar Halim’s Patisserie

Across the road was the Yasar Halim patisserie. They used to have a newspaper cutting on their front window which listed them as one of the top 100 places to buy food in the entire world. It’s been described as the greatest Turkish bakery west of Istanbul.

Inside we found piles and piles of different types of Turkish and Middle Eastern bread, mostly freshly-made on the premises. A baklava island stood in the middle of the shop.

Bakers work at the back of the shop throughout the day, so that fresh bread and pastries are always available, from when the shop opens at 9am until closing time at 10pm. Most are either inspired by traditional Turkish Cypriot dishes, or by family recipes. The range of breads is piled up in racks throughout the shop or displayed in counters, from traditional Turkish flatbreads in sesame seed or plain varieties such as a flat round loaf made with tahini, sugar, cinnamon and butter.

Hot savouries on offer included borek – pastries filled with spinach, meat or halloumi cheese, gozleme and pastirmati, which are breads stuffed with meat or cheese.

Yasar Halim’s Patisserie. 495 Green Lanes, Haringey, London, N4 1AL
Tel 020 8340 8090/020 8348 1074

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