GETTING out of bed early on Saturday morning can always be a struggle, especially after a big week of work or a Friday night out with mates. But if you manage to do it — you will get the chance to explore some of the finest hidden gems of the English capital.
London has some of the best markets in the world for food, coffee and produce, and gives you the chance to discover new and tasty products directly from British and European farms.
Farmers markets have now cropped up in almost every borough in the city and they really support the community by bringing people together with the freshest produce, as well as passing on the wealth of knowledge, information and cooking tips from the various stallholders.
There is always a sense of calm around the markets, even when we’re dodging each other, hands full and around our favourite pork roll with that delicious homemade applesauce, or holding bulging bags of tasty pastries that won’t last the trip home.
Nearly all stallholders will offer a taster of their produce, which is why farmers markets are a favourite of mine. They evoke new ideas and recipes, and for me as a chef, that is exactly what I am after. I can take any new ideas back to the kitchen, place them on our menus and help inspire both our customers and the young chefs working with us.
A great example of a new culinary discovery that I’m into at the moment is a hard Swiss cheese ball I found at the Sloane Square markets. Called the Belper Knolle, this cow’s milk cheese is rolled in pepper, salt and garlic and slowly matured to a Parmesan consistency. It is a real delight and a huge favourite of mine at the moment. We shave wafer thin slices of the cheese to create a fantastic winter salad and it’s also a great touch to soups and pasta dishes.
Below is a list of exciting markets I know you will enjoy. My advice is to get out there, chat to the vendors and stallholders, sample their fare and buy some great produce. Then rush back home to whip it into a feast your mates will rave about for ages. Happy cooking (and exploring)!
Chris’s favourite markets in London
Borough Markets — One of London’s top tourist and foodie destinations the city has to offer. Crowded and full but always a great morning out. Head to London Bridge tube.
Broadway Markets — These are one of my all time favourites. The oldest chartered markets in the city, they’ve got a cool vibe and great coffee. Well worth the trip. Bethnal Green tube or London Fields.
Brixton Markets — Head here for a chance to grab some Caribbean and ethnic spices and loads of ideas. Jump off at Brixton.
Islington Markets – For fresh produce and great pubs to visit after, these are tucked away off Upper St (sort of midway between Angel and Highbury & Islington tubes).
Wimbledon Markets – For fresh produce and inspiring ideas for the kitchen, you can’t go past SW19 (get off at Wimbledon Park).
Chiswick Markets – Offering all things food, from growing herbs to free range chickens and meat. Tucked away down near the river, once you have finished you can wander down the Thames to your favourite river pub. Use either Chiswick or Barnes Bridge rail stations.
Clapham Markets — On the quaint Abbeville Rd, these are awesome for a great variety of produce and a chance to stock up the fridge for the week ahead. Wander down from Clapham Common or up from Clapham South.
Camden Markets — What’s not to love about exploring culinary delights from around the globe and then browsing the knick knacks and cheap clothes on offer in Camden. Get retro, get emo, get funky, just get there! Use Camden Town tube — the food markets are in The Stables, by the canal.
Partridges Food Market — When the Duke of York square comes alive with tasty produce, you’re in for a treat. Be sure to check out the Jumi Swiss cheese stall and try the Belper Knolle. Delish! Just down from Sloane Square station.
Check out more of Chris’s columns, or follow him on Twitter @ChrisArkOnFood