Londonâs best farmers' markets
Fish food at Brixton M
Brixton MarketFrom African and Caribbean produce to value-for-money halal meats, tropical fish and spices, there really is no better place to get them all. Las Americas (26 Pope’s Rd, SW9 8JJ; 020 7274 5533) is a butcher and café in one – come here to get some excellent Colombian cuts such as skirt steak, and classic Latin American street snacks including chicharrones (crisp pork rinds), best washed down with a guarana soft drink. Exploring the market with reggae music pulsing softly in the background transports visitors to sunnier climes, reinforced by the bounteous offerings of plantains, cassava, custard apples, foot-long yams – all punctuated by boxes full of the jarring bright colours of spicy red and yellow scotch bonnet chilli peppers. The vibe is relaxed and the stallholders chatty, but the market isn’t for the faint-hearted – also up for grabs are periwinkles, pigs’ snouts and trotters.
BEST BUY The catch of the day at LS Mash & Sons fishmonger (11 Atlantic Rd, SW9 8HX; 020 7274 6423).
THEN WHAT? Join the queues at Franco Manca (4 Market Row, Electric Lane, SW9 8LD; 020 7738 3021) and indulge in some of the best wood-fired sourdough pizzas this side of Naples.Brixton Market, Electric Avenue/Pope Rd/Atlantic Rd/Brixton Station Rd, SW9 8HE. Brixton tube/rail. Open Mon, Tue 10am-6pm; Wed 10am-4pm; Thur-Sat 10am-6pm (times vary between individual stalls).
Great bangers at Oval Farmers' Market
Oval Farmers’ MarketThis is a friendly little operation organised by City & Country Farmers’ Market, and has the added charm of being set in the grassy grounds of St Mark’s Church. A dozen-or-so stalls turn up weekly, and a tight-knit bunch they are, too – it’s not uncommon to see stallholders fetching tea for each other from the Café Bancarella van. The Cake Hole stand, run by Lara Morley, is a highlight; her lemon and almond cake is packed full of Sicilian sunshine, and the humble Victoria sponge is as soft as a cloud. There’s even fidget pie, made with off-the-bone ham, cheese and apples, from Harvest Foods. BEST BUY A coconut-rich, cherry tomato laksa from the nameless laksa stall – a medium tub of this aromatic Peranakan (a culture with Chinese and Malaysian influences) soup with vermicelli noodles is perfect for two; reheat and round out with some tiger prawns for a lovely, light and comforting meal.
THEN WHAT? Have a rest in the nearby Kennington Park and soak in some local history – formerly Kennington Common, it was the site of public executions until the 1800s, and the speakers’ corner of south London. Oval Farmers’ Market, St Mark’s Church, SE11 4PW (020 8297 5590) Oval tube. Open Sat 10am-3pm.
Fabulous fruit and veg at Blackheath Farmers' Market
Blackheath Farmers' MarketA London Farmers’ Market veteran, having been in operation since September 2000. As one of the LFM’s 14 official markets, its producers all come from within 100 miles of the M25. Everything must be raised, grown or made by the stallholders – no meddling middlemen allowed. The young affluent urban couples of Blackheath mingle with food-conscious pensioners among 20-odd stalls selling fresh and mostly organic produce. Not every stallholder is at the market every Sunday but regular weekly treats include various dairy products from Redlay’s Farm, including crème fraîche and chunky fruit yoghurts. Catch England Preserves, who make fruit-rich jams, here every first and third week of the month, while the excellent goat's cheeses from Nut Knowle Farm are here all month except in the first week. Staples such as bread, fresh fruit and veg, seafood, meat and poultry from top UK producers are always on show, including Flour Power City, Brighton Fish and Perry Court Farm. BEST BUY Some of our more unusual picks include the strange and wonderful turban squash from Ted’s Veg; its bizarre bulbous protrusions house a sweet, hazelnut-like flavour that is perfect for roasting. Likewise, this is still the season to buy Romanesco cauliflower – look out for this beastly veg with pointy lime-green florets. Also, this is the place to salivate over the bounties of fungi (cultivated, wild and dried varieties) from Kentdown Mushrooms. CAVEAT EMPTOR? Wick’s Manor Pork deserves applause for the lone attempt at serving hot food, although its choices are limited (bacon bap, or sausage in a bun: £2).
Blackheath Farmers’ Market, Station car park, 2 Blackheath Village, SE3 0ZH (www.lfm.org.uk) Blackheath rail/54, 89, 108, 202, 380, 386 bus. Open Sun 10am-2pm.
