Sunday, August 30, 2009

I'm ready for my close-up, Mr DeMille

Arriving in London, I had several goals; some more geeky than others:

  1. To find and explore the Borough Market
  2. To attend the filming of an episode of Market Kitchen
  3. To meet the Queen
  4. To see a musical or two (Avenue Q being my main goal in London
  5. To eat at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant ‘15’

Many of you know of my love of cooking, as well as my near obsession with the Food Network back in New Zealand. So on my very first day in London I decided that I would try and find the Borough Market. I’m about achievable goals, as all I had to do was ask somebody at the assistance desk in the Underground. So I took the underground to London Bridge where it was only a short walk to the most magical place I had ever seen.

Okay sure, that’s possibly an exaggeration (I have been to Disneyland after all), but it was exactly as I had hoped it would be – fishmongers chopping the he heads off fish as I walked past, advertising the catch of the day at the top of their lungs, butchers with signs advertising cold wild game pies and the recommended cut of the day, stalls of wonderfully fresh fruit and vegetables that looked as though they belonged in a food magazine. This was a huge step up from the farmers’ market in Wellington on Sundays; there wasn’t a crappy yellow crate or dodgy basket of rotten food to be seen. They took care of their produce here, and it showed.

I spent some time wandering the market planning what I would buy if I had somewhere to cook it, when I stumbled upon a cooking demonstration for Market Kitchen. I suddenly lost my composure. “I love this show!” I stupidly exclaimed far louder than was necessary. Of course the chef heard me, and without looking suggested that I didn’t actually love the show and that I was, for some reason, lying.

“No really, I love this show – I watch it all the time back home!”.


“Yes – it’s the main reason I came to the Borough Market”

“Where are you from?”

“New Zealand”

“I use to live in New Zealand!”

And that’s how I got to be on tv.

The chef (Arthur Pottsdawson – I found out later that he was the Exec Chef and good friends with Jamie Oliver) and I talked for about 20 minutes or so on life in Wellington, the weather, the Borough market, and the best way to cook Watercress (the last being almost completely one-sided), and then he asked if I would like to be filmed tasting the soup afterwards and maybe go along to the filming of an episode of Market Kitchen. I said yes.

I spent the best part of an hour watching them film the five minute segment for the show while I mentally prepared myself for the world’s introduction to me. I totally nailed my segment (first time), and managed to eat a fair bit of soup in the process (watercress and cheese toastie – surprisingly delicious).

After my brush with fame, I went and explored Sillfield Farm Butchers at the market, where everything they sell is farmed and processed organically on their own farm. This place had some of the most delicious looking meats that I had ever seen – pheasant and venison sausages, two year old prosciutto, cold meat pies and all kinds of game birds that would never be seen at a butchers in Wellington. There I met and discussed farming methods and the benefits of slow food with the owner of the butchery, Peter. What this guy doesn’t know about meat probably isn’t worth knowing.

It was here that I tasted my first pork pie. Delicious.

I also spent some time at the cider stall where the owner looked and sounded like he’d just gotten off a cart from Cornwall.

I must have spent four hours at that market. But they were four wonderful hours. I’ll never look at the market at Te Papa the same again.

1 comment:

  1. So glad you had such a good experience at the market, Steve. I am thinking fresh basil is a tad easier to come by up there than it is here in Wellington?