Borough market is a must-see (or must-taste) for anyone visiting London. I’ve been going for years but I still get excited when I step off the tube, cross over into the dark arches and see all the stalls. Some stalls come and go, but I love that many of the stalls have been there for well over 15 years – since I started going. The best thing to do is follow your nose and browse, tasting and buying anything that tickles your fancy.
I can chart my time in London by what I bought at Borough. When I first moved there, I would buy picnic food to fuel my explorations of the south bank. It was one of the first places I went for a daytime date with my now husband and was the first place we bought food to cook together, which felt very grown up. When we moved in together, our flat was on a direct line so we’d often go to Borough on Fridays or Saturdays. We’d usually grab something to eat in the beautiful grounds of Southwark Cathedral which is, handily, right next door. On nights when we wanted to cook properly, we’d buy fabulous meat, fish and vegetables from the stalls. When we were feeling in need of ease, we’d buy bread, cheese, cured meats and other nibbly things and have a carpet picnic with all our goodies when we got home in the evening.
I’m still pretty sure that a chorizo, rocket (arugula) and roast pepper sandwich from the Brindisa stall helped coax my first baby out as I had one on my due date and he was born two days later. We took him as a baby, wrapped up against the cold in his Baby Bjorn and later to taste his way around the stalls trying new things. We don’t live in London any more, but Borough still feels reassuringly familiar and one bite of the things I’ve always bought there takes me straight back to the old days.
My favourite sellers and things to buy…
Not really a stall but a shop just next to the market. You’re unlikely to find a better cheese shop or more knowledgeable cheese-loving staff anywhere. They also sell other butter, cream, lovely bread (including Poilane one of my faves) and local pickles and chutneys to go with your cheese.
There are all sorts of stalls selling cured meats. Most recently I came across Cannon and Cannon and was really impressed with their English-made selection. I bought some of their squidgy wild fennel sausage and it was amazing. Just the thing to go with a baguette and some pickles for a picnic.
I’m not particularly loyal to any of the fruit and veg stalls as they are all good. It is so inspiring to wander around and see what is in season and to try things that you’ll never find in the supermarket – like wild garlic and samphire.
The bakery stalls always have the most people crowded around them, so it is a bit tricky to get many photos. I’ve always been partial (understatement) to a brownie and a loaf from The Flour Station but the donuts from Bread Ahead are amazing too.
I always go to The Ginger Pig for my sausages as I think they are the best I’ve ever had. All their meat is beautifully butchered and responsibly sourced.They also have a wonderful shop just off Marylebone High Street.
Handily my favourite butchers is right next door to Brindisa, a one-stop shop for all things Spanish. They have a team of people slicing legs of Jamon into wafer thin slices. I always buy some of the ham to eat with bread or scrambled eggs. Pick up a bag of the Jamon bones to add to soups and stews for an inexpensive, huge hit of flavour. Their Spanish cheeses are wonderful and I loved the little cones of cheese, membrillo (quince paste) and bread sticks that they had one the counter. I’ll be copying them next time I throw a party.
Brindisa also have a tapas bar a few steps away. It is a pretty perfect place to unwind with a glass of Fino after a morning of shopping.
It is tempting to keep your eyes down and spend all your time looking at the food, but look up and around to see the gorgeous buildings that surround the market. The perfect thing to do mid-chew.