The city of Ely has a lot going for it. To start with there is free parking all over the city and plenty of it. We arrived on Saturday morning at about 9.30am and had no trouble finding a parking space. Next stop was to find a loo (it's an age thing) and there are no shortage of public toilets in Ely either... and whatsmore they are really clean public toilets! So having arrived with no bother and made myself comfortable, we could have visited the magnificent cathedral or wandered down to the riverside to watch the boats and ducks (both of which I can recommend) but on Saturday we were there for another reason. Along with other members of the Cambridge Eat Up group we were being treated to a foodie tour of the Ely Markets.... would you like to join us...
We met at Silveroak Coffee, speciality coffee roasters. Stewart and I had a coffee while we waited and although I'm not really much of a coffee drinker even I kew this was seriously good coffee!
The first stall we visited was Harper's Deli, puveyors of locally produced, great quallity Deli food where we tasted some wonderful flavoured oils. I bought a bottle of the most amazing aromatic lemon oil which I intended using in cakes... until I dropped and broke the bottle in the car park. Ah well, an excuse to go back I suppose!
Next on the agenda was I Am Dumpling where we got to sample freshly cooked steamed dumplings garnished with fresh herbs, fried shallots, sesame seeds and some great spicy sauces.
I could have quite happily eaten a whole bowl of the dumplings but it was on to the next stop, the colourful van of Al Chile where were were treated to authentic Mexican food and I can honestly say I sampled the best burritos I've ever tasted!
and fabulous tortilla filled with fresh onions, tomatoes, chillies, beans and cheese in the colours of the Mexican flag.
But there was no time to hang around because we were then taken to hear the story of The Ely Gin Company a family run company specialising in flavoured gins and vodkas. I got to taste a refreshing pink grapefruit gin and an exceptionally fruity sloe gin with cherries... which I also dripped... dripped not dribbled I hasten to add... down my front. I was having one of those days.
I loved all the pretty bottles!
We then neatly segued over to George's Bakery where George often uses some of the Ely Gins in his fabulous home baked cakes. I sampled a brownie made with star anise flavoured gin, molasses and blackcurrants which was seriously good!
George is definitely a young entrepreneur in the making working from his Mum's kitchen turning out dozens of amazing cakes every week. I could learn a thing or two from him!
Next on the tour was Food! By Lizzi. which specialises in wholesome vegetarian and vegan food. Much as I would love to rave about the food I tasted this wasn't really my thing. Don't get me wrong, it was tasty, but as a vegetarian I'm not a great fan of meat replacements so didn't like the soya mince that was used in the "Scotch Eggless" Scotch eggs. But that's just me, and the food certainly looked really appetizing and the fact that Lizzi sells out every week is testimony to the produce.
We also visited Simply CooKit who supply kits of spices etc that can just be added to meat to make tasty curries etc. I didn't taste this obviously but everyone else was raving about it so I did bring home a kit to make a beetroot barley risotto which is on the menu for this evening... looking forward to dinner tonight!
I tasted several of Audrey's Vegan cakes which were very good indeed... and we also sampled cakes from Sophie's cakes, others tasted the meat and black pudding from Matt at Betty's Farm, as well as goat curry from JJEB farm and I believe there were pork pies and Scotch eggs tasted from another pork butcher.. Edis of Ely. There were plenty of good mutterings about all these too.
By now we were all feeling rather full but there was just enough space for some wonderful authentic Spanish food from Azahar I sampled the most wonderful tortilla, crunchy almonds and some fabulous olives. And I loved their van!
It was a fabulous morning, everyone was so friendly and passionate about sharing their food and I tasted some wonderful things. Thanks should also go to Alex and the team from Ely Markets who organised the morning... it was brilliant!
I can definitely recommend a trip to Ely should you be in the area and you can find the general market open on Thursday, Craft and Collectables along with the street food every Saturday, the farmers market on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month and there are Sunday and bank holiday markets as well as special events. And if you can't get to Ely then check out the links because many of these people do mail order.
For more information visit Ely Markets
For more information visit Ely Markets