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Borough Market


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On the Jamon Iberico -- at Christmas in Madrid I paid about EUR360 for an entire ham, "Cinco jotas" pata negra of superior quality.  A lot less than £150 per kg, even after you allow for waste from slicing, bones, fat, etc.

They sell whole hams for far less, I think about £300 - £350. Unfortunately it's no good comparing prices in Madrid to those in London.

Sayell Foods sell Jamon Iberico leg on the bone for £50/kg. Unfortunately it isn't open on a Saturday. :sad:

You could also try Gourmet Warehouse. Not sure if you can buy in person from their London headquarters, though their delivery prices are lower than Sayell's. Prices are also about £50 per kg, for ham on the bone as well as handy sized (0.5kg or 1kg) boneless cuts.

restaurant, private catering, consultancy
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  • 2 weeks later...

A fascinating thread! I still go to the market on Friday mornings for excellent cheap crabs (half the price of the very good fishmonger in Muswell Hill), French-type lettuce such as batavia from is-it-Booth's?, and excellent Irish cheddar, sell-by-date half-price. If I had to go on Saturday, I'd wear body armour.

The tendency towards prepared foods is world-wide and results from a universal drift away from labor-intensive products of every sort. Rachel Laudan tells me that Mexican peasants don't make their own tortillas any more. Valentina Harris, at the end of a risotto demo, added the throwaway line, "Of course most Italian housewives use stock cubes."

I can't resist adding the quote I've used before, heard on TV by my wife twenty years ago:

Two hundred years ago everybody made their own clothes. Nowadays nobody makes their own clothes unless it’s their hobby. The same thing will happen with food: I estimate that within 50 years dinner will be something people will go out and buy, and nobody will cook, unless it’s their hobby. We in the food industry are working towards that.
Edited by John Whiting (log)

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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I encountered an old acquaintance who now works @ Neal's Yard. He told me that the Borough Market authorities are clamping down on people selling cooked food that they've bought from someone else (rather than produced themselves), which he cites as one reason for the market's decline. He also told me that Paul Smith is opening a boutique up the street from the cheese shop, which indicates another factor: gentrification. We agreed that the market is basically a victim of its own success, but we prefer it that way to the former dilapidation.

Then the conversation turned to the extraordinary price of property in Bermondsey;-)

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There are two other changes that have crept into Borough. One is a trend toward "value added" goods -- made things. Pork pies rather than pork joints, sauces rather than vegetables, prepared foods with attendant high prices. The other is a move toward branding and brand premiums.

The last time I was at Borough Market was in March. I went again today. I wouldn't have thought that the place would have changed much in five months, but it has. Five months ago there were plenty of "made things" but it still felt like a farmer's market to me. Five months later it feels as though Borough Market is predominantly shops with "made things". It feels as though the fruit, veg and fish shops are hangers on and a bit out of place.

The overall feel is that it's a tourist hangout. At Turnips they had girls in tight dresses wearing hats with dangling pieces of fruit being photographed with a dog wearing a lei made of roses.

I don't like being around tourists. No matter what country I'm in. And I don't want to be one. I think that Borough Market will soon be off my list of places to shop. But where should I go instead? I had thought about going to Portobello Road today and now I wish I had.

- kim

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

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Food lovers in Britain have an endless problem. There are a relatively small number of people who want to make good food and a large number who regard food as entertainment. Any place that's good enough to attract the food lovers will ultimately attract the rest, who tend to take over by their sheer numbers plus the depth of their purses.

It's much the same thing that has always happened to artist colonies. First, they attract the artists because they are both picturesque and cheap; then the avant-garde tourists discover them and start hanging around for the ambiance; then rich transients start buying up the property; and finally only the rich can afford to remain. It's the story of Le Baux de Provence, St Paul de Vence, Carmel in California, Provincetown on Cape Cod, and any number of other places I have loved but to which I no longer return.

