Our lives are significantly different to where we were six months ago and we expect even more so in six months’ time. We sell East Mediterranean-style dishes with kid goat meat as the core ingredient at London’s Borough Market, the centre of culinary excellence in the UK. To most of the world that wouldn’t raise an eyebrow but in the UK this is a big deal because people haven’t until recently been exposed to kid goat meat, unless it was mutton and in a curry. We fought very hard to change perceptions, some days were better than others but there is light at the end of the tunnel and opinions are shifting and we are winning hearts and minds.
Nadia is Greek and Nick is a physicist (Imperial University graduate) from Yorkshire. So the end result is a true love and appreciation for kid goat meat but with a scientific and forensic approach. By that we mean that Nick painstakingly documented various weights of kid goats always using the same ingredients and cooking techniques, 250 kid goats and 10,000 dishes later we have what we think the perfect kid goat. Who can argue with that?
The alarm goes off at 5am and Nick gets up in the dark and quietly (we have a 21-month old girl Athena) and packs the van and sets off to Borough market to set up. Along with Sam, our invaluable team-mate, he wheels out from storage all our equipment and sets up what is effectively an outdoor kitchen. Once everything has been set up and plugged in, the kid goat goes on, we braise it with bay leaves, olive oil, oregano and white wine. We only use the shoulder and the leg. Whilst that is cooking away we prepare our organic East Mediterranean wheat salad made with wheat berries, capers, sundried tomatoes plenty of herbs and lemon juice. The tzaztiki is next – we use real Greek yogurt which we mix with whatever seasonal wild green we can find along with olive oil. There is always good banter with the other traders and we love the excitement of what the day holds.
It’s time to get the koftes on the grill. We started making koftes about three months ago and we can’t keep up with demand. We make them fresh each day to a recipe that Nadia’s grandmother gave her which was given to her by her own. There is a lot of heritage to what we do, a lot of love and above all every ingredient has a reason to be on the plate. Sam is typically on the grill and he is a mean grilling machine taking care that each kofte is cooked to perfection. Our hot chili salsa is scooped out into pots, this recipe was created by us because we felt that it did the kid goat justice, its fresh and zingy with a nice kick. It also has various spices which we toast ourselves before grinding. We often joke that we don’t make things easy for ourselves. But watching people’s reaction when they take a bite of our pulled kid goat meat served in Greek pita, tzatziki, fresh chili salsa, spinach and radish salad with a pomegranate, olive oil and thyme dressing, let’s just say it makes it all worthwhile.
We have a very, very busy lunch time which generally doesn’t stop until 3pm. We have lines of people waiting to be served and Nick and Sam work as fast as they can to make sure that people get their lunch. Nadia is usually at home on Wednesdays and Thursdays looking after Athena and hand-making eastern Mediterranean-style pies for sale at the stall. At around 3pm things quieten down a little. It’s time to do some washing up and for Nick to catch up on admin. He will call around our various suppliers to ensure that all is ok and that we have enough stock for next week. We only use the billies from the dairy industry and we only use free range so tracking down suppliers can be challenging. We spend time responding to customer requests for the raw meat and media enquiries. At 5pm we close down, complete the final clean up and dismantle all the equipment and take it back to storage.
At 6.20pm Nick sets off home before a final stop to drop things off at cold storage. London traffic is brutal and so he doesn’t get home until 8pm and then it’s a quick cuddle with Athena before taking her to bed. Nadia prepares any spice mixtures that we may need for the next day, washes all the aprons and soaks the wheat for the next day. We always sit down to a home-cooked meal – we work at Borough Market, it would be criminal if we didn’t take advantage of the produce. We talk a lot about work – it’s who we are. As a couple we work well together and we look at things from different angles. When one is down it’s the other one’s job to make the silly jokes to cheer things up typically with bad goat jokes, we have too many. We often have to remind each other how much we have achieved in such a short period of time and that we did do the right thing to give up our old jobs teaching and working in the city to pursue our dream. The coffee maker is set to go off for 5:30pm for the next day and then it’s off to bed at 11pm.