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!
I'm so glad you had such a wonderful visit! The market and your food descriptions are making my mouth water. I'm looking forward to hearing more.
While reading this post, I began to smell the aroma...
Cheese, Glorious Cheese! The atmosphere must have been delicious. I'm hungry.
I'd love a hot cheese sandwich, but
what in the world...
ostrich sandwiches? No thank you.
I know I would have enjoyed this as much as you. I also love cheese and fresh baked bread....yum! I know I would have felt the same way about the game - necessary maybe, but as long as I don't have to look at it then I can deal with it. Reading your blog made me feel as if I was there.....
Trying to catch up on your blog. Happy New Year!
Oh, I love markets like this. I could live off of hot cheese sandwiches, jacket potatoes with cheese, mulled wine and truffles.
Why are there no central open air markets like this in the US, especially in the big cities? We have are local farmers market which is great, but nothing like those in Europe.
I remember walking through one such market in Uzes, France on a hot July afternoon. I literally almost passed out from the "fragrance" coming from a cheese market. The owner did try to help with the smell with some lit candles, but man oh man, P.U.
I just love markets - there is something about them - the people make the difference. Looks like you were having a grand vacation.
Markets are soo much fun and loved visiting this one with you! Thanks for sharing!
Wonderful! I love reading about all the various booths at the market. You've made me hungry, and I just ate.
I look forward to your continuing posts about your trip.
Happy New Year Donna!! I love the pictures here and feel as if I was there by reading your post....glad you are home now safe and sound. Cheers from ocean.
Your pictures are terrific. I believe I would prefer visiting this market to visiting Buckingham Palace. So many interesting people, sights, sounds, smells...tastes!
Oh how the market in your pictures called to me, the fragrances, the sounds, the vision of wonderful life.
You found all the good English meats and cheeses. Did you notice any South African? (Besides ostrich.) Like maybe some biltong? I know that enough South Africans and Zimbabweans are around London for their produce to be readily available, and wondered if it was available in the market.
I remember a bit of the market feel you describe. Very cool.
Mounds of cocoa-dusted truffles? Far better sight-seeing than Buckingham Palace or Big Ben. My mouth is watering for a hot cheese sandwich with a truffle chaser.
Wow, what a cool place! It must have been amazing to go to such a market--and very neat to hear everyone speaking in different accents too.
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