As a Borough Market Virgin, I did not know what to expect from London’s most famous market. As an ex market trader myself I am fully aware of what goes on at a market but I was very interested to find out what made Borough so famous. Early in January a friend, Lezanne (author of Jellybird) and I went along to find out.
The objective of my trip was to buy lunch from one of the hot food vendors, buy my dinner from as many different stalls as possible and to just absorb the atmosphere as I wandered through the market and chatted to some of the traders.
Despite the cold January day the market was buzzing. We did arrive at just after 13:00 which seemed to be the rush hour for the hot food vendors as their queues snaked round the back of their stands and joined each other. Lezanne opted for a dish from a Thai noodle bar which we could smell as soon as we approached the market, whereas I opted for something a little more local. Sadly my patience was not that of Lezanne’s so gave up and requested an extra fork for her noodles.
There was limited space to sit while we enjoyed our lunch so we ate as we walked, this did not take way from the deliciousness of our food but instead gave us the opportunity to do a quick walk round to see what was what and who was who.
After lunch, still with an appetite, we started the tasting and buying round, the best bit. I had already got in my head that I wanted cheese, bread, olives, tapenade, wine, cured meats and more cheese (I love good cheese) none of these things were hard to find and the quality was second to none.
As this is my first blog I was a little forgetful when it came to taking photos, interviewing the stallholders and making notes as to the names of the different businesses.
First off was baklava, I haven't got a sweet tooth so have seldom eaten Baklava, but Lezanne on the other hand loves the stuff and did not hesitate to get stuck in. The Borough Nuts salesman was very willing to offer us samples of everything, and I’ll bet he’s glad he did as we soon racked up £30 worth of Baklava in under a minute. I’ve not got a clue what the going rate for baklava is but it seemed a lot to me, nontheless it was delicious. Moving on was cheese shop number 1 (of 3, like I said, I love good cheese) Bianca e Mora. This was a rather simple transaction, we approached, they gave us a sample, we taste, we like, we bought… Off to cheese shop no. 2, Jumi cheese, again we were offered a sample and it would have been rude to say no. We tried a cheese mixed with truffle cream and it was delicious. Budgeting goes out the window when it comes to truffles so I can’t remember what we paid but what ever it was, it was worth it. I just wish we'd bought more.
You can tell our supper was a minimal effort affair with an antipasti theme going on, and no antipasti is complete without olives (and wine of course, but I’ll get to that). Borough Olives was our answer, a huge range of olives, pestos, tapenade, dolmades, feta cheese and sun dried tomatoes and again, the staff were more than willing to offer samples of everything. Again, it would have been rude not to.
As promised, onto the wine. I had done some research on the Borough Market website before my visit and had found that the Cartwright Brothers stocked English wine. I’m a big advocate of shopping local where possible so we introduced ourselves to Toby who duly gave us a sample of a delicious SA white (shamefully I forget the grape) of which we bought a bottle and then picked up a bottle of Dedham Vale's Bacchus, which is an English wine I was yet to try. Last but by no means least we picked up a loaf of Borough Brown from Karaway Bakery to complete our meal. We then headed off to a nearby bar for a (much needed) sit down and a glass of wine, or a G&T or beer, I can’t remember but let’s be honest, who cares… it was what the doctor ordered.
All in all I would definitely recommend a trip to Borough market, like with all markets you should arrive with a full wallet and an empty stomach, go for lunch, pick up your dinner or even do the weekly shop, Just go.