at Brockley Market
For my last blogpost of 2013 it seemed fitting to finish on a market, the lifeblood of London food. London Farmers' Markets (LFM) now have 20 market sites covering areas from Balham to Wimbledon. LFM's principle of "We grow it. We sell it." is laudable but its rules and regulations can mean some good "local" producers don't quite qualify. I shop at one or two LFM markets but they don't satisfy all my needs. Some very good producers and traders who do not fit neatly into LFM's strict criteria find a home for their goods at Brockley Market in SE24. That's not to say Brockley doesn't have high standards of its own, they're just different and, in fact, some of their stallholders also trade at LFM.
Brockley Market offers a cracking list of traders in a compact area where stalls are ranged around the car park to Lewisham College. The estimable BBC Radio 4 Food & Farming Awards described Brockley as "a market that serves a community without pretence or artifice, a model to be followed". Brockley Market is doing a great job of finding, hosting and presenting some of the best food and drink producers and suppliers. Some of what's on offer is very locally produced and some not, but Brockley Market has most of the food bases well covered. With a central area devoted to seating, it's a family-friendly place to shop and eat. This adds to the relaxed and welcoming feel of the market.
Wild Country Organics from Cambridgeshire and Kent-based Perry Court Organics; meats by my three favourites, Jacob's Ladder Farms, representing a small cooperative of Sussex farmers rearing animals on organic and biodynamic principles, The Butchery, the Bermondsey-based whole carcass butchery owned by Nathan and Ruth Mills and poultry from Fosse Meadows Farms in Leicestershire; East Sussex-based Hook & Son for raw milk; Hartland Pies who I know also make the excellent pies sold by The Butchery using The Butchery's meats; Flavours of Spain with a good range of Spanish ingredients; Blackwoods Cheese Company selling a small selection of Neal's Yard cheeses alongside their own Lewisham-made fresh cheeses. Food vans include Van Dough selling freshly-made pizzas baked in a wood-fired oven mounted in the back of a 1970s Citroen Hy van; Mother Flipper offering burgers; and Good & Proper serving tea with, that irresistible pairing, crumpets. Coffee is represented by Dark Fluid.
Blackwoods Cheese Company has quickly become a favourite of mine for their lovely marinated raw cows milk Graceburn. The fledgling cheese-maker is already getting noticed, being stocked by both Neal's Yard Dairy and the recently-opened shop attached to the Quality Chop House restaurant on Farringdon Road. Look out for a Blackwoods washed-rind cheese coming soon, I'm expecting it to be pretty special.
You really get a sense of passion from walking around and from looking at the Brockley Market website. It's a market I want to go to more and if I lived closer I'm sure I'd be shopping there every week. Luckily, I can shop on Saturdays at some of the same traders in Spa Terminus/Druid Street, Bermondsey. From talking to those traders, I know that they love trading at such a well-run and well-supported market as Brockley. I can see how hard the organisers work at getting the best and Lewisham is lucky to have it.
Happy food shopping in 2014.
Lewisham College Car Park
The market is a stone's-throw from St John's train station (7 minutes from London Bridge)