I love a good food market. When I first moved to London 18 years ago (gulp!) the place to go was Borough Market but over the years it has become more and more popular and therefore busier and busier. If you go any later than 11am, you will spend the entire time having your ankles rammed into by buggies, or having your eye taken out by a huge camera lens belonging to an over-eager tourist with a food blog. (yes, that’s me when I’m on holiday but its mighty annoying when its on your own home turf). Its just a bit stressful.
Saying that, I still love Borough Market. And if you haven’t been before, shame on you! If you’re visiting London, it should be one of the first places you go. It really is wonderful. Just get there early!
If I can’t get to Borough Market early, I don’t worry too much as there are a myriad of other fantastic food markets in London. My favourites include Broadway Market in Hackney, Brixton Market and Queen’s Park farmers market, plus I love the stalls on Northcote Road in Clapham on a Saturday. You can find a run down of the best farmers markets in London here and Time Out’s guide here.
However, I have recently discovered Maltby Street Market in Bermondsey, SE London. Maltby Street hosts a fabulous food market every Saturday and Sunday out of the railway arches near Tower Bridge, bringing together artisan food and drink producers selling top quality produce. Its just a a 15/20 minute walk from Borough Market but its a different world. It’s a lot smaller and more laid-back and as a result, a lot more personable, with the stall holders more than happy to stop and talk about their produce.
Nigel Slater described it perfectly in the Observer…I have often dreamed of finding a perfect place to do my food shopping. A place far from the strip-light nightmare of the supermarket; somewhere that offers the best of a farmers’ market with a taste of something from further afield. A slightly secret and hidden place, where supply goes with the ebb and flow of the seasons, where there is a constantly evolving group of traders bringing things to tempt and delight.
My friend Cassie and I decided to check out Maltby Street for the first time just a couple of months ago. First thing we did was head for Monmouth Coffee to get a cracking good start to our day with an excellent cup of coffee.
Their pastries and tarts looked absolutely incredible…
We then wondered down Ropewalk, through the stalls selling fabulous salami and cheese…
Then we noticed Tozino, with its serrano hams hanging from the ceiling…
They serve a selection of serrano hams…Jamon de Teruel from Aragon and delicious acorn fed Jamon Iberico from Los Pedroches in Cordoba, available freshly carved and whole on the bone.
Cassie and I were offered a taster of three different hams. Once we decided on our favourite, we ordered a plate, topped with tomato on toast…fantastic. The ham was so soft and sweet. We could easily have ordered another plate but we didn’t want to fill up at our first stop.
We carried on walking and noticed that there was a Texas Chilli Cook Off in progress.
Cassie signed up for it since she loves chilli and we got chatting to the three finalists, two of whom were actually from Texas. But the one chilli we both loved best was made by Will Yates from Billy Franks Jerky…
Now I am not a lover of anything spicy so I don’t eat chilli. However, Cassie told me I had to try this. I’m so glad I did, it was incredible. It had such depth of flavour, we asked how it was made. Turned out Will had been working on it since Wednesday, and it included….wait for it….pork belly, beef brisket, venison, duck, partridge, chorizo and bacon! Phew!
I have never tasted anything like it. It was served with toasted tortilla, a limed soured cream and chipotle cheese sauce and topped with cider fried slices of jalapeño and nduja. Unbelievable. It was simply amazing. I haven’t been able to stop talking about it since. If all chillis tasted like his, I’d be eating chilli every day. Unfortunately, I don’t think they do. The other two chillis that were on the menu that day were nice, just not spectacular. We did of course vote for Will’s chilli to win and luckily, everyone else at Maltby Street that day agreed with us and he won. Incidentally, last weekend, he came second in the Chilli Stand Off in Hackney last weekend with the same chilli. SOMEONE GIVE THIS GUY A REGULAR CHILLI STAND!
High on chilli, we continued ambling along, taking in all the foodie delights.
We decided to stop for something to drink. We loved the look of Little Bird which serves its very own London gin…
Then we noticed Life’s A Bottle…
And stopped off for a glass of red and prosecco…
As we delved further in, we realised it is set inside the wonderful Lassco, an antique store selling all sorts of wonderful things…
Then when we got a bit peckish we decided to get something from Market Gourmet.
We opted for their 72 hour ‘sous vide’ beef brisket with Welsh rarebit on brioche. Wow! Absolutely wonderful. Keith Bagley, who set up Market Gourmet, even gave Cassie and I a loaf of his homemade brioche to take home with us. What a lovely man.
I know I’m always saying, “If you’re in London, you must go here” but I really do mean it. Maltby Street Market is a wonderful place to hang out on a Saturday. Fab atmosphere, excellent food and drink and lots of truly lovely people who love what they do.
Maltby Street, Bermondsey, London, SE1 3PA
Nearest tube: London Bridge or Bermondsey
Open Saturday – 9am until the gin runs out (about 4pm)
Bar Tozino is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday.