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From farm

to feast

Farmers’ markets help reconnect us with our unique local environment, its farming communities and seasonal food. Food writer Bruce McMichael samples some delicacies that will brighten any winter’s day this season


n Kent alone, more than 1,000 farmers’ markets are held every year in over 50 locations, with about half that number across both Surrey and Sussex. They offer great opportunities to meet producers and understand the effort and dedication required to grow, rear and make local food and drink. Seasons change As we move into late autumn and early winter months, it’s time for apples and pears to take pride of place in our fruit bowls. Grown in orchards throughout Kent and Sussex, you can buy apples such as the honey-scented Cox and the nutty, sweet tasting Egremont Russet apples, which share space with the buttery textured Comice pear, and the William, a fruit whose flavour might remind you of ‘pear drops’, the ever-popular boiled sweets of childhood. Game makes a dramatic appearance at this time of year, with the earthy, robust flavours of pheasant, wild boar or venison, enhanced by the flavours of deep reds, vibrant yellows and oranges of seasonal vegetables, such as red cabbage, squash and pumpkins. Colourful wild boar pâté and sausages sit alongside lean cuts of venison haunch steak, plucked pheasants, wild duck, pigeon and rabbit. Your Christmas table Although the traditional turkey is still the overall favourite, on today’s Christmas table, guests may be served goose or even bream. Menus are becoming

more varied and adventurous, while maintaining a sense of family, festivity and indulgence. Pack a few carrier bags and take your Christmas shopping list to the market, to choose from a colourful display of chestnuts, celeriac, parsnips and Brussels sprouts from the veg stall; goose, pheasant, partridge, venison and wild duck from the game stall; and oysters, mussels and sea bass from the fish stall. The butchers’ stall will have tasty extras, such as sausage meat, chipolata sausages and bacon for the trimmings. You’ll also find specialist stalls selling chicken liver pâté, charcuterie or locally smoked salmon to serve as a starter, while the cheese stalls sell traditional Christmas truckles, as well as their local cheeses, varying from medium-hard sheep’s cheese, to a cow’s-milk, robust tasting cheddar, or continental-type soft, creamy Kentish blue cheese to top off your seasonal culinary celebrations. To find a farmers’ market near you and times of opening, go to the Kent Farmers’ Market Association website at Bruce McMichael is a food writer and the manager of the Tunbridge Wells (Town Hall) Farmers’ Market, which is held on the second and fourth Saturday of the month. He blogs at Read on for a delicious seasonal recipe from author, food writer and editor Mary Gwynn…

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Gastro Magazine Winter 2016  
Gastro Magazine Winter 2016