Today was our Farmers’ Market Day!
One of the fun things about this particular market is that while there are several fruit and veg growers who are there every week, there is a lot of variation among the other stalls – you might get one cheese stall or three; the butter lady may or may not be there; you might get the pasta and pizza stall or the Turkish one; the farmer who sells chicken, or the one who specialises in beef, in lamb, or in veal, or in pork – or even in goat or buffalo. There are several sourdough bakers and makers of cakes and tarts, and the most fabulous pie shop, but they all come at different times of the month, and we’re yet to figure out which. There is a stall with honey and beeswax products, and sometimes a wine and oil and vinegar stall, and there is the guy who sells raspberries and only comes for a few weeks in the summer. There are several egg farmers, who seem to alternate, and sometimes there is the stall which just sells all different kinds of herbs.
Today was a pretty big market. All the meat stalls were there (rather a pity, since I bought my meat for the week yesterday, though I did get a dozen veal sausages for the freezer – always good to have a few easy meals on hand, and who can resist veal with pumpkin and apricot?), including some we haven’t seen before, along with two greengrocers, two potato specialists, two fruit stalls, an egg stall, a stall with jam and one with tarts, a cheese stall, and a baker. And I’ve probably forgotten some.
You can tell we’re heading into winter now – most of the farmers come from the goldfields region of central Victoria, which is always a bit colder than Melbourne, and Melbourne has not been warm recently! So the vegetable stalls were full of green leafy things like kale, cabbage, broccoli and bok choi, and root vegetables like carrots, daikon radishes, beetroots and onions, and the fruit stalls had dozens of varieties of apples and pears, along with oranges, lemons, pomegranates, grapes, pistachios and persimmons.
I couldn’t resist all this green leafiness, especially after spotting this barley and greens gratinat the Garden of Eating a few days ago, so I bought up big on the leafy stuff. We’re still eating beetroot soup, and I couldn’t face any more carrots, either, so I left the root vegetables rather alone, but this is definitely the time of year for apple crumbles and poached pears (or maybe a pear and gingerbread cake), so I got a good collection of apples and pears, and of course some pumpkin for tonight’s chicken curry.
The potato man knows me too well now, and got out the purple Sapphire potatoes almost before asked for them. I think it took him a mere one market to grasp my fixation on oddly-coloured vegetables, but really, could you resist these?
I also got some of his lovely garlic, which is the best I’ve tasted.
After that, it was just a matter of picking up some eggs, sourdough bread, and the chocolate and hazelnut brownie cake that I foolishly allowed the sourdough baker to let me try. Rule one of Farmers’ Markets is don’t try anything you don’t want to buy – because once you’ve tried it, it won’t matter what your original intentions were.
Then I sent Andrew home to unpack the groceries (husbands are so useful) while I toddled virtuously off to choir for a little baroque music, and then home again for lunch.
Mmm… Farmers’ Market meets the What’s In the Fridge school of cookery: – it’s hard to go wrong cooking up purple potatoes, eggs and garlic with a bit of tomato, parsley, spring onions, roast capsicum and a sprinkling of sheep’s milk cheese from Casa Iberica, with perhaps a bit of rosemary and paprika to season them…