Part 1: The West End & An English Pub
Part 2: Borough Market, The South Bank, The City, & A Super Steak
Part 3: Hyde Park, South Kensington & Knightsbridge, Hummingbird Bakery, and Portobello Road
Part 4: Best Salt Beef Beigel, A Szechuan Restaurant, and Buckingham Palace
Part 5: British Food I Love (and then some)
My favorite market in London and the best steak in the city.
Borough Market is fondly called “London’s Larder,” and has been on the same spot in various incarnations since the 13th century. It was only in 2000 however that it began to enjoy a sort of renaissance when, as a modest wholesale market situated under the railway arches at Borough, reinvented itself as a monthly specialist food market. It was an effort to inject some life into the area and food writers took notice, with the public soon following. It’s now quite the tourist (and local!) destination and is my favorite market from all that I visit on my London trip.
The market sits on a 4.5-acre site and is teeming with impassioned farmers and food artisans, all willing to talk about their products which range from specialty olive oils and salts, produce, seafood, properly prepared British food, and more. The purveyors’ energy is absolutely infectious and all are mighty generous in giving samples. Here, some of the stalls and foods that catch my eye during my visit:
- It’s only when I travel that I see such large blocks of cheese sitting unabashedly on display. This Comté and Emmental are especially pretty with the morning sun casting off them.
- Neal’s Yard Dairy is a famous cheese retailer with a store in Borough Market. White-jacketed cheese specialists speak passionately to curious customers and the variety of cheese they offer is immense.
- Neal’s Yard Dairy also does a good business with their dairy products. I stand for some 5 minutes here mutely staring with my tongue half out.
- There’s a Spanish section in the market teeming with olives and hams and endless samples of panforte.
- What’s British food without its pies and pasties? The latter was created as a midafternoon snack for local miners. Historically, the crimped edge of the pasty was thick because it served as a handle and was later thrown away after being blackened by the miner’s fingers.
- “God’s sauce”; How some food writers describe this unctuous treat.And that sprig of thyme makes it all the more covetous.
- I want to dive into all this bread but my Bin pulls my arm, saying it wouldn’t be prudent.
- I dub this the “brownie pillar” just because it’s such an insane demonstration of chutzpah and chocolate. The twice-baked banana cake sounds incredible too.
- I call this a “cheesecake bar mosaic.” Stunning.
- Such bakery beauties! These are the thickest English muffins I find in London and some of the lip-“smackin-gest” almond croissants.
- These Gouda are the big daddy versions of our queso de bolas.This kind of cheese is wonderful in fondues or washed down with beer.
- Tomatoes. Believe it.
- Raclette cheese shredded thickly onto bread slices and gloriously melted. The idea boggles my mind.
Borough Market, London.
My Bin and I follow the Silver Jubilee Walkway leading away from the Borough Market, a path on the South Bank section running along the southern side of the Thames. It’s a relaxed walk on this sunny day and there are several memorable views and landmarks we come across.
Southwark Cathedral, seen here but overshadowed by these beautiful cherry (?) blossoms is known as the “Cinderella of English Cathedrals.” This ancient church is a monument to Shakespeare and has several historical associations.
This is Shakespeare’s Globe, a reconstruction of the theatre where Shakespeare worked and produced his many plays. The original Globe was constructed in 1599 and after numerous iterations, found new life only four centuries later. The Globe has been diligently constructed with 600 oak pegs, Tudor bricks, and thatching reeds.
This photo doesn’t even begin to capture the enormity of Tate Modern, one of London’s most popular attractions. A former power station, it’s been cleverly converted into a shrine of modern art overlooking the River Thames and with free admission, too. From the upper deck, the views of the city (see photos below) are stupefying.
- A skyline icon is also London’s most famous cathedral, St. Paul’s. It’s easy to get to when crossed over from the Tate Modern via the Millennium Bridge (seen at lower right of photo above this one). The Millennium Bridge opened in 2000 and was the first new bridge built across the Thames in 100 years. It’s also London’s only pedestrian-only bridge.
- You can see the sci-fi, cucumber-shaped building in the distance, a structure everyone refers to as “the Gherkin,” (for obvious reasons). Its official name is St. Mary Axe, one of the most recognizable skyscrapers in London.
- After taking in a show at The O2 arena, my Bin and I hop on a boat to take us to Mayfair for dinner. One of the passengers, a local who also happens to be a history buff, decides to grab the mike and do a running commentary of the sights that the boat passes. It’s all so fascinating to me and wondrous, this beautiful city laden with history. Above, a photo of the Tower Bridge taken from the boat. Its neo-Gothic towers are second only to the apparently transfixing thrill when its suspension lifts to let passing ships cross.
- The London Eye has been twirling and taking its passengers for a “flight” at the southwestern end of the Jubilee Gardens since 2000. It’s the world’s tallest Ferris wheel and on a good day, when seated inside one of the wheel’s 32 glass-enclosed gondolas, views can be had for 40 kilometers (25 miles) all around.
- Who doesn’t know Big Ben? I shot this in a cab whilst speeding towards dinner at Goodman.
Goodman is everything I think a proper steak house should espouse: dark wood furniture, a fully-stocked bar, sophisticated servers who can confidently answer questions, and of course, a drool-worthy line-up of steaks.
Immediate hungers are satiated with two salads: a Caesar Salad with Parmesan and white anchovies, and a Rocket Salad strewn with Crumbled Goat Cheese, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts (both £7.5). It’s an uncommon thrill to have fresh anchovies as opposed to the tinned type and they imbue the salad with their subtly fishy flavor. I’ve always liked rocket (also arugula), its pungent pepperiness shoots through the creaminess of the cheese and nuts.
- On the plate: fillet, rib-eye, New York sirloin, tenderloin
Our server brings over a plate of the steaks that are being served tonight. It’s just a sample plate, hence the rather weary look of the meat. Goodman prides itself on its careful selection of meat cuts that they age in their own aging room beneath the restaurant. Grilled over charcoal, this steak lover can’t ask for anything more.
- Can’t have steak without sides: Truffle Chips; Spinach, Creamed with Gruyere Cheese; Mac & Cheese with Mature Cheddar, Truffle Sauce & Parmesan
Tonight, we’re choosing a different off-the-menu cut, a special for today. It’s the Belted Galloway Bone-In (on left side of plate) cooked to medium-rare. This is a lean breed with minimal fat but its flavor is full and somewhat earthy because it’s grass-fed. On the other hand, our other steak, the British Bone-In (£65) has a more delicate flavor perhaps because this breed was corn-fed. It’s terribly succulent because of the bone and has more fat.
Throughout our meal, I’ve been watching the girl at the next table enjoying her Sticky Toffee Pudding. Such is her enjoyment that there’s no question what we’re having for dessert at my table. Paired with a Vanilla Ice Cream (£6.50), the pudding arrives heated through, its warmth emanating and cooling only when spooned with some of the ice cream. It’s a dual-temperature dizziness that’s sweet after that steak.
26 Maddox Street
London W1S 1QH