September-Barnard Castle Farmers’ Market

In readiness for the children’s first day back at school (and looking to lift the gloom), I pondered how summer continues throughout September due to the equinox falling on the 21st or 22nd of the month with many evenings of cricket on the green, lifting our mood during an Indian Summer. To make the best of this abundant harvest time I suggested we grasp the opportunity to make the most of our last weekend by foraging for wild blackberries, food often being a temporary cure for growing boy-blues.

While our scratches and clicked shirts were rewarded with an ample amount of wild blackberries, my tummy rumblings were also leaning towards September’s rich harvest of juicy plums, apples, and damsons. As the weather starts to cool, the game season also comes into its own adding richer autumnal flavours to the menu making it am ideal time to visit the farmers’ market in Barnard Castle.

This month will be one of our largest ever with abundance of locally produced food and drink. Also making its first appearance from the kitchen of Nobia will be curried goat, African sauces and limogee.

This has also been a great year for Barnard Castle Farmers’ Market with many new customers discovering the joys of purchasing from the producer themselves. It has therefor come as no surprise that the market has collected a record haul of awards at the one of the most prestigious food awards in the world.

The Great Taste Awards are the “Oscars’ of the food world” and are judged purely on the product itself, disregarding packaging and presentation. This results in a level playing field where the product is allowed to compete whether from a large multinational or a small kitchen company.

We are therefore delighted to have had five of our producer’s collect a total of 9 Gold’s for their exceptional products. Burtree Puddings and Wildon Grange have won 3 One Star Gold’s each. Just Williams has a 1 One Star Gold. The Honey B Co and Leaside Cheese makers have won Two Star Gold each.

Space limits the opportunity for me to tell you more, so why not join us for our next Farmers Market on Saturday September the 6th and help celebrate our awards and many, other mouth-watering goodies, including award winners from previous years. We are open from 9.30 till 3 pm but most of us are ready and trading by 9‘ish. Barnard Castle is a jewel of a town and the gateway to upper Teesdale making it a perfect destination for a full day out.

Weather holds as crowds flock to Taste of Teesdale Festival

The Taste of Teesdale Festival in the grounds of the magnificent Raby Castle, became a shop window for the area’s abundance of fine food, drink on Sunday 20th July. Visitors were able to meet local producers and engage in demonstrations on making bread, cheese and jam, even landscape photography. For those able to tear themselves away from the demos, there were lots tasters, and opportunities for lunch from venison burgers to curry, from hot samosas to traditional teas provided by the Raby Castle tearoom, not forgetting the ever-popular man crèche.

Inside the stables, local crafts included walking stick making, wood turning, children’s crafts, felt making and our very own potter’s wheel. By midday crowds were enjoying entertainment provided by the Farmyard Flyer, a double-decker bus containing, pigs, sheep, goats and chickens. Children also enjoyed horse riding, while dog training and duck racing took center stage in a specially created coral.

The event now in its second year was professionally managed by Raby Castle and the team from Barnard Castle Farmers’ Market. To end the day, Tracy Chappell from Bishop Auckland picked up the luxury hamper in the free to entre prize draw.

Taste of Teesdale

One of the North’s most iconic and picturesque venues is home to this year’s Taste of Teesdale Festival. Located on route to the romantic market town of Barnard Castle, and situated outside the beautiful village of Staindrop, Raby Castle tapping at the hills of Teesdale, and in shadow of the beautiful rolling moors of Weardale is steeped in history, atmosphere and charm.

Positioned in a noble sweeping landscape of white washed buildings between two mighty rivers, the Tees and Wear, Raby Castle is unquestionably a gem within a cluster of precious stones. It’s therefore only fitting that some of the finest artisan food; drink and crafts will make it their home for the festival on Sunday 20th July.

The event now in its second year, is a magnet for food lovers. This year’s festival is no exception. Here is not your ordinary fayre, as a quick peep into the larder reveals Christine’s delicious pork sausage. I can testify without too much interference in the cooking, (by which I refer to pricking), that when the fat accumulates, sizzling and bubbling, once sliced the drama unfolds like a burst mains pipe.

