Coburg Farmers’ Market – Return of the Berries!

I have to say, June is really not when I would expect to be buying a lot of berries at the market, but today had a definite berry theme.  Admittedly, most of the berries on offer (at three separate stalls) were frozen, but I was interrupted in my first circuit of the market by the amazing sight of fresh raspberries.  In winter.


Apparently, these are the last raspberries of the season (as I can well imagine – I keep trying to eat seasonal, but if local farmers are growing berries in June, this does rather confuse any idea of what is in season). The same stall also had cherry guava, a fruit I have never tried.  Sadly, they were a little under-ripe, so the one I tasted made my teeth go furry, but the chap at the stall earnestly assured us that the guavas would ripen in a few days on the table, and told us how to recognise when they were ripe.  I am not entirely convinced that cherry guava is the fruit I have been waiting for all my life, but it seemed against the spirit of the farmers’ market to see a brand new fruit and not go home with it, so we bought some of those, too.


Of course, the same farmer then tried hard to sell us feijoas, but one has to draw the line somewhere.  I said a firm no to the nightmare fruit of my childhood, and moved on…

Take Me Home Pasta was there again, and we had our usual catch-up, while I eyed off lunch prospects and Andrew chose something for dinner (I’ll be out this evening on a ghost walk with my walking group from work).  We wound up with pumpkin lasagne for Andrew and a wonderful ricotta  crostata for lunch – half flavoured with pumpkin, the other half with leek and prosciutto.  I bought some rigatoni for later in the week, and our friendly stall-holder threw in a garlic pizza base, just for fun.


Our next stop was Under the Pickle Tree, where the stall-holder seemed somewhat taken aback by our efficiency!  But we’d been trying all her wonderful products a couple of weeks ago when we weren’t allowed to buy them, so I already knew precisely what I wanted: the amazing, sweet spiced apple sauce to go with roast lamb, the zingy lemongrass paste whose ultimate fate I’m not sure of but which is far too good to overlook, and a bottle of fruity and indulgent wild lime and blood orange olive oil.  Gorgeous.


I don’t actually need to go to the chocolate stall, but I was kind of enticed there by the sight of uncharacteristically non-elegant chocolate things on sticks.  I had to find out what they were.  It turns out that the chocolate stall has joined forces with one of the apple sellers and is now doing chocolate-coated toffee apples and pears (which, incidentally, are vegan).  They are possibly the ugliest thing I’ve seen at a farmers’ market, with the exception of bitter melon, which really is kind of warty and creepy, but who could seriously resist the combination of pear with chocolate, toffee, and nutty chocolate?  (Andrew, in fact, which is why he got an apple instead of a pear.)


I’ve been reading The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook again, and eyeing the recipe for apple cake in particular.  (Though I’m inclined to mess with it by using a certain amount of chestnut flour or chestnut puree in the batter.)  Apples were therefore absolutely necessary.  Also, of course, that’s the really pretty stall with the apple-print tablecloths and the chestnuts, and I feel compelled to buy something from them every time we go to the market just on the basis that they make the market so beautiful.  This time, we went with a kilo of Fuji apples, which the stallholder advised us would be the best for an apple cake.


“Are you going to blog about us?” asked the stall-holder at Happy Fruit.  I hadn’t even remembered telling him I had a blog, but yes, it appears I am… Once again, we were charmed by their little mini-muffin cases full of dried fruit and nuts to nibble on as we investigated the market.  Now that I’m allowed to buy things for the pantry again, I couldn’t resist their dried apricots and nectarines, which are beautifully soft and very full of flavour.  My favourite discovery today, though, was their seedless sun muscats, which are technically raisins but taste to me more like the best sultanas ever.  My imagined apple cake immediately acquired a handful of sultanas to sweeten the chestnut flour batter…


Our friendly stall-holder threw in a big bag of grapes, too.  I have no idea what variety they were, but they taste as though they might be the source of the sultana/raisins.  Yum.  I do like getting spoiled by friendly farmers’ market people!


