Video

In London, One-Stop Shop for Light Bulbs, Olive Oil

The modest door of an electrical supplies store leads you to a small haven for olive oil lovers.

Mehmet Murat (all photos by Pablo Esparza for Olive Oil Times)
Jul. 17, 2018
By Pablo Esparza
Mehmet Murat (all photos by Pablo Esparza for Olive Oil Times)

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Some­times things are not exactly what they appear. For­tu­nately.

Just by turn­ing around the cor­ner, one can leave behind the fran­tic pace of cen­tral Lon­don and find the tran­quil­lity of a small vil­lage.

Clerken­well, on the shad­ows of the impos­ing Smithfield’s mar­ket, where fresh meat is still traded every day at the heart of London’s finan­cial dis­trict, is one of those places.

Bricked Vic­to­rian houses and nar­row alleys spread around the small church square of Clerken­well Green.

In one of them, at Comp­ton Street, another unex­pected turn awaits.





The mod­est door of an elec­tri­cal sup­plies store leads you to a small haven for olive oil lovers.

At Embassy Elec­tri­cal Sup­plies, sock­ets, cables and light bulbs mix with dif­fer­ent sizes of bot­tles of olive oil, pack­ages of black and green olives, olive leaves and an arrange of tra­di­tional Cypriot foods and herbs in a seem­ingly chaotic order that pro­duces a delight­ful com­bi­na­tion.

Sorry mate, we don’t have any. We sell olive oil instead if you want some,” Mehmet Murat says with a big smile to a bike rider who’s stopped by to ask for some oil for his bicy­cle.

He is the owner of this eclec­tic shop and the pro­pri­etor of the olive trees fields in Cyprus and Turkey where Murat du Carta olive oil is pro­duced.

Murat speaks with a per­fect British accent. Born on the Mediter­ranean island, he moved with his par­ents from the Cypriot vil­lage of Lourou­jina to Eng­land when he was just five years old.

For decades, elec­tri­cal sup­plies were his main trade. And from the counter of his shop, he and his cat Carter — who qui­etly watches the entrance to the shop — have wit­nessed much of the city’s rapid trans­for­ma­tion.

When Murat opened Embassy Elec­tri­cal Sup­plies in 1980, most of his cus­tomers came from nearby fac­to­ries and work­shops. This area — often over­looked by tourists — owes much of its urban land­scape to the indus­trial rev­o­lu­tion, when it became a hub for watch­mak­ers and jew­el­ers.

Through­out the years, Murat adapted his trade to the needs of the chang­ing face of the area and spe­cial­ized in tubes and lamps. Clerken­well is now known for being London’s design and archi­tec­ture cen­ter and it is said to have the high­est den­sity of archi­tects in the world.

But arguably the biggest change for Embassy Elec­tri­cal Sup­plies hap­pened in 2002 when Mehmet’s father, Murat Suley­man, passed away and he had to take over the olive trees in his home coun­try.

He then decided to bring over his oil to Lon­don and start sell­ing it at his shop in Clerken­well. From then on, olive oil bot­tles started to pop up among Murat’s cables.

I knew noth­ing about pro­duc­ing olive oil. I quickly learned,” he tells Olive Oil Times.

It’s a lot of work involved and it’s a labor of love. I do love it, but I need a lot of help from imme­di­ate fam­ily,” he con­fesses.

Murat’s father, Suley­man, the village’s bar­ber, also traded mules across the island of Cyprus before the moved to Britain.

With the prof­its, he and his wife Hat­ice — both pic­tured on Murat du Carta’s labels — started buy­ing plots of land in Lourou­jina and planted their first olive trees back in the 50s.

The olive oil we pro­duce is from the green olives turn­ing pur­ple around Octo­ber Novem­ber. It’s pro­duced from what we called the Cyprus olive oil tree,” Murat says.

We would nor­mally take it to the press almost imme­di­ately, within hours. It is pressed for us in the South of the island,” he adds, con­stantly inter­rupted by the flow of cus­tomers com­ing in to buy a bot­tle, a light bulb, or both of them at a time.

Tak­ing care of the olive groves from Lon­don is not an easy task, but a reward­ing one.

A few years ago, a review in New York Mag­a­zine described Murat’s oils as England’s best.” After that, Murat du Carta has been the sub­ject of write-ups in news­pa­pers and Murat par­tic­i­pated on Gor­don Ram­say’s Ulti­mate Cook­ery Course TV show in 2012.

Now, Murat -– with the help of his son in Lon­don and his rel­a­tives in Cyprus and Turkey — sells all of his oil pro­duc­tion of around 5 tons a year both through the inter­net and at the counter. We’ve shipped oil to almost every coun­try in the world from this shop,” he says.

But, he points out, the direct con­tact and feed­back from his cus­tomers are what he enjoys the most.

Maybe that’s the rea­son why Embassy Electrics retains the feel of a local shop that seems long gone from many of the chain stores in Cen­tral Lon­don.

I’m a few years past retire­ment age. I could retire and live out, but I enjoy what I do so much, I enjoy bring­ing over good pro­duce,” he says.

There’s not a lot of profit in what we do nowa­days, but there is a lot of enjoy­ment,” he con­cludes.


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