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Festive fun, frolics and food as ‘Christmess’ comes to Borough Market

Santa goes wild at Christmess

When it comes to Christmas, it can often feel like children get the most excitement out of the festive season. However, in the run-up to Yuletide, a festive pop-up is giving us grown-ups the chance for some seasonal fun.

Launching at Borough Market on 15 November for six weeks is Christmess, an opportunity to visit a naughty and anarchistic world featuring St Nicky and his pals. An old Victorian warehouse is being transformed for a new instalment from supper club supremos Slap Ya Papa and artistic collective Marbles & Ware. Guests can check out Mama Claus’ hidden parlour-come-blues room, and a Santa’s Whiskey Grotto. Expect plenty of entertainment with live music, Santa’s little helpers and plenty of Christmas sparkle. Be sure not to miss the Green Fairy granting wishes in the hidden absinthe bar.

Finally, revellers will head to the dining room for a 12 dish lunch or dinner, featuring the likes of Cajun roasted turkey and candied yams. Table etiquette will go out the window with diners encouraged to drink a lot and dance on the tables.

Meanwhile, during the day downstairs will be workshops so you can make your own Christmas presents or decoration, such as floral wreath weaving, beeswax candle making, writing workshops, yoga and life drawing.

  • Christmess @ The Imaginarium, Hunter Penrose, 32 Southwark Street, London Bridge, SE1 1TU. Nearest station: London Bridge. Tickets from £55 (dinner). For more information and booking, visit the Christmess website.

For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.

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Food for thought: Borough Talks with chefs and foodies returns to Borough Market

Brush up on your food knowledge as Borough Talks returns to Borough Market

Brush up on your food knowledge as Borough Talks returns to Borough Market

Calling all London foodies! Returning to the capital’s historic Borough Market this spring/summer is ‘Borough Talks’, a series of after-hours discussions and panels from celebrity chefs and food experts. Names including Michelin-starred chef Pierre Koffman, broadcaster Jay Rayner, cookery writer Claudia Roden and food stylist and writer Olia Hercules will be sharing their experiences of the international food scene.

Keith Davis, managing director, Borough Market, said: ‘As London’s oldest food market, we have always been a place where people come together to connect over food. These talks give us a chance to engage with visitors on a deeper level and discuss the wider topics that impact the food landscape around us. The talks also give people an opportunity to hear from innovators and thought leaders in the industry, up close, in a wonderful, intimate setting.’

Calendar of events

  • Tuesday 10 May (7-9pm) : You Are What You Eat: What Shapes Our Food Choices?

A panel discussion about the influence of advertising, design, nostalgia, family traditions and self-images on our culinary choices. Moderated by chef, food writer and author Sybil Kapoor, the panel will include Bee Wilson, food writer and historian; Olia Hercules, author of the acclaimed book Mamushka; award-winning food photographer Patrice De Villiers and Michelin-starred chef James Lowe of Lyle’s Shoreditch fame.

  • Tuesday 7 June (7-9pm) : The Secrets Of A Successful Food Start-up

Get exclusive tips and tricks about how to start the next big culinary sensation from some of the industry’s most successful food entrepreneurs. Panellists Jenny Costa, founder of Rubies in the Rubble; Bonnie Chung, founder of Miso Tasty, former food blogger and secret supper club pioneer; Jordan Frieda, co-owner of London restaurants Trullo and Padella and Claire Ptak, owner of east London bakery Violet, will talk about what it takes to create a successful food business in modern Britain.

  • Tuesday 14 June & Tuesday 28 June (7-9pm) :  In Conversation

14 June: Cookbook writer and cultural anthropologist Claudia Roden will sit down with Boyd Tonkin, senior writer at The Independent, to give the audience a glimpse into her life as a pioneering food writer, and the role she has played in revolutionising Western attitudes towards other cuisines.

28 June: Michelin-starred chef Pierre Koffmann will share stories from his 50 years working in the industry with Bloomberg’s chief food critic, Richard Vines. Audiences will get a taste of Koffmann’s life as a young chef in Strasbourg and Toulon before he went on to open La Tante Claire, launching his meteoric career in London.

