All about the farmers.....tasty treats in city centre markets...(another piece for www.mylunch.ie)

As the weather warms up, the sun begins to shine and people are shedding winter coats (for slightly lighter jackets, it is still Ireland), farmers markets are becoming an appealing lunchtime option that guarantee not only your daily dose of Vitamin D but also new flavours and value for money.  So, who better to ask than the wonderful Lorraine Griffin (see here for her earlier piece), who went and visited the markets for her lunch and is here to tell you the gems she discovered…
It’s not only the 8th of December that brings farmers to the Big Schmoke!  Every Thursday you’ll find Farmers’ Market tucked under the eaves near Harcourt St and along the canal down Mespil road.  The line-up can vary but there are some trusty favourites that pitch their stand week on week. 
Over the Tiger Years, our taste buds evolved and with it our demand for new and ever more exotic flavours increased.  We embraced cuisine from all around the world and sought out tapas, meses and bento boxes.  At these Famers’ markets, the range and diversity of choice satisfies our ever-discerning palates.
Here are my top 5 stalls, all of which charge around a €5….
Paella
These guys may not be Spanish but not to worry as their authentic recipe has got it just right.  It’s all that paella should be: beautiful saffron rice, undercurrents of tomato and onion, top notes of spice and glorious chunks of tender, flavoursome chicken and piquant chorizo.  And to make matters even tastier, they ladle some garlic aioli on top.  Para chuparse los dedos!
Falafels
Small golden balls (that have nothing to do with Beckham) are lightly coated in Middle Eastern herbs like turmeric and cumin.  These are deep fried and combined with either hummus or baba ganoush (which is to aubergines what chickpeas are to hummus), some shredded lettuce, fresh tomato and a chilli if you like it like that****.  Or you can opt for some of their chilli sauce.  The result?  A tasty, crunchy chickpea fest with just the right amount of seasoning and dressing.  And they throw in a free drink for only a fiver. Click here to view their website.

And for something totally different….
Go for the Hog Roast.  Continually basted and roasted on a hot spit, the pork is tender and flavoursome, making it a perfect ingredient for your lunchtime sandwich.  Just add a dollop of ketchup or mustard and you’re sorted.  
There’s something quite Viking-like about the hog experience.  Not sure why but you’ll definitely feel like a warrior (and not the Bill Cullen kind) when you’re tucking in to one of these.
Classic Chicken Sambo
Remember Roddy Doyle’s ‘the Van’, where burgers and fish were battered into an inch of their lives and dispensed to half-jarred World Cup fans?  Well this elegant van offers the complete opposite experience!  Gavin and Sara, organic farmers, serve up the most delicious hot roasted chicken from their rotisserie.  Comes in a takeout box with salad and coleslaw or nestled into fresh French baguettes with Dijon mustard (and coleslaw, if you fancy it). 
Watch as suited and booted lunchtime workers make like Bisto Kids towards the van, drawn by the aromatic smells of roasting chicken.  These guys make it perfectly okay to buy lunch from something on wheels. Visit them online.
For after…. Buns!
Buns
 are the stuff of our childhood parties; cream and jam-filled butterfly ones being the pinnacle of culinary couture in 1980s Ireland.  But these guys have taken it to a whole new level.  None of your watery white icing and token glacé cherry here!  Would recommend white chocolate & raspberry, carrot cake or vanilla.   And as you can get mini ones, it’s totally acceptable to eat all three in one sitting. They’ve also recently introduced a new addition called the ‘whoopee’.  (Stay with me here, this is no relation to the previously mentioned Munchies’ chicken whoopee).  No, this is a most delicate yet intensely flavoursome treat.  It looks like a Macaroon (ala ‘Lauderie’) but is much more unctuous and satisfying.  There are fruit or chocolate versions.  Go for the strawberry or mixed berry.  A whoop-for-joy moment (sorry, had to do it).

Harcourt Food Market is on Thursdays from 10am to 4pm and the Mespil Rd Market is also Thursdays from 12pm to 2pm.   Check out www.irishfarmersmarkets.ie  for more details.
For rainy Thursdays, sure any day of the week, if you aren’t feeling the farmers-market-lunch vibe, why not check out some of our exclusive offers in that area, like 2 for 1 in the Camden Court Hotelor our group deal with Against the Grain.