Damsons are shy little things, they only appear for a few weeks around September each year. As Ben hasn't been travelling near any farm shops as late, we decided we would head to Borough Market on Saturday to try our luck at the Chegworth Valley Farm shop (where we had seen them last year).
The weather forecast was quite good so we decided to jump on a couple of Boris Bikes and cycled the 11 or so kilometres to the Market. The ride was a bit chilly to start but once we hit Buckingham Palace, the sun was shining and we were having a lovely time. Bad timing though, for the 2nd time in a month we missed the Changing of the Guard...by just half an hour! Never mind, we took advantage of the The Mall being closed off to traffic and cruised down past the Horseguards, over Westminster Bridge onto Borough.
|Horseguards patiently waiting for changeover|
As luck would have it, the Chegworth Valley stall was at the very entrance of the market AND they had Damsons!!! The Damsons were a little smaller than the ones we used last year, so we ended up buying NINE punnets for our planned 3 batches! Apparently they had been selling them for the past 2 weeks and only thought they would have 1 more week left in season - so this was finally some good timing on our behalf.
After moseying around the Market for a little while, soaking up the amazing sights and smells, making a few purchases (mushroom pate, walnut bread, fresh ingredients for spanakopita and baked peaches), it was time to get back on the bikes and head home. We cycled a slightly different way home, but still made our way back up The Mall past Buckingham Palace - i've decided that this is one of my favourite things in London - after 5 years, this is what still makes me feel like a tourist in this city!
We had been debating for a while about which Gin we would use this year (last year, Tanqueray was definitely the winner over London Beefeater). I was keen to try Sipsmith which is a Boutique Gin we've discovered that is distilled literally just down the road from our house. Sipsmith is produced in small batches and we purchased batch 126, which according to their website was produced on 18 April 2011 and was one of 333 bottles - pretty cool don't you think!
We also wanted to make Tanqueray again, not only because it turned out so good last year, but also because it's my parents favourite Gin and as my lovelies will be visiting us for xmas (just in time to start sipping!), we thought that would be a nice little treat for them :) Ben also wanted to try a different Gin for his batch, and after consulting our Gin-swilling friend Owen, we decided to make a batch with Hendricks.
So after a good rinsing-off and de-stalking, we set to pin-pricking the Damsons, setting them in their respective jars, adding some sugar (a bit more than last year as apparently the smaller damsons aren't as sweet), and then the final moments of adding the gin.
Unfortunately, NINE whole punnets of Damsons wasn't quite enough, so our Tanqueray batch has had to settle for just half the amount of Damsons, however I suspect it's still going to be super tasty in 3 months time!