I don't yet have a problem with the Borough Market. The stalls where I have always bought are still there; I ignore the rest. I go on a Friday at around 11:30, when the tourists haven't arrived and the lunchtime nibblers haven't yet descended from their offices. Practically every stall I want is open or will be by the time I leave. And I get first pick of the crabs.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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Food lovers in Britain have an endless problem. There are a relatively small number of people who want to make good food and a large number who regard food as entertainment. Any place that's good enough to attract the food lovers will ultimately attract the rest, who tend to take over by their sheer numbers plus the depth of their purses.

It's much the same thing that has always happened to artist colonies. First, they attract the artists because they are both picturesque and cheap; then the avant-garde tourists discover them and start hanging around for the ambiance; then rich transients start buying up the property; and finally only the rich can afford to remain. It's the story of Le Baux de Provence, St Paul de Vence, Carmel in California, Provincetown on Cape Cod, and any number of other places I have loved but to which I no longer return.

I don't yet have a problem with the Borough Market. The stalls where I have always bought are still there; I ignore the rest. I go on a Friday at around 11:30, when the tourists haven't arrived and the lunchtime nibblers haven't yet descended from their offices. Practically every stall I want is open or will be by the time I leave. And I get first pick of the crabs.

Is it wrong to find food entertaining?

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Food lovers in Britain have an endless problem. There are a relatively small number of people who want to make good food and a large number who regard food as entertainment. Any place that's good enough to attract the food lovers will ultimately attract the rest, who tend to take over by their sheer numbers plus the depth of their purses.

...

Is it wrong to find food entertaining?

Nothing wrong with finding food entertaining, as such. It's a bit sad when entertainment value displaces food quality -- as at certain 3-star restaurants, where some large percentage of your $/£/€ goes to delivering THE GEN-YOU-WINE (name of chef -- Bocuse, Ramsay, Blumenthal, etc.) EXPERIENCE instead of great ingredients, beautifully prepared. See, for example, Moby's recent post about the "Disney land logic" of a meal he had at Michel Bras, where the restaurant seemed more focused on entertainment than on delivering great food.

If you have unlimited dosh, you can try to ignore the entertainment and concentrate on the food. The rest of us don't have that option.

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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Also, I doubt many on this board go to Borough for the majorly marked up fruit tarts/brownies/venison burgers - aren't they for the newbies and tourists? Without those 'made' foodstuffs, I'm quite happy to pay a premium - at least at the start of the month before the salary starts to run out...

Alas there is a tourist on this board! I am from California and spent 2 weeks in London in June, during which I went twice to Borough. In California I tend to visit at least 2 farmer's markets on any weekend and am very aware of prices and who is reselling vs. selling goods they produce.

At Borough I saw several resellers of cheese whose prices were really marked high (vs the same cheeses I'd seen in delis and supermarkets). I was mostly excited about Neal's Yard mostly as I assumed many of the cheeses would not be available elsewhere.

My friends in Islington had their produce delivered through a community supported agriculture program. I don't have the contact info but perhaps that's of interest to others who want fresh organic produce at a more affordable price.

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If you have unlimited dosh, you can try to ignore the entertainment and concentrate on the food.  The rest of us don't have that option.

It's increasingly difficult to do so in a culture in which entertainment at the most superficial level pays the piper and calls the tune. Those who are remotely serious about anything (except sport and making money) end up being apologetic about it. Serious about food? That must mean that you're prepared to pay top dollar!

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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John Whiting - I enjoyed your comparison to the artist colonies:

It's much the same thing that has always happened to artist colonies. First, they attract the artists because they are both picturesque and cheap; then the avant-garde tourists discover them and start hanging around for the ambiance; then rich transients start buying up the property; and finally only the rich can afford to remain.

Perhaps I'm an avant-garde tourist. I know I'm not a rich transient.

The stalls where I have always bought are still there; I ignore the rest. I go on a Friday at around 11:30, when the tourists haven't arrived and the lunchtime nibblers haven't yet descended from their offices.

