When I was interviewed about my photography exhibition by Stuart from Inspiring City last month, we met near Duke of York Square on a Saturday – the only day of the week that the market springs to life.
The first thing he said to me was, “You know you’re in Chelsea when there’s people sipping oysters in the local market.”
Yes, there are buckets and crates of oysters, served front and centre when you pass by along the King’s Road. I haven’t tried them, but people seem to enjoy them.
One of favourite vendors in the market so far is the duck confit people who make “the best duck sandwich in Chelsea”. It’s the only one I’ve come across anyway, so I’d vouch for that.
Another good one is the dumpling stall. They are always fresh and tasty and the vendors are quite cheerful.
The pie and quiche stall offerings look pretty delicious too but I haven’t given them a try yet.
If you’re after a quick snack, stop by the Brazilian table for a Coxinha De Galinha.
Plenty of samples are waiting to be snitched as well.
There’s other goodies to take home like buckets filled up with many flavours of olives.
You can choose a nice bit of fish to wrap up for dinner.
Then there’s sweets. Mountains of sweets.
And tasty loaves of bread in different flavours.
And more cakes.
And more cakes.
And more cakes.
And piles of meringue.
And rows of sweets.
Finding desert won’t be a problem then (or if none of those appeal, there’s occasionally a donut stall too).
I also found something else that made me very happy to see: Colombian fruit – a whole table full of it – lulos, sapotes! When I lived in Colombia, the fruit was one of my favourite things and while I realised that ultimately I don’t belong in a tiny mountain village, there are a few things I miss. This is one of them.
They also had what we called mamones. They are sold in bags along the roadside, especially on the journey to Bogota and you occasionally see the shells and pits flying out of truck windows and littering the ground in traffic jams. You bite into the shell of the tiny round fruit and scrape the small amount of flesh off of the pit in the middle using your front teeth. It’s more a way to pass the time than pass the hunger. Here they are 10 for £10, but they were dirt cheap for huge bags full in Colombia. (Here’s the first three months worth of Little Colombia Observationist if you’re interested. Unfortunately I switched to wordpress.org for the second three months and ended up losing the domain when I came back to London.)
Around the holiday season, the mulled wine and chestnuts arrive along with a stall selling wreaths. One reason I’m always drawn to markets is that they are almost always lively and colourful. Another reason is for the smorgasbord of smells: the hot apple cider, then the fried dumplings, then the cheese wheels, then the stacks of fudge and the chorizo sandwiches. People tend to be in a bit of a jollier mood too.
Especially in the Summer, the square fills up with friends chatting and laughing. It’s a brilliant place for people watching. I spent hours there with my parents when they were here on a hot day a few months ago. There’s plenty to do nearby as well so it’s nice to make a day of it. Saatchi Gallery, one of my favourites, is just behind the market. The whole of King’s Road is filled with shops (try Claudie Pierlot – my new favourite), cafes (love Joe and the Juice) and places to eat (Sushinho!). There’s the Curzon Cinema as well. Plus, Hyde Park (and all the museums around Exhibition Road) and Battersea Park are within easy walking distance. (Here’s a little walk around Chelsea post in case you missed it with some other ideas).
If you have kids, take them to chat with Santa.
And, if you’re excited about sweet American treats like I am, you’ll be happy to visit the Partridges on the other side of the market. Jorge bought me some mini fruity marshmallows the other day and I picked up some Swiss Miss hot chocolate to accompany them. Mmmm, childhood in a mug.
Now we just need some snow…Here’s a photo from last year to help you get in the Wintery mood.
(Catch me on my other blog, Little Observationist, as well.)