Last Saturday, I finally found a real farmers' market in London, not ten minutes away from where I live. London is peppered with small urban farms, set up to remind visitors where our food comes from. Few are large enough to produce commercial crops, and Stepney City Farm is no different, however, every Saturday morning, a couple of farmers and a handful of food producers set up stalls so that city dwellers can partake in really fresh, locally grown produce.
Despite the grey forecast, the weather was lovely, and the produce looked enticing. And there were asparagus...! I had heard murmurs that they were available, but had not yet been able to get my hands on a bunch. But they were at the market! So I swiftly picked up two bunches along with some brilliantly red rhubarb. I have since found British asparagus at the supermarket, and have been eating them on a daily basis.
The other farm stand was an organic/biodynamic producer, where I picked up a kilo of the tastiest new potatoes ever and free-range eggs with beautifully orange yolks.
It's still early days for new crops, yet there is no denying that new things are coming into season. Given the tough winter in North-America, the first harvests will be a ways off, but the woodlands should have a few tidbits on offer. New season maple syrup is already on shop shelves. The first fiddle heads have been spotted in Ontario two weeks ago, and should quickly spread east as the weather warms up. I've been keeping my eyes peeled for wild foods around London, and have already found lush stands of nettles. The elders have set their buds, and some have already begun to flower. Wild garlic is embalming woodland, and although they are protected in most parts of North-America, they are considered a rampant weed in England!
Artichokes from warmer climes should tumbling into shops shortly: the ones on London are all about the size of my thumb, but in Italy and California, they would be just about ready to be shipped out. Spring radishes are normally mild, but dry weather can produce peppery roots to liven up a salad of baby leaves. While forced rhubarb is no longer, the fields are producing luscious spears, just in time for the first flush of British strawberries.
Local fig trees are covered in budding fruits as well. London figs rarely bud up at this time of the year, but the past winter had been so mild that the trees managed to get an early start. With a little luck, I may be able to get my paws on a few... In the meantime, I'll just enjoy my strawberries.
Happy May! Bon app'!