Southbank Centre Real Food Market

We were in London the weekend just gone for a friends birthday and stumbled on this amazing little food market while wandering around Waterloo station before catching our train home.

The market is just outside the station on the way to South Bank and we were so surprised to see it! It was really busy when we visited (about 12.30pm on Saturday) and we immediately jumped in to start exploring the stalls. It needs to be mentioned that we were both pretty hungover after taking full advantage of London’s generous drinking opportunities and the discovery of a food market was perhaps more enthusiastically received than it would usually have been.

Grow your own mushrooms! Amazing!

After sampling some rich, aged balsamic vinegar and various types of cheese and bread, we stumbled on this wondrous sight – Arancini Brothers. I have seen arancini on so many food blogs recently but I’d never had the chance to try them so I was beyond excited to see this stall! For those that don’t know, arancini = fried risotto balls. Yum!

You can see the arancini waiting to be fried to dizzyingly crisp heights on the right here –

Ben was overjoyed by the prospects of this stall and immediately gave the guy (an Arancini brother?) his order – two arancini in a salad wrap. The guy set about making his wrap and we watched in stomach-growling fascination.

For an extremely reasonable £3.50 Ben got a deliciously fresh wrap crammed with two arancini and accompaniments of cucumber, tomato, sliced apple, crispy onions, chilli tomato chutney and homemade garlic mayonnaise. Upon receiving the wrap he clutched it to his bosom, visably drooling as I dithered about what to order for myself. I decided to just go for the two arancini on their own, which came with the tomato chutney and garlic mayo for an even more reasonable £1.50. They came very thoughtfully presented in a little bamboo dish with generous lobs of the sauces and a wooden fork for easy eating, always a bonus in my eyes. We thanked the Brother profusely and scampered over to a nearby table to stifle our hungover stomach lurches with our snacks.

Arancini Brothers arancini are seriously good. They were hot throughout; crispy on the outside and sticky and soft in the middle. Each ball had a generous amount of breadcrumbs on the outside, providing a perfect contrast to the gooey cheese in the centre which was flavoured with flecks of spring onion, garlic and chilli. Both the chilli chutney and garlic mayo were delicious too and to be honest toward the end I was using the arancini more as a vessel to get the sauces into my mouth. Mmmm. Ben’s wrap was gone in a matter of minutes and he announced in a sorrowful voice that he wished he’d got the large, which came with 4 arancini. We have learnt from our mistakes and will be ordering much higher quantities next time.

We seriously debated going back and buying additional fried items but we had a train to catch and wanted to see what wonders the rest of the market held.

This focaccia looked and smelled incredible. We were offered a lot of samples from the various stalls as we wandered round, the atmosphere was really friendly and jovial and you could tell all the stall owners were really passionate about their food. Always great to see!

This garlic that made up this paste was roasted for a full 5 hours! I tried a sample and the flavour was so intense, I felt like I needed a sit-down! I really love garlic and I wish I’d bought a jar, we’ll have to go back so I can.

Once I’d eaten my sample of slow roasted garlic it was unfortunately time to head back to the hustle and bustle of Waterloo Station. I felt like we had travelled miles away when we were wandering around the market; the enticing smells, relaxed atmosphere and sounds of laughter and music made me forget I was in Central London and for once, the wait for a train was a pleasure rather than a chore 🙂

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