Sunday, September 11, 2011

London's Borough Market: A Quick Visit

Any vacation of mine is surely going to include vegetables and a trip to a food market of some kind. Matron from Down at the Allotment tipped me off to London's Borough Market, a bustling market place near the heart of the city that brims with vendors, vegetables, and treats of all kinds. Despite a short and fast visit, I managed to come away with the usual armload of bags of scrumptious things. Here are a few of the highlights.

Heirloom apples and tomatoes. I'd not forgotten about tomatoes, of course, but I had somehow forgotten the signature taste of apples in fall. Japanese apples tend to be monster fruits with pretty good flavor, but those I've had so far don't compare remotely even to the windfalls from a house down the road from where we are staying. A variety of flavors and textures and colors all remind me of the season I am enjoying this very moment.

French breakfast radishes. I have read any number of blog posts and articles about this little vegetable, but never eaten them. This bundle looked too good to pass up, and since I was strolling the market with Delphine Cheng of Le Panier de Piu it seemed only appropriate to purchase some. She recommended eating them with a bit of butter and some bread, which we did the very next morning. That little bite with the creamy butter was almost as a good a start to my day as that first cup of coffee.

Bread. Good pastry and cakes are easy to find in Japan, but good bread can be a challenge. This was an item on my agenda for this trip, and the market featured any number of bakers selling all sorts of yeasty things. My favorite, though, turned out to be the flowerpot loaves from The Honest Carrot. Baked right in the flowerpot ( a brilliant idea if ever there was one!) loaves came large or small, whole wheat or white. Adorable as well as yummy and clever. (See top photo.)

Truffles. Again, I'd never eaten a truffle or properly seen one despite reading a number of odes to them. Delphine zeroed in on this jar immediately, and we went in for a sniff. As she lifted her head from jar Delphine said without hesitation that this was the smell of the forest in France. Pungent and smokey, I could only imagine what the flavor must be.

Baklava. It seems only appropriate that one of the first vendors we came across sold this dessert. This weekend Sybil and Maan host their annual lamb roast, and once again we are far away. Lamb, hummous, tabouleh, Maan's beans, and a variety of sweets will deck the tables before sunset and the leavings will be just as good for the clean-up crew the next day.

Planning to go?
Tube: London Bridge
Thursday: 11am - 5pm
Friday: 12pm - 6pm
Saturday: 8am - 5pm

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