Most of the stalls at Merton Abbey Mills's weekend market are for arts & crafts, but the one I most enjoy visiting is Patrik's. It is a farmer's market stall specialising in preserves, but also sells homemade bread & cakes, eggs & cheese, as well as a few bits of fruit & veg to tide you over if you don't feel like doing a big shop in the supermarket.
The stall is named after the couple who own it - Pat and Rick - who are very friendly, and always offer you to try a sample of their food. While some stalls just give you one example, Patrik's has over a dozen open jars to test. As well as traditional flavours like strawberry conserve, they also have more imaginative combinations too. The first I tried was peach and cardamom jam; the taste was good, but I was put off by the fact that the cardamom seeds were left inside. I've bitten into cardamom seeds before, and they can be quite pungent. I sampled most of the preserves, including some rather spicy chutneys at £3.50 each.
I was considering which ones to buy when I noticed a basket of cakes to try out. Not one to turn down a free sample, I tried a piece of brownie, flapjack, and billionaire shortbread. The brownie was dry, the flapjack had a nice fruity kick, but the shortbread - oh my - was irresistibly moreish. The dark chocolate topping was very rich, the biscuit bottom was incredibly buttery, and the caramel filling - I have never seen such a thick layer of caramel before. At only £1.50, and with only one slice left, I whipped it up sharpish before anyone else came along.
My eyes were also drawn to the other products on the table, which included giant goose eggs between £1.40-£2 depending on the size, a few cheddar and stilton cheeses, and a beautiful looking loaf of multi-seeded & multigrain bread dusted with semolina. I didn't buy any more at that point, but after looking around the rest of the market, I went back and bought the loaf for £1.40.
When I took it home, however, the thing I had been attracted to most, actually turned out to be the bread's downfall; it tasted too floury. I soon solved this problem by toasting it and spreading it with honey, which went well with the seeded texture.