On October 4th my husband and I had the opportunity to attend the Whisky Show at The Whisky Exchange in London. We planned to arrive early to get in line for the event so we wouldn’t have to wait in the mad rush when the doors opened. Once we arrived we realized that I misread the start time. It started an hour later than I thought so we ended up near the front of the line and had an extra hour to get to know the people in front and behind us. We met people who had attended prior shows and seemed to know a lot about whisky and a few bloggers who were a lot of fun to get to know.

 

Once inside, we were presented with really cute etched stemmed whisky glasses to use during the tasting events and then to take home with us. The event was spread out over 4 huge rooms with representatives from over 80 distilleries in attendance. With exhibitors from England, Wales, U.S, Sweden, Japan and, of course, Scotland, the show displayed the entire range of whiskies by age, ingredients, maturation process and the like. Many rare and unusual whiskies that I cannot find at home were available to sample as well as some of the most expensive whiskies in the world.

etched whisky glass from London Whisky Show 2014

Etched whisky glass from London Whisky Show 2014

 

The exhibition rooms were very pleasant since they were not jam packed with people. Attendees were not rushed or pushy. This enhanced the experience so we could interact with the exhibitors to learn about their offerings and sample them at our leisure. Everyone seemed to take their time to have fun and learn as much as they could. Representatives from the various distilleries seemed to be enjoying the event as well and tried very hard to share their passion for and knowledge of their products.

 

I tried to take notes during this experience but that ceased after two tastings because I could not hold a glass, a pen and my notebook, and walk, talk and think at the same time. All I can say is that most of the whiskies I really enjoyed and some of them were not my favorites due to my flavor preferences. I cannot say any of them were bad (somehow I suspect any “bad” ones would not have appeared at a top end show like this one). I learned a lot about whisky, how it is made, and how it is influenced by the ingredients, process, environment and every other tiny aspect that contribute to the end product. I learned that “smoke” and “peat” are independent variables in whisky. Previously I assumed they were interrelated so if a whisky were peaty, I would not like it. I discovered I do like peaty whisky; it is the smoke flavor I am not very fond of in my whisky.

 

Admission to the event included a lovely two-course whisky infused meal. All of the entrees and the desserts were prepared with a different whisky and were absolutely delicious. I had the Lamb Shoulder in Barley Broth that was made with Scallywag blended malt whisky and my husband had the Roast Pumpkin Lasagna prepared with Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve whiskey. We selected the Sticky Toffee Pudding served with a cream sauce infused with Singleton of Dufftown Tailfire.

 

One of the highlights of the show was the opportunity to sample dream drams. These are tastings of very rare and expensive whiskies, many of which are no longer available on the market. For a mere $10 to $40, a taste of truly exquisite whiskies could be sampled. I have heard that tastes of some of them go for about $300! The dream dram we sampled was the amazing Glenmorangie Pride 1978, which retails for a mere $6000 per bottle! Believe me, it was really dreamy.

 

My husband and I had a fantastic time at this event and hope to being able to attend again in the future. For any dedicated whisky lovers, this is an event that is not to be missed!

 

Ideal glass for tasting whisky

Ideal glass for tasting whisky

This post is about a fantastic market in downtown London that is a treat for the senses. As we entered Borough Market from the Southwark Tube stop, a choir of school age children was performing for the lunchtime crowd. I expected my senses of sight, smell, taste and touch to be exhilarated but my ears enjoyed the serenade as we walked about the market.

I learned about Borough Market after reading an article in the paper that Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, frequents this market. If it is good enough for her, it is certainly good enough for me!

Entrance to Borough Market

Entrance to Borough Market

We arrived shortly after the market opened so it wasn’t too crowded and some of the vendors were still setting up their goods for sale. My husband and I did a quick walk through to find out which stalls we wanted to visit first to make sure we could see everything before we left.

vendors at Borough Market

Vendors at Borough Market

Most of the stalls offered a huge array of fresh produce. Everywhere I looked, the food was high quality and beautiful. Fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood, cheese, bread and sweets were for sale. Their colors were bright and vivid. A few of the items that were on sale were ones that I have seen in books and read in recipes but are not available in the U.S. like pied bleu mushrooms, shimeji mushrooms and ramps.

Fresh mushroom display at Borough Market.

Fresh mushroom display at Borough Market.

One stall sold the most beautiful tomatoes. Rows and rows of all kinds of tomatoes, red, yellow big and small, heirloom, everything I could want. Since I love delicious fresh tomatoes, I wanted to buy a few for a snack but I wasn’t sure they would survive the day without being crushed.

A beautiful selection of tomatoes at Borough Market

A beautiful selection of tomatoes at Borough Market

Have I mentioned the fresh seafood? Just looking at the variety of fresh fish, my mind was churning with the possibilities of different recipes I could create.

Fresh seafood at Borough Market

Fresh seafood at Borough Market

The bakeries sold the most beautiful breads and other baked goods. The aroma was so vivid I could almost taste the fresh breads. Ahhh.

Sweets at Borough Market

So many delicious sweets at Borough Market

I particularly enjoyed the stalls that featured freshly cooked hot food. Huge pans, about 4 feet in diameter, filled with hot steaming paella drew people to investigate and sample the tasty dishes. Other stalls featuring various Indian curries, kebabs and Ethiopian delicacies had people lining up to buy a plate full of heavenly dishes.

Hot fresh Indian food for sale at Borough Market.

Hot fresh Indian food for sale at Borough Market.

Wine merchants occupied several stalls with bottles and individual glasses of English wine and bubbly. Often they were paired with local artisanal cheeses and cured meats. I wish I could have spent more time sampling here.

Cheese vendor at Borough Market

Checking out a cheese vendor at Borough Market

I enjoyed my visit to Spice Mountain. With its wide array of fresh spices and spice blends I found myself in sensory overload. Since spices don’t weigh much, I purchased several Moroccan spice blends to use when cooking in my tagine.

 Spice Mountain at Borough Market

I’m enjoying shopping at Spice Mountain at Borough Market

The flower stalls were filled to the brim with freshly cut flowers. So many varieties, so many colors, so little time to enjoy.

Just outside the market we found a popular Indian Restaurant called Silka where we had a lovely lunch before we had to leave the area and continue our tour of London.

Entrance to Borough Market

Entrance to Borough Market

Borough Market is open every day of the week. Check their website to confirm the hours and the listing of vendors at http://boroughmarket.org.uk/.