[Ashton under Lyne] The monthly farmers' market
This morning, we’ve been modern day hunter/gatherers. By which I mean that, for the first time in months, we’ve been to the area’s biggest farmers’ market. And come away laden with goodies from four counties.
From Cheshire, a pound of Mr Bourne’s mature Cheshire. A superb piece of cheese with just a hint of blueing. And a jar of Granny Haworth’s blackcurrant jam from Eddisbury Fruit Farm near Kelsall. Mrs Haworth doesn’t do the markets any more but she’s a lovely lady if ever you come across her in the farm shop.
Cumbria, in the form of the Border County Foods stall, turned up a coil of Cumberland sausage and a pack of pigeon breasts (I’ll freeze them in packs of two for a starter based on a Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe). Austin Davies' game offerings will only improve over the next couple of months, so we'll be back.
Yorkshire came up with Tayberry jam and lemon marmalade, made by the fair hands of Bob Thorpe for the Country Markets stall (that’s the Women’s Institute stall, as was – before they let men in). And honey from Holmfirth.
But it was the several stalls from Lancashire producers which weighed us down. Wimberry pie from Park Farm at Walmersley; some crumbly Lancashire from Leagrams (we passed on the more mature 2 and 5 year old "Bob's Knob"), half a kilo of Dexter mince from a stall whose name I forget. More meat from Holts from Rossendale who only farm and sell lamb – chops, liver, and a good looking small boned and rolled loin for roasting. There was a couple of R S Ireland’s excellent black puddings to go in the freezer (and I managed a second breakfast of a black pud barm).
And, because the market isn’t one regulated by the National Association, some folk can travel quite a long distance to sell here. Perhaps the longest journey are the Beef Direct people who come from Anglesey, easily 2.5 hours. It’s worth their while as they sell excellent meat, not just beef, and are justifiably popular on the market. We came away with braising steak and shin.
Wow. I've never heard mention of a black pudding barm before. My chest just twinged at the very thought of it... and my stomach just suggested I try to make one. What do you, er, grease the insides of the barm with - if not bearnaise, of course ;) Butter? Dripping? Mustard? Or do you just slide that slab of pudding in and leave it at that?
Firstly, my apologies to David for casting aspersions on his Northernness.
As indicated, there are two usual traditional accompaniments. First, as indicated, there's piccalilli. It's certainly what you would have if plating the boiled black pud. It should be provide crunch as a contast to the soft pudding texture.
The other accompaniment probably better fits the barm route - and that's obscene amounts of English mustard. You need it to rip your throat out. Persoanlly, I would slather it on both halves of the barm (as you migth otherwise butter bread). And, just to be sure, I'd dab more on the pud itself.
Bear in mind that in both situations, we are talking about a proper pudding - sausage shaped and none of this sliced nonsense you see in supermarkets. A proper pudding with big globs of white fat is what you want. On a barm, you probably want to remove the skin for aesthetic reasons but there's no need if it;s a knife and fork lunchtime job nad, indeed, not eating the skin in such circumstancesmight mark you out as being a bit of a wuss or, worse, southern.
And, assuming you're buying your pud from a van somewhere in Lancashire, then you can judge the quality of the van not so much by the quality of the pudding (which will usually be good wherever) but if there is also on offer a serving of black peas (which need a liberal dose of vinegar.
You may come across folk who sing the praises of the Scottish black pudding. Whilst these will do at a pinch, they are not "the real thing".
By the by, Beef Direct have recently opened a butchery at Castle Street, Beaumaris.
And, more interestingly, a restaurant (called Cennin) also on Castle Street.
I sense a trip to the land of my fathers coming on. Well, land of Granny Harters at least.