Last Saturday marked the final appearance of the Kirkstall Abbey Deli Market of 2016, which takes place within the ruins of the 864-year-old abbey toward the end of each month.
Kirkstall Abbey is a go-to for niche entertainment – from music festivals to last year’s outdoor Lord of the Rings-themed movie marathon it’s one of West Yorkshire’s best alternative event venues, guaranteed to give you a good time, and the deli market was no different. The blanket of fog that had seeped through the grounds that morning stayed for most of the day, adding an eerie beauty to the semi-concealed ruins and clusters of trees, the perfect photo oppourtunity for budding photographers. Despite the strange weather, crowds flooded in and out of the grounds over the three hours that the markets were open, gradually dying down as the afternoon wore on. Nowhere near as busy as the Christkindelmarkt currently set up in Millennium Square, but definitely a popular go-to for those wanting a sample or two from local businesses.
The foods on offer are strange and wonderful. What appears to be a regular pie stall on first glance becomes the quirky creation, with the lovely little lady behind the table singing ‘green Thai curry pie’ to passers by. Not the kind of flavours you would expect from a pie, but still tempting. Another stall giving away free samples of popcorn advertises a ground chilli powder mixture that the vendor insists will sit comfortably between your salt and pepper, with fair warning that its heat isn’t for the fainthearted. Local cheesemongers Cryer and Stott take up more room than any other stall on-site, with a range that puts Morrison’s cheese counter to shame, with gift cheeses fashioned into different shapes and objects just in time for Christmas. For the lazy baker, Bottled Baking Co provide all of the necessary ingredients, minus dairy, for making apple strudel muffins, brownies, and coconut bread in handy milk bottles with the recipe and their website written on the packaging label.
Set apart from the gift-selling stalls are the vans and tables selling hot food and drink for the then-and-now. Hot spiced wines and cold local draught beer is sold in a large van just outside of the ruins where the main market is set, generously priced for how drunk they get you in such a short space of time. More impressive are the the amazing stonebaked pizzas made to order on site. Tricky to eat while walking round without a knife and fork, but still delicious. The most popular food vendor by far was local business Smak!, specialists in Polish food, which saw most of their stash of Kielbasa disappear after only an hour, a potential rival to the bratwurst sold in Millennium Square. For people who love food and maybe want to try something new while supporting local businesses, Kirkstall Abbey’s Deli Market is a firm must.
(Image: Georgia Ryan)