The Real Food Market is held every week on Friday to Sunday from January to December on the Southbank Centre Square, behind the Royal Festival Hall. I was down here for the bank holiday weekend and had heard about the market via Twitter but had not realized until I got back and read their website that it was such a regular event. There were not as many vendors as I was expecting but it was still crowded and there was plenty of things to buy and eat. There was too much to be honest, and it will be a struggle to condense this post down without writing all night.
The first stall that caught my eye was the Hog Roast or was actually it caught my nose as I tracked it out following that roasting pig aroma through hungry hoards and milling throng. It was just too hard to resist buying one of their hog roast sandwiches, even harder when they were handing out little samples of delicious juicy pork as you passed by. Later on in the day I turned around and thought that I had lost my companion in the crowd. What had actually happened was that we were passing their stall again and she had popped in for another sample.
As I knew that there would be many more mouthfuls of food to be eaten on this day we just bought one sandwich and got them to cut it in half so we could share. I don’t know why they are always surprised when you ask them to do this, do they not realize we are going to eat more than one thing?
To be honest and I will not be the first to say this I am sure, “Why don’t they serve tasting portions?” I would be more likely to visit 6 stalls and have 6 small plates as opposed to just eating 1 big plateful.
Anyway about this sandwich, yes it is as good as it looks, sadly there is no aroma function on the computer just yet, but believe me it was damn good. The sandwich was filled with plenty of soft juicy, tender meat, and a little bit of green stuff to add some crunch, the bread was fresh and soft (bonus). A pretty good start to the market munch session.
The next stop was at the Borough Cheese Company stand. We had already sampled some of their excellent cheeses without buying any the Borough market earlier, so we took our chance to make up for that lost opportunity and made a small purchase.
There were two cheeses on offer a 24 months old and a 17 month old Comtè. This cheese is made in Eastern France “in the cooperative dairies, named “fruitières,” of the Jura Mountains and aged in the renowned caves of Marcel Petite Fort St. Antoine. Comtè is a hard, pressed, cooked, cow’s milk cheese made using raw cow’s milk made from the Montbéliarde breed. It has similarities to Gruyere, with very deep, complex, long lasting flavor; always creamy, buttery, with notes of hazelnut”.
We tried both the 24 month and 17 month and ended up with a small(ish) slice of the 17 month which was a bit firmer and a little less powerfully flavoured.
As well as finding them at the Real Food market, you can locate them at the Borough Market (Thursday 11-5pm, Friday 12-6pm, Saturday 8-5pm) at Venn Street Market in Clapham (Sat 10am -4pm), and Partridges Food Market in Chelsea (Saturday 10-5pm). You can also get the cheeses at Neil’s Yard Dairy (Borough Market and Covent garden)
Now we needed some nice bread to eat that cheese with and quite handily The Flour Station had a stall within staggering distance. The Flour Station story started in 2002 in the kitchen of the award-winning Fifteen restaurant in London. Then in 2004 they launched The Flour Station at Borough Market.
We bought one of their Tortano crowns which is made ‘with potato flour made from freshly baked ground potatoes and honey’. It went well with that cheese we bought, but it has quite a chewy crust and gets a bit hard quite quickly so be warned if you have weak teeth.
Ok so after a little moment of food retail it was time to hunt out another snack. Arancini Brothers had a stall cooking and selling their ‘hand rolled risotto balls’. These are also gluten-free and vegetarian, but I will try not to let that influence my enjoyment of them.
I had not had a risotto ball before so was intrigued to try and not only that they were selling a small portion in a snack box for just £3. The only minor problem was that you just got 5 balls so not ideal for sharing, you could buy another ball for 50p more but we just cut the fifth in half).
There was an option to have them with some of their tomato sauce or ‘naked’. I got ours ‘naked’ with garlic mayo. They were quite interesting, sort of like a little ball of Italian stuffing made with risotto rice.
Not sure if I would rush to try them again, as there is so much else on offer, but I am glad I did try them out. Other traders should note that we tried them as they had a ‘small taste sized portion’!
Would I have been so keen to have an ice lolly if I had not seen the Ice Kitchen people on the One Show on BBC1? Probably not. The young man on this cart was not exactly forcing them down our throats, but the telly appearance had clearly been good free advertising as most of the people standing in our queue were commenting that they were just trying them out because they had seen them on TV.
I had one of their Orange and Lemon flavoured lollies for 2.50. It was surprisingly good, really sharp citrus flavours that were both refreshing and mouth watering at the same time. It was very full of Orange juiciness and had a sharp lemon tang as well.
It was a pretty solid lolly and it managed not to melt before I ate it, or was it the case that I just did not give it a chance to melt? I am not saying which one it was. They had quite a lot of other equally tempting options available on the day and even more listed on their website.
They have some new combinations coming soon as well. I would be interested to know what will be in ‘The London Lolly’ and the ‘New York Black and White’. Perhaps they will be available next time I visit the market.
There were way too many stalls at the Real Food Market to sample something from all of them. So I think I will just have to take a pause with a non-artisan plastic pint of beer at the Southbank while you take a look at some of the other places in the gallery below.
Gallery of Missed Food Opportunities
Hazeldene Farm – Those sausage rolls were looking good, but they had sold out of the Scotch Eggs which I really wanted
“Rare Breeds Farm. Farm Shop selling home reared beef, lamb and free range pork and eggs, organic veg, tea rooms with homemade cakes open weekends” Follow on Twitter
Karantania Delicatessen – I was quite intrigued by these ‘pasta muffins’ – not enough to try one though
Hansen and Lydersen – I love a bit of smoked salmon
Popina – These tomato covered tarts looked really delicious
Grilled Iberico – If I had not already bought several links of Chorizo at the Borough Market I would have had some of these
Horn OK Please – This stall smelt great but it was too sunny for a curry today
There were lots more vendors at the Real Food Market. They have a good list of who is often there on their website.