Farmers Markets : Caroline Wright 13 June 2009

First published in Features

NOW that summer is here (despite the recent spell of rain) it is a good time to plan a few family days out – and what better way to enjoy yourself than to have a picnic in the beautiful Worcestershire countryside.

There are some lovely picnic spots around the county so pack yourself some food, a few paper plates and head off. Of course, the best food that you can eat on your picnic comes from your local Worcestershire farmers’ market. There are hundreds of options to choose from – all produced, grown, reared or baked by your farmers’ market stallholders.

You can buy some items that are ready-to-eat, or others that will involve a little preparation, but you can be sure that, whatever you buy, it will be of the very best quality.

Head to the Country Markets stall and, alongside an impressive array of sweet treats, you will find some savoury goodies as well. They have 10 varieties of quiche, including quiche lorraine and smoked salmon. Their cheese and onion turnovers are yummy. There are also some delicious plaits – with leek and potato, goat’s cheese and red onion and Mediterranean vegetable flavours.

For salad and other veg, try the Styan Family Produce stall.

Roger Styan says: “Peas – shelled and eaten, fresh out of the pod – are one of summers’ best guilty secrets.”

Tomatoes – sold by Styans but grown by Robert Hale of Longdon Hill Nursery – come in a huge array of different varieties, including cherry, cherry plum (red or yellow), medium cocktail, beef – and many more.

And don’t forget the humble beetroot – grated and eaten raw, or steamed, sliced and served with a vinegarette dressing, it is all too often overlooked. Or as Roger’s Ukranian seasonal workers prefer it: “Part boiled to soften, grated, mixed in mayonnaise and then lightly fried – it’s so good you can eat it by the bucketful. The Ukranians always had a huge bowl of it in the fridge for snacking on – it’s delicious!”

Charbel Akiki, of Akiki Organics, has a great choice of the more unusual salad leaves.

Charbel will happily give you a piece to sample before you buy.

Next week we will have a look at some cold meats, sweet treats and drinks that you can pack up for your picnics as well.

Today’s farmers’ market is in Bromsgrove High Street, from 9am until 5pm. Next week’s market is in Abbey Road, Malvern, from 9am until 2pm.

For more information, log on to www.wfmg.co.uk.

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