Thanks to the power of Twitter, the lovely Sophie Devonshire (aka @poppylovering), food blogger for Leeds Student, offered to write us a Guest Blog about something she is quite passionate about: Leeds Market!
Living life as a student in Leeds
There’s a long list of places to visit and things to do during your time in the Leeds student bubble: the Otley run, the Yorkshire Dales, breakfast at Popina’s, Hyde Park Picture house, Shaky Jake’s, Lucky’s pizza, Akmal’s curry, lazy afternoons in the Oak’s beer garden and the Leeds Kirkgate market to name but a few.
Sadly for students the latter is a bit like 1st year lectures: the novelty wears off after a few of weeks then no-one bothers going. But it really is an absolute gem that students should get well-acquainted with. It is steeped in history and in a roundabout-way it spawned the global giant that is Marks and Spencer: Mr Marks set up his ‘Penny Bazaar’ there in 1884 which led to the founding of M&S in 1890…humble beginnings!
Leeds Market – check it out!
It’s the largest covered market in Europe and is home to hundreds of independent, expert traders and heaps of great-value produce. You can buy anything from a Polish dumpling to a pig’s trotter, from silky negligees to giant granny pants and plenty more.
Mooching around the market is like stepping back in time and as a girl from the ‘Deep South’ (East Kent) it’s one of my top Northern novelties. Your dollar goes a long way and sometimes you can even haggle. Saturday afternoon is a great time to pick up bargains as sellers tend to be getting rid of their stock which won’t keep until the market re-opens on Monday: I once got about 57 bananas for £1 (I never want to see a banana again but that is beside the point).
MY TOP FOODIE PICKS:
I’ve listed a few of my top foodie picks from the indoor part but I’d encourage you to explore for yourselves!
• Kitchen’s (poultry and eggs) – on the Fish and Game row
As far as I know it’s the only place in the market that sells free-range eggs and chickens as well as other more fancy poultry (duck, pheasant, goose). Their produce is faultless and I go here religiously every week. The eggs are a lovely yellowy orange colour and start at 70p for half a dozen. You can buy whole large chickens for just £4.99 and they sell meaty legs at 50p a pop as well as chunky breasts for £1 each.
• Tony Banks (greengrocers’) – opposite Kitchen’s
All you could want for from a greengrocers’: a vast and colourful selection of fruit and veg at good prices, brown paper bags and charming staff. Lots of seasonal and local produce as well as more exotic, imported produce.
• Ramsdens’ Fishmongers – at the top of Fish and Game row
Biggest selection of fish in the market, very helpful staff (especially if you’re like me and don’t have a clue what you’re doing when it comes to fish) they’re full of tips on which fishy goes with which dishy as well as advice on how not to poison yourself with raw prawns etc. They also have a ready-to-eat counter which has more unusual fish and seafood such as crayfish, herring and marinated anchovies.
• Spice Corner – on Row H
This is rather like an Aladdin’s cave, stuffed full of all things nice and spicy. You can get curry paste, coconut milk, chillies (fresh and dried), rice, lentils, fresh herbs… the list goes on. The friendly ladies who run the place are always willing to help with any culinary questions you may have.
• Malcolm Michaels (butchers’) – on Butchers Row
With its sawdust covered floors to soak up butchered animals’ juices, this place is a hive of carnivorous activity. They will sell you just about any edible part of every animal ever if you ask nicely. They can be easily persuaded to give a generous student discount from prices which are already very reasonable. Even if you’re a vegetarian it’s worth popping in just to experience the abundant wit (which is totally free of charge) of the lovely gentlemen who work there.
Get yourselves there!
The above are just a few examples of the many fantastic places to pick up your groceries. Start shopping there and you won’t look back: the mini-supermarkets of Headingley and Hyde Park ain’t got nuffin’ on this bad boy. It’s not as far off the beaten track as you think – only a short hop on the bus from student land or if there’s a few of you, a taxi is cheap as chips. One of the many great things about the market is that you can buy by weight or piece so that you get the exact amount you want of each thing – perfect for cooking on a student budget. Plus you’ll be supporting the local community which as we all know makes you a very good person. So go and see for yourselves…
Leeds Kirkgate Market. Indoor: open Monday – Saturday 9am ‘til 5pm (I wouldn’t advise arriving any later than 3:30pm because some vendors tend to pack up early if business is slow). Outdoor: open Monday to Saturday, hours vary, see the website for more info.