My fridge is fairly well-stocked for veggies, but there were one or two things I wanted this week.  Pumpkin, in particular, was on my list, so I wandered over to one of the vegetable stalls to discuss which pumpkin I truly needed.  The stallholder really entered into the spirit of this conversation – clearly, his pumpkins were important to him (in fact, he said they were like babies), and he questioned me at length on what I planned to do with the pumpkin, before declaring with satisfaction that I obviously wasn’t going to let it go to waste and selecting a truly enormous one for us.  Which probably weighed more than a baby – that was a lot of pumpkin.  I sort of feel compelled to save the seeds and roast them now, so that I really don’t waste it.  I wonder if one can do anything culinary with pumpkin skin?


The same stall also had very lush spinach, which I was informed was fragile and should be treated gently.  This is clearly someone who really cares about his vegetables – I’ll be returning to that stall in future.


We paused for a chocolate croissant breakfast at the bakery (still no crumpets today, alas!), and then considered what was still needed.  The answer was clear – frozen berries!  I still have a few of Wild Dog’s frozen strawberries, so I bought a punnet each of frozen boysenberries (something I have never seen before) and mixed berries.


Mushrooms were the other thing we needed, and the mushroom man had one gigantic mushroom with my name on it.  It weight 360 g all on its own.  You don’t mess with a mushroom like that.  I bought a few junior mushrooms to go with it – I haven’t quite decided what I’ll do with the Monster Mushie but it will be something special.  The mushroom man was pleased that we appreciated the giant mushroom – I always tend to get the big ones if I can, because I think their flavour is better – and offered to set aside any more monster mushrooms he gets for us, since he sees us pretty much every week now, between Coburg and Flemington.


And that was about it for us.  We lugged our produce back to the car, and then I abandoned Andrew to drive it home while I walked.  This weekend is the one where we have to beat our best step-count, and virus or no virus, I am determined to do so…


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7 comments for “Coburg Farmers’ Market – Return of the Berries!

  1. June 8, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    sounds like a good market trip – I am excited about the apples covered in toffee and chocolate – oh my that sounds amazing – I would have loved to have been there but we did enjoy the carnivale – would be interested to know what you are doing with the fancy olive oil too (I am gradually getting through my lime and garlic but still looking for ways to use it

    • Catherine
      June 9, 2013 at 12:24 am

      The chocolate toffee apples are exciting indeed! They will be afternoon tea tomorrow (since I have walked 32,000 steps today and am dead on my feet, I doubt I will be up in time for morning tea tomorrow…).

      I mostly use the fancy oils in salad dressings – boring, but delicious, especially with winter salads, where I like to use ingredients like fennel or orange or spinach or raisins and nuts…

  2. splodge
    June 8, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Have I not yet blathered to you about guavas?!

    I had three cherry guavas at my old home and two yellow guavas. They don’t keep terribly well (although cherries are better than yellows), best eaten straight from the tree. The yellow ones are less sweet, but I really like them.

    I think their tartness can be softened with cream.

    Have some growing from seeds and cuttings here. My plan with the gardening woman who was there at the inaugural market was that I’d get some fruit from the yellows at my old house so she could raise from the seed as it’s a rare variety. (Alas, I’ve not been able to do so.)

    Did I mention I can talk endlessly about plants….?

    I think I need to join you on the next trip. Among other things, I want a toffee apple.

    • Catherine
      June 9, 2013 at 12:26 am

      I was vaguely aware that you had guava trees, but couldn’t remember the details. I will definitely try them with cream – I have very nice cream at present.

      We shall definitely let you know when our next trip is! The only reason I didn’t invite you this time is that we are currently a plague household and I didn’t think you required the plague at present.

      • splodge
        June 9, 2013 at 1:13 pm

        Oh totally cool – I’m still lying low…but getting optimistic (or possibly just way ahead of myself) about how I’ll feel in a fortnight.

        (It is fortnightly, isn’t it?)

  3. NancyB
    June 20, 2013 at 7:10 am

    I’ve been staring at that apple cake in the Smitten Kitchen cookbook,too, but I’m trying to postpone it until fall here in the Northern Hemisphere. I will get to it, because my niece proposed that we cook everything in the book–that’s now my current project. I do need to blog last weekend’s efforts and link them to the master list of recipes so it looks like the project is really underway!

    • Catherine
      June 20, 2013 at 11:53 am

      What a lovely project! I’m tempted to do the same…

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