Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Take me to the Borough Market, please.

The Borough Market in London is easily one of my favourite places on earth. After visiting its website yesterday I was overwhelmed with the desire to get on a plane and move there. And I don’t just mean London; I wish to pitch a tent at the market itself and be surrounded by its greatness day and night. A bit excessive, I know, but I love it that much. Alas, writing about it will have to suffice for now.

I first went in 2005, the year I moved to England on a university exchange, and have been many times since. As I strolled into the market for the first time, I felt as though I had arrived at my perfect place. It is everything a market should be and more; open, airy, bustling, noisy, colourful, and packed with all things food. Strictly, glorious food.

Where even to begin? There is fruit and veg in abundance; organic eggs, milk, and yogurts; butchers selling every kind and cut of fresh meat; jams, jellies, chutneys and dips; handmade fresh pastas; cheese of every kind; artisanal breads; decadent French patisseries; English puddings; barrels of olives, buffalo mozzarella, and pesto; cocoa-dusted truffles, and so so so much more.

Because of the market’s ample size, it takes a lovely long while to peruse each vendor and sample their goods. Apart from all of the luscious flavours, the sheer abundance of food is impressive; Flour Power bakery is famous for its giant pyramids of brownies, while the ComtĂ© sellers display their immense wheels of cheese in simple but striking stacks of alpine goodness. The bread bakers’ tables are crowded with a golden mass of freshly baked loaves which one can see, simply by looking, are delicious. Vendors at all stands enthusiastically offer samples, yet allow market-goers to make their rounds at a leisurely, unpressured pace.

Every time I go, I end up spending an excessive amount of time and money and leave a happier person. I almost always buy lunch from a hot food stand, my latest choice being a colossal, freshly cut roast pork sandwich from the vendor who is clearly the favourite of every young businessman in the district (I was the only girl in a very long, winding queue). After enjoying this first course I move on to dessert, at which point I am forced to choose amongst literally hundreds of tantalizing options. You can imagine my agony. This process usually ends with the purchase of one treat to be eaten then, and several more to be eaten later.

Several bakers at the market make the bold claim of having the best brownie. In fact, it is the brownie which has managed to usurp all other desserts as the marker of market status. While the Flour Power brownies are delicious, and most famous, it is a lesser known cake stand which has won me over. Firstly, their brownies are the size of bricks (so large, in fact, that I am forced to only eat half at a time, this being remarkable in itself) and secondly, are so rich, thick, and truffle-like that they will remain as the most insanely-good brownies I have or will ever eat. Those who like cakey brownies need not seek these out (and by the way, you’re crazy).

Finally, I always leave the market with at least one loaf of bread and some kind of antipasti to snack on that evening. Last time this was mushroom pate, which didn’t look like much but instantly won me over upon sampling. It was earth, buttery, and divine.

Next time I intend on fawning over the cheesemongers in Neal’s Yard Dairy and purchasing some market honey and Stilton to share with my friends in London. This plan, as well as what will be a joyous reunion with my brick-size brownies, are what my dreams are made of.


  1. Lindsay, this is fantastic!!!! It looks beautiful and I love the writing. Good job on the berries. Fits perfectly. I joined Aviv and we are the first!!!!
    I am eagerly going to anticipate your postings.

  2. Now I'm at work, having skipped breakfast, wanting a brick-sized trufflesque brownie. I'm so happy you finally posted and are sharing your food passion with the world (aptly named blog, my friend). I can't wait for more!

  3. we just ate a yorkie... english.

    so, now we want brownies, will beano suffice?

    mike & adele at work

  4. have you ever had a Devonshire Cream Tea??? Like in Devon? You would keel over and die.... I got so addicted over there that I actually bought a bunch of containers, froze them (yeah not the best results later as I had to let them thaw and whip them up, and nothing's ever as great after freezing) and then flew home with them, bringing them illegally (*gasp*) into Canada and treating friends to Devonshire Clotted Cream. Google it--it's heavenly: