Top blogger Lavender and Lovage joins us on a foodie break.
A freelance travel and food writer and recipe maker (with a penchant for cheese!), award-winning foodie Karen is passionate about cooking delicious British dishes using seasonal and local produce where she can. Prepare to have your taste buds tickled as Karen takes us on a mouth-watering journey around some of her favourite London street food markets and food festivals. Plus, she’ll be whipping up a tasty recipe inspired by her visits.
London is a cosmopolitan hub for all sorts of global and local foodie adventures! The nation’s capital has a plethora of fabulous historical markets, many of them going back hundreds of years, with names like Smithfield Market for meat, Billingsgate Market for fish and New Covent Garden, selling fresh flowers, fresh fruit and vegetables; all of these markets offer a myriad of fresh produce for home cooks and celebrity chefs alike, and I love wandering around them deciding what to buy and what to cook with my precious foodie purchases.
Borough Market in Southwark (which was first recorded as being a market as long ago as the 11th Century) is a veritable haven for foodies, here you can buy freshly baked bread, glistening herb infused olives, fresh British vegetables, exotic fruits, all manner of cakes, pies and pastries, as well as being able to eat in the numerous restaurants that surround the market. The market is still a wholesale market for fresh produce too, so you still have that authentic market feel when you visit.
There’s also a new kid on the block, with Islington hosting a weekly Farmer’s Market every Sunday - here you can buy artisan cheeses, golden croissants, hand crafted chocolate truffles as well as fresh fruit and vegetables. If markets aren’t your thing, then why not take a foodie tour of some of the amazing International delicatessens and pop up stalls that cover the London foodie map; my favourite Italian deli, Lina Stores, is also Nigella Lawson’s favourite and I can spend hours in there deciding what salami, home-made pasta or cheese I’m going to buy.
Who would think that a train station would have one of the best markets in London? But, St Pancras International does, with Sourced Market providing an assortment of delectable food and drink from independent producers; located opposite the main ticket office, Sourced Market offers all weary travellers the chance to take a break and enjoy freshly squeezed juice, British cheese and charcuterie platters, fresh crusty bread and sandwiches and even creamy organic porridge in the morning! You can also grab a coffee, tea or craft ale and wine there - I LOVE it!
Nearby St Pancras, where I stayed at the Premier Inn, is the Real Food Market at Kings Cross, open three times a week, you can buy all sorts of things here, just for the discerning foodie, such Arbroath smokies, organic brownies, cheese, charcuterie, doughnuts, bread, pies and all sorts of snacks from Morocco, Italy, Serbia, Scotland and beyond. And, if it’s steak you are after, then you need to visit Bar + Block at Premier Inn Kings Cross, I had two memorable meals here, with a fabulous choice of different cuts of steak, as well as house-made burgers, smoked meat and salads.
I hope you enjoyed my whistle stop tour of the foodie scene in the capital; the diversity of London’s markets, restaurants and delis is dizzying, with food and recipes sourced from all over the world, and from throughout the UK - they are definitely THE places to go for any foodie adventurers, and you will be supporting local enterprises too, so it’s a win-win.
My home town of Malton in North Yorkshire is fast becoming one if the biggest foodie destinations; called Yorkshire’s Food Capital, it not only has numerous food stores, restaurants, cafes, bistros, craft ale breweries and wine bars, but it also hosts a monthly food marketwhich is well worth a visit, if only to meet local producers and sample their wares. With live cooking demos and live music and free parking and free entry, why not make a weekend of it and stay in once of the many family run bed and breakfasts or hotels that are in Malton in the surrounding area. If you can’t make the monthly market, then you can buy a ticket and munch your way round Malton’s charming streets with a friendly guide, learning local history and tasting Yorkshire’s famous local produce on one of their Food Tours. Learn and taste how the best bread is baked, beer brewed, coffee roasted and much more!
