Camden Lock appears in pictures to be a serene place where one can sit outside a trendy bar or on a bench eating beside the canal from one of the numerous vendors based in Camden Market. Trying to exit the tube onto the busy Camden high street didn’t quite live up to the imagery. It was a Saturday. It was madness.
Getting to Camden is easy enough by tube. Take the northern line to Camden and follow the hoards of people to the stations exit. At the time we went there were one way designated entry and exit systems. On the high street leading up to Camden Lock you will pass numerous street sellers from record sleeves to clothing and phone cases, a typical market. Camden struck as as quite a cool place where many young people from across the capital come to chill out and enjoy the weekend.
We could just make out above the crowds the famous bridge with ‘CAMDEN LOCK’ inscribed on it. The walk from station to market isn’t a bad one at all taking just 10 minutes in total. From the canal bridge there’s a beautiful view across the lock. It’s also a good way to get your bearings and take a photo or two. The next task of course is finding the food, we could smell it but we couldn’t yet see it.
Heading up a narrow entrance beside the lock and towards the market hall we came across a market spread over two floors. The usual market wares of jewellery and artworks are sold here but no food. For that we had to descend a flight of stairs on the market’s far side heading towards the bridge over the canal. At the foot of the stairs is a courtyard and home to Camden’s elite food vendors. We had made it.
The sheer choice and variety of cuisine was overwhelming, do we try Indonesian? BBQ? A burger? Oooh I fancy churros. The place is rammed with some great eateries for sure. All prices, given that this is London, are very fair for what you receive as well. We aimed for a stall that has a reputation for very tasty halloumi fries, a place called Oli Baba’s run by a couple of Aussies on our visit.
£6.00 ($7.69 US) gets you a portion of crispy halloumi fries topped with a mixture of chilli flakes, zaatar, yoghurt dressing, mint, pomegranate molasses and pomegranate seeds. Usually the stall is rammed but as we were there early we got served more or less straight away. The background of the canal boats and bridges makes for beautiful photographs for all you keen photographers out there. The fries matched the beauty of the setting, they are awesome. The salty taste of the halloumi against the spice coming from zaatar and chilli is nice enough but to hit it with sweet and fresh flavours from molasses, mint and fresh pomegranate takes this a level higher. We loved them.
The food area began to fill up rapidly with many people choosing to come over the canal bridge directly into the stall’s area. We took this opportunity to give the place a thorough examination before our next bite. Columbian arepa’s, like a filled corn flatbread, were being sold just behind Oli Baba’s and were doing a roaring trade with the biggest line of any stall. We were walking by Japanese, Thai, Korean burrito’s until we rocked up at a stand selling pulled pork sandwiches. Mmmmmm.
La Porca specialises in pulled pork sandwiches and wraps with sides available such as fries and extra toppings for your sandwich. The smell coming off the grill was amazing as we approached the front to place our order. Pulled pork in a brioche bun is one of our absolute favourites and when you add in apple coleslaw and mustard rocket with tomato, red onion and Jack Daniels BBQ sauce, oh my! We parted with £7 ($9.02 US) and got stuck into pulled pork heaven. The sandwich was excellent with all the sweet/sour/smoky flavours that make up a great pulled pork bun, you have to stop by here.
The market was now heaving so we decided to grab a dessert item. We had heard about ice cream being made with liquid nitrogen at one stall but we ended up being pulled in the direction of churros, that ol’ favourite. The stall imaginatively named ‘Churros’ was tucked away in a corner of the market with a few tourists deliberating wether to go with Nutella or caramel sauce with their churros. The menu items included an ice cream option with your churros if you fancy something a little different.
We stayed traditional and went for a small portion at £5 ($6.44 US) consisting of 4 churros and one dip of choice, we went with Nutella. The churros were fried to order which was a nice touch and rolled with cinnamon sugar. Fresh out of the fryer they can’t be better and these went perfectly with the rich Nutella.
Leaving behind a full market and walking canal side back to the tube we were glad to have finally cracked Camden. The area has a great vibe about it and the service from the traders is relaxed and friendly. The food from all the stall’s mentioned was very good indeed and a really good way to try different cuisines for a small price. Especially in a city as expensive as London. If you happen to be travelling on a budget make a stop at Camden, there are many great bars and places to hang out and of course some very good street food to try.