Friday, 19 September 2008

Treasures of Borough Market

I have been lucky enough to find a handful of lovely things at Borough Market, including:
- fresh sausage baguettes in good company
- a plant which I thought grew peppers but turned out to be chilli's...
- a beautiful colourful flourist
- a truly fantastic greengrocer selling three avocadoes for £1

Having spent a month in and around SE1, Borough Market has become something of a bolt-hole. I walk past it day-to-day and pop into it's warm, shadowy depths to browse, buy or just become inspired.
I wonder if people today think that markets are reserved for highly strung chefs and pretentious foodies? Or maybe that they are intimidated by the range of products and services available? Or maybe supermarkets have spoilt the public, making shopping a sterile, pre-packed, plastic fest. Either way, I would encourage anyone to pay their nearest market a visit from time-to-time. The people are friendly, the produce is often very good and the whole experience has so much more character than a stress-filled sprint through Tesco. Jump in!

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Konditor & Cook

While spending time at a course in London, I happened across a wonderful bakery on the edge of Borough Market. With the unusual name of Konditor & Cook and the illuring smell of freshly baking pastries wafting in the smokey breeze, I just had to check it out. Although they're by no means the cheapest outlet in London, they are good for a treat and it definitely will be a treat no matter what you choose. I would, however, recommend the Boston Brownie (dark chocolate with cranberries) and the Black Ginger Bread.
Their website seems quite good and they provide a full .pdf of their retail list online into the bargain. They have five outlets in London.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Teapod

"There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea."
Bernard-Paul Heroux

Having raved previously about my love of coffee, it must be said that I'm an equal fan of tea. I usually have the obligatory cup of Breakfast tea with milk (appropriately) at breakfast time often followed by a cup of Earl Grey with friends later in the day. I originially happened across a lovely contemporary café called Teapod when I was on work experience near London Bridge when I was fifteen. It's a fresh and friendly place, only a stones throw from Tower Bridge. You can choose from more than twenty different kinds of loose tea which they serve to you in a small, Japanese teapot. I've only really tried their Earl Grey as from the first cup, I was addicted, but I hear their selection is very good quality. Their food is also quite good (their soup particularly) and isn't too bad price-wise for the London area.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Old Bulls Head, Woodhouse Eaves

I was promised a great pub meal in a swish setting and I wasn't disappointed. I must admit, my boyfriend knows a little bit about good food and dining. We drove the short distance from Loughborough to Woodhouse Eaves in search of the Old Bulls Head public house. We arrived for an early dinner and were seated promptly by young, friendly staff. The menu, as promised, was rather sumptuous in the style of a typical gastropub. Once we ordered, I was able to sit back and admire our surroundings; muted but rich palette of colours on the walls which were hung with ornate carved wooden panels. This was set off by soft spot lighting on tables while the rest of the room was kept darker and with a mix of modern music quietly playing in the background. We were served bread with oil and balsamic vinegar to whet our appetites before our starter arrived. Maybe we'd over ordered slightly... Our seafood platter was huge, especially for the price of around £14. There were roll mops, gravalax, shell-on prawns, smoked mackerel as well as piles of thickly sliced bread, salad leaves and horse radish mayonnaise. The quality was impeccable and everything was very tasty.


Main course was a roasted root vegetable salad with goats cheese for me and moroccan lamb with couscous for him. My salad was a great mix of flavours and textures but, to be honest, I love goats cheese so they couldn't really go wrong. The boy's lamb was beautifully cooked and spiced though it was a touch spicy for his liking as he generally doesn't go for things with an abundence of chilli. Needless to say, we were far too stuffed for pudding which was a shame as the menu looked equally delicious! I think another trip will be in order some time in the future.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Brindisa

I found Brindisa while wandering around Borough Market soaking up the atmosphere on a Friday afternoon and absent-mindedly picking treats to take with me on a visit to see my boyfriend. I went into their dark shop out of curiosity and found two men stood at a counter in one corner carving paper-thin slices of cured meat from large joints in metal stands. They kindly offered me samples of various cures, explaining the different flavours and tastes. It was something of an awakening for me as I fell in love with the sweet, woody flavours and soft textures. Of course, I then had to buy some - 50g of their Teruel ham (£3.50). We devoured it only a day (and one hundred miles or so) later with fresh, sweet tomatoes and plenty of salt and pepper. Divine!

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Monmouth Coffee Company

I love coffee. I didn't always. In fact, as a wide-eyed pup I used to stare in amazement as adults supped this hot beverage, certain that it was quite impossible for anyone to actually enjoy* a mug of the bitter-smelling, foul-tasting, murky liquid. Now, of course, my tastes have changed but I tend to save coffee for best - it isn't cheap and tends to leave me a little dehydrated. Saying that, I like nothing more than a hot cup of milky sweet coffee to warm my hands and my tummy while I people watch with a sketchbook or newspaper.

I discovered the Monmouth Coffee Company while perusing Borough Market. It has an honest aesthetic - various coffee beans in tantalising heaps awaiting customers to make their choice and take them home in paper bags for their own private delectation and a large scrubbed wooden dining table to sit around. In the mornings, a breakfast of bread and jam (£2.50 per person) is laid out with a variety of jams (and marmite -yuck- if you're that way inclined). A little pricey for a meer student like myself but their coffee is good and you'll often hear murmurs of appreciation about a particular jam or another around the table so maybe one day I'll have to bite the bullet, open my wallet and give it a try. (All in the name of research, of course...)

*Maybe they're just pretending to like it because grown ups can, I reasoned with myself, like they do with wine, football and kissing.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Flour Power

Can anyone resist a tower of freshly baked, aromatic chocolate brownies? I don't think I've met anyone yet who realistically can. While walking through Borough Market one morning, I laid eyes on a deliciously arranged market stall complete with rich-looking chocolate brownies. It belonged to a friendly company called Flour Power. And they don't just have a clever name... They sell all sorts of baked goodies from crusty loaves to cake, all with an organic ethos. I dutifully bought a slab of brownie for my morning tea break and wasn't disappointed, though I must admit, it wasn't mindblowing; I have had better, made better myself but it wasn't half bad. Since then, however, I've also sampled their Carrot Cake, which is a definite winner.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Borough Market

I've headed off to the Big Smoke for a month long course about architecture. I'm looking to expand my horizons and challenge myself while discovering the confidence I once had. London is a fantastically busy place and I tend to relish it for that fact; I can be anonymous and carried along with the crowd.
I have been prompted, however, to pause in some places and take in the sites, sounds and smells. Borough Market in SE1 is one of those places. A vibrant, bustling energy fills it up to the rafters from Thursday to Saturday each week while some traders hold permenant positions among the fray during the week too. It's only a two minute walk from our studios so it's perfect for a break. I'll keep you posted during my journey of discovery and, in the meantime, why not do some exploring yourselves?
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