Every Saturday morning when we venture down to Alexandria's farmers market, I'm in heaven. I'm so grateful to have an extremely convenient source for fresh, local produce, plus it's a fun way to start the weekend. But boy oh boy, Alexandria's farmers market has got nothin' on what we were witness to this past weekend in London.

My UK-based friend recommended that we venture down to check out Borough Market, located on the south bank of the Thames in London. Since I lived in London as a student, and Alex and I had crossed off most of the touristy things to do on previous trips together, we were anxious to try out an "insider's" look at the city. First thing Saturday morning, we took the Underground (London's public transportation system) to the Waterloo stop. After asking for directions from a transit employee, we set off on foot to explore.

After a very short walk, we knew we were in the right place. What stood before us was an expanse of culinary delights, inviting us in to explore. 

As the market slowly revealed its bounty, I grew more and more excited. To start, check out this amazing array of ales, just beckoning to be consumed.

Adjacent to the ales stood a fresh fish counter. We particularly liked the langusteen selection. I had to fight the urge to pick two of them up and make them talk to one another, claws flailing.

Within the seafood area was a fresh paella bar, offering up several different variations of the Spanish dish. It looked and smelled amazing.

Moving through the market, we soon came upon my idea of heaven. There stood barrels full of every type of olive imaginable. Olives aren't Alex's thing, but I could have sat in that stand all day sampling the salty goodness.

Nearby was a source for unique spices. We thought it was hilarious that the liquorice root had a special sign.

Speaking of paradise, check out the cheese selection. Mmmm. Imagine nibbling on these morsels. 

Although we did more admiring than eating, I couldn't resist when we came to the fresh baked goods. We scored a warm, cinnamon sugar covered soft jelly filled doughnut for a mere 70p. (Roughly $1.10.) My only regret was not buying two. Sharing baked goods doesn't bring out the best in me. "No, I swear you have the bigger half."

After finishing the doughnut along with a fresh piece of pretzel bread, we continued our trek. This booth was advertising a myriad of beverages, including one that we know our friends watching Lulu would be fond of. 

On a slightly healthier note, wheat grass and acai berry beverages were also available. Tempting, but I opted for a hot milky chai beverage instead.

Next we circled the gourmet chocolate selection, tasting the free samples and bringing home an assorted mix for friends.

More similar to what we're accustomed to at our farmers market was this fruit and vegetable stand. They also had an amazing selection of fresh preserves.

Here's another reason I adore London. Nestled directly next to Borough Market, just through an old iron gate, sits an old cathedral. That morning, people gathered to lazily sip tea, enjoy the purchases from the market, and shop a used book sale.

All in all, the market greatly exceeded our expectations. Not only was it much more vast than expected, the diversity of its offerings was a visual and culinary delight. If you're a foodie, enjoy free samples, or like to explore points of interest a bit off the beaten path, I absolutely recommend adding Borough Market to your list of stops the next time you're in London.

Do you have a favorite market that you like to visit, whether it be in your town or somewhere you've visited while traveling? Do you have a favorite item you like to pick up at markets? Was there an item or two pictured above that got your stomach grumbling? I'd love to hear all about as I keep dreaming about those doughnuts.

If you missed yesterday's post about why we were in London, and how we took in the Olympic experience, you can read our recap here.

Comments 15

Comments

Elizabeth
8/9/2012 at 10:16 AM
We're actually headed to visit friends in Richmond and they have a wonderful outdoor market. We always start the visit with a couple of donuts made on site. They are so huge and delicious. With our sugar levels spiked, we pick up a couple of fresh pizza crusts and select from the abundance of locally grown veggies for toppings to grill later. Of course we always grab some fruit for snacking as well. Can't wait!
Wendy
8/9/2012
Oh my gosh, that sounds amazing! Richmond is only a couple hours away so we might have to do a farmers market road trip one weekend. Thanks for sharing, Elizabeth!
Cher
8/9/2012 at 10:40 AM
Come on over to the Falls Church City Farmers Market. It is wonderful. They have homemade ice cream, cheese, fresh milk, grass fed beef and chicken, in addition to all the wonderful produce. In addition, they have a great crab cake guy, and fresh crepes. It was voted one of the best in the US.
Wendy
8/9/2012
Mmm. Fresh crepes?? Now my stomach is grumbling. :-) We'll definitely have to check it out, thank you!
8/9/2012 at 11:13 AM
Borough Market is a great place. Did you visit the Neal's Yard Dairy store there? One of my old friends from Oxford works as a cheese buyer for them and while not their original store, it is the larger one.

One other food source that I miss are the Harrod's Food Halls. While I rarely grabbed more than a bite to eat there, their displays are delectable and the variety is overwhelming.

I do miss the Covered Market in Oxford, with the eclectic mix of food and market stalls. Where else could you get fresh cookies, specialty cakes, and your choice of butchers?!?

Locally, we like to make it to the Friday afternoon farmer's market at Kingstowne. While it is not huge, everything is local, there are no crafts, and it has most anytype of fresh food a person needs (honey, meat, fruit, veg, bread, and kettle corn).
Wendy
8/9/2012
Hmmm, I don't think we visited Neals' Yard Dariy. We have been to Harrod's though and it's a site worth seeing for sure. (Although a little too rich for my wallet.)

I didn't know Kingstown has a Friday afternoon market. Do you know how late it stays open? Thanks!
8/10/2012 at 2:28 PM
It goes till 7p every Friday. Also, here is the webpage with all the Fairfax County Markets - www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/wp-farm-mkt.htm - we have been to a couple of the others and they are generally pretty good.
8/9/2012 at 2:08 PM
Visiting food markets is one of my favorite things to do on any trip - whether it's Seattle's Pike Place, Cleveland's West Side Market, or Vancouver's Granville. I've definitely added this as a Must Do for our 2013 trip to the UK. Thanks for the inspiration.
Wendy
8/9/2012
Cleveland's West Side Market is great. We try to get there every time we visit our parents. I've never been to Seattle or Vancouver though, and will definitely have to add this to our must see list. Thanks, Becky. :-)
Alex
8/9/2012
Back when I used to work in a window restoration shop in The Flats down in Cleveland, we were actually quite close to the West Side Market, so we'd walk up there for lunch on the days it was open. Their perogies were AMAZING! I love that Anthony Bourdain covered it and Cleveland's other amazing culinary destinations, like Sokolowskis and Hot Sauce Williams (yeah, Lola is good too I guess), in the Cleveland episode of No Reservations.
8/9/2012 at 6:21 PM
Loved Borough Market for sure when were there two years ago. We had a great time poking around, and I think I was at the same beer vendor! And I think we ended up at the same church near the banks too!

www.flickr.com/photos/whiteknuckled/4550400565/in/set-72157623927520974
Wendy
8/10/2012
That's great! And definitely looks like the same church. :-)
Carrie Cole Jolly
9/11/2012 at 6:17 PM
Loved your post!
Old Town Home
9/11/2012 at 6:17 PM
Thanks Carrie Cole Jolly. :-)
Sarah Kate Snyder
9/11/2012 at 6:17 PM
Mmmm, Pimms! Love it.
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