I also go around 11:30 on Fridays and leave around 1:00 when the crowds get to be too much to handle.

The problem with being a visitor (albeit a frequent one) to London is that I don't know which stalls are the best. So, what are the stalls to shop? Do you buy crabs from Shell Seekers? If I hadn't had a chorizo sandwich for lunch I would have had scallops from Shell Seekers. It is impossible to find scallops with the coral attached in Chicago and I have no idea how that tastes but would love to find out.

I'm spending more than I'd like at Borough Market but I do so because I can buy foods that I cannot get anywhere in Chicago. And the foods that I can get in Chicago (butter, milk and cheese as examples) taste so much better here.

Speaking of cheese, I usually shop at La Fromagerie but (thanks to Sarah for the tip) decided to check out Rippon Cheese on Upper Tachbrook. Sadly, they are closed from August 23 to September 3 but I did get to take a look in the window. I'll definitely check them out on my next trip.

- kim

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

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Another tourist chiming in. I shop regularly at Granville Island Market here in Vancouver. While not a real farmer's market in that there are many shops that sell packaged goods, such as Italian products, grains, Asian ingredients etc. and the produce sellers sell fruits and vegs from near and far. In comparison to the Borough Market, pricing is more in line with the local community. I was in London in March and visited Borough Market and was quite taken aback at the prices. And the lack of real choices. One of the great things about GI market is the requirement that there are 2 of every shop - 2 butchers, 2 bakeries, 2 fishmongers etc.

Like many have mentioned in this thread, I curse the tourists. Vancouver has quite a robust cruise ship season and it seems that most cruise shippers end up at Granville Market. They, and the stroller mommies, make shopping utter hell. But, as we have discussed at length in the Vancouver forum, they are a fact of life. My strategy is to go early, which is 8:30 for our market. I did so yesterday and got just about everything I needed for dinner for 20 in the garden last night. Because of the convenience of everything all in one place I would like to think I was kinder to the environment, rather than going from shop to shop in the city and I was able to significantly decrease the amount of time spent shopping. And, because of the day vendors who bring local fresh produce I was able to get some amazing fruit which wasn't on my list.

I did buy some things that I thought were outrageously priced - $7.00 for 2 heads of organic garlic seemed over the top to me. But it was more than made up for by the amazing peaches from a near-by orchard.

So like you in London, I dearly want our market to succeed and be a source of local ingredients and the opportunity to interact with people who truly care about the things they sell, be it fish, fowl, beef or garlic. I want to continue to support a forum for small sellers of honesty produced products such as the hand made vinegars and jams and fruits and produce from our local farms. If in doing so I occassionally buy expensive garlic and get my toes trodden on by gawking tourists or unruly children, so be it. I will gladly endure that in comparision to shopping in our equivalent of Waitrose or Sainsburys day after day. Let's hope our continued support of genuine markets ensures they can successfully continue for a long time to come.

Cheers,

Karole

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While searching this forum for more information on Borough Market (I'm still looking for recommendations on the best stalls to frequent), I came across this thread:

borough market which was started in November of 2003:

There has been something of a trend over the last few years toward so-called value added products: prepared foods, spice mixtures, preserves, chutneys, etc.

BTW, the thread does contain "where to shop" recommendations but I don't know if the recommendations still hold true.

- kim

edited to add: I just noticed that the quote above is by Jonathan Day. And I thought I was adding value. :blush:

Edited by Kim D (log)

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

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Dear Kim,

For what it's worth:

YES buy scallops with roes on - they aren't a patch without it, in my HO.

At Borough:

Ginger Pig sausages

Northfield Farm burgers (to eat there)

Label Anglaise chickens

And whatever veg looks good at Tony Booths.

