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Monday, 29 December 2008

Borough Market, London Bridge

Borough Market is famous for the wide array of food available there. This wide array of food is also VERY VERY expensive. The moment you step into the market, the smells of paella, fried chorizo, grilled burgers, sausages, cheese, coffee and freshly baked pastries all blend into one delicious, inviting scent.

However, before you get to the market, there is the small issue of resisting the Krispy Kreme stand in London Bridge tube station.

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Which I clearly couldn’t resist.

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One Krispy Kreme donut purchased and waiting to be nibbled on.

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Here’s the nibble. Look at the jam in the donut. This is the donut to beat all donuts.

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Depending on which exit you come out from (from the station), you get to the market using different entrances.

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The first stall by the entrance that I usually go to is the paella stand. Look at that pan filled with paella-niceness. From what I saw, you could choose what toppings to have with the paella. There was a huge pan of sausages (as seen below) as well as another bowl of chorizo to choose from.

Paella-cooking looks alot like boat-rowing. One guy stands with a huge stick rowing/stirring away at the pan, while people around cheer him on.

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The menu shows you how much each item is, and you go away feeling small, wondering why a burger here costs more than a coat from Primark. (Primark is where an entire wardrobe costs under £10.)

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However, if you’re not the kind to buy your coats from Primark, how about going for some very posh sausages in the market?

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And, if you’re the kind who buys their weekly groceries from the Harrods Food Hall, this is one for you. Hungry before lunch? Fancy something cheap (ish) by your standards? Here, have an oyster and some champers. £20? Not a problem, you guffaw as you peel of a £50 from the wad of hundreds. Keep the change, it’s small tip.

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This is the Greek kebab / burger stand, long queues here. Perhaps if he used more of the grilling space, he wouldn’t have 30 hungry people standing in front of his stall. But then again, how would you attract business if no one was there?

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The white squares you see on the grill are halloumi slices, yummy salty cheese with the texture of ciabatta. The patties on the left are the lamb burgers.

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Most food markets in London have a German stall, where bratwursts are the main attraction of the day. These German sausages are usually a foot long and come with a bun that has the role of ‘sausage holder’. Why do I say that? Most of the buns that I’ve seen with these sausages are about 1/5th of the length of the sausage and too crusty to be chewed on. This is one good concept, I must say, as this means you have more space for sausages.

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See how little those buns are compared to the sausages. Add some sauerkraut and mustard (preferably English, of the Coleman variety) to the sausage, and off you go to bratwurst-land.

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Sausages of the dried variety, from the same German stall.

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A stall selling olives, and other nibbles.

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Amongst all the exotic food being sold in the market, this stall stood out as I didn’t expect an actual market-type stall here. There weren’t many people standing around it either. However, this could be due to the fact that the other stalls were giving out free samples of their goods (i.e. cheese, chocolate), and unless you like raw fish scales, there wasn’t much freebies to be had here.

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Caerphilly cheese is a crumbly, mild cheese which is slightly chalky, from the Caerphilly borough in Wales. This stand sold only Caerphilly cheese, and handed out free samples. The thing about free samples is that if there are lots of people standing around when you’re taking the sample, it’s pretty much acceptable for you to walk away mumbling ‘Nice, maybe next time’. If there is no one there, and you’re foolish enough to take some free samples (i.e. me), then you’re kinda obliged to buy something from the stand. How do you get out of this one? Choose the smallest piece there is.
‘£5 for 100g? I’ll have 10g please.’

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Mmm crumbly wumbly cheese.

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A selection of cakes, muffins and pies. Free samples?

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Comte cheese stall, this is my favourite cheese stand in the market. When I was there during closing time some months ago, they reduced the price of some of the cheese that were already cut in slices. I bought one, not expecting too much from it but when I tried it, the flavour of the cheese was one of the strongest, nicest, most flavoursome cheese I’ve ever had. To give a brief description, it was chewy (like Cheddar), slightly bitter (strong cheese tends to be), and almost oaky in flavour. I’ve never seen this cheese being sold anywhere else.

