Farmers’ Market: Rita’s Husband Is Back!

OK, that’s probably a strange, strange title for this post, (and, I now realise, implies something I really didn’t intend to imply) but I’ve been worrying about Rita (aka The Italian Vegetable Lady) and her husband, Tony, for a while – Rita has been back at the market since last month, but there was no sign of Tony, who had been ill and in hospital.  So I was very relieved and happy to see him there again, though he is, I gather, not out of the woods yet.

The rainbow of vegetable joy celebrates the return of Tony Faranda to the Flemington Farmers’ Market.  Get well soon, Tony!

We took a newcomer to the markets with us today, so I spent the first part of the market dashing back and forth pointing out things that she really, really had to try or people who she really, really had to meet.  And it was a good day for the markets, because in addition to Rita and Tony, there were a lot of other old favourites there…

We started by visiting the pie-man, having learned from experience that she who hesitates gets no pie.  I bought six for us and six for my choir friends, who have a standing commission for pies any time we manage to coincide with this particular stallholder.

The next stop, obviously, had to be Rita’s stall, where I chatted with Tony and Rita, and made sure my friend bought sprouting broccoli and fresh garlic.  I also bought fennel, Russian kale, and cauliflower (which is getting much more use in my kitchen these days with the advent of Practically Raw and cauliflower ‘rice’).

Farmer Joe and his goat meat were there again today, so it was time for some more goat chorizo.  I’m running out of ways to be creative on the subject of goat chorizo, but not out of ways to cook it (it’s pretty nice in my version of carbonara, for that matter, though I think it’s a little wasted in that context.  I’d definitely put it into my mildly courageous potatoes, given half an opportunity, however).

I then moved on to the organic vegetable stall that has the plain, but really good, veggies.  Still no asparagus, alack!  Apparently, the season has been just horrible for them.  I couldn’t resist bragging about my teeny tiny baby asparagus shoots, and my friendly stallholder agreed that I was very likely to have asparagus of my very own one year soon…

My friends are apparently bemused at my tendency to chat with all the stallholders at the market.  Isn’t that rather the point of going to the market?  But I digress…

I bought carrots, skinny leeks, onions and coriander.  And mixed lettuce leaves, because why not?

At this point it was clear that I was doing all the veggie stalls first, so I bounced over to the colourful vegetable stall to complete my set, and to ensure that my market newbie friend got suitably colourful carrots for her collection.  Which meant more carrots for me, and also parsley, dill, incredibly tiny spring onions, and broad beans, even though I should know better than to by broadbeans by now.  Never mind, at least there weren’t too many of them, and I can put them in tonight’s vegan pasta primavera creation.

And speaking of knowing better, I succumbed to the lure of the radishes again.  What am I going to do with a whole bunch of radishes?  Goodness only knows.  But I will clearly have to think of something (perhaps a blog post on the many uses of radishes is in my future… if I ever figure out what these uses may be…)

Can the future be read in the crystal ball, or perhaps an olive oil bottle? Or may we merely surmise that Monet spent a lot of his time looking at gardens through olive oil bottles?

Fortunately, the next stall suggested an excellent use for both radishes and dill, being as it was a stall with many different kinds of smoked trout and salmon.  I really wanted plain, but it seemed somehow wasteful not to get any flavour infusions at all, so I decided on a lemon and black pepper smoked trout fillet.  I don’t know if it will go in a salad with potato, mayonnaise, dill and radish (or in a sandwich, with just the dill and radish and mayonnaise), but this does seem like a distinct possibility…

The honey stall was there again, and having used up all my orange-blossom honey in a cake last week, I was up for trying new and interesting honey varieties.  Today’s favourite was called ‘local flora’ (local, I ascertained, meant ‘in the vicinity of Mornington’, which is not entirely local to me), and it was lovely, with quite a strong, distinct floral taste that was almost herbal around the edges.  Delicious.

My local bees were humming around my local flora as I took this – you could almost taste their honey in the air…

This was about the point at which my friend came bouncing back at me (yay, mutual bouncing!) and informed me that I had to try the olive dukkah from the olive stall.  I did.  It was pretty good, but I was more interested in garlic-infused olive oil.  I’ve been doing a lot of cooking from Nigella Lawson’s recent book, Nigelissima, and garlic oil is rather a staple of hers.

The orange stall had avocadoes, and the apple stall had limes (I realise that this sounds ridiculous, but I just go with the flow on this sort of thing), which, with my coriander, could only lead to one conclusion:

If I were on MasterChef, I could call this Deconstructed Guacamole…

I foresee some Mexican cooking in my future this week.  Perhaps nacho salad?  We shall see…

Oh, and then there was pasta!  Fettucine for my weird vegan plans (yes, I realise the pasta itself is not vegan, but since I’m not actually cooking for any vegans, that doesn’t really bother me.  The sauce will be, and that’s the interesting part of the recipe anyway), and lovely stuffed pasta shells for whichever night turns out to be the most overwhelming…

I officially have no excuses for takeaway this week.

I didn’t actually need bread, but the French bread stall always looks so delicious… I have no idea what I will be doing with those panini, but the pain au chocolat will be excellent with the fruit salad that is currently on our breakfast menu… if it lasts that long…   I was fairly amused, because as I finished buying the bread, the lady at the stall looked past me at Andrew and our friend L, who was standing with him, then looked back at me and asked “Are they yours?”.  Andrew and L agreed that they were, indeed, my belongings, and we accordingly left to visit the next stall.

And that, I think, is really all the marketing one could do before choir on a sunny Sunday morning.  As I type this, part of my brain is working out the herby tofu sauce for my pasta primavera, and wondering if I might have time to make Frugal Feeding‘s gorgeous-looking orange and raspberry cake for dessert.  I think I have all the ingredients to hand, which is a fine starting point.

But mostly, I’m just feeling so relieved about Tony.  I know we only see him and Rita a few times a year, and in fact, I’ve only figured out their names recently, but I really was worried.


This time last year…

Recipe: Too Tired To Cook Vegetables and Cheese on Toast
Adventures with Ingredients: Gewürzhaus and La Latteria
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

3 comments for “Farmers’ Market: Rita’s Husband Is Back!

  1. Iestyn
    November 6, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Of course you should talk to the stall holders: you get interesting info, make friends and, in the long term, get better advise on quality. What else could you want?

    • Catherine
      November 6, 2012 at 10:40 pm

      That’s my feeling. And also one gets advice on how to cook things one doesn’t recognise. And it’s just nicer – if I want my food impersonal, I can go to the supermarket (actually, I can’t, because I have extended conversations about cooking with the checkout girls there, too, but that’s a different sort of conversation)…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.