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Shopping locally

On Fridays, if it’s not raining, I like to try to finish work a bit early, leave my car on site and walk into the local village to shop for my dinner. Barnards Green is a flat, level, ten-minute walk away (unusual for somewhere as steep as Malvern!), and unlike the town centre, still has a full range of food shops. There is a butcher, two bakers, a fishmonger, a cheesemonger, and a greengrocers. The fishmongers in particular is not necessarily terribly well stocked, particularly at 3pm on a Friday, but what he has is fresh, and he’s very helpful. I rather like the challenge of putting together a meal from what I can buy from several of the shops, and having to improvise and adapt recipes depending on what I can get.

A few weeks ago, I came away with a handful of monkfish cheeks – not something that I would normally cook with, but actually very tasty and with absolutely no waste. This week I’ve got some fresh haddock (which the fishmonger de-skinned and boned for me), some local bacon, local stick beans, and a lemon. I shall make a variant of a Jamie Oliver recipe for fish steaks (he specifies cod, but I’m sure haddock will do just as well) baked with runner beans, garlic, bacon, lemon halves, pine nuts and olive oil. Very simple, but really tasty! I also got some local strawberries and cream for dessert, and a really tasty freshly-baked florentine from the bakery as a mid-afternoon treat.

There used to be a fuller range of specialist food shops in Malvern town centre, but I think the arrival of Waitrose was the last straw for both the butcher and the greengrocer, and they’ve both closed over the past few years. I do like the quality of the food Waitrose sells, but I also try to support the local independent shops too. Provided it’s not raining of course! If it is, then I’ll drive to Waitrose after all, rather than making a 30 minute round-trip walk and getting soaked!