Like many other cities in the UK, Cardiff has its own Sunday Farmer’s Market, however, differently from the others, it has an astounding variety. From traditional British products, such as pork and vegetables, to more exciting products like regionally grown spices! The Riverside Farmer’s Market took its current form in 1998 when it set up shop in Fitzhamon Embankment. The same core group who set it up still participate and sell, as well as many more producers from the Cardiff area who set up their own stalls as time went on.
If like me, you are coming from Cathays, the first thing you will see will be the river (as well as the rowers who pass by every few minutes.) As you get closer, the movement of the market will become obvious. The vendors themselves happily showing and selling their products to customers, as well as sometimes making cups of tea and distributing it to the other stall owners. As such, the familial air that permeates the embankment will reach you.
The first few booths will be perfectly British: selling pork, poultry and beef. All in vacuum sealed bags, of course. Talking to the owners is easy and they share a bit more about the market: “Everything here has to be either grown or raised in a fifty-mile radius” one of them tells me. Other traditional products include free-range eggs and even organic milk.
A bit further in, the products are still British, but much harder to come by in your local Tesco. Freshly-baked bread for one, sold by Pettigrew Bakeries and Riverside Sourdough, with a thick crust and soft dough. They added a bit more about the market as well, sharing that “processed products also have to be home-made” (i.e. sausages). Another one is the local beer made by Lithic Brewing, which is even sold in a special 24-can pack. Continuing the drinks trend, various stalls sell cordials and even pair them with cheeses! Finally, there is also Paul’s Organic Vegetables, which, as one would expect, sells lovely organic veggies.
Not everything in the market is food, though. There are also woodworking objects, as well as plants of various kinds. And even then, not everything is for humans, as showcased by Blue Paw Dog Treats, offering some alternatives to commercial and industrialised products for man’s best friend.
If you are only looking for a quick bite on a Sunday afternoon, there are lots of options too. For savouries, the stand out stall is Great Eggspectations, which, together with its brilliant name, offers a twist to the traditional Scotch eggs. Pettigrew Bakeries also sells rustic sweets in addition to its bread. To accompany it, there is a wide number of coffee makers in the street, some of which also sell their own roasts. On the other hand, if you only wish for a refreshing juice or smoothie, you can head to GoOrganic Juice Bar.
In contrast, if spices suit you better, there are plenty to choose from. While the common Indian variety is properly represented by shops such as Babita’s Spice Deli and Kimi Curry, there also other, less obvious ones: El Chilango and Asia Spice Box. The first is proper Mexican food – not limited to the obvious nachos and tacos that plague the cuisine, while the second is made special by its spices. Pete, the Box’s owner, partnered with Chris, a spice enthusiast who grows as much as 200 strains in his farm and creates a variety of chilis to fill Pete’s wraps and other dishes of flavour.
But there is still one more thing that makes Riverside Farmer’s Market special: its customers. They are the locals who have gone there since its inception, as well as the bearded hipsters of the media companies of the city and, finally, university students.
By Eduardo Karas.
Check out Riverside Farmer’s Market at:
Twitter – @RCMAmarkets
Instagram – riversiderealfood