Wednesday, 21 May 2014

London- Borough and Maltby Street Markets; A feast for the eyes!

Borough Market entrance
 
Walking towards Borough Market from London Bridge, the new artistic and industrial looking entrance to the well established food haven is quite impressive. It would be equally impressive if you just stumbled across it some how coming through the back streets and missed the entrance entirely but then this entrance and it pretty and organic seating areas, are a signal that this market is truly on the map. And with excellent reason. Even at the grand NEC Good Food Show in Birmingham, I didn't see as many wonderful delights. In fact the exotic offering of cheeses, ethnic preserves and fermented ingredients were far more inspiring than the endless boxy stalls and tasting crackers at the BBC events
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Railway arches behind Borough Market
 
This felt like a true discovery. I could imagine the Londoners of old coming here and mixing with the most colourful of characters from around the world, selling their wares. It was historically and some may say heroically saved by a group of local vendors in 1755 after Parliament tried to close it down. But the passionate sellers would not let the tradition and local communities suffer. Now it is a hubbub of bizarre and intriguing foods which resonate the current trends and no doubt create new trends in British and world food. 


The maze of stall holders spills out into the streets of Southwalk and the atmosphere is one of excitement. Open for lunch Mondays and Tuesdays and then for the full market Wednesday through to Saturday, you could spend a lot of money here getting fat!

 
Following our discoveries over the south bank, we also visited a fairly new offering in Bermondsey. Maltby Street hosts a narrow and lively foodie market which has very unique and knowledgeable, artistic food vendors and hosts a more bohemian atmosphere.
There are panna cottas to die for (coming from someone who doesn't like jelly).
This market has piggy backed on the nearby Monmouth Coffee roasting shop which previously opened to the public on Saturdays. Now more archways at Spa Terminus SE16 open up to the public to share experimental food and drink. We opted for a bloody Mary from one of the popup café bars hidden amongst a junk filled railway arch. The hotchpotch approach to seating means you have to cosy on up to your neighbour, but the feeling that there was an Alice in Wonderland approach to this claustrophobic huddle of patrons meant I enjoyed it very much.


 
But if you thought this was just a bunch of trendy types jumping on the food bandwagon, you'd be wrong. There were some seriously technical wares on sale. One stall sold the most amazing smoked salmon and the vendor was happy to discuss his processes.


The same applied to a stall selling an exceptional range of charcuteries; I was amazed by the craft of salting, preserving and curing meats while creating imaginative combinations which included flavours such as rabbit, juniper, blueberry and even donkey!



I really enjoyed both markets for their individual offerings and liked both for their diversity and courage in offering. Maltby was a little more fun...there was alcohol involved for one thing, but it felt more like a well kept Saturday morning secret. I have no doubt it is very well known and established to locals, but may lose it's charm the more popular it becomes!