Farmers’ Market – Spring has Sprung!

Spring has sprung
The grass has riz
I wonder where the asparagus is?

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Yes, I know, that’s a pretty sad attempt at drawing asparagus.  But I’m afraid it’s as close to asparagus as I got today.  Alas, the asparagus man went to a different market, and there was nobody selling asparagus at all, though I am reliably informed by the other vegetable stall-holders that I can now buy it from my greengrocer with a clear conscience.  Which is a good thing, because all the beautiful spring greens are coming out, just itching for some asparagus to set them off, and if that isn’t enough, there are also goose eggs!

Goose egg, with apple and cauliflower… well, with baby caulfilower and a very small apple, to be precise.  I couldn’t resist. It’s still a big egg.

The lady told me that their flock of geese had recently started laying.  She seemed pretty excited about it, so I told her those eggs were awesome, and that also, the geese would come in really handy if they got invaded by the Carthaginians! Apparently, this was not the response she was looking for, because she gave me a really odd look.

Those eggs are awesome though.  And how good would it be to soft-boil a great big goose egg and have it for tea with asparagus soldiers?  Well, probably not all that awesome, if I was the one doing the boiling, since I am notoriously bad at that, but I am deeply tempted to try the whole poached-egg-in-gladwrap trick.  I’m told goose eggs make incredibly good sponge cakes, too, and I am also pondering soufflés, using some of the herbs from the herb man.   Incidentally, I told my fellow choristers about my goose eggs, and one of the sopranos informed me that she had cooked an emu egg last week.  Which was blatant one-upmanship, in my view, but she has promised to get me an emu egg next time she goes to Gisborne.  Because that would be a whole world of awesome.

Those really are seriously cool eggs.

The goose-girl (couldn’t resist) was also selling raw milk – unhomogenised and unpasteurised.  I didn’t know you could get that in Australia, but apparently you can sell it provided you aren’t selling it for human consumption.  “You can use it for cosmetics, or feed it to pets,” she told me, eyeing me warily in case I was about to come up with more classically-based theories of Things to Do.  Since I am unaware of any ancient military uses for raw milk, I held my peace, and she looked a bit relieved.  Until her companion piped up with “But once you get the milk home, we really don’t mind what you do with it!”.  Yes, I’m sure you don’t, but you probably shouldn’t be telling people that…

Speaking of things to do with milk, the butter lady was back from maternity leave!  Hooray! While I enjoy making my own butter, hers is extraordinarily good, and I’m not silly enough to pass it up just because I could, in theory, make my own.  Especially when I know I won’t, or not this week, anyway.  She had the smoked garlic one that she teased us with last time, as well as a chocolate butter and a truffle-infused butter.  I got the smoked garlic and the chocolate (which I do not intend to use together).  Yum.

Pizza bases, fresh butter, and Nice Buns

The lady who sells pasta and really extraordinary pizza bases was back, too.  She broke her foot a few months ago, poor thing, and then she was on the opposite weeks from us, so we kept missing her.  I was very excited to see her – her pizza bases actually taste like pizza, and are really a wonderful dinner base on a choir night.  I’m still kidding myself that I’ll actually make pasta sometime soon, so I did not get any pasta this time…

I’m actually really scatty today, and this post is bouncing all over the place, out of order, which, coincidentally, was how I approached the Farmers’ Market stalls this morning – racing from one to another, totally out of order, with Andrew and our friend L trailing bemusedly behind me. Not to mention forgetting first my Carrot Card and then my wallet, and having to send poor Andrew back to the car for them. So before the butter lady, we actually went over to Redbeard’s bakery, where the sourdoughs go by names like ‘brunette’ (dark rye), ‘stubble’ (wholegrain) and ‘Carmen Miranda’ (fruit bread).  We got some ‘Nice Buns!’, which are currant buns flavoured with cardamom and absolutely delicious for breakfasts.

Completely gratuitous vegetable rainbow!

My first port of call as far as fruit and vegetables were concerned was the orange stall, to see if they had any blood oranges.  Andrew is in the middle of his teaching placement, and I have been campaigning for him to do a science experiment involving adding blood orange juice to various ingredients (or adding them to the juice) such as vinegar, bicarb of soda, egg whites, lemon juice or water, to see which ones make it change colour and how much.  This campaign can only be successful, of course, if the blood oranges are still in season.  Fortunately, they were, so I collected a bag of them.  I will probably use  the rest of them to make my last blood orange pectin jellies for the year – I seem to have missed most of their season this time around.  The orange stall was also selling salted pistachios, which sounded odd but interesting, so I got some of those, too.

The oranges and carrots have the pumpkin surrounded!

I thought we should investigate the apple and pear stall next. I admit, I find this whole apple and pear time of year rather boring, but they had these incredibly tiny apples called sweet something. No idea what. But far too cute to pass up. And we got some Dutch Cream potatoes from the potato man next door. I must say, I like this potato guy, but I really miss the chap with the purple potatoes and the incredible garlic – I hope he comes back soon.

Apples and rhubarb. And no, I didn’t airbrush them – there’s just something about the light that makes them glow and look a little bit unreal.

Despite the intrinsic coolness of Giant Eggs, I think my favourite stall of today was the herb stall.  It’s this incredibly oasis of green in the middle of everything, full of bunch after bunch of the most glowingly healthy, vibrant, happy looking herbs I have ever seen.  His herbs always look pretty good, but today they were obviously just overflowing with life and the joy of spring.  I wanted to buy one of everything, and eat them all right there and then.  But I do have some sense of self-restraint, so I settled for four beautiful big bunches of herbs – baby spinach (a deeper green than I have ever seen it before), Russian kale, French sorrel and rocket.  And I am now having trouble telling the non-kale ones apart (though tasting them works just fine, nom nom nom).

A double spinach leaf. I’ve never seen one before.

The next vegetable store had tiny, tiny leeks – thicker than my thumb, but still only about the diameter of a five cent piece.  They also had wild fennel.  I haven’t the faintest idea what I’m going to do with wild fennel, but I was seduced by its wonderful, frondy greenness.  And the broccoli was looking wonderfully vibrant, too, and better still, it’s a vegetable I know what to do with (there’s nothing worse than getting home from the farmers’ market and realising that you have  all these wonderful ingredients and absolutely no idea what to do with them).  We got some.  And then the lady saw my carrot badge and gave me Even More Fennel.  So now I really need to think of what I’ll do with the fennel…

Wonderful greens! Broccoli, French sorrel,baby spinach, wild fennel, rocket, leeks, and russian kale…

I wanted rhubarb, too, so I went over to the other vegetable stall for a couple of bunches… and some baby carrots… and maybe a wedge of pumpkin.  The stall-holder gave me two teeny-tiny cauliflower as as my Carrot Club bonus.

Look at all my lovely vegetables!

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