Our first waypoint of note is St Katharine Docks nestling next to Tower Bridge which, each Friday, hosts a food market. A beautiful location, bathed in sunshine, the food of the world is on display. It’s a nice place to stroll around and a nice place to have such a market though like everywhere I guess, it played shamelessly on the all intrusive World Cup and the market boasts ‘a month of football foodie heaven’ with today’s theme being Portugal v Brazil reflecting the match of the day. To be honest though, the diversity of food on sale means that this is more marketing spin than substance and most international fixtures could be represented (except England vs Germany strangely). Most popular seemed to be the Italian BBQ and the Ribeye steak grill, both of which looked and smelled extremely good, but the long queues quelled our desire and so we headed on.
Crossing Tower Bridge we see the adjacent grass area of Potters Fields (where David Blaine sat in a perspex box for 44 days without food) fenced off and as we compete to strain our eyes to read what’s on the boarding, I suggest it says 'tapas'. This of course might well be my tummy rather than my mind making a Freudian slip via my eyes, but as we get nearer, it is indeed Tapas Fantasticas, which is billed as ‘A celebration of Rioja wine, Spanish food and lifestyle’. Okay, it’s hot and to be honest, we’ve not been out of bed that long so tucking into a meaty spicy Rioja is not yet top of our wishlist but we still have to look inside. Early on, we’re thinking that an ice cold Sangria would at least get the ball rolling though sadly it wasn’t to be found. Even so, a refreshing bottle of water and a walk around stalls plentiful in hams, chorizo and Rioja (red, white and rosé) start to get the juices flowing. A sampling wine glass (being tokens for 4 x25ml samplings of any wines exhibited for just £2) starts us off and we’re happy to try, and delightfully surprised by, the white Riojas available. Normally we’re white Burgundy types, so we were pleasantly surprised by the crisp fruit flavours the white Riojas offer and have to acknowledge the value they offer versus our normal early evening summer tipple (the one after the G&T but before the red).
The last of our tasting tokens goes on a premium CVNE (Compania Vinicola del Norte de Espana) Imperial Gran Reserva 1998, for in an equal measure tasting, you might as well go for the good stuff. Thereafter, we decide to cool ourselves down with a Don Jacobo rosé which was refreshingly dry but fruity (we bought a bottle for home and a full glass rather than a mere tasting measure) and then finally tried the ‘Arroz Al Horno’ (baked rice, ribs, chorizo, meatballs and beans) which looked good but was sadly dry with little flavour. Worth trying at £3 but in the end, left behind with our empty wine glasses in the bins.
Our last stop was to be St Katharine Docks to stock up on goat curry and try the Italian BBQ, perhaps now at 3:45 there would be shorter queues than at the earlier lunchtime. L'horreur! everyone is packing up to go home despite the market being advertised as running till 4pm. Oh well, next time. Heading home, left-over Alaskan King Crab beckons followed by Miso Cod washed down with a Jean-Marc Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet 2004 followed by a customary bottle of Bordeaux for the night (tonight being a Lynch Bages 2000 as we feel like drinking something special to reward ourselves for surviving another week).
So, we never made Borough market but we did have a nice time trying; now, where’s that corkscrew...