The first ever mention in history of London’s darling Borough Market is to be found in the Scandinavian collection of sagas Heimskringla (1014). Snorri Sturluson speaks of a “…great market town called Southwark…” A few unforgettable millennia forward and Borough Market still holds a treasured place in every Londoner’s heart. We simply adore it. We do so because it brings together all that is quintessentially London; our beloved Thames, classic medieval architecture and the finest British artisanal food.
So how fitting that Shangri-La at The Shard, which commands London’s skyline, has formed a path between its refined taste and some of the greatest connoisseurs of food and drink in the capital. The hotel launched the sumptuous Five Mile Menu at Lang Cafe on 27th November. Curated to celebrate the ultimate union of Shangri-La’s chefs with local suppliers the launch is an undeniable triumph. Naturally, as an ardent lover of fine food I needed little encouragement to attend the launch.
What Exactly is the Five Mile Menu?
The Five Mile Menu is a precious, sentimental journey from a Dorset kitchen table to the mysterious Cornish ocean via London’s urban bee keepers. All the produce on the menu has been sourced within a five-mile radius of Shangri-La at The Shard and will be available at its local cafe and wine bar Lang.
What’s on the Menu?
One taste of WHIRLD‘s sublime hand-made fudge will evoke memories of long, care free summer days spent by the seaside. I couldn’t pick a favourite between clotted cream and sea salt caramel flavours. I had both.
The surprise of the evening was courtesy of multi-award winning rooftop apiary Bermondsey Street Bees. Not only do their bees make honey from the smallest green spaces around Lambeth and Suffolk but their Custom House raw honey is produced by a bee keeper in my very own neighbourhood. What a revelation that was for me having grown up in what many considered to be a wasteland. My gift of a jar of Custom House honey had the distinct flavour of warm citrus and caramel and now sits with pride on my breakfast table.
Camelia’s Tea House offered the best of their artisan tea each lovingly hand blended to their unique tea recipes. I shall forever be in awe of what can be achieved with this humble leaf. The Earl Grey Orange blend was simply divine.
British cured meats served by Canon and Cannon ranged from classic pork to rabbit and duck. Salami with seaweed from St. Ives and cider from the north coast, venison salami with green peppercorns from the Scottish highlands were both rich and full-flavoured; this was truly British food’s moment.
Cheese and Wine
Cheese from Neal’s Yard Dairy was an exquisite addition to the food and drink created for grazing and sharing. It was a fine example of the craftsmanship of British cheese. The offering ranged from soft goat’s cheese from Herefordshire to cow’s milk cheese from Caerphilly; a British journey on a plate. They were a well matched pairing with award-winning Bolney Estate Bacchus white and Chapel Down rosé from Kent.
Jensen’s Gin distilled the traditional way in London was also served. Its fresh, crisp taste was a gentle reminder why London was once the gin capital of the world. I have never been a gin drinker. However, even I could appreciate the spicy, woody cleanness in my glass. The more I stirred it the fresher it tasted; sprigs of thyme filling the glass creating the appearance of a small forest in my hands. Jensen’s has brought the drink back to its spiritual home.
Oysters and More Wine
The finest natural Cornish oysters from Billingsgate Fish Market served with ponzu sauce were the best I had ever tasted; plump and beautiful in their ethereal shells. I couldn’t help but sniff for the fresh waters of Cornish rivers on them. Paired with the most exquisite Bretagne rosé from Coates and Seely it was a combination to die for.
The evening was a pleasing reminder that good food needn’t be exotic. Luxury can be redefined by time, tradition, patience and skill. How fortunate for us that the Five Mile Menu does just that. How right that Shangri-La has chosen to fit in with its neighbours. Be sure to experience this glorious gathering at Lang Cafe at The Shard.
Lang Cafe is located at The Shard, 32 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9SG and opens Monday to Friday 7am – 9pm; Saturday 9am – 9pm; Sunday and Public Holidays 9am – 7pm.