Interview with Armstrongs the Butchers

Interview with Darren Armstrong

Armstrong’s Family Butchers :111 St Margarets Rd, Twickenham, Middlesex TW1 2LH

Tel: 020 8892 1844

Managed to catch up with my local butcher Darren Armstrong,  where I get all my great meat from before the turkey ordering deluge, and asked him a few questions as to how he came to be a butcher and what drives him.

Favourite Food:
Roast beef dinner (or pork, chicken or lamb)

Best UK restaurant you have been to:
There’s two I like they are Maze  and La Trompette

Favourite ingredient:

Favourite kitchen gadget:
Garlic crusher

Tell me about how you first fell in love with food:
Some of my earliest memories are to do with butchering and going with my father as a very small boy to Smithfield Market, which I loved, plucking turkeys at christmas and visiting farms to use as suppliers. It was fun and exciting for me as a boy with my dad and I guess this is where I fell in love with great meat.

Do you cook/ who taught you?
I do cook, my mother was a basic, homely cook and we always ate well. When I became a butcher I experimented more and I keenly watched the TV chefs to gain new ideas and methods. My wife is an excellent cook so we alternate the cooking duties.

Why did you decide to make food your occupation rather than another industry?
After I finished university I didn’t really have a vocation or career path to follow, so I worked part-time with my dad as a stopgap to tide me over, this then became full time and twenty years later I’m still here in our shop.

What have you learnt about people and food?
Some people love food and can’t wait to try new recipes, other hate it and find it a chore. Our sales vary with the seasons, in the summer it’s light and easy like BBQ, in the winter it’s hearty stews and roasts

Where do you source your ingredients from?
We source them from across the British Isles, Beef is always from Perthshire in Scotland and is Aberdeen Angus. Pork is from Dorset, Chicken is from Long Crendon in Oxfordshire, Lamb varies throughout and can be from, Devon or Welsh, sometimes Scotland, it depends on the season, but all from trusted, ethical farms and rearing techniques.

What good news have you heard recently about food?
Tesco’s profits are down, I hate Tesco’s

What advice would you pass on to our future generation?
Unfortunately I fear that butchering may not be around much longer and will eventually die out. Young people do not tend to want to be butchers, but they should give it a try, Most of the butchers I know have been taught by their fathers and old butchers shops like ours may not exist in the near future which would be a great loss to the community and the local economy. We do work silly hours and it’s quite physical, maybe I should have become a lawyer, lol.

What would you choose as your last meal on earth?
Prawn cocktail to start followed by a nice ribeye steak (Armstrongs of course) , chips, peas and au poivre sauce followed by eton mess.

Thank you so much Darren for taking the time out to speak to as you prepare for that wonderful snake like queue that forms outside your shop every christmas as people collect their turkeys, goose and hams. Happy Christmas and with meat like yours I think you’ll be around a lot longer than you imagine.

Armstrong's Family Butchers




Armstrong's Pies


Armstrong's Butchers

St Margarets Christmas Fair

It’s that time of year again, when we all go crazy, spend money we don’t have and eat loads of great food and why not? It’s a time for sharing presents, love and hope for the next twelve months. For some it will be a time to remember those that have passed away, for our family that will be the irreplaceable Jackie, but for others it will also be a happy time, my great friends Amie and Dom have just had a new life arrive into our world in the form of a lovely son, reminds us all that christmas isn’t just about presents, (important though they are, I need new socks) it’s about peace and happiness and celebration, so be happy this christmas and eat well.

In keeping with the theme of eating well and happiness, something I think goes hand in hand, we made our annual visit to the St Margarets Christmas Fair, which seems to get bigger each year. Crown Road shuts down from early morning to allow all the stalls to set up, there is a great Santa’s grotto which by 1130am has a queue of little people all waiting in line to see the great bearded man himself and this year we also had two guys sculpting all manner of frozen animals out of big blocks of ice, the kids, (and adults) all stood in amazement as we watched a block of ice transform into a polar bear before our very eyes, lots of oooohs and aahhhs. Check them out here.

St Margarets Fair

Polar Bear Ice Sculpture

A few great food stalls caught my eye, one which was Jam ‘N’ Jerk a Caribbean Chicken stand (email  with clever barrels for cooking the jerk chicken to Bob’s, the owner special, secret recipe. It was served with rice n peas of course and salad or Caribbean hot pot with loads of extra hot sauces if you wanted them, it all tasted damn good and no matter how hard I tried I could never make it like Bob does, because I don’t come from the Caribbean, simple as that.

