Farmer’s Market With Fairy-Tale Ingredients

Today was such a good market day!  It was the 5th Sunday of the month, and it’s late July, so I wasn’t expecting great things – this tends to be a combination that leads to a smaller number of stalls and fewer interesting vegetables, but the market organisers have done and excellent job of finding different people to fill the gaps, and I didn’t feel as though I was missing out at all.  5th Sunday also means that we are about to swap weeks and lose all those 1st and 3rd Sunday stallholders (including the lovely Rita and her husband), which is always sad, especially as I can never remember who is on in the 2nd and 4th weeks.  We’ll find out soon enough…

On the other hand, I missed our previous market weekend due to singing commitments, and while Andrew did go out and get me a Farmers’ Market Lucky Dip (which, I’m sorry, I never blogged about because things got on top of me about then), so I was more than usually excited about the market generally today!  And the market rewarded me with one entirely new stall and a vegetable I’ve never tried before…

It also rewarded me with this magnificent specimen of vegetable madness. Truly, the vegetable gods were generous this week!

Our first stop, as is traditional, was Rita’s vegetable stall, which is still being run by her daughter as her husband recovers from his illness.  We passed on our good wishes, and mentioned that we would be on their off-weeks for a while now (I’ve just checked, and it looks like we won’t be back on first and third Sundays until January!  I’m not sure I can wait that long…), but would try to drop in on an interim weekend to say hello.

The vegetables were as amazing as ever, with my beloved cardoons, quail eggs, sprouting broccoli (which I love more every time I buy it – so much less work and waste than the usual kind of broccoli), wild fennel, broccoli rabe, onions, garlic and, a new contender, stinging nettles!  I got pretty excited about the nettles, I must say, because I’ve seen recipes for them before, but have never actually seen them for sale… and I’m not quite game to go out to my garden, pick stuff, and hope that it is edible and not poisonous.  I’m funny like that.  Rita’s daughter showed me a cookbook by her cousin Rosa, with a recipe for nettle pie with cavallacio, so I had to buy cavallacio, too.  Cavallacio, cavallacio, at last I have figured out your *name*!  Huzzah!  I have already made a pie with this, which will be appearing in our lunchboxes tomorrow.  Hopefully, it will live up to all this excitement…

So many greens! Cavallacio, russian kale, wild fennel, leeks, cardoons. A cornucopia of things healthy…

The goat man was at the market again, so I decided to live dangerously this time and get some diced goat to play with.  I have a tagine in mind (and, indeed, in the slow cooker) for tomorrow night, so we will see how it goes.  There was also a woman selling cheese, which is something we haven’t seen for a long time – I got some Tarilli, which I’ve never tried before – it’s crumbly, like feta, but a bit stronger in flavour, and really lovely.  Which means it belongs in a pie with the nettles, aha!

What our MasterChef friends like to refer to as ‘proteins’. Though, come to think of it, they don’t seem to count eggs or cheese in that category…

A new store that rather fascinated me was a cookie dough store.  Now, you might well say that the last thing someone like me needs is to buy cookie dough, and you would be right.  I kept moving away from the store and then being drawn, irresistibly, back by the fascinating spectacle of cookie dough in a tub, ready to bake!  The choc-chip one was alright, but I can do it better (I probably should not have said that out loud, no matter how much I apologised for it afterward – oops), but the cranberry-raisin-oat cookie was really excellent.  I bought a tub, ostensibly as a gift, but I must confess that I baked the whole batch as soon as I got home.  And now I have all *sorts* of ideas for Christmas presents, too.

‘C’ is for cookie, that’s good enough for me…

The mushroom man was there again, and I had plans for grilled mushroom sandwiches after my singing lesson on Monday (I don’t know where all this organisation is coming from – I don’t usually go around the market knowing exactly what will go with what, but this time everything just fit), so that was my next stop.  And he had mutant mushrooms!

We are a million mushrooms rolled into one… Also, if you squint at this mushroom just right, it looks a bit like Dame Edna’s glasses.  Sort of. Or maybe I’m just hallucinating. Hey, hallucinatory mushrooms! Though, I’m fairly sure that’s not how hallucinatory mushrooms work. Maybe they are just Rorschach mushrooms? In which case I’m really not sure I want to know what this says about my subconscious…

The French-style baker was there, too, so we picked up more onion rolls, to go with our lamb, and some fruit bread for breakfast (which has been lovely so far – very dense and fruity and spiced.  Gorgeous.).  Next door was the pâté and pie man, and he had rhubarb pie, which I can never resist.  I don’t know what he does with his pastry, but it’s lovely and flakey and works for both me and Andrew, which is a little unusual.  And the rhubarb is lovely too, of course.

Baked goods. Why do I always buy baked goods? I don’t need to buy baked goods. I can make baked goods. But they do taste so good…

Next stop was the vegetable stand (before I spent all my money on frivolous things), which had a huge stem of brussels sprouts on display.  I was instantly enraptured by this.  I did know, vaguely, how brussels sprouts grow, but I’ve never seen them in the flesh.  We don’t much like brussels sprouts in this house, but I am just not capable of walking past something that looks like that and not buying it.

You couldn’t have resisted it either, now could you? It is so manifestly the King of the Brassicas.

It even threw into the shade the glory of fractal broccoli, which I think you will agree is truly saying something.  Mind you, I did get the fractal broccoli too, along with some cauliflower, Russian kale, baby leeks and multicoloured carrots.  By this time, I had completely blown my budget (on brussels sprouts of all things!), so we wound up getting extra money out so that I could get the last few things I needed – namely breakfast for us both, and Dutch Cream potatoes.

Mushrooms and potatoes, looking like a sort of abstract rock-garden of boulders. I don’t know why this photo appeals to me so much, but it does.

And then it was time to head off to choir, so we got our stuff together and headed for the exit, where I saw…

Vegetable mandala says the sun is returning!

No, we did not see a mystical vegetable mandala, though that would have been pretty cool, too.  Instead we saw a sign saying blood oranges.  Blood oranges! You know how I feel about blood oranges.  It’s the start of the season, so they aren’t all that blood yet, but they still fill me with joy.  The cardoons are finishing, the asparagus isn’t here yet, but the blood oranges have arrived to herald, not spring, not yet, but the fact that winter will soon be over, the season is turning, and soon we will have the daylight back.

And for all my love of cold weather – of all Melbourne’s weather – that still lifts my heart.


This time last year…

Blood Orange Curd Cheesecake with Raspberries

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5 comments for “Farmer’s Market With Fairy-Tale Ingredients

  1. Naomi
    August 1, 2012 at 12:17 am

    Lovely post – silly question, though – which farmer’s market was it with all these yummy goodies?

    • August 1, 2012 at 7:38 am

      Nothing silly about that question! It’s the Flemington Farmers’ Market, which is held every Sunday morning at Mt Alexander College. There are actually quite a few good farmers’ markets around here, but the others are all monthly, so one has to remember which week they are!

  2. lensaddiction
    August 1, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    I have a really tempting recipe for caramelised brussel sprout tart, and its vaguely medieval I think too. I keep forgetting to make it, will endeavour to try this weekend.

    • August 1, 2012 at 4:22 pm

      Ooh, could you send me that recipe?

      • lensaddiction
        August 1, 2012 at 4:45 pm

        Sure I have to dig it out of my recipe stash…..

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