Spotlight on Hythe Farmers' Market
PUBLISHED: 10:33 31 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:33 31 July 2018
Working with Kent Farmers' Market Association, we explore different farmers markets around the county. This time, Hythe
Home to longest high street in the country, picturesque Hythe is a charming place packed with visitor attractions, including a popular monthly Farmers’ Market.
The high street is full of quirky, interesting independent shops, pubs and restaurants that, like the bi-monthly market, attracts locals and visitors alike.
The market takes place in St Michael’s Methodist-Anglican Church Centre, spilling out onto a picturesque little square with trees providing shade for the hot days.
It opens every second and fourth Saturday of the month and is a great place to fill a picnic basket for a day or weekend’s sightseeing in and around the town.
Hythe is packed with history. As one of the original members of the Confederation of Cinque Ports, a network of coastal towns in south-east England which, by Royal command, provided men and ships to defend the country, its history can be traced back 1,000 years to Anglo-Saxon times. Indeed, history is everywhere. Running through the town is the Napoleonic-era Royal Military Canal stretches for 28 miles, with shorter towpath cycle and walking routes.
The market was started by two local women in 2004 who were very active in the community at the time and sensed a demand in the town for fresh local produce sources from local growers and producers.
They have since passed responsibility for running the market to Eric Chauvel, French by birth but he’s been working in markets since 2003 and his children often help out on his stall. Most months there are around 12 stalls; four pitched around the square just outside the hall where a further eight stalls are ranged around the hall. A small pop-up café in the hall on market days serves tea, coffee and cake, where shoppers can take a break from browsing.
On arrival you see three or four stalls with colourful awnings. There you’ll find the blue and white fish van belonging to Two Suns Quality Fish, a familiar sight at other Kent Farmers’ Markets including Tonbridge, Rochester and Yalding.
Based on the Isle of Sheppey, Two Suns has two fishing boats in Queenborough and supplies a range of wide range of white fish and caught shellfish from contacts in Folkestone, Ramsgate and Whitstable.
Owner Roy Ferris says: “We have many loyal customers who having been coming to for years. We are happy to prepare whole fish and shellfish for customers and often share cooking tips and recipes.”
Another long-standing stall is Perry Court Farm with a range of fresh, Kent-grown seasonal fruit and vegetables. Farmed by three generations of the Fermor family, it’s a representative of the youngest generation, Charlie, who is often seen packing customers’ bags with produce.
The popular bread stall is run by Sandgate Bakery, an artisan bakery supplying a strong range including sourdough, Rye boules with bran or oatmeal, oatflakes and rye flakes; and a pain rustique, a French-style loaf from a preferment matured for 24 hours.
Another key stallholder is Anthea Enderley selling fresh farm eggs, including chicken and goose. She works closely with her parents on Woodhill Farm, where they keep a flock of prolific layers and a clutch of rare-breed birds.
Trudie Thomas sets up her stall with a range of meats from Ritoweg Farm in Smarden. “We breed Boer goats, Portland sheep and Berkshire pigs for breeding stock and meat,” she says. Sausages made on the farm include enticing flavours including for pork, hog roast and the chilli and leek-packed Smarden Sizzler.
Goat sausages include herb and garlic, Romany (using locally gathered herbs) and Firecrackers, which contain three different chillis. A newish flavour is Gourmet, made with apricots, sultanas and for a little taste kick, cumin.
Find out more
Hythe is a member of the Kent Farmers’ Market Association. You can visit the market on the second and fourth Saturday of the month, 10am-1pm at CT21 5BG. Find your local market at www.kfma.org.uk
What’s in season at the farmers’ market: August
Lots of vegetables are now coming into season, home-grown tomatoes are in abundance, as are shallots, onions, French and runner beans, courgettes, aubergine, peppers, cucumber and salad leaves. Early marrows and squashes will also be available, plus main-crop potatoes. The soft fruit season is peaking for raspberries, black, white and red currants, plums and blackberries, and there may still be late cherries. Now is the time to buy soft fruit and convert it into jams, ice cream, smoothies and cakes or store in the freezer for the winter months.
Summer fish is plentiful and very reasonably priced. Sole, sea bass and plaice are excellent now. Look out for crab for a real treat. Serve simply with real mayonnaise and little potatoes steamed in their skins.
A barbecue is a perfect way to make the most of locally produced steaks, burgers and sausages as they have far superior flavour and cook really well on the barbecue compared to mass-produced supermarket versions. Try interesting recipe combinations of sausages – wild boar, pork and venison, pork flavoured with apple, hops, etc.
Don’t forget the Glorious 12th marks the start of the new game season, so look out for venison, wild duck, wood pigeon and rabbit as well as grouse.
Food & Drink Awards 2018 menu: smoked salmon pillow
• 200g smoked salmon
• 40g freshwater prawns
• 250g cream cheese
• 1 lemon
• 1 bunch of dill
• Cracked black pepper
• Purple micro cress
• Rocket salad leaf
• Caviar pearls
(prep: 15 mins, fridge time: 40 mins)
The second choice of starter guests will enjoy at this year’s Kent Life Food & Drink Awards, created by Michelle Rayner, head chef at our venue, the Ashford International Hotel
• Line four ramekins with clingfilm. being generous around the outside edges so there is enough to pull up to cover at the end.
• Line the ramekins with smoked salmon, allowing an overlap of the sides to be folded over at the end to create the bottom.
• Place the cream cheese into a bowl, zest and juice half the lemon into the cream cheese and mix, add a third of a flat teaspoon of cracked black pepper and mix together.
• Pick a few small pieces off the bunch of dill and save for presentation, chop around a third of the remaining dill and add to the cream cheese mix. Then add the fresh prawns and mix together.
• Place mix evenly into the ramekins, fold over surplus smoked salmon and then the cling film, place in the fridge and allow to set for at least 40 minutes.
• Undo the cling film and tip the pillow onto the plate, removing any remaining cling film. garnish with a few caviar pearls on top and around the plate, using the purple mico cress and rocket leaf salad alternatively decorate the plate, finishing with a scattering of the freshly picked dill.
Bruce McMichael is an award-winning food and drink writer, cookery demonstrator and Farmers’ Market manager. Based in Tunbridge Wells, he won an episode of the TV cooking talent show Gordon Ramsay’s Culinary Genius. Bruce edits the food website www.thelemongrove.net.
Bob Taylor is Vice Chairman of Kent Farmers’ Market Association, manager of Shipbourne Farmers’ Market, a board member of the National Association of Farm Shops and Farmers’ Markets and a member of the Tonbridge Town Team