Borough Market is London’s most renowned food market– a source of exceptional British and international produce. One visit wasn’t enough for me and to do a wine and food tour through this precinct thoroughly meant two trips, as there was so, so much to see. A lot of London’s delis source their meats and cheeses from London’s Borough Market with the wholesalers running their business from the markets. Early on, you can mix with restauranteurs and chefs as they source their daily requirements. It’s a foodie’s haven!
It is pure bliss for anybody who cares about the quality and provenance of the food they eat – chefs, restaurateurs, passionate amateur cooks and people who just happen to love eating and drinking.
But it’s not just the sheer quality of the food on offer that makes Borough Market special – it is also about the people and the place. The market is populated by a community of remarkable individuals from all over the UK, Europe and the rest of the world, all of whom care deeply about the food and drink they harvest and produce. Many of stallholders are producers themselves – people who grow, rear or bake the food that they sell. These were the ones I wanted to discover, the Locavore producers. Others are importers with intimate knowledge of whichever corner of the globe from which they source their products.
As a result, the market has become a vast repository of culinary knowledge and understanding. It’s a place to explore, to ask questions, to discover new flavors and to savor a unique atmosphere.
Borough Market has long been synonymous with food markets. As far back as the 11th century, the London Bridge attracted traders selling grain, fish, vegetables and livestock. In the 13th century, traders were relocated to what is now Borough High Street and a market has existed there ever since.
In 1755, the market was closed by Parliament, but a group of Southwark residents raised £6,000 to buy a patch of land known locally as The Triangle, once the churchyard of St Margaret’s, and reopened the market in 1756. The Triangle, where you’ll find Northfield Farm and Furness Fish and Game, is still at the heart of the market today.
The market still feeds this core community and has grown to over 100 individual stalls. Alongside the original fruits, vegetables, bakers and butchers, the markets host a huge variety of British and international produce.
All of the sellers share a love of food and many of them make, grow or rear the produce they sell. they all have a story to tell. The markets do get very busy especially when the tourists come out, but also locals, too. Try to avoid visiting at lunchtime, as that’s when thousands of workers living and working in the neighborhood travel there to get a bite to eat.
The market ensures high standards of produce by employing a food quality panel of impartial experts who ensure that the taste, provenance and quality of foods sold here are all regularly measured and maintained.
The selection of wines on offer was a regular smorgasbord with local UK brands sharing space with French and Italian, Spanish and Portugese.
With its vibrant and friendly atmosphere, Borough Market will always be at the heart of the local community. Its unique standing within the area has recently been marked by a Blue Plaque, voted for by the people of Southwark, marking its place as London’s Oldest Fruit & Veg Market.
Borough Market’s gourmet food market consists of more than 100 stalls and stands. Producers from all over the country bring a range of fresh produce to the market, including fish, meats, vegetables, ciders, cheeses, breads, coffees, cakes and patisseries. Other stalls specialise in produce imported from abroad.
The market is open from Monday to Saturday. The full market operates from Wednesday to Saturday. On Mondays and Tuesdays, shoppers can find hot food traders, and fruit and vegetable stalls. Check times before you go! Suffice to say I could have spent the day there, but that’s me. I love farmers markets.
If you are into bread making find the bread making classes, Bread Ahead sees two baking talents using their loaf: Justin Gellatly, formerly head of St John Bakery, and Matt Jones, founder of Flour Power. With its own stall in Borough Market, selling delicious rye sourdoughs, doughnuts and other treats, Bread Ahead also has its bakery in the market, courses include a sourdough workshop, basic bread lessons and Italian breadmaking. But book ahead, it’s incredibly popular. It’s on my agenda for the next trip!
About the author: Since 1999, Bruce White has been traveling Italy, returning every year to a different region with pre-planned wine and food experiences. Some have been with food and wine tour operators in small groups, some planned directly with local specialists to ensure something very local and very special. With this network of contacts and a desire to return as often as possible, Bruce launched Wine and Food Traveller to share experiences with those who share the same passion for the Italian Lifestyle. All 2017 tours are now available for travel to Italy at www.wineandfoodtraveller.com.