You are extra lucky today, because you are getting *two* market posts for the price of one (which is the low, low price of nothing at all) – apparently, my life got so thoroughly eaten by Eurovision, lurgy, work, and mad competitive walking (of which more later) that I never did get around to posting all my lovely photos from the farmers’ market two weeks ago. Or eating all the vegetables, either. Fortunately, root vegetables keep quite well…
Actually, last fortnight was less about vegetables, and more about preserves, dried fruit and nuts, and goat! There’s this new chappie at the market who sells not just leg of goat and goat all neatly cubed and ready for the casserole but also goat ham and, to my fascination, goat chorizo.
He tells me that his goats are free-range (presumably because they chew through any ropes or fences that they come in contact with), but are not notably partial to things like windscreen wipers. Which is good, because I’m not convinced that this would impart quite the flavour to the meat that one might wish. The chorizo, by the way, is quite delicious – spicy and smoky and not pork-like, which is definitely a bonus. I cooked it with beans and cabbage and patates braves for a vaguely Spanish meal last week, and it was lovely. I bought some more today.
Last week was also the last we will be seeing of my regular potato and garlic man until summer. He only had nicola potatoes left (which he was fairly disparaging about, but in addition to his garlic, he had some lovely strawberry syrup and also a strawberry vinegar – something I’ve never tasted before, but was delighted by – it’s sweet and fruity and tangy, rather like balsamic strawberries in a bottle, though a little more sour. It will brighten up my winter salads a treat – I’m thinking it would be very happy with a Sicilian style spinach, orange and pine-nut salad.
My lovely Italian storeholders, Rita and her husband, weren’t there last week, which was disappointing… we found out this week that they were holidaying in Perth, because the husband is due to go into hospital this week. He’s sounding pretty positive, except when he talks about “I’ll plant these again next year – if I’m still here next year.” I hope he does OK – he and Rita are both lovely.
We made do with mushrooms from the mushroom man (he was selling mushroom kits, but last time I had a mushroom kit I made myself completely paranoid, because the mushrooms I grew did not resemble the ones on the package, so I became convinced that I had managed to grow poisonous and / or hallucinogenic mushrooms and didn’t dare eat any of them… so no mushroom kits for me), and colourful carrots from the colourful veggie people. And the last quinces of the season from the apple man.
We also got beetroot – which I haven’t managed to use yet – and kale and spinach. I can’t think of anything creative to say about this, without making up something improbable. Did you know that if you blend beetroot with broccoli you get blue food? No? That’s probably because it isn’t true. As far as I know. Now I feel an irresistible urge to go and blend up beetroot and broccoli, which would probably be a mistake, because I don’t actually think they would go terribly well together, taste-wise. I’d probably better stick to blue curaçao.
My usual pasta lady is off getting married in Italy, but there are now new pasta people trying to steal my attention and custom, with some success. They had rather lovely risotto balls (which they cunningly heated up for customers to try), as well as ravioli, canneloni and agnolotti with fillings like duck and porcini, veal and caramelised onion, leek and pumpkin, or spinach and feta. We couldn’t resist the risotto balls, and I got some lovely fresh rigatone, too.
The pistachio people were back again, with dried apples and dried mango as well as their usual pistachio varieties. The dried apples were particularly gorgeous – dried in wedges rather than in rings, which made them somehow more luscious, and they were delightfully tart, too. I was very disappointed they weren’t around this week, to be honest.
So, this fortnight! Which, incidentally, was even colder than last fortnight. It makes me feel ancient to say this, but in this weather my bones are aching, or possibly just the deeper muscles. This isn’t helped by the fact that I’m doing this walking challenge at work (we all wear pedometers and enter our steps into this website, which tells us how far around the world our team has walked – because my floor has two of the Institute’s three teams, we are getting very competitive about this), so my legs do, in fact have quite a bit to complain about.
