It’s official, my mission to visit all of the food markets that London has to offer is most definitely on. As I’ve been spending the last week in London I thought I would finally get around to visiting the first on my list: Borough Market (website). I vaguely remember visiting Kings Road Saturday food market around 4 years ago, but can’t say I took too much notice of what it had to offer, as I was a bit too preoccupied with retail therapy that weekend… (I won’t complain about another excuse to visit though!)
The only other food market that I’ve visited to date is the Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid, Spain. This I visited 2 years ago on a trip around Northern Spain and I was blown away by all my different senses being awakened in one space. I loved the way the Spanish natives and tourists were all interacting and enjoying all this freshly made food in the lunchtime sun and wish the English weather would allow for more of this over here!
Borough Market is open Monday – Saturday, but Mon-Weds it runs a shorter day (10am – 3pm) and the majority of stalls that are open on these days are lunchtime stalls (perfect for lunch on the go at reasonable prices: £3.50 – £7.00). Visiting on a tuesday (and dragging my boyfriend along with me) meant I missed quite a few of the specialist stalls but the stalls that were open were top notch, and the smells and sights that met us were a foodies heaven!
We got to the market at half 11, so it wasn’t as busy as I’d imagine it would be on a weekend (this will be confirmed in mid-July, as I will be visiting again for a full lunch when I’m back in London) but the footfall was still steady enough! Whilst wandering through the market, I managed to grab a few samples from some of the stalls listed below (RESULT) and having to exercise a massive amount of self-control was something I found a bit tricky. I did manage to stick to this and try only tasters from the following stalls, NOT whole meals though (I’m saving that for next time)…
La Tua Pasta: I tried a spinach and ricotta tortellini in a light basil oil which was absolutely delicious. The pasta was made fresh that day and you could definitely tell: it’s so much tastier than dried pasta. Unfortunately my student budget didn’t allow me to buy any of the pastas that were on offer, but they were otherwise reasonably priced and was an exciting range of pastas on offer (beetroot gnocchi caught my eye) and I’ll definitely be buying some in the future.
Whirld: The fudges that were on offer on this stall were amazing, from classic rum and raison to a more contemporary strawberry and white chocolate, if you can think of a flavour, I can bet that they’ve got it. Caramel nougat was something else that caught my eye, and is definitely something I will be trying out in the kitchen in the near future, once I’ve got my hands on a sugar thermometer! I tried the classic vanilla fudge which, although being slightly too crumbly for my taste was gorgeous in a small amount. I definitely think this fudge would be sickly in larger amounts, but that may well be just my taste so don’t let it put you off.
Artisan Foods: This stall was quite similar to Comptoir Gourmand, and again I tried a chocolate fudge brownie. This stall was very reasonably priced, £1.80 for a slab of the brownie compared to £3.00 from CG and to be honest, both my boyfriend and me preferred the brownie from this stall. There were chunks of chocolate in the perfectly squidgy brownie which made the texture really enjoyable and the portion size, well, who could complain about that!
Land With a Soul: Some delicious looking cheeses, hams, vinegars and oils were on offer here, and of these, I sampled an ‘Apple Balsamic Vinegar’, a ‘Classic Balsamic Vinegar’ and a ‘Parmigiano Reggiano’. The classic balsamic vinegar was really delicious and tangy, not too sweet or sour and I’m not embarrassed to say I went back for a second sample! The apple balsamic vinegar was too sweet for my taste but there was no denying the apple flavour really came through and the product was of a very high standard. Again, the Parmigiano Reggiano was a very enjoyable product and was just strong enough without being overpowering. I’m really excited to visit this stall again to see what else will be on offer!
Comptoir Gourmand: The pastries and cakes on offer at the stall look absolutely beautiful and I don’t actually think I’ve ever seen meringues as big as these in my life! The only thing that put me off this stall was that the prices were so much higher than some of its competitor stalls in the same area. I tried a chocolate brownie which was again very tasty but was lacking in the texture test and in my opinion, it was a bit too cakey and dry for a brownie.
Furness Food Hut: WOW. The food on offer here was cooked fresh, right in front of you in ginormous pans, which definitely added to the appeal of the food that was already built up from the aromas wafting from the stall. I tried some of the traditional Spanish paella and a little of the Vietnamese Chicken Curry and I really think these are both dishes that should be tried by anyone visiting the market. I’m not a massive fan of spicy food and I’m fairly new to Vietnamese food so I was cautious when trying the curry but I definitely didn’t need to be. Yes there was a kick to it but it was by no means too spicy and there was a hint of coconut in the curry that complemented the other spices really well. I managed to get a chunk of chorizo in the paella I sampled, so I can’t complain at all really! I think it can be difficult to make sure paella isn’t too salty, and this dish didn’t disappoint here, overall a very tasty dish that balanced the competing flavours very well.
There were obviously numerous stalls and foods that I didn’t get to sample, but nevertheless I would so recommend this market to anyone that is looking for something to do whilst visiting London. The market is really easy to find, just opposite the exit to London Bridge Train/Underground station and even if you’re not a massive foodie, the area itself is really exciting and you can tell there’s a lot of history in the walls of the market and it’s a place to visit if only to look at the fantastic settings.
Greenwich, Portabello and Kings Road are the next three food markets on my list to visit but if anyone has any other suggestions please throw them my way, I’ll need something to do when I move down to the big smoke this September!