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Head to almost any district of London on a clement weekend morning and you are more than likely to come across a local farmers market. It's the perfect place to pick up some classic English foodstuffs – from crumbly cheeses to fruity jams, sumptuous sausages to mouthwatering cakes – along with some fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy products. Plus continental favorites ranging from Italian breads to Greek olives.
To find the farmers market nearest to your hotel, take a look at this comprehensive list of London farmers markets. Or if you really have the time to seek out the best of the best, I recommend a trip to the Pimlico Road Farmers’ Market on the Saturday morning (from 9 a.m. through 1 p.m.), followed by a Sunday lunchtime in the Brixton Farmers' Market (10 a.m. through 2 p.m.)
Farmers' markets are more popular than ever, taking place all over the capital. Whether you're based at the heart of the action or further afield, chances are you won't need to travel far to get your foodie fix. Arriving early is always a good idea if you want to sample the most popular products – some stalls sell out of their signature offerings. It's also usually a bit quieter early in the day, giving you the chance to explore at your leisure, chat to stallholders and try before you buy.
Of the central London farmers' markets, my favourite is Marylebone. It takes place every Sunday from 10am to 2pm in Cramer Street Car Park, tucked away behind elegant Marylebone High Street. Thirty to forty stalls cater to locals doing their regular shop, as well as to visitors snacking on a huge range of cheeses, breads, eggs, home-made pies and fresh fruit and vegetables.
A little bit further afield is the Islington Farmers' Market, the first in the capital. It's held on Sundays too (10am to 2pm) in the unique environment of Chapel Market, a traditional London street market. You'll find at least 30 stalls there each week.
Further north still is Parliament Hill Farmers' Market, which takes place in the playground of a school abutting Hampstead Heath each Saturday from 10am to 2pm. With one of London's most glorious green spaces on its doorstep, this market is the ultimate choice for picnic fans. Choose your goodies then make the short climb to the top of Parliament Hill for spectacular views across London, or take a longer walk and find your very own private patch of wilderness.
London is awash with farmers markets. From the farthest reaches of the northern suburbs to way south of the river, every part of the capital now seems to have one, although in some cases it can be more car boot sale than foodie haven.
You can visit www.lfm.org.uk for a complete listing of London markets, but here is my pick of the ones really worth looking out for.
Brixton Farmers Market
This is a real community market and it has a warm and friendly vibe. It is also extremely multicultural, with English asparagus sitting alongside Caribbean pastries. The fruit and veg selection here is particularly good.
Marylebone Farmers Market
Try Adrian Izzard's unusual salad leaves, James Coe's outstanding beef and lamb, a mushroom sandwich from The Mushroom Table, or freshly shucked oysters from Simon Long at this outstanding weekly food market.
For lunch, Mon-Weds 10am-3pm, full market Thurs 11am-5pm, Fri noon-6pm, Sat 8am-5pm
The farmers market to end all farmers markets, Borough Market is a mecca for foodies. Row upon row of stalls sell everything from fresh bread to fruit and veg, homemade curries to handmade chocolates, and there are top-notch producers from all around the UK exhibiting their wares. Come hungry!