  • Tuesday 5 July (7-9pm)Coming Together: Can Food Be A Force For Change?

A debate on the role of food as a catalyst for social change. Tristram Stuart, campaigner, author and founder of Feedback will be joined by Rosie Boycott, Chair of the London Food Board and food advisor to the Mayor of London, Arthur Kay, designer, entrepreneur and founder of Bio-bean, and Roberta Siao, the Brazilian chef who oversees pop-up restaurant and social enterprise Mazi Mas. Questions will focus on whether a shared love of food can transform lives and regenerate communities.

  • Tuesday 20 September (7-9pm) : Pariahs To Pioneers: The Changing Face Of British Food

Renowned restaurant critic and author Jay Rayner will discuss how British food has evolved with Isaac McHale, chef owner of The Clove Club. Moderated by writer, broadcaster and restaurateur Tim Hayward, the panel will also include Executive Chair of Slow Food UK, Shane Holland and award winning author and Fortnum & Mason food writer of the year, Sybil Kapoor. Find out how Britain went from its famed bad cooking to being one of the world’s most open, exciting and innovative sources of good food.

  • Borough Talks events will place in the heart of Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, Borough, SE1 1TL. Nearest station: London Bridge. Tickets: £15 (include wine and food from market traders). Book in advance via the Borough Market website.

For the history of Borough Market, click here.

For a guide to what else is on in London in May, click here.

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British Museum Of Food: A treat for foodies as you explore the history and art of grub

© Jo Duck for Bompas & Parr

The British Museum of Food opens in October at Borough Market for three months
© Jo Duck for Bompas & Parr

London is home to some of the top restaurants and chefs in the world. We’re able to travel around the world through our culinary choices without leaving the kitchen table. With our love of good food, it makes sense that the capital is the location for a new museum of food.

This October, foodies can rejoice as the world’s first museum dedicated to food is coming to London. Food and drink wizards Bompas & Parr are launching a cultural institution celebrating the history, evolution, science, sociology and art of food.

Initially opening for three months from 23 October, the British Museum Of Food will be based at Borough Market while it seeks a more permanent home. Bompas & Parr will be collaborating with the managers, trustees and traders from nearby Borough Market on the museum, which will span two floors. The new museum will both educate and entertain visitors about food and drink in B&P’s signature quirky and disruptive style.

Visitors will explore the most exciting elements of food through the museum’s exhibits and experiences. There will be plenty of ‘food for thought’ as guests are encouraged to consider what they are putting in their bodies and think about nutrition and health.

© Nathan Pask for Bompas & Parr

The museum is a new project from food wizards Bompas & Parr
© Nathan Pask for Bompas & Parr

Among the exhibits in the initial opening will include:

Be the Bolus: the Peristalsis Experience

An immersive digital journey into the body, following the path of food along the alimentary canal from the mouth, into the stomach and intestines, using footage obtained working with consultant gastronenterologist Dr Simon Anderson.

Choco-Phonica

A sonic wonderland focused on chocolate where visitors are asked to experience taste against the medium of sound, curated in collaboration with Space Doctors and Nathanael Williams Music with the advice of multi-sensory scientists.

The British Menu Archive

A selection of historical and beautiful menus, normally an ephemeral part of food culture but actually a revealing historical resource.

The Butterfly Effect

A walk-through tropical butterfly experience that tells the story of the unsung heroes of pollination in the context of global food security concerns.

Atelier of Flavour 

A gallery showcase of food as art, with a focus on how different artists have used unusual materials to represent the English Breakfast.

Harry Parr, partner of Bompas & Parr and a founder trustee of the museum, said: “’Around the world there are various museums devoted to specific items of food and drink, such as herrings and absinthe, but nowhere has an institution been created that seeks to embrace this crucial part of human existence. “This has long been an aspiration of the studio and we’re delighted to have been able to assemble a stellar cast to help us bring this to life. And where better than the spiritual home of London’’s food culture?”’

  • British Museum Of Food, One Cathedral Street, Borough Market, SE1 9DE. Nearest station: London Bridge. Open Wed-Fri 12-6pm, Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 10am-5pm. Tickets: Adults £5, Children £4. The museum will open for three months from 23 October 2015. For more information, visit the British Museum Of Food website.

