Our daughter had planned many treats for us during our recent visit. One of those treats was our actual Christmas dinner (more about that later). In preparation for that dinner, we went to a wondrous place to buy various foods: Borough Market.
Think country market, think farmers’ market, think food, flowers, gee-gaws, think serendipity.
I suspect Borough Market is always festive, but shopping for Christmas foods made it wonderful. Of course, the Salvation Army band playing excellent all-brass arrangements of Christmas carols set the mood. The weather cooperated with a bit of a bite in the air. As we walked around there were several places selling warm mulled wine; other places selling fresh coffee (espresso or filter coffee)—instant ways to warm up. There were stands selling all manner of hot sandwiches, including venison burgers, and ostrich sandwiches.
And the cheeses! Oh, the cheeses. Wondrous wheels of cheese, so many kinds I had never heard of before. As we walked along the rows of cheese stands, it seemed every vendor had samples to offer. I would take a sample, say HMMMM, that’s good, then walk to the next stand and repeat the whole process.
There were bread stands with marvelous whole loaves, unwrapped, in all their crusty glory. There were stands with olives and olive oils, complete with neat little sampling dishes and small cubes of bread for dipping.
Of course, there were meat stands, including one place that had fresh game hanging for sale—I confess I gulped, looked quickly, then averted my eyes. While I am a confirmed omnivore, I couldn’t quite look at the brace of pheasants, and of mallard ducks. Nor could I really look at the rabbits, and a deer. (Truth is--I didn't have the heart to take of photo of the displayed game.)
Happily, there were other less guilt inducing stands—a charming fruit cake stand (yes, I do love fruit cake) complete with candles and a stand with mounds of cocoa dusted truffles. Well, maybe another kind of guilt pops up at these stands.
For me, the standout offering was a cheese stand selling hot cheese sandwiches made in a sandwich press. They also heated a wheel of cheese and then sliced away the melting cheese over baked potatoes (or jacket potatoes, as they say). Yum. Make that YUM!
I loved the names of the various places. Part of our Christmas meal was coming from a place named The Ginger Pig. I spotted various signs that included quotes from various English writers extolling the virtues of some of the foods we would partake on Christmas Day—what is Christmas without a feast?
One very enlightening part of the market was the ubiquitous labeling indicating origin of the food. BRITISH grown produce, or foods coming from pinpoint locations around the UK. Also, signs at cheese stands proudly proclaimed they were made with unpasteurized milk.
The most educational part of the market was the emphasis on goose fat. (More on that in a later blog.) I loved this straightforward sign advertising a place to purchase your goose fat for roasting potatoes at Christmas.
Such a great place; such a fun visit. To market, to market—oh, yeah!