An Australian friend who has been living in London for the past two years decided that she wanted to be the first to introduce me to London’s famous Borough Markets. Located on Borough Street, under the southern end of London Bridge, you can find everything from fresh meat and seafood, fresh bread, fruit and vegetables, cheese, wine, everything sweet and street food from a wide range of cuisines.
I started on a mission to find some olives, and ended up purchasing a tub of lemon stuffed green olives, as well as some some more green olives stuffed with yellow chillies. Both had a great flavour, but I was particularly impressed by the chillies, as the chilli flavour was strong, but at the same time not overpoweringly spicy, and complemented the olive perfectly.
We then set to exploring the rest of the market and checked out some of the funky international street food, with the aromas and cooking methods of the Asian style stalls reminding me of all the great, authentic food I’ve eaten throughout Asia.
After we bought a 1/6 of a loaf of the best focaccia bread I have ever tasted! It was so moist, yet still with a fluffy centre. The crust was equally as good, but had a lot of olive oil which stained the paper bag, making it taste even better in my opinion.
The fruit and vegetable stalls were absolutely packed with fresh produce and is where we discovered the funky looking gooseberrie. Apparently not so strange here in England, we two Aussies had never seen these before. Shaped like a really firm grape, but the taste was pure sourness. I couldn’t eat them on their own, but after mentioning them to my flat mates they told me they are usually used in something like a pork dish as a substitute for apple (hoping to try this out soon, so stay tuned!) We were also amazed to discovered what a fresh almond looked like! It took me a while to actually try this one as I couldn’t figure out how to open it… After a few days of occasionally hitting it with the end of a knife, tearing at it with my fingernails, and cutting chunks out of it with a knife (I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing) I finally googled ‘how to open a fresh almond’ and found that it is cut open just like an avocado – around the seed and pulled apart. Once I had managed that I removed the seed from the flesh, and intrigued, bit into it. The outside of the shell was a little firm, but the inside was soft and squishy, comparable to a grape. Not tasting to much like a dried almond nut, it was a little tangy., though was good to try something new.
Pam had told me about an amazing french mushroom pâté she had tried last time she was at the markets, and had raved about it. Really talking it up I was expecting big things, and I was not disappointed! Amazing spread on it’s own on a piece of freshly baked bread, I also used it at home over the next week by spreading it on toast and making a breakfast sandwich of the mushroom pâté, baby spinach, grilled tomato, egg, cheese and grated chorizo (more on the chorizo later). Several other people have also mentioned to me since that is great mixed through a pasta. Basically it was like heaven in mushroom form…or so we thought until we stumbled upon a truffle pâté! Although I personally preferred the thicker consistency of the french mushrooms, the truffles were truffles, and therefore amazing!
Next was to find a cheese. After being caught taking a not-so-sneaky photo of a giant cheese wheel the vender convinced us to try a little – not that it took much convincing. It was great, just like everything else I had tried that day, though a little expensive, so we decided to keep looking. We tried some other nice cheese, including a great strong blue, but we ended up back at the original cheese wheel prepared to pay for the best cheese we had tasted that day. I’m more then willing to pay good money for something that good.
Last but not least it was time for maybe the most important component of our day of good food, never being complete without some unbelievable salami. We got talking to a young vender who definitely knew his stuff when it came to this meat. He introduced us to a thin black chorizo which was just as good as he promised, and we immediately decided to buy some. He explained that because it was so firm you could actually grate it, and is what he does over or into scrambled eggs for breakfast – which is how I had it with my breakfast sandwich the next morning, and he was completely right. Seeing as it was 3 for £10 we were determined to find two more which were just as wonderful. We asked if there was something we could try which was spicy and he produced an incredibly soft salami which could actually be spread. It was subtle at first, but the intensity of the chilli slowly built. After sampling a few more varieties of salami and chorizo, and listening to the all of the salami vendors advice and knowledge we decided on a veal and lemon salami and an incredible fennel and garlic saucission. *
So all in all I was very impressed London’s Borough Markets, as is every other Londoner, Brit and tourist who visits! Packed and spilling out doorways and onto the side streets, one can easily get lost in between the maze of stalls and piles of food, tasting your way around the samples, experiencing new and exciting flavours, and listening to everything the experts have to share. Open for lunch Monday to Wednesday, 10am-3pm, the full markets is open Thursday; 11am-5pm, Friday; 12pm-6pm and Saturday; 8am-5pm. I would recommend going on a Saturday, as it has a great atmosphere and things are in full swing by 10:00am, though it will be packed and full of tourists, just warning so you what you expect. Though the food is a little expensive, rightly so as it is so incredibly good and money very well. You don’t have to be a foodie to appreciate the high quality and flavours available to experience, you just need to enjoy food – I mean, who doesn’t like eating?
To learn a little bit more on what Borough Markets has to offer check out their website. I would also recommend that if you came across anything in particular which you were beyond impressed with, which I’m confident you will, then look into the vendors company information on the website to learn more, if possible purchase, and promote to your friends and family. I really believe in supporting small businesses so they continue to produce natural, real food which they are passionate about.
*No salami puns or euphemisms were intentional. I promise. It’s just really hard to write about salami and not make it sound dirty, okay.
I would just like to mention that I took a bunch of photos that day, however a few days later my phone was stolen so unfortunately I was limited in what I was able to include in this post. I guess I will just have to go back and take some more – as if the food wasn’t enough to go back already!