Well eventually we found it, under the imposing mound of Edinburgh Castle at Castle Terrace.
The Farmer’s Market happens every Saturday morning, between 9am and 2pm. I was impressed by both the number of stalls and the quality of the produce. For the carnivore there was a huge variety of species on sale: organic beef, pork, lamb, poultry, venison, ostrich, wild boar, guinea fowl and water buffalo. not just raw meat but sausages and pies too.
We were immediately drawn to the aroma of Puddledub’s water buffalo burgers on the griddle. Now I have eaten water buffalo before and was distinctly unimpressed by the flavour, but Puddledub’s burgers in their white floury rolls were delicious, so maybe I have been unlucky in the past. Apparently buffalo is low in cholesterol and fat too. Puddledub Farm was founded in 2005 with a herd of organic Aberdeen Angus, the water buffalo soon followed and they are about to start farming Jacob (the grandaddy of all domestic) sheep.
Another place we spent a bunch of cash was the Arran Cheese Shop.
There was such an interesting selection on display that it was hard to know where to stop; wax wrapped slow matured cheddars with caramalised onion and cracked black pepper went into our bag along with cheddars with mustard, claret and chili. We also bought some Dunlop Dairy Smoked Cheese and a round of Lammermiur Smoked Cheese from the Belhaven Smokehouse. As we were staying in the Travelodge we didn’t risk any of the smoked fish or meats on sale, nice as they looked.
Given that we had a six hour trip home the following day, fruit and veg wasn’t really a practical purchase either, no matter how tempting.
However there was home made chocolate and ice cream at Chocolate Tree, who were very generous with their delicious samples, along with cider, fruit juices and hand made soaps.
Not to mention whisky and gin from the Spencerfield Spirit Company. Now not many people think of gin as being a Scottish drink, but Edinburgh’s port of Leith was a centre for the drinks trade with exotic spices coming in and spirits going out. Especially important when you remember that the Royal Navy had until 1970 a spirit ration. People often think it was just rum, but in the days of sail the issue used to depend upon what spirits were available on the local markets for the purser to buy. For example the gin distillery in Mahon on the Spanish island of Menorca, was set up to supply gin to the Royal Navy and is still made there today to an original recipe, try it if you can it’s worth searching out.
The young lady at Spencerfield’s stall encouraged us sample the Edinburgh Gin and I found it very different to any other gin that I have tried, which is probably due to the pine heather and milk thistle that it is infused with, along with Scottish juniper and eight other botanicals. It was also priced at a bargain £22 at the market, so I bought a bottle for home along with one of Sheep Dip Malt Whisky.
Sheep Dip is named after the Scottish farmer’s tradition of hiding whisky from the excise men in sheep dip barrels and is a blend of sixteen cask aged malts from each of Scotland’s whisky producing areas. It has a delicately scented nose and a malty flavour. This was priced at a market exclusive £25. I also sampled Pig’s Nose, a blend that is said to be as smooth as a pig’s nose, but with no direct experience of a porcine snout I was happy to take the young lady’s word for it, and indeed smooth it was.
This has to be one of the best Farmer’s Markets I have yet visited so if you find yourself in Edinburgh on a Saturday morning I’d encourage you to drop in if only for breakfast. There is even porridge available for vegetarians.