Always on the look out for great local food producers and suppliers across south-west England. Not necessarily the smartest restaurants or the swishest delis but good local pubs, tea rooms and restaurants, village stores, farms and bakeries that punch above their weight. Follow me on Twitter @localfoodgeek
The twice-monthly Hampshire Farmers Market in Winchester was one of the first I remember visiting after I moved to the area back in 2003. Since then, it’s grown in size, frequency and success and with good reason. This popular market brings together some of the best food producers in Hampshire (and occasionally just over the border) to a receptive audience of regular shoppers.
Having cleared the first frost of the Autumn off the windscreen before heading into Winchester, a late (and admittedly second!) breakfast of Broughton Water Buffalo burger topped with chilli jam was a great way to get warmed up and focus my attention on the task in hand. I often spot the Broughton buffalo herd providing an incongruously African twist on the local chalk downland near Manor Farm if I’m heading to Stockbridge and the end product certainly fills a gap on a crisp October morning. With a range stretching from buffalo burgers and mince through to buffalo fillet, all organically raised and grass fed, it’s good to see a smaller provider keeping Farmer Scheckter over at the much better known Laverstoke Park Farm up the road in Overton, on his toes- try www.broughtonwaterbuffalo.co.uk for further info.
Mid-burger, I spot Michelin starred chef and Great British Menu finalist Alan Murchison making a flying visit and, knowing that his passion for food is only exceeded by his passion for running stop him for a quick catch up on his performance at yesterday’s Hampshire Cross-country League performance at nearby Farley Mount. Predictably, he was close to the front of a high-class field but still convinced he could have done better showing the same “second isn’t good enough” attitude to his running as he does to his food. Having trailed in some way behind the speedy chef on far too many occasions I know just how hard he pushes himself when he’s “relaxing” away from the kitchen!
Burger finished and ready to push on, I’m clearly in a carnivorous mood as despite the impressive displays of fruit and veg I’m drawn to the Devese Farm stall selling goat burgers and sausages, something that I have to admit has passed me by so far. Their impressively literal web address www.goatmeats.co.uk and a quick taster of both the burgers and sausages along with a unusual, goat-based (I don’t think I’ve ever used “goat-based” as an adjective before?) take on the traditional Maltese timpana impresses me enough to pocket a business card for future reference but as part of today’s mission is (literally) to take home the bacon, it’s on to Greenfield Pork www.greenfield-pork.co.uk for a few slices of their excellent back bacon and, after some serious thought, I settle on the Pear & Ginger pork sausages which will be the second first of the day if that’s possible?
Buffalo sated, pork laden and almost ready to head home and make the most of a rare blue sky day (and maybe even knock out a few miles in an attempt to close the gap on Chef Murchison?) I can’t bypass an old favourite Long Crichel Bakery www.longcrichelbakery.co.uk where I manage to restrict myself to one of their fantastic Pain d’Auvergne sourdough loaves and a sharply delicious frangipane lemon tart. This Cranborne Chase bakery really is the real deal making some excellent sourdough and rye loaves along with an tempting range of pastries, cakes and tarts. I’m a huge fan and it’s only the fact that I know I’ll be able to restock from their stall on Salisbury Farmer’s Market that keeps my purchasing at a reasonable level.
The Hampshire Farmers’ Market at Winchester really is worth a visit or if you prefer a different venue, check www.hampshirefarmersmarkets.co.uk for details of their markets throughout the county and the full range of excellent local suppliers involved.