As a self-confessed gourmet, nothing beats the slow delight of wandering around a farmer’s market; but not too early on a Saturday morning; trying delicious morsels and wondering what exciting organic and wild ingredients I might stumble across to transform into a delicious, seasonal supper.
This weekend His Majesty and I decided to head for the South Bank and revisit the Slow Food Market nestling in the shadow of The Royal Festival Hall.
In the past, I wasn’t quite convinced about the provenance and credentials of some of the stallholders at this homage to artisan, local and regional food. There were far too many people selling meat suffocating in vacuum packs and pricey snack food. What I craved was first class ingredients to prepare and create a meal from scratch.
This time there are fewer stallholders – but now it’s enticing, frequently very good indeed, and, with the addition of several exciting newcomers. Hooray! We spent a very pleasant two hours wandering around tasting everything and returned home with a basket overflowing with goodies. Here are my favourites so far:
Our first exciting new discovery Malmo Nordic Dining. Erika and Victor sell vibrant, delicious staples, beautifully packaged in an oh-so-chic, less is more, Swedish sort of way. The idea being that food shouldn’t just taste good and hopefully do you some good; it should also pass the beauty test and look great on the kitchen shelf.
Try the delightful sunshine yellow organic rapeseed oil (great for cooking and drizzling), with omega 3 and 6 and an intoxicating, floral bouquet and nutty, lingering aftertaste. I will also be stocking up on the delicate, exquisitely flavoured rosehip and sea buckthorn conserve, handmade crisp bread, which tastes nothing like a certain crisp bread in the supermarket, and artisan cheeses cut from the block without the awful plastic sheen.
Next stop was Ash Green Organic Foods to buy really fresh organic vegetables and fruits at sensible prices. I love this stall. They sell the freshest, jewel-coloured organic vegetables anywhere in London. This time there was a great choice of seasonal apples including: my favourite English Cox’s, bright red Spartan and glorious, golden-hued Russets. Also good for watercress at a pound a bunch, juicy medjool dates and plump organic lemons.
Other highlights – The Mootown Collective for the most amazing, award-winning cheeses direct from small Welsh farms. Try the Teifi with top notes of apple and nuts, and sweet not cloying local quince paste made in New Cross.
Flour Power City – artisan organic bread made by baking maestro Matt Jones. Matt uses flour from Shipton Mill and conjures up mouth-watering cakes and pastries, as they should be, without a bewildering list of additives. The delicious rustic looking sourdoughs such as Pain au Levain always sell out first, so get there early. The almond and apple cake is a wonderfully moist and sticky treat!
Finally, look out for Helen, the charming lady selling a tiny collection of biodynamic wines from Lombardy, in the north of Italy. The rosé is my new discovery – a perfectly balanced, well made wine with a heady, petillant fizz, beautiful, intense rosé colour and nice crisp acidity. Prolong that Indian summer feeling and drink rose as a Christmas tipple!
The Slow Food Market is open now and throughout the weekend at the South Bank Centre Square, London SE1. Nearest Tube: Waterloo, or walk over Jubillee Footbridge or Waterloo Bridge.
Friday 20th November: 11.00am – 8.00pm
Saturday 21st November: 11.00am – 8.00pm
Sunday 22nd November: 11.00am – 6.00pm
Christmas Market: Saturday 19th – Tuesday 22nd December 2009