One of my favourite things to do is go to our county’s farmers’ market, which is held on Sundays. The best one is held in Winchester (home of King Arthur’s Round Table… sadly not actually the real King Arthur, but still, cool enough!) on the second and fourth Sundays of every month, and man, is it big. There are loads of stalls, selling the best of the produce grown here on the south coast of the UK, where (even though I am biased) I have to say, it’s a little sunnier and warmer than the rest of the country.
The market doesn’t just sell meat and vegetables – there are plenty of stalls selling flowers, cakes, bread, pickles, wine, cider, liquors, hot chocolate… you name it! Although I don’t have money to spend at the moment on beautiful flowers, a picture lasts longer, right? Check out that gorgeous autumnal display at the back!
Although when I went to the market it was at the end of August, autumn was definitely creeping in – I had to take some photos of this gorgeous sugar pumpkin reclining with its bed-mates… right before I bought him, of course.
Pumpkin is one of those things I love but never seem to eat enough of. I would love to eat this beauty in a delicious Thai-style coconut soup… or maybe in a sweet, creamy risotto…
These guys, though, you can enjoy simply cutting off the top, scooping out the seeds and replacing them with a drizzle of olive oil and a dot of butter, plus seasonings, then baking in the oven. They were delicious – and called ‘Little Gem squash’ – how could I resist?
Hampshire also grows some pretty nice blueberries. I love blueberries! Unfortunately, by the time I got mine home, they had fallen out of the open punnet and gone all over the bag. Luckily, I knew just what to do, thanks to Nigella’s Express…
Cook ’em with maple syrup and eat ’em with pancakes, of course… I’ve got three blueberry bushes in my garden, and so far I’ve harvested two berries, directly into my mouth. I think they need bigger pots…
A real Hampshire speciality, though, is watercress. Hot and peppery, it’s a semi-aquatic plant that thrives in what look like overgrown ponds, but are actually watercress fields, I guess. Alresford, Winchester, is supposedly the ‘watercress capital’ of the UK, and there’s even a railway line called the Watercress Line named for it, which used to carry the watercress harvest to London.
Did you know that watercress is one of the oldest known leaf vegetables eaten by man? (Thanks Wikipedia!) In the UK, we don’t just eat watercress in sandwiches. We’re also pretty good at making watercress soup and watercress pesto – and even watercress pate, crepes and shortbread.
Cresson Creative is probably the most prominent watercress seller at the market, and they also have a catering company as well. Their crepes are delicious!
I’m all farmers’ marketed out now, but I still want to tell you all about Isle of Wight garlic (the best!) and my favourite meat and vegetable stalls at the market. Stay tuned!