Also on the menu is Teesdale Blue? This award winning cheese with its delicate marbling and light creamy composition is a joyous thing. My perfect scenario would be a warm evening in the garden with a cool glass of Sauvignon blanc and a doorstop wedge of Teesdale Blue. I don’t use a knife, preferring instead to press the cheese onto Sue’s bread with a fork, closing my eyes to savor the after taste when the cream and crunch are washed with the tangy-you know!

Alas, there isn’t enough space within these pages to wax lyrical on the full delights of this year’s festival, which also include, award winning puddings and pies. Homemade preserves, local honey, fish, bread, fudge, ginger wine and lots more.

I should end by saying the £6 entrance fee per vehicle also offers access to the wonderful hidden gardens of Raby, allowing you to extend your visit to a full day. Entertainment includes, the Farmyard Flyer, a double decker animal experience. Duck racing, dog training, Kids Craft, not forgetting the ever popular man crèche ( don’t forget to come back to collect your man).  Gates open at 10.00 and close at 4.00.

A footnote for visitors travelling on Sunday, The Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Pennines bike race will not affect the road between Barnard Castle and Staindrop. For full details of road closures please follow the link.



Here comes the sun, here comes the sun.


Shakespeare wrote, “Spring flew swiftly by, and summer came; and if the village had been beautiful at first, it was now in the full glow and luxuriance of its richness. Apply the same sentiment to seasonal food and behold a July market with an abundance of early summer delights.

Yesterday I was chatting to Just William’s Hedgerow Preserves, interrupting his gathering of wild gooseberries and elderflowers. “It looks set to be a bumper season”, said William rolling up his sleeves in readiness to patrol his fruit trees. We stepped from the cool calm of the kitchen into a sun blazed immaculately kept orchard. I followed William’s loosely written path through the tall grass shouldered on either side by a maze of wild fruit bushes and trees. Somewhere above, a skylark trilled. William removed his straw boater and stared up into the sky. “Did you know, the most popular period for preserving jam was during the war” he said, wiping his brow with a worn neck chef. “Over 12 million pounds of fruit in 1940 and 1945 that might otherwise have been wasted providing food for the nation?” added William. I replied weakly, “I had no idea!” “Of course you didn’t” William snorted.

We continued walking and talking, passing wild clematis smoked up behind hedgerows, honeysuckle massed with colour and evening perfume. “How’s that patch of yours coming along?” asked William. I explained once again, how my inclusive botanical vision appreciates both weeds as well as wild flowers. William could only snigger.

We wandered through the orchard discussing Barnard Castle Farmers’ Market and all the good things, which lay in store. “Every season brings its unique tastes”, said William. “Our July market always feels a little special, people are thinking alfresco, food being one of the most important parts of the weekend. A cool breeze good food and drink is all you need to make a hot, day just about perfect.

We said our farewells, and as I drove home, I couldn’t help but think about that missing punnet of gooseberries William would be searching for in the morning.

Barnard Castle Farmers’ Market will be held on the cobbles, Saturday 5th July 9.30am-3.00pm.

Gents specticals found

If you visited our Market in June and lost a pair of glasses, they were found on the cheese stall and have been handed in to Orchard Deli for collection.

June at Barnard Castle Farmers’ Market

Why not use what you find at Barnard Castle Farmers’ Market this weekend as inspiration behind your next meal. Not only will you find lots of fruit and vegetables but you also find, local beef and pork, cheese, bread, pickles, jams, puddings and pasta. Cooking from the farmers market is not only a lesson in being flexible, but you’re also guaranteed a tasty, seasonal meal to top all others.

Remember, good cooking starts with good ingredients. Make the most of your local farmers’ market and stock up for the week ahead.

Barnard Castle Farmers’ Market -‘Easter Treasure Hunt’

Young and old put their detective skills to work during Barnard Castle Farmers’ Market recent ‘Easter Treasure Hunt’. Twelve Easter chicks were hidden amongst stalls as customers were invited to find all the chicks’ names and record on their treasure hunt trail form. The prize once again, a fabulous farmers’ market hamper to the value of £100. The turnout was enormous as customers busied themselves throughout the day until the 2.00 o’clock deadline.

