Farmer’s Market, Lomond Shores
There are a few days every year that are a little more special than most. There are birthdays, anniversaries, the occasional wedding, and of course every public holiday or festival that gives us all an extra day off work. And then there are every first and third Sundays of every month when the farmer’s market arrives at Loch Lomond Shores Shopping Galleries. And these are my favourite days of all.
I love fresh food, I adore organic and I take an enormous amount of pleasure in cooking, so getting all three combined – especially in an area where good quality local shops are almost non-existent – is great. The only downside is the market doesn’t come around often enough.
You need to arrive early on the Sunday as there aren’t a huge number of stalls at this farmer’s market and the produce can disappear quite quickly. Not to mention that there are often events happening at Loch Lomond Shores, so the place can get crowded fast. There are nearly always some fresh vegetable and fruit sellers, a couple of bakeries, and a few craft-type stalls occasionally make an appearance. The best ones though are the local fisheries and meat suppliers who sell everything from freshly made salmon pate to venison burgers to die for. They aren’t that cheap by comparison to some of the prepackaged food in the local supermarkets, but they taste so much better. And that’s the point, right?
Scottish Gifts and Shortbread
If you manage to make it down to the farmer’s market on one of these Sundays, look out for Chrystal’s Shortbread, a locally produced biscuit made to a secret recipe. It’s the crumbliest, most delicious shortbread I’ve ever eaten, and we would happily buy it by the bucket load if we could. If you’re here on holiday and you’re looking for some traditional Scottish gifts to take back home, they sell some that are packaged in really nice travel-friendly tins that should manage the journey without much hassle.
Sometimes, especially throughout the summer (although we do get a winter one as well) a continental market comes to Loch Lomond Shores. It can be a little bit hit and miss depending upon which market sellers turn up, but it can also be an excellent place to pick up some exotic foods. My personal favourites are the sweet, nuts and meze stall, where a variety of continental snacks are sold on the same, very large, market stand. You can choose between beautifully sweet honey cashews, Turkish delight and pastries like baklava, to a selection of savory nuts and then a wide variety of roasted artichoke, sun dried tomatoes, roasted garlic and more. It’s a smorgasbord of culinary delights, most of them unheard of before in the west of Scotland.
Another favourite is the German hot food stall selling spicy potatoes, fried in what looks like an enormous paella pan. The aroma from these is inviting enough that eating fried potato chunks first thing in the morning suddenly seems acceptable. I first tried this German dish – Bratkartoffeln I think it’s called – at Teutschenthal motocross track back in 2010. They were good back then, and they’re still good now. Sometimes you find bacon in the mixture as well, which is just an added bonus – although vegetarians should probably check first to be on the safe side.
Next time you’re hanging around Loch Lomond on an early Sunday morning, and it’s the first or third sunday of the month, head down to Loch Lomond Shores Shopping Galleries to check out their popular farmer’s market. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. And while you’re here, don’t forget to take a look at SeaWorld, some of the shops, and the kid’s playpark as well. There’s plenty to do here for an enjoyable family day out in Scotland.