I’ve been thinking for so long that I should write a post about my great local farmers’ market in Twickenham and finally this morning I got round to taking some photos ready to put on the blog. It’s held every week in the Holly Road car park behind the Twickenham M&S Simply Food, between 9.00 am and 1.00 pm. And it’s there whatever the weather, come sun, rain or snow. I like it because it is very much an everyday market in the sense that you go there to do your regular weekly shop and can buy great meat, fish, bread, cakes, eggs, vegetables and other things that make up a standard shop. The quality isn’t ‘standard’ though, these are fantastic stallholders selling great produce. So many London markets are a bit bijou – selling fancy things that you think sound nice but they only ending up sitting on your shelves for ages while you work out what to do with them. Twickenham Farmers’ Market is a market for living.
We were on a bit of a mission this morning. Jonathan and Lyndsey glided in on Jonathan’s Honda SH 300i black bike, dismounted, took off their helmets and we all headed straight to Boarstall Meats.
We were buying six large chickens. Jonathan, the accountant in the family, did the deal (and the chickens here apart from being amazingly good, are very well priced). ‘They’re for my mother’s birthday party next week,’ he told the guy (who also knows him as Jonathan is a regular). I’m not sure if this remark was part of the negotiation talk but it was the truth. With 30+ people coming for my party next week some preparation has to be done this weekend. And as Head Chef (main course), Jonathan plans to joint the chickens, put them in a marinade and freeze, ready to be thawed and go straight onto the barbecue next Saturday evening.
I wasn’t buying a lot today but I wandered round taking photos of some of my favourite stalls in the market. There’s lovely Italian bread at The Exeter Street Bakery stall. I like their integrale loaf and they have brilliant mini panettones and squares of focaccia. I often buy tomatoes from the Isle of Wight Tomato Stall.
I particularly love the baby plum yellow tomatoes and they look fantastic mixed with the usual red in salads. There are some good vegetable stalls but the one I use most is to the far right as you enter the market. I bought wonderful cavolo nero there earlier in the year that I used for my ribolitta recipe. I loved the black cabbage so much I went back week after week to buy more. At the Wyfe of Bath cheese stalls there are some fantastic cheeses ranging from hard cheese to a more brie-like soft cheese.
The great thing about markets like this is that you are encouraged to try the produce – taste before you buy; the stallholders will tell you about their wares and it makes the whole shopping experience so good and brings a sense of community to the area.
There’s a stall selling venison and game.
A great plant stall in the centre where I bought my Christmas tree last December: a small, rooted tree in a pot.
And there was an extra stall today selling lots of different herbs in pots, ready to go into the garden at home and grow now spring is finally coming.
You can buy fresh fish …
or delicous pies. There’s a great stall where you can buy delicious apple juice.
They have different apples to choose from: Cox’s Orange Pippins, or Worcesters and lots more kinds, or mixes. You can try them first to see which you prefer – sweeter or more sour. They also sell apples and pears: each kind in a box and you can put a mix in a bag and pay by weight.
This is a small market but with a wonderful range of fine produce. You could do all your shopping here each week if you wanted to and enjoy getting to know the stallholders and probably see the same local people each week, which makes it a bit of a social event too. It may not be as convenient as rushing into a supermarket and throwing everything you want into a trolley, but it’s a much nicer experience and I think you engage more fully with what you are buying, choosing to eat things in season and most probably being tempted to try new things that you haven’t tried before. The rise in popularity of farmers’ markets is a sign of our growing interest in food and commitment to eating well and I’m lucky to have such a good farmers’ market on my doorstep.