South of the Thames, near the London Bridge crossing, is London's answer to San Francisco's Ferry Building - a concentrated population of organic produce, artisan cheese and charcuterie makers, wine shops, hip pubs, and interesting restaurants open for trade every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The selection is vast and the quality is incredible. Just a brief visit to the market is enough to cure any Bay Area foodie of their homesickness in seconds. That's because Borough Market is like a combination of the farmer's market, Bi-Rite, and Whole Foods, except waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better.
First off, Borough is about fifteen times as big as any high-end market we have in the States - the selection is mind-boggling and causes one's head to spin as the senses are inundated with intoxicating sights and smells. Intoxicating drinks are also available and one can walk freely with a beverage in hand (so of course we both grabbed a Pimm's) while perusing the various stands and storefronts. Imagine if you could sip on a beer while picking out vegetables at Whole Foods!
Sure you can get fresh fruit, crisp produce, and all the usual snacks we see in the U.S., but it's the foods we don't see at home that one should concentrate on, i.e. England's traditional meat pie! There are numerous choices available and they all seem quite delicious.
We made a mistake eating lunch before we came because the hot meals available at Borough Market are wonderful. Most vendors will let you sample just about anything and that leads to trouble quickly. This giant bowl of green seafood curry was almost my second lunch.
Of course there's seafood as well. Fresh-shucked oysters on the half shell are ubiquitous and there's a plethora of fine fish and chips with an option to choose your own fillet for deep-frying from an eye-popping selction of varieties.
Don't even get me started on all the bread and baked goods. We opted for a half loaf of Spelt Sourdough to go with our cheese purchases, but these flower pot-baked treats had me captivated. What a creative way to cook and present!
The cheese is what will break you at Borough Market. We had nearly purchased a pound of various cheese before we even made it to Neal's Yard Dairy. We tasted their Stilton and began talking to the staff about how highly we thought of their shop. They asked us where we were from and we said San Francisco. They then said that a guy named Adam from Cowgirl Creamery had come over from SF to work in their shop recently. I about freaked out because Adam is the brother of our RWC store assistant manager Zach. You're never too far away from six degrees of K&L no matter where you go. Neal's specializes in the farm cheeses of the UK and the selection will make you drool with delight.
I was about to leave when I spotted the New Forest Cider stand out of the corner of my eye. These guys are making some amazing, apple ciders and a good lot of them are non-carbonated. We never see bubble-free cider in the States and I'm not sure why because it's quite nice to have a few pints without filling your stomach up with air. They also sell apple brandy from a small distilery in Sheffield, but I was too entranced by their delicious cider.
By the time we arrived back at the hotel we had quite a booty. Bread, meat pie, various cheeses, fruit, and some cider to wash it down. If you're in London, you simply must go to Borough Market. I'll be heading back tomorrow and Saturday to take in more. Can't wait.