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The first time I went to Borough Market I was dragged there under duress by the Boyf. We'd been along to the Summer Festival on London Bridge and then he said he was going to show me a market that I'd like, I was apprehensive but within minutes of arriving I was marveling at the sites and smells of all the amazing produce on sale. Since then I've been back numerous times on a Thursday and Friday lunchtime to stock up on various goodies. Of course, I can't possibly list everything there - it's seriously extensive - but trust me, if you like food and drink then you'll love Borough Market and all its nooks and crannies.
~ Location ~
London Bridge Station is the closest, not even one minute walk away so don't go getting off at Borough Station which is seriously misleading!
Once you leave L.B. Station, you will be on Southwark Street - look out for the huge archway which says Borough Market, or failing that, follow the crowd.
There is a TSB near the market aswell as an Abbey National a little bit down the road as most stalls prefer cash.
~ Opening Hours ~
The market is actually open 6 days a week, however, it is only open to the general public on Thursdays 11-5, Fridays 12-6 and Saturdays 9-4. The rest of the time it is open to the catering trade so unless you want to buy a pallet of tomatoes and a sack of spuds, best go during the above times. Thursday only half the market is set out and it's a little quieter, Fridays can be quite busy depending on the time you get there and Saturdays are absolutely manic as you get a lot of tourists to contend with. Friday is when you'll often see a lot of photographers and sometimes the odd TV crew there too (Heston Blumenthal had a lot of Borough Market film in his 'In search of Perfection' series), I dread to think how many times I could have appeared in the background of some TV programme, rushing about in my lunch hour!
~ Food and Drink ~
I'm not going to list everything, that'd make for the dullest review ever; instead I'm going to tell you a few of my favorite places in and outside the Market.
Utobeer - The Boyf loves his beers and this place knocks spots off supermarkets. Recommended by Boyf are Nostradamus (9.5%) and Kasteel Brun (11%). Be warned, some beers can be quite violent, we've had 3 bottles erupt Vesuvius-style when being opened. A bottle of Nostradamus and Kasteel will set you back £4.90. None of the beers and ales are priced on the shelf so you can end up spending a small fortune if not careful and have a very loud "How much?!" moment at the til. The staff are really helpful so
if there's something weird and wonderful you tried on holiday, they may be able to get some more for you. You can also order on-line at www.utobeer.co.uk
Artisan de Gustibus - Does a range of wonderful bread, I recommend the German Bavarian Rye, lasts for ages, is softer and tastier than the pre-packaged plasticy rye breads in supermarkets. As well as a stall in the market they have a shop outside which also sells cakes and savories but they have very low wattage light bulbs and a heavy dark wooden door which is always closed so it always looks like its shut. http://www.degustibus.co.uk
Monmouth Coffee Company - Creamy delicious Cappuccinos for £2, also selling lattes, espressos, filter coffee, etc but none of that coffee shop "mocha-choca-skinny-latte-with-whipped-cream-and-syrup" malarkey. A stall inside the market and a big shop outside, the shop sells cakes and pastries and you can sit down and have your drink here if you wish. The shop is always busy but like the stall, service is always fast. Both the shop and the stall sell fresh coffee beans for you take away with you but I bet it doesn't taste as good at home as it does out of the little white paper cups. www.monmouthcoffee.co.uk
Turnips - fruit, veg, eggs, herbs, spices and salts, the only problem being that not everything is priced and several things don't have name tags. You take a basket at the entrance and wind your way through the area. Can be quite slow moving at times as they have some weird and wonderful veg that people have absolutely no intention of buying, they just get in the way looking at it with confusion and if I have to say to someone what a Mooli is one more time… (it's a big white radish, I peel it and then grate it or chop it into salads).
~ For meat lovers ~
Mrs. Kings Pies - Meaty sausage rolls, £1.80, hot or cold. They also do various pork and meat pies but I've never tried these as I go next door to …
The Wild Boar - where I sometimes buy half an apple topped pork pie for £3 (whole for £6). A meaty (no-boingy bits and only a small amount of the gelatin) pork pie topped with a slightly caramelized sticky chunky diced apple topping, think chunky slightly spiced apple sauce. The meat is coarsely chopped, the pastry crispy and non-greasy and so tasty you'll cut one slice then go back for another. The only icky thing is I went in there once and they had a wild boar head on the slab which made me swear quite violently when I turned round and saw it staring at me all glassy-eyed. You can also buy bacon, pate, black pudding, cheese, sausages and eggs here.
Westcountry Venison - vacuum packaged venison steaks and loin of venison at prices starting from the £2.70 mark for a decent sized steak. If you like steak, you'll love the taste of venison, far leaner and far tastier but serve medium rare as [I find] it tastes better that way. If you're uncertain of whether you'll actually like it, there is a stall next door selling venison in a roll, it smells delicious and there's always lots of people ordering them.
