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Borough Market London – Foodie Heaven!

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The Borough Market in Southwark, London, was a destination I was really looking forward to when visiting the UK in December.

I’m a huge fan of markets, enjoying visiting local farmers’ markets in country New South Wales, as well as the city equivalent in Sydney. Orange Grove Market, mentioned in other  posts, is a great Saturday excursion to pick up organic fruit and veg, hot smoked fish, French cheese, farmers’ free range eggs and pastry and bread galore!

I’ve been following the Borough Market online for a while to prepare for the visit. I went twice, on a Saturday a couple of weeks before Christmas and a week or so later midweek. Saturday was buzzing, busy, and a bit tricky to navigate, but still heaps of fun! The next visit was a pleasant stroll and I got to see much more of the market’s delights.

The Borough Market is a little bit of old world London in that sophisticated metropolis. Arches and passageways, nooks and crannies, keep you guessing at what comes next, as you make your way around the market. After my two visits I finally got the hang of the geography. The charm of the Market lies in the mix of the old world with a plethora of multi cultural cuisines.

There is so much produce! I was bowled over by cheese vendor upon cheese vendor! And then the patisseries and bread stalls, fresh fruit and vegetables, meat of every kind, sausages and stews and curries.

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I liberally sampled the baked goods, filled focaccia, croissants, large sticky buns, packed full of fruit, that looked like miniature Christmas puddings, and real muffins.

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I found a little stall selling dried fruit and nuts, and wonderful candied fruit. Whole candied clementines were a great Christmas treat! Another stall sold home made fudge, of every conceivable flavour, which you could pick and mix yourself.

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Two highlights  – a salted caramel milkshake with Bath milk, and robust, fragrant Colombian coffee, much appreciated by this writer, who had been craving really good coffee since my arrival in London.

It was fun to be at the Market at Christmas – there was a buzzy, gregarious mood, and everyone seemed to be having fun shopping for the festive season.

 

 

Chocolate Bark

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On New Year’s Eve 2015 I was invited to a Spanish themed dinner on the Northern Beaches in Sydney. My friends were celebrating the acquisition of 2 enormous paella pans and had cooked up a storm.

What to bring? Churros? Crema Catalana? Too tricky for the first, too hard to transport for the second. Chocolate Bark was the answer, really easy to make, and you can use glacé fruit and nuts left over from the 25th December.

There are lots of recipes around for this after dinner chocolate treat. But it’s less of a recipe and more of make-it-up as you go along kind of sweet thing.

I recently acquired Nigel Slater’s new book “The Kitchen Diaries Volume iii”. I have long been an admirer of Nigel’s food philosophy, recipes and writing. Among other lovely recipes, Nigel makes his version of this with chocolate, crystallized fruit, rose petals and hazelnuts.

My version has orange blossom flavoured sugar, lots of nuts, fruit and sea salt.

The principle is easy: just melt dark chocolate, pour it into a large tin, then scatter over whatever you feel like, ending with sprinkling of flavoured demerara sugar and sea salt. I have specified varying quantities of glacé fruit and nuts – it really depends on how much you feel like putting in.

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Ingredients

1 tsp demerara sugar

1 or 2 drops orange blossom water (or any flavour you like eg rosewater, vanilla, peppermint)

400 g dark chocolate at least half of which is 70% cocoa solids (or the whole lot)

300-400  glacé fruit (eg apricots, pears, peaches, figs, pineapple, ginger)

100-150 g unsalted nuts (eg macadamia, cashews, hazelnuts, almonds) – toasted or not, up to you

a few grinds of sea salt flakes

Ingredients

A couple of hours before making the bark, or even the day before, prepare the orange blossom cugar. Sprinkle the drop(s) of orange blossom water over the demerera sugar and stir to mix. If the flavour is not strong enough , carefully add another drop. If it’s too strong, add more sugar. Y0u can always us ethe flavoured sugar as decoration for cupcakes, big cakes, pies or biscuits. It’s crunchy and quite delicious!

The sugar needs to be left to dry out – it shouldn’t be too damp.

When you’re ready to make the chocolate bark, heat a glass or china bowl over simmering water in a saucepan. Make sure the bowl does not come into contact with the water. Carefully break up the chocolate into pieces and place in the bowl. With the heat turned down to low, let the chocolate melt slowly. Don’t be tempted to stir it  – gently prod it to move it around the bowl if there are bits that aren’t melting.

While the chocolate is melting, chop the glacé fruit into pieces, some bigger than others for texture and look. Roughly chop the nuts.

Line a baking tin with baking paper. I used a 23cm (9″) x 34cm (13″tin.That allowed for quite a thick bark, as pictured. To make a thinner, more brittle bark, just use a bigger tin – or less chocolate!

When the chocolate has completely melted, pour it carefully into the tin, spreading it out with a palette knife to the corners. Scatter the glacé fruit pieces and nuts over the chocolate. Don’t push them in – they should lie artfully over the chocolate wherever they come to rest.

Finish off by sprinkling over the flavoured sugar, and grinding some sea salt over too. Don’t be tempted to overdo the sea salt – once on, it’s difficult to take off.

Leave to set in a cool place or for an hour or so in the fridge. The chocolate loses its gloss if refrigerated for a long time – but on New Year’s Eve – summer in Sydney – the bark would have been mud if I hadn’t wacked it in the fridge for a couple of hours!

When set, break roughly into bark pieces, or shards, if your chocolate is thinner. Great with coffee and after dinner alcoholic treats!

Oh, and it was a sensational dinner and lovely to be with good friends seeing in 2016.

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