One of the things I really miss about living in London is the abundance of farmers' markets. I love spending a day lazily wandering around, looking at the bounty of beautiful fresh produce, chatting to producers, and grazing on various exciting foods. So I was overjoyed to discover that Norway has a small, but growing farmers' market scene.
The Norwegian Farmers' Market association was started in 2003 and it imposes quite high standards on producers - the processing of food must be small scale and dominated by craftsmanship, raw ingredients must be locally produced and traceable, and only the producers themselves can sell their products at the market. So, although the range of products offered is quite limited compared to other markets I've been to, the quality of food that is offered is very high indeed.
Recently, I stopped by my local Farmers' Market on Vika Terrassen in Oslo along with Mrs. Nibbler and the Nibbler kids. Although we arrived early, there was already quite a sizeable crowd; a good sign of the growing interest in local, specialty foods. We spent a very pleasant couple of hours at the market and I thought I'd share some of the highlights with you.
Most of the producers that turned out are based relatively near to Oslo, so it really was great to see such wonderful produce being made locally. Here are some preserved plums from Sjødalstrand Gård, a farm just 20km south of Oslo:
Apples are in season now in Norway, and the family run Eplegården had a stand at the market. Eplegården is a family-run farm located 40km south of Oslo. They have been growing apples for five generations and the farm has over 4,000 apple trees, producing 25 varieties of apples. They were pressing apples to make fresh unfiltered apple juice, which was wonderfully crisp and sweet:
The biggest queue of the day was for this:
Warm, golden beauties with a touch of sweetness. No, not that, I'm talking about the pancakes, which were thick and fluffy, and were served with a delicious strawberry compote.
There was also some excellent organic ice cream, made by Isrosa on their farm in Herøysundet, 90km south of Bergen.
Of course, it wouldn't be a Norwegian farmers' market without brunost, or brown cheese. There were a few varieties on sale but most of these were the traditional, old-school geitost (goats cheese) variety. I tried a traditional geitost from Prestholt farm, located 1,200m above sea-level in the stunning hills of northern Buskerud County. It was dense and fudgy with a pleasant sweetness to it and had just a hint of goat about it (in a good way though).
Corn is in season too at the moment, and Bjørke Gård was there grilling some fresh husks of corn that were dabbed with a slick of butter. They smelt fantastic, but unfortunately they tasted a touch anaemic.
We're just at the tail end of the raspberry season now and there were some stunning examples on display. These were from Søndre Bjerkerud farm, north west of Oslo, where they grow 12 varieties of raspberries.
Søndre Bjerkerud also produces a lightly sweetened raspberry concentrate. Mix with hot water, pour into a Thermos, and you have the perfect drink to take with you on those cross-country ski trips in the forest.
There were also some interesting herb oils, vinegars, and mustard from Stabburstua, which is located south of Oslo, near the Swedish border.
Farmers' Markets are held across Norway throughout the year. For more information and dates check out the Norwegian Bondens Marked site.