Sunday, 18 December 2011

Borough Market, London

I love going to markets when I'm overseas. The likes of Victoria market in Melbourne, and Borough Market in London. For some reason, these are nothing like the wet, smelly pasar that we have despite selling fresh produce, meat and seafood too.  One of my favourite markets is Borough Market and I make it a point to visit it whenever I'm in London.  It's a foodies food market haven with stalls selling almost artisanal products.  I say almost artisanal, because Borough Market has becomed more commercialised, having jumped on the toursit trail with throngs of camera totting tourists descending on it on Saturday mornings. Okay, shouldn't comment so much on that since I'm part of the throng.

When it comes to cooked food, the variety is mind-boggling.  Stalls selling Spanish, Middle eastern, vegetarian, English, German, Turkish cuisines - heck I even spotted Malaysian chicken curry in a previous visit!  This time it was Thai green curry.  Grills are popular here - burgers with exotic meats, sausages, kebabs...

Then there are all the stalls selling cheese, cheese and more cheese, breads, cakes, spices, sweets, deli meats and fat juicy sausages, salamis and large joints of ham.

Not forgetting what's a market if it doesn't have fresh fruits, vegetables, the butchers and fishmongers?  The buzz is really something else and the onslaught of colours and smell can bring about a sensory overload.

clockwise from top left - giant scallops, a butcher, a fishmonger, kangaroo meat patties

Some of my favourites ...
A must-stop each visit is Cafe Brood for the paella.  Humongous pans filled with steaming paella, piping hot stew, chorizo sizzling on the griddle greet you at the entrance.  There's a choice of plain paella, or upsized with chorizos or prawns.  The stew looked great, but after chowing down a paella, it's tough to order a stew unless you have a stomach of steel.  With Southwark Cathedral next door, you may hear church bells ringing and organ recitals while you eat.

Brindisa is a Spanish grocer next to Ginger Pig.  This is where you can stock up on spices, spanish sausages, and serrano and Iberican hams.  The hams are priced according to their age - like wine, the aged ones will cost more.  My favourite chorizo supply comes from here - semi air-cured picante chorizo.

I couldn't find the Flour Power stall that sells the brownie slices anymore.  They must have moved out.  But I did find an equally good brownie here at the Bread Ahead Bakery.  If you head down towards the late afternoon, you'll find the bakery stalls discounting their products to clear.

meringues, cakes and brownies from cake stalls

Our shopping haul from the market:
1.  air-dried pork fillet
2.  3 types of sausages - lamb, venison, wild boar
3.  2 types of cheese - Croation manchego, Italian parmigiano-reggano
4.  1 pork pie
5.  1 lamb sausage roll
6.  brownies
7.  fresh produce - asparagus spears, raspberries, assorted capsicums
Mind you, these were on top of what we had stuffed our faces with at the market - coffee & croissants, paella, soup, grilled sausages.  Suffice to say, it was a very satisfying day out at the market.  Who would have thought a market would be this fun?

Take the Undergound and get off at London Bridge.  There are directional signs to Borough Market.
Avoid Saturdays if you want to browse peacefully and avoid the inevitable queues.
Most traders are happy to let you sample before you purchase - just ask them.
There are restaurants around the market if you want to sit down and get a cuppa - but they will be crowded.
Bring a shopping bag for your goodies and happy shopping :)

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