A few weeks ago I noticed an intriguing looking shop on the high street in Westerham, a pretty little village a few miles from us. Painted bright green with an array of fruit and vegetables outside, The Italian Shop looked like a great local place to go.
So I was very pleased when just a week later, another one appeared on our local high street in Oxted! This is just the second branch but judging by the reception in both towns, they will be spreading fast.
I popped in to check it out…and of course ended up leaving with a handful of goodies. It was full of all sorts of deliciousness, with the front of the shop devoted to fresh fruit and vegetables, followed by olives and pesto and other Italian bits and bobs. There was a fridge for cheese and fresh pasta, and a hot cabinet serving pizza by the slice and large arancini balls in a range of flavours.
As it was opening weekend, they were giving out free slices of panettone – and this combined with the Italian music and unmistakable Italian voices of the staff talking loudly and fast, created a really authentic atmosphere.
My favourite areas were towards the rear of the shop, which seemed to be entirely devoted to pasta and pastries. I picked up a bag of ‘trofie’, a small, squiggly shape that I’m planning to have with some homemade wild garlic pesto. There was no price on any of the pasta so I was a little surprised to get to the till at pay £6 for it, but hey, it’s a special treat!
I also got a box of 6 pastries for £5, including cannoli and some sfogliatelle with salted caramel and lemon cream fillings. Safe to say they did not last long at home and I popped in the next week to get some more.
I was amazed that when I got to the till and was told the card machine wasn’t working, I was waved off, jotting down my name next to ‘£22’ in a notebook and told to come back sometime to pay. I hope that most people did come back to pay; I certainly did, and it gave me the opportunity to buy a few of the Italian beers for Mr Bacchanalian to check out.