17 Jun The MAPPETITE MILE: BOROUGH MARKET
Any doubts on how a localvore will make do in cosmopolitan London will quickly disappear at the food extravaganza that is BOROUGH MARKET.
Along with a handful of restaurants and shops nestled under the archways of this centuries old market there’s an amazing array of food, that, depending on the season, makes for the trip to bountiful a stone’s throw away from the banks of the River Thames.
Yes, the internationalist can find produce from around the globe but with warm weather the market stalls are piled high with fruits and vegetables from the English countryside. Go ahead and partake in cured meats from Italy and Spain but save room in your cart for pork and beef cuts from Britain’s award winning heritage herds. In London you’re not too far from the seaside so don’t hesitate at Borough Market’s fishmongers for a bit of ultra fresh fish, be it a simple man’s plaice or the more glamorous diner’s Dover sole.
If the market is less about meal preparation and more about mealtime, you’re in luck. While you can have paella on your palate or nibble a bit of prosciutto and aged parmigiano, your inner-Brit will be satisfied with a slew of “Best of Britain” specialties like fish and chips, sausage rolls and meat pies along with plentiful bakes, cheeses and dairy products.
All this good food comes at a price, especially on Saturdays with midday crowd swells that can create an extremely competitive feed-me stadium-like squeeze. But, heck, that’s a small price to pay to satisfy a localvore’s dreams in the center of London Town.
Give yourself plenty of time to cover the cavernous market sections and nearby shops of BOROUGH MARKET. Our favorites are many, including: GRANA d ‘ORO (“Red Cows” make for amazing Parmigiano-Reggiano); MINI MAGOOS (“Granuesli” is organic snack as much as cereal); and, PATE MOI (organic mushrooms makes for a brilliant foie gras substitute). Fruits, vegetables, butchers provisions, fish, fowl, cured meats, pickles, olives and, even licorice – not your run of the mill glucose laden variety but rather curated selections from Italy and Northern Europe – are there in abundance. The food stalls and sampling goes on and on. Then there’s the bevy of artisanal bakers with their loaves, muffins and cakes piled high. Some are mediocre but others well crafted and worth the wait in line.
With all this food mealtime was long overdue. I passed on the gooey grill cheese stall and went for the sausage roll from THE GINGER PIG, the Marylebone butcher shop institution – now, talk about a great name. If it’s fish and chips you fancy then head to FISH! KITCHEN for a sit down dine or takeaway to the to-go counter and outdoor table. The “plat de fruits de mer” prominently featuring oysters is a cause célèbre at WRIGHT BROTHERS so be sure to reserve ahead for a table at this seafood house.
For traditional English plates ROAST is a destination though you’re not their for the predictable interiors but rather for solid comfort plates and a great market view. There’s also a more affordable and faster option at the restaurant’s sandwich stall at market level. If an English pie is on your mind, options abound from the traditional of MRS. KING’S to updated takes on classics at PIEMINISTER. For an Iberian culinary excursion stop at BRANDISA or get a sandwich to go from their CHORIZO GRILL.
Gosh, all this “fooding” can get you thirsty. I’ll take my fresh squeezed juice from TOTAL ORGANICS since the nearby stall in the open section of the market feels a bit too “processed” for my tastes. If it’s a coffee your after then head to MONMOUTH ROASTERS. Lines here can snake around the building so if your time is running short then sidle into to THE RABOT ESTATE CHOCOLATE SHOP for a cacao edged bite along with a darn good espresso – but, gosh, that was quite the food excursion, better make mine a double to-go.
Food, food, food and more food. Whatever you fancy you’re likely to find it under the rooftop of BOROUGH MARKET but don’t stop there. Take a stroll down Park Street to NEAL’S YARD DAIRY where cheese, in all its glorious stages of aging (aka affinage) is as much cheese as it is art installation. A few doors down a minimalist statement in apothecary design is made with bottles of lotions and soaps at the beautifully styled shop AESOP and at PAUL SMITH a curated collection of accessories, gifts and apparel are set within a charmed storybook corner of the street.
Easy to have architecture on your mind with the SHARD protruding into the sky just beyond the market. The tallest building in Europe becomes its most potent reflector with beams of light projecting from it when the sun graces the English sky. SOUTHWARK CATHEDRAL (sounds like “Sudark”) is filled with many a medieval moment but careful not to step on the “picnickers” sitting on the lawn en masse consuming the prepared food offerings from nearby market stalls.
If you’re not overcome with the somnolent pull of food coma or burdened down with parcels after a couple of hours in BOROUGH MARKET then take the short stroll along the River Thames to TATE MODERN for one of London’s best arts moments.
BOROUGH MARKET, 8 Southwark Street, London. The full market is open Thursdays (11a.m. – 5p.m.), Fridays (12p.m. – 6p.m.) and Saturdays (8a.m. to 5p.m.) year round.