Don't worry with the fruit unless you want niche products (which for you fellow brits means cobnuts blah blah blah)

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BM thoughts in no apparent order:

Things I regularly get:

- Scallops from shell-seekers (now annoyingly hidden round a nooky corner), and occasionally crabs (although I have recently found I can get much nicer scallops from Franco at Solstice - albeit at twice the price).

- Dead cow from Northfield Farm (a recent tip from Moby)

- Comte from the comte people

- Corned beef from the outside beef stall which does bleasdale haggis

- Black pudding from the big fish stall in the middle (it has raisins in, which taste nice)

- Fruit and veg from Booths; mushrooms in season (ie when approaching £15/kg or below)

- Parmesan and mortadella (especially truffled) from the Italian stall round the corner from Northfields

- Raw foie gras from the Wyndhams Farm shop. They will cut smaller pieces if you want.

- Apple juice from the apple juice stall outside, near the Bleasdale Haggis people.

- Sweet wine from Arnauds shop in the basement of Beadales.

- Pork belly and lamb sweetbreads from Ginger Pig.

- Pain poilane and Colston Basset Stilton from Neals Yard.

- Cakes from Konditor and Cook. A great selection; reminds me munchies from the Alternative Tuck Shop in Oxford.

- Frankfurter or Bratwurst from the German Sausage people - with a little bit of choucroute and both ketchup AND mustard.

Things I buy reluctantly:

- Dulce chorizo from Brindisa. I hugely resent the prices they charge for what often seem to be relatively generic Iberian groceries.

- Chorizo Rolls from Brindisa, but only opportunistically if I'm going past and the queue is reasonable. I generaly skip the soggy cold tinned pepper (WHY???), and ask from an extra chorizo (£1 extra).

- Fish from the fish place in the middle: the selection is good but I am still unconvinced by the quality.

- Gravadlax from Scandelicious - again the objection mainly revolves around price.

- Air-dried mutton from Farmer Sharps. Nice but pricey again (a recurring issue)

Things I avoid:

- Anything from Turnips. The prices are an absolute disgrace. I cannot urge people to avoid this rip-off merchant more strongly.

- Fish from Applebees. I am never impressed by the quality - Borough market still lacks a really great quality fish supplier.

- Any cakes from the people in the middle, near Northfields and the flower stall (Burnt Sugar?). A perfect example of the Downtown Beijing School of French Patisserie - looks great, tastes like cardboard.

cheers

J

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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Brithack - Thanks for the nudge. I couldn't psych myself up for the Friday afternoon crowd at Borough Market. But I had my heart set on scallops so I made the hike to Steve Hatt. Four scallops with roe attached set me back six quid. I fried them in ghee with lots of garlic. Best scallops I've ever had.

I have never been a fan of eating fish. Until this last trip to London (I'm back in Chicago and missing London already). And that's because I got to eat good, fresh fish.

I bought cod from Applebee's. And frozen fish stock. I had only had cod that had been frozen. What a difference. I used a Julia Child recipe from the Way to Cook. Dry French vermouth, fish stock, tomatoes and butter make a fabulous sauce. My husband said it was the best cod he had ever had. Two nights later I made the same recipe with monkfish. Equally good.

Thanks Jon Tseng for your list. Next time I'm in London, I'll put it to use.

- kim

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

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I agree that prices can be high, particularly for some take-away and prepared stuff. And Neals Yard always gives me sticker shock. But some of the problem is the price of good food in Britain more generally. As someone who's been shopping at Borough every week for nearly two years, I'm increasingly convinced that a careful shop is still the best deal around. My main gripe, still is with the crowds, which I hope will be more manageable once the space reworking is complete.

Some specifics:

1) Produce quality/price ratio is highest at Booths. I start there, add if nec from Turnips and the other place. I thought it was expensive until I looked at the supermarket again, where they charge 75p for an indifferent pepper (one). Produce prices across the market have been high this summer--I think it's because of the funny weather, rather than anything else. That said, I came home w/more fruit than 2 people can eat in a week for £10. And it tastes/smells like something too.

