East Oxford Farmers’ & Community Market

Farmers' Market Today

Markets in September really come into their own. There’s an abundance of produce, some looking back to the summer, and other looking forward towards autumn, so there’s more variety than probably any time during the year. This is the best time to shop. But there’s also the slightly melancholic feeling that we should enjoy it while it lasts, because this bounty is soon to disappear. As such, it feels special. It is special. So go to your local market and enjoy its bounty. Maybe make some jams or preserves to stretch that taste of the warm months into the cooler days to come.

The Sandy Lane vegetables

I’m lucky to live near a particularly good local market: The East Oxford Farmers’ & Community Market. So good in fact that in 2011 it was one of the finalists in Radio 4’s Food & Farming Awards. The market, run by volunteers since 2006, is relatively small, but the variety of produce is fantastic: milk, veg, fruit, honey, eggs, meat, trout, bread, cakes, other baked goods, juice, salami and cured meats, salad leaves, cheese, flowers, fairtrade tea and coffee. If you don’t fancy cooking, then there’s a variety of cooked food to choose from: Japanese, Indian, Italian, Middle-Eastern, Filipino, Tibetan, British, etc. Eco-friendly detergents and dried goods, crafts  and local organisations can also be found at the market. It’s a fantastic place to get your weekly staples, as well as the special artisanal extras. Redcurrants from Sotwell Manor Fruit Farm

Redcurrants from Sotwell Manor Fruit Farm in Wallingford

The photos in this post were taken last October, but they give you an idea on what you can find at the market in the coming weeks.

Freshest Walnuts

Selling walnuts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fresh walnuts and cobnuts

Have you ever had cobnuts? They’re a similar to hazelnuts, but elongated in shape. They’re also very tasty. And the fresh walnuts were a revelation: creamy and lovely. I was recommended trying some with salt – it tasted great.

Brynmoor Conserves taste great!

Brynmoor conserves

Roz makes delicious flatbreads and bagels

Roz makes delicious flatbreads and bagels

Fairtrade products by Jaunty Shopper

Fair-trade products from Jaunty Shopper

I particularly love their beautiful wooden boards and trivets.

Market Camaraderie – Sotwell Manor Fruit Farm and the Jaunty ShopperWillowbrook farm organic eggs

Willowbrook Farm have eggs and meat of fantastic quality

Willowbrook Farm sell free range and organic halal chicken, beef, lamb and eggs. They also sometimes sell venison, sausages and sujuk (spicy, Turkish-style beef sausage). Their meat is some of the best I’ve ever had, and I buy from them regularly. The chicken in particular is fantastic. Fosse Way honey

Fosse Way Honey

Willowbrook farmers also sell Fosse Way Honey.The Little Salad Company

The Little Salad Company grow and sell not only different salad leaves but also herbs and edible flowers

The Cotswold Curer 1

The Cotswold Curer’s salami, pancetta and chorizo made from free range pork

The Cotswold curer started curing meat because he liked eating it so much. Great motivation, and great results.

Coopers Pork mascot

Coopers Pork mascot

Coopers Pork rear the rare-breed Oxford Sandy and Black Pigs, one of the oldest traditional breeds in Britain and originating in Oxfordshire. Their sausages, bacon and pork cuts are free-range and flavoursome. I also had the pleasure to try their hog roast at an event in the Hartcourt Arboretum recently, and can’t recommend it highly enough.

SESISESI: Organic and Fairtrade: The Oxford Refill Station

I am gutted only to have this terrible photo of SESI. But there was always a queue in front of their station, so you could barely see the stall. Oh well. But at least this tells you they sell good stuff. Nuts, grains, seeds, cereals, dried fruit, eco-detergent refills, oils, flour, sugar – they’ve got it all. And the best bit, you can buy as big or a small quantity as you need.