Anyway, we braved the cold (and, I’m sorry, I can’t stop digressing, it’s because I’m very hyper and tired, but it was *even colder* in the church hall than it was outside, even when it was raining, which I think was just un-called for! I like cold weather, but *not* indoors), and were rewarded by the presence of Rita (aka The Italian Vegetable Lady) and her husband! Which meant not just a chance to catch up and find out how he was doing, but also much more interesting vegetables than we can get when they aren’t there… Vegetables like cardoons, for example. Cardoons are becoming my emblematic winter vegetable, much as quinces are for autumn or blood oranges for early spring. I got some of those. Also, sprouting broccoli, which will go beautifully with sausages and pasta, or perhaps with more of the goat chorizo, which I naturally could not resist.
She had the most beautiful cauliflower I’d ever seen, too – creamy and round and utterly perfect. We had it in dinner tonight, with its fractal friend, just baked with garlic and parsley and parmesan. Yum.
What fractal friend, you ask? Why, this one!
I know I raved about these Romanesco cauliflowers last year, but they still delight me with their fractal pointiness. I had some maths-geeky friends around this evening for random dinner (another digression: having used my slow-cooker three times as a pressure cooker and not even once as a slow-cooker, I decided to slow cook a whole chicken for dinner, which I served with the aforementioned cauliflower and aioli and roasted potato and parsnip, and I am so very happy right now, and the whole house smells of chicken, and *that* is why I bought a slow cooker, oh yes), and they were completely hypnotised by its fractaly goodness. (And then they pointed out that cauliflowers are also fractal, just less obviously so…)
Anyway, back to Rita & co, because we’re not done yet! She was low on greens this week, but did have lovely, plump spring onions, and also quail eggs. I decided to skip the quail eggs just this once, in favour of these adorable baby eggplants. Which are eggish things, after all, so they still sort of count.
Moving backwards now, because Rita’s vegetables are so exciting that they take priority over things like what order we went shopping in, the Pie Man was there, but he had mostly sold his pies yesterday, which was very sad. Andrew got a couple of his pumpkin pies nonetheless.
And we got more risotto balls from the pasta man, along with some pumpkin and leek canneloni. I’m now pretty well sorted this fortnight for days when I’m too tired to cook.
My potato man is gone for the time being, but there was a different potato stall instead, with different varieties. I bought Valour potatoes, since Timid potatoes sounded a bit concerning. The valour potatoes roasted quite well and did not, in fact, give me any trouble, so clearly their valour does not run to assaulting the chef. Which is a good thing, really. (It is so past my bedtime right now, but I can’t go to sleep until my chicken stock is done, so you are stuck with a completely sleep-deprived blogger who is getting sillier by the moment…) I also got more of the goat chorizo, and some free-range eggs.
The apple stall didn’t grab me today, but the pistachio stall had a little stand out the front with the most gloriously golden lemons I’ve ever seen – the camera really doesn’t do them justice. The price was $3 for five citrus fruits, and they also had tiny Tahitian limes and Kaffir limes, which I’ve never seen for sale. I actually have a lemon tree at home, but I was seduced by the glorious colour on these, and bought some lemons anyway. And some limes, of course…
There was a woman there with big plaits of garlic – sadly, the plaits weren’t for sale, which I feel was a missed opportunity. I would pay more for beautifully plaited garlic. And then I would probably not use it because it was too pretty to eat… Anyway, I bought some unplaited, free-range garlic, and then realised that I didn’t actually have that many vegetables, so I wandered over to get some kale and spinach and red onions from my other favourite vegetable stall.
This was also where I found the fractal (and photogenic) broccoli.
Sorry, I’m a bit obsessed with that vegetable. Besides, I thought the brassicas deserved a family snap.
And that, my friends, is the end of my Tale of Two Markets. And all that remains is for me to check on my chicken stock… and then go out to the supermarket to buy bread, because that chicken and aioli are going to make the best sandwiches ever, if only I can find something to put them in…
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