Thanks to a pesky ear illness, I’ve been somewhat housebound for a few weeks. This means that I haven’t been able to get out and shop much. Admittedly, I’ve saved some money by not frittering it away on impulse purchases. But those impulse buys sometimes spawn the best meals. Ironically, the few weeks at home actually heightened my love of food threefold, so I suppose some good things came out of being sickly.
One of my favourite places to shop in Cardiff is the Central Market. As well as having some great fruit & veg stalls and butchers, it also has a fantastic fishmongers called Ashton’s. They’re located on the Hayes side of the market and the incredible smell of their produce hits you as soon as you walk through the wide, open doors. It’s clean, fresh and full of a million cooking possibilities. Their stock list is huge and if they haven’t got what you need, they’ll do their best to get it for you.
This week I’ve been dying to go to Ashton’s to see if they sell Potted Shrimps, a delicacy in the North West of England. I first felt that they might be worth trying when I was on a plane to the US just before Christmas. On the tiny seat-back screen in front of me, I watched an episode of Tom Norrington-Davies’ Great British Food, where he spent some time eating the food of Lancashire. They looked delicious. I would like to pass on a little tip while I’m on this subject of plane viewing. While on a long haul flight, do not watch cooking shows! They will make you hungry and no food the cabin crew hand you will possibly live up to the tiny meals appearing on the screen in front of you. I’ll come back to plane food at a later date. For now, let’s stay with the shrimps.
This week was ‘North West Week’ on the BBC’s Great British Menu programme. Two of the three chefs competing to cook for the judges, Lisa Allen and Aiden Byrne, used Potted Shrimps in their fish dishes and they jogged my memory back to that torturous, hungry flight.
They will be my next foodie adventure. When I’m all healthy and able to go into town to visit Ashton’s, I’ll pleadingly ask them to provide me with my Potted Shrimps. If I leave empty-handed, I’ll order them online directly from Lancashire. But there’s nothing quite as exciting as walking into a market, buying something, carrying it home and cooking it, not quite knowing how it’ll turn out.
In the meantime, I’ll just flick through the pictures I took of the market last year while taking part in a tumblr photography project.
First two images property BBC.
All other images property of Rachel Davies.