Based upon Kristainlondon's recommendation, I ventured over to the Hackney market this past Saturday.
The market is an outdoor version stretching from the south end of London Fields along Broadway Market down to basically the Regents canal. It's of reasonable size, with approximately 30-35 stands, though not all of these are food based. The vibe is completely different from Borough. It's active and busy, but filled with Londonites buying their weekly foodstuffs, not tourists.
When I first walked in at the north end of the market, I saw a stand amusingly named SporeBoys selling a variety of fresh mushrooms. While the mushrooms looked good, the really cool thing was they had two pans out cooking a variety of shrooms in a mixture of butter and parsley to create nice sandwiches. I snagged one, which was filled nicely with the mushroom mix and topped with sliced parmesan and sprigs of parsley. Mushrooms where very tasty, but the sandwich was a bit messy. Additionally, it lacked enough slat for my palate. If you have a high salt tolerance, make sure when they ask you if you want salt, you say yes.
I next tried a roast pork sandwich from the Hog Pit stand. They had a whole pig which had been spit roasted. I could smell it from 6 stalls away and knew I was getting one. The longish line moved quickly as the pork sandwiches were assembled with skill. Onto a fresh ciabatta roll a smear of homemade applesauce was placed. Then, a healthy tong-full of fresh rocket was added. Finally, a big mass of chopped roasted pork.
The sandwich was excellent. Great porky flavor with mixed bits of crunchy skin, moist fat and meaty flesh pieces swirling around in a textural harmony. The meat was dotted with caraway seeds and other light spices, but the effect was to enhance the flavor, not overshadow it. The applesauce was not too sweet and complemented the pork. The bread held everything together nicely and had a good chew to it. All in all, very good. I finished the sandwich and was nicely sated.
Though full, I could hear people raving about the ice cream they were trying at a stand nearby. The Simply Ice cream stand was dishing out tons of pots to people passing by, and not only because of the warm weather. I wandered over for a taste. The vanilla was utterly luxurious. Smooth, uber-rich, nice vanilla flavor. I got a small container to eat. By the 4 or 5th bite, I was almost grossed out. The richness was cloying, heavy and unappealing. It did appear however I was in the minority as many empty pots littered the trashcans in the area.
I also purchased some foodstuffs for home. Wild minced beef for burgers (a bit tough, with an almost herby, peppery taste to the meat), a goat blue from the Italian cheese monger (creamy, full-bodied, excellent) and some great pears.
I am glad this market is a 25 minute walk from my apartment. I don’t know if it's worth a special trip, but if in the area, I would check it out.
I find that unless you visit Borough Market on Friday or very early on Saturday, the crowds make it quite an unpleasant experience.
Whilst Broadway Market is increasing in its popularity, it still is a place where you are not jostled by the crowd and can roam around in a leisurely way.
So which old inner London street market do you predict will be the next Borough? Leather Lane? Chapel Street?
thats a hard one. me, i gave up on the whole borough thing a while back when i found a couple of butchers and farmers markets close to home. and i go to neals yard and monmouth coffee at their original locations now.
as a side comment, i don't understand the rave reviews re: the ginger pig - the meat is soooo much inferior to what i get from either lidgates or wyndham house.