We still haven't had any rain to speak of here in London for several weeks now. It won't be long now before we get the dreaded hosepipe ban. Surprisingly, it looks like these giant Venetian snails are enjoying themselves down on my allotment!
I went out this morning and the plot was covered in them!
Munching into every fresh delicacy they could find.
They must have come over here hidden in my hand luggage.
These giant Venetian snails are more at home in the water sodden gardens of Venice.
Perhaps I should let DEFRA know of this exotic invasive species.
Before they munch their way through my entire garden.
Or perhaps if they eat enough of these garlic chives we could find another tastier solution!

Rialto Market - Venice Part 2

In the centre of Venice there were just a few flower shops and a few seeds for sale. You can see just a small variety of lovely tomato seeds.
I love learning new things! In the Rialto market were these bunches of 'Bruscandoli' for sale everywhere. I couldn't quite imagine what they were until I just did a bit of research online. Bruscandoli are the new growing shoots of the hop vine. The 8" at the top of the vine, and these are the hop vines that make the hops used in beer making. This Bruscandoli is cut and sold in bunches in the market just for a few weeks in April. If you look closely at the photo above you might recognize a few of the small leaves. A very traditional Venetian dish is to make a risotto using these green shoots which are chopped into smaller lengths and added to the risotto. WOW! I have to try this! Matron is headed to her nearest hedgerow to find some of these and try it out!
Globe artichokes are sold in different ways in the Rialto market. Here they are sold trimmed and chopped, either using the very small globes 'carciofini', or cutting the hearts of the larger globes 'a la Romani'. It does seem like a waste to me, the leaves are trimmed by the stallholders and just discarded! They are displayed here in salt water to stop them spoiling.
The fish market in the Rialto is just a delight! So utterly, completely, totally fresh and shining. Just look at these amazing sole!
This is known as 'San Petre' or Saint Peter's fish. You can see the black spot on the side of the fish, this is supposed to be the thumb mark made by Saint Peter (the fisherman!). This type of fish is known here in the UK as a John Dory.
Venice is truly a beautiful city.
Beloved by artists and photographers... and foodie bloggers too!

Rialto Market - Venice Part 1

Many countries around the world cherish and appreciate their local fresh produce! It is a normal part of everyday life in Venice to get your fresh produce from the daily market. The Rialto market in Venice is no exception. Here's a quick tour.
I think this variety is a 'heart shaped' beefsteak tomato like 'cora de bois'. More a pink colour than deep red, they are sold everywhere in Italy.The Rialto market on the left, and the iconic fish market building on the right are at the heart of the market area right on the Grand Canal. The area of the fish market is partly enclosed with these blinds to keep the area inside shaded and cool.
Everyone there makes the market a part of their daily routine.
Some just take it in their stride!
You've seen one market, you've seen them all!

Matron's Markets

When I visit other places in the World one thing I love to do above all others is to visit a local fresh produce market. There is something about the colour, the smells and the pregnant vibrancy which I find irresistible.
This main produce market in Rome was open all day every day.
The market in the Campo di Fiori was amazing.
So were these home grown pineapples in the market in Ponta Delgada , Azores.
Then there was the market in Funchal, Madeira - one of my favourites.
Or the amazing market halls in Quebec, Canada.
I particularly enjoyed the English market in Cork, Ireland.
So where is Matron off to now? well stand by for my next market report from the Rialto market, Venice, Italy. Off for a few days. Baxoon!

Getting Patriotic!

Bloggers may remember last year I planted 'black' veggies as a living reminder of my lovely dog Buddy. Well, Matron has had an idea for veggie planting in 2012. I'm trying to think of veggies that are RED WHITE and BLUE to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
RED? well that's easy.. there are lots of those on the allotment.
WHITE? Well that might be a bit difficult
but I can think of a couple of veggies that might pass for white.
But BLUE? How many blue veggies can you think of? This is a heritage variety Kent Blue pea which was given to me by Sue last year.
I'm struggling with RED WHITE and BLUE fruit and veggie ideas. Can anyone suggest some?

New Shoots!

Just a couple of days of warm-ish sunshine and everything growing in the garden has responded. I was delighted to see that my rhubarb is pretty nearly ready to pick. There is nothing quite like the sweet taste of an early picking of rhubarb. Can't wait!
Meanwhile in the greenhouse these Black Pearl Chilli seedlings have germinated nicely. What a fantastic colour these seed leaves are already. Exciting to watch these grow.
Everything else is just doing nicely. The days are so warm in the greenhouse I am taking the lid off the propagator and turning off the heat for the moment. Looking good!
I planted a few French Breakfast radish seeds in an old growbag inside the greenhouse too. This heat and sunshine are really bringing them on nicely.
The Broad Beans Aquadulce Claudia are enjoying the sunshine too. Let's hope I can keep the pigeons and the slugs off these for long enough to get them really growing well.

Gizmos and Gadgets

A quick trip over to my Sister's house this week for a demonstration of her new toy!
This time of year you can get your seedlings started on a windowsill indoors or even in a heated propagator, but what they really lack is daylight! This small growlight has enabled these tomato plants to really thrive at this time of year. A lovely dark green colour and very healthy. It can't be just any light bulb, it has to be a special daylight lamp in order for the plants to benefit.
Set on a timer, these little plants are way ahead of the rest! We were wondering if she might be able to grow a little miniature tomato plant all through the Winter? hmmm

Matron blows a fuse!

No I haven't lost my temper, but last Thursday night there was a flash bang at Matron's residence and as a consequence I have no power sockets! No TV, computer, radio. Why do these things happen over a weekend? Normal service resumes soon.

Happy Birthday Leo!

What's that I can smell?
Smells like sausage cake!
If I give you my paw can I have some?
Wow! that was easy!
Down in one! Happy Birthday Leo! 12 years old today!

Food Glorious Food!

Matron took another trip to London's Borough Market today. Just within a few yards of London Bridge and right underneath Southwark Cathedral. If you ever get the chance to come (especially around lunch time) then come to this foodie heaven.
Freshly caught
This Cornish Yarg cheese is wrapped in stinging nettle leaves!
If you think Kangaroo burgers sounds unusual...
Why don't you try Zebra burgers instead!
Or how about a loaf of bread baked in a flowerpot!
I'm not sure what to say about this one except... Ooooh Matron!