2) Cheese at the french stand next to the olive oil place. Amazing goats cheese and alpine cheese selections, prices much lower than neals yard (lower overheads, cheaper production costs, I'd assume.)

3) Comte--just because it's great

$) Basic olive oil at the aforementioned stand--w/out buying by the gallon, it's the best value around.

5) Mussels at the fish stand in the middle--debearded, £4/kilo and smell fresh like the sea.

6) Cheaper cuts of meat and sausages at the Ginger Pig and Northfield Farm are great value. Sirloin, etc., is expensive, but the quality can't be beaten, and indifferent supermarket stuff will be nearly as much.

7) There's a new Italian shop in the in-between street (with the wine store and pig roast). Nothing is cheap, so maybe not for everyday, but where else can you get a whole numbered, artisanal robiola for £4? Plus they are v. generous w/samples and generally lovely.

Shira

Paris

lespetitpois.blogspot.com

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One last thing. I haven't found bread I love. The Poilane somehow tastes better from the shop (plus they have bread and butter biscuits to nibble). (Why is that?) De Gustibus has been dissapointing, though haven't tried lately. Best recent find is the pugliese sold at Neals Yard. I think it is from Duponds or Exeter St. Bakery. £1.60 for a small/medium loaf.

Shira

Paris

lespetitpois.blogspot.com

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  • 6 months later...

I'll be on a flying visit to London in a week's time. Got a full-day class with Dan Lepard on Saturday, so, I can't do Borough Market on that day. The only time slot for a visit is 3.00 to 4.30 pm on a Friday afternoon. Question: Should I just forget it and give it a miss? Or, is it worth popping in (...as a offering to pick-pockets)?

TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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Oh surely a simple case of supply and demand. If people are willing to stump up those prices day in day out it would be churlish of the vendors not to charge them no?

It's also symptomatic of a bigger change.

When I first got interested in food it was a real minority interest in the UK. Being an amateur cook and keen on food writing was a weird hobby, particularly for a bloke.

The UK media, in the desperate search for page and airtime fillers has relaunched all sorts of interests for the mass - property development, interior decorating, gardening - we're told that 'parenting' is next God help us. Food has also been a victim.

To give a specialist interest mass appeal requires simplification - 'dumbing down' if you like.

The same number of people cook but a way has to be found to 'engage' with a larger audience

This gives us a world of food programmes (watched mainly by people who don't cook) where the behaviour of the participants is the main entertainment and food journalism which is reduced to idiot proof recipes, glossy pictures and palatable cliche. Food has become 'lifestyle'

Magazines used to have food columns tucked away at the back where some literate enthusiast was allowed 300 words to ramble agreeably about food. These days, property freesheets have food sections. Chefs used to run restaurants. These days they appear on television.

Public discourse on food in the UK now revolves around that which is marketable. Food has become inextricably part of the market - in a sense, further commoditised. (There's no criticism implied or overt in this but take a look at the subject matter on the UK forum as opposed to the US ones. Our longest and best debated threads seem to involve restaurants, celebrities or indeed markets. The US threads seem much more food/cooking centric).

Is it any wonder that Borough has turned from a weekly food nerd's convention into Madame Tussauds?

I'm not sure if any of this is good or bad. The UK has rescued itself from being the butt of international culinary scorn, nutriton has entered the political arena, the supermarkets are listening to consumers, great ingredients are easily available and I'm getting paid for a lot more writing.

On the other hand, prices are high, Borough is a themepark, foodwriting has become a branch of lifestyle puffery and I can't turn on the TV for fear of seing another great chef or writer behaving like a gurning muppet.

You pays yer money, you takes yer choice

Edited by Tim Hayward (log)

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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Its not a miss and is well worth visiting on a Friday afternoon when the tourists tend not to be about. There is still plenty of stuff at Borough that is of interest, good poultry and game, excellent meat, good vegetables (especially if you don'tt mind payig through the nose at Turnips), good cheese from the Comte seller and the French stall as well as Neals Yard. Excellent and reasonably priced cakes from Sally Clarke's. Fantastic apples from the apple stall, great tomatoes in season from the tomato stall and even out of season they have some decent greenhouse tom's.