Jerk Chicken

After a bit of recovery time, I shared a sausage from Sausalicious Hotdogs who specialise in jumbo hot dogs, they have all manner of dogs but the best one is The Juicy Blue and it is just that, a big sausage packed full of blue cheese and a hint of chilli served with any amount of hot sauces, kraut and pickles you so desire all in a roll, sooooo good, we scoffed it down in record time. My two friends each went for a Zoran Burger, from Zorans deli stand, not just any old burger but a beef juicy patty served with grilled chorizo, rocket, melted cheese and Zorans burger relish, simple and delicious.




Harry won two prizes by making a bell ring by whacking it with a hammer and I bought a huge chunk of homemade chocolate and orange fudge to keep in the fridge for emergencies, (the lady says it will last for three months) not in my house!!

Harry hitting hammer

All in all a wonderful day at the fair, now go and finish your christmas shopping……

The Aleksander Pub

The Aleksander Pub, Richmond Road TW1 2NP

On Friday, the gang and by the gang I mean, Holly, Harry, Jon, Gabi, Carrie and me all went to The Aleksander Pub in Marble Hill, as Harry is a huge fan of their Calzone. The pub run by Roger, who is ably assisted by Richard, who know a thing or two about pizzas and calzone have had a woodfired oven installed to deliver an authentic taste and boy, does it work. We settled into a great table at the back of the pub, away from the live music and it was perfect, as last time we were there we sat too close and it was a little loud for conversation. The menu is Italian with a great selection of starters, mains and 12 pizzas to choose from.

We opted for stuzzichini, which is a selection of little starters and at 3 for £10 was the perfect choice for our group with varying tastebuds, we opted for arancini, spinach wrapped in bacon, beef with a sesame seed crust and sweet pepper dip and a couple of plates of their homemade focaccia with oil. Harry and I voted the beef the best and the finger licking pepper dip the perfect accompaniment. The photos don’t do the food justice, we were sat in a very dark corner!

For mains, Harry and Jon went for the “Man calzone” in other words the one with the beef as opposed to the vegetarian option. When it arrived, Harry looked at the huge thing of loveliness on the plate and challenged Jon to a 50p on who would finish it first.

Zoran’s Crab Spaghetti

Zoran runs a great delicatessen and restaurant in the village of St. Margarets in Twickenham and his background as a trained chef really comes through in his choice of products not only in the deli, but on his daily menu board in the restaurant. Read my interview with Zoran here.  If you’re not in by 12.30 you may have to wait for a table as it’s a very popular hangout for locals and those working across the road in Twickenham Studios. Zoran and his staff are very friendly and he always has a good story to tell if he has the time, in between cooking in the open kitchen downstairs or directing his busy staff. He runs a tight ship, but it shows in not only the service, but the quality of the food. You may have to wait a little, but with everything cooked from scratch you’ll be happy to read the paper and watch the locals. Oh, and PLEASE eat their homemade polenta cake with creme fraiche on the side, it’s insanely light and yummy.




Interview with Zoran

We had barely moved into St Margarets when I visited Zoran’s Deli, in Crown Road, that was 5 years ago and the standard and quality of his food hasn’t changed, when you meet him you understand why, he has worked and learnt his craft from some  of the top chefs in the country and I was lucky enough to get a few minutes with him recently to find out a bit more about him and what drives his passion for cooking.


Zoran Himself

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His previous occupation: Waiter

Zoran’s Favourite food: Italian

Zoran’s favourite restaurant in the UK: The River Cafe, because it’s consistently excellent

His favorite ingredient: Shallots

Favourite kitchen gadget: Mandolin slicer

His top 3 food hates: Hot food served cold, undercooked food and pretentious food (I hate it too)

How did you first fall in love with food: Through my mum’s cooking and summer barbecues

Where did you learn to cook? At Chelsea Harbour, under Marco Pierre White

Why did you decide to make food your occupation, rather than just for pleasure? Because I love the food industry, working with people and creating new dishes

Where do you source your ingredients from? All my meat comes from the local butcher four doors away and my local greengrocers, I believe in supporting small, local businesses

What good food news have you heard recently? Healthy food being served in schools, as it’s so important that children understand good food, healthy eating and all the benefits it can bring

What food advice would you pass on to the younger generation: Always try something at least once, only then can you make a decision as to whether you like it or not

What would you choose to be your last meal on earth: Fish, sitting by the sea in Montenegro

Thank you Zoran for taking the time out to speak to me!


Click here to read about Zoran’s Crab Spaghetti I made for Edible News