Covent Garden Night Market
According to their website, Covent Garden Night Market is going back to its roots as:
“the original “larder of London” with the first ever night market in the capital, bringing together the best of London’s food markets. Traders from Borough to Broadway, Exmouth to Islington will set their stalls out alongside premium food producers never before seen in London. This is the ultimate foodie experience!”
How could I refuse! With 35 traders promised it sounded very exciting. The traders appear to be regulars at other London markets or established producers, old favourites for me included Gujarati Rasoi, Neal’s Yard, the Ginger Pig, Spore Boys & Brindisa with lots more to try. Yum!
I got to the market at 7pm. It started at 5pm and was at this point thronged. Uncomfortably so, but I am a regular at Borough Market and can survive these things. If with side effects of being trodden on and cranky at the end! The promise of good food is a great motivator. I was focused on a Gujarati curry followed by a cupcake from Violet, however, I was investigating other options and adding them to my notebook for my next visit.
One of the first stalls to catch my eye was Duchy Oysters from the Duchy Estates of Cornwall, these looked great and judging by the queue and reactions to the oysters are one to try.
Next up was the Ginger Pig where I was greeted by mounds of meat, sausage rolls, pigs in blankets and luscious pies! I like the Ginger Pig alot. It’s on my Sunday beat and I frequently go there after the farmers market in Marylebone. The Ginger Pig rear their own animals in Yorkshire and source poultry from farms that they know and trust. They make pork pies using an Elizabeth David Recipe. In a city where service can often be abrupt and rude, the staff are extremely friendly and helpful, both in the shop and at the stall in Covent Garden Market. Add to this the quality and reliability of their product and you’re on to a winner.
On next to Gujarati Rasoi, a favourite. I am a big fan of Gujarati food, one of my favourite London restaurants, Sabras, was gujarati, but alas it was forced to close by rent increases. I indulged at Gujarati Rasoi in Idily Sambhar, to use their words – “a delicious dish made with a lentil and coconut dhar poured over fluffy steamed rice cakes (idily) & spicey stir fried cabbage, carrots & peppers (sambhar) finished with a coconut and yoghurt sauce”. The idily sambhar was light and delicately spiced, a beautiful summer dish, I’ve sourced a recipe and will try to recreate it. There was a very long queue, as there was for everything in this market, but it was worth it in this instance.
I moved on to Violet with the intention of buying a cupcake but, wow, it was a frenzy! I had a peek to see if there was anything worth battling it and spotted nectarine and rosewater cupcakes, yup, worth the battle for a taste anyway. Lactase pills at the ready for the rich buttercream icing, I waited my turn and secured the last two, one nectarine and rosewater and one lavender and honey. I was impressed with the frosting, it was rich and buttery and flavoured beautifully, the cupcake itself was very simple and complemented it quite well. I can’t find any info on them online but they’re worh a try if you see them.
What next? Stuffed to the gills and not really in a position to take anything home as I was meeting friends after, I made my way to Sheridans Cheesmongers. I haven’t come across them before but was very pleased I had as they stock many of my favourite irish cheeses, St Tolas Goats Cheese, Crozier Blue, Clonmore & Cashel Blue. Sheridans started in a market in Galway on the west coast of Ireland and now have five locations in Ireland including the renowned Temple Bar Food Market. I opted for some crozier blue to snack on while I waited for my friends to arrive. It’s a ewe’s milk cheese, very creamy and robust without being overpowering. If I were to have an all time favourite cheese (I refuse to have an all time favourite anything) this would be a contender.
Other notables were Burnt Sugar, purveyors of the worlds best fudge according to the Observer Food Monthly, Brindisa for their fantastic Spanish meats – their cooking chorizo is the best I have had, de Gustibus – award winning artisan bread makers, Ca Phe Vietnam which I’ve read has fantastic iced coffee, a traditional Jewish Deli selling hot salt beef & latkas, a Portugese hog roast, Wild Beef from Richard Vines, Devon, and Sporeboys from Hackney for their mushroom sandwiches – sauteed fresh mushrooms with butter and garlic finished off with pecorino.
There’s a bit of a debate going on over at the Guardian Food Blog about this market. I see Susans point, it is a foodie market and is quite pricey, you need the budget to accomodate the £3 sausage rolls & £2 cupcakes and it is a treat not a regular expedition. We are missing street food as you see it elsewhere whether that is in France, Italy, Spain or Asia. When I first moved to London I was quite surprised how early it closes in general (that is until you have been here long enough and know where to go!). It would be great to see more markets that serve the population the way that supermarkets currently do, only much better! Surely there’s room and there has to be a way to do it? The crowds that turned up at Covent Garden demonstrate the enthusiasm the public has for this. We need to embrace our food straight from the farm and not out of the sweaty little plastic packets from supermarkets. Still, this market serves it’s purpose very well and is well worth a visit. I’m going back!
Trading dates for Covent Garden Night Market are 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd & 30th August 2007.
Update 14th August 2007:
I found a complete listing on their site – here it is: