September 11, 2012

Opera, Food Fairs and Chainsaw Jugglers

Of all the areas in London, Covent Garden has got to be my favourite. The life and culture cannot compare to any other part. If at all, I had nothing else to do, I'd spend the whole day in Covent Garden.

The piazza and French style housing was designed by Inigo Jones in the mid 17th century and the landmark neoclassical market building in the centre of the piazza by Charles Fowler 200 years later. The area speaks of centuries of history but has always been synonymous with entertainment. 

Cobblestone streets flanked with tiny boutiques and quaint cafes spilling out onto pavements leading up to the piazza bursting with activity- from street dancers, magicians, acrobats, opera singers, orchestras, and more. People crowding around, sitting on pavements and eating hot jacket potatoes, more little boutiques with tiny doorways and spiral staircases, many more cafe's with live cooking and tables with white umbrellas dotted around the plaza. Souvenir markets with London city, Queen's Jubilee and Olympic paraphernalia and tourists and locals trying to breathe in as much as possible.

Every Thursday, during the summer, the plaza becomes abuzz with the 'Real Food Market'. A variety of stalls displayed a large assortment of food from cakes and bakes, cheeses, olives to hot pans frying up onions and pancetta, barrels of salad, hot crepes and homemade jams. 

My mum and I got there a little after 11. For some weird reason she decided to climb the 294 steps out of Convent Garden underground station and I obligingly followed. Despite not being hungry, the sight of all that food was enough to start salivating (probably also from the exhaustion of climbing all those steps!)

The food is all homemade by local farmers and home chefs. There's nothing better than hot, fresh and homemade food. But what made the whole fair more exciting was more than just the food- The smells that wafted into the other areas of the plaza, the people weaving their way through the stalls; food in one hand, cameras in the other, the happy owners chit-chatting with customers and each other, the perfect perfect clear blue skies and bright sunny summer day.

Even if you don't spend that much, you could probably fill up on samples. While we walked around, we sampled home made fudge. My favourite was butter toffee. There was a jams and relish stall with a bowl of biscuits to sample with. Some very interesting flavours- Onion and pineapple, apple and cider, mint and gooseberry. We stopped at the cheese stall. Learnt a lot about how cheeses age and how to determine the approximate ageing by the look and texture of the cheese. We also tried most of the varieties. Very chatty guy who still smiled despite us not buying anything. 

It was a hard choice of what to eat for lunch. Finally narrowed it down to a tomato and feta muffin, and a tomato basil soup with a crusty roll and ate while watching a live opera performance. Lovely clear voice that resonated through the high ceilings of the market building.

Couldn't leave without dessert. The crepes stall looked most exciting. I chose a 'Seduction'- Strawberries, chocolate and cream. Was slightly odd to answer 'I'd like a seduction' when he asked for my order. :P But was quite delicious; hot crepe, gooey chocolate, fresh strawberries and whipped cream oozing out from all sides. 

I never hesitated to make Covent Garden a meeting spot whenever I needed to meet people. There's isn't a better place to wander around if you're waiting- you just cannot get bored!

1 comment:

Barbed Sulks said...


Lovely pics.