Before the turn of the millennium, Brits ate, of course, but not very well. Fortunately, in the past few years, as more and more restaurants opened and chefs became celebrities, we Londoners discovered our taste buds. We also learned that farm-produced food straight from the field tastes a good deal better than produced purchased in a supermarket. Like many other modern Londoners, I adore a farmers’ market. I love to buy fruit and vegetables in-season, like asparagus in the summer and Coxes Orange Pippin apples in the winter, and I like to buy meat from a farmer who can look me in the eye and tell me it’s organic. I also love the people watching. From the meat traders at Smithfield Market to local celebrities at Marlybone, there’s always something, and someone to see. Here are a few of my favorite marketplaces in London.
A gourmand’s paradise, this fruit and vegetable market was almost shut down but now flourishes as a hive of fresh produce and baked goods with an emphasis on meals to be eaten then and there. Don’t miss the enormous paella pots; by the end of the day, they’re scraped empty by lucky visitors.
Fancy a pint at 7 a.m.? As the center of London’s meat trade, Smithfield market is not for the vegans among us, but you can expect to encounter some memorable characters. Selling finishes around 7 a.m., and pubs in the area open early to offer meat traders breakfast and a much-need drink.
Marylebone Farmers’ Market
As the surrounding neighborhood becomes more restaurant-centric, the Marylebone Farmers’ Market, which is currently sandwiched in a former car lot between Chiltern Firehouse, Fischers, and La Fromagerie, attracts visitors from all across London drawn by the variety of goods. On any given morning, you can spot locals like Kate Hudson and her partner, Matt Bellamy, contemplating the kale.
Notting Hill Farmers’ Market
Visiting Notting Hill should be on every visitor’s to-do list, and not just to have a photo taken outside the famous blue door as seen as Hugh Grant’s Notting Hill. The farmers’ market has the most diverse stalls of any farmers’ market in London. Plus, the it’s great for people watching.
From Monday to Friday, approximately 20 artisanal food stalls sell to lucky Londoners on their lunch break at the Exmouth Market. I’ve had some amazing salt beef sandwiches and discovered Ghanaian street food that comes with a kick, all in the same place. It’s a perfect lunch spot before a matinee of ballet or dance at Sadler’s Wells.