(I have spent *way* too much of this afternoon arranging my vegetables into Christmas card configurations and then shooting them with my newly-discovered soft focus camera setting. Hallmark would be appalled. Or possibly proud. I am just giggling like a crazy woman…)
What with my long hours from singing and trying to keep up at work, and my husband’s long hours counting votes, we’ve missed a lot of markets recently, but today was the last Coburg Market for 2014, so we were determined to get to this one. As it happens, my brain woke up very early this morning and started attempting to write text for flyers for the event I’m running in January, so I figured that my sleep-in wasn’t happening, and I might as well get to the market early.
At the market, we were greeted by a sign “Last Asparagus for the year”. Last asparagus? Already? I would say that this made our choice of first stall easy, but let’s face it, I always start at the asparagus stall in asparagus season…
Three and a bit kilos of asparagus later (Merry Christmas from the stallholder, who threw in an extra bunch, because she knew I’d use it), we decided to commence our usual market tour. This time, we started at a free-range beef and lamb store. I won’t buy meat that isn’t from free-range animals (and I definitely do not trust supermarkets who claim that their things are free-range), and my freezer is getting fairly empty. So we bought steak and a handful of sausages, which should see us through nicely to mid-late January when the markets open again.
Take Me Home Pasta was conveniently located right next to the beef and lamb stall, and so we got to meet their new puppy, Orsa, while deciding on our sweet potato gnocchi, our basil gnocchi, and our pizza bases.
Orsa is basically a small, barrel-shaped ball of fluff, with legs and a tail. And a face that looks rather lion like. She’s very cute, but neither Andrew nor I were fully convinced that there was actually a dog in there under all that fur…
I had every intention of doing a proper round of the market next, but then I saw apricots, right there, and also raspberries, and I cannot resist either of these (especially as raspberries, at least, tend to run out very fast at markets. So we bought raspberries at one stall, and apricots and nectarines at the other.
Andrew doesn’t like nectarines, but he’s OK with them if you put them in a tomato salad or roast them with tomatoes and onions as a side dish. And apricots need no justification.
Then, of course, we got distracted by the cheese stall next door. I love Blue Bay’s cheeses. I think my favourite so far is their goat’s mozzarella, which behaves exactly like mozzarella if you put it on a caprese pizza (so appropriate, since capra means goat), but adds a lovely, tangy, goat-milk flavour to the whole thing. They had a special going with three cheeses for $25, so we bought some of their amazing goat haloumi (another favourite of mine), some parmesan, and some cheddar with ginger and citrus. I can’t imagine what that will be like, but it was irresistible. And then we bought a little tub of ricotta, for my other pizza plans – I made a sweet potato, asparagus, garlic and ricotta pizza a few weeks back which was amazing and certainly worth repeating.
At this point, I told Andrew very firmly that we had to be sensible now and buy vegetables. Which was about the point where we found the stall with the strawberries and the blackberries and the little fruit pies…
Well, at least we’re doing OK for fruit. I see a lot of fruit salads in our future – and a lot of fruity savoury salads, too. The pies, by the way, were a little disappointing – the pastry and crumble topping was good, but my mixed berry pie was mostly apple, with about five blueberries in it. It was a very good apple crumble pie, but that wasn’t what I thought I was buying.
We got distracted by the macarons, but did not stop, and instead moved on to the vegetable stall, where we bought pumpkins, yellow zucchini, spherical zucchini, and multicoloured radishes.
I’m looking ahead to the warm weather now, so the cauliflower is definitely destined to be served raw, either as rice or as part of a pesto. The radishes are definitely going to find their way into salads, and there’s a good chance the yellow zucchini will end up spiralised. I haven’t decided just how I will stuff my squash, but I’ll think of something.
Our next stop was the egg stall, because the call of Christmas Baking is upon me (not that I’ve answered this call yet), and one can’t make a pudding without breaking eggs…
We returned to the macaron stall, where they had macarons in every colour of the rainbow.
Beautiful. The flavours are amazing – salted caramel, grapefruit and ginger, strawberry and basil, violet and blueberry, rhubarb and rose… we chose six each, unheard-of luxury for us at this stall!
The garlic stall was our last stop, and they were billing themselves as Christmas Garlic, and the gift you give when you are asked not to bring something. (Evidently the stallholders are not Italian, because in my family, at least, if one is told not to bring something, one brings a huge tray of pizza, a couple of lasagnes, some canneloni and a batch of cannoli which one just happened to have at home. But I digress.)
Behold, the tinsel!
Such tinsel-added glory surely deserves the Hallmark soft focus treatment:
Ah yes. Much better.
And then it only remained for us to haul our delicious stash home to admire – and to eat, of course.
Well, and to arrange into ever-more-elaborate Christmas-themed vegetable art.
Maybe this should be my Christmas Card for next year?