Difficult decision this weekend – do we go to the Preston Farmers’ market, today (closer and held less often, but has fewer vegetables and more sweets), or do we go to the Show Grounds Market tomorrow (better range of veggies and fruit and actual healthy food for cooking with, but which will not have my lovely Italian lady, because my pay week is now out of sync with her market weeks until November)?
In the end, I woke up early and couldn’t get back to sleep this morning, and chose to keep my options of sleeping in tomorrow open (I’m lazy like that). So to Preston Farmers’ Market we went!
This really is a fun market. It’s on once a month, and seems to have the same stallholders each time (unlike the Show Grounds, which is weekly, but has different people every week, all on different cycles). On the meat side of things, there is the goats’ meat stall, a beef stall, Koallah Farm for beef and lamb, a ‘sausagologist’ who sells cooked and vaccuum-packed sausages in intriguing flavours like Morroccan Chicken with dates and preserved lemons, or Duck with szechuan pepper and plum, and purveyor of smoked fish, seafood and chicken. We’re actually getting a delivery from Koallah today (we were aiming for last week, but that didn’t work out), so we didn’t really look at the meat stalls, though I did collect some smoked trout – I haven’t had it in years and have no idea whether I like it.
The lady who sells pasta and antipasti was very determined to feed us. We got to the market fairly late, and she kept saying “Look, I’ll have to throw out anything that doesn’t get eaten today! Try some sun dried tomatoes! This is what they are supposed to taste like! Try some feta! Do you like olives?” We escaped without pasta (because I still have some frozen from our last encounter), but I have to admit, her sun dried tomatoes really are what they are supposed to taste like – as though they’ve been picked from the vine on a sunny day, and then concentrated – so we had to get some. You would have done the same. I’m now trying to remember what smoked trout tastes like, because my instinct is that it is strong enough to stand up to these tomatoes and might be great tossed with pasta, sun dried tomatoes, and maybe some of my feta cheese…
There was a woman selling local honeys, which are apparently cold-harvested and raw. I’m not 100% sure what that means, but they were really interesting. She had them lined up from the strongest to the mildest – I tried a mild orange-blossom honey, but was surprisingly taken with the strong Manna Gum honey, so that has followed me home. I think I’ll try L’s Japanese Honey Cake again, because it deserves to be showcased.
We decided that we’d better head for the fruit and veg next, before we accidentally spent all our money on sweets, so we temporarily bypassed the Bedouin Delights lady (who you may remember as the purveyor of Sfoof from last time) and went looking for blood oranges. Alas, there were none to be found. Most distressing. What is the point of August if you don’t get blood oranges, really? The orange man tried to convince me to buy the ordinary kind, but since I already have a treeful that I don’t know what to do with, I declined. Sadly, this was the only fruit available, which was disappointing. On the other hand, it does give me an excuse to go and check out the garden shop on our street, which has just transformed into a garden shop that also sells organic foods. An excursion for later.
The main vegetable stall is still very much in winter mode. Gigantic purple carrots were a bit scary even for me – I selected some more modestly-proportioned yellow ones instead. The broccoli looked really happy, and I haven’t seen brussels sprouts all season, so I stocked up on my brassicas, and on the lovely slender leeks. Rainbow chard will always get my attention, and I also picked up some leafy golden beetroot – I’m not sure what I’ll use the beetroot itself for, but the leaves will go with my chard in a rainbow chard gratin that I’ve been eyeing off for a while now. And a wedge of pumpkin is always going to get used around these parts.
The mushroom man was there again – just one type of mushroom, but also free-range eggs, and locally-grown chickpeas and lentils, which I had no idea were even grown around here. Mushrooms, eggs, and chickpeas were added to the bag. The potato stall had delicate little Kipflers and some Nicoles, but their Valour potatoes were so ridiculously enormous that I had to go with them. Four potatoes put me well over two kilograms. Awesome. I’ve got one of them baking in the oven for lunch as we speak. It will probably be ready sometime around lunchtime tomorrow…
Having responsibly bought my veggies, eggs, and mushrooms, it was definitely time to buy some sweets. So we went back to the Bedouin lady, who was all out of Sfoof, but interested to know that I’d been trying to make it at home. Her version is gluten-free, which explains why it is so much moister than mine. Interesting. We bought baklava fingers and date pastries, both of which I had tried last time and been unable to afford! We also got a little packet of hazelnut and orange biscuits, which were surprisingly un-hazelnutty and yummy. Incidentally, I just had some baklava and it is incredible. Bedouin lady definitely likes her orange flower water and her honey, but then, who doesn’t?
I told Andrew that the last $10 was his to spend, and he decided that bread, jams, or olive oils were all much less interesting than the shop with all the tiny little cakes. So we got a little box of petits fours – a chocolate minty thing, a mini mudcake, a raspberry butterfly cake, a berry friand, a lemon tartlet, and a caramel slice. The petits fours lady was amused by us, possibly because we were behaving like small children (Andrew started it!), and bickering, and then taking it in turns very carefully to choose cakes, and told us to be good and not to fight on the way home.
And now… everything is put away tidily, and it just remains for me to figure out exactly what I plan to do with all this delicious food. And wait for my beef and lamb delivery. And then, perhaps, go for a wander down to that garden shop and see what, exactly, they have for my fruit bowl. I might even buy a pot or two of herbs and flowers, to go on our little balcony at work – they’ve finally given us the key to it, but it has nothing except concrete. I think some marigolds would do nicely…