Sunday, March 12, 2006

food shopping at borough market

i've been dying to go food shopping at borough market ever since i arrived in london. but somehow there was one thing or the other that took precedence on saturday mornings until this weekend and the weather hadn't been terribly cooperative either. but yesterday morning i was determined to make my way to the market no matter what.

The grand entrance to Borough Market

i took the circle line train from high street kensington and changed at westminister. then i took the jubilee line to london bridge. as soon as i emerged from the underground, i could tell that i was in foodie heaven. the smell of fried onions and garlic was wafting in the air. there were food shops and restaurants all closely packed next to eachother and each one seemed to be doing brisk business. a long queue had formed outside brindisa, a spanish tapas restaurant near the entrance to the market. i was so overwhelmed by all the choice and eager to soak it all in that i was clueless where to begin. the burly owner at the italian cheese shop was kind enough to direct me to the entrance. as i walked in, i was reminded of the spice market in istanbul which has a similar grand entrance. all the old world markets must have been designed in this way. and like the spice bazaar in istanbul, the inside of borough market was like a maze. i'm sure that it's going to take a lot of trips before i begin to figure out where my favourite vendors are located within the market.

Degustibus Breads

the first stall i came across was desgustibus which was selling all sorts of artisinal breads. i couldn't resist the smell of freshly baked bread - i bought a loaf of ciabata immediately. as i made my way through the market, my senses were delighted in amazingly different ways and my eyes got progressively wider in total wonder. before i knew it, i had bought basil and rocket, vine tomatoes, blood orange marmalade from portugal, fresh mozzarella and all sorts of vegetables including baby onions and purple garlic.

Wet purple garlic

this was more fascinating and wonderous than any food market i have ever visited. green market in union square comes in second but it's hardly a patch on borough market which has the most diverse choice of foods on display from fresh vegetables and fruits to exotic cheeses. there are plenty of fresh food stalls that cook up crowd pleasers like ostrich burgers and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Neil's Yard Cheese Shop

one of my favourite stops was at neil's yard, supposed to be the best cheese shop in the world. it was so fun to wait in line for your turn and then spend as much time as you like tasting different cheeses before you bought some. i was served by an american from philadelphia who was gaining experience here before going back to the states to start his own cheese shop. how fun!

my only regret was that i didn't go to the borough market earlier in the day otherwise i might have caught a glimpse of my favourite chef, jamie oliver, who comes to borough every saturday morning with his daughters daisy and poppy while his wife, gets some time on her own.

borough market has inspired me to go food shopping every saturday. the most recent issue of time out london has a great feature on london's best markets. next up: brixton. stay tuned!

check out my photo album which has a few more photos from my trip to borough:

my flickr album on food shopping at borough market


Blogger Sandhya said...

Man, everywhere in the world there are local markets and fresh,unprocessed food, except in America. I don't even like the Farmer's markets here. I wonder when i'll get to shop and cook fresh vegetables.And cheese? Let's not talk about the plastic slices here.Thanks to you, i'm atleast enjoying vicariously.

8:50 pm  
Blogger cal said...

Ooh, you really should add my local market Ridley Road, Hackney to your list of markets to visit. (Some info on it and the area at

Completely different to Borough (not 'foodie') but an amazing variety of food - especially fruit and veg. And oh so cheap. It's a bit like wandering into a little bit of West Africa or the Caribbean with a few good old eastenders thrown in for good measure.

I'll happily show you around and take you for a Turkish meal afterwards.

(PS Stumbled across your blog through clicking on links from other food bloggers just after you'd moved here and have been enjoying reading about your experiences as a newcomer to this city.)

12:43 am  
Blogger rums said...

that looks and sounds like a wonderful experience. i caught jamie shopping at the market in one of the episodes of 'oliver's twist' :)

6:27 am  
Blogger runnr said...

Sounds wonderful, one good market can take grocery shopping from a chore to a joy.

To the poster from the US - have you checked out Whole Foods. Granted nothing like Ridley, but good enough great breads and cheese(I don't eat the stuff, but am told the selection is excellent) Here is TX we also also Central Market, another store in Dallas called Market Street I think - all carry great breads, cheeses, smoked meats and stuff. CM carries fresh mozzie, made right in front of you.

7:47 pm  
Blogger Lulu said...

hi sandhya,
sorry to hear that you don't have vegetable markets in your city. i am surprised though as this trend seems to be catching on a lot in america. i was actually considerably less aware of the joys of fresh produce when i lived in california. and to runnr's point, whole foods is GREAT! it was my regular grocery store in manhattan.

hi cal,
i'll definitely visit the market in hackney. i'm always up for new experiences. thanks also for the offer for a turkish meal - very kind of you! always interesting to hear how people stumble on my blog so thanks for letting me know.

9:45 pm  
Blogger Sandhya said...

wow, thanks Runnr and Lulu! I haven't dicovered Wholefoods market yet, i'll be on it right away. And Runnr, i live in Arlington. So Central Market will be my shopping destination this weekend!

10:36 pm  
Blogger Omer said...


Thank you so much for your kind words in last week's edition. I absolutely love reading your blog w/ my morning chai! I marvel at your passion for cooking and life in the UK but I am even more impressed by your ability to exude and transfer your passion to the reader by your amazing writing and prose! Finally, I love the dosas recipe and I am going to try to attempt that sometime soon! Keep up the good work and I hope to meet you really soon!

5:05 am  
Blogger Sury said...

Great pictures and one can tell you were in foodie heaven. I am always interested in learning about culinary markets, so reading this post was a treat. Will look forward to more!

8:07 am  
Anonymous Arti said...

lulu, I don't know if you've gotten my emails, but I have heard of hotmail blocking gmail emails. (that was a tongue twister). or maybe you're just ignoring me! :D

11:33 am  
Blogger Lulu said...

hi omer,
so nice to hear from you and i was quite amused to hear that i feature in your daily routine :)

hi sury,
i so enjoyed myself last saturday that i am going to check out food markets every saturday now so stay tuned.

hi arti,
now you have my mobile number as well so call me and let's decide when and where to meet. look forward to it!

7:07 pm  
Anonymous payal said...

Wow, lulu, great pics! They reminded me of a market in Florence that we went to last year. It had the most amazing produce, cheese selection, etc. I was in heaven. Thanks for sharing those.

6:15 pm  
Blogger Lulu said...

you're welcome, payal. stay tuned - more to come every weekend after my saturday food shopping trips!

8:21 pm  
Blogger gs said...

in school,i took sanskrit as an optional subject.the choice was either sanskrit or latin.and i still remember one expression that i learnt from my latin friends when we had finished lunch or dinner together-"de gustibus non est disputandum".which literally means that about tastes there is no gustibus is latin for tastes.i suppose.

1:15 pm  

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