My choice of a birthday day out was a trip to Nether Edge farmer’s market, my favourite event in Sheffield.
It has the feel of an urban village fete, with the Sally army band giving way to bhangra belly dancers.
Now in it’s second year, the quarterly market has been going from strength to strength with new stalls being added each time.
About 40 stalls and shops sell a fantastic range of locally produced foodstuffs. The top of Glen Rd and bottom of Nether Edge Rd are closed off to traffic from 12-4 for the occasion.It’s best to go early before it gets too busy and the best stalls sell out.
My first stop as soon as I arrive is usually for a sausage sandwich from Moss Valley Fine Meats, first stall on the left off the zebra crossing, whose fine pork products have taken several awards at this year’s Bakewell show.
Fickle sausage fan that I am, I went instead to their rivals on the Whirlow Hall Farm stall, at the end of the Nether Edge Rd section, for some similarly satisfying porcine pleasure. I like to load up on quality meats for the fridge and freezer at either of these.
On other such carnival-like occasions, I love to feed up on the Caribbean flavours .
But with so much other stuff going on I decided to pass this time. The food at Yabba sure looked good though.
Another choice bite is a fish cake from the new fish stall on Glen Rd. They bring them frozen, but fry them fresh.
For me though, it’s all about that wonderful animal, the pig. I tried to walk past this stall but it was impossible. A hot roast pork sandwich, freshly carved with everything on, is just a bit too hard for me to ignore.
For dessert, the possibilities are endless. Amateur home-baking maestros were out in force, giving the professionals a run for their money.
I was truly blown away by the Pear and Amaretto Crumble Cake from Kate Linderholm, which was beautifully moist and the flavours were just amazing.
Kate bakes this and many other masterpieces in between reading the news on Radio Sheffield. Her stall is the first on the left as you up the drive of the house on Glen Rd.
Sadly missing this time was the Indian sweet stall, where I can usually procure some beautiful baklava.
There are so many things here you rarely see anywhere else, like ridiculously strong cheddar and stilton…
…and bizarre fruit and veg, such as these Crystal Lemon cucumbers…
…and multi-coloured beetroot.
The orange-skinned Golden Detroit beetroot variety is bright yellow inside and the redder skinned di Chioggia is white with purple rings!
Perhaps my most favourite stall of all though is the mushroom vendor halfway down Glen Rd. The friendly lady who runs Autumn Harvest Mushrooms is English but her husband is Italian, and a major mushroom head, in a culinary sense that is.
She tells me that when he first came to these shores, he was blown away by all the freely-available fungi, because no-one was picking them!
In Italy it’s a major pastime, with pickers protecting their secret sources jealously, and people are literally dying to find them.
In the UK, anyone with the knowledge can go and help themselves, with their only rivals being squirrels! You can see this on the amazing huge porcini in the picture.
The missing chunks are a result of the little furry fungus ferrets having a nibble! As well as wild varieties they also sell cultivated ones such as Portobello and various colours of Oyster mushrooms.
They also have dried and powdered forms, which have a more intense flavour.
The owner explained that all the mushrooms are very carefully cleaned so that no soil residue will taint the water they are soaked in, a common problem with some dried mushrooms.
After a hard day pounding the lanes with a full stomach and an increasingly weighty rucksack, it’s time to adjourn to the serene surroundings of the Nether Edge Bowling Club for a few jars of Moonshine.
Usually members-only, the club opens it’s doors to the public only on market days. The crown green is partly given over to the kids for games and general mayhem while the parents look on pint in hand.
From here it’s a short stroll home to the sofa for a nap before the main birthday meal…