Set back from the gritty pound-shops of Uxbridge Road, the bounties of West Ealing Farmers’ Market are an unexpected pleasure.
Every Saturday morning artisan food producers pile their stalls high with an eye-popping array of speciality meats, seafood, cheeses, freshly baked sourdoughs, pristine looking seasonal vegetables, fruit and flowers.
It’s a streak of colour in the greyest of surroundings, a spectacle that has been drawing a crowd of loyal followers for 10 years.
Market Manager and passionate vegetarian Rosie Pearce has been looking after proceedings since the market launched. “It’s special to have high quality produce like this in such an ordinary place. It’s become an integral part of the community,” she told me.
There are deals to be done – it’s a lot cheaper than farmers’ markets in more solubrious parts of London, yet it’s the same high-end lovingly produced stuff and the atmosphere feels far more down to earth and chatty.
Pick of the crop
1. Grasmere Farm – Traditional Pork and Bacon
Alex was drawing people in from the damp streets cooking sausages, bacon, pork steak and onions on a griddle. Behing the counter there was traditionally cured ham and bacon, at least 15 different kinds of sausage to ruminate over, and huge slabs of pork belly.
Stallholder Mark said: “Cheaper cuts of meat like belly pork have been much more in demand in the past few months” as people tighten their belts but not their waistlines.
In my basket: Some herby Lincolnshire sausagemeat and big bag of bacon bits for under a fiver.
Traditional hand-made short-crust topped pies with great names like Fidget and Huntsman, crumble topped sweet pies and pasties – stripped of their Cornish title after the recent European Commission ruling.
In my basket: Crammed with tasty meat and chunky veg, the non-Cornish pasties I nabbed went down a treat for lunch.
She operates out of the old bakery in Brentford which she’s restored back to its original purpose.
In my basket: A couple of fat cocoa-dusted chocolate brownies
4. Essex Grown – Fruit growers
Running a stall groaning under the weight of apples and pears, Malcom’s been in the business for 34 years at his rented Orchard in Essex. He proudly told me people queue around the block for his Victorial Plums come September.
In my basket: A kilo of perfect looking Cox apples – the difference in quality from supermarket apples was startling.
In my basket: I bagged myself some of their award-winning ketchup (Great Taste 2010 awards) – sweet, punchy and fabulous with my pasty!
Buffalo meat is very low in cholesterol, has a slightly sweet taste, and comes in all of the usual cuts as beef.
I was encouraged to sample all of the cheese from the creamy pillows of mozzarella to the sharper blue-style cheeses.
In my basket: A soft feta-style cheese
One very dedicated customer couldn’t wait to share his recommendations with me, and for that the guy behind the stall slipped him a free loaf of bread – that’s got to be better than clubcard points?!
In my basket: Walnut and raisin loaf – fabulous with a sharp blue cheese
My new resolution is to try and get down to the market most Saturdays and buy special food in for the weekend.
The stallholders change from week to week so I’m looking forward to sampling the next batch of goodies!
Producers all come from within 100 miles of the M25. They must raise, grow or bake everything they sell.
When: Every Saturday 9am-1pm
Where: Leeland Road, Ealing, London W13 9HH