We are blessed before the year’s end with yet one more humorous missive from our mate Glenn….enjoy.
We were missing our mate Glenn The Butcher @ GW Meats in Seaton – Billie especially as he got a chunk of meat each & every morning that Glenn was open. And we were sad to stop our Board of the Week posts when – Voilà!!! We got this email today – enjoy….and Merry Christmas.
It was with a bit of trepidation that we waited for & then approached the Frome Farmers Market as many local farmers markets can be at best described as mediocre. And our hearts sank a bit as the Cheese & Grain came into sight as it appeared the Farmers Market was going to be no more than the regular, weekly Wednesday market – mediocre & selling 2 pound tat.
But our hopes were raised when we realised the market was actually inside the Cheese & Grain – phew! And what a difference that made – the hall was chocka with local producers and crammed to the gills with delectable goodies. Frome’s Market has built a reputation as one of the biggest & most successful of all the Somerset markets. We had to go around twice, left and came back for a third go! Each time adding more & more items to our bulging bags and depleting our wallets.
One of the litmus tests we apply to a farmers market is: can you put together a complete meal? And by that we mean something to nibble on prior to dinner say (like cheeses, charcuterie, pates, dips & breads), a full on meal (roast meat or fish, veggies, potatoes) and possibly dessert. Well the Frome Farmers Market has it in spades – very dangerous to your wallet folks! But you will not be disappointed!
There were nibbles galore – we choose a dense & aromatic sourdough bread loaf from the folks at The Hill Bakery & when we told them we wrote the Local Food Hound blog they gifted us a marvellous raisin loaf. Excellent toast it makes we tell ya!
And as our fridge is already overflowing with local cheesemaker’s wares, we had to restrain ourselves from partaking of a regular fave Wootton Organic Dairy (blogged about several times before) and a stunning looking newcomber – White Lake Goats Cheese. Next time….
And the Dorset Shellfish Company were also on hand & we’ve seen them at several other farmers markets like Crewkerne. Unfortunately, they had just sold the their whole lot of squid (a hound favourite) minutes before, so it pays to be early and quick at these markets (the Frome Farmers Market is having a special Christmas Market this Sunday, December 22nd 10AM – 1:30PM – make it a date!).
And we were most happy to meet up again with the folks from Moonacre Farms – besides the super spuds on hand – the Linda’s make an awesome mash – and other veggies, they are a provedor of excellent charcuterie. The Coppa is a killer so may need to stock up for the holidays…
So if you have not been to the Frome Farmers Market, nor finished all your food shopping for the holidays, make a bee line to the Cheese & Grain (and check the C & G out too – lots cook’n there) this Sunday!
It has been just over a month since the Hounds moved to Frome, Somerset from Seaton, Devon & we still have piles of exploring to do. One of the several drawbacks of Seaton was the overshadowing of the town by a massive Tescos, which did what it normally does to town centre business – squashes it flat. Seaton used to have an independent wine merchant with the operative words being ‘used to’ as it is gone. The only logical thing to do in Seaton was order from a variety of online retailers, mostly the nice folks @ Naked Wines. Naked Wines not only sell very decent drops but they plow a good chunk of their profits into supporting small, independent wine makers – sweet.
So it is with wonderous pleasure that in near proximity to Frome we have access to several respectable independent wine merchants including the awesome Yapp Brothers in Mere. They are a wine merchant after our own hearts as they specialise in wines of the French Rhone and Loire region – yippee!
Yapp Brothers was founded in 1969 (birth year of Hound #3) and epitomises what you’d want in your local independent wine merchant and pretty much the antithesis to the supermarket experience. Here you will find a very knowledgeable wine merchant who is generous with their advice & guidance and carries a pleasantly idiosyncratic line of vino to tickle your palate. Much different to the huge informational vacuum found in the supermarket wine section. If you can find anyone at all they are most likely there to just stack shelves and it might as well be baked beans as wine.
They have certainly been accorded the accolades, widely recognised as the UK’s leading importer of French regional wines, Yapp Brothers were recently named both Specialist Wine Merchant of the Year for Regional France and Specialist Wine Merchant of the Year for the Loire at the International Wine Challenge. And The Times placed them in the ‘Top Ten Wine Shops in the UK’ while The Independent gave them the nod for one of the ‘Top Ten Online Wine Merchants’. Phew!
