As Spring begins to blossom (despite the rain), more markets pop up, but one stalwart (rain or shine, every season) is Kings Norton Farmer's Market in south Birmingham. Held every second Saturday of the month, the stalls spread across one section of The Green and offer a fabulous array of goodies.
For me, I'm always drawn to cheese stands. As much as I love the cheeses in the supermarket, I find that farmers markets and the like, always have a unique offering when it comes to all matters fromage. Lightwood Cheese, based in Worcester and recommended in Rick Stein's Guidebook, had a rather delicious ewe's (sheeps) milk cheese called 'Little Urn' which worked beautifully when eaten with the olive studded bread rolls from Italian food emporium Squisito Deli. This Warwickshire-based Italian inspired deli and Supper Club, make their food from locally sourced goods with some good veggie choices such as home-made mac&cheese, marinated olives and of course olive bread rolls (as well as their yummy rosemary flavoured ones too).
Driving past Gee's Kosher Deli & Bakery in Edgbaston near to Birmingham City Centre I decided to pop in. As is observant of the Jewish Sabbath (Friday/Saturday), the shop closes and so as this was Sunday, I took advantage of its opening. Culturally, Jewish food and Polish/Ukrainian food have so many parallels with the types of food eaten (beetroot, gherkins, cabbage, halva etc) that shop's stock reminds me of my family's pantry.
As well as stockists of all these delicious foods, Gee's are a kosher butcher and bakery and also have a great stock of Tivall products. Tivall are manufacturers of great veggie soya products which include slicing sausage and schnitzels.
Also, I saw some pre-made, pre-packed potato latkes (like potato dumplings) which I bought with much delight after trying to make some from scratch a while ago and them not turning out how I had hoped! These latkes worked well heated-up with some grilled asparagus on the side or can be served with whatever side dish suits.
So whatever your faith/cultural background or retail habits are, break your shopping routine and try somewhere different - whether it be an open air food market or the little shop on the High Street that you see each day but never go into. Often, shop owners will be happy to recommend goods to you or help to acquaint you with new products. So feed your curiosity and Happy Shopping!!