Moving down to East Anglia, the beautiful city of Norwich also has family connections, as that’s where my paternal grandmother’s family came from; and, Norwich has a burgeoning food scene, with a diverse range of restaurants, bars and pubs to choose from, as well as their famous market which is held, not unsurprisingly, in the market square! You can enjoy an assortment of hot food and drinks -bangers, curries, hog roast, fish and chips and there’s even a Mushy Pea stall, which was established in 1949! No visit to Norwich would be complete without a trip to the Colman’s Mustard Shop and Museum - mustard is one of the county’s most famous exports and mustard has been made in the county for over 200 years. Today Colman's Mustard Shop and Museum stocks an extensive range of powder and prepared mustards, and there is also a wide selection of mustard pots and spoons, gift packs, tea towels and more….it really is a MUST VISIT place when in the city.
Apart from the obvious charms of this Georgian city, with its famous Pump Rooms and Roman Baths, Bath is an exciting and vibrant up and coming contender as a foodie destination. Artisan tea rooms and shops abound, including The Foodie Bugle on Abby Street - this charming and unique shop stocks artisan food, drinks and home-wares, all sourced in Britain. They also have a tearoom where you can enjoy hot and cold drinks and homemade pastries, cakes and biscuits. All aficionados of French Viennoiserie should head for Bertinet Bakery where you will be faced with a huge choice of exceptional artisan breads, sourdoughs, pastries and savouries from renowned baker Richard Bertinet. And yes, there is a market, Green Park Station is a thriving venue for local life & culture right in the heart of Bath, home to flourishing markets, independent shops, restaurants and cafés.
Edinburgh is a mecca for any serious foodie! One of my favourite places to visit is the new street food market,“The Food and Flea”; this new and buzzy street food market has energised the nondescript thoroughfare at the back of Waverley station into a vibrant neighbourhood with a distinctly youthful feel to it. Open 7 days a week, the market is just off the Royal Mile, making it popular with locals and visitors alike. As well as the street food vendors, there’s a flea market at the weekend, hence the catchy name! Other famous foodie places that need to be investigated are Iain Mellis, the cheesemonger and home to a staggering selection of artisan cheeses; Crombies, the award winning butcher, maker of pies, sausages and haggis; and Valvona & Crolla, an Italian deli, award-winning wine merchant and icon of Edinburgh food shopping which was founded in 1934.
I love nachos and they are one of my favourite my “to go to” snacks to order when I’m eating out, with an ice cold beer or even a glass of chilled wine. They make a wonderful snack when friends come over as well as being hugely popular for “tween-age” parties. This recipe for Speedy Crispy Bacon & Jalapeño Nachos has all the elements of the classic Tex Mex recipe, with cheese, onions, salsa, sour cream and of course crispy bacon and jalapeño peppers, but it is so easy to make and is on the table in under half an hour, including the cooking time for the bacon.
My top tip is to buy the best local bacon from your nearest market or butcher - smoked streaky bacon is best I always think for this dish, and of course you will need a good mature Cheddar cheese too. You can make our own salsa, but I find that lots of farmer’s markets and artisan delis have the most amazing range of salsas on offer, and you can customise your nachos to suit your hungry audience! Serve the nachos hot with melted cheese, and the just dollop on some cooking sour cream to balance the spiciness of the jalapeño peppers.
250g smoked streaky bacon
175g bag of plain tortilla nacho chips
225g jar of tomato salsa, or salsa of your choice
Bunch of spring onions, trimmed and diced
225g extra mature Cheddar cheese, grated
225g tub of sour cream, or crème fraiche
2 tablespoons pickled diced green jalapeño peppers
- Fry or grill the bacon until crispy, take off the heat and allow to cool slightly before crumbling it or roughly chopping it into small pieces. Set to one side.
- Pile the tortilla nacho chips into a large heatproof serving dish, and spoon the salsa over the top of them. Sprinkle the crispy bacon over and then scatter half of the spring onions and all of the grated cheese over the top. Place in a pre-heated oven 200C/400F/Gas mark 6 and heat the nachos for 4 to 5 minutes until the cheese has melted.
- Remove from the oven and spoon over the sour cream before scattering the remaining spring onions and the jalapeño peppers over the top.
- Serve with extra jalapeño peppers, grated cheese and sour cream if you wish.