Food and Farmer's Markets Across the UK
Britain is home to a wealth of regional food and farmer`s markets; in London alone, there are up to 10 which can be considered worth a visit in themselves if you`re in the capital. Areas such as the West Country are famed for their ciders and dairy produce, Scotland for its quality beef and ale and across the water in Northern Ireland is where you`ll find top cuts of bacon and some of the best fishmongers in the UK. In fact, there are food markets to cover every corner of the nation, so read on for a guide to which ones to try.
Scotland has long been known for stunningly rugged scenery and historic landmarks but the cooler climbs of the British Isles also produce an incredible variety of fresh edible goods. The Scottish capital Edinburgh holds a regular farmer`s market beneath the shadow of the Castle Rock every Saturday and it`s here you can buy the finest of the country`s exports; venison, organic mushrooms, local pasties and hand-finished pies.
This is not to mention the surrounding suburbs like Bruntsfield and Stockbridge which pride themselves on independent food stores from Scottish cheeses to solely Mexican outlets. Much further north in the Orkney islands, Kirkwall Farmer`s Market is only once a month on the last Saturday but worth a mark on the calendar for the range of regional supplies from herbs to highland whisky, as well as local artisan crafts for sale.
Travelling south into England and Cumbria is a county famed for produce as diverse as quality freshwater fish and locally-made chocolate. The village of Orton is the place to head on the second Saturday of every month, as everything sold at the farmer`s market here must be sourced within a 50-mile radius and the producers must grow, catch or raise everything themselves. Across the country in Yorkshire and markets are thriving at small towns like Selby, Pickering and Northallerton, selling a high standard of local baked goods and refreshments.
Head to Suffolk Food Hall and Farmer`s Market - open most days - for cider brewed from the county`s orchards and a wide selection of deli products. If you`re in the East of the country in the festive season, you can do no better than paying a visit to Lincoln Christmas Market, a traditional event held every year in early December and selling the best in regional sausages and cheese, hot food and drinks prepared from local ingredients and a myriad of gift ideas on show.
The Midlands are amply serviced by the Moseley Farmer`s market in Birmingham, a monthly event which comprises the best of the region; from the city`s own Balti curries to the countless stalls selling produce from all over Central England. Bristol`s St Nicholas Market also hosts a weekly farmer`s market on Wednesdays and a Friday Food Market, also winning awards as a permanent venue for independent retail.
Nip across the border into Wales and indulge in some seafood, courtesy of Swansea Market. Cockles from the coast, laverbread and Welsh cakes are all treats to be tasted here, 6 days a week. The Victorian market in Belfast certainly merits a trip overseas to sample the Saturday food and garden stalls with their Portavogie catches and fresh veg, not to mention the international representation here; Italian olive oil and Mexican bites to name just a couple.
The South of England as a whole is well-represented in market terms. Somerset hosts stalls selling the likes of fresh juice, farmhouse cheese, local berries, preserves and confectionery, at a number of locations like award-winning Midsomer Norton and world-famous Glastonbury. Over in Kent, sample the orchard fruits and hog roasts of the region on the second Sunday of the month at Tonbridge Farmer`s Market, which also caters for Mediterranean and Indian take-aways.
Artisan breads, shellfish delights, continental meats and a few rabbits for your pie, London has it all, in so many great markets it`s difficult to choose. Borough may be one of the biggest and best-known and is certainly an experience in colour and taste but head away from the weekend crowds to Brockley on a Saturday or the night-time East London venture, RedMarket. Locations as trendy as Brixton and Greenwich are also in on the action so you`ll never be far from a freshly-prepared snack or a bit of lunchtime shopping.
Many independent food retailers have suffered some uncertain years in the tough financial climate, faced with competition from the major supermarkets. However, there`s still a push to source our food more environment-friendly and more sustainably and, as the country emerges from the worst of the financial crisis, smaller food shops and markets are seeing a resurgence of interest. So wherever you find yourself in the UK, it makes sense to support the local market there and do the planet a favour, as well as getting the quality ingredients your Rangemaster oven has been waiting for.