The first stall I came across was the wonderful locally produced veg stall which as always was right inside the door of the village hall in the lobby. I didn't procure anything from them but their veggies looked fab, and the size of their parsnips had to be seen to be believed!
As I entered the main part of the hall, the first stall I encountered was the one of Cranbrook Conserves. Not content with displaying their jams and chutneys etc, which were delicious as well as wide-ranging, they also had fresh English apples, locally grown, including my absolute favourite, the Russet. Apple lovers believe that Russets are the best tasting apples. They tend to have a spicy, nutty, pronounced and sweet flavour and a slightly dry texture. A truly amazing eating and cooking apple. Unsurprisingly, they have “russeting” on the skin – patches that are a different colour from the rest of the apple, and that give the apple a sandpapery, leathery texture. The colour of the russeting can be golden brown, burnt umber, silvery or grey.
The lady at the stall was giving out samples of the Russets and so I greedily gobbled them up. I am not ashamed to admit it. This is one of the reasons I like to go to Farmer's Markets - there are always samples to try, and you never know what you might find.
The lady also had freshly picked salad leaves in little plastic bags. I'd had some of those before and they are so much better than ones you find in the shops, and because they're picked locally you can rest easy knowing they haven't had to travel hundreds of miles from where they were grown to get to your dinner table.
The next stall I stopped at was Catherine Jordan Cakes, run by Catherine, an ex pastry chef lecturer, who bakes cakes, scones, biscuits, tarts and pies using seasonal local ingredients. She also makes special cakes to order. What caught my eye was an apple pie. It was a small one, but for an individual pie it was a corker. Here's me about to tuck in...
|A pretty decent sized pie, I trust you'll agree.|
Moving along past the lady from Appledene Alpacas with her wonderful Alpaca wool products (those socks are amazingly soft!) we happened upon the folks from BubbySue's who, well, do a bit of everything! As well as a fine selection of preserves they had locally made booze including Damson Gin, Damson Brandy, Cherry Brandy, Orange Liqueurs and a liqueur made from bullace, which is a kind of wild plum. They also had a ton of cheeses and meats including a hench pack of bacon for £10 that weighed a staggering 2.268 kilos. That's pretty much 5 pounds of freshly made, unadulterated, unfooled around with bacon for only ten notes. You just can't find deals like that every day, unfortunately being a little brassic I decided maybe next time. They also had homemade sausages and some fantastic looking pancetta and prosciutto.
We stepped over to a bakery stall (can't remember the name now) and bought some lovely bread, then went over to the stall of Daisy and Polly's Apple Juice. They make their juice from their own orchard in Hawkhurst, using Bramley apples for a Dry taste and Golden delicious for a sweeter juice. I tried both and picked the Bramley apple (pun intended) which was lovely and sharp.
We then walked over to the church to see the other stalls and it was a good thing we did. First of all it is quite something to see this 14th Century church (well, the chancel was completed in 1210 but the rest is 14th Century) being used for market stalls, it's unusual but it works.
The stalls in the church included our old friends from Silcocks, as well as the lovely people from VJ Game (contact: Dawn & Vince Elliott, Shaun Hull 01424 883060/01580 200516 / 07788 ) and Farmer Palmer who both do lovely meats. Farmer Palmer had a nice sample of chorizo while VJ were handing out samples of their new Wild Boar Black pudding which was fab.
But as I turned around I met a wondrous sight. Lots of lovely baked goodies including quiches, pies, pasties and sausage rolls...
and some seriously big-ass samples, proper mouthfuls. This was the stall of Frasers from Egerton near Ashford. The lady serving was Jo Morrin and she sold us some of the most humongous sausage rolls ever.
I'm not kidding, these were some big sausage rolls. Wanna see?
|Big as your fist. And tasty too!|
Last but not least we sampled the wares of The Artisan Chocolate Workshop. Need I say more? Just click the link.
All in all a good morning, with some stellar buys and more to put on our wish list.