London Food Adventures: Markets and Cupcakes

London Food Adventures: Markets and Cupcakes

Written by Heather

Topics: Eats & Sweets, Experiences Abroad

Over the last six months, There’s No Place Like Oz has become less and less of a travel blog and more of a travel + food blog — and I’m okay with that. I loved watching food TV, baking from time to time, and eating in a way that addresses my food sensitivities before I went to Australia, but the year in Oz took my interest in food to a whole new level. I’m no foodie, chef, or food critic, but I see no end in sight to rambling on about food and sharing a few amateur photographs with you all, so I hope you’re along for the ride!

Recently I spent 10 days in London visiting a fantastic group of friends and it was a perfect trip — full of good conversations, hugs, and food. Food was never on my mind during the previous four trips I’d made across the pond. I bought groceries from the supermarket and tried to eat as cheaply as possible since the exchange rate is abyssmal. This time, I came prepared with a modest budget and a goal to enjoy a few nice meals and tasty treats by sharing dishes with my friends. I LOVE shared meals, and my friends were keen to indulge me.

Borough Market

Everyone said Borough Market was a foodie MUST and the recommendation was spot on. Stalls with produce, meats, juices, pastries, made-to-order meals, and coffees abound in this market, located near London Bridge and Borough underground stations. Shel, Gavin, and I walked around to scope out our options before returning to various vendors to select a *cough*few*cough* items to share.

Just one part of the market (photo credit)
Borough Market

We started with an iced latte from Monmouth Coffee and for such a simple drink, it was one of the best I’ve ever tasted. Regulars and tourists queue for ages for a cup from one of the cafe’s talented baristas. This place is a must.

Brewing and filtering coffee!
Monmouth Coffee, Borough Market

Gavin and I shared an ostrich burger and a kangaroo burger. The roo tasted a little gamey as expected, but I thought the ostrich tasted very similar to beef.

Ostrich burger at Borough Market

We couldn’t help purchasing an almond croissant from The Flour Station. “Hand rolled, delicate flaky and soft croissant, filled with frangipane, topped with almond paste and flaked almonds” — they had me at frangipane!

Almond croissant, The Flour Station

After a couple of bites of the croissant, we had to have a bite or two of a few other goodies that caught our eye.
Top: White chocolate and sea salt cookie from The Cinnamon Tree Bakery
Left: Lime, coconut & creme fraiche cake from Artisan Foods
Right: Orange and pecan shortbread from The Cinnamon Tree Bakery

Tasty treats from Borough Market

Hummingbird Bakery

A few friends also highly recommended a visit to Hummingbird Bakery, home of delectable cupcakes, comparing it to New York’s Magnolia Bakery. As I’d never been to (or even heard of…) Magonlia, I had to assume they were both places I should know about. Confession: I’m not a huge cupcake fan — the cake is often dry, the icing overly sweet, and I usually need to scrape half of the icing off as it’s nearly as tall as the cake itself!

The bakers at Hummingbird have a magic touch as it only took one bite for me to decide that these were the BEST cupcakes I’d had in years. The red velvet was the best of its kind I’ve ever tasted. The cake was moist and my teeth didn’t hurt with the first taste of icing.

Magical red velvet
Hummingbird Bakery, London

Beautiful “rosy apple” (apple scented sponge with apple frosting and tangy apple sugar)
Hummingbird Bakery, London

Colorful rhubarb and custard (vanilla sponge cupcake with rhubarb compote and a vanilla custard topping)
Hummingbird Bakery

Montezuma’s Chocolates

Any chocoholics out there? Get yourself to Montezuma’s for one of their rich, gorgeous truffles.

I didn’t take photos, but I did try Hot Lips (“dark chocolate with tropical coconut and chilli” — it’s vegan!) and Montezuma’s Revenge (“dark chocolate with chilli, lime and tequila”). Of the two, I preferred the Hot Lips.

Montezuma’s also carries a variety of chocolate bars, and I purchased an Eton Mess (dark chocolate with strawberries and meringue) and Sea Dog (dark chocolate with lime and sea salt) bar to bring home and share.

London Food Adventures, Part 2

The food adventures continue later this week in part 2 with four great places I found on Urbanspoon or through recommendations from friends.

29 Comments Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Erica says:

    Loved Borough Market – there is some elusive cider there that is supposed to be phenomenal.

    • Heather says:

      Cider you say? I will be on the lookout next time! I’m hoping to return for a wedding in March 2013 if not sooner :-)

  2. Jayne says:

    Yay so glad you went to Hummingbird and were impressed with the cupcakes – in some ways they are far too easy to eat! I can’t get enough!!

    • Heather says:

      Jayne, I am SO glad you encouraged me to go. Those cupcakes were ridiculous. Any cupcake I have in the future has a lot to live up to. Their icing is seriously perfect.

  3. Gav says:

    Nice post, I’d have to agree with the analysis of the burgers. They were still tasty though, I think slightly too much mustard in the ostrich burger.

