Prepare yourself for arty produce photos! Andrew bought me a new camera, and I’m playing with settings…
(OK, I’m not playing with settings very much, but I’m definitely doing arty produce photos…)
(I suppose I should try reading the instruction booklet sometime, but that seems like cheating…)
Anyway. Farmers’ market! And feeding my asparagus cravings! That’s what this is supposed to be about! And apparently, disjointed sentences, too, because I’m distracted by, well, everything apparently, but primarily by vague attempts at learning Arabic in order to procrastinate from writing all the politics posts I need to write before we descend into pre-election politics blog madness.
(Yes, I procrastinate by finding new languages to learn. Don’t judge me.)
Now, where was I? Ah yes, the glorious Coburg Farmers’ Market… We were a bit late getting there yesterday morning, partly because I was very tired and slept in and partly because I’m still wearing Hijab on weekends, and this does tend to slow the process of getting dressed. Though I’m getting more efficient.
Fortunately, we were not too late for the asparagus, and made our usual beeline for the Jonella Farm stall for our fix. My fix, really. Andrew basically indulges me on this one.
During the rest of the year, we virtuously tour all the stalls at the farmers’ market before actually buying anything. In asparagus season, I don’t even pretend that I’m going to do so. It’s straight over to the asparagus as fast as I can – because it would be a tragedy if someone bought my three kilos of asparagus before I got there! (Yes. Three kilos. Because when I bought two kilos, I used it all in three days. We had to scale up.)
Having abandoned all our rules of virtuous farmers’ market shopping in favour of All The Asparagus, All The Time, we figured we might as well compound the sin by heading straight from there to Take Me Home Pasta. No Felicity today – apparently, new puppies are sometimes a bit more exciting than markets – but we were not too late for some beetroot gnocchi, handmade penne, and pizza bases.
Next to Take Me Home was Blue Bay Cheese, who I rather love. They do a wide range of what I think of as everyday cheeses, but with very high quality, and sometimes a bit of a twist. A lot of the farmers’ market cheesemakers do mostly posh cheese like Bries or blues, or all manner of goat cheeses – which are lovely, but I don’t tend to actually get around to eating them. Blue Bay does blue cheeses and soft cheeses too, but it also does ricotta and fetta (marinated and unmarinated), and pecorino and parmesan, and haloumi and mozzarella – goat’s mozarella, in fact, which is something I’ve had my eye on for a while. I made a rather Geek-inspired lamb and lentil ragout recently, and I think goat mozarella would be the perfect topping for a pasta al forno based on this.
Anyway, it’s good to have a source for cheese that is less supermarkety. I am always trying to reduce our consumption of animal products, and to make sure that, as far as possible, what we do consume is sourced from truly free-range animals. We’ve got meat and eggs basically covered, but dairy is the tricky one, and while I’ve been using more and more non-dairy milks, cheese and yoghurt are still something I can’t quite do without, and they are hard to source ethically. I haven’t yet asked about where these cheesemakers are getting their milk from, but at least on a human level, I can be sure that more of the profits are going back to the actual cheesemakers than they would for supermarket cheeses…
Speaking of dairy and non-dairy, I shall now skip randomly ahead through our market visit to the very end, which was when we spotted a brand new stall selling raw desserts and other raw foods. I’m very excited about this – I loved the raw cheesecakes I got to try at the market in Darwin and I’ve not seen anyone selling raw cakes in Melbourne. Next time, I will be getting to this stall earlier, as they had chocolate cake, Neapolitan cake (which sounded amazing), choc chip cookies, breakfast cups, and all sorts of other goodies, including a cashew labneh, which was too good to resist. We had it with our dinner last night – a spicy, dhal-like stew of pumpkin, split peas, rhubarb and apples, all from this farmers’ market or the one last week – and it was creamy and savoury and wonderful.
I’ve totally lost my thread, so here, have a photo of beautiful, beautiful garlic. The garlic on stems is new season garlic – fresh and crunchy and mild – and the three big cloves are already nice and dried. I haven’t quite finalised my plans for this garlic, but I think I’ll be doing some roasting…
Oh, I know – strawberries! These are another thing I can’t walk past at a market. I don’t know what they do to the supermarket ones, but the taste just does not compare at all.
So, while I am writing in a somewhat incoherent fashion, here have some more vegetables.
I think there were fewer vegetable stalls around today than there sometimes are – certainly, the chap who always asks me about my singing wasn’t there! – but we were able, as you see, to find broccoli, and also some lovely root vegetables – stripey beetroot and yellow beetroot, as well as colourful carrots. And lettuce, too. And did I mention the asparagus?
Ah yes, so I did…
We got deliciously distracted by Nougatine and their macarons – lots of new flavours today, including a whiskey one which I realised I could not try while wearing Hijab, and a strawberry and basil one that I most certainly could try, and it was delicious – very, very strawberry. Andrew and I chose three macarons each – strawberry basil, rose and rhubarb, and salted caramel for me, and Andrew swapped out the caramel for a lemon an lime (I think?). I also tried a bit of my French, because I’m kind of shameless about that, and learned that the two men running the stall were from the northwest coast of France, where they tell me all the best seafood is. And definitely not from Normandy, as another customer suggested. I’m beginning to wonder if suggesting to a Frenchman that he is from Normandy is as bad as suggesting to a German that she might be from Bavaria… This might be a question to not ask my Norman french colleagues (I shall ask the Burgundians instead).
I haven’t been in a crumpet mood for ages (and the trouble with fresh crumpets is that if you forget to be in the mood for a couple of days, they will be eaten by mould by the time you are in the mood, which is a tragedy), but this weekend, I rather am, and it turns out that Dr Marty’s are now doing wholemeal as well as white crumpets. We got a mixed half-dozen, and had four of them for breakfast this morning. I definitely like the wholemeal ones best, though they are very, very filling. Actually, I saw someone talking about using crumpets as a quick pizza base, and I can imagine the wholemeal ones, in particular, being fantastic for this.
Burrum Biodynamics will apparently not be around again until March, so we decided to stop there, too, and stock up on legumes – I’m sort of regretting not buying more, since we are in a very legume mood at present. But we bought yellow split peas (for last night’s dhal!), and whole red lentils, something I haven’t seen before. They apparently don’t go quite as mushy as the split red kind, so are a bit better in salads and such – though they sound like they would really be at their best in lentil bolognese, or something of that nature. I’ll have to do some playing around and see what else I can make of them.
And so ends my farmers’ market tale – though not, I am sure, my explorations of my new camera. For my next trick, I need to figure out my week’s menu, especially as Andrew will be out late doing election stuff three nights this week.
And speaking of elections, it’s likely to be a bit quiet around here for the next few weeks, as I feverishly go into pre-election analysis of every single party on the Senate ticket – and we have some brand new and decidedly weird ones to choose from this time. So you will probably find me spending more time over on Cate Speaks for a bit. I will be keeping an eye on my Pasta Please challenge page (and hopefully posting something there myself very soon), and so should you – I think we’re going to get some lovely recipes there!
See you soon!