Friday, December 08, 2006

Market Warfare

If you want to get really local food then you need to discover your nearest Farmers' Market, which is what we did last Sunday. If it's the first Sunday in the month then that's when you'll find the newly transformed Market Place in Newbury alive with foodies searching out tempting treats from West Berkshire and around. Thames Valley Farmer's Markets criteria are simple: if you produce your food in West Berks or up to 30 miles around then you're a candidate.

With the range on offer, it seems to make sense to make a quick pass around all the stalls to see what takes your fancy before launching in and buying, but impatient shoppers like ourselves can only wait so long. So, we use a sort of two pronged attack. Food that is outrageously high on the 'buy me' scale is shown no mercy on the outward sortie, followed by more thoughtful purchases on the return journey, when anything passed over is picked off with a marksman's aim. Reconnaissance missions always pay off in terms of intelligence gathering, which is rapidly deployed to the theatre of operations, or shopping street as we like to call it. This kind of stall to stall operation demands no special clothing, just a keen eye for delicious produce at a range of less than thirty paces.

Prisoners taken this week, included Focaccia, which is the staple of any hastily gathered battlefield lunch; a very sweet and caramelised Red Onion chutney from Gillys, which complemented the quiches (lorraine and a sun-dried tomato, brocolli and pine-nut) from Samantha Alexander, followed by wonderfully sticky chocolate fudge and mincemeat shortbread pieces from Crumbles all washed down by a drop of our local brew, the wonderfully hoppy but light enough for lunch, 'Good Old Boy' from the West Berks Brewery. The latter was a real find, since I had been seeking out a product that was truly representative of the best that West Berks can offer, and this was it, brewed behind Mike Robinson's Pot Kiln, reviewed elsewhere on this blog, and sold here in the centre of Newbury on a chill winter's morning.

All of this action though has the potential to empty your magazine, or wallet, so make sure that you get plenty of readies in before setting off.

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