Clare goes baNonnas

I’m always on the lookout for new foodie experiences; not only to satisfy my hunger but to share with you guys.  And recently I’ve made two lovely discoveries that I just have to let you all know about…
First up is a brand new shopping experience in the form of an Italian market (or mercato) thanks to Nonnas who want to celebrate the weekly trip to the market by turning it into a real foodie event.  Every Saturday morning Nonnas will be converted into a market place full of tasty produce sourced from the markets of Milan so you can be confident that everything is authentically Italian. With memories of sipping Venetian spritz amongst market traders at Al Marca in the Rialto market, I was disappointed with the weather I woke up to drizzle on the day of the first mercato.  Spritz weather the drizzle was not!
However, despite the drab weather Nonnas was busy with eager shoppers when I arrived, and there was plenty of produce for us all.  Boxes of veg lined the terrace and, along with the obvious choices of rosy red tomatoes and baby aubergines, there was Italian wild garlic, micro herbs, purple potatoes and ravano nero  It was an inviting display and one that encouraged me to step inside.
I was immediately welcomed by a delicious selection of Italian cheeses and salami.  The gentleman manning the station explained what each cheese was as I wolfed down a few of the tasters.  The cheese soaked in red wine was my favourite; not only did it look beautiful with its outer skin stained by the wine, it had a nice sweetness to it.  A shot of coffee also made its way quickly into my mits making for a truly tasty welcome to the mercato.

Of course, this being an Italian market, there was a lovely selection of oils, but it was the bottles of beer that really caught my eye…  There was beer produced by an Italian movie buff (who names his beers after famous Italian movies) and a really interesting bottle of Castagn Ale which is a beer made with chestnuts.  The bottle is impressive; you know the type, the kind that you would have kept to stick a candle in as a student.  After a quick taster I am sold and I buy a bottle to have with dinner that evening.
There was pasta, both dried and fresh as well as delicious looking fresh bread.  For anyone fancying a spot of lunch there were fresh Panini and pieces of pizza to take out.  I had a nibble of the chilli pizza which had a good kick to it, but I fancied something a bit lighter for lunch and headed over to the bar which was adorned with a selection of antipasti.  There were sundried tomatoes, olives, pesto and artichokes along with huge pans of delicious dishes including a delightful looking salad of baby aubergine, pomegranate and soured cream.

Although I’m not normally a fan of ready meals, Nonnas’ new range ‘A Casa’ is a gourmet take on the ready meal and there was a selection of Italian classics to take away to heat up at home.  If you’re more of a cook then look out for the ‘ricette’ cards.  They have tasty recipes showing you how to make the most of the produce on sale at the mercato.  This week there were recipes for a risotto and melenzane parmigana (which is one of my all-time favourites).  I am told that there will be different recipe cards every week, with seasonal ingredients dictating the dishes.

Given that we are talking Italian, it was hardly surprising to find that the kids were well looked after in a staffed ‘per I bimbi’ area.  Here the kids are kept entertained giving mum and dad the chance to do a bit of shopping.  This week, in keeping with the food theme, they were beavering away decorating biscuits.
Judging by the number of shoppers along, it’s clear that the mercato launch was a success and as their website promises some surprises to come, I think it will quickly become a must-do for Sheffield foodies.  Head over to Nonnas between 10am and 1pm on a Saturday morning and you’ll soon see what I mean…
Photographs courtesy Scarlett Watson, Wells Marketing.

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