sharing recipes from one generation to the next
Shopping at this Farmers Market, I feel like a kid at Christmas. The sense of anticipation, the delight of unexpected finds and the never ending banquet of delicious foods create a frisson of excitement.
The Slow Food Farmers Market is a gem of a food market enhanced by it’s unique location. A small market by local standards, the variety of freshly harvested fruit and vegetables is enormous and the quality first rate. It’s a plastic bag free zone so the shopping jeep reigns supreme. Shoppers arrive bleary eyed and tousled from sleep because this is a market where it matters to be early. Kids and dogs almost outnumber shoppers.Both the market and stalholders are fully accredited by the Victorian Farmers Market Association, reassurance that everything for sale have been grown, raised or made by the sellers.
Farmers take glowing pride their endeavours. They’ll chat about the rainfall, what you’re buying and how they cook their own products. It’s easy to feel that you’re taking a little of each of them home with you when your purchase comes with cooking tips, heartfelt thanks and a cheery smile.
From Ceres Community Enviromental Park in Brunswick, the new age hippies bring produce grown in their extensive organic plot on a rehabilitated landfill site. Their super green vegetables like cavolo nero and rainbow chard come chemical free and with only 3km worth of food miles.
There’s eight varieties of potatoes from Warragul, freshly picked apples from Red Hill, feathery topped carrots from Kinglake, walnuts in the shell from Bright in the Victorian High Country. You’ll be drawn in awe to marvel at to the freshest and most lurid pink and green pistachios you’ve ever seen. That’s what fresh looks like!This is a market where shoppers embrace the gnarly organic veg and the odd sized fruit with blemished skins. It’s an appreciative crowd who knows that beauty is only skin deep.
Di my favourite Rhubarb Lady is a year round regular. Her low acid rhubarb has quite a reputation. It’s all she grows but to satisfy rhubarby cravings on the spot, you can indulge in her delicious rhubarb fruit cake and tarts. Di’s jam, relishes and chutneys encourage imaginative use of her crop. Nearby, Bill the Mount Zero Olive guy fills BYO containers with viscous grassy green oil, their firm plump olives are sold in jars. They also sell salt which they harvest in conjunction with the traditional land owners of the western district, saline aquifier filled pink lake.
Depending on the season, you might find enormous avocadoes from Barham, rainbow hued sweet plump heirloom tomatoes, delicate fenugreek greens, baby corn cobs, Kurrumburra asparagus, foraged pine mushrooms and vegie seedlings or bare rooted fruit trees so you can grow your own. There’s always a surprise or a new discovery that delights me.
There’s no argument that breakfast will be eaten from a paper bag. The hard part is deciding on which of the wafting aromas will tempts you most, a croissant warm from the oven, egg and bacon off the BBQ or cheese and herb gozleme crisp from the grill. Coffee, strong coffee is mandatory.
Set slightly apart is the inner courtyard, space is for the butchers and fishos, eggs sellers and cheesmakers, bakers and patissiere. There’s always a long line to buy old fashioned, flavour rich poultry from Milawa while another thick knot of gourmands wait to buy prime cuts of tender and tasty dry aged beef from Warialda. My dog waits too, he turns up his nose at other bones. At Shultz’ award winning dairy, the queue moves quickly because most of their biodynamic dairy products are frequently sold out to pre orders. The cheese from Holy Goat is more than compensation. Everyone is upbeat despite the wait, conversation with strangers is easy when you’re united by a common purpose.Traditional British pork pies, award winning bangers and gammon steaks are sold by the pommy Pacdon boys, nitrate free ham and bacon at Bundarra Berkshires and the Gypsy Pig people sell traditional cuts of pork from their rare breeds. There’s also Farmer Joe’s goat meat for curries, biodynamic lamb and farmed trout from the Yarra Valley.
With a over burdened shopping trolley and an almost empty wallet there’s just one last stop, the flower stall by the gate. A few remaining coins are exchanged for a huge posy of Australian natives to brighten the kitchen bench. The heady perfume of brown boronia fills the air.
As the fresh produce goes into the fridge at home I feel a little smug, afterall, my money was spent wisely in support of ethical producers. The look, smell, flavour and quality of my market hoard satisfies my inner greenie, tempts the passionate foodie and indulges the avid cook that I am.
Beautiful fresh ingredients from the Slow Food Market turn every meal into a luscious feast.