I have recently moved down to North London from Newcastle, and whilst here I am most keen to sample as many of the local restaurants and food markets as possible. One of the places I had heard of – even before my move – was Borough Market, which is located in Central London next to London Bridge Tube station.
Borough Market can trace its history back to the 11th Century, and is really quite big, and the layout is generally; the fresh produce around the outside, then the cheese mongers and charcuteries inside, and then the butchers and fishmongers grouped in the centre. The street food vendors are mixed in with all the other stallholders, but there is a larger group of them on the outside. It's from one of those vendors, Scotchtails, that I bought homemade scotch egg (Some scotch egg recipes here) and sweet potato fries on a bed of rocket for a very reasonable £6.80 or ~$10. Although the fries were seasoned far too much for my taste, the scotch egg itself had a runny yolk and just the right amount of pork around it.
The produce displays created by the greengrocers were stunning, they helped give the whole place a more continental or upmarket feel than many markets I have been to - including other well-known foodie markets. Although it's worth noting that I didn't notice any pretentiousness around the place! The greengrocers had stacks of mushroom varieties, heaps of shining apples, and huge piles of colourful tomatoes and peppers – all of which looked infinitely more appealing than stacks of boxes you see lying around at most markets!
The atmosphere was friendly, and for the most part the stallholders were chatty too. Although I was there at noon on a Saturday, it was busy, but not too busy.
Amongst the many memorable sights was the fresh rabbit, duck, and pheasants hanging above the Furnish Fish & Game shop which proved especially popular with photographers, for the less experienced cook – or the squeamish – they also offered fresh plucked/processed meats too.
There was a vast number of cheesemongers, and I tried so many types of cheese that some became quite forgettable, but one cheese I can thoroughly recommend was the Belper Knolle from Jumi Cheese. Belper Knolle is a raw cow’s milk cheese made from the milk of the Simmental cow, it looked like a hard, round ball of cheese about the size of a garlic bulb, and the strong, rich taste would go well grated over pasta – much like a truffle would. The Belper Knolle was priced at £8.90 and would probably last a few months.
My primary intention was to scout for future cooking ingredients and grab a quick bite to eat, so I didn't buy any fresh produce or meats, although I did however leave with a custard fruit. I hadn't seen one before and at his insistence Tommy from Teds Veg gave me one to try, and I eagerly await – and with genuine intrigue – how it will taste after it has ripened for a couple of days. I must say that the Teds Veg stall looked amazing, especially the stack of purple sprouting brocolli, and their stall features heavily in my photo roundup.
Other highlights included the charcuterie cones from Brindisa, and the array of fresh (or cooked and ready to eat) pasta from La Tua pasta - which I will certainly be returning to try some of. I think the street food area could be improved with a bit more thought put into how people could queue to buy the food though, as it's no fun trying to eat and shuffle past people!
Overall the time spent at Borough Market was a very enjoyable coupel of hours, and I found the pricing generally inline with expectations – a bit more than supermarkets – but then again the quality and the whole experience is so much better, so I will defintely be a regular visitor!