    The coffees at Monmouth, were really nice. As you know I get to places way too early, as a result I think I had one too many coffees!

    What can you say about the sweet things? You can’t often go wrong with sweet things, but the cupcakes were just perfect consistency for me. The cookie was lovely, the shortcake was strange with the different flavors hitting at different times, I enjoyed that. The almond croissant was nice and the filling I could eat quite a lot of!

    It was great sharing the food, being able to try a few different things is a far far better eating experience :-)

    • Heather says:

      I enjoyed the shortbread a lot more than I thought I would — not usually my cup of tea! The expected more from the cookie, and the croissant could have used a touch more frangipane O:-)

  4. kelli says:

    I have been there! They also sold “mind the gap” undies and other trinkets. That ostrich burger looks delicious, Heather. I wish I was there!

    • Heather says:

      The burger was great — well cooked and nicely seasoned! The bread was nice but of course I could only eat a couple of bites. Looking forward to sharing another meal with you next time I visit (which I wish was soon!!).

  5. Steve says:

    If you get back to Borough Market, try the Scotch Eggs, or anything else really, at the butchers below Roast restaurant – amazingly good.

    • Heather says:

      Thanks Steve — I’ll do that next time for sure! There are too many vendors to enjoy in one visit (thank goodness!) :-)

  6. Nicole says:

    Never got to Borough Market when I visited London in 2004 . . . but then again I was not quite so into food at the time – will definitely have to get there someday! I am so curious about those cupcakes – I agree with you that when it comes to icing, I believe that less is more. The icing on the red velvet cake looks like it would be so sweet, but I guess you can’t really tell without tasting it. The apple one makes me think of fall & all the apple-flavored treats that go with the season – yum. :) And the rhubarb & custard looks amazing!!

  7. Kyle says:

    I love that your blog has become a foodie blog. I really like reading about the way you experience places through taste!

    And I have been to Magnolia’s. The cupcakes don’t do it for me, but like you, I’m not a cupcake person. However….the banana pudding is OUT OF THIS WORLD. If you are ever in NYC you have to try it. I don’t like banana flavored things and I don’t even have a particular love for pudding. But this dessert is just amazing.

    • Heather says:

      I wonder if it’s as good as my mom’s banana pudding?! I will just have to taste :-)

      I love NYC and haven’t been in a few years — and that was on business. If I could just build up some remote work, I’d be on a US road trip in a flash!

      Thank you for loving my food adventures :-) I love sharing them!

  8. Jaime says:

    I love the 1st sentence of your post because I was thinking the same thing… and I love it too!!! I am loving your post on food and this one of course no exception. I still wish we could have met up in London, but I know we’ll make it happen some other time. I have always heard the London has horrible food, but after reading this I dont think so. Everything you had looks good. Great pics again!

    • Heather says:

      I know right — everyone always makes jokes about the food, but there are some great places in the city, and I finally started learning that on this trip. The post I’ll publish later this week features *surprise* savory dishes :-)

      If we couldn’t meet in London or at La Tomatina that HAS to mean an even better experience is waiting for us. *hug*

  9. jade says:

    Yay- London, my favorite!! I want those cupcakes in my mouth right now!!!

    • Heather says:

      Jade, it was so hard to decide which ones to pick!! The red velvet was definitely the best of the three and I wouldn’t have guessed :-)

  10. Julia says:

    Oh my, I’m soooo hungry right now. I love looking at food porn photos and I think it’s great that your blog is evolving. I started off thinking I would write a travel and food blog and it has become more about the travel and humour for me now, but I do think once I’m on the road the food will once again play a big part. You should embrace it – you have me getting hungry every time I read your posts! haha

  11. Mack Reynolds says:

    i’ve had kangaroo too! i liked it. didn’t taste the gameyness but it’s probably because it was covered in a citrus-like sauce. and what is frangipan?

    • Heather says:

      Frangipane is an almond-flavored cream or paste and is so tasty. I’d never had it til February on the road trip in Australia. It was the base layer of a cake topped with figs. Add that to your list!

  12. Ellie | Gourmand Recipes says:

    Heather, love reading all your travel posts. So keep them coming and looking forward to part 2.

  13. Chris says:

    Your entries about food never fail to make my mouth water. I hope you’re happy :-p

    That burger looks simple, but amazingly good!

  14. Annie says:

    Don’t you underestimate yourself! You are clearly a foodie, food critic, and great photographer! The chef part I don’t doubt but you’ll just have to prove it to me when we meet somewhere!

    Love, love, love the turn your blog has taken to include food. It has given me some of my best must-try places and things to eat in Sydney!

    • Heather says:

      Thank you for the encouragement, Annie!! It’s all still new to me (learning how to use my camera and really getting into food) but I have fun :-)

      I’m looking forward to seeing what you think of the places I’ve written about and what places you’ll discover on your own. You know I’ll be hanging onto your every word!

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