Tag Archives: bermondsey farmer’s market

The Taste of Summer

Ripe tomatoes & fresh organic local mozarella

Its summer now.  Apparently.  And on the odd day or two its even been vaguely hot outside.  As cool Spring evenings turn into sultry Summer ones, my tastebuds stop craving the carby warm & sweet earthy concoctions of grains, rich spices and roasted vegetables I once favoured and start craving the light and elegant flavours of summer.  Basil.  Watermelon.  Tonic Water.  Pistachios.  Orange blossom honey.  Sour yogurt.

Last night I came home, miraculously still full from the miso soup I’d eaten at lunchtime. Some tomatoes from the local Greek market around the corner were sitting on the counter, ripening from red to almost purple, and their heady fresh dirt perfume hit my nose as soon as I walked into the kitchen. I rummaged in the fridge to find the last  of my recent farmer’s market purchases, a fresh ball of organic buffalo mozzarella, and cut it into thin slices, alternating with slices of the tomato, and then heightened the flavours with a sprinkle of my Portuguese fleur de sel (flor sal I believe it is called) and some coarsely ground pepper.  We mop up the juices with slices of dense rye bread & butter from the local organic bakery.

Another small slice of the honey & vanilla pound cake ended the meal extremely well and we retired to the sofa to watch Thomasina Miers’ new Mexican cooking show in my old Oaxaca culinary haunt at the Abastos Market.

Cake & Jam

Butterylemonyvanillaness.

Gooseberry Jam

Until you have tried this cake you will think that is a non-existent and very silly word.  After you have tried this cake, you will know exactly what I mean.  Yellowy organic butter creamed to whiteness with organic sugar.  Eggs from free-range, organic, corn-fed chickens are mixed in, one by one; each yolk is almost orange and the batter starts to regain its golden eggy shade again.  Vanilla and fresh organic lemon zest are added for flavour, and two sticky dollops of honey from my parent’s apiary.  Baking powder, some sea salt and spelt flour are sifted in to the mix and slowly stirred to the thickness of an old fashioned cake batter which smells like the birthdays of your childhood.  And just when you think it sounds as if it might be getting to be too sweet, now imagine that I have cut the cake in half and spread a thick layer of gloriously tart and freshly homeade gooseberry jam.

The gooseberry jam itself was another learning experience.  I’ve never made it before, and every time you try to preserve a new fruit, estimating its pectin content is a bit like throwing craps.  So I turned to Nigel Slater, who I always turn to when I have no idea what I’m doing.  (He won’t know it, but he taught me to roast my first chicken when I, as a naieve vegetarian, thought I’d treat my boyfriend to a Sunday roast.)  I roughly followed a recipe, mixing the gooseberries with an almost equal quantity sugar and a drop or two of water, to partly dissolve the sugar.  Its incredibly satisfying, popping the gooseberries with a spoon as they start to warm up and become soft.  (All the therapeutic qualities of bubblewrap, but with a lovely tart smell.)  I squeezed in a bit of lemon juice to help keep the lovely livid shade of gooseberries in tact, but to no use, as they soon took on a translucent, candied fruit quality, and after about 45 minutes of regular stirring and fussing, the jam finally became jammy, with big chunks of partly dissolved gooseberry skins – all in a beautiful quincy rust shade.

In all truth, this cake was intended to culminate its existence in the form of a Washington Pie.  But, in order to turn a vanilla cake filled with gooseberry preserves into a proper Washington Pie, like the kind my grandmother makes for my visits to Canada, you’d need to cover the entire thing in a thick layer of whipped cream.  For today, though, I’m afraid that some semi-health conscious urge has stopped me from going to these lengths.   We instead, settle for a slice each, after dinner, with a heaped spoonful of low fat creme fraiche.

Find Your Farmer’s Market

Bermondsey Farmer’s Market Finds

Kermit the Frog wasn’t wrong.  It ain’t easy being green.  It ain’t cheap either.

Buying things in glass bottles & recycled cardboard punnets.  Weighing up whether to buy the organic milk from the big chain store or the regular milk from the small local shop.  Thank God for Saturdays when throughout the UK and North America, farmers and small producers flock to the towns and cities and put up their stalls to flog their wares for the day.  Thank God for the Farmer’s Market.  Suddenly the anxiety from the constant onslaught of ethical decisions I associate with buying food melt away, and I can just enjoy the experience of buying good food and having a ‘good chinwag’ (as my boyfriend so delicately puts it) with the producers.

Sometimes you don’t have the extra money to buy as your ethics would guide you.  Sometimes you just don’t have the time.  Sometimes the products you want just aren’t available.  (Seriously, just try to find organic tonic!)  But sometimes, just sometimes, you’ll be suprised.

Today I went to Bermondsey Farmer’s Market (in the heart of Bermondsey Square, for those of you who are interested) with £30 in my handbag.  It has been an expensive month so far, but despite that, I had intended to head out to the famous (and I might add extremely pricey) Borough Market to buy some organic basics for the week, I was halted in my tracks by a small green sign guiding me into Bermondsey Square.

Rather than the few veg and bottle of organic gin which I had intended to buy at Borough Market, I instead came home laden with the following groceries.  Most organic.  All locally sourced.  And all for my £30.

  • 1 litre fresh Bramley apple juice from Norfolk (http://www.droveorchards.com/)
  • 1 large handful of samphire
  • 1 large bunch of flat leaf parsley, organic
  • 1 large garlic head, organic
  • 1 cucumber, organic
  • 1 fennel bulb, organic
  • 2 punnets gooseberries, organic
  • 4 punnets raspberries, organic
  • 1 100% rye bread, organic
  • 1 whole lemon sole, sustainably caught
  • 2 chicken thighs, organic & free range
  • 3 small buffalo steaks, organic
  • 6 eggs, organic & free range
  • 1 ball of fresh, homeade mozarella, organic
  • 1 large spanikopita
  • 2 small Portuguese custard tarts

I dare you to spend £30 at Tesco (or $50 at Loblaws for my Canadian readers) and do so well…

The spanikopita was absolutely yumlicious and I scoffed it for my lunch as soon as I got home.  The Bramley apple juice is extremely more-ish and very dry, and I suspect it will make an excellent apple gimlet – I do realise there is probably no such thing as an apple gimlet, but I decided on the way home that it sounded like a good idea.  A nice pre-dinner cocktail.  As a starter for dinner tonight, I think the mozarella ball will be nice, sliced thinly and served on a plate, alternated between slices of ripe vine tomatoes and basil leaves and sprinkled lightly with a sort of Portuguese version of fleur de sel which I have and some coarsely ground organic black pepper.  The chicken thighs will be massaged in butter before being doused in olive oil, garlic and slices of lemon and being roasted in the oven later tonight for my boyfriend’s dinner while I have the lemon sole on a bed of samphire.  I’ve never made lemon sole, but I recently saw on Saturday Kitchen how to ripe the skin off in one single, swift yank – not dissimilar to leg waxing actually.  Dessert will consist of the raspberries, which are already starting to melt, they’re so ripe, crudely poured overtop of the Portuguese custard tarts and followed by a cup of hot Ethiopian roast coffee.

So, not to sound pushy, but get out there, find your Farmer’s Market and buy something special to cook for someone you love.  Even that person is just you.