Can Cook, Must Cook

The food adventures of Franka P, a Trinidadian journalist living in London, UK. I'll write about my forays into all types of food and cooking, particularly Caribbean food. I'll also review books and recipes by the leading food writers and talk about the issues making headlines in the gastronomic world.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

My favourite market

Artichokes at Borough MarketI've always been fascinated by markets. As a child, I was mesmerized by the smells, sounds and tastes of the market.
I can still remember the sweet and spicy tamarind balls from the fat lady in the Central Market in Port of Spain, the crunchy khurma from the Indian lady in San Juan Market and the vivid imagery in the picong (serious heckling) between the vendors at both markets.

For a lot of people in the Caribbean, going to the market with your mother or granny is a ritual that many of us continue into our adulthood.
When I go back to Trinidad, I usually hit the market with Madge. We usually head to the San Juan Market - just ten minutes from where we live in Barataria - to buy potatoes, garlic and saltfish from 'the potato lady' and fruit from 'Pops'.
Here, I've got into the habit of going to Borough Market at least two Saturdays a month and now that I work near Shepherds Bush, I head down to the Shepherds Bush Market if I want a lunchtime jaunt. I also go to the Marylebone High Street Market some Sunday mornings.
What is it with me and markets then?


Barry Topp, Borough Market's cider manThe easiest thing would be to say it's a habit because I used to go to the Brighton Market when I lived there too, but now that I've moved to London, I have to say it's a deep love, particularly for Borough Market in London.
I can't remember how found out about Borough Market, but I learned it was highly recommended by lots of London's best chefs and food writers.
My first visit was in December 2003, a few weeks after moving to London from Brighton.
The first thing that strikes you about Borough Market is the atmosphere. There's a buzz and a vibe about it says 'this place is happening'. Then there's the wide variety of stuff on offer, it's not just fruit and veg, there's fish, game, wild boar, cakes, oyster, mutton, artisan bread and cheese, olive oil, cider, fudge, authentic English pies and so much more.
Borough also has some great characters, and I've got to know a few of them after buying from them for regularly.
There's Tony, the fruit and veg man from whom I get things like soursop, white asparagus and the best blackberries.
Tony is also very cheeky. When I took Madge to Borough Market, he told me he was keeping her and that she didn't need to go back to Trinidad. To this day he always asks 'how's your Mum?'
For the smoothest cider, I check Barry Topp at
New Forest Cider. Barry's orchards are in Somerset and Dorset and his cider is off the chain! He also makes a line of delicious liqueurs.
Barry calls me the 'Holy Terror' and tells anyone who would listen that I want his body. I'm always promising to visit his brewery in the New Forest and this year I think I will.
Paul, right, and his excellent chip chip
Imagine finding Tobago-style coconut chip chip in the middle of London! Well I found it at Dark Sugars, a stall run by a solid brotherman, Paul Sutherland. He's got Jamaican roots so we have a Caribbean one love going on.
He sells cake and chocolates to die for. Personally, my favourites are banana bread, lemon polenta cake and coconut chip chip!!!
I love oysters. Let me say that again, I love oysters! Every time I visit Borough Market, I have a couple of oysters and a clam from Richard Hayward Oysters. Richard's family has been in the oyster business for seven gnerations, that's more than a century.
His oysters come from West Mersea in Essex and er, did I mention that I love oysters? Talking about oysters, I heard about a recipe for mutton and oysters that I'm going to try using Herdwick Mutton from
Farmer Sharp. Andrew Sharp is one of the most engaging people you could meet, and he talks about the process of raising good lamb and mutton with great passion. When you taste his meat, you know those animals were happy and well fed.
Richard Hayward and his oystersThe last time I visited, I discovered a stall that sells ostrich in the newly refurbished part of the market. The next time I go, I'll pick up two steaks to try out. These ostriches aren't bred in Australia or Africa, but in Nottinghamshire at the Gamston Wood Farm. Ostrich eggs are so huge you could probably cook a meal for ten with one egg.
I fell in love with big, cuddly Ian Hartland and his pies from day one, ask Nazma Muller how I swooned over this loveable man from Cotgrave, Nottinghamshire.
Anyway, Ian's got a lovely wife named Nicola and together they run Mrs King's Pies with Ian's brothers. I love their pasties and sausage pies. They also make the traditional pies with fillings like leek and pork and apricot and pork.
At the moment, Ian and Nicola are in Europe having a well deserved break!
Wild boar have a reputation for being very fierce, they can inflict serious damage with thos tusks. But on the plus side, their meat is very tasty. Wild boar is more flavourful than pig which makes the meat perfect for sausages and bacon. If you're ever at Borough Market, try
Sillfield Farm's wild boar meat, you won't regret it.
I go to Borough Market for the vibes, to pick up specialty items and for a good Saturday eating experience. Admittedly, stuff there could be a bit pricey but you are paying for great quality goods.
I've never had anything bad there, and everyone that I've taken there has had a positive experience.

Andrew Sharp with some Herdwick MuttonThe other thing is that the stallholders are usually friendly, willing to speak about their produce, and they don't try to force you to buy anything.
You'll come to realise that there's a sense of camaraderie among them, and no one is heistant to point you to someone else's stall if they can't help.
If you love food and you're in London, then you must check out Borough Market. But in the meanwhile, you can see more of my pics at Flickr. Do enjoy!



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4 Comments:

  • At 16:57, Anonymous Georgia/Caribbean Free Radio said…

    You've sold me on Borough Market, Franka! I'm there next time I'm on London.

     
  • At 20:15, Blogger Trinifood said…

    Ahh, the power of love!
    Thanks Georgia!

     
  • At 15:32, Blogger Melissa CookingDiva said…

    It is a great report! Thank you for sharing :)

     
  • At 06:41, Blogger Mahek said…

    hi,
    i loved your post on markets, i too,like you, love to visit markets and local places where food is sold . you can check out my site www.love4cooking.blogspot.com to see my feature on market. pls do some more features on markets and the produce sold there.
    bye

     

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