I am very much into the idea of supporting local food and low food miles.  Being able to identify where food has come from is important to me and the best way to ensure this is by visiting local farmer’s markets and farm shops in my area.

There are three markets that I tend to visit the most which are Saltaire, York (only because I work in York) and Otley.  I have visited these three markets in the past few weeks and felt the urge to blog …

Saltaire Farmer’s market is a small affair with about 8-10 stalls on average.  The number of stalls has been dwindling over some time.  In my humble opinion, the main thing working against it is there is little passing footfall in its location on a Saturday morning meaning it’s generally not well supported.  However, it’s a catch 22 I guess in that it’s not well supported because there are so few stalls and so few stalls because it’s not well supported!

Saltaire’s market is on the third Saturday of each month and is located in the car park on the corner of Victoria Road & Caroline Street.  There tends to always be one of meat, cake, chutney and cheese on offer but the rest of the stalls vary in attendance.  When the market first started some years ago, there was a good variety of stalls and probably twice the  number but this has dwindled over time.  I do go down to support it each month but find it increasingly difficult to find anything interesting I’d like to buy.  The last thing I did buy was some rose veal which was locally reared and was very good product.  It was great to  see this on offer as the stigma associated with it is lessening due to a recent revival in promoting it and educating the public about the positive aspects of veal.  See this article in the Daily Telegraph as an example: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/recipes/7905228/Veal-back-on-the-menu-minus-the-guilt.html

I do worry how long the market will be able to last though, but if I could achieve one thing as a result of this blog it would be for you to go along and lend your support, it will ensure its existence as it would be a shame to see its demise.

York Farmer’s market is the last Friday of every month and is located on the paved area of Parliament Street near to Marks & Spencer.  This is a great market with a large variety of good quality products on offer – fresh meat and fish, cheese, cake, chocolates, sausages, veg, eggs and some non-food stuffs such as soap and pottery.  It’s well attended and if I  remember to take a cooler bag with me to work, I definitely buy!  Or I end up treating colleagues as work by taking them back some homemade chocolate brownies.

Otley Farmer’s market is the last Sunday of every month and is located in the town’s central market square.  I love this market and would probably even go so far as to say it’s my favourite in my immediate vicinity.  It has certainly grown over the years and presents a great variety of products and I always buy.  Fresh meat and fish, sausages, eggs, farmhouse butter and cream veg, cereals, oils, flours, jams & preserves, spices, bread to name just some of the high quality products available at this market.  The customer experience is delightful with marketers willing to talk passionately and knowledgeably about their products.  Some of my favourite stalls are:

Hebdens Seafoods, Whitby – their oak roasted salmon is exquisite and I also stock up on their smoked mackerel which comes in a variety of ‘flavours’ which include lemon & parsley; peppered; hot & spicey and ‘plain’.  These freeze really well  too.  Sausages are also sought from Yorkshire Outdoor (Burton’s of Wilberfoss) – I can recommend the Toulouse and the Pork with Sundried Tomatoes versions.  Their  website is http://www.yorkshireoutdoor.co.uk/index.htm

This month, it was a treat to be able to purchase Yorkshire clotted cream from Birchfields – http://www.birchfieldicecream.co.uk/) as scones with jam and clotted cream were on the menu for my inaugural afternoon tea at Chez Shamwari (See my review of that special occasion here).

As an added bonus, I was recently up in Edinburgh visiting some friends and I was taken along to the famers market on Saturday morning.  It’s in a central location in full view of the castle adding to the ambience & atmosphere.  We also managed to dodge the showers that morning so we even had some sunshine to enjoy.

It was bustling with customers and it was so interesting to see Scottish produce mostly local to Edinburgh on sale.  One stall specialised in tomatoes which was a colourful display of both the red and yellow cherry tomato varieties.  There was an organic veg stall where I
purchased some beautiful beetroot and broad beans.  I roasted the beetroot and had it in my pack up salad for lunch each day at work last week and the broad bean made a delicious broad bean risotto.  I couldn’t resist the 3 for a fiver deal at one stall – punnet of raspberries, blueberries and bunch of asparagus.  Bargain at that price and tasted amazing.  I also indulged in some Arran blue cheese which was simply sublime.  Then there was haggis; I just had to and it was well worth it – had it the other night with neeps and tatties.

Finally I indulged in some smoked trout which was again, amazing.  At the same stall there were samples of their cold smoked salmon to try.  I’ve never had cold smoked salmon before but it was so much nicer than hot smoked.  It was less oily and the flavour beautifully balanced.

Just at the point of thinking I was in need of finding a cash machine as my wallet was rapidly depleting by this stage, I remembered I was travelling by train back home and if I purchased anything more I would be struggling to get it home!  Also, the little cooler bag I had brought in anticipation of such purchases needing to be kept cool, was not going to accommodate anything further.  So I reluctantly walked away, but very pleased with my purchases and the morning’s shopping experience.

All Farmer’s markets can be found at the following website: http://www.farmersmarkets.net/

Last but not least, the other market I love to visit Leed’s Kirkgate fish market (http://www.leedsmarket.com/).  There is a huge, colourful display of fish on
offer and is bustling with custom.  I have my favourite stall to buy from (Bethell’s); they are slightly smaller than the other vendors but they have got to know my face over the years so I enjoy the more personal shopping experience.  I tend to buy in bulk so that I can stock up the freezer having checked first if this is indeed possible as sometimes stock is not always fresh.   My favourite fish cuts are tuna, salmon and mackerel.  If I’m planning on doing a fish pie, I’ll get some naturally smoked haddock and coley or pollock (as
sustainable alternatives to cod) and king prawns are also added to my shopping basket.  Then there’s always the recommendation from the fishmonger himself as to what is the ‘catch of day’ and will be whatever is in season at that time.  In the past these have included sea bass and mackerel.

Any scaling, skinning & gulletting is willingly done and my purchases are carefully and thoroughly wrapped to insulate them as best as possible ensuring they make the journey safely home to the fridge or freezer.

A lot can be said for these markets …