Don’t you just love food markets – for me, these are my art galleries. If you live, as I do, for the pleasures of the treasures found within you just can’t help it. These are the places I go to have my senses aroused; to be seduced by colour, texture, shape, size and (in these galleries) aroma; places that display an infinite variety of natural ingredients that – although already masterpieces of nature – also promise many, as yet unfinished, culinary masterpieces.
So, needless to say, a few weeks back when I was staying with my daughter in London, I paid homage at the “Tate” of English food markets – Borough Markets.
Once there I like to wander slowly, making my way to Monmouth Coffee Company for one of their fabulous coffees. It’s always packed but if you can manage to snaffle a seat at the large communal table, it’s a great place to people watch – otherwise just lean against the bench and indulge.
Neal’s Yard Dairy is next up, for beautiful English cheeses – one of my favourites being Wigmore – and then onto Ginger Pig. I have to buy something there even if it is only a Scotch egg or a duck breast. I love Turnips for fruit and vegetables. Just recently I bought the most beautiful tiny Italian tomatoes there. The perfume and taste was irresistible, in fact, so much so, they never made it to the dinner table, my daughter and I scoffed them at the kitchen sink.
I also love great charcuterie, and on my last visit discovered British charcuterie specialists Cannon and Cannon. This company’s mission is to promote a small but growing stable of British meat curers. Well, having bought some saucisson, chorizo and salami, all sourced from locations like Dorset and Suffolk, I can say without fear of contradiction absolutely bloody fabulous!
Two of the many incredible aromas you’ll experience are that of mulled wine and cider. So after I’ve made all my purchases, and with those wonderful winter aromas still lingering – I need feeding. Maybe a salt beef sandwich with a dill pickle? Or Raclette with boiled potatoes and cornichons, Paella? It’s all there.
Sometimes I just buy an Eccles cake, perfect for a cold winters day.
There’s something else though. To me markets are not only about buying fresh and seasonal produce, but also about getting to know the people selling it. And the vendors at Borough Markets are the best. After a few visits you build up great relationships and they look out for you often giving you little tastes of a new product to take home to try, a different cut of meat, a few extra apples maybe, some cheese.
Even if you aren’t a foodie like me, I think everyone would enjoy this market. The camaraderie of the vendors, the enthusiastic shoppers, the delightful smells, and visually delicious produce – it just gets me every time.