You can visit the shop in person Monday through Saturday 9AM to 6PM and you are welcome to browse & order from the shop or take a wander over to the cellar to see what you might find. And as mentioned, they do a decent online & delivery service too.
I learned the very sad news a couple of days ago that Judy Rodgers of Zuni Cafe fame had passed away at the age of 57 from a rare cancer. Though not a personal friend of mine, she was extremely inspirational for me in terms of my cooking and exploration of the food world. I was lucky, living in San Francisco, to frequent Zuni Cafe about every 2 weeks for a meal and drinks. It was usually for Sunday Brunch were the Bloody Mary’s made with balsamic vinegar & a serious dash of chopped red onion were almost a meal unto themselves. But the ultimate pleasure was meeting and having a good chats with Judy on several occasions. Her one and only cookbook is everything she was – competent to the extreme but humble; generous to a fault with her knowledge & information; forever willing to learn; and pursuing the goals of food simplicity, locality & flavour.
My personally signed Zuni Cookbook (and ‘cook’ I think fits her better than ‘chef’) still holds the pinnacle place in my tome of food books. In fact, when I started my own restaurant dream (London Street) in Lyttelton, New Zealand in 2006, I gave each of my chefs a copy of the Zuni Cafe cookbook as I could think of no way better to get across what I wanted but straight from the horses mouth, in her own words.
When you are starting to learn about something like cooking or food or wine, you can sometimes get lost or overwhelmed with so much information or opinions. So it is really nice when you come across something that gets you on the right track, your true north…for me, that was Judy Rodgers @ the Zuni Cafe. R.I.P….
The Hounds were lucky enough to have moved to Frome, Somerset in time for the final Frome Super Market of the year – most excellent holiday shopping to be had for sure. This is an amazing event – the entire town centre & surrounds are totally shut down to traffic and vendors from far & wide descend to set up shop for the day.
And the breadth of what was on offer boggles the mind: antiques & collectibles, arts & crafts, artwork, baked goods, deli goods, charcuterie, cheeses galore, food stalls, wine & beer, buskers station, jewelry, clothing, homewares, books….phew! Not only were our heads spinning but so were our wallets! And what was really impressive was the high percentage of serious quality goods versus the usual market cheap & nasty (socks from China, the ₤1- ₤2 stands selling batteries to toilet rolls).
The market is fuzzily set up in precincts with vendors grouped somewhat together by merchandise being sold (e.g., antiques & collectibles in the Cheese & Grain car park, various food stalls along the fantastic local St. Catherines Street shopping area which is worth a visit anytime).
The food section of the market was particularly impressive to us food & wine hounds. Tasted many excellent cheeses but since our domestic fridge was almost chocka with numerous varieties we had to limit ourselves to one (took many cards & notes though & will return!). And that one was the Westcombe Dairy’s unpasteurized cheddar – wow. These guys were named the Best Food Producer 2012 by the BBC’s Food & Farming Awards and it is not at all hard to see why.
We also had a good chat to the Hombre from Majorca who runs The Spanish Buffet stall (down from Cardiff, Wales – go figure) as most things Spanish seem to warm our hearts (and stomachs). Everything looked so tempting but opted for 4 serious chorizo sausages to add a bit of punch to our beans & pastas. Besides the wonderful fine foods on offer he was also whipping up a massive pot of paella and as starters, the glorious pintxos!
And the folks from Moonacre Farm were foodies after my own heart – locally made charcuterie from rare breed, free range pigs and off beat veggies that included several potato varieties we’d never heard of (bought some Linda’s). James Sherwin is the curer extraordinaire and after sampling most of his wares, had to open the wallet one more time for a half stick of his salami.
And about noon time, we were beginning to drag a wee bit so we returned to the antiques & collectibles section where Claud The Butler coffee was holding court to a decent queue, in a vintage Citroën van. A perfecto pick us up – not for Hound #1 though!
And who better to close the show with on Super Market Day than Frome’s very own Mayor – the Honourable Dickon Moore who is the youngest mayor ever of Frome, if not of any city or town in the UK we’d bet!
So if you ever need an awesome day out, that is packed full of fun, then put the Frome Super Market date on your calendar – pronto!