Harborne Famers Market: Report 12-Feb-2011

At a bright and sunny Harborne farmers market yesterday (every 2nd Saturday of the month) Phil Hulland and I were lamenting the lack of publicity for good farmers markets. I love my local market and want to support it. Rick Stein really helped small producers with his Food Heroes book and series back in 2005, but I am not aware of any campaign since then.

So, I thought I would help draw attention to the excellent producers we have attending Harborne by writing a little report each time. I can also “mark the seasons” by way of available produce.

It being February the market wasn’t at its very best, but there was still plenty to keep me interested. Phil from Lightwood Cheese returned after a months absence and had some lovely fat Chasers on display (a soft, full-fat cow’s milk cheese). Unfortunately no butter (his churn had broken) or our favourite goat’s cheese. Talking of which I mentioned that I’d seen his “Bewdley Blue” in the deli at Bewdley and wondered what it was. Turns out this is just a cutting size Rhapsody – rebranded to keep the Severn Valley railway-goers happy!

Charbel’s biodynamic stall reflected the time of year – with just cabbage, beetroot, potatoes, leeks and carrots on display. The cabbage hearts were tender enough to eat raw but I know Charbel will be desperate for this new year’s growing season to start.

They tend to sell out very early so I had to rush to the top end to see if Lyon Farm had anything left. The lamb is older now and more flavourful, not quite hogget but much more interesting than the “spring lamb” that gets people excited around Easter time. I snaffled the last pack of lamb cutlets meaning there was just a solitary breast of lamb remaining. I’d quite like to attempt breast of lamb Ste Ménéhould one day but I left that pleasure to someone else.

Wenlock Edge Farm continue to impress with their range of home-made charcuterie. I’ve tried their coppa, proscuito, braesola and chorizo (all very good) in the past. This time I picked up half a salami. They also do good sausages, bacon and faggots. They also had pork roasting joints – I picked up some leg with a decent covering of fat for today’s roast.

I picked up some potted ham and some smoked mackerel pate from Karen at the Homemade Pate Company. It’s a running joke that her husband will offer to “change your life” with his homemade tarts – although they’ve never done anything for me. She seems stoic, having to listen to his unchanging schtick at every market.

I finished off at Woodhouse Farm who usually have some interesting pork cuts – in this case a piece of belly pork as long as my fridge is wide. I’ll brine one half as a roasting joint and turn the other half into pancetta.

All in all, not bad for February. But bring on spring!