Halloween Style 2016

The run-up to Halloween is in full swing, and if there’s one place you need to go for cute yet sophisticated Halloween goodies, it’s Fortnum and Mason. Every year they produce a range of fearsome snacks, sweets and treats, and even if you’re not buying, heading for a browse is a must-do in October. (And please, don’t forget to visit for Christmas too!)

You can also check out their range online here. I think I’d die and go to heaven if I ever got my hands on one of their incredible Halloween hampers, especially this nifty black and orange version!

Closer to home, the great pumpkin purchasing has begun – I always buy way too many pumpkins, because I love making displays of them, cooking with them, and carving them! Locally, the best place to go for pumpkins is either the Hampshire Farmers’ Markets, or Pickwell Farm.

I went with my parents earlier in the month and managed to spend £27 on pumpkins… Yes, I bought A LOT of them.

But, how could you resist when they’re so cute and adorable? I picked up a dozen mini orange ones, and a dozen more white ones, which will be perfect to mark place settings on my table at Thanksgiving too!

When it comes to edible pumpkins, you have to try Crown Prince. In my opinion, this is the absolute finest culinary pumpkin, pictured above – and what’s better, it’s easy to spot! It has a beautiful duck-egg blue skin, so you’ll always be able to find it without confusing it with other types. And, if you see the Gem squash on sale, nab some of those, too. Cut off the tops, and fill them with cream, cheese, garlic and a sprig of thyme. Bake in the oven and serve for a hearty lunch or starter. These are a speciality of my mum’s and everyone loves them!

London’s bakeries are getting into the spirit of Halloween with loads of wicked treats! You can make a similar biscuit at home with your favourite sugar cookie or shortbread dough – just form them into fingers and add a blanched almond ‘fingernail’ at the top, and smear liberally with jam!

If you want some more Halloween inspiration, make sure you check out my post about Lancaster London’s Halloween ARTea experience – it was amazing, and the food was utterly, utterly divine. (Still thinking about those chorizo tarts!)

Charlotte Olympia’s window is looking very on trend right now with its spider web logo – and I have to say, I love wearing my kitty flats this time of year because not only are they utterly gorgeous, but they’re also very Halloween-ish!

I also really, really wish I could get a pair of their cool spider web logo earrings, here, but I’m trying very hard to be good with my spending at the moment… Hmm.

Another great Halloween idea for biscuits – ice dark chocolate gingerbread men to look like skeletons! Don’t you just love their cute little skulls?!

So, there’s my round up of some cool Halloween style I’ve spotted recently – how are you going to celebrate this year?! Share your tips in the comments!

Hampshire Farmer’s Market – part two!

Multicoloured carrots

I love the farmers’ market. This is a photo of one of my favourite veggie stalls, Secretts. My favourite thing they sell is these purple, yellow and orange carrots, but they also do a really good pick and mix leaf salad as well. Purple carrots are cool, but to be honest, when you peel them, a lot of the purple skin comes off. It’s only purple on the surface! And, when you cook them, the purple gets a little muddy. Multicoloured carrots are pretty – but weirdly, carrots weren’t commonly orange until they were bred that way by the Dutch in the 17th century – orange for the House of Orange, you see. It’s probably cooler if you’re a 17th century Dutchman, I guess…

Red spring onion

Secretts also sell red spring onions, which are a favourite around here, and I also spotted some really pretty radishes. Multicoloured veggies are so beautiful and appetising when they’re raw – can you imagine using these beauties in a bento box, for example?

Secretts Easter Egg radishes

I wish I was the kind of person who could walk around a market and carefully pick one amazing piece of produce, then come home and lovingly create a gorgeous dish centring around it, so I can enjoy it at its absolute best and congratulate myself on being a fantastic person all round. Instead, I’m the kind of person who buys everything in sight and hordes vegetables in the fridge, and only uses them when they’re wilted and nearly ready to die a death in the bin.

Isle of Wight garlic

So, I promised to tell you all about Isle of Wight garlic. This is some phenomenal stuff, I tell you. It’s grown on The Garlic Farm, which also has its own online shop, bricks and mortar shop, cafe, and even its own festival. You can buy seed garlic from them, as well as regular garlic bulbs (actually, enormous monsters), elephant garlic (even bigger!), purple garlic, and my favourite, smoked garlic.

Oak smoked garlic

As well as all this, they also make a range of pickles, chutneys and relishes, which I highly recommend and have also won a few Gold Taste Awards in their time. My favourite is Vampire’s Revenge, a hot chilli and plum combo which is fantastic with cheese or ham. Sadly, I’m the only one around here who eats pickles and chutneys, so I can’t buy it often, but when I do, it’s heaven. Maybe come Christmas, eh?

Purple garlic

As you can see, the purple garlic is a true thing of beauty… Ah, mother nature. So stylish and good at matching colours, you are. Just like me, in fact! (Snark.)

Another one of my favourite sellers is The Tomato Stall

Tomato stand

One of their specialities is oak-roasted tomatoes, smokey, oily little nuggets of sun-ripened sweetness in a tub. These are also bloody fantastic with cheese, and have to be bought in strictly limited quantities to prevent me turning into a heifer and being dragged off to market myself. The Tomato Stall has a blog with a post all about how these beauties are made, and what to eat them with, so check it out if your taste buds fancy a good old teasing.

Cherry tomatoes

It’s physically impossible for me to look at tomatoes too long without wanting to eat them, so it’s not surprising I was a sucker for these golden cherries – must be tried? Then please, my good man, fill up this bag with them so I may feast!

Salt and tomatoes... heaven

That’s exactly what I did, and I took them home and ate them with my fancy fleur de sel de Guerande (best sea salt in the world, don’tcha know?). Tomatoes and sea salt are delicious. I don’t care about hypertension. (Might I also add, the old salt and tomatoes trick was taught to me by the same dear old nan who used to put sugar in my coca cola to ‘get rid of the bubbles’? We’re all about health around here.)

All that and I still haven’t covered all the neat stuff at the farmers’ market? Hmm…

Hampshire Farmers’ Market

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.

Sugar pumpkins

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…

Little gem squash

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…

Squashed blueberries

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.

Hampshire watercress

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.

Hampshire watercress soup

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!