Loire Valley Wines: Muscadet Magic

It’s Saturday 4.30 a.m. in South London and the mobile phone rings. It’s our driver waiting to take us to our next adventure to the not so glamorous, but extremely fascinating and historic Billingsgate market, a fish market on the other side of town in East London.
As I get out  the front door, it is foggy as I get into our carriage, I easily fall asleep in a light hazy dream.  I could still hear the faint noise of traffic.  Suddenly, visions of scallops and bacon sarnies and builders tea rounds seemed quite surreal. Piggy’s greasy spoon cafe inside Billingsgate Market is noisy and weary. And it was taken over by bloggers by 6:30 a.m.!

Next, I  feel a hand guiding me as we dived into the market and encountered some fantastic sea creatures, and some very agitated fishmongers; “They’ve been working since 2:30 a.m.,” I heard someone whispering behind me.

We heard some great tales about the market and how the river Thames used to be the center of fish trade in London; by the 19th century, Billingsgate was then the biggest fish market in the world.  We were surrounded by fish and crustaceans from all over the world!  The vibrant energy coming from both the fishmongers and the customers of all nationalities and walks of life was almost palpable.

Billingsgate Market






The seaside smells impregnated our boots and clothing.  The wet floors were a bit dangerous at times, and we glided like we were on an ice skating rink, as I recall.  After what seemed like ages, going around and around the market stalls, a sense of excitement began to take over me. We got some fabulous, fresh seafood for our lunch, but before we left, we participated in a crash course on cleaning prawns, gutting and filleting fish, and cooking lobster.  I looked at my watch, and it was 11 a.m.; it all seemed so unreal.  I had been up since 4 a.m.!

squid and Nancy, the Canadian Lobster – Denise’s best friend!

Eventually we were brought back to shore, around Old Street; at Central Street Cookery School where everything was in place for the 50-minute marathon cooking event, including an engaging and pleasant Muscadet wine tasting.  Muscadet is such an underrated wine. It’s a perfect pairing for oysters and seafood because their clean, fresh, floral, lemon, and sometimes so tropical notes, like pineapple, can depend on Muscadet.

Back to the competition…there were nine pairs of bloggers taking part in the competition for the best fish or seafood recipe to match with the Muscadet wine.  With my partner in wine and crime, Denise Medrano, a.k.a. The Wine Sleuth, we came up with a tasty dish, or so we thought.

Seafood  incl lobster soup

More Muscadet wine degustation issued with our plates was being judged and dissected. I remember vaguely being told that our dish was good, but it was not good enough to win the competition. Then more Muscadet sipping took place until early or late Saturday afternoon, but I can’t quite recall.

I woke up Sunday at an undisclosed hour, still in disbelief that all the above happened! Yes, it did, and it’s all down to the delicious Muscadet wines that pair so well with fish and seafood. Cheers!

Until next time why not join me on  InstagramTwitter and Facebook…X
Disclosure: I was a guest at Billinsgate Market tour and this event was sponsored by Sopexa and Loire Valley Wines/Muscadet, with expert presentation of Mr Douglas Blyde




  1. November 3, 2015 / 3:47 am

    What an inspiring place to wander. 🙂

  2. Rhian Westbury
    November 3, 2015 / 10:03 am

    I'm always walking past this market but i'm there never there early enough for it to actually be open! x

  3. Pasta Bites
    November 3, 2015 / 10:55 am

    Ah I went there last year for a Christmas breakfast and gosh, it was sooo early! but very interesting. and I love Central Street Cookery school!

  4. Georgia C
    November 3, 2015 / 9:33 pm

    I've not been to a fish market since I was a young child, my step dad took me early one morning on the docks and it was pretty surreal seeing all they have to offer. Sounds like you had a lovely morning and it's a pity you didn't win the competition but at least you had wine! 🙂