Tag Archives: bermondsey square

Shop by the Season

Fresh raspberries from Kent I bought at Bermondsey Farmer’s Market this morning

I don’t always buy organic.

I do when I can, but sometimes I prefer to buy the local Kent or Sussex grown tomatoes if that’s what is available at the farmer’s market, rather than the organic Spanish ones at the big chain superstore, which are laden with the additional guilt of unecessary food miles and extra packaging.  I shop the way my conscience tells me to, and sometimes that means that means making difficult choices.  The one choice I never compromise on, however, is how my food tastes.   I’m not going to buy either of those tomatoes if they taste of damp cardboard.  And certainly not unless they smell like a tomato should smell; of damp earth and acidic fruitiness.

Buying what’s in season usually keeps me on the right track for getting the freshest & most flavour packed produce.  And, as a farmer I am not, my vegetable guy at the market always steers me in the right direction, so my general horticultural ignorance doesn’t seem to hinder me too much.

Luckily I didn’t have to make any difficult choices this morning when at the farmer’s market.  My fish guy, Chris, was there with his truck back full of sustainably caught sole, haddock, crab, plaice and mackerel.  I bought some plaice and got the instructions on how to prepare it.  Chris is a 4th generation fisherman and though I’ve not been buying from him for too long, his fish is always fresh & odour-free and I’ve found his advice to be consistently spot on.  When I prepare my dinner tonight, I’ll season and flour the plaice lightly and fry it in butter, finishing it only with a squeeze of lemon.  A little fennel, sliced thinly and sauteed to transparency in butter (if I still had a gallbladder, it would hate me now) and well seasoned with salt & pepper and a tablespoon of luxuriously thick and tart creme fraiche stirred in at the end, will make a beautiful and simple side dish to accompany the fish.

But wait, I need to tell you more about the butter!  Its Glastonbury butter!  Green’s of Glastonbury are a family-run dairy farm from…well, Glastonbury in Somerset, where their organically certified herd munches on the grass around the slopes of Glastonbury Tor.  They are mainly a cheese producer, but they also sell their own butter, which is sold in huge round wodges and they also make the most nutty and sharp unpasturised cheddar you will ever taste.

After the amount of butter and creme fraiche in my supper, I think the cheddar will have to wait for another day, but the abundance of raspberries in season means I will still be having dessert tonight.  But this time, no Greek yogurt, no creme fraiche, no drizzle of honey.  Just plain raspberries, so ripe that each drupelet bursts open and starts to melt as it touches your tongue.

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.