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We are re-starting weekend concerts at Highgate Wood from Saturday

We are very happy to welcome Helena Kay on Saturday and Tom Tlalim on Sunday with their respective bands. As in the autumn we hope for any donations you can make to Help Musicians (the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund) which has been helping musicians who have lost their income because of the pandemic. We will be celebrating the relaunch with a complementary sparkling wine or Harveys best bitter and it will also be a chance to drink to the memory of Christian Brewer who pioneered jazz at Highgate Wood and who died last month after an apparent recovery from cancer.

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We are closing Nags Head Market stall

We will be trading for the last time at Nags Head Market this Friday March 26. This has been a hard decision to make given the support of some very loyal and appreciative customers. Also we pay tribute to our colleagues who have worked there and in particular Mohamed Bahraoui who built up a dedicated following and who is currently in Morocco following a family tragedy. We are still have a local presence with our cafés at Parliament Hill Lido and (soon reopening) at the Clissold Leisure Centre in Stoke Newington. The closure is for business reasons, which means that it costs more to stay open than to close, but we think the model of a covered market stall is a good one and we hope to revive it in future.

Hamza with our goodbye sign with the Covid mask adding to an unintendedly theatening effect …
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New season’s tomato seedlings on their way

Rare pink tomato Pêche Vilmorin Andrieux (1890)

During last year’s first lockdown we sold all the tomato seedlings we could grow so we are doing the same this spring. This year we will re-offer the same varieties that were a hit last time: noire de crimée (black krim), sungold, green zebra and pêche vilmorin plus this year red zebra and stupice. We will list them on the individual cafés sales websites as soon as they get a little bigger — probably the start of April

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New wines and why so many are from one place

Tonnerre skyline: Tonnere is a small town (pop 4,500) 10 miles north east of much-more-famous Chablis.

We have placed a second order with our horse-ploughing wine grower Céline Côté, whose wines were a big hit when we did our pre-Christmas and pre-Brexit import in December. Although it’s winter we were surprised how well her white and rosés sold which is why we have made an emphasis on them with this order. Meanwhile we think the fresh and fruity red burgundy from Michel Martin is perfect with falafel –almost more so than the very good red wines from Lebanon itself. We are now thinking about a big order of sparkling wine from the same region and it’s a reasonable question why we should be so focussed on a single relatively obscure corner of Burgundy when there is a whole world we could buy wine from.

This is why: 1 These wines are hard to find in Britain because of the structure of the business. You can make a good profit selling £50 bottles of burgundy from the famous names of the Côte d’Or or from mass produced supermarket wines, but these relatively inexpensive growers’ wines available in small quantities are too good value to hide a solid mark up. 2. It’s a small region but it has a wide range of styles, from the unique minerally Chardonnay of Chablis, to juicy Pinot, to more tannic food-friendly reds from Irancy, to sparkling wines that resemble champagne and even rosé wines that get better as they age rather than fading. 3 Brexit gives an incentive to concentrate your buying efforts, as every transaction with a different grower involves a fresh batch of paperwork — so there’s an incentive to buy with a producer like Céline Côte who can offer a range of different types of wine on a single pallet.

Tonnerre’s spring, the Fosse Dionne, a spring arising from an underground flooded cave, that was made into a ‘lavoir’ for washing the town’s dirty linen in 1758 (photo by By Velvet – Own work, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30455217