For a guide to what else is on in London in December, click here.

To find out about Bompas & Parr’s Alcoholic Architecture experience, click here.

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Metro Girl’s Must Do Series – Part 2: Borough Market

Welcome to part 2 of ‘Metro Girl’s Must Do’ series, a guide to my essential sights or activities to do during your visit to London. Many tourists may only spend a few days in the capital before escaping to the likes of Oxford or Bath or jumping over the English Channel to see the continent. So if time is of the essence and you’re torn between where to go, this is my opinion on London’s top attractions.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Feast for foodies: Head to Borough Market for a culinary adventure

Many visitors to London these days may find they are not coming into contact with the ‘real London’. One of pitfalls of tourism – in many cities not just London – is you end up following the usual checklist of sights and sharing them with other non-Londoners.

However, one of the long-running places that has always attracted Londoners in the city is the traditional market. There’s something special about the capital’s markets that make them differ from those abroad. Now of course there are many markets I can highly recommend to visitors – Brick Lane, Portobello and Camden. However, this post is on my favourite, Borough Market. Known as the city’s foodies destination, it draws chefs, amateur cooks, restaurateurs… or just people (like me) with a healthy appetite.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Sweet tooth: It looked like every flavour going was at the Turkish Delight stand, while cooks were perusing some of the fruit and vegetable stands for ingredients

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

For the carb lovers: A bakery stand was a big draw

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Grab a bite to eat under the shadow of Southwark Cathedral

Now located a stone’s throw from London Bridge train and tube station, Borough Market has existed in the area since as far back as the 11th century. The original market lay closer to the actual bridge – then the only river crossing in London – and sold fish, vegetables, grain and livestock. In the 13th century, the market then moved to Borough High Street, just south of St Margaret’s Church. Despite being located on the south of the River – and therefore outside the jurisdiction of the City of London – the boy King Edward VI (1537–1553) changed all this in 1550 when he extended the City’s power to Southwark’s markets.

The market thrived until 1755 when it was closed by an Act of Parliament, as politicians were unimpressed with the congestion in the area. However, some proactive locals in Southwark clubbed together to raise £6,000 to buy a patch of land, then known as The Triangle, in the hope of re-opening the market. In 1756, it reopened on the new site which still forms part of the market today (where Furness Fish & Game is located on Middle Road).

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Under the arches: The market is made of predominantly Victorian metal and glass

By the 19th century, the market was thriving – no doubt to its location close to the ‘Pool of London’, where most of the wharves were situated. The current building you see today was designed by architect Henry Rose and erected in the 1850s, with the Art Deco entrance at Southwark Street added in 1932. In 2004, the South Portico from Covent Garden’s Floral Hall was installed at the market’s Stoney Street entrance after the Royal Opera House was redeveloped. The market was further enhanced in 2013 with the opening of the Market Hall, a glass structure opening on to Borough High Street which provides a place for shoppers to relax and sample their purchases. Columns reaching up to the roof house pots with growing hops, fruits, flowers, herbs, olives and salad leaves. There also features a demonstration kitchen, with various events taking place throughout the week.

Today, there are over 100 stalls featuring most kinds of food from the UK and further afield. Weekends are particularly busy so it’s worth trying to get there early on a Saturday. As well as a wide range of stalls, the market also contains several restaurants and pubs, including Tapas Brindisa, The Globe, The Rake and Elliot’s Café. On Beadale Street in the market, there is also the old school-style Hobbs Barbers for men in need of a trim.

  • Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, Borough, SE1 1TL. Nearest station: London Bridge. Open for lunch from Monday-Tuesday 10am-5pm, or the full market is open Wednesday-Thursday 10am-5pm, Fridays 10am-6pm and Saturdays 8am-5pm. Closed on Sundays. For more information, visit the Borough Market website.
© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Decisions, decisions: More types of Cheesecake than you can shake a fork at


For Part 1 of Metro Girl’s Must Do series on the London Eye, click here.

Or to read about Metro Girl’s trip up to the nearby View From The Shard, click here.

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