Coburg and Pentridge Markets, with Long Walks, Bogged Trucks, and Vegetarian Pies

(Ah, my lovely computer, how I have missed you!)

Two markets for the price of one today, because this has been a somewhat odd and fraught week on all sorts of levels, and I never did get to write about Pentridge Market last weekend!  As it happens, Pentridge seems to have stopped wavering between craft market and farmers’ market, and is now sitting solidly in the craft market category, making it a fun destination for a walk and a browse, but less of a fixture in my weekly market shopping cycle.  This is something of a pity, because it certainly does have quite a lot of stalls in what I think of as the ‘treats’ category – artisan chocolates, patisserie, sweets, cakes – and one or two which are useful enough that I’m wondering if I should just pop up to Pentridge every month or so to restock…

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Friends of friends were visiting Melbourne last weekend, so I’d arranged to meet up with them and show them around a bit.  Life then got complicated, so our meet-up turned into a little guided tour of my favourite bits of Coburg, starting with the Pentridge Market!  Most of the stalls are now inside the old prison building, so we climbed down the stairs and spent a pleasing quarter hour or so investigating the jewelry, soaps and sweets.

To my delight, the people from Le Baobab were there, so I immediately zoomed in for more tangy West African sauces.  I have to say, I’m not usually a ‘sauce from a jar’ person, but I make an exception for these, because they are both extremely good and utterly unlike the flavours I would use if left to my own devices.  I then got to have my first ever moment of feeling famous, when the woman running the stall asked me if I was ‘the one with the food blog’!  Most exciting.  She also very kindly gave me a discount on the sauces I chose, and I’m hoping to come up with some recipes using those delightful ingredients, so stay tuned…

baobab sauce

The other stall that really captured our attention was a strudel stall, which had strudels of many flavours and sizes, including little platters of two or four mixed slices of strudel.  I liked the look of these, but thought they wouldn’t travel well in a backpack, so instead I bought a whole apricot and custard strudel.  I hadn’t realised that the whole strudels were about 45 cm long and weighed more than 1.7 kg!

A lot of strudel.

A lot of strudel.

My friends and I then went for a walk around Coburg Lake, hoping for black swans, but settling for a pretty walk instead. Then it was across to Little Deer Tracks for lunch, and back through the centre of Coburg to put them on a tram back to their city hotel, while I went home.

I’ve been doing a lot of walks this week. Work has been more sedentary than usual, and my pedometer is exigeant, so I’ve been walking in from (or sometimes home via) the zoo through Royal Park…

faerie

The road to Faerie, or perhaps just Royal Park with storms threatening in the late afternoon…

or walking to Northcote for my singing lesson…

Sunset along the old Outer Loop Railway bike trail.

Sunset along the old Outer Loop Railway bike trail.

or walking home from markets…

Just a beautiful tree on a Coburg morning.

Just a beautiful tree on a Coburg morning.

or just walking a few extra stops through the back streets of Coburg in the mornings.

Olive trees and lemon trees are what Coburg is all about.

Olive trees and lemon trees are what Coburg is all about.

Sometimes the weather has co-operated.

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Sometimes it hasn’t.

You can't see that it is pelting down rain in this photo, but the colour of the sky gives a hint.

You can’t see that it is pelting down rain in this photo, but the colour of the sky gives a hint.

Today, it was absolutely gorgeous, with Melbourne pretending that it had no idea what rain or the sort of icy wind that puts your hair on end and nearly blows your earrings out of your ears even looks like.

This is not Coburg Lake, but it isn't far from Coburg Lake reserve.

Silver gum tree against a ridiculously blue sky, courtesy of Melbourne.

(For those who are wondering, it looks like yesterday.  And I really did have to hold my hands to my ears as I walked.)

More threatening skies over Royal Park.

More threatening skies over Royal Park.

But today, the sky was a brilliant blue, the grass was an unusually vibrant green (which should be a hint about Melbourne’s weather to anyone who knows it, of course)… and at least one market truck was bogged, because the school oval was sort of spongey after a week of fairly enthusiastic rain.  In fact, the entire market had been re-arranged somewhat to avoid the boggier bits of ground.

We made a bee-line to see Felicity at Take Me Home Pasta, where I had to defend my much coveted chestnut, parmesan and rosemary gnocchi from another customer who had not cunningly asked for her packet to be kept aside in advance!  We also decided to give the Holy Goat’s Cheese gnocchi a try, along with my usual rigatoni.  (Why would anyone buy spaghetti when they can have rigatoni?  It’s a mystery to me.)

pasta

We had already had breakfast, but that didn’t stop us from visiting the most excellent pancake chefs of Prep B (licensed to flip) for some poffertjes.  And of course, crumpets are an absolute must on any occasion when we see Dr Marty is there.

Did you know that if you peel an apple all in one long spiral and then throw it over your shoulder, it supposedly forms the initial of the person you will marry?  As far as I can tell, this means everyone has to marry people whose names start with S or C, and the Andrews of this world just have to make do with whole apple and crumpet sculptures.  Which don't seem to happen by throwing things over one's shoulder.

Did you know that if you peel an apple all in one long spiral and then throw it over your shoulder, it supposedly forms the initial of the person you will marry? As far as I can tell, this means everyone has to marry people whose names start with S or C, and the Andrews of this world just have to make do with whole apple and crumpet sculptures. Which don’t seem to happen by throwing things over one’s shoulder.

