This little piggy went to market...
I graduated from the University of Kent at Canterbury in 2002 and a few months later a farmer's market and restaurant opened in a disused goods shed five minutes walk from my old house. I try and see this timing as being both a blessing a curse. Bad because of the fantastic range of local food and drink I didn't get to sample (student discounts are offered and bartering for unsold veg at the end of the day is encouraged) and people I didn't get to meet. Good because I was attempting to get fit so didn't need the temptation every time I walked past, and, being in my final year, I was too busy to browse through piles of lovely fruit and veg and displays of home baked cakes with all those exams to study for...
Yes, I may be clutching at straws a bit with the 'good' reasons, and it certainly couldn't have made me study any less than I did, but I was excited to finally return and visit for myself without still having to scrape by on a student budget (my overdraft at that time was also expanding as quickly as my waistline). Luckily I was also on a holiday blow-out that would permit the sampling of all produce no matter how calorie-laden.
Inside tall communal tables run down the middle so you can also sit down and sample some goodies while you shop. 'Larder lunches' are offered for a fiver and there is coffee, cake and a choice of freshly made sandwiches. If you fancy something a little more fancy then the 'proper' restaurant is on a raised platform over looking the market, running down one length of the building. Here you you can see food being prepared in the open kitchen and eat from a seasonal menu that changes twice daily.
As we were off to the coast for a fish supper later that day we showed some remarkable restraint by ordering a couple of cappuccino's from Johnny Sandwich, and impatiently waiting for the larder lunch menu to be chalked up on the board, instead of heading upstairs to the restaurant.
The Ewing chose a hearty looking bowl of salt beef, leek and potato broth and I went for a souped up roast beef on white, with extra dolcelatte, again from Johnny Sandwich. I can't comment on the broth, as it was slurped up rather quickly before I could get a look in, but both the Ewing and the lady sitting next to me attested to it's homely comfort factor on a chilly afternoon.
The sandwich was really great. I ordered it as I feeling indecisive and wanted something simple after suffering from the after effects of beer tasting at the Shepherd Neame Brewery the day before. Roast beef is usually served up as a couple of thin, grey slices with a bit of tired lettuce and, although I was expecting a little more, I wasn't expecting something quite so tasty. The beef was soft and gloriously pink and there were also slow roasted tomatoes and tasty chutney sandwiched between the freshly baked bread. The inspired addition, if I do say so myself, was the addition of the cheese which added a piquancy that was just the ticket in my fragile condition.
As the sea was calling us we didn't get a chance to pick up as much stuff as I would have liked. Simon the Fish had a lovely looking shoal of freshly landed orange spotted plaice, and there was a tasty looking giant pork pie that people were chomping by the slice. There is also an great cheesemongers, Tom's Cheese, with plenty of local varieties, and they were offering rounds of beautifully fresh cow's curd for two quid apiece.
We did manage to pick up a slice of Sachertorte from Enzo's bakery for later. The sponge was slightly dry, but it had a wickedly dark icing and a sticky layer of jam which I'm sure was apricot, but the Ewing insisted was orange. Whichever way it made a lovely late night snack accompanied with a cup of hot chocolate for total cocoa overkill.