street markets have always existed, in roman civilisation the forum originated as an open market where tradesmen sold and swapped their wares; markets are the heart and soul of any community- they were meeting places, the hub of trading – sadly towards the end of the last century, developers decided that we preferred closed shopping centres – huge malls filled with universal stores – but thankfully, our natural demand has harkened back to our roots and everybody loves a street market again. even great cities like london and paris still hold street markets – selling the necessary basics from fruit and meat to luxuries such as chocolate and even cashmere. i remember stumbling upon the open air market on president wilson, in paris, with its beautiful displays of flowers, cheeses, chocolates – it was rows and rows of vendors bang in the middle of the main road.
venice fish and fruit market, open daily in the mornings is a thriving market, not just for the locals, but for the local restaurants that serve the many tourists that frequent venice.
i cant believe that each time i go to bermondsey it rains- again i went with my food gourmand neighbour Mick and it rained. the produce is very high quality and definitely makes for a special meal. dont think that anyone can afford to do all their daily shopping there. i still think that borough market is a great mornings visit and its open more days now, but bermondsey is definitely the new place to visit and be excited by the different flavours .
you have to make space for the delicious home made ice cream from la grotta ices – the choice of flavours are delicious, but the dark chocolate choc ices are the ones that you should savour. remember to bring an ice box to take some home.
bermondsey is only open on a saturday morning. and as well as seeing inspiring and well produced food, its also a great source for gifts – from beeswax candles and jars of honey, bottles of olive oil, and beautifully packaged tea in silk muslin. – perfect for that person who doesnt want any more clutter, but likes to savour quality foods. i picked up some beautiful beets from natoora foods – it made my salad look impressive – grate finely to add colour and crunch and goodness ! the pomegranates and clementines with leaves are exceptionally juicy too.
its good to start off at spa terminus, with a coffee at monmouth coffee and eat your way through delicious croissants from little bread pedlar, – my favourite is the fruit danish and the wonderful mini bread and butter puddings and then seek out the london honeys, the beautiful vegetables at natoora and cheeses and italian ham.
the railway arches make for innovative displays for the massive array of interesting products to be bought. in the week, all of the producers use the spaces to wholesale from and on a saturday they open to the public – you will recognise a lot of the brands, st john bread and wine, peyton and byrne, neale’s yard – but some of the newer smaller brands are a great discovery. ropewalk is a good final stop for a sit down, a glass of wine and a visit to lassco – for great architectural salvage (though very expensive), but a good source of ideas.
there is everything from spanish tapas, salt beef, smoked salmon and cocktails. its really fun and next time i go, i hope its not raining.
be warned, the prices are quite high, and although a few take credit cards they all seem to only take cash; so come with your budget for the day and treat it as a culinary experience!