Today’s market seems to be less about primary produce than usual, and there are more made products – several cake stalls, the pasta and pizza lady, a turkish bread stall, a salsa stall, to name but a few, and also a seedling stall, with lots of veggie seedlings for my garden. Of course, what my garden needs far more than veggies is for me to clear the bushland that is growing up in every garden bed.
My first stop is the orange stall, just to see if there are any blood oranges left. Not that I need them – I still have a few on my fruit stand – but it’s a matter of principle with me. They don’t have blood oranges, but they do have blood orange juice – yum! – and pistachios, as well as their raisins, which always make me happy because they are still on the vine. In autumn, you can buy the grapes and the raisins side by side, and I often do. The last thing I need right now is more oranges and lemons, so I leave it at that.
Near the orange stall is a stall-holder from California, with four different kinds of salsa, two kinds of guacamole, and home-made corn chips. We try everything. I really want to like the tomatillo and chipotle salsa, but I don’t, quite. Not enough, anyway. This time, we stick to a more standard salsa and some guacamole and chips, to go with the leftover vegetarian chilli we are having for lunch.
Our friendly baker is there today. It’s my turn to cook for friends tomorrow night, and now that I’ve started cycling to work again, I’m lucky if I get food on the table for dinner at all (hence my recent blog-silence). I decide that having some bread available for people to nibble on while I get my act together would be wise. And, mindful of my recent discoveries about egg yolks coming in different colours, I get a dozen eggs from the egg man. Hmm, bread and eggs – looks like breakfast to me…
The apple and pear stall has those tiny Sweet Blush apples that I liked so much last time, and also big Stewart apples for baking. I need to make a big apple crumble tonight for some week-day breakfasts, so I get a few of each.
And then I get a little silly.
My friendly pizza lady is there today, along with a woman selling veal pies, veal rolls and veal sausages. With the Grand Final approaching, we need pies in the house, and of course pizza is a useful post-choir meal. I get some of each.
Word at the vegetable stalls today is that there will be no asparagus at the market this year – the asparagus farmer has got tired of working on Sundays, and is only doing the really big markets on Saturdays – which we don’t go to. I am devastated – what is spring without asparagus? Fortunately, the vegetable stall-holder took pity on my distress, and has promised to get some from her friend, the asparagus farmer, and bring them to the market next fortnight. Her partner, seeing me making a bee-line for the teeny tiny leeks (which are possibly my favourite market vegetable at this time of year – at least when I can’t get asparagus) came back with a bunch of even tinier leeks as a freebie. I do like that stall. I can’t resist their lovely salad greens or broccoli, either, and their pumpkin is very vibrant – unusual at this time of year.
The next vegetable stall has celeriac, which I haven’t cooked with in ages, and new season golden beetroots – small enough to be manageable for a change! They also have the last of the brussels sprouts for the year, so I grab them, along with some baby carrots, because I can always, always use carrots. And, since we seem to be reaching the end of the winter vegetables, I get my last red cabbage of the year (and some pink potatoes from the stall next door).
I have a feeling that we’re moving out of the winter farmers’ markets at last – our next market visit will be in October, and I am expecting a much wider range of leafy greens, and perhaps some peas and beans and new-season garlic. And my asparagus, of course. I must admit, I’m pretty excited to contemplate all of this, which might be why things got a little weird when I went to photograph my vegetables…
And so, I hope, will we…