Sunday, 26 May 2013

Good things to eat [volume 15]: Bakewell farmers' market

Bakewell has one of the best farmers' markets I've been to anywhere. It's big, with over seventy stalls selling pretty much anything you could wish for, so much so that you could realistically do a big shop there.

That's not something you could say about many of its competitors which although worthwhile can tend to have too narrow a focus (usually sausages, mediocre cheese and ostrich burgers galore, all of which you'll find at Bakewell too if that's what tickles your fancy). Another plus point is that the prices here don't seem as inflated as at some others.

We bought a big bag full of goodies there yesterday, proof of the variety on offer is the fact that I bought no pies, no meat and only one piece of cheese! Next time around I'll be having some Stichelton (which has its very own dedicated stall), a pie or two from one of several good looking options and perhaps something smoked from the gorgeous smelling everything-you-could-possibly imagine bunging in the smoker stall.

Here's what we bought: pink fir potatoes, a rye loaf, beers from Staffordshire Brewery and Thornbridge, flour from a working windmill, potted beef, rhubarb, radishes, Lincolnshire poacher cheese, an assortment of mushrooms and a black pudding pickled scotch egg.

If what I've eaten so far is anything to go by there's some damn fine stuff on sale at Bakewell, everything has been excellent.

Lunch yesterday was the scotch egg from a Staffordshire based company alongside a handful of radishes (peppery! Yes they taste of something) and tomatoes, with a thick slice of rye spread with potted beef.

The egg was a revelation. Make a scotch egg with a pickled egg and it's like putting the acidity you need from sauce or relish INSIDE THE EGG. Oh yes. It just works, especially with the iron-y richness of some good black pud. Well worth two of your pounds.

I knew the potted beef was good, as I'd already eaten about three free samples while we were still at the market. It's just everything it should be; well-seasoned, great texture (mix of meaty shreds and smoother bits) and actually tastes of beef. Good work Granny Mary. They're pushing it a bit charging three quid for a small jar though.

Finally, the rye bread (£1.95) was from the Loaf, a bakery based in Crich with a second outlet in Matlock. It's an open textured loaf with a proper bit of heft and chew to the crust. I've also tried their fruit teacakes, which were excellent; dense, soft and chewy in a good way, the exact opposite of the rye loaf. These guys can bake.

I was well chuffed to see the mushroom stall, I don't think I've seen such an extensive mushroom selection anywhere outside London, where the stall on Borough market is brilliant but stonkingly expensive. Here a 200g assortment was a very reasonable £2.50.

The 'shrooms showed up in last night's tea, a platter of superior stuff on toast to accompany beer and football. Mushrooms fried in olive oil with garlic and thyme; grilled asparagus and anchovy butter; and more of the potted beef with sliced radishes.

I've yet to open it, but I already know Lincolnshire poacher is a very good cheese. Think of a fine, nutty mature cheddar in flavour, maybe a little sweeter, but with a smoother texture. Excellent for toasting or to go with beer.

Next up: beer, cheese on toast and baking bread with my locally milled flour.

Bakewell farmers' market is held on the last Saturday of every month. Details here:

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