Veggie shopping

Shopping for veg

Squashes fit for an autumn festival

The Sandy Lane Farm stall

 

 

Autumnal weighing

Potatoes from Sandy Lane FarmThe Sandy Lane Farm stall looked amazing - a true ode to autumn

Sandy Lane Farm organic vegetables (all veg photos)

 

At the market, there are always a few stalls selling delicious homemade international food. I often buy something tasty for lunch.

More sushiSushi

Aaah sushi!

Sushi from I’m Japanese

I attended one of I’m Japanese sushi workshops. Momo is a fantastic teacher, and the workshop was a lot of fun. Warmly recommended.Mariella Bliss - Blissful Italian food

Italian goodies from Mariella Bliss include her very own hazelnut spread . Is it better than Nutella? Come and try it!

Falafel feast

Falafel feast from Mediterranean

Crunchy, tasty falafel, great humus and lots more. I need to persuade him to part with the recipe. For his humus, also. It’s not going to happen, is it?

 

You can count on finding some good cake at the market, too.

Administering the cake

Cakes from Hayley’s Kitchen

From Bunny & Bear

Making Bunny & Bear goodies

How’s this for locally made? – Making Bunny & Bear goodies at the market

 

Saffron buns

Saffron buns

Natural Bread Company

Natural Bread Company saffron buns and German rye bread

Natural Bread Company  is responsible for the start of my sourdough baking addiction. It all started here at this market, in fact. William was giving away some starter, and I took some. And got seriously hooked on bread baking. That was nearly one and a half year ago. My starter is still alive and I’m still baking. Read all about it here.

I also attended one of William’s bread workshops. We started of with a visit to a local mill, Wessex Mill, made lots of bread, learnt heaps, feasted on freshly baked croissants and focaccia, and took heaps of bread home. William is a really fantastic teacher, and it was really helpful to see and feel the bread at different stages, and work in his bakery. I always remember the light in the room that day, too. That’s my photography soul kicking in. It would be a fantastic place to photograph, actually. Anyways, this is most certainly one of the best cooking workshops that I ever attended.

They have a cafe’ on Little Clarendon Street. If you’re in Oxford, check it out. They have an excellent range of sourdough breads, cakes and pastries, and good coffee.

 

We sometimes get local authors or artists at the market, too. The Hunting of the Shark

Bill Heine

Bill Heine with his book

Chippity Cards products

Charming Chippity Cards products

From the market cafe'

There is also a cafe’ at the market where you can get a cup of tea, cake and some brunch. It’s run by different people on different weeks.

 

At the East Oxford Farmers' & Community Market

More photos

Available on my Flickr stream.

 

Where to find this market

Every Saturday from 10 am till 1 am. Inside the East Oxford Primary School, behind Tesco’s on Cowley Road.

See the list of stallholders and subscribe to their newsletter (towards the bottom of the main page).

 

This week

If you’re in Oxford, these are the stalls this Saturday, from 10 am till 1 pm. The list of stalls is from the market newsletter.

Outside

  • Sotwell Fruit Farm – fresh local handpicked soft fruits
  • Coopers Pork – free range bacon, pork and sausages using Oxford Sandy and Black local pigs
  • Willowbrook Organic Farm – organic local chickens, eggs and lamb, free range beef and honey
  • North Aston Dairy – organic, local milk, cream and welfare-friendly rose veal
  • Roz’s Breads from Around the World – freshly-baked, handmade breads
  • Crudges Cheese – award-winning cows, goat and sheep’s milk cheeses
  • Burnish & Lustre - an eclectic mix of vintage and decorative items for your home, from handmade eco-soya wax teacup candles, enamel ware, upcycled organic cotton rag rugs, glassware, baskets and china
  • Taste Tibet – handmade Tibetan dumplings, tasty salad and spicy sauces
  • Jaunty Shopper – ethical shopping with a range of homeware, gifts, fairtrade tea, coffee and spices

