I hop skip and I jump to my local farmers market in Balham every Saturday morning.
I love the produce, I love the seasonal nature of it, I adore that direct connection with the producer and chatting to them every week about what is on the table, quite literally.
Shopping there allows me to shop for fresh seasonal produce that is grown with care and produced locally and sustainably. My meat comes from small farms that are managed with respect for both the animals and the environment and the meat has superb flavour with very fair prices. I can get unusual cuts, and ask for cooking advice (the farmers always have lots of excellent cooking advice!).
Christmas is an exciting time for most people, especially so for us cooks. I have my favourite stalls which I visit every week and excitingly on this Saturday 7th December we have the special pre Christmas Market to look forward to.
Let me introduce you to my market, my way, with a little extra for Christmas!
I get my beef, pork and lamb and eggs fresh from the day before from HG Witt and Son. Nigel’s produce is always terrific value, and he is
always great for a chat.
Nigel manages a small farm with 100 breeding females and 20 dairy and
very occasionally has the most sublime duck eggs but his hens eggs are
excellent too and always poach perfectly (the secret to an easy and
perfect poached egg is only freshness). For Christmas he will have
gammons, terrific ribs or beef, rolled sirloins and traditional
favourite, faggots. Nigel also sells raw butter and milk at very
Peter at Laycroft will have turkeys in the lead up to Christmas, but if you fancy something more unusual, he will also have cockerels up to 5.5kg and geese. Peter recommends cooking cockerel low and slow to get a full-flavoured succulent roast, which for him has excellent stronger flavour and texture as they are hung like game, unlike regular chickens. He always has carcasses too for stock.
Pick’s Organic Farm also have turkeys, geese and ducks, sausages and sausagemeat, but they also have an excellent selection of game like pheasant, partridge and venison.
So much on meat, yes, but there is a lot for the vegans and vegetarians, and the rest of us omnivores too.
Hand Picked Shellfish have everything for the seafood and shellfish fan,
and some ideas for you for your Christmas table. tired of turkey? Why
not have a whole roast turbot or dover sole on your table instead? there
is always oysters a-plenty, the freshest scallops and gorgeous crab
too, picked and whole.
I love the veg and flowers from Jim at Berry Hill Farm. Jim has whole
branches of brussel sprouts, like miniature Christmas trees which are
bright and fresh and perfect for your Christmas table. Hey, why not just
stick some tinsel and lights on them and make them the centrepiece of
your table? He recommends his Maris Pipers for perfect roast potatoes
also. He also has an excellent selection of pumpkins and squash at this
time of year.
Brambletye Farm have their biodynamic produce fresh from the farm, along
with their beautiful vegetable ferments, juices and vinegars, complete
with the mother. They claim excellent potatoes for roasties, and they
highly recommend fresh-made egg nog with their eggs.
On Saturday 7th there were lots of special Christmas activities too. Kids decorating their own gingerbread biscuit, or rolling one out and cutting their favourite shape to take home and bake. There was hot
mulled cider from Brambletye, seasonal sampling from stalls and guest
stalls Popina Bakery, Bears Dough vegan doughnuts (also at market on the
21st Dec), Bath Soft Cheese and Kush Cuisine preserves.
On the 21st December Brays Bees will be at the market with lots of lovely honey and bees wax products including gorgeous bees wax candles. This will be the last market of the year. But I will keep going every week as I always do. I love my farmer’s market.
The word from our farmers is to get your order in as soon as you can.
Want a pumpkin for Halloween? Head to your local farmers market this weekend to take your pick.
The clocks are going back, the nights are drawing in. Brassicas and root vegetables come into their own!
Bloomsbury we've missed you
This September we'll be bringing two new markets to Balham and Leytonstone.