Helena Smith talks to some of Borough’s regular shoppers to find out their favourite Market haunts and ingredients—and what keeps them coming back. This time, Caroline Jones, director of the Merge Festival
Caroline Jones is director of Merge Festival, which runs provoking and playful art, music and performance events for a month each summer in disused buildings and public spaces in Bankside. The theme of this year’s Merge Festival, drawing on Bankside’s historic penchant for bawdy entertainment, is merrymaking. Borough Market is hosting one of the events, Musical Bingo, where you can compete with songs rather than numbers to win prizes. Caroline, who lives near Borough Market, tells us about her favourite stalls, where she shops to create dinners for visiting artists.
I have been shopping at Borough Market for 15 years. I buy everything at the Market: flowers, wine, bread, cheeses and fruit and veg.
I have people round to the house two or three times a week—I never plan my shopping in advance, but I go to the Market every Saturday and pass through it a few times in the week to pick up things and to ask the stallholders what their best produce is that day, whether it’s fresh asparagus from Paul Wheeler, fennel bread from Bread Ahead or creamy Mayfield cheese from Alsop & Walker. I know all the traders, so shopping can take a while, as I tend to stop and chat to everyone for a catch-up. The Market has great community spirit.
I’m not an organised cook! Communal meals are put together quickly, ideally with things I’ve bought that day. I like to combine different flavours, with produce from lots of different stalls. If you have fantastic, tasty ingredients you don’t have to do much to them, which suits my style and busy schedule.
Merge Festival has a strong element of storytelling and entertainment, and one of the best things about visiting the Market is getting the story of the food I am about to eat. For example, the beautiful rounds of goat, pecorino and blue cheeses from L’Ubriaco Drunk Cheese, doused and matured for 18 months in wine, and created by Antonio, a producer in his eighties who lives in a village outside Treviso in northern Italy. The Blu ’61 cheese was created by Antonio to celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary. And the story of the wine-curing is that farmers hid their cheeses from soldiers during the war in barrels of wine, and came to like the boozy taste.
Enjoyment and merrymaking
People have been crossing the river to Bankside for hundreds of years for enjoyment and merrymaking—something I feel is captured with the bounty of food at Borough Market. I want to harness this spirit at Merge, and also when I feed and entertain artists and musicians at home.
I hope everyone who comes to Borough Market will also take a trip to the Merge Festival—there’s a sound installation close by at Crossbones burial ground, our Feel Good Institute at 183-185 Union Street and lots more mood-enhancing events. Together we can take some time out to eat, drink and be merry.”
Caroline Jones’s feel good supper spread
— Seasonal veg, fruit and herbs from Paul Wheeler and Paul Crane
— Nordic wholewheat bread from Bread Ahead
— Briscola cheese with cabernet, and pecorino with peppercorns and nero d’avola (Sicilian red wine) from L’Ubriaco Drunk Cheese
— Tre Foglie extra virgin olive oil from The Olive Oil Co
— Kalamata olives from Oliveology
— Wine from Borough Wines