London is my favorite city in the world and going on food tours is one of my favorite activities. Then why, you ask, have I not written about a London food tour before today? The answer is simple… I have NO idea! Please, forgive me. Now that we have gotten apologies out of the way, I am here to share with you a tale of two markets.
Mind the Gap Tours provide small group tours which explore London’s markets, pubs, street art, and even bicycle tours outside the city! I particularly love that they are guided by locals. If you have been reading my blog for awhile now, it will come as no surprise that I chose to go on their food tour.
Brixton is an area of London I had yet to explore so I was very excited to meet our lovely guide, Kat, outside of Brixton tube station on a sunny, Wednesday morning. Born and raised in London, Kat provided a wealth of knowledge throughout our tour about the local area and diverse culture in South London. Quick tip: I always recommend taking a food tour at the beginning of your trip. Often time you will want to return to the places you visited and your guide will suggest even more places to visit throughout the city.
On our way to the famous Brixton Market, which is open daily except on Sunday’s, we passed by colorful street art of David Bowie. This iconic singer was born in Brixton which is something the locals are very proud of. Fun fact: he’s even on Brixton’s own currency, The Brixton Pound. That is right, this district of South London is so damn cool, they have their own colorful version of the Pound Sterling. I was already learning so much and we had not reached the market yet. This is why I love food tours, as they are about more than just food. But trust me, we’re getting to the food.
We started off with a heavenly (get ready for my over-dramatic adjectives) Portuguese pastry from A&C Deli, called a pastel de bata. This simple, yet delicious egg tart was the perfect way to start off the tour. If I lived in London, I would line up for this wonderful morsel every morning, like many of the locals do! At 10:00 AM, the market was a bit quiet but starting to come alive which was absolutely perfect for our group of four to wander around and take photos.
While exploring the market, we learned that Brixton used to be a pretty affluent town, and was actually the first place to use electricity in England! Unfortunately, it is probably more known for the Brixton Riots in the 1980’s that shocked the nation. At the time, the local African-Caribbean community were suffering from high unemployment, poor housing, and a high crime rate. For months prior to these riots, there was a growing unease between the police and Brixton locals. These riots resulted in over three hundred injuries, and hundreds of burned vehicles and buildings. Kat pointed out that even about 10 years ago, Brixton was not a place her parents would ever allow her to go on her own, especially in the evening. Thankfully, times have changed.
Locals are very proud to live in Brixton and have a strong sense of community. Everyone really looks out for each other. The diversity in Brixton is absolutely incredible, with 157 different languages spoken within a dozen blocks. And with that, comes incredible food. I would encourage all tourists (and locals of London!) to visit Brixton Market. If you don’t, you are seriously missing out. We went on to First Choice Bakery to try a saltfish and callaloo patty. We washed down this savory, Jamaican dish with a Guinness punch. Yes, you read that correctly. I was hesitant at first, as it sounded like such an odd combination of flavors, but it ended up being the perfect balance of sweet and salty goodness. If you are curious, Guinness punch consists of condensed milk, vanilla flavoring, nutmeg, salt, and of course, some cold Guinness beer. If Guinness always tasted like this, you would find me at a pub every week.
Right in the heart of the market, we stopped to sit at an adorably decorated table outside of Cannon & Cannon, home to some of the best British cured meats. We were greeted with a cheese and charcuterie board, as well as local ginger beer and craft ales. I was getting worried at this point since I was starting to get full. But not full enough for our last stop in Brixton Market, Ms Cupcake. Important life rule: You are never too full for cupcakes. You will find only vegan cupcakes here as it is London’s first entirely vegan bakery. Going by taste, I would have no idea they were vegan if it weren’t for Kat informing us. I chose a red velvet cupcake but was also eyeing the Ferrero Rocher one. Next time!
We hopped on the #35 bus, climbed to sit on the top deck (gotta love those double deckers) and let our stomachs rest for twenty minutes while heading towards our next stop: Borough Market! Apparently, there has been a market on this sight since 1276, but most of the new buildings are just over 150 years old. Borough Market is very well-known in London and is almost always packed with tourists and locals alike, especially on Saturday’s! This was the first time I was visiting on a Wednesday afternoon and I was happy to see less people. Crowds or no crowds, the food is worth it.
We approached Fish! Kitchen and ordered a fish finger butty (sandwich) from their takeaway menu. I don’t know whether it was the perfectly cooked fish, sourdough bread, or their tartar sauce from the gods, but this was one of my favorite things I have ever eaten. I just realized that this tour probably isn’t suitable for those who don’t enjoy seafood. Or maybe, it will convert you!
As if we hadn’t eaten enough, our last stop was a sweet one at Konditor & Cook Bakery. Three words: curly whirly brownie. This ridiculously good chocolate chip brownie has swirls of cheesecake in it. Enough said. I was officially in a food coma at this point when Kat presents us with an adorable box of chocolates as a parting gift. Not just ANY chocolates, but salted caramels from Artisan Du Chocolat, which were created in 2002 specifically for Gordon Ramsay’s menu at Claridge’s. No big deal.
After the tour, you can walk a few minutes towards London Bridge and continue exploring central London for the rest of the day. Or you could take a nap from all of the food and walking which I may or may not have done. For 45 pounds, this is one of the more affordable foods tours I have been on, especially since it includes alcohol. Big thanks to Kat and Mind the Gap for letting me tag along for the day!
Have you been on a food tour before? What do you think of London’s food scene? I’d love to know in the comments below!
*Note: I did receive one complimentary ticket for my Mind the Gap Food Tour. Opinions are entirely my own. I would only ever recommend something that I actually enjoyed and support!