Though not together. I don’t think truffle yoghurt is the next big flavour sensation.
Yesterday was a Coburg Farmers’ Market Day, but the thing is, I am now following all sorts of lovely stallholders on Facebook or Twitter, which means that when they start chatting amongst themselves about fresh truffles or goats’ cheese, or someone who is actually making yoghurt, I will start pricking up my ears and checking which market this might be. Then, too, I had a hankering for Take Me Home’s lovely potato pizza, so I finally sent out my own Tweet enquiring which market she would be at. Slow Food it was!
I do love the Slow Food Market. It’s such a big market, and being Across The River from us in spirit, if not in technical location (Hoddle St tends to be the real dividing line), it tends to get a very different selection of farmers from the ones who attend the northwestern markets. Which is to say that there is some overlap, but it’s six or seven stalls rather than the half to two-thirds overlap that there is between Coburg and Flemington.
Yesterday was particularly fun, because there was some sort of big anniversary festival on at the Convent. We’d had vague plans to go and attend this, but then I kept on being seduced by ingredients that really needed to go into the fridge or the freezer, and also, I was still feeling ill enough that going back home to bed was sounding appealing, so we just stuck to the market this time.
Anyway, we did our preliminary look at all the beautiful stalls, and breakfasted on a slice of mandarin from a citrus stall and a cauliflower fritter from Rita (who is one of the aforementioned six or seven overlapping stallholders). Then it was straight on to Take Me Home Pasta, since this was, after all, one of the main points of the visit!
We were too late for potato pizza, but had a lovely catch-up anyway, before assuaging our disappointment with penne, a garlic pizza base, and some really amazing beetroot gnocchi which you probably know all about already, because I may possibly have been a little bit excited about them yesterday. Incidentally, the gnocchi are egg-free, but for some reason yesterday’s post won’t let me edit it to say so. We were given a couple of tomato pizza bases, too, just because, so that takes care of lunch on Tuesday – I’ve still got some peperonata in the freezer, which will be just perfect as a topping. Yum.
I then headed straight for the stall selling yoghurt, because dairy is the one area in which I’m having difficulties sourcing ethically-raised produce. I’ve got pretty good sources of free-range eggs, and Koallah and the farmers’ markets keep me supplied with ethically-raised meat and poultry, but there are very few dairy farmers on the farmers’ market circuit, and we can’t always get milk and cream through our preferred supplier. Cheese you can get if you like the fancy French stuff or goats’ cheese, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone specialising in the basic cheddars and parmesans and such, and yoghurt is something one just doesn’t see at all. This is a pity, because I can do OK without meat or without eggs for reasonably prolonged periods, but doing without dairy drives me bonkers in very short order.Anyway, there was much rejoicing at the presence of yoghurt and quark at the farmers’ market. And then there was much discussion of whether the quark was up quark or down quark or charm quark or strange quark, and really, someone out there needs to start a line of flavoured quark cheeses with physics-themed names.We drifted vaguely on from the yoghurt stall to one selling cheeses of various kinds. I knew I wanted cheese, but had no idea what kind. “Try one of the minis,” the stallholder suggested. I tried it, and decided that this was, in fact, the cheese I wanted. “I should have got you to try the most expensive one,” the stallholder opined.Opposite all the dairy and cheese stalls was a bakery that, in retrospect, may actually be entirely gluten-free, because I can’t remember seeing anything there that would obviously contain gluten. They had some rather gorgeous flourless mandarin and raspberry cakes, and also the biggest, fluffiest, most all-round gorgeous meringues I’ve ever seen, about the size of my fist or a little larger, and flavoured with freeze-dried raspberries, freeze-dried cherries, and really good cocoa.They were *amazing* – like little pavlovas without the cream, and of course now I’m wishing I’d had some cream to dip them in. They weren’t actually marshmallowy in the middle, but they were a bit chewy, and the sharpness of the freeze-dried fruit was absolutely gorgeous. I will definitely be looking for this stall again. Though, actually, I have freeze-dried raspberries, so maybe I should have a crack at making these myself…We stopped around the corner to buy eggs (vegans take note – this market segregates all the eggs, dairy and meat off at one end of the market, so you can safely stick around the other end and see very little that you can’t eat), and Andrew went off to find some