Thursday, 1 February 2007

The market place

Borough Market has been a part of South London for centuries. It recently celebrated 250 years on the same site, but has been in the area since Roman times, when no doubt the invading armies were delighted to find this ready source of Saxon snacks. Today, Borough is famed across London for its organic produce. It’s also surrounded by restaurants and cafes serving dishes made from Borough-bought produce; it truly is a foodie heaven. It’s beloved of Jamie Oliver, who is a regular at Cranberry, which sells nuts and dried fruits, and wild boar specialists Sillfield Farm. But don’t let that put you off.

Pollen count: The scent of flowers permeates the market

Farmers trade alongside specialist stalls, such as Spanish Brindisa and L’artisan du Chocolat and you'll find fruit and vegetables, fresh-cut flowers, breads, cheeses, cakes and all kinds of meat Not a farmers’ market as such (because of the presence of the more exotic produce), much of the food is still locally produced and the farmers’ stalls in particular will be able to tell you exactly where that bunch of carrots came from. Because the fresh produce is organic, it’s seasonal; at the moment you’ll find lots of root veg, apples and pears.

When I visited recently the place was packed, it’s probably best to arrive early if crowds drive you to distraction. And bring cash with you – there are ATMs close by but the queues are really quite depressing. The market itself is wonderful; it’s the kind of place that the word ‘bustling’ was invented for. It’s awash with a cornucopia of smells – those flowers, freshly baked bread, the aroma of cooking meat, all blend into one surprisingly mouth-watering scent.

It would be easy to spend a fortune. The stalls are all piled high with goodies, and some of it is quite expensive, especially some of the rarer cuts of meat. I managed to buy nothing more than some bread, olives and a chocolate brownie. And it was all delicious. Proper bread is a world away from supermarket-bought stuff, so who cares that it costs twice as much? Besides, this way the money goes to the producers, not supermarket shareholders.

But back to that brownie. Oh, the brownie! Soft, sticky, moist and more chocolaty than a visit to Cadbury World. The stall was so laden down with them I'm surprised it didn't buckle under the weight. I’m going back on Saturday just to get another one. Or two. If only to relieve that stall...

Borough Market


JimBob said...

Brilliant! I've never been to Borough Market - I shall have to check it out.

Are there any other markets like that, do you know? I've heard there's one in Blackheath but it's a long way for me to travel.

The London Lowdown said...

Funny you should ask that! Farmers' markets, including the one at Blackheath, will be coming up very shortly.

Helen said...

It all sounds wonderful! Worth visiting London for that alone. Is it lunchtime yet??