So a little bit of a different style post today. I thought I would give you a bit of a life update and talk about a recent visit to Borough market with my dad. So first to the life update; recently I have been really struggling with my mental health. This is something I have briefly spoken about on my blog before. I started this blog as a way to help my mental health, to channel my creative energy into two things I love, writing and cooking. But lately I have noticed myself dreading this blog more and more. I find myself scrolling through Instagram, just comparing my food with other people's. I know my food has improved since I started this, my photography too, but I just have this habit of telling myself it's not good enough. And this is made worse by the constant comparison of myself to others. This blog should be something I enjoy, (and I still do to an extent) not about trying to compete with strangers on the internet. I find myself not creating anything, just fretting about a theoretical dish. I love cooking, and I'm trying to remind myself of this just by writing this post. I feel like this is a really common problem in our internet age, and I know logically someone's Instagram isn't a full portrayal of their life. But it's so hard not to get wrapped up in it. I've been trying to use my phone less to combat these thoughts. Does anyone else feel like this? Any top tips?
Anyway this has coursed me to a bit slow on the whole recipe front here. And so a day of foodie inspiration was in order. And where better to head in London than Borough Market. For those of you that don't know Borough Market is a historic fruit and veg market, that now sells a diverse range of food. It's sort of like foodie heaven. (Just a note: you will see dead animals at Borough Market, there are fish and meat vendors, I just try to pass these stalls by as quickly as possible but if you are the kind of vegan who hates seeing this stuff you might want to give this market a miss.) I had been wanting to pay the market a visit for a while, particularly a shop called Spice Mountain, which was where we headed first.
Spice Mountain is the most amazing shop. Floor to ceiling shelves stocked full of freshly roasted and hand blended spices from across the globe.
I spent ages wondering around the shop just inhaling the aromas. It was so tough deciding what I actually wanted to buy. I tried to find spices and ingredients I haven't seen else where, I really wanted new flavours to experiment with. I picked up kaffir lime leaves; the leaves from a wild lime tree used in South East Asian cuisine, asafoetida; a spice from the fennel family frequently used in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking, a Szechuan stir fry spice mix, ume plum sesame seeds; sesame seeds that are infused with the fruity sour notes of ume plum often used in Japan to season rice. Plus acai powder and Japanese matcha powder; powders made from acai berries and matcha leaves, a type of green tea, both of which are vibrantly coloured and will be perfect for adding colour to dishes and smoothies. Just as we were walking towards the till my dad pointed out a product, saying "ooo what's this?" My heart jumped! It was liquid smoke, which I have been on the hunt for for a while. This version is all natural, made by smoking hiccory and then liquidising that smoke. It allows you to add a smokey flavour to things without actually going to the trouble of smoking things. It can be great for vegan food as it gives a smokey flavour often associated with meat. I'm hoping to use it to create something that might convert even the most stubborn of meat eaters! There is so much at Spice Mountain, I will definitely be returning because there are so many more spices and flavours I need to try. But these lot is definitely enough to get me going for now!
After this we took a wander through the fruit and veg sellers. The range of seasonal fruit and veg on sale is amazing, the stalls are so vibrant and colourful. There were just so many vegetables you would never see stocked in a supermarket. My heart was aching I wanted to cook with them all then and there. I decided against buying anything because I reasoned I should work out what I want to cook rather than just picking up a load of random ingredients and potentially wasting some. But trust me I was so inspired I will be returning. All of the vegetables were organic, something I love. However I won't be doing my weekly shop anytime soon at Borough market, it's mega expensive, this is more the place you come to be inspired and perhaps pick up a few stand out ingredients for a special dish. Below are some images of the beautiful produce on offer.
I have so mushroom in my heart for all these mushrooms!
An assortment of Cauliflowers and Peppers
After wandering around the market we headed to Arabica Bar and Kitchen, a small Middle Eastern restaurant located right next to the market. Although not exclusively vegan this place offered a range of great vegan dishes. We shared hummus, Turkish muhummara; a roast red pepper, harrisa and walnut dip and flat bread to start. I was really impressed by the muhummara and I think I will definitely be creating my own version. I then had aubergine and cauliflower magloubeh, served with spiced egyptian rice, crispy onions and saffron lebneh. Magloubeh is actually yoghuty so I ordered mine without that. This dish was perfectly spiced, I loved the safron running through it (helps a girl feel glamorous that saffron is the most expensive spice).I topped this all of with a chamomile tea just cos yumm!
Overall the trip to Borough Market was a success, I came back feeling inspired to get into the kitchen and create. This blog is a learning journey, cooking is a learning journey, and well isn't that half the fun!