In season: courgette flowers
Wimbledon Farmers' MarketAn assortment of top-quality food stalls in a spacious school car park in suburban south Wimbledon, popular with the area’s young parents, apple-cheeked toddlers and the kind of cyclists who stop at red traffic lights. Many seem to have a glow of enlightenment about them: the joy of having time to peruse the produce and talk to the producers without the sort of crush you can expect at Borough Market must create its own form of nirvana. It’s one of the oldest ‘official’ farmers’ markets (the people selling the food have produced it themselves and do so within 100 miles of the M25). This one started in May 2000, and it’s one of 14 organised by London Farmers’ Markets, who ensure stallholders meet their strict criteria. Some stands rotate fortnightly, or even monthly. Regulars include Downland Pigs (excellent faggots and black pudding), Horti Halcyon (wonderful organic veg even in winter, such as black Tuscan kale and squashes). There are breads aplenty too: from Celtic Bakers, or from one of Flour Station’s growing number of outlets. Other producers are less predictable. In recent months we’ve seen The Potato Shop at Tenterden, for example, who sell a dozen rare potato varieties. Regulars include Farmer Ted’s Veg from Lincolnshire, which currently has some gorgeous top-on carrots, curly kale and the like. Around a dozen stalls in all at this time of year, covering everything from organic meats and cheeses to baked goods. Sign up at the gate for the weekly email newsletter to find out who’s coming next week.
BEST BUY Our top tip at the moment is to head for the Hand-Picked Shellfish Co, which sells rare finds such as sand dabs (£1 each). Similar to small lemon sole, these delicious flatfish can be fried in butter and garnished with capers and lemon juice. Other things to look out for? There are still plenty of apples, with Chegworth Valley having the best selection; and game birds, now at the very tail end of their season, such as a brace of partridges from Manor Farm Game at only £6.50. CAVEAT EMPTOR? Disappointing hot food: only one vendor selling lamb or beef burgers in dull buns for £2.50. And, with so much brilliant but occasionally pricey produce, there is always the prospect of spending 40 notes on a weekly shop before you’ve even realised it. Guy Dimond Wimbledon Farmers’ Market, Wimbledon Park First School, Havana Rd, SW19 8EJ (www.lfm.org.uk) Wimbledon Park tube/bus 156. Open Sat 9am-1pm.
Dulwich Farmers' MarketYou won’t find anyone who’s not serious about food here. Plenty of Dulwich-based upwardly mobile families and a smattering of grumpy children who’d rather be picking conkers on the adjoining green. Located in the grounds of historic Dulwich College,which has played host to more than just the market, having been used for Toyota car ads,a ‘Tomb Raider’ scene and the backdrop for So Solid Crew’s ‘Second Verse’ album. Pretty rad for a posh boys’ school. BEST BUY Some naughty Sunday indulgences such as rum loaf cakesand ‘hard core’ cider,from Cicely’s Cakes & Savouries and Core Fruit respectively. The Yemma stall also does fantastic Moroccan snacks and tagines. There’s also an arts and crafts section where,oddly,you can find proper homemade fudgefrom Fudge Flavours. In seasonGame. Head to Chanctonbury Game and load up with feathered friends: pheasant,mallard,grouse and partridge. CAVEAT EMPTOR? It’s held only on the last Sunday of the month,so you sometimes forget it’s there. Dulwich Farmers’ Market, Dulwich College, Dulwich Common, SE21 7LD (www.cityandcountryfarmersmarkets.com). West Dulwich rail/P4 bus. Open last Sunday of every month 9am-1pm.
Greenwich Market Food Court
Greenwich Market Food CourtA vintage cobblestone market crawling with impressed tourists, Starbucks cup-toting couples and weary Greenwich locals who just want to get their weekly olive fix. The market lost its roof because of flying bombs in 1944; the current arts and crafts market was born in 1985; and the food court was established in 1999.
BEST BUY Exotic food to sate the gluttonous. Find freshly made sushi on the Tobiko stall, as well as baklava and Turkish meze from Sultan’s Delight. Make sure you sample the Caribbean dishes from Hot Flavours. We also love giant, moist cupcakes from The Real Baking Company, done up in pastels.
CAVEAT EMPTOR? The closest to fresh meat, fruit or veg is the M&S down the road. Visit this market to eat, until the new fresh fruit and vegetable market opens on May 7. Greenwich Market Food Court (www.greenwichmarket.net) Cutty Sark/Island Gardens DLR or Greenwich DLR/rail. Open Wed-Sun 10am-5.30pm.
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A vintage cobblestone market crawling with impressed tourists, Starbucks cup-toting couples and weary Greenwich locals who just want to get their weekly olive fix. The
market lost its roof because of flying bombs in 1944; the current arts
and crafts market was born in 1985; and the food court was established
in 1999. Exotic food to sate the
gluttonous. Find freshly made sushi on the Tobiko stall, as well as
baklava and Turkish meze from Sultan’s Delight. Make sure you sample
the Caribbean dishes from Hot Flavours. We also love giant, moist cupcakes from The Real Baking Company, done up in pastels. The
closest to fresh meat, fruit or veg is the M&S down the road. Visit
this market to eat, until the new fresh fruit and vegetable market
opens on May 7.
Central | North | East | South | West