Festival Spotlight: Intent at Arcadia Spectacular
Fire, flying and beats
A hidden foodie paradise and more
Just when you thought London was maxed out for amazing food, along comes Mercato Metropolitano: an Italian-inspired food hall that proves, in case anyone doubted it, that the Italians really are the masters when it comes to fresh produce and eating well.
If you’ve not discovered this giant 1480m2 market yet, you’d be forgiven. Located just down the road from Elephant and Castle towards Borough, the former paper factory turned foodie paradise and community hub, is perfectly hidden off Newington Causeway – which makes watching the awed looks on people’s faces as they stumble in and out of the cold even more delightful.
But there’s far more to this giant food market than first meets the eye. Once you step off the street and into the warm glow of our 304m2 stretch tent, (a custom MyTent canopy made especially for Mercato) you’re immediately struck by the intimate and cosy vibes, even in this current freeze. It’s all festoon lighting, patio heaters and fluffy blankets, with a dishevelled bookshop stall adding a nice literary touch.
In fact, even this covered outdoor area (the main market hall lies just behind) has various nooks and crannies to explore, with street food stalls serving duck confit burgers, crèpes, and even some kind of leather craftsman service – all dotted around the central cocktail bar.
Beyond this outdoor area lies a labyrinthine world of food, drink and spaces for community events. With its own cookery school, urban garden, enoteca and cinema, this is more winter wonderland festival (minus the bratwurst and tinsel) than farmer’s market. And while it might be inspired by the great food halls of Milan and Turin, it’s still just a stone’s throw from the Ministry of Sound and the whole thing has a hint of edgy SE1 as a result. After all, this is London bbz.
All that said, food is definitely the main event at Mercato Metropolitano. Though Italian accented – with several gelaterias, wood-fired pizza and fresh pasta galore – this is very much a global set up. Raclette rubs shoulders with sushi and saucisson, while Vietnamese noodles, Mexican tacos and a seriously impressive Argentine grill all vie for your pound.
We sampled the umami-rich (and heavenly) pork and ham arancini balls from the Little Sicily stand, washed down with half a pint of Brit Pop amber ale – the product of a recent collaboration between Hackney’s Five Points Brewing Co and Eternal City Brewing, a craft brewer from Italy. Delizioso.
But that was the just a starter, the trick here is to visit when it’s not too busy and sample lots of small things. Next up we headed into The Enoteca (a wine bar by Bottle & Barrels) to taste some white barbera (mineral and green apple notes, fantastic), and aubergine and courgette bruschetta. As is often the case with Italian food, the focus was more on produce than cooking, and what was essentially vegetables with cheese on toast was transformed into a fine delicacy.
And if you’re interested in learning how to make such delicacies, want to get involved in the community garden, or any other of the events taking place, then check out the Mercato Metropolitano website and page on Eventbrite. Upcoming events include a macramé making workshop, a wine and food tasting session at the Community Kitchen, a sign-making class and a handmade market by Crafty Fox.
But whatever you do, come hungry.
Like the look of Mercato’s custom stretch tent? Why not get in touch with us to find out more about our bespoke stretch tent design and management service.
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