Foodie’s Paradise: Partridges Food Market

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Food markets are a wonderful, traditional and natural thing – something humanity has been doing for hundreds of years as a way of trading, exchanging and buying food. They create a physical and visual circumstance where consumers can see, smell and often taste (the most important aspect of anything we eat!) food before they buy it. We can literally ‘feast’ our eyes on an array of delicious fare.

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Markets are direct, personal and unambiguous presentations of fresh ingredients and real produce, usually handmade or cooked or baked on a small scale, by passionate people. They operate on an intimate level, and not only foster interaction between one person and another, but between producer and consumer, farmer and customer, maker and eater. Furthermore, they characteristically encourage the sale and consumption of local and seasonal food. That was why and how markets first began – a local farmer or baker would set up a stall for those who lived nearby to come and purchase locally grown vegetables, or bread kneaded and baked from local wheat or rye flour, or meat reared from cows or pigs living in neighbouring fields. Today, people all over Britain and the western world are doing the same thing; in a kind of revival of something we’d lost and forgotten about for a good fifty years.

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Everything about food markets is positive and nurturing – natural, sensual, personal, local. So different to the experience we as people have when buying food at supermarkets; pushing our trolley round aisles and aisles of plastic-wrapped food in a sterile, odourless and artificial atmosphere, as if food was made by machines and just appears on the shelves out of thin air, with no human being or plant or animal or particle of soil involved in its growth and production at all.

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The great news is food and farmers markets are on the rise, becoming more and more popular, attractive, accessible and prevalent. They are quickly starting to be seen as valuable, exciting ways of purchasing and enjoying food, both in terms of buying ingredients for home cooking and as a delicious lunch or snack. Partridges Food Market is one such market, where every Saturday tens of growers, producers and companies set up their stalls in Duke of York Square for anyone in London to enjoy. It’s always heaving, and for a good reason – the array of food on offer is both amazing and mouth-watering.

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There’s raw honey from Spain; organic vegetables from Riverdale Organic Farm; cheeses from France, Wiltshire and Somerset; raw super foods by Detox Delivered; a hog roast; Chinese dumplings; paella; French crêpes and galettes; speciality curries and Indian dishes; haggis toasties; sushi made right in front of you at the stall; burgers with a range of toppings; a Brazilian pastelaria and deli; vegan cakes and biscuits; petit fours; organic sourdough breads; handmade ravioli and gnocchi… The list goes on!

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My absolute favourite stall is Rainforest Creations. Their spread of tropical-style raw salads, dips, flans, cakes and sweets is like a rainbow of vegan, plant-based, refined sugar free delight and goodness. It makes natural, healthy vegetables look like the food of the gods. And it all tastes incredible. Their salads range from tropical coleslaw and angel kale and avocado to mungbean-lentils and red quinoa. And their sprouted hummus is the best I’ve ever tasted, with subtle hints of spice, herbs and turmeric. You can get almost everything wrapped up in a corn and split lentil roti, or just a tub bursting with salad, an akashe ball and a good dollop of hummus.

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If you haven’t been to Partridges Food Market, Rainforest Creations alone is a reason to get yourself there. But it’s wonderful to just go and wander round; to see, smell and take in all the food and bustling people – to experience genuine food out in the open air and have your fill of fresh, delicious produce that’s natural, personal and real.

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Sun-dried Tomato & Chive Hummus

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I wouldn’t mind betting that hummus is one of the most widely eaten foods in the world today. Fifteen years ago, it was probably only known to a select few who had visited the Middle East. But now you can find it in literally any supermarket, corner shop or health food shop in Britain. And not only that but the sheer variety of hummus flavours is tremendous. Sweet chilli hummus, lemon and coriander hummus, red pepper hummus, caramelised onion hummus… the list goes on. This probably has something to do with the emergence of ready-made, processed food on British supermarket shelves, but you also can’t deny the fact that hummus is just so incredibly tasty.

However, it’s important to get hummus right. The original blend made with chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, tahini and oil is often unbeatable but adding other flavours can make the most delicious dip. I’ve tried a lot of different types of hummus but this is my favourite at the moment. Sun-dried tomatoes have the most amazing flavour and what’s so great is that even though they’ve been dried in the sun for a few days, they keep their nutritional value – still rich in vitamin C and lycopene. The chives give a subtle taste which isn’t overpowering like raw onion, blending perfectly with the rich sun-dried tomatoes. As well as this, chives are pretty good for you, containing many antioxidants which help destroy free radicals. They’re also rich in the nutrient choline which helps with so many things in the body such as sleep, muscle movement, absorption of fat and inflammation reduction – all of which are pretty great. More significantly, chives are SO easy to grow! In our garden they’re scattered across a big area, just poking out amongst the grass, as well as growing in a sprout from our herb patch.

Like a lot of people I know, I adore hummus and eat it almost every day. It just goes with everything: as a dip for carrots and peppers; spread onto rye bread; dolloped on top of a rocket, avocado and sunflower seed salad; stirred into quinoa. The trouble is lots of shop-bought hummus has mysterious ingredients and, more often than not, added sugar – which is never a good thing. Combining this with the fact it’s one of the easiest and quickest things to make, I can’t really think of an excuse for not giving it a go at home. I hope you can’t either..!

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Makes one large bowl of hummus:

  • 1 cup/230g cooked chickpeas
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic-infused olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 3-5 tablespoons of water (depending on how thick or creamy you like it)
  • 1 tablespoon of tahini
  • A handful of chives
  • Approx 10 sundried tomato pieces (depending on size)
  • 1 lemon
  • A pinch of salt and pepper

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Squeeze out the lemon juice using a citrus juicer and then place all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend for about 3 minutes until smooth. It really is as simple as that! Serve immediately with anything you fancy (or just eat with a spoon) and savour the wonderful flavours.

Crispy Falafels

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Anyone who knows me vaguely well is undoubtedly aware of my passion for falafels. I LOVE them. They are probably my favourite food, especially when served with a good dollop of hummus and fresh salad. This was all sparked off during my art foundation in Falmouth, Cornwall where the most delicious falafels in Britain (and I should know – I’ve sampled my fair share) are sold from an amazing little company called Falfalafel. For those who don’t know falafels are made from whizzed up chickpeas (or sometimes broad or fava beans) with a tasty blend of garlic, onion and spices.

Chickpeas have been around for a long time, with evidence of their use and consumption in Neolithic Turkey and Greece, and in Bronze Age Italy. Today they are grown in a variety of places such as India, Australia and Ethiopia. I like to buy organic chickpeas from Turkey, which is one of the largest world producers of chickpeas. These little seeds (chickpeas are actually the seed of the plant) are such a great source of protein, which is ideal for vegetarians and vegans. They also contain manganese and high levels of iron which are good for boosting energy levels and defending antioxidants. Along with this chickpeas have a low GI (Glycaemic Index) value meaning their carbohydrate is broken down and digested gradually. They also contain lots of soluble fibre which helps to balance blood sugar levels and provide lots of slow-burning energy for your body.

Chickpeas are so fantastic and what better way to get them into your body than rolled up into little balls? Falafels are widely available in supermarkets but they almost always contain E numbers and other weird additives which are anything but healthy. I’ve been making falafels for a long time now, trying to create the best recipe for them – it’s an ongoing process but this is the most delicious one so far. It’s also vegan and gluten free. Falafels are super easy to make and honestly the yummiest thing so I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

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Makes approx 10 falafels:

  • 1 cup/230g cooked chickpeas (canned chickpeas are fine, but they are so much tastier if you buy dried, soak them overnight with chopped garlic and then simmer for 45 minutes-1 hour with an unpeeled clove of garlic, sprig of rosemary and a couple of bay leaves)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small red onion
  • ½ tablespoon of sunflower oil
  • ½ tablespoon of garlic-infused olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of chickpea flour
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon of paprika
  • A handful of fresh curly or flat-leaf parsley
  • A good grinding of salt and pepper

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Start by preheating your oven to 180°C and roughly chopping the onion and cloves of garlic. Then place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend for about 20 seconds. Be sure not to over blend the mix – you want it to be fairly bitty, not totally smooth. If necessary blend for 10 seconds then give the ingredients a stir before blending for a further 10.

Next scoop out a small amount of the mixture in your fingers and roll between your palms to make fairly smooth balls. Be gentle when doing this as the texture is really important – if you tightly press the balls as you form them they can turn out too dense inside. You want that incredible light crumbly texture when you bite into them.

When you’ve formed all of the mixture into balls rub some sunflower oil into your fingers and palms and gently roll each falafel so they’re lightly coated. Place on a baking tray and bake for about 30 minutes, turning them every few minutes to make sure they have a lovely golden hazelnutty colour all over.

Finally remove them from the oven, allow to cool slightly then serve with hummus and salad of your choice (inside a wholemeal pitta pocket is best and the most traditional, but for a gluten free option I like them on oat cakes). Bite and enjoy!