A Melbourne, London & Hong Kong dessert blog
Greetings from London, readers! We have recently taken you on a tour of the best chocolates in London’s exclusive Belgravia precinct. Let’s hop a little further southside, a bit gritty, a bit hippy, but so very merry fun! Aside from maybe Convent Gardens, London’s many markets don’t usually make it on most tourists’ (first time or repeat) itineraries. Don’t be one of those silly little buggers. Remember these two words: Borough Markets. The ultimate food market in London. Whatever there is out there about Borough Markets, these Dessert Correspondents are certain that there is no guide to its sweetest, most delicious secrets. As Mr Shakespeare would agree, without further ado, let’s get moving and feasting….
A TOUR OF BOROUGH MARKET’S DESSERTS AND SWEETS
Almost always the most crowded of the sweet sellers at Borough Markets, Ion Patisserie is likely to be first to catch your eye. Or allow me to be more precise, its heaving counter of cakes will catch your eye. At Ion Patisserie, the phrase “a slice of gateau” is somewhat underwhelming a collective noun. “Slice” brings with it the connotation of moderation — an anachronism when you see this huge triangular wedge of cream, sponge, icing smacked onto a paper plate and impaled with a plastic fork. Size is not the only issue here. Ion Patisserie is most certainly, not the place for the indecisive. You want lemon cheesecake? Here you go! Oh wait, why not the white chocolate cheesecake or the apple one? Oh, how about pecan and toffee cheesecake? No cheesecake? No worries, would you prefer then the pies (banoffee, apple, blueberry), or the grandmother-style cakes (carrot, lemon pound, or chocolate)? Still hungry? Then my dears, gobble the brownies or the eclairs or the truffles or … or… or…..better dial the NHS for an emergency sugar detox.
ARTISAN DU CHOCOLAT
We have raved previously about Artisan du Chocolat, particularly those brown pearls of salted caramels available in a dreamy, never-ending selection of flavours more diverse than a perfumier’s scent trove. The aspect that distinguishes this outlet of AduC at Borough Markets is its set-up. A cute wooden trolley shop right at the centre of the Green Market where the proprietors will take the time to chat to the inquisitive dessert lover about all the wonders of the cocoa bean, from first origin to ultimate destination. If you have a sharp eye, you might be lucky enough to try creations that have yet to hit the glam city boutiques.
CINNAMON TREE BAKERY
Biscuits? I can get biscuits anywhere, you whinge. No, reader, wait until you bite into a cookie from Cinnamon Tree Bakery. Life (and the standards that you seek in cookies) will never be the same again. Almost-larger-than-your-face discs of unadulterated, chewy joy. Our picks would be the “sea salt and white chocolate cookie”, the “cowboy” cookie and the crystallised ginger flapjack. Such a pity they are available only by the piece, rather than a box. May we have that whole platter please? (The proprietor is another highlight of this Borough Market secret).
For a decadent taste of France in London, look no further than Comptoir Gourmand. Rainbows of macarons, pools of sunshine from the passionfruit and lemon tartes, forests of chocolate and hazelnut creme eclairs, rippled wedges of slivered almonds, tarte tartin, and tarte aux poires, and little crusty pebble-sized canneles. The cake spread at Comptoir Gourmand is fairyland incarnate, Narnia, Lord of the Rings country, though decidedly French-style. The chocolate chip cookies that are the size of Frisbees, the canneles, and especially the unnamed, blueberry-embedded almond cake with a creme brulee texture are the treats from Comptoir Gourmand that will make you comprends exactly why French patisseries are inexplicably, always, divine.
Fudge. A one syllable sweet with a one syllable answer. Yes. Whirld’s handmade goodies are concocted with the fair trade spirit — all organic cream, sugar, flour, etc etc. Overlooking the occasional grittiness of the fudge pieces, it’s a veritable jubilee of fun filling a bag of “mix it and shake it” fudge pieces. Toffee shards, nougat rocks, honeycomb crunch, salted caramel infusions, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, spiced chili chocolate. Available also in pre-mixed bags for easy gift-giving. Your dentist may be sending you a remainder for a rendezvous soon.
KONDITOR & COOK
Seen elsewhere in London too, Borough Market’s Konditor & Cook is the most atmospheric of this chain’s bakeries. It’s tiny, overstocked with cakes, and possesses a quaint English village feel that seems somewhat lost in its other, central London locations. It’s most definitely the military line-up of obese, yet perfectly symmetrical Victorian Sponges along the window front that draws the eye, the wallet and the appetite. Don’t leave Konditor & Cook without this signature product, nor further without trying its brownies. With respect to the latter, you can sample three blocks of squishy chocolate revelry for $5 GBP. Bargain! Make sure you pick the the marbled “Curly Whirly” cheesecake and milk chocolate, the “Boston Brownie” with cranberries, and the brownie coated in luscious salted caramel.
A little less English-accented than the rest of the market, but no less delicious, Portena serves the best, and we really mean the best, dulce de leche in this country and century. You can slowly suck it out from a finger-length, phallic-shaped pastry that is simply delicious, nibble it encased in triangle turnover forms, or also lick smears of it from crumbly alfajore medallion biscuits. However, for just under a fiver (yes, a little dear), it is also available for purchase swirled inside a glass jar. Undoubtedly and unquestionably, this jar of dulce de leche is the most covetable item to take away from Borough Markets.