The delighted winner was a Mrs. D Richardson from Mickleton. “This is the first time I’ve ever won anything”, said Mrs. Richardson . “I was really taken by surprise when the market called me to say I’d won. The hamper looks fabulous with lots of local produce, so well done to all the Barnard Castle Farmers’ Market stall holders for contributing to the hamper and arranging the fun Easter treasure hunt.”

Visitors might also be interested to learn that a second hamper will be up for grabs during the Taste of Teesdale Festival on the 20th June 2014 at Raby Castle.

The moon and the hot cross bun

Sounds a good title for a children’s story, ‘The Moon and the Hot Cross Bun’ but bear with me while I attempt to explain the connection. Traditionally eaten on Good Friday, Hot cross buns, are steeped in superstition, the cross I’ve heard said to ward off evil spirits. Sharing one is meant to cement friendships, which is as good an excuse as any to bake a batch.

Although I’ve never been one for fasting, with Easter being so late this year these sticky, fruity treats have been put on hold due to the moon and here’s the connection, Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox. This year, the first vernal equinox wasn’t until March 20, which is why Easter will take place in late April.

However, if you look carefully you might find a few of these bad boys making a guest appearance at Barnard Castle Farmers’ Market on Saturday 5th April, not to mention our usual array of locally produced food and drink.

Our customers certainly know their spring onions. A recent survey revealed, provenance, quality, and taste are the most important factors influencing the choice customers make about buying from the market and make no mistake, without your support there wouldn’t be a farmers’ market in Barnard Castle. So support your local market and traders this weekend, buy local- eat well.

Don’t forget to take part in Easter chick treasure hunt. Find the names of as many chicks as you can and you could win a special Easter Hamper.

Start the year with a Banger


I am not sure that is possible to showcase the whole of Teesdale in one delicious dish but if it can be done Andrew Rowbotham’s Barney Banger is probably it. I cannot wait to try them and taste what all the excitement is about.

If I needed to encapsulate Barney Farmers’ Market into a sausage I would almost certainly end up in all sorts of trouble, there are just too many delicious ingredients to choose from. To be honest there is already such a wide variety of sausages on the market most tastes are already catered for. We have super old fashioned bumper pork sausages from Christine at Burnhopeside Hall or award winning sausages from Mainsgill Farm Shop. If you are looking for something different why not tempt the family with a succulent Veal sausage from Tricia at Winter Tarn and cook them in some of her 3 Star Gold award winning butter. David at Heartwood Poultry must have the most unusual sausage; his Chicken sausage is simply mouth-watering and nearly always sold out by lunchtime. There are also game sausages and all manner of cured sausages and salamis  and much more besides.

We will be welcoming Taste Italiano to this is our first outside market of the year. They will be bringing their fresh pasta, a first for the market along with their other beautiful products.

We are all praying for a calm day between 9.30 and 3 pm to enable you all to linger among our 29 fabulous stalls and sample a little of what we have to offer before you stagger home loaded with bags full of health and happiness.

Farmers Market Saturday 1st February

Each first Saturday of the month, a dedicated band of workers and volunteers, meet to set up stalls for one of the North East’s most popular farmers’ markets.

Barnard Castle Farmers’ Market is a place where foodies come to celebrate locally-grown foods, freshly-baked bread, puddings, game, meat, cheese and preserves. It’s also a place where people come to chat with the very people who grow, rear, pickle, brew and bake and always with a friendly smile.

At the market, everything is produced for maximum flavor and quality over quantity. So a late visit can often end in disappointment.

Supporting the farmers’ market not only helps the local community and improves the quality of food, but there’s also a unique and special sort of assurance, which comes from buying direct from the producer. As with many small independent traders, our stallholders are not anonymous and take their responsibility to you the customer very seriously.

This time-honored connection between consumer and grower is appreciated by all who attend the market. With your continued support local produces that sell direct are able to cut out the intermediary and receive the full retail price, which enables many of our traders to stay in business. By supporting Barnard Castle Farmers’ Market today, you’re helping to ensure there will be farms and artisan producers in our community tomorrow.

Happy New Year and enjoy your visit.