Over the last few years, London has developed the reputation of being one of the best food cities in the world, with celebrity chefs such as Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsey and Marcus Wareing opening restaurants all over town. But another sign of how London has created a new food culture is the gourmet food markets that have sprung up to cater for the increasingly sophisticated palates of Londoners (who are, of course, a tremendous cultural mix in themselves).
The most famous of these gourmet markets is Borough Market, squeezed under the railway arches of London Bridge Station on the unfashionable south side of the Thames (which technically wasn’t London but the separate city of Southwark, whose medieval cathedral lies right next to the market). London Bridge attracted traders selling grain, fish, vegetables and livestock from as far back as the 11th century. In the 13th century traders relocated to what is now Borough High Street, and a market has existed there ever since.
It is one of London’s oldest wholesale fruit and vegetable markets, established by Act of Parliament in 1756 and administered by 21 trustees who have to live in the local community. It covers an area of 4.5 acres. Borough Market, as we know it today, began over 10 years ago.
Borough’s gourmet food market has about 70 stalls and stands. The traders come from all over the country bringing a range of fresh produce, fish, meats, vegetables, ciders, cheeses, breads, coffees, cakes and produce imported from abroad. It is open Thursday to Sunday.
This first post is dedicated to the British food stalls in the market.
Trethowan’s Gorwydd (pronounced Gor-with) Caerphilly is a mature Caerphilly made to a traditional recipe using raw (unpasteurised) milk. The Trethowen family — owners of Gorwydd Farm in the village of Llanddewi Brefi (say that 10 times fast) in Ceredigion, West Wales — is one of the only Caerphilly producers left in Wales.
This semi-firm cheese is aged from nine to twenty weeks, during which time the cheese develops a thick, velvety, natural rind. It is a lovely sharp cheese that is a must for those who like a nice, crumbly yet creamy, tangy, slightly lemony cheese. A very versatile cheese to use either in cooking, crumbled over vegetables, or as part of a cheese board.
Sugargrain makes beautiful gluten-free, dairy-free and wheat-free goodies that taste as good as they look.
Their parsnip, pear and sea-salted caramel cake is as moist as a carrot cake. The sign says “Just think white carrot cake”.
I really like the clever remarks under each sign: their Hot Ginger Boy cookies say, “Girls go weak at the knees”.
Pieminister is a family owned business from Bristol that was started by brothers-in-law: one is a classically-trained chef and the other managed successful pubs in London. They now sell their savoury and sweet pies all over England. The Pietanic is a new arrival that is made with smoked haddock, salmon and pollock in a rich, creamy parsley sauce topped with a cheddar crumb pastry.
The Flour Station stall takes your breath away with its beautiful array of monster size English muffins, croissants…
and fragrant Chelsea buns. This bakery started in the kitchen of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant.
Note: According to a recent article in the Guardian, Flour Station has been asked to leave the market because they are now too big. I think this is a real shame for the market.
The Honest Carrot stall sells vegetarian and vegan baked goods such as the flowerpot bread shown above.
Furness Fish and Game has beautiful fresh fish and game on offer. They also sell freshly made paella and Thai stir fry. The Sussex Smoothhound in the photo above is a member of the shark family.
They also sell plenty of other fresh fish as well as potted shrimps, smoked fish and much, much more.
Shellseekers Fish & Game is famous for their large selection of scallops, but food bloggers and photographers beware, they will chase you out of the shop if you try to take a photo.
Finally, there were a few stalls that were selling picture perfect British raspberries and strawberries. I couldn’t leave the market without buying a pint of beautifully, sweet raspberries. They were worth every penny.
Stay tuned for Part 2: The International Stalls.