London - Borough Market
One of my favorite things to do when I'm travelling is to explore local markets. On my arrival in Barcelona I headed straight for La Boqueria for some local food and culture. That experience was a perfect introduction to the city. So, Katy and I did the same in London, making Borough Market our very first destination. Our train pass from the airport gave us unlimited access to the tube so we grabbed a subway map and with just a little trouble found our way to the market.
For our first food of the day we shared a chorizo sandwich from the Brindisa Counter. The spicy, chewy chorizo was balanced nicely by acidic piquillo peppers and some peppery greens. As we traded bites we analyzed the queue across the street at Monmouth Coffee, eventually determining the steady pace would result in some much needed caffeine sooner rather than later.
Coffee in hand, we headed into the main part of the market. My jet-lagged brain was semi-successful attempting to take photos and balance my coffee amid the overwhelming crowds. As we walked through the market we couldn't help but notice that we were surrounded by people scarfing little takeaway cartons of curry. But try as we might, that morning we couldn't find the source. We made a second visit to the market a week later. An earlier start resulted in a shorter line at Monmouth Coffee and less overwhelming crowds in the main market. This time we had no trouble locating the curry, though the day's supply was still cooking, in crazy big paella pans.
Outside of the main, covered part of the market there are dozens of smaller stalls where artisans and vendors sell their wares. I didn't buy much, but there were tons of beautiful options. I'm an olive-aholic, this stall had buckets and buckets of the prettiest, glossiest, spiciest olives. I just window shopped, olives aren't an ideal finger food when your hands are busy with a dslr camera.
Take a few steps in any direction and you'll run into beautifully packaged jars of jam, chutney, and honey. I wanted to take every one of these home.
I barely resisted these cinnamon sugar donuts. On the other hand, I wasn't much tempted by the cheese (though I'm sure it was lovely and delicious.)
Near the top of my British to-eat list was a scotch egg! I got my fix from the Roast counter. This fist-sized gutbomb was pretty great. The hard boiled egg was coated in a thick layer of porky breakfast sausage and fried to a (greasy) crisp. With Katy's help I ate, maybe, half of the egg before throwing in the towel. Katy spotted the toasty golden empanadas below. She picked up the chicken version, it was predictably delicious.
And the gourmet treats don't stop at the market's edge. Fantastic restaurants and shops surround the perimeter of the market. Temptation is everywhere, the gorgeous macarons and pot de cremes below were just the start. From the market it's an easy walk over to the Tate Modern (it's free!) or across the Thames to visit Tower Bridge.
At the Tate we were just in time to catch the museums current performance art piece 'These Associations.' It was sort of the like an eerie flash mob, ebbing and flowing through the Tate's massive turbine hall. There was singing and chanting and a game of tag. It was mesmerizing. I don't know if it was really great art, or if our addled brains were just particularly susceptible after 24 hours without sleep. And that was just about all the excitement we could take, we wandered out of the Tate, along the Thames to make our way back to the hotel for some much needed rest.