It’s rare these days that when I’m traveling for work I take an extra day or two for personal time in any given location. Trips are often fast and furious, and by the time they are over, I usually want to be home, in my seaside sanctuary, sleeping in my bed, and having control of my own life. But in the last 2 or so months I’ve made 3 trips to Europe, each of which has left me feeling somewhat sold short as I’ve hardly any time to confirm to myself that I was in fact in a new, exciting place by taking in the foreign sights and sounds.
With this last trip to London for the Leader’s in Performance conference, held on the grounds of Stamford Brdige, just west of London, where Chelsea FC plays their home games, I decided to tack on a few extra days. The conference was great and the speakers were world class, but when it was all said and done, all I could think about was making my way over to Borough Market, London’s premier outdoor farmer’s market, to see what the fall harvest would bestow upon chefs and shoppers. And to make the situation even more enjoyable, not only would I have a full Saturday to spend perusing the market (and the adjacent Tate Modern), I would have a kitchen to cook that evening and another mouth to feed.
By the time I walked into the market on Saturday morning I was tired and somewhat travel weary. But all it took was a few steps along the market’s perimeter and immediately a smile came across my face (or at least I felt like smiling…expressing emotion externally is not my forte), and I was immediately pulled in by the sights of fresh foods and the sounds of a bustling atmosphere. Like any good market goer, I decided I’d make a first pass through to survey the offerings before deciding on what to buy. I had no idea what I was going to cook, and figured I would determine a menu as I walked from stall to stall. I was immediately pulled in by Applebee’s (not that Applebee’s) fish shop and cafe and did a survey of their daily catch. It was decided that sardines would be a key player in dinner.
The market was all it was cracked up to be – plain and simple. It was crowded on a Saturday afternoon, but somehow I find navigating my way through crowds to be more calming that stress-causing. It’s as if I’m able to take all the energy and frustration of the people elbowing their way up to vendors and through narrow passages and invert it into something else. I love the feeling of anonymity, I can move amongst a crowd at my own pace, being particularly present and perceptive, and all the while feeling like I’m getting the best of everyone by fully digesting and appreciating the situation. I love the energy and the role I play in it all. I ultimately ended up walking away with ingredients for a comprehensive dinner and feeling as if I had the full market experience.
My favorite part of Borough Market is all the exotic and game meats. You can find anything from ostrich to boar to fowl. But I decided to keep it fairly mainstream as I’ve got a few hunting trips coming up over the next few months, and plan to be securing my own game birds and mammals.
As for the menu I created:
Sardines with fresh dill and mint
Mushroom medley with beef and ale sausage, and an ale, balsamic, and licorice sauce
Cumin pork tenderloin with a persimmon and pork back topping
I was not in an ideal recipe-capturing environment, so did not document the dishes themselves. But stay tuned as over the next week or so I plan to recreate them here on the Rooted blog.
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