Borough MarketLondon | United Kingdom

  • added: Apr 21 2010
  • author: foodsketches
  • comments:
Editor's choiceHidden jewel
A good food market is a haven for foodie: aromas, bursting colours, multitudes of spices, seasonal vegetables, fresh flowers, different cheeses, warm crusty bread, sweet pastries and an amazing buzz.

Those of us who enjoy not only the moment of sharing a special meal,  but the entire process from picking your produce to getting your hands dirty in a beautiful creation of a gourmet masterpiece, would most likely know the local food markets. 

A good food market is a haven for foodie: aromas, bursting colours, multitudes of spices, seasonal vegetables, fresh flowers, different cheeses, warm crusty bread, sweet pastries and an amazing buzz.

Food markets are a social phenomenon: it is a place to meet; exchange ideas, spend a whole day discovering new things and flavours, meet producers and share a glass of wine with old friends... If you are truly looking for a special treat, visit Borough market in London. The market existed since 1014 or even earlier as 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 occupied the territory of the current Borough market establishment. Borough market is never empty (unless during the closed hours), it has a special ambience and it gives you endless opportunities to please your eye and surprise your taste buds. A unique thing about Borough market is that many of the stallholders are producers - people who grow, rear or bake the food that they sell. Most of them are also smaller, more artisan producers.   Others are importers with intimate knowledge of whichever corner of the globe they source their products from. Everything in this market is dedicated to food, discovery of new combinations and flavors; and most important – it is all about sharing, passing the knowledge to each other, and spreading the passion and interest for gastronomy.

Our suggestion is to visit the market very early on Saturday, preferably be there around 8:00 AM. This way you will have the best possible choice of things and stand a chance to get the freshest bread, seafood, caught just on the day, and, of course, what a day without a cup of freshly brewed and deeply invigorating espresso! There is a small Italian stall focusing primarily on Illy coffee, run by Italians, and serving one of the best espressos!


Once you charged yourself up, we would recommend to pick fresh groceries. Watch out for seasonal vegetables and fruit offers; and be ready to familiarize yourself with the kinds of mushrooms you have, perhaps, never even seen, nor heard of before. If you like fresh flowers, then you can also find a charming flower store that usually has a lot of interesting flowers to offer.  Beware that such flowers are sold quickly!

Bread lovers would find paradise in Borough market – anything from dark brown bread to true French baguette, brioche, rosemary foccacia and a lot more.

I always found a smell of fresh bread irresistibly intoxicating and when you have a chance to bite off that fresh crusty piece of the baguette – the world around you seize to exist... It is pure pleasure. If you have a sweet tooth, then you would love a variety of products offered on the dolce front: anything from home made tiramisu to mouthwatering cannelé, tart aux citron and simply divine chocolate brownie. Be sure to come hungry!

Cheese stalls can not be overlooked – this is where we spend hours trying and looking and smelling and simply indulging the moment. Our recommendation is to visit a British cheese store – Neal’s Yard. This is a fine example of people passionate about what they do; very knowledgeable in the subject and interesting to chat with!

Colston Bassett Stilton is a must on the shopping list. You may be interested as well in some cheese tasting classes that are organized by Neal’s Yard – we have attended a few and thoroughly enjoyed it. One of the best Gorgonzola Dolce we ever purchased was also on the Borough market – very creamy in texture and strong in taste – put it on the fresh piece of bread and allow for your senses to enjoy every second of it.

We also had some interesting discoveries – a Swiss cheese that came to life by a mistake of the producer. This cheese had inadvertently been matured for 7 months and wasn’t selling well in Switzerland. The UK cheese importer met with the producer, tasted the cheese, was very pleased with the taste and decided to take the remaining pieces to London. This is how Nidelchäs from Toggenburg region made its way to popularity and high demand among Borough market visitors. And here is another interesting fact: this small UK cheese importer is now supplying Whole Foods stores in London with Nidelchäs and a few other types of cheeses.

Fishmongers’ stalls are a luscious masterpiece – nothing seems impossible with these guys! If you need big scallops on a shell, they have it; if you need small octopus, they have it; were you looking for mussels or vongole – not a problem! And if you are about to host a big party – they may have just the right size of the fish for you. Be sure that all seafood can be cleaned on your request, so you can focus on pure cooking experience at home.

If you are a meat lover, you can find anything from wild boar meat to freshest Scottish lamb and an amazing choice of game: partridge, pheasant and even ostrich burgers. Nothing is impossible at Borough Market.

If your adventures on the market lead you to the lunch hunger – there could not be a better place to be! You can try anything from seafood paella, to German sausages with sauerkraut; raclette, roast sandwiches and succulent with a good pinch of spice chorizo sandwiches. If you are looking for a more refined experience, then we would suggest to book a table at Wright Brothers, a small restaurant on the market grounds focused only on seafood.

It is famous for impressive selection of oysters; their cold seafood platters and most fresh lobsters, razor clams, crabs and a cold glass of refreshing champagne... We shall certainly write more about this place in our restaurant section.

I can go for hours writing about this place, but I must admit that the best way to discover a place is to visit it once and to see it yourself. You do not need to travel far, if you are not in the UK – start with your country, with your own town – explore what local food markets have on offer. Some of them may be seasonal or dedicated to specific produce only; some may be small, the others big... Go out and be ready for discoveries – it only takes the will and curiosity to step into unknown!



  • Cynthia : Aug 05 2010 23:32

    Great photos. They really capture the glory of the Borough Market. For any who might be interested in a bit of information on the market's long and astonishing history, I wrote a piece a few years ago on dining in London, and the Borough Market's history is covered in a paragraph about half way through the article:

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  • 8, Southwark Street
    SE1 1TL - London

    By tube to London Bridge or Borough underground stations
  • Opening times:
    Thursday: 11:00 – 17:00
    Friday: 12:00 – 18:00
    Saturday: 08:00-17:00