Annie Hall is an N21 resident who is currently taking a Food Writing Class at Leith's Cookery School. As part of her course she was required to interview the owner of a local quality food store and she chose to interview Mark Wastell of The Larder. Her tutor, Lulu Grimes (food editor at Olive magazine) thought it would be suitable for a local publication, so n21online.com is delighted to oblige.
‘Situated on the leafy village green of Winchmore Hill, North London, The Larder is a premier stockist of fine foods, kitchen essentials, cheese and wine’.
The proprietor, Mark, is looking forward to his second Christmas of trading. He and his partner Lorraine opened The Larder last summer, hoping to give our suburban village a high quality food store that would offer great products from small independent suppliers and a good service, in a welcoming environment. He spent some months canvassing local people and the feedback he received was that his shop would fill this particular niche.
The opening day itself was a sunny day on The Green, brightened all the more by the three lovely Larder girls, I assume hired from a prestigious model agency for the day, wearing red t-shirts adorned with The Larder logo and attracting the locals to sample and taste some of the wares available. Mark’s best-selling product by far is his wine selection. He offers a range of biodynamic, natural production and organic wines, which cannot be found in supermarkets. The Larder has built a steady reputation for offering quality wines from Italy, France and England, telling the back story of each producer and grower helping the consumer to understand and appreciate the wines stocked. Mark also regularly hosts tasting sessions, and those Larder girls can then be seen cheekily enticing and subtly encouraging the locals into the shop.
I asked Mark about his personal favourite food. His reply was simply-prepared food, with little fanfare: Grilled fish, lovely dressed salads, tasty soups, stews, and pasta dishes. Presentation is key, as is a loving preparation. One of the advantages of owning such a shop means Mark and Lorraine always have quality ingredients to prepare their evening meal, be it a simple pasta, or curry made from unique handmade sauces.
In the run up to the festive season, Mark’s already thinking about how North Londoners will be needing gift ideas, and following on from a successful period last year, will be preparing some fine food and wine hampers, using award-winning brands such as The Fine Cheese Company, Moors Organic Juices, Tom’s Pies, Aldertree Handmade ice cream, Bim’s Kitchen Handmade African Sauces, The Fresh Pasta Company, Monmouth Coffee, Teapigs teas and lots more: luxury foodie-friendly gifts starting at £10-£15 to beyond £100. His usual range of Montezuma chocolates, sweets, chutneys, pestos and bespoke olive and balsamic oils will also be available.
Luckily for me, The Larder is on my doorstep. A bottle of wine on the way home from the train station, a freshly baked loaf of sourdough bread or a croissant on a Saturday morning, all the components for a cheese board for a dinner party, even a healthy treat for the children on the way home from school, it’s all here. And even if you’re not out to buy something to take home to eat, you can now sit and relax with a coffee, listen to Mark charming his customers, watch the hustle and bustle on the Green, or even have a spot of lunch by trying out the pie and mash. The Larder, a unique find for passionate foodies.