Saturday at the Borough Market, London
Borough market is not old. It is ancient. It sprung up near London bridge which was then the main entrance into the city of London as far back in the 12th century. This was the image and perception I had in mind when I set off on a sunny Saturday to join the hordes in sampling the market’s delights. I half expected men in bowler hats or perhaps something a bit more medieval (no not really!) with traditionally English fresh produce and cuisine to tuck into.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Borough market has changed. It was the market to go to for independent retailers in London. The customers are now less indigenous. They are now far more likely to be tourists with cameras (not shopping bags) who may indulge in the street food section, cafes and bars, but less likely to buy produce to take home to cook. In some ways the market is a victim of its own success – great marketing and excellent quality produce. This is after all a market that has its own panel of judges whose job it is to make sure everything is ethically sourced and the food tastes good. That success has pushed Borough market from a mass market for the average Londoner to high end, frequented by famous chefs and the wealthy, alongside tourists.
As I walked around the various sections of the market, one thing stood out. Borough market stood for something and that something revolved around – local, sustainable, high quality and handmade. As a foodie, this was heaven on earth. The various smells assaulted my nostrills and the wide eyed tourists and the few locals around were just as fascinated as they burst into a mixture of excitement and curiosity.
There were fruit, vegetables, mushrooms, game birds and cheese I had never heard of or tasted. It felt as though the traders had two jobs. One was to, as cockneys will put it, “get the takings in” and the other was to inform cum educate. This was a food museum of sorts. It was crowded of course but I expected that given this was a Saturday.
The street food section was my first port of call. Admittedly, I had to abort my mission as it was simply to crowded and too many body parts were getting in the way of my camera. I did, however, return after 4 pm when it had quietened down a bit. There were various cuisines on offer from Indian, European to tasty American type burgers.
Bakery and Confectionery
This is the section where i’d have to re-name as “I am glad I left my girlfriend home”. For once, I was able to walk majestically past a red velvet cup cake without the usual shriek of delusional excitement next to me. There was a mountain (well ok at least a hill then) of olive cheese sticks that stopped me in my tracks. As I stood and stared at this culinary work of art, almost everyone else who walked past seemed to have the same wry smile and curios look at the arrangement. To say it was selling like hot cakes would have been an understatement.
If you are a cheese connoisseur then head to Borough market when you in London. The cheese, mostly made from centuries-old traditional techniques and matured to excellency come from expert cheesemakers all over the United Kingdom and Europe.
Olives and Cured meat (Charcuterie)
Borough market must have some of the finest charcuterie of any British market. Flavourful bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, ballotines, pâtés and confit are just some of what can be found in the market.
Finely displayed olives are also a major feature on the market.
Bars, Cafe and Restaurants
Places like the Borough market are special not entirely blouse of the fresh produce and food but also because of they have become iconic places to socialise. That explains the plethora of bars, cafes and restaurants in close proximity to “traditional” Borough.
Fruit and vegetables, mushrooms and other produce.
I stumbled upon what I thought was a pretty creative and colourful umbrella installation as I wondered around off Park street on the edge of Borough market. The canopy of umbrellas is somewhat tucked away in the compound of a pub/restaurant. This is worth checking out.
Notable Stalls, Cafes and Restaurants
There are numerous stalls in Borough market. I must have visited each with a keen eye on what was on offer during the three or so hours I spent in the market. Some of the most established and often written and talked about include the following:
Speciality store for hot sausage baps and gourmet burgers
10am-6pm Thur, Fri; 9am-4pm Sat
Offers a range of Spanish food such as Spanish cheese, chorizo and hand-carved serrano and Iberico hams.
Noon-2pm Tue, Wed, Thur; 11.30am-4pm Fri, Sat
Offers specialty foodstuffs such as cured meat, matured and soft cheese, pasta, preserves and rice. Gastronomica has a reputation for being known as the home of Borough market’s gastro-tourists.
9am-5pm Tue- Sat
Fresh pasta is what La tua Pasta is known for. Few can compete with it.
Mon-Thurs 10:00-17:00 Fri 10:00-18:00
Fruit and Veg
Offers the finest quality British produce such as cherries, raspberries and strawberries.
* Thursday 11-5
* Friday 11-6
* Saturday 9-5:30
Their flagship shop is stocked with farm fresh delicious seasonal & organic produce delivered daily from their farm along with a full range of farm pressed and freshly pressed juices.
Opening times: 8am – 6pm Monday – Saturday
Named after the Italian word for a woodland in which truffles are found, Tartufaia Truffles brings the famous and highly sought-after fresh truffles of Acqualagna from Italy to the Borough market much to the delight of truffle connoiseurs.
Baking and Confectionery
Bread Ahead Baking School sell bread fresh from their ovens close to the market. Other offerings include cheese and olive sticks and ciabatta.
Monday: 8:00am-5:00pm – The Green Market
Tuesday: 8:00am-5:00pm – The Green Market
Wednesday: 8:00am-5:00pm – Three Crown Square
Thursday: 8:00am-5:00pm – Three Crown Square
Friday: 8:00am-6:00pm – Three Crown Square
Saturday: 8:00am-5:00pm – Three Crown Square
Whirld is an interesting artisan confectionery company that sells a range of delicious artisan sweets, all handmade to traditional recipes using natural ingredients such as unrefined golden Fair trade sugar, cream and butter.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday
Burnt Sugar make sweets that capture the naturally indulgent taste of caramel. Making a mean fudge is what they do best.
This award winning company is known for its soft Cheese made with old fashioned manual methods which is reputed to give the cheese more flavour.
Game meat, fish and other sea food
Smoked fish and meats, poultry, game, stuffed poultry and game and Morecambe Bay potted shrimps are just some of the game, fish and seafood this stall is known for.
House of Sverre is a traditional Nordic Smokehouse in London that specialises in producing luxury, handcrafted, sustainable, cold smoked salmon.
Cafes, restaurants and bars