Gamston Wood Ostriches - Here you can buy ostrich meatballs, burgers, grill steaks, actual steaks and mince. Again, be brave and try it, it's very nice and like venison is far leaner than beef. They'll offer advice on how to cook any of the items, for the burgers, as they are so lean you need to fry them in a little oil or they'll dry out but I've had no problems, I just brush on a smidge of oil, pop them under a low grill and keep an eye on them.
~ Cakes and Chocolates ~
Dark Sugars - very tasty chocolates with weird and wonderful flavours. I love the cherry but they also have tobacco infused nuggets of plain chocolate (never been tempted to try that one!) and they sell chunks of plain chocolate for cooking with too. You can serve yourself with the little tongs but it's very easy to get carried away as about 10 chocolates come to a scary £6. www.darksugars.co.uk
Cranberry - I absolutely detest Turkish Delight with a vengeance - it's floral scented, powdery wibblyness sets my stomach lurching but this stall sells not only dried fruits, nuts and chocolates and fabulous syrupy Baklawa but simply the best Turkish Delight ever in so many different flavours - coconut, lemon, chocolate, pistachio, orange, strawberry and no doubt many more I can't recall. I bought some for the Boyf as he's a fan, he snorted the whole bag full in under 30 minutes but the two pieces I prized from his sticky grasp were divine.
A stall inside the market, near Monmouth Coffee has very lovely cheesecakes although sometimes the biscuit base can be a little syrupy and they don't lend themselves well to the commute back home, the blueberry one does slide apart the most. I recommend the toffee pecan topped, ask for it in a box and with a fork and eat straight away! They will put cheesecake slices on a paper plate to eat straight away but they are so flimsy I've lost count of the people I've seen with cheesecake decorated footwear.
Konditor and Cook - actually outside the market area, next door to the larger Monmouth Coffee Co. Despite initial appearances I can recommend the savory Spinach Muffins, once you get past their bright green interior
Pictures of Borough Market, London
And this is a Mooli.
you'll find they are surprisingly tasty. Their Boston Brownies - chocolate brownies with juicy cranberries - are very good, so good you'll wish you'd bought two. www.konditorandcook.com
There are a few pubs and various eating establishments outside the market, including the raved about Shipps Tea Rooms, Roast and Hobbs. For those of you with health in mind, there is a wheatgrass bar called Total Organics where you can buy "shots". I'm tempted to give it a whirl after reading that one small shot contains not just a whole weeks worth of green veg, but is also 100% organic, boosts energy and oxygen levels, is a natural antiseptic, aids healing, improves digestion, reduces blood pressure and contains over the daily allowance of calcium, iron and vitamin C but the pictures of the shots - a lurid green with a murky froth on top - have put me off a little. I should be brave and think of my innards! During the Summer months the stall near Total's sells delicious ice creams and is the only type I can eat without having a major coughing fit. During the colder months they sell a hot apple drink which isn't anywhere near as popular. Tucked in the same street that Shipps is in is Neal's Yard Diaries plus "The German Deli" (re-opens 10th January), I plan to buy a pack of Domino Steine which are small squares of dense gingerbread, a thin layer of apricot jam then marzipan all covered in plain chocolate - naughty but nice!
Quite often there'll be stallholders walking around with plates of their goodies in the hope that you'll try a free sample and then go and buy a bag / jar, etc and many of the cheese, oil and meat stalls have small dishes on the counter with bite sized pieces for you to try (for the oils there are bowls with small chunks of bread to dip) and all stall holders are really friendly answering any questions you may have on their produce, e.g. how to cook it, what goes best with it, and so on.
During December the Market takes on a slightly more festive air and for December just gone, the air was filled with the smell of mulled wine, hot spiced apple juice, roasting meats and choirs singing carols.
Of course, the above list isn't extensive, there are far more food places ranging from German sausages, to French cakes, Swiss cheeses, pasta, teas, fish and game (but be careful when eating game as there will be the odd bit of shot that evades the butchers tweezers!). Well worth a visit if you are nearby or love to whip up a culinary storm or even if you have a very fussy eater in the family they could not fail to be tempted by the sights, sounds and aromas. Go there with a shopping bag and an open mind then as the song says "get out in that kitchen and rattle them pots and pans!" as after going down the Borough to get home and order a take-away would be a sin.
Super stuff. Given you've got me off chasing jam, I thought I'd best give this review a butchers - and boyoboy am I glad I did! You're too modest - you should have pointed me here when I asked about the jim jam. 8^)
tune57 15.12.2008 21:24
Excellent stuff, this is one of the places I want to visit when in London along with the Farmers Market at Hammersmith, wouldn't say no to visiting Spitalfields Farmers Market either