“How many things by season seasoned are to their right praise and true perfection!” William Shakespeare
Borough Market, located in the warehouses under the shadow of Southwark Cathedral, is a magnificent treat for your senses, where you can travel the globe through the world of food and drink. The market is easily accessed on the Jubilee Line (my fav) via London Bridge station, where you enter an unspoilt food paradise filled with diversity. Artisan stall holders peddle their wares under distinctive primary coloured umbrellas, set to a soundtrack of the constant rumble of trains overhead.
The passionate stall holders are relaxed and the casual atmosphere of the market is offset by the constant throng of chattering shoppers who are caught in the dilemma of what to choose to eat and in the case of the other half, the fear of missing out on something better. The market still has the feel of a bygone era and its unpretentious nature is in contrast to the trendy London pretentious crowd that descent upon it, especially at the weekends, frequenting the cafes, bars and restaurants.
Borough Market is run as a charitable trust and is one of London’s most eminent food markets selling exceptional quality British and international produce. It attracts chefs (a mention by TV chef Jamie Oliver on his cooking programmes surely raised its profile), restauranteurs, amateur cooks and many tourists alongside your average Joe. It’s a mecca for anyone who likes good food whether it’s to eat immediately or to take home from one of the bakers, butchers and fruit and veg stalls. Good quality fishmongers sit next to Pimms and Sangria stalls, you can pick up olives, truffles, honey and even flowers from the beautiful florist.
Many of the stall holders are also the producers who grow, rear or bake the food that they sell which explains why they are both so passionate and knowledgable in equal measures. Others are importers with vast knowledge of their wares from wherever corner of the globe they are sourced from. There was lots of opportunity to try tiny fragments of cheese, bread and brownies among many others.
The market now has about one hundred individual stalls alongside the original fruit, vegetables, bakers and butchers, selling a huge variety of British and international produce. The market is now surrounded by coffee shops, restaurants and the Gothic-style Globe pub that was built-in 1872 and designed by renowned Victorian architect Henry Jarvis.
Borough Market was awarded the Blue Plaque, voted for by the people of Southwark, celebrating it as London’s oldest fruit & vegetable market.
Last year The Market Hall was opened, an urban space inside a huge prominent glass structure that opens onto Green Market and Borough High Street. The multipurpose space was designed for shoppers to eat and relax but can also be used as a classroom, a kitchen, an orchard, an info centre and a dining room as well as a horticultural space for growing hops, fruits, flowers, herbs, olives and salad leaves. It’s all about sustainability with a glass roof, vertical plant pots built up the pillars and benches with planting areas at each end all watered using collected rainwater. Produce will be then by used by the Market’s cooks and guest chefs for cooking demonstrations, tastings and workshops.
Historical Bit – the area of Borough has long been associated with food markets and back in the 11th century, the London Bridge area attracted traders selling grain, fish, vegetables and livestock. Traders were relocated to the Borough High Street area in the 13th century and a market has existed there ever since. In 1755, the market was closed by Parliament but was reopened after a group of Southwark residents raised £6,000 to buy The Triangle, once the churchyard of St Margaret’s. The Triangle is still the heart of the market today and where Northfield Farm and Furness Fish and Game are located.
Cacao Beans were certainly bitter
I would thoroughly recommend a visit to Borough Market if you are in the London Bridge area. I was lucky to visit twice this summer and alongside all the fab produce on offer at the stalls, I can highly recommend Monmouth Coffee Co for an excellent latte and if you want to experience something a bit different try the Rabot 1745 restaurant serving ‘cocoa-centric cuisine‘ where we enjoyed a lunch on their outdoor covered terrace above the bustling market with a cocoa inspired menu.
My cauliflower and sweetcorn soup with sourdough bread
The restaurant is a venture from the Hotel Chocolat chain and features the humble cocoa bean in ways you would never expect. From white chocolate mash to cacao marinated rib-eye steak and everything in-between, it was certainly different and to be honest we just stumbled across it as an escape from the rain that suddenly appeared from nowhere. Nothing ventured, nothing gained as they say………
Yorkshire pudding filled with rare seared parkin-spiced beef, white chocolate mash, cacao red wine gravy enjoyed by my friend
All views are my own. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2014. All rights reserved.