With breakfast sorted for today and tomorrow, we moved out of the undercover area into the main market, in search of fruit and vegetables.  One stall had frozen mixed berries, irresistible at this time of year…

appleberry

Then I got totally distracted by a new stall selling all sorts of amazing vegetarian pastries.  Veggie and gluten-free friends, this one is definitely worth a look.  Hidden Secret has a really imaginative range of tarts, pastries and veggie burgers, all of which are vegetarian and many of which are vegan.  They also have an extensive gluten-free range (using red and white quinoa instead of flour, if I understand correctly), and a number of egg-free treats.  I was rather taken with the Pumpkin and Mushroom Wellington, and the little trays of four assorted gluten-free tartlets, but having been first pulled over to the stall by the gorgeous dome on the Rumble Tart, that was clearly the place to start this time.  And who could resist bright pink beetroot burgers?  All sorts of people, probably, but I’m not one of them…

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Incidentally, the Rumble Pie, which was I think based on the idea of Rumbledethumps and was filled with silver beet, carrots, leeks, pumpkins, and mashed root vegetables with cheese and herbs, made an absolutely perfect dinner for a cold and lazy night when I ought to be blogging and doing all sorts of chores, but really am not, especially…

rumbleveg

“Fruit and vegetables!”, I said firmly, and was promptly distracted by another pie stall, because lemon pie just seemed way too fascinating to pass by.  Apparently, the baker uses the entire lemon, pulped, mixed with sugar and egg and butter as a filling.  It looks rich and gorgeous and may turn out to be the dessert I deserve if I ever get any of my aforementioned chores done!

lemonpie

Then I hied myself over to the vegetable stalls before I could get distracted again.  The first stall I saw had entirely adorable baby heirloom carrots, and somewhat larger parsnips.  I haven’t had parsnips in a while, and am fond of sweet roast vegetables, so I got some of these, along with a wedge of pumpkin, a bunch of leeks, and some invitingly vibrant-looking kale.  I’m using a lot of fennel recently (it’s handy as a base flavour in stews and sauces, especially when you can’t use onions), so I grabbed some lovely feathered fennel bulbs, too.

To my eyes, there is something uncanny and mandrake-like about this arrangement.  Not that I have ever seen a mandrake, but I suspect that pulling this out of the ground without your ears well blocked would be a mistake.

To my eyes, there is something uncanny and mandrake-like about this arrangement. Not that I have ever seen a mandrake, but I suspect that pulling this out of the ground without your ears well blocked would be a mistake.

I’m feeling a bit of an urge to play with chou pastry at the moment (goodness only knows when I am supposed to do this, but never mind), so eggs were a necessity, and how could I resist eggs from Inverloch, where we used to go to the beach every summer?  I enquired about the location of the hens, who apparently live on a farm on the road out towards Cape Paterson.

fennelegg

Mushrooms are always irresistible!  We were a bit later than usual this time (I needed to *sleep* this morning… and this afternoon, for that matter!), so the really big ones were gone, but we still got some good ones.  I never know what I’m going to do with mushrooms, but somehow, they do get used up whenever I buy them…

greenveg

I wasn’t initially aiming for antlers…

I hadn’t been thrilled with the broccoli at the first stall, so I then visited another stall for broccoli and deep-green spinach.  Most satisfactory.  Then it was time for some Dutch Cream potatoes.

otherveg

With $5 left in my hand, I couldn’t possibly leave the market quite yet.  It’s still pretty much apple season – though I’ve just realised I haven’t bought pears once this year, and probably should – so we went over to the beautiful apple stall for a bag of Pink Lady apples.  They had ordinary-sized ones and giants.  In a moment of uncharacteristic sedateness, I didn’t buy – or even think to photograph – the enormous ones.  I really must be tired!  Maybe next time…

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And then I helped Andrew load up the car for him to drive home, while I walked back through the streets of Coburg, taking photos of random trees.  I get all the fun jobs…

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One year ago: Chocolate Chilli Cupcakes that Everyone can Eat
Two years ago: Not a proper recipe for not entirely Greek salad
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6 responses to “Coburg and Pentridge Markets, with Long Walks, Bogged Trucks, and Vegetarian Pies

  1. I’m glad y’all were able to get together.

  2. That is one heck of a strudel! What a delicious problem to have. 😉

    • It really is! I had no idea they even existed in that size… it would *easily* feed 12 people, probably even more!

  3. oh we missed you yesterday – went to the market but tried to keep it fairly quick as I had sourdough at home that I wanted to bake before lunch. Still haven’t been to pentridge. But I will. I missed the vegetarian burger stall – we were waylaid by jam tasting, pickled walnuts, mandarins and those amazing crumpets. Love your coburg tour – sounds great – I will need to rave to you about the robinson reserve neighbourhood house mural that is underway which would fit into this tour quite nicely when done – though in a different direction from the lake (and did you go up and check out the funny loungechairs of wood on the other side of the lake?)

    • Sorry to miss you! But those sound like good places to get waylaid. I will definitely have to investigate Robinson Reserve. I don’t remember the wood loungechairs. We did circle the lake, but somehow ended up on a lower level on the far side, which might have been how we missed them.

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