Yesterday was a truly gorgeous day at Coburg Farmers’ Market, made even more delicious by the fact that I got to pick up the beautiful butter hamper I’d won from The Butter Factory at Myrtleford. My butter needs are now well and truly covered for the foreseeable future, and I’m already figuring out how I’m going to incorporate everything into my cooking and baking in the next week or two.
We were actually so excited about the butter hamper that we had to unpack it right there at the stand to see what was in it. One cylinder each of salted and unsalted butter, both with that lovely slightly sour flavour you get from cultured butter (no bogan butter for us…). Two little tubs of butter flavoured, respectively, with lemon myrtle and with tomato and bush pepper – Andrew prefers the latter, while I love the former best.
One tub of buttermilk ricotta – super extra double yay for this, because I really love their ricotta, which is made the traditional way, out of buttermilk rather than whole milk, and has a very distinct and tart flavour. One tub of butter curd that is my new favourite thing and belongs on scones with jam – it reminds me a lot of clotted cream. One bottle of buttermilk, which suggests so many possibilities that I can’t quite decide what to do with it yet. And one little butter crock. Gorgeous. Thank you, Naomi!!
Of course, having collected our butter, the obvious next step was crumpets from Dr Marty. Can I just say that my breakfast this morning of fresh crumpets with Myrtleford butter and farmers’ market jam was basically the essence of perfection? I really should have squeezed some blood orange juice to go with them, but I’ll get to the citrus shortly…
Having gloated over butter and crumpets, it was clearly time for some breakfast. Andrew went to buy a pie, which is still unfathomable to me (pie for breakfast? Really?), while I chose a plate of poffertjes with lemon and sugar cooked by a licensed pancake chef from Prep B. Their licenses are pretty cute, being similar in colour and style to a Driver’s license. The pancakes were good too!
We had, of course, already done one quick circuit of the market before reaching the butter, but now it was time to get serious about buying non-breakfast foods. There were several good veggie stalls there, and I was about to pick up some limes when I remembered that Robyn from Misty Spring usually has limes, and that since I am still not allowed to buy jam, I should probably go and at least get my citrus fruits from her! So we duly wandered over to her stall – putting paid to any sense that we were actually visiting the market in any logical order – and bought limes, lemonade lemons and ordinary lemons, while admiring Robyn’s new granddaughter.
The stall next to Robyn’s was selling oranges, which are a little boring, but also blood oranges which are intrinsically amusing, and Seville oranges, which I’ve never seen on sale before. Seville oranges are extremely sour and only used for cooking. I, of course, have recipes using them. Can I remember which books these recipes are in? No, I cannot. But making them into pectin jellies turned out to be a very good inspiration indeed – orange pectin jellies tend to be a bit insipid, but these have real bite.
While I was in a fruity frame of mind, I couldn’t resist visiting the really pretty apple stall, and sampling their new season fruit. I am usually fond of Pink Lady and Royal Gala, but their Fuji apples were particularly good today, so I bought a couple of kilos of those – lovely and crisp and sharp but still sweet.
Speaking of fruit, I naturally had to visit Happy Fruit for more dried apricots and sultanas, and the pistachio people for raw pistachios. I’m cooking them in a red rice pilaf stuffing for roast chicken as I type this, and it’s looking pretty gorgeous, if I say so myself.
It was definitely time to move on to vegetables. We’re definitely getting into late winter now, but there were some signs of spring, with baby carrots and sugar snap peas already looking beautiful. I’m thinking that they might be nice steamed or briefly roasted with a little lemon myrtle butter to serve.
The same stall had baby Chinese broccoli and some really beautiful spinach and coriander, as well as cauliflower, broccoli and pumpkin… we are in deep winter now, so dark green vegetables are where it’s at.
Of course, just because I had broccoli, cauliflower and chinese broccoli, that doesn’t excuse me from the cardinal rule of buying fractal broccoli every time I see it. Besides, I know exactly what I’m going to do with it…
A new stall was offering beef, lamb and wallaby meat, from Flinders Island, off the coast of Tasmania. Like any good Aussie, I have eaten our crest, but wallaby is a new one to me. I enquired after its flavour and provenance. Apparently, Flinders Island is basically wallaby paradise (except, one presumes, for those wallabies who get hunted). The rabbits never got there, so they have no competition for the general bouncing around, eating the undergrowth sort of thing that wallabies like to do, and they are so plentiful that they have achieved the status of pest.
I have to admit, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this. I mean, rabbits really are a pest, there’s no doubt about it, but the wallabies were here before we are, so technically, we are the pests, with our cattle competing for resources. Having said that… I did wind up getting some wallaby rump, partly out of curiosity (I admit, it sounded delicious), and partly because I didn’t want to disappoint the very enthusiastic stallholder. But I still do have ethical concerns about it. I’ll be really interested to find out what it tastes like, but I suspect I won’t be getting it again regardless. Or at least, I will have to do a lot more thinking about it, and a bit more research. Is it more ethical to eat Australian native animals than imports? Farmed than hunted, even assuming the hunters are hunting humanely (which it sounds like they are)? I don’t know.
Back in butter land, I was already planning the optimal way to enjoy butter with our dinner. A nice hearty soup with lots of bread and butter on the side seemed like the best plan in this weather, which meant I needed good bread. Fortunately, this is not a difficult thing to find at a farmers’ market! The chap from Flinders Sourdough (which is, I think, my favourite of all the market bakers) was there, and we had a nice catch-up – to my surprise, he remembered me from two months ago when I was clearing out my pantry and thus forbidden to buy bread, and seemed rather appalled when I told him I’d been contemplating channelling my impoverished Italian forebears and making bread with chestnut flour (it’s sort of supposed to be appalling, but I may not have conveyed this adequately).
Another obvious complement to butter is potatoes, and the potato stall had Dutch Cream, a variety I haven’t seen around for a while. We bought a bag of those. I could happily eat baked potatoes all week, but sadly Andrew does not share my feelings on the matter. I suspect I will be sneaking them into the corners of meals regardless, however.
I’ve managed to use up all my lemongrass paste, so it was time for another visit to Under the Pickle Tree to replenish my stock and investigate new curry pastes. I’ve never made a Thai red curry, but I have recipes that look interesting, so I invested in some of that, and we tasted her newest offering, which I have forgotten the name of (I do remember that it was *quite* hot, however!).
The mushroom man had lovely portobellos again – he told me that last week, he had some that weighed over 400g each. Yesterday’s were more moderate in size, but still entirely big enough for my purposes.
And then it was time to go home and madly photograph vegetables, before running off to meet a friend and go see Sunday in the Park with George, a Sondheim musical that I’m still not entirely sure I understand. I *think* it’s about why you should never date artists, but I could be wrong. Something tells me that this is not what Sondheim was trying to convey. It was very gorgeous, though, and very visual, almost to the point where I kept forgetting about the music. Since I’m not a very visual person and I am usually listening intently to every song, trying to figure out whether I could sing it or would want to, this is saying something.
Though it does say something about me that given an hour in which to be at home between market and opera, my priority is photographing and putting away vegetables rather than eating lunch. (I think what it says is that I am ever so slightly nuts.)
Did I mention that I have lots of beautiful butter?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~One year ago: Eating Out: Zaatar, Coburg Two years ago: Review: Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen