There’s something rather pleasing about going to a farmers’ market when one really does have a sufficiency of vegetables and meat and eggs and milk, and can thus feel free to peruse whatever one likes, with no necessity to buy sensible things, like onions.
So along we went this morning, rather later than usual, because we didn’t *have* to buy anything, and were promptly seduced by zucchini flowers! Apparently it’s still summer somewhere in Victoria, though certainly not around here. Zucchini flowers were also found in the vicinity of some rather fabulous purple carrot and spinach pasta, so we got some of that too. Of course, I realised when I got home that since this is dried pasta, it is technically forbidden to me by my pantry challenge, so it will have to wait to be consumed in June…
The same woman was also selling the very last plums of the season. I love plums, having grown up with a big tree in the backyard and watched, every year, as blossoms became tiny green plums which would grow and change colour as spring and summer progressed. Mum would stew them in huge batches and freeze them in ice-cream containers, to be served stirred through yoghurt or heated with yoghurt or icecream in the winter. They were the comfort food of my childhood.
Andrew can’t abide them. (It’s amazing we even speak, really.) So I don’t usually buy them, but just once or twice a year, especially when the season is ending, I can’t resist. They went straight from photo-shoot into a saucepan with brown sugar and a cinnamon stick, and are simmering very slowly as I type this. They smell wonderful…
The next stall was selling something entirely new to me – whole heads of garlic flowers full of the baby cloves. Gorgeous. I inquired after them, and was given a baby clove to taste. Not quite the breakfast I had been anticipating! It was milder than raw garlic, falling somewhere between raw spring onions and those onion weed stems I used to pick and eat on the way home from school, to the disgust of my mother…
We then moved on to chat to Ally of Wild Dog Produce and Robyn from Misty Spring Berries. We’re seeing Robyn pretty much weekly now, between Coburg and Flemington, and I feel a bit bad about that, because berry season is over, and I don’t really need jam right now! She did have kiwi fruit to be picked from the vine, which was pretty cool.
I’m not really a kiwi fan, though I haven’t had it in ages and should probably get some next time, so we stuck to limes this time, and moved on to finally take our proper tour of what was at the market…
There was a new stallholder who was making all sorts of amazing chutneys and curry pastes and sauces, none of which I’m allowed to buy until next month! More breakfast! Fortunately, she will be back next month, as her lemongrass paste and Asian-style apple sauce were both absolutely delicious.
We then went to get proper breakfast, which for Andrew was a pie (how can he eat pie for breakfast? I don’t understand him at all, I tell you…), and for me was poffertjes, served with plum jam – “Plums from Claire’s tree”, as the sign informed me. I was, by now, in a plummish frame of mind. This was a stall run by the primary school which hosts the market as a fortnightly fundraiser; other signs proclaimed “Lemonade – lemons from local trees!”, and upon enquiry I learned that yes, the children are all asked to bring in lemons from their trees at home! Since everyone in Coburg has a lemon tree, and usually can’t use everything it produces, this is quite a practical measure.
After that, it was time for more produce stalls. There was a stall selling Boer goat, which is the kind I rather like and haven’t seen for over a year – definitely a win. I’m not usually one for pre-prepared meals, but they had a goat roast rolled and stuffed with pickled walnut, quince paste and feta cheese which sounded irresistible. I know what tomorrow’s dinner will be…
We looked sadly at the dried fruit shop, which we may not patronise until next month, and continued on toward the apple stall that has been catching my eye every fortnight.
Isn’t it gorgeous? We don’t really need apples, since we still have tiny ones from last week, but now that we are moving into the colder weather, I have a yen for stewed fruit. So I bought some of the new season Royal Gala, for their sheer beauty, and half a kilo of chestnuts, because much as they drive me crazy to prepare, it isn’t really autumn until I’ve burned my fingers peeling chestnuts at least once.
(also, the farmers’ market general table had recipes for all sorts of things including chestnut cake! I may well be making that this weekend…)
The next stall to catch my attention was the sourdough bread stall. I’ve only ever seen this chap once before, also at Coburg, and his fruit buns are amazing. Technically, I’m not allowed to buy bread until I run out of bread flour, but since I have only enough left for a very small loaf at this point, I figured it was OK to buy sourdough bread with dried apricots and raisins and figs through it to freeze for later in the week. The stallholder was quite amused by my explanation of this, and agreed that it was certainly within the rules, especially as I wasn’t making my bread with sourdough culture, and he was…
We then investigated the herb and greens stall, which is *still* selling tomatoes, though the ones they had out to taste were getting a bit to the flavourless stage. We bought more not-really-poisonous sorrel, as well as curly kale and wonderfully fragrant marjoram. I don’t quite know what my plans are for the latter, but if all else fails, I’ll dry it and crumble it for later use.
Of course, having bought a goat roast, it was necessary to also buy potatoes, because what is a roast without potatoes? So we returned to Ally to talk about potatoes and winter crops and holidays and whether they would be hanging around for winter this year (in the past, we’ve only seen them in the spring and summer).
Then we went to have a look at a cheese stall. Contemplating my fridge, I looked at Andrew and said “purple cauliflower with blue cheese sauce!”. The woman next to us eagerly asked us where we’d seen that, and I had to explain that I’d just thought of it. The stallholder told us that the cheese we wanted for that would be Creswick Gold, and she was right – it’s a fairly light, not too old-sockish blue cheese that reminded me a little of Roquefort or Gorgonzola. Not, I hasten to add, that I know anything about blue cheese, I’ve just learned that the ones I like are along those lines, and that I should avoid the Stiltons of this world like the plague…
At this point, I was just about done, but I did have to go back and have another look at the giant double squash we’d seen earlier. I was planning to get just a collection of pattypan squashes, but Andrew wouldn’t hear of it “You’re the patron saint of mutant vegetables! You can’t leave it behind!”. So I got the whole family.
And then I helped Andrew put the goodies in the car, and walked home separately, because it’s all about the pedometer around here!
Lunch, after all that, was leftover pasta from the other day. Andrew had leftover quinoa and lentils.
Dinner was a pasta bake with kale, bok choi and rainbow chard and cheesy sauce. It started off as cheesy sauce with kale, bok choi, chard and pasta, but Andrew made me cook more pasta on the spurious grounds that he didn’t think that cheese sauce with some token pasta and a lot of green vegetables was a proper dinner.
Incidentally, how gorgeous to the chard stems look when sautéed with the bok choi stems and garlic flower clovelets?
Dessert was a gorgeous black plum crumble, of course. How could it not be?