“The Borough Market is the foodie one. Wonderful oysters and cheeses. It’s a must-do,” my food aficionado friend Robert says when I ask him to name London’s best food market.
When I Google this market — that during previous trips to the UK, and specifically London, I have mysteriously managed to miss — I learn Borough Market is one of the largest and oldest food markets in London. “Celebrating 1,000 years,” its website claims.
I now learn that it’s a gourmet market with about 70 stalls and stands in Southwark, near London Bridge. Producers from all over bring a range of fresh produce to the market, including the freshest of fish and seafood, assorted meat cuts from a variety of animals, colorful mounds of plump and luscious seasonal and heirloom fruits and vegetables, ciders, imported and local UK cheeses, gorgeous artisanal breads, coffees, a mouthwatering range of cakes, cookies and tarts and patisseries. And huge amounts more.
Some stalls specialize in produce imported from abroad.
Workshops and demos are offered.
Stallholders include the creative and eccentric, from what I read before and after. Their common passion: the business of good food.
I will find that it is a lively and lovely smorgasbord of all things fresh, local, sustainable, organic, Slow, artisanal, delicious — and lots more.
The retail market operates on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 5pm, Fridays from 10am to 6pm, and Saturdays from 8 am to 5 pm.
I ask my friend Isobel, a former Sunday newsroom colleague, if she will meet me there on a Thursday morning.
We could have done drinks or dinner somewhere — given that any meeting of friends must be lubricated and fueled by food and drink — but with about eight years of catching up to do, this seems a more fun place to do it.
And where better to exchange snippets of our lives on different continents, swop stories, reminisce, gossip and rekindle our friendship than wandering through food aisles nibbling on a samples ranging from light-as-a-cloud gnocchi, salted caramel fudge, air-dried biltong, nibbles of Turkish delight, dunkings of olive oil, slices of melon, food kiosks selling everything from pulled pork and roasted goat to our lunch choice, perfectly seasoned and lightly charred venison burgers eaten while sitting on a low wall alongside the River Thames.
The market ambles through several historic buildings. The streets alongside the market are buzzy with restaurants and pubs.
To meet Isobel, who suggests we connect outside The Shard entrance to London Bridge station, I catch a train to Waterloo and, being early, walk a fast 40 minutes along the South Bank of the Thames past the Oxo Building, the National Theater, the Tate Modern, the Globe Theater, the Golden Hind and just past Southwark Cathedral.
Check out the great Borough Market website. It has info on traders, recipes, links to their magazine and a blog — all manner of foodie inspiration. Read. Enjoy. Visit.
Fly from San Francisco to London’s Heathrow or Gatwick on your airline of choice.