In March we went to England to visit friends and family. And eat a lot of good food, because Britain is actually full of really good food.
Mid-March in England is a lot like Mid-April in Michigan. The grass is green, the daffodils are in full bloom, the trees are just starting to leaf out, and the temperatures are mild. It should also be raining constantly, but in our typical traveling luck we had ten straight days of sunny weather. In England, can you believe? (Okay, we had two cloudy afternoons.)
We arrived on a Friday morning and sacked out most of the day, while our friends who were hosting us went off to work.
Saturday we hooked up with another friend, P, who took us to Borough Market, which is London's oldest food market. The Market's management claims that its roots go back to Roman times, which is plausible since this is London, though there's only documentation back to 1276.
We entered in though "the back", and were immediately transported to food heaven. We brushed past a restaurant that was serving up paella on their outside seating area — the aroma was intoxicating — and found ourselves in a fabulous chaos of outside stands with foods from around the world. Sausages, sweets, spices. Pasta, paté, preserves. Oh my! I didn't know which way to turn first. The Indian snacks and condiments, the Mexican chiles, the Middle Eastern meze and spices... You can eat your way around the globe at the Borough Market. We spotted many cured meats and cheeses that are either restricted from import to the US or are taxed outrageously.** The only thing that kept me from buying everything in sight was the fact that for one, we'd go broke on our first day in London, and for another, we wouldn't be able to legally bring it back through customs. (Traveling abroad? Learn what's illegal to bring back before you go. The real crime? That it's illegal to bring these things into the States.)
The market was packed. We pushed our way through the crowds and came out into the covered area of the market with more fruit and flower stands, butchers, and baked goods. We're told locals try to shop on Thursdays and Fridays to avoid the heavy tourist crowds.
Eventually we came out to a corner of the market and found ourselves at Brindisa. Our friend Gauri told us that we absolutely had to have one of the Chorizo sandwiches that Brindisa grills up on weekends. We were hungry, but we passed up a lot of fabulous food because we trusted Gauri that it would be worth it.
You order a single or double portion of chorizo, and Brindisa's cooking staff split a roll and add chorizo hot off the grill with some roasted peppers and arugula (aka "rocket" as its known in the UK). And then you eat.
Oh yeah. The wait was worth it. It was pretty much perfect. The sweet pepper was a great foil to the salty and spiced chorizo, and even the rocket added something. The proportions are better if you don't get the double chorizo, but extra chorizo has its own benefits.
You don't have to go Brindisa to enjoy at least a very similar sandwich. Pick up some Spanish chorizo (not Mexican style), available in the cold case at Sparrow Market, some arugula, and preserved roasted red peppers with the skins peeled off (I think Brindisa used Spanish preserved pequillo peppers, which are roasted and then preserved). I don't know what kind of bread they used specifically, but a French baguette, ciabatta, or similar bread ought to do the trick.
Borough Market's art deco main entrance (that we didn't use)
**For example, Jamón ibérico de bellota was only approved for import recently, and has a new 100% import tax for "jamon on the bone" courtesy of an ongoing trade war with the EU because its ban on U.S. beef produced with growth hormones.
A quick photo tour of Borough Market in the extended post.
In the covered area...
A tasty selection of chocolate truffles...
More Turkish Delight than I've ever seen at once...
England's Spring weather is a month ahead of ours here in Southern Michigan. Daffodils were in full bloom along roadsides and in gardens, and flowers abounded at the market.
Street-side fruit vendor along the outer edge of the market...