Smithfield or, to give it its official name, London Central Markets, is the largest wholesale meat market in the UK and one of the largest of its kind in Europe.
Located within the Square Mile of the City of London it is housed in three listed buildings.
It is a place packed with history there has been a livestock market on the site for over 800 years and yet is as modern as tomorrow with its state of the art facilities for the receiving, storing and despatching of meat and poultry.
Periodically, we make trips to this market, either when our freezers are running low, or as in this instance a trip to France was due. Once a year himself drives off to France with the car absolutely fully laden, one would think that after 10 years there would be no more stuff to be transported, but I can assure you, that there is always stuff! And I mean stuff!
And so it happened again that just before he was about to decamp, from metropolitan London to very rural France, we made our pilgrimage. It is very easy for us, we go at about 6.00 in the morning, before the morning rush hour, and just a few stops on the Tube gets us there, and we must not forget the shopping trolley, to aid with our purchases! Some of the workers, start at about 10pm, that is when the deliveries start, but the market is open from 2 am until about 7 am though some of the traders sell until 10am.
The basic thing to remember is that anyone can buy at the Market but one should really arrive before 7am to see the market at its best. Walk around and check out the stalls, and ask questions, the stall holders are a cheerful bunch and are more than willing to answer any questions. Prices are not normally displayed so it will mean asking, and check out other stalls before buying, prices do vary ! They will take cash and some will take credit/ debit cards as well.
All kinds of meat, poultry and game are available as well as cheeses, and delicatessen products. Apparently one of the best times to visit, from an experience point of view is the run up to Christmas. Something I have not yet done, but must try and remember to do so this year.
MONDAY to FRIDAY from 2am (visitors and buyers should arrive by 7am to find full range of stalls open) Closed on Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays.
This time we bought Rib Eye, it comes vacuumed packed and in packs of 2 kilos, @£15 a kilo so we bought 2 of those. Next was chicken breast and boneless skinless chicken thighs ( more flavour than breasts and juicier) and then it was what was described by our friendly butcher ” beef that the Asians buy for their stir fry” so we bought that and I have to say, whatever cut it was, it was great in stir fry or fajitas!
We ventured home and the meat ( as it was vacuumed packed), was sent off to France to wait for me to slice and pack as necessary.
The one thing I did not expect to find in the market were Portuguese custard tarts! But there they were! Amazing!
If you want a fun early morning trip I can thoroughly recommend a trip to this market and for more info. go to www.smithfieldmarket.com
Happy Market Shopping Everyone !