Cheltenham Farmers Market is held on the second and fourth Friday of every month (Cheltenham Economic Development please note; the runaway success of Stroud’s market has, in part, been based on the fact that it takes place every week: as a punter, you know where you are) on the pedestrianised bit of the Prom, sandwiched between Waterstone’s and Cavendish House. It’s a good thing to support (a healthy Cheltenham restaurants culture should go hand in hand with a healthy local food culture) and you’ll usually find fruit and veg, plants, herbs, meat, cakes, sweets, preserves, bread, cheese and so on. You’ll also find occasional other guests stars, from pies to a Cheltenham’s gin brand (known as ‘Trust Fund Gin’ in our house).
As usual, it pays to shop early, the market runs from 9am to 2pm or so but the best stuff tends to go early
Here’s a quick run through some of the stands you’ll see at Cheltenham Farmers Market, with a few comments on things we like and which you might like too. No particular order, although let’s begin with a winner:
Madgett’s, based in Chepstow, sell free-range chickens and ducks from the Forest of Dean. This is one of the first stands that I head for. Quality is great (this is where I get my Christmas turkey from) and they supply some of the best Cheltenham restaurants such as Curry Corner. Keep an eye on the stand for occasional additional products, such as wild boar and duck sausages. Recently, for example, Madgett’s had Cumbria grouse at £12 a brace, oven ready.
Adey’s Farm from near Berkeley is pretty good too. They raise and sell organic Angus beef, lamb and pork.
Frocester Fayre is a reliable source of meat – I like their faggots (MATRON!) and pies
Smarts Cheeses produce great organic, vegetarian Gloucester cheeses – you can buy minis too. Single and Double Gloucester cheeses and you’ll sometimes see Harefield, which is what you might call a Gloucester Parmesan, a one year aged Single Gloucester cheese with a salty sharp tang. If you prefer a brie/Camembert style, head over to the St Eadburgha stand (Gorsehill Abbey Cheeses, near Broadway), a popular and tasty soft cheese – another organic, too.I like the bloke from Churches Bakery, he’s genuinely passionate about his bread and reckons he has made over 2.8 million cakes in his time.
I’m a bit wary of chocolate from Farmers’ Markets, but Elizabeth James Confectionary make a good chocolate lollipop, a good way to finish off a dinner party.
For vegetables, Primrose Vale are good, as are Roots vegetables – prices are pretty fair.
What else? I usually buy from Endive, which is a prepared salad bar – plenty of great looking salads, broad bean, feta, supergreen salads, hummus… that kind of thing.Everything seems extremely fresh and the owner has the most heartwarming smile too. Usually next door is Oxford Deli and I’ll get a couple of their beautifully spiced veggie samosas to counteract all the healthy stuff.
If Whitehouse farmhouse plants are there, I’ll check them out.
Lakehouse brewery make a good unfiltered beer in the Malverns and I also liked Beard and Sabre Cider (Cirencester) . The Cotswolds isn’t that well known for cider (the rest of Gloucestershire is) but my two favourites recently have been Apple Smuggler, a CAMRA approved cider by Beard and Sabre at Cheltenham Farmers Market and I was blown away by Pearson’s Cider from Moreton in Marsh, but sadly you’ll have to hunt her out elsewhere.