If you follow us on Instagram (and if you don't, you really should), you would know that one of us is currently spending some time in the spectacular City of London, a city which many of you are likely quite familiar with. London is a popular stop for Bermuda residents for school, work or vacations, and we thought it would be fun to showcase some of the foodie finds around a city that truly encompasses cultures and cuisines from all over the world. Seriously...London has it all. Feel a hankering for Malaysian food? Done. Craving a curry? There's a whole street for that. Want a cronut? Yup, those have made it across the pond as well (they are everywhere). Whatever you fancy, London can deliver. So when what you fancy is a good old-fashioned food market, London has that more than covered too, with the wonderfully historic Borough Market.
When we say historic, we mean it. Located near the southern end of London Bridge, Borough Market has welcomed farmers, butchers and bakers to sell their goods since 1014. Yup, Borough Market has seen 1001 years of market days, in basically the same location (though the current buildings date back to the 1800's). And now, in 2015, it is one of the top destinations for visitors to the city, while still being a standard weekend stop for many Londoners as well.
Borough Market truly offers a bit of everything. A wander through the fresh produce area makes it difficult not to leave with bags filled with fresh greens and in-season vegetables (notables on this visit were huge leeks, artichokes and the sweetest cherry tomatoes imaginable). Everything from the standard potatoes and carrots to more exotic varieties of roots and greens were on display, luring you in with their colours and freshness. If it wasn't for the fact that the market was the first stop of the day, some serious produce over-buying would have taken place.
Many vendors focused on specific types of produce, like the table pictured above, which was all about mushrooms. Fancy ones. And arranged so nicely in their little baskets with rosemary sprigs that it was quite sad to leave them behind, even with absolutely no idea of what to do with mushrooms this fancy, except stare at them and admire their mushroom...ness? Whatever. They stayed behind, but the scent of that rosemary and the truffle oil that was being sold behind them was truly intoxicating.
Speaking of intoxicating scents and truffles...have you ever smelled a fresh truffle? Truffles aren't everyone's cup of tea (kind of like cilantro...they are either adored or despised), but it was impossible to resist leaning in to smell the earthy aroma emanating from these little guys, freshly dug out of the ground. There were a few varieties available, but the black truffles seem to have the strongest flavour and aroma, while the lighter coloured (white) truffles are a lighter flavour.
Moving on to our favourite part of this tour...Borough Market is full of cheese. Goat's milk, sheep's milk, cow's milk...ALL OF THE CHEESE. And you can sample it! Actually, you can sample basically everything at the market. The vendors are more than happy to share a taste with you of whatever they're selling, and tell you all about it. There was more than one stop at a cheese stall to listen to the origin of the cheeses, descriptions of the areas were they were created and the process itself. But good luck picking one out to take home. After sampling everything from basic British Cheddar, to the "best blue cheese in Britain", to cheeses from France, Holland and Switzerland...it was next to impossible to choose.
There is a lot of cheese at Borough Market and it is all delicious. That's basically what you need to know.
Besides the produce and cheese, there are a lot of independent stalls selling specific speciality ingredients, such as local honey, jams and jellies, breads...you name it. The back of the market was where you could find your fish, meat and poultry, but those don't make for the loveliest of photos, so let's head over to the food stalls, where you can graze the afternoon away with all kinds of treats, snacks and cooked-to-order specialties.
Anyone recognise this?
Yeah...we're still stuck on cheese.
That, friends, is raclette, brought to us by those ingenious Swiss (great watches AND great cheese). Raclette is the name of the cheese and also the dish made from it, where the cheese is heated in this contraption (or over a fire, if you feel like getting rustic) until it melts and the melted part is scraped off and typically mounded onto bread or potatoes, as they were serving it here (you can see a fresh basket of steamed new potatoes in the background). This smelled incredible and drew a huge crowd - both to taste the raclette, but also to view the spectacle itself. Because who doesn't like a mound of melted cheese?
After that experience, the craving for a snack had set in...but with the raclette line looking like a seriously long wait, something else would have to do. A wander through the stalls just confused matters more, with each offering looking more appetising than the last. Vietnamese noodles? Maybe. Greek food? Maybe. Good old fashioned British meat pie? Hmmm...what to choose?
These vegetable gyoza looked like the perfect size for a snack and enough people were spotted munching away on them at the market to infer that they had to be pretty good. They did not disappoint. Gyoza, also known as pot stickers, are dumplings made from ground meat and/or veggies and wrapped in a thin dough, and then either steamed or fried in a hot pan. These ones were topped with a bit of soy sauce and chili sauce (obviously) and enjoyed in a quieter part of the market, while people-watching and just generally enjoying the atmosphere.
After successfully demolishing the gyoza, it was time for something sweet.
A gargantuan chocolate-chip cookie, perhaps?
Or perhaps a fluffy meringue?
The winner ended up being a tarte au citron, second from the left in the above pic. Made with perfectly tangy lemon curd and a light crust that wasn't too sweet, this was the perfect end to a wonderful morning at the market (and so delicious that there will be more than one repeat visit).
Planning to visit London soon and interested in checking out Borough Market for yourself? Visit their website for hours and location, but it's easy to find...just make your way to London Bridge Tube Station and you're there (signs inside the station point you to the exit to use and the entrance to the Market will greet you when you reach street level). Closed Sundays but open for lunch during the week, with market hours towards the end of the week. Saturdays are, by far, their busiest days so if you go then, prepare to use your elbows! Amazing people-watching, and lots of great little bars and watering holes on the surrounding streets if you want to make a day of it.
Yeah, we're signing off with more cheese. #sorrynotsorry