I have been so busy with one thing and another that I’ve actually missed the last few farmers’ markets at Coburg. A terrible fate! And in these few lost weeks, the season has changed noticeably, with the asparagus gone, broccoli on the way out, and stone fruits, berries and green beans beginning to appear.
No tomatoes yet – Summer isn’t that far advanced (and in fact is doing a fine job of teasing us with a day or two of hot weather followed by three or four of freezing cold and rain), but I saw the first zucchini of the season, and the first zucchini flowers I’ve spotted this year. Sumer is definitely icumin in (which is good, because I’m well on the way to being cuckoo)…
Horrible puns aside, it was a good market today. We started off conscientiously intending to do a full circuit of the market before buying anything, but of course that trick never works, and we were quickly waylaid by Felicity of Take Me Home Pasta, where we stopped for a lengthy conversation in which we compared Christmas plans, culinary challenges, and Italian backgrounds, and established that while our families were from quite different parts of Italy, her cousin almost certainly had my aunt as her teacher in primary school in the La Trobe Valley. So that was fun.
We then moved on to the important business of buying bright pink gnocchi, as well as some with cheese from Holy Goat (for which I have Plans this evening), a pizza base, and a potato pizza for our lunch.
And then we continued our circuit and really didn’t buy anything else on the first lap, so we were almost virtuous. Though Andrew said that the mushroom man saw me and obviously thought “there’s the mutant mushroom lady!”. I have no idea what telepathic powers Andrew invoked in order to be so certain of this, but I set down what was told me…
Our second stop turned out to be for entirely gratuitous sausages, partly because my mind is definitely on keeping my meals simple from now until Christmas, but mostly because the stallholder was extolling the virtues of preservative-free sausages at length to the person in front of us, and he was so convincing that I had to buy some (though I don’t think the person he was trying to sell them to actually did).
The citrus stall was of course my next step – I’m still madly making confectionery (don’t forget to get your orders in by Monday!), and yellow grapefruit is surprisingly difficult to come by at this time of year. Though I’m not sure I needed a whole kilo of them…
I had absolutely no intention of buying chocolate today, but the lady running the chocolate stall seemed so pleased to see us, and I had no choice.
We then stopped by the pickle stall, mostly because I really like that stallholder too, but also because I know there are people I still need to buy presents for. Can I remember who they are? Of course not. But they are bound to like olive oil infused with blood orange and wild lime, don’t you think?
At this point I realised that I was once again failing to buy vegetables, so I promptly went over to the stone-fruit stall and bought peaches, which are not at all the same thing. I also found myself unable to resist the strawberries and boysenberries at the stall next to it, let alone the powdered blueberries. I’ve developed a bit of a thing for freeze-dried fruit recently.
This was also not vegetables, so I decided to go in search of broccoli, which is clearly going out of season, because only one person had it. But I’m still excited about beetroot gnocchi with broccoli as an easy dinner, so it was necessary. I picked up some spinach, too, and the first green beans of the season!
The mushroom man did indeed have giant mushrooms, but he also had fresh garlic, and dried garlic, both in large quantities. We haven’t seen much garlic yet this year, so I may possibly have over-reacted to this. But I’m making up for it by roasting garlic in large quantities, and will use it in aioli or other delights over the next few weeks.
At the next vegetable stall, I was once more unable to resist the lure of colourful carrots. In fact, I accidentally bought two bunches, so I shall have to think of some really serious carrot-oriented dishes this week. I also found red lettuce and some really pungent coriander, which was irresistible.
There’s one stallholder who has a really strange and eclectic stall – wild rice, interesting pastas, rice mixes, and random fruit and vegetables. This time around she had limes (just what I needed for my pectin jellies) and zucchini flowers, which are of course a compulsory buy whenever I see them.
She also had baby zucchini, and I am already planning a dinner of zucchini sautéed and layered with ricotta, parmesan, lemon, mint and basil for the really hot days later in the week.
The lady at the egg stall had eggs so large they wouldn’t fit in her cartons. Apparently the hens down in Inverloch are really enjoying the weather. We bought half a dozen, and then went to indulge ourselves at the vegetarian pie and tart stall. I’m still thinking in terms of busy, busy weeks, so I couldn’t resist the beetroot burgers. And I seem to have missed the rhubarb this year – or maybe it hasn’t started yet? – so little rhubarb crumbles were clearly necessary.
And that was about it for one market! I’m trying to be conscientious this week, and plan my meals in advance, because otherwise there’s no way that anyone is going to be eating any vegetables around here. Tonight will be gnocchi with slow-roasted tomatoes and sautéed zucchini flowers, and I’m looking forward to mushroom sandwiches, nacho salads, and the aforementioned zucchini with herbs and ricotta. And those sausages, of course. I think a dinner of sausages with potato salad with saffron and herbs, slow-roasted tomato panzanella and – aha! – Morroccan carrot and mint salad, will be absolutely divine on one of those hot nights.
Hmm, all of a sudden I’m hungry. Perhaps I’d better get onto the gnocchi and see if they are as good as I’ve told myself they will be?
Two years ago: Recipe: Easiest apricot dessert ever