breakfast while I got hypnotised by the truffle stall.Unfortunately, everyone else in Melbourne was hypnotised too, and truffles are expensive, so I decided to return once I knew if I had any money left, and went in search of breakfast myself. Mmm, apple and cinnamon gozleme – perfect for a midwinter’s morning. The next stall was the one with the amazing veggie burgers, an irresistible temptation to those who are too tired to cook.Then we had some difficult decisions to make about vegetables and pies. We’d walked past Rayner’s fruit stall twice now. They pretty much specialise in stone fruit, but at the end of summer, they slow-roast a lot of their peaches and blueberries and make them into pies, which they freeze for the winter. What could be a better way to celebrate the solstice than a pie that reminds us of the summer?I didn’t actually need potatoes, but next to Rayners was a stall that had the prettiest potatoes I’ve seen in some time – King Edwards, which are pale yellow with a pink blush around the eyes. Also, they roast well with lavender salt (says she who did just that with them this evening. Yum.)It’s important to know that I don’t need honey. Really, I don’t. But next to the potato stall was the man with the mead, and we have been trying ever since January to cross paths with him at a market when he had mead. And of course, the deal was that you got mead with a jar of honey. I tried all three meads – a dry, sherry-like one, a more conventional (and less interesting) honeyed one, and a spiced mead, that tasted like it would cure my throat infection. Sold! And, in a properly autumnal spirit, I chose a chestnut honey to go with it. I have no idea what this will taste like, but I like chestnuts and I like honey, so it can’t be bad…We really didn’t need any tarts, but the lady with the tart stall was also selling huge, luscious bunches of rhubarb. I pounced on these with delight – I’ve been wanting to make the split pea and rhubarb stew from the Green Kitchen cookbook for ages (and now I have, I must say that it definitely lives up to my hopes). The lady seemed a bit disconcerted at my plans for her rhubarb, and I think maybe regretted selling it to me, which made me feel bad, but honestly, it was a great stew, so the rhubarb definitely met an honourable end.This left us with enough money for either Rita’s artichokes or a truffle. Andrew voted for the artichokes.I, however, voted for being wicked and using the Eftpos machine so that we could have both. Is it not gorgeous? Currently, this truffle is sitting in a jar with some eggs, infusing them. On Wednesday, it is going to become part of a truffle and mushroom risotto, and I’ll scramble the eggs for breakfast later in the week when I need a treat (I’m bound to need a treat at some point). Or maybe I’ll make a truffle-infused chocolate cake. I’ve heard of such things…I was going to slice the truffle finely and put it under the skin of a slow-cooked chicken in best MasterChef style, but I was informed that this is a great way to waste the truffle flavour (which, sadly, really *is* MasterChef style). I did end up giving a nod to this idea tonight, and cooking my lovely chicken with truffle butter under the skin, and it must be said that, while the chicken was beautifully tender, it didn’t taste remotely like truffle. So I’m glad I didn’t waste the real thing.And so ends this week’s market adventures. I’m already feeling rather good about this week’s food – we have chicken and avocado and mayonnaise sandwiches for lunch tomorrow, along with dried apricots and sultanas from Happy Fruit, and a slice of chocolate brownie that I bought from a market months back and froze and forgot. Breakfast will be that beautiful yoghurt with porridgies and fruit, and Wednesday’s dinner will use the chicken stock and that truffle in a truly glamorous risotto. Tomorrow’s dinner is still to be advised, but I have plenty of possibilities in mind – setting aside all these luxurious ingredients, I have a freezer full of fresh pasta, bolognese sauce (both the beef kind and the lentil kind), mushroom burgers, lamb curry and pizza bases.There’s a lovely feeling of security in all this, I must say. In fact, I can’t help but be slightly amused at just how much food I currently have in the house. I hadn’t previously realised that I tend to hoard comfort food when I’m sick or depressed or stressed, but the evidence suggests that I do… and I must confess that I do feel a great sensation of comfort and repose when I contemplate all the good things we have to eat…. though, having said that, it’s probably time that I stepped away from the grocery stores and the markets and Farmhouse Direct for a few days, because we really and truly do have Enough Food now. It’s a bit of a pity that this week is so busy, because I think we have well and truly reached the ‘time to invite people around to dinner to help us eat’ stage. I’m seriously contemplating skipping the markets next weekend. Though I imagine by that stage we really will be out of vegetