Buy real food at Manchester Farmers’ Market

Manchester farmers market

After a late night with too much wine and then a 6.30am early start to finish off a project, I needed rescuing to make it through the rest of today. A hungover craving for food that involved not cooking or washing up propelled me, via the magic of the 192, down to Manchester’s Farmers’ and Producers’ Market at Piccadilly Gardens.

I’ve not been there for a while, so it was all brand new to me. I started off at the Orchard Pigs stall, who breed lovely happy pigs in Wrexham and then make them into pork pies for us Manchester people to eat. I’ve just nibbled a bit of the pork and cider pie that was recommended to me and it’s pretty good. There was none of that nasty jelly you usually get surrounding a pork pie. I think it cost £2.50.

Curry Manchester farmers market
Onwards to the Mango Ray stall, which had two huge pots of curry
bubbling away. I was tempted by the chickpea, spinach and new potato
curry, but went for the free range chicken and mango korma with rice
for £3.50. It was really tasty, not oily like a usual takeaway, and
actually had a bit of spice in it so beware if you’re a chilli wimp.

Next up to grab my wandering attention was i♥cake – and who doesn’t? Cakey love
They had a stall set up covered in cupcakes with a big swirl of pretty pastel icing on each one. They’re possibly a little pricey at £1.25 each (or six for £6), but the chocolate one was truly delicious: rich, moist and moreish. I also bought a lemon and poppy seed one for Mr Manchester Is Ace, but haven’t touched it yet. Oh wait, I just tried the icing and it’s marvellous. They also have a blog called Cakey Love.

As Sarah Hartley pointed out in her Life Through Food blog, the world has indeed gone cupcake crazy. In fact, just a few weeks ago both the Saturday Guardian and the Sunday Times had big features all about cupcakes. But hey, I’m not complaining: more cakes = one more good thing in the world.

I also had a good look at the Caribbean food stall, which was serving rice and peas, jerk chicken and spicy sauce, in which I could smell the chilli from five feet away. This offering seemed to be doing well with the pensioners, who were queuing up to buy the spicy food, so I’ll be trying this next time. I bought a jar of pineapple and coconut chutney (£2.99), which is all fruity and spicy, lovely.

A couple of years ago, I went up to the Forest of Bowland and stayed in a trendy hotel called the Stanley House Hotel, where we had fillet steak from this part of the country – and it was absolutely beautiful. So I had a lovely chat with the bloke selling Bowland meat and bought a massive selection to fill up the freezer. The prices were good considering it’s ‘real’ meat and I’m looking forward to trying out the sausages, amusingly called the Manchester Dangler, which have Boddingtons in them.

Hog roast manchester farmers market
Round the corner was a nice chap called Lee Ellis from Premier Hog Roast who was slicing up a hog roast (vegetarians look away now) to serve up with apple sauce on a nice barm. This is top of my list to try at the next market at the end of the month (along with the jerk chicken of course).

This market has been going for a good few years now, but could possibly do with a bit more publicity and support. I mentioned it on Twitter, and someone who had lived in Manchester for a few years had never heard it it, and then blogged about it on www.elgey.co.uk. It’s entirely possible that if you don’t walk past Piccadilly Gardens when the market is there twice a month, you wouldn’t know about it.

I’m going to make a real effort to get there and support our Northern farmers, and yes, I’d rather pay more to make sure I buy meat that has been well looked after and well fed. So get yourself down to the next farmers’ market, which will be on Friday, March 27 and Saturday, March 28. It is always on the second and fourth Friday and Saturday of each month, between 10am and 6pm. But for a city as large as Manchester, it’s a shame there aren’t more stalls. But show your support, spend money and they will come.

One comment

  • March 15, 2009 - 12:14 pm | Permalink

    I was at the market yesterday. I was shocked that it is so small! But what’s there is excellent. I bought my meat from the Savin Hill (savin-hill.co.uk) stall – a delicious pork and damson pie, dry-cure bacon (which didn’t shrink, wasn’t too salty and crisped up wonderfully) and a huge half-shoulder of mutton for roasting. All that cost me only £17 or so. Bargain. I’ve had Bowland meat before – it’s very good. I’m not that keen on the Manchester Dangler, for no reason other than that I don’t think the beer flavour really comes through. Their black pudding and Toulouse sausages are excellent, though. There’s also a very good bread stall, which is worth a mention, as finding real bread is extemely difficult these days.

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