Note: My 2011 visit to London series is here.
In South London sits Brixton Village and Brixton Market.
Brixton Market is an outdoor market covering Electric Avenue, Pope’s Road, and Brixton Station Road. Most of the goods sold are ingredients used in African and Caribbean cooking. Many are unfamiliar, things that I’d only previously seen in cookbooks. Their bright colors tease and tantalize.
The pedestrianized areas converge onto Brixton Village, a covered market where groceries, butcher shops, and cafés cohabit contentedly. It’s all very eclectic and I’m glad to have seen it but I feel disconnected to this place. And the meal I have here is forgettable.
Over in the City, I’m thrilled to be walking on Tower Bridge, something I didn’t get to do last time. The blue suspension struts and twin neo-Gothic towers are as astounding seen from far away as they are up close.
How many of these famous buildings can you recognize?
The Borough Market is way more crowded now than it was last time, my goodness. There are plenty of new purveyors but it’s the same stalls that seem to draw the longest lines, like Roast, Monmouth Coffee, and this stall selling raclette sandwiches.
On this trip however, I have eyes only for the doughnuts. I have it on good word that the custard-stuffed glories from the Bread Ahead stall is even better than the one from St JOHN Bakery.
“They’re all good,” replies the purveyor when I ask her to help me decide. “But if this is your first Bread Ahead doughnut, then you must get the Classic Vanilla,” she remarks resolutely.
So I do. Hefty in hand, one bite confirms that this is a treat custom-built for spiritualizing the magical synergy between sugar and yeast. Every bite triggers a sugar shower, the vanilla custard within the puffy dough gushes to greet tongue, and sweetness sings. Time stops in that little corner where I retreat to revel in this doughnut.
Deep scarlet windowpanes contrast against stately, white stone buildings in Marylebone, one of my favorite neighborhoods for wandering. I like its village vibe and the numerous cafés, unique boutiques, and intimate bookstores provide for hours well-spent.
It’s here in Marylebone that I come across an egg dish that makes a massive imprint on my life. My love for eggs is well-documented in my blog and book, but this dish – it’s changed me somehow.
It’s called Turkish eggs, a now-iconic London brunch dish at popular buzzy place, The Providores and Tapa Room. Inspired by an egg dish he encountered in Istanbul called cilbir, chef Peter Gordon’s version is a pair of delicately poached eggs sitting on whipped yogurt. It’s immersed in a pool of hot chili butter that is a scintillating persimmon shade, its surface glistening in the day’s rays. Served with either sourdough or seeded granary toast, the eggs are a lush lubricant to the short and sudden tang of the silken yogurt. A tinge of tantalizing heat as I swallow, followed by a breath of butter for remembrance.
If you love eggs and you are in London, then on no account should you let this dish slip you by. It’s the stuff of dreams.
Here, other reveries to enjoy at The Providores and Tapa Room:
Maltby Street Market
Open only on Saturday and Sunday, its vendors sell mostly food to eat on-site or to nibble on while wandering. It’s hectic and heady, scents swirling and sending salivary glands into overdrive.
Some of the stuff that has me drooling:
A huge impetus for getting to Maltby Street is the promise of the famous St. JOHN doughnuts. Rivaling only those of Bread Ahead (scroll above) in fame and fervid fans, these entice in flavors of vanilla custard, jam, and lemon curd. As an avowed doughnut head, I honestly can’t tell the difference between this and those of Bread Ahead’s. Both are truly doughy pleasures designed for giving in to one (or two) or more.
We walk on the Millennium Bridge to get to St Paul’s Cathedral above and below, an interesting viewpoint of it near the One New Change building.
The best burgers that my family encounters on this trip are at Gourmet Burger Kitchen. My Bin even prefers these over those at Shake Shack. Meat and non-meat patties please the palate together with all sorts of fries from chunky to skinny to sweet potato. It’s all too good. And whatever you do, order a milkshake, preferably peanut butter. In all of London, my family of milkshake masters voted the shakes at GBK the best.
As we walk experiencing a summer in London, flowers are abloom everywhere.
Contact information of establishments mentioned in this article
Gourmet Burger Kitchen: www.gbk.co.uk