I've enjoyed some marvellous culinary shopping experiences over the years – the maze of merchants at 'Eataly' in New York, the magnificent food halls of Harrods and Selfridges in London, the magic of the open market at the place aux Herbes in Uzès in the Gard, not to overlook my local 'The Frome Independent' which boasts a wealth of excellent, locally-made produce. One of my favourites is perhaps the most niche – 'Martins' farm shop in the village of Hindolveston in North Norfolk. What sets this creditable institution apart is that it is well-stocked but unstaffed. You drop in at their premises on Melton Road and help yourself to a fine selection of fresh fruit and vegetables and free range eggs, ham and poultry. You then write down what you have taken in a notebook and leave the correct money in a cash tin. I find the fact that this system of trustful trading continues and functions in the 21st Century amazing and heartening in equal measure. If you were to visit at this time of year you would be able to enjoy some of the finest new season asparagus to be found and source everything you might need for a Sunday lunch from a chicken to potatoes, broccoli and cheese.
Every time I visit I am delighted to discover that this most unusual and positive of retailers is surviving and I am delighted to be able to stock up on produce made in the vicinity. There can't be many such visionary outlets in the country and they should be treasured by all who have access to them.