Monday, 13 February 2012

There's no place like the market

There’s no place to be like the market on a cold, grey February Sunday. If you think staying in is the best option, think again! Far better to brave the cold and head out to Parson's Green farmers’ market, where you’re guaranteed a warm welcome and lots of delicious food to stock up on for the week ahead.

Full service was resumed this week after a few of our traders got stuck in snow the week before and couldn't make it. Hearty thanks go to all the traders who did make it and helped shovel a whole lot of snow from the playground before we got going. It was a full-on workout from 8am onwards (so busy there was no time to take pictures) and well worth the effort because customers were thrilled to see us when we opened at 10. As if a bit of snow would put us off!

This week we welcomed Mad-Ass chillies to Parson’s Green for the first time (this is Tony on the right). He sells 18 different chilli sauces and chutneys using Scotch Bonnet, Naga, Chipotle and Habanero chillies grown by Edible Ornamentals in Bedfordshire. The garlic in their sauces is from the Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight, who were also at the market this week. 
Some of their best-selling smoked garlic bulbs below.

Mad-Ass sauces are supremely flavoursome and they are a very welcome addition to Parson’s Green. They’ll be with us every second and fourth Sunday of the month so be sure to come down and sample the Lip Tickler, Green Eyed Monster, Double Smokey, Thyme N Lime and many more. Great for marinating meats, eating with cheese or just dipping, while the Naga and Chipotle syrups can be used as toppings for ice-cream, pancakes or as sweeteners. How can you resist?

Say cheese
Other delights among the 23 stalls this week included three cheese stalls to satisfy the cravings of all cheese lovers. Nut Knowle Farm in Horam, East Sussex specialises in hard and soft pasteurised goats cheese. On the table was their new rind-washed cheese, the powerful and pungent Martlet Gold, a range of the soft and creamy Wealden and Wealdways (pictured right, good for stuffing chicken) and the Sussex Oaties, which you pop in the oven for five minutes and enjoy warm on toast – maybe with a little honey drizzled on top.

Bath Soft Cheese from Somerset brought three of their award-winning organic cheeses to market this week, all sold with a smile by Lizzie, above. Their original Bath Soft Cheese (the recipe was found in an old grocer’s store in Kelston in 1760 and eaten by Nelson) has a mushroomy flavour with a hint of lemons. The semi-hard, succulent and nutty Wyfe of Bath scored gold three times last year, at the British Cheese Awards in Cardiff, the International Cheese Awards Nantwich and the National Cheese Awards at the Royal Bath and West Show. And the splendid Bath Blue was also going down well among shoppers. The cheeses are made by the Padfield family at Park Farm in Kelston.

Last but not least is the Alham Wood Cheese stall, which is at the market every Sunday and has a loyal following of Buffalo cheese lovers. The have a wide range of fresh cheeses, as well as feta and mountain style cheese, fresh unpasteurised milk and thick and clean-tasting Buffalo yoghurt.

Fancy a Firecracker?
This is just one of the 30 entries in our Love your Local sausage competition. With less than a week to go to find the best banger in the capital before voting closes on 20 February, we’re asking people to visit any of London Farmers’ Markets, sample the sausages the stalls are putting forward, then go online to vote (see below).

The competition is being run by London Farmers’ Markets and The Jellied Eel magazine. Among the entries from stalls taking part are the Breakfast marmalade sausage from Downland Pigs, the Beef and Guinness from Boarstall Meats and the Wild Poacher from Radwinter game. On offer from our very own Parson’s Green traders are the Firecracker from March House Farm, (pork, beef, white wine, tomato, parsley and onion), the Plain Pork from Galileo Farm and the Liver, Bacon and Onion, full of wild boar goodness, from Janet at Animal Farm (pictured below left).

A short-list of the sausages with the most public votes will be put to an expert tasting panel and the winning sausage announced in early April. Prizes include a meal for two at a top London restaurant, a bag full of packs of the five short-listed sausages and other prizes donated by the winning producer.

To vote, visit But do head to Parson’s Green market next Sunday if you want to sample some first! We’re in the playground of New King’s School on New Kings Road between 10am and 2pm, every Sunday, rain, shine or snow.

And finally – what’s in season?
Here’s a list of some of the seasonal delights you can expect to see at our farmers market at the moment. Apples (from stores), beetroot, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrots, celeriac, celery, chard, conference and comice pears, crabs, hare, Jerusalem artichokes, kohlrabi, leeks, mallard, oysters, parsnips, partridge, pheasant, purple sprouting broccoli, swede, radishes and turnips.

This week’s featured seasonal vegetable is celeriac. See recipes for ideas about what to do with it.

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