I'm a working mum writing about life in Edinburgh (and anywhere else we go) with two curious, adventurous, and imaginative children. Visit my blog at www.linzertortes.blogspot.co.uk. Follow me on Twitter: @LinzerLaw
Published December 8th 2012
Buy in season - taste is the reason
The Angus Farmers' Market can be found in Forfar on the second Saturday of the month at the Forfar Strathmore Hall, The Mart, John Street. It's a covered market in a large hall, next to the cattle mart, and so there is plenty of space for stalls. Being inside also makes it a pleasant shopping experience whatever the weather.
I was on a flying weekend visit to my parents' house, so I wasn't looking to do a full shop. However, I did scout out the stalls to check that you could. And, indeed, all the basic staples are covered: bread, dairy, fruit and vegetables, fish, and meat. So, if you wanted, you could do your weekly shop here, with plenty of locally sourced produce available. Next time I'm in Forfar for a longer stay, I'm going to make sure I buy something from Highland Drovers. They specialise in Highland cattle, and as a lover of steak, I want to try their certified organic beef. I also noticed a Fair Trade stall with lots of different Fair Trade food and drinks on offer - perfect for the Christmas chocolate stash.
I visited on an icy December day, but I soon forgot about the chilly winter as I made a beeline for a stall selling produce infused with the tastes and smells of the summer. The stall was Bouvrage, an old Scottish word for a drink, and a product of Ella Drinks Ltd. Berries from Angus are renowned as some of the best in the country, and the bottles filled with purple and red juice caught my eye straightaway. The raspberry juice is very lightly carbonated, which Anne the owner informed my older daughter was just the right amount to whoosh the smell of raspberries up your nose. She was right. I don't usually like fizzy juice, but it was just fizzy enough and no more. I could happily have drunk it, or used it in a cocktail (see here for recipes from the Bouvrage team).
An image of the Bouvrage Stall at Angus Farmers' Market in Forfar
The strawberry juice was my younger daughter's favourite. It's a less strong flavour than the raspberry, and perfect to enjoy by itself. The final juice that Bouvrage produce is blaeberry. The smell of this took me back to my childhood holidays near Loch Tummel, when we gathered blaeberries in the springy heather. Similar to blueberries, but with a flavour distinctly its own, I popped another bottle in my bag.
The juices are very lightly sweetened with unrefined sugar, but at only 4% sugar they're a healthier option than some pure fruit juices. If there isn't a stockist or market near you then you can order from the Bouvrage website.
Bottles in hand, I set off round the Market again. I noticed a very long queue at Puddledub's Pork, testament to their popularity. My Mum was one of those in the long line, and she confirmed later that she is a regular customer because of the excellent quality of their meat, especially the sausages.
Next stop for us was Kitchen Garden Delights. The girls were circling me with cries of "Hungry!", and the Cranberry and White Chocolate cookies provided a perfect elevensies snack. I had a sneaky wee bite. They had a Christmassy flavour and were the right consistency between chewy and crunchy. We only tried the cookies, but they also create hampers and can deliver them to any post code in the UK mainland. What I particularly like about this business, apart from the delicious tasty treats, is their commitment to donate 5% of their total annual sales to Guide Dogs UK. They also use free-range eggs in all their produce.
Our final two visits were two stalls providing very different activities for children.
The first is Wee Cooks. Based in Glasgow, they provide chefs for hire in Glasgow and Dundee. They also run Wee Cookies cookery classes at the Farmers' Market and in other locations for parties and other events.
When we arrived a cooking lesson was in progress and a few children were working with Hayley to create Arborath Smokie croquettes. It looked like a fun, messy activity, and could be used as an educational activity to try different foods and learn about seasonal produce and local sourcing. All of the ingredients were available in the Market: for example, the fish could be bought from Arbroath Fisheries. Unfortunately we didn't have time to taste the finished products, but we will make sure we have time to join a class on a return visit.
Crafts are well-represented at the Market: Bad Little Cat Designs create personalised slate house signs and wooden garden boxes. Eeksie Peeksie Ceramics sells hand-decorated ceramics with a farmyard theme.They are really cute, and I think they would be a hit with tractor-obsessed toddlers.
The last stall we stopped at was Strathearn Fleece and Fibre. They are quite a new business, and at first I thought they were simply a craft stall selling yarn and knitting packs. However, the fleece to make the yarn comes from their very own sheep. I think that's a lovely touch. It's good to know that the fleece comes from local sheep - sheared, spun, and dyed in Perthshire. I didn't want to spoil a Christmas present surprise, so I am dispatching my Mum to the special Christmas Fair version of the Market to pick up a special knitting pack for children when they're not around.
And that was a whirlwind tour of the Angus Farmers' Market. It was busy and bustling, with smiling stall-holders more than willing to help with my queries. If you're in the Angus area, I'd recommend supporting these local businesses, the Market also goes to Montrose on every first Saturday of the month. A full list of stall holders can be found on the Market homepage.