Everyone loves a 'top five' list so here's another: School of Wok's run-down of the top five food markets in London!
Now we get that London is a very expensive place to live (...eat, sleep, breathe etc. etc.) and unfortunately the markets - where people used to visit for bargains - have followed suit.
If you're looking for somewhere to buy your weeks-worth of groceries on the cheap, then perhaps food markets in the capital are not the place for you...unless of course if you think that £4-5 for an old-fashioned white London loaf is a good deal!
Now full of trendy hipsters, snapping up photos for their Facebook pages (obviously we're not being derogatory - we at School of Wok happily include ourselves in this category), food markets have definitely changed over the years.
From independent local bakeries to street food from across the globe, London's food markets now have it all, and while the price tags have gone up, so has the quality. Whether you're rubbing shoulders with fellow gastronomers, or chatting to local traders about where they get their produce, visiting them is one of our favourite things to do on a Saturday...second only to our exciting 'Flavours of China' food tour around Chinatown of course!
[NOTE: It's just coincidence that every market on this list begins with a 'B']
Yes, we've started with an obvious choice but it really is one of the best food markets in the city, if you can cope with the crowds that is. Steeped in history, claiming to date as far back as 13th century, the market now boasts over 100 individual stalls offering both British and international produce, particularly great for cheeses and cured meats. If you can bear the tedious, long lines of tourists queuing around every stall, Borough is worth a visit: lively, full of wonderful smells, and home to the best cheese toastie ever from Kappacasein (this picture doesn't really do it justice!).
For those sick of the crowds, a small area of Bermondsey, just around the corner from Borough Market, is a low-key alternative. Situated under the railway arches, this is a real foodie's paradise, offering tons of amazing street food, such as phenomenal salt beef from Monty's Deli), as well as one of the best grocery shops, Tayshaw Ltd - an Aladdin's cave of microherbs, exotic fruits and countless varieties of mushrooms...they have it all!). Also home to the amazing St John's Bakery, whose doughnuts are also sold in Wholefoods and Selfridges - be warned though, the doughnuts sell out quick so get there as early as possible.
The least central one on the list but well worth the trip out to Lewisham. Often seen as a trendier, more relaxed version of Borough, Brockley Makret resembles a farmers market - offering loads of local fresh fruit and veg, meat and fish - but is also packed full cakes and breads, as well as plenty of great street food. This is definitely one to visit if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for the day. Be sure to check out the incredible flat breads made by Mike & Ollie, especially the ones filled with slow-cooked shoulder of lamb.
We've included this one of the list by being loose with the term 'market'. It's more a collection of around two dozen reasonably-priced restaurants and cafes, housed within the vibrant Brixton Village arcade. It has a real buzz about it with a huge variety of food on offer, from the juicy meats of Honest Burger to the tasty dim sum at Mama Lan.
Technically a fish market, this is one for early-birds only, being open from 4am to 9:30am. Restaurateurs and traders get their extra early but we'd suggest you get there sometime around 5am to make sure there's still something left - everything goes very quick! Be warned, this is one smelly place but the staggering amount of fish and seafood on offer - both local and exotic - and the atmosphere is really something to behold. What's more, prices are really reasonable. Just make sure you have a shower when you get home...you'll stink!