I’m a sucker for food markets when travelling. That’s probably the first thing I look up when planning a trip. Ever since I heard of the glorious food at Borough Market, and the lengths that the committee goes through to make sure only the best producers get a spot near the Thames in South East London, I couldn’t wait to experience this fresh food market at its peak in summer. ‘Excited’ isn’t a strong enough word to express how I felt when I walked into the market.
Producers from all over the country bring in a wide variety of fresh produce to the market, and there are food stalls cakes and patisseries, too. It’s a riot of colours at the market. Vendors hand out free samples, locals and tourists queue up for juicy burgers with enormous jar of pickles and condiments. You can witness ingredients that cover the spectrum from wonderful to weird. I spotted a cheese called Stinking Bishop (oh! it even has a Wikipedia page). Meandering through the lanes of the market and nibbling on Turkish delights along the way is just what one should do on a Saturday morning.
We ate hot dogs, burgers, and lots of pies (loved steak and Stilton) from Pie Minister (so easy to get drawn to a stall with a name like that). I also got pretty obsessed with flavoured waters. I tried Elderflower water for the first time, and loved the mellow, floral flavour of it (this looks like a great recipe if you’re up for making yourself some). The other thing that was new to me was the flavoured water. An excellent excuse not to drink regular water (my favourite was the blueberry and pomergranate sparkling water that I’d buy from the food shops at the train stations.) And for dessert we ate banoffee pie and goat milk ice cream.
The market’s a bit overpriced. So just go there with your camera and snack about at the various food stalls over a couple of hours. And if you’re really interested in discounted prices, go after 4 pm. Also, on Thursday afternoons, they usually have cooking demos that might be fun to catch.
I’m a huge fan of community magazines, and Borough market releases one each season. It’s thoughtfully put together showcasing what’s new in the market, telling stories of the people behind the food, customer favourites, and recipes all of which come together with candid photos and exquisite paper. I’ve especially instructed my cousin to pick one up for me for when I won’t be in London. With another trip next month, I’ll be only to happy to add the autumn 2011 edition to my tiny, but growing collection.
Because we were leaving for The Lake District soon after, I couldn’t buy too much produce to cook with. But I did buy a big block of unpasteurised fleur de sel butter and a dense loaf of walnut sourdough. Toasted bread and a smear of this butter – heaven.
But did it beat La Boqueria? Not quite.Borough Market
Borough High Street, Borough, London SE1 9DE.