Newest Review: ... live and so the cost of travel usually outweighs the benefits. Then there is Brunomart. Brunomart is an organisation that is run by Bruno... more
Just how French is French?
Brunomart French & Continental Markets
Member Name: grahamt
Brunomart French & Continental Markets
Date: 15/09/09, updated on 16/09/09 (375 review reads)
Advantages: Opportunity to buy what normally would need a visit to France
Disadvantages: May be less stalls than could be expected, depending upon venue
As you may have read elsewhere in my reviews, I have a large appetite for things French, especially cheese. Whilst I love the usual favourites like Camembert and Brie, which are usually easy to find in most supermarkets, I also love cheeses which are far harder to find such as P'tit Basque and most especially Morbier.
Usually I have to wait until our occasional visits to France in order to stock up on these rarities but I do keep my eyes open for the French Farmer's Markets which appear around the country at various times, especially just before Christmas. Southport has a regular one and we usually combine a visit to the in-laws to take advantage. The other potential source are the markets that are held in Kent, just a hop and a skip across the Channel from the source of all these goodies. However, this is a fair old hike from where we live and so the cost of travel usually outweighs the benefits.
Then there is Brunomart.
Brunomart is an organisation that is run by Bruno Girardeau to arrange markets mostly around the South of England but with occasional detours to the Midlands and the North, for French market stallholders visiting Britain for a few days at a time. These markets are held in regular locations though some are visited more frequently than others. The Brunomart website states that each event "...will consist of 28 to 35 stalls..." with a balance between food and crafts of 60/40.
Would that that would have been so but the event that we visited in September in Gurkha Square, Fleet, Hampshire, consisted of anything but. On a pleasant day when a host of potential customers could have been expected, there were less than 20 stalls present and of those I have my doubts as to how many were genuinely French! There was, for instance, a bread stall but the delicacies on offer were generally English in style.
However, there was, fortunately, a cheese stall with an excellent range of French produce and especially welcome from my point of view, the range included my favourite Morbier. However, the prices were nothing extraordinary but then beggars can't be choosers can they? We did avoid those varieties that we know we can get elsewhere. Pyrenean Iraty sheep's milk cheese, which I know can be bought in your local Waitrose at around £19.50/kg, was here on sale for around £10 more than this! I know these guys have to cover their costs but this is ridiculous.
Other than this there was more or less just one of each of an olives stall (utterly gorgeous olives, many stuffed with a variety of fillings), a soap stall, a cured meats stall (where I bought a very tasty garlic and boar saucisson), a sweets stall and a stall selling hot dishes to take away for lunch. Most of the rest were stalls selling various craftworks.
In total we stayed only around half an hour, during which we toured all of the stalls and bought at three of them. We were happy with our purchases; we only bought what we considered good value. Fortunately Fleet isn't that far from where we live that it could have been considered a completely wasted journey.
We haven't visited any of the other venues so cannot comment on how representative this event was compared with others. I did notice from the calendar on the Brunomart website that Fleet does not seem to be a frequent location for these markets. Certainly there are others that are used more often and maybe at these locations there is a better selection of stalls. I would just suggest that you should be prepared for the possibility that the event that you attend may be somewhat less well represented than you might have been led to expect.
Summary: An opportunity to stock up on French goodies at a venue near you
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