Wikipedia says that this cheese is also called Gruyere de Comte, and the name is from the the Comte region of East France. It’s made from unpasteurized cow’s milk, which probably explains the flavour.

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I had no idea what this cheese tasted like, because I didn’t have a free sample (no one standing around, lesson learnt from previous cheese stall). Perhaps it’s something of a mixture between stilton and something else?

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Little iced buns, made to look festive and some jammy biscuits.

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More cheese, not sure what they are. While there were people around the stand, there were too many people, which made it impossible to get to the free sample.

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Fresh oysters, and if you buy one, the person at the stand shucks it for you while you wait, and all you add is a little lemon juice and slurp it down.

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Always a credible source of information, a friend of a friend said that this stall had the best chicken burger in London. As I’m sure that friend has not had ALL the chicken burgers in London (that would be a mission lasting decades), this might be an overstatement. Anyhow, the queues for this stall seem to agree with that friend. For the festive season, they were also selling turkey wraps. As I battled the crowds to go past this stall, a woman waved a turkey wrap in front of me, while shouting to a friend ‘This turkey wrap is worth it’.

Now, she could have been working for the stall, and doing a bit of advertising to increase sales, but it sure looked good (for the few seconds while it was being waved in front of me, it was very close to being nibbled on by me. Just a few millimetres closer and that would have been it for the turkey wrap).

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Fudge (plenty of) stuck fashionably in a ball-like structure. I don’t like fudge, so I didn’t have any free samples.

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More pastries. It gets a little tiring after a while, taking pictures of food that I’m not gonna buy, so I was hiding by the side of the stall, behind customers while snapping this.

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This is the coffee place that the friend of a friend said had the best coffee in London.

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From the prices, I could probably only afford to have a cuppa every once a month or so.

While Borough Market is one of the most expensive markets in London, it doesn’t mean you have to sell your pet tortoise to afford lunch here. It just means that you have to improve those free-sample skills.

7 comments:

awesome said...

This write up and pictures of Borough is really great. it really covers the prices of the food sold there, even the price of fish. Future visitors to UK can quickly grasp the price of things to expect in UK. also, your research and knowledge of the food esp like the cheese etc will impress all those you meet in the future. You are getting better everytime I read this site!! Congrats and keep it up(during your free time only ha)

KimHo said...

Looking at the prices, suddenly I feel "fine" living in Vancouver... Don't get me wrong, they look great but... ^_^;;;

monchichi said...

It's quite a popular foodie-type place which might explain why it's so expensive. Of course, to get daily shopping items, you don't go to this market. Supermarket prices are not like this!

Dan said...

wowee that's a mighty good looking onslaught of food. I didn't have plans on visiting London in new year, but those pictures are really putting some ideas in my head :D

bron said...

Actually to get daily shopping you do go here - the quality is sublime as is the flavour and there is a supply of everything you need to get you through the week. And you may well be stunned to learn that in fact a lot of the prices are lower than supermarkets - eg eggs at Wild Beef are £1.50 for 6 and £1.52 at Sainsburys, field mushrooms are £2.50 a kilo at Booths and £3.96 a kilo at Sainsburys. Meat too is cheaper - diced beef, from longhorn cattle, is £8.50 a kilo at the Ginger Pig and it's £8.98 for traditional diced beef at Sainsburys.

I have shopped at Borough since it started trading as a retail market 10 years ago and it is totally amazing. I don't have a large income but I don't see why that precludes me from eating well.

If you would like some ideas about how to have Borough Market as the place of your weekly shop you could have a look at this blogsite - http://practicallydaily.blogspot.com - and then feast well!

monchichi said...

Hi Dan, nice of you to comment! There are lots of nice things to buy from here, and if you like fresh produce that you might not find elsewhere, this is the place to be! If you do come to London, have a wander around!

Hi bron, thanks for the good tips! I've not done grocery shopping here for the items you mentioned, but now that you mention it, it might be worth checking it out. I've had a look at your blog, and it looks interesting, I'll certainly be having a more in depth read!

bron said...

I would so completely recommend it - you will be filled with joy at how well you can eat.

Love your photos, by the way!

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