Saturday, January 27, 2007

Leeds Kirkgate Market


Right, I’m going to step up onto my soapbox for this piece and spend the next ten minutes acting as the official Leeds Market PR Guy. Why?

Because, quite simply, Leeds Kirkgate Market is a foodie’s paradise. Its easily the best place to shop in Leeds for food - and not enough people know this.

Ok, cast aside all those images of the market you have probably grown up with – cheap, nasty food, rangy market-traders flogging cast-off goods, overflowing bins, all that stuff and listen: In terms of food and drink, Kirkgate Market has everything you need, and more.

Did you know that Leeds Kirkgate Market has over 800 traders, and is actually the second largest covered market in Europe? Marks and Spencer started out here; its a grade one listed building, don't you know...

Take for instance, The Fish Row. As with the Butchers row, there's some great produce here. Scores upon scores of fresh, just-caught fish nestle side by side with any kind of crustacean you can wish for. Visit early enough and the fish are still moving; that’s what I’m talking about! There’s game, hot and cold meats, bakers, chocolatiers, cheese stalls and more fruit and veg stands than you can shake a stick at; all selling not only fresh, home made, and local foods.

The indoor market has certainly come a long way in the last five or six years. Now, it boasts not only one but two – yes, two polish delicatessens, but at least three carribean stalls selling the likes of salt fish, plaintains and jerked meat. A special mention goes to Kostas’ Olive Stall, a greek market which sells some fine cheese, meats and sweets all direct from Greece. And I mean direct – for a few pounds you can buy Olive Oil from his family and when youre’ done, bring back the bottle and get a refill. Excellent.

In terms of food to eat there and then, there are countless café’s selling hot food, as well as hot meats, fish and chips, sandwiches and a Chinese Rotisserie, where not only can you buy excellent roast duck with rice and green tea for under a fiver, but, if you wish, you can order a whole suckling roast pig, and pick it up three days later - I’m not kidding. A whole roast pig.

A few weeks back, my partner and I had a Tapas night, and every item on the menu (at least eight dishes) was bought fresh that morning from the market; peppers, rice, fresh king prawns, seabass, tortillas, vine tomatoes etc etc …the list goes on. I understand there is a farmer's market there every month also, although I have yet to attend one.

All right, you're not going to fill up bags and bags of shopping and cart it round town all day, I understand that. But, if you have a car and are willing to get into the market early on a weekend morning and get all that good, fresh stuff, you will be richly rewarded. Try it – for me, it’s a monthly trip.

Check out the website for more details - www.leedsmarket.com

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