I agree that it has become a little touristy in some respects and that perhaps there are to many pre-made products but there is still plenty of good produce. Sure there may be better value to be had elsewhere and maybe even better produce but I doubt that Tim would be able to name a place in London where you could get the variety and quality of produce that you can at Borough. If he can I would like to know about it!

Edited by Matthew Grant (log)

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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Absolutely go - Friday is much better than Saturday. I go nearly every week on Friday morning, not busy at all beforeor after the lunch rush and many many nice things. I've forsaken the supermarket this year and probably get 50% of my food there. There are always some deals as well as ridiculous cons. 3.50 for a massive and wonderful piece of Onglet from the Northfield Farm butcher comes to mind....Personal faves are the mushrooms from Booths, anything from Wyndhams - especially their game when it was in season - hare from Morecambe fish and game (their fish is a bit up and down, but I've had good things from them), a whole range of good cheese places, oysters from the mercia island person whose name I can't remember.... Bedales has an interesting and quite exotic selection of wine in the cellar, some very old things acceptably priced.

It is a tourist venue for sure, but there is real food to be had there as well.

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BM thoughts in no apparent order:

Things I regularly get:

- Scallops from shell-seekers (now annoyingly hidden round a nooky corner), and occasionally crabs (although I have recently found I can get much nicer scallops from Franco at Solstice - albeit at twice the price).

- Dead cow from Northfield Farm (a recent tip from Moby)

- Comte from the comte people

- Corned beef from the outside beef stall which does bleasdale haggis

- Black pudding from the big fish stall in the middle (it has raisins in, which taste nice)

- Fruit and veg from Booths; mushrooms in season (ie when approaching £15/kg or below)

- Parmesan and mortadella (especially truffled) from the Italian stall round the corner from Northfields

- Raw foie gras from the Wyndhams Farm shop. They will cut smaller pieces if you want.

- Apple juice from the apple juice stall outside, near the Bleasdale Haggis people.

- Sweet wine from Arnauds shop in the basement of Beadales.

- Pork belly and lamb sweetbreads from Ginger Pig.

- Pain poilane and Colston Basset Stilton from Neals Yard.

- Cakes from Konditor and Cook. A great selection; reminds me munchies from the Alternative Tuck Shop in Oxford.

- Frankfurter or Bratwurst from the German Sausage people - with a little bit of choucroute and both ketchup AND mustard.

Things I buy reluctantly:

- Dulce chorizo from Brindisa. I hugely resent the prices they charge for what often seem to be relatively generic Iberian groceries.

- Chorizo Rolls from Brindisa, but only opportunistically if I'm going past and the queue is reasonable. I generaly skip the soggy cold tinned pepper (WHY???), and ask from an extra chorizo (£1 extra).

- Fish from the fish place in the middle: the selection is good but I am still unconvinced by the quality.

- Gravadlax from Scandelicious - again the objection mainly revolves around price.

- Air-dried mutton from Farmer Sharps. Nice but pricey again (a recurring issue)

Things I avoid:

- Anything from Turnips. The prices are an absolute disgrace. I cannot urge people to avoid this rip-off merchant more strongly.

- Fish from Applebees. I am never impressed by the quality - Borough market still lacks a really great quality fish supplier.

- Any cakes from the people in the middle, near Northfields and the flower stall (Burnt Sugar?). A perfect example of the Downtown Beijing School of French Patisserie - looks great, tastes like cardboard.

cheers

J

I'm in total agreement regarding the fish from Applebees, not only is it not great quality, I once bought red mullet from there which was inedible, the staff are also rude and unhelpful. My favourite place is next door ( I think) the chicken place, where it is consistently good produce and the people are always happy!

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