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Borough Market

Among the airy arches which support the tracks of London Bridge railway station is a thriving market, open Fridays and Saturdays. It's crowded with stalls and booths set up among a half-hearted maze of green metal fences, a measure of angularity which means that the paths and the stalls are defined by irregular geometry. The vendors are laden with organic greens, wild boar meat, fresh venison, unusual beers, exotic oils, freshly baked breads, and handmade confectionary. A truffle vendor has come from Italy to sell his wares here. One stall specializes in Spanish foods, including freshly-shaved serrano ham and membrillo, or quince paste. Another specializes in Tunisian fare. This is the Borough Market, in existence since the eighteenth century, but lately renewed by physical renovations and the publicity accompanying the recent craze for high-quality food, driven by the British celebrity chef phenomenon.

Inspired by an array of websites, I stopped by for a wander early on Friday afternoon, drifting throught the crowds of business suits queued up for chorizo sandwich or pork-and-stilton burger. Eventually, I joined those waiting patiently for a venison steak sandwich, topped with a very respectable salad and tomato relish. The truffle vendor remembered me from two weeks ago, although this was my first trip there and we'd never met. The high end wine merchant stocked large bottles of Brachetto d'Acqui... and Château d'Yquem vintages. (As well, they had argan oil and maple sugar candies imported from Canada.) Two competitors stocked foie gras... and another sold the meat of the birds fattened for it, famed for their richness of flavor and used in duck confit. Handmade butter, a wide array of sausages and black puddings, black teas and coffees, blood oranges and more beautiful mushrooms than I've ever seen before... I bought sparingly. I was indecisive over the wealth of cheese options, and vowed to take C. back there the next day to choose a few.

On Saturday, we made it there at the end of a long day of tourism and shopping, lugging bags of previous purchases. C. was weary, so I showed him around only briefly. We bought a bottle of elderberry wine before cross the pedestrian-thronged street to the other branch of Neil's Yard Dairy across the street, famed purveyors of high-quality cheeses. Thanks to the cheese education provided by saffronjan and John, I knew I wanted a slice of Colston Bassett Stilton. The man helping me proffered other cheese when I said I wanted soft ones... a foamy goat's cheese with a complex and vaguely spicy aftertaste, and a rich, drippingly soft sheep's cheese. Convinced by taste, I bought them both. To my relief, my first attempt at baking savory bread - soda, not yeast - turned out perfectly for the cheeses, the sturdy taste of wholegrain supporting the complexities of the wine-like cheeses.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
madcatlady
Mar. 22nd, 2005 11:30 am (UTC)
And there was I thinking you were in Canada!
owlfish
Mar. 22nd, 2005 11:33 pm (UTC)
Well I was in Canada. I flew over a few days ago. I aim to confuse, you know.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )