Hooray! Saturday was the Bundoora Farmers’ Market, and I got to go to it! Better still, I got to go with a license to buy lots of goodies, since the fridge and freezer were significantly emptier than when I was last there. And best of all… after several years of having to make do with slightly less celestial farmers’ market pies, we finally managed to reconnect with Gum Tree Pies, who now come down to Bundoora (from their home base, somewhere near Canberra, if I recall correctly) once a month.
And we were even on time to buy my favourite flavour – lamb and mint. Sublime. We actually did discover their presence at Bundoora a couple of months back, but were too late for any pies at all – the locals know they are onto a good thing, and come out early to get their glorious pastries.
Other flavours this time were chicken and vegetable for me, and beef with red wine for Andrew. (Vegetarians might want to note that they also do a very good Penang Pumpkin pie, much appreciated by Andrew, and a creamily rich cauliflower pie. I have not investigated whether the pumpkin is vegan – looks like I’ll just have to go back and buy more pies. The things I do for this blog!
Having made a beeline for PIES PIES PIES PIES, we then set out on a more sensible tour of the market. In which we bought… more pies, because raspberry pie needs no excuse! And strawberries, because strawberries are one of those things that are never as good at the supermarket (and I’ve heard a rumour that they also tend to take up pesticides more than some other fruits – a good reason to buy organic).
But really, that was certainly enough pie for one household, so we moved on to important things like vegetables.
One stall had lots of lovely young beetroot, radishes and baby carrots, all still with their leaves. With an eye to my new French cookbook, I bought a bunch of each, and then let myself be seduced by broccoli, cauliflower and rhubarb, something I cannot walk past at a farmers’ market without buying.
They also had small zucchini, little red onions, and some really beautiful young parsnips. Incidentally, I roasted the parsnips in a honey-orange-ginger glaze, and wounded up with parsnip-ginger-caramel candy. Not a recipe for the ages, I fear. It was very weird. But this wasn’t the fault of the parsnips.
No asparagus yet, and sadly no blood oranges, either (I am hoping very much that I haven’t missed them this year), but one stall was selling eggplant and capsicums, very seasonal (if one is in Europe), and also Brussels sprouts and new season garlic cloves.
(My mind is still boggling at the idea of exactly what sort of climate would allow one to grow both eggplant and Brussels sprouts at the same time.)
I couldn’t resist a big butternut pumpkin and some Otway potatoes (I’ve never heard of Otway potatoes before, but they pretty much have to be local, given that the Otway Ranges are near Geelong.
I also bought garlic shoots, something I’ve never cooked with before. I haven’t quite finalised my plans for those.
I suspect I will wind up tossing them through gnocchi along with the radish, carrot and beetroot leaves.
At the gnocchi stall, we also bought a really delicious eggplant pesto, which I used tonight, stirred into a vaguely ratatouille-like stew. And with the stew, I fried up some rather glorious goats’ haloumi from another stall.
Sadly, he was sold out of the rather intriguing goats’ mozzarella, but I’ll be getting the haloumi again – the stallholder recommended flouring it before frying it, and I mixed my flour with a little oregano, salt, pepper, fennel and chilli, which was great. The haloumi itself was much creamier than I’m used to – and very, very rich.
We were seduced by another pasta stall (there were about three there – Bundoora seems more focused on prepared foods than primary produce, though there is certainly a good collection of vegetable and fruit stalls), this one specialising in ravioli, canneloni and other filled pasta. They had some intriguing native Australian flavours, including a Kangaroo ravioli and a lemon myrtle spaghetti. We chose a roast pumpkin ravioli with honey and pepitas. And then we paused to catch up with A (I actually do know people whose names don’t start with A, though you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise this week), who we haven’t seen in several years.
I was just beginning to feel the effects of jetlag, so getting some food for an easy meal or two seemed wise. Obviously, I had the gnocchi already, but I was basically looking for an excuse to buy one of the amazing curry sauces from Ameet’s Homestyle. I’ve tried her sauces once before, and I really like them because they actually taste like vegetables. This one tasted like the spinach curry that I can never get to work right, only of course Ameet’s version does actually work…
We went to a free-range meat stall, and bought chicken tenderloins to put in the curry and beef shoulder for stewing (I shall spare you the photos – meat isn’t photogenic regardless of one’s dietary preferences). The chicken was really lovely in the curry, though I immediately went and spoiled the whole ‘low-maintenance / easy meal’ thing by making spiced roasted vegetables, lentil dhal and of course rice to go with the curry… Delicious, but not precisely a five-minute meal!
We then moved on to Green Eggs, which we bought entirely without ham.
Now that I’ve started eating porridge regularly, not to mention baking from a book that regularly replaces sugar with honey, I get through honey at an amazing rate, so it was time to re-stock.
And finally, even with all the goodies I’d brought back from Europe, we couldn’t quite resist the lure of Devour Truffles.
It’s the passionfruit that gets me every time, though the popping candy is also rather hard to resist…
And then it was home to catch up with friends, have a nap, and plot a collaborative dinner with a friend of mine who had fish for two but nobody to share it with – baked snapper and cottage fries and bread provided by her, and roast cauliflower with dukkah, roast beetroot with sour cream and fennel, and the aforementioned caramel parsnips from me. With raspberry pie for dessert.
I love being back in my kitchen. It almost reconciles me to having to leave Europe…