05/08/14 11:00am

London Calling: The Mother of All Food Markets and Beigels


Borough Market in a relatively calm moment.

London’s Borough Market predates the age of foodies by a good 163 years. I visited the bustling food paradise which offers everything from fresh produce and truffles to traditional English sausage rolls and Spanish charcuterie as part of the whirlwind weekend that was the 2014 Chowzter Awards. When I arrived there with my international food blogger posse—Anton Diaz of Our Awesome Planet, Catherine Ling of Camemberu, and Stanislaus Hans Danial Subianto of Eats and Treats—the crowds were pretty thin. Within about an hour they’d reached Times Square New Year’s Eve proportions as every permutation of foodies and tourists milled around taking snapshots. I of course qualified as both. Here’s a look at what we ate.


Like Times Square, but with way more foodies.

The cheese toasty stand with a bustling side line in raclette was among the Chowzter tips for the market. We skipped it in favor of something far meatier.


A princely porchetta sandwich.

When you’re from the land of the lechon like Anton Diaz you know a thing or two about roast pig. I think all of us saw the roast hog stand at the same time. The fennel marinated meat was topped with plenty of crackling. In an effort to pace ourselves we decided to split the sandwich.


I had to go all the way to London to try a specialty of my maternal homeland.

In keeping with the porcine theme we also tried some nduja, a spicy spreadable Calabrian salami  that I’ve been hearing about for years. Two words: meat taffy. Delicious, fiery meat taffy. Then we were off in search of duck confit sandwich that I heard about on Serious Eats.


This one was too tasty to split.

After wading through the crowds for what seemed an eternity we finally Le Marché du Quartier.  As promised there was a gent grilling up duck confit sandwiches. Intoxicated by the aroma of duck fat I decided to take down an entire sandwich by myself. My companions chose more wisely and split one. I followed the duck up with a half dozen briny Poole Harbour Rock Oysters from Shellseekers. Many bites of raw milk cheese were consumed and somewhere along the way we split a sausage roll from The Ginger Pig.


Turkish pestil made for a sweet finish.

On the way out we encountered a vendor with  a dozen or so flavors of Turkish delight, plus something I’d never seen before, pestil. It looked a little like a baklava, but is something far more special: a triangular packet of fruit leather made from grapes filled with chopped hazelnuts.


On the other side of the Pond they spell it ‘beigel.’

The next day we ventured out to Brick Lane not in search of curry but beigels and salt beef, England’s answer the New York style pastrami sandwich. I was very curious to see how this item, a tip from my pal English Nick Solares would compare to a New York City deli sandwich.


Salt beef on a beigel with spicy English mustard.

Beigel Bake’s namesake product is sweeter and more pretzel-like in flavor than its New York City counterpart. The salt beef shot through with ribbons of fat and lashed with spicy mustard made for a nice little sandwich. The operative word being little as the salt beef on a beigel is downright dainty compared to  Katz’s pastrami sandwich.

My one regret, apart from not having an extra stomach for this trip, was not trying a curry. Oh well, there’s  always next time.

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2 Comment

  • When you go back, I’m not going to knock Brick Lane for curry–it’s good–but there’s a gem of a place about 2 blocks south of BM called The Blue-Eyed Maid. It’s a pub that has an Indian restaurant attached to it. I haven’t been over in years but it’s got fantastic Indian food, very fresh, lighter than most, and open late. You can have pints in the pub and order from the restaurant attached off the alley. I have an Indian friend (from India) who’s really picky about Indian food and he insisted we take every evening meal there.

    Also, BM isn’t far from London Bridge station, in which there is located a really good pie cart/stand. They do some innovative pies (for England!) and they make THE BEST mushy peas EVER. Can’t remember the name of the stand, but I had lunch from there almost every day.