Inside

  • The Clays Organic Market Garden - seasonal, fresh, local organic fruit and veg
  • Natural Bread Company – handcrafted speciality breads, plus demonstration from expert baker on how to bake sourdough breads!
  • SESI Food Refilling Station – fairtrade, organic and local dried foods, e.g. oats, fruit and rice
  • SESI Household Refilling Station - refill empty bottles of hair-care products and household detergents
  • Brynmoor Conserves – award-winning and amazing homemade jams, marmalades, chutneys and pates
  • Crissel’s Kitchen – super seasonal takeaways!: sweetcorn and smoked bacon chowder, confit tomato and caramelized onion soup, chorizo and spinach risotto, squash and wild mushroom orzotto, homemade Tuscan sausages and mash, and chicken cacciatora and polenta
  • Break4Cake – our garden is full with apples and plums so Break4Cake will offer apple cake and plum cake. On the menu will be  amongst other delicacies our famous Bienenstich, as well as Cheese Cake, Linzer Tartlets, Chocolate and Pear Cake, and Amaretto Cream Gateaux
  • Sara O – along with my usual 20 flavours I’m bringing a new one – hazelnut-nutella – the shell is made with hazelnuts instead almonds and the filling is nutella. Really delicious.
  • L’Arome – handcrafted soaps and toiletries, using natural ingredients
  • Pegazian – appliqué cushions, hand knitted scarves, shawls and shrugs, plus crochet jewellery and handmade fabric bags
  • I’m Japanese – handmade fresh sushi and Japanese homecooked foods
  • Make-Do-Mend – sewing repairs and alterations to all loved clothes and materials
  • The Oxford Delhi – yummy Indian savouries and snacks
  • Mediterranean – freshly made snacks and take away foods

Bream with garlic, saffron and preserved lemons

“As the Italian say, cook with love and passion. Which I translate as: enjoy it, give it time and patience, and be tender.Niamh Shields

I totally agree. Sometimes, cooking feels like meditation, all the stars aligned. I remember the first time I felt like this. Or perhaps the first time I consciously noticed feeling like this. It was over a big pot of ragu for lasagne. Everything felt just right: calm, complete, whole, balanced. I was happy and connected. And the dish turned out just delicious.

It’s similar with flavours, but the feeling is stronger and shorter. Like a dart of pleasure, a stronger connection, but one that lasts a shorter time. Some combinations just hit the right note. Like a culinary, gustatory G-spot. They’re simply perfect. Such as the flavours in Claudia Roden’s chicken tagine with lemon and olives, which were a springboard for this dish. I thought how well its flavours of lemon, saffron and herbs would go with fish. And then I made it and they did go together  so well. 

In the recipe below, I’ve made a fair few changes though: you may notice I omitted the onions and olives, as well as the obvious chicken vs. trout substitution. I also tweaked the quantities of other ingredients, using more garlic, for example.

This dish makes for a perfect speedy dinner. Super-delicious. I’ve made this dish lots of times now, and with different types of white fish. Whole trout is also a particularly good choice – see Notes for the instructions on how to cook it. I normally serve it with couscous or with bulgur. This time, we had our fish alongside a vegetable bulgur pilav. Alternatively, I would have added some lemon juice to the dish to sharpen the flavour, but the pilav was already sharp with the wonderful Turkish tomato paste.

Bream with garlic, saffron and preserved lemon

Bream with garlic, saffron and preserved lemons

 

SOURCE: Inspired by Claudia Roden’s chicken tagine with lemon and olives from Arabesque, but changed a fair bit

PREPARATION TIME: 5 Min

COOKING TIME: 10 – 15 Min

SERVES: 2

 

2 tbsp olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, sliced

a pinch of saffron strands

1/4 tsp ground ginger (optional)

2 fillets of bream

salt

pepper

50 ml hot water

1/3 of preserved lemon, finely chopped (1 quarter and a half, if the lemon is quartered)

1 tbsp parsley, chopped finely

1 tbsp coriander, chopped finely

Lemon juice to taste (optional)

 

Season the fish with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil on medium heat, and add garlic. Fry the garlic a little, 30 s to a minute, and then add saffron and the ginger powder if using. Cook until the garlic starts going golden, and the saffron gives the oil its orange hue.

Add the fish, and cook for 2 – 3 minutes on each side, until it’s cooked through. Take care not to overcook the fish – it spoils the dish.

Sprinkle with the preserved lemon and lemon juice, and heat through again.

Stir in the herbs, reserving a little for garnish, and adjust the seasoning and lemon juice. Serve over the bulgur or couscous, pour over the sauce from the pan and garnish with herbs and serve.

 

Notes

This dish works well with other types of fish, too. I love it with trout. I use 1 whole large trout (about 0.45 kg) to serve 2, fry it in the fragrant oil on both sides, and then add about 150 ml hot water. -Cover and cook for for about 10 min or until done.

 

 

Back home

Blue wave

I dream of a perfect mojito on a summer evening, in a shadowy garden of the Havana restaurant in Bar Harbor Maine, at the end of a perfect day.

Perfect mojito

I laugh remembering the zing and the vivacious buzz of Provincetown in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Beautiful dining room

I savour the moments spent around a beautiful round dining table in friends’ house, and off. You’ve got to love a dinner that includes a dash to the seashore to photograph the sunset, alongside a wicked blueberry pie.

Thank you.

Sunset

To playLighthouseBoats

Boats

Waiting

Blueberry pie in Maine - Thank you to H & BSharing

 

And it all started with a wedding.

 

Wedding

Wedding flowers

Letter to Lina

English garden

Dear Lina,

Hello, my name is A. and I live in your house. Your former house, which is now our house, that is. We bought it off your family after you – well, there is no easy way to say this – passed away. I hope you don’t mind me disturbing your rest.

The neighbours have told me about you. How you liked to cook and entertain well into your 80s. That’s impressive. I want to have the same energy and spirit when I’m that age. And if I’m very lucky, that sort of friends, too, that would come to share the food and the laughter with me. I hope there will always be plenty of both.

I wonder what you cooked in this kitchen. What your favourite breakfast was. What kind of parties you had. Who knows, maybe we’re kindred kitchen souls.

I’ve learnt how to make curries, marmalade and bread from this kitchen. I’ve had a lot of fun playing with ingredients, learning about other cuisines. It will be tough to leave it one day, as I’m sure it was for you when you moved. My favourite breakfasts are many. Warm banana bread with peanut butter and espresso, which I take at the breakfast bar, looking outside as the morning unfolds in our tiny triangular garden outside. But I also love toast with butter and the afore-mentioned marmalade, and espresso with milk. We enjoy full English breakfasts. And many more things. Breakfasts are brilliant, aren’t they? But I wouldn’t knock down dinner or lunch either. We like to cook (a lot), and have friends around. Just like you did, I am told.

We’ve made a fair few changes to the house, especially the kitchen. I wonder if you would approve. We removed the wall between the kitchen and the dining room, making it open-plan, and put a peninsula which is our breakfast bar and a cooking station. You couldn’t not like the high double oven, and you may like the wipe-clean super speedy induction hob. I don’t know, some people prefer real fire, but I don’t miss it. I certainly don’t miss cleaning the gas hob. No disrespect to your old gas hob, of course. There’s red in the kitchen, very red, and two greens in the dining and living rooms. We do like a bit of colour in this (mini) family.

I wanted to thank you for a few of your kitchen things that made it to us. I love the nested stainless steel mixing bowls, endlessly useful they are. And the cast iron yellow Dutch casserole is a joy, though a touch rusty. It does not matter though. I love how well it has lasted.

Anyhow, it’s getting dark here in the garden, and I shall soon have to go back inside. And we will probably be leaving this place soon, too. Which breaks my heart a little bit. It may be for the better, and it probably will be, but there’s nothing quite like your first home, the one you made truly your own, shaped by your tastes and life. It will always stay special.

Warmly,

A.

 

Ps. Hope you like the flowers from our garden above. The rose is yours, and the lavender mine.