The market at Ally Pally is one of the biggest in London, so it was high up on my list to try. I had been once a couple of years ago and was impressed then. Some of the stalls had changed but otherwise it seemed much the same.
There were around 30 stalls including
- 3 cheese stalls (one specialising in Cheddar from Somerset, one with excellent and diverse goats' cheeses from East Sussex, and one with an array of cheeses from around the country, which seems somewhat against the ethos of a farmers' market)
- a wet fish stall
- several fruit and veg stalls, including some organic veg, and lots of soft fruit including an array of plums and greengages
- home-made ice-cream and sorbet
- meat including Giggly Pig sausages, made with traditional Saddleback pigs, and a lamb stall
- international dishes of various kinds including Greek (baklava, borek and so on), Moroccan, and Indian, plus an interesting-looking vegetarian stall called (I think) Hungry Carrot
- olive oils, olives, dried herbs and similar items from Cyprus and Turkey . Again not entirely the point of a farmers' market, though they were apparently from the stallholders' own estates (www.planetmem.com). It must be said that the olive oil was very good, as was the pomegranate molasses. I also tasted caper shoots for the first time - a similar flavour to capers, but with a softer, leafier texture. Good mixed with anchovies in a sauce to serve with fish, apparently. There was also a separate olive stall which also sold feta, stuffed vine leaves, pickled garlic and so on.
We bought cheddar from Glastonbury, organic biodynamically grown Black Cherry tomatoes, stuffed vine leaves from the olive merchant, and onion bhajis with a little pot of chutney. The tomatoes, which were a purplish colour, were nice enough but no tastier than normal cherry tomatoes.
Last but not least, we had cake from The Cake Hole. These cakes, made in Vauxhall, south London, made me extremely happy. There were too many I wanted to try, but between us we managed the Victoria sponge, the cheesecake and the orange and almond cake. All of them were delicious but I think the orange and almond might have just had the edge - I liked the touch of bitterness alongside the sweet. The ingredients are listed alongside each cake, which I definitely approve of, and were pretty much what you would put in a cake if you made it at home (as opposed to the bewildering list of things in a factory-made cake).
Unfortunately the Great British Summer intervened and it rained on our picnic, but you can't have everything.
When and where: Sundays, 10am-3pm, Alexandra Palace Park (Musewell Hill entrance)
Number of stalls: Approx 30 (on my visit)
Range of produce: Excellent
Value for money: 7 (eight if you go about 2pm and get some of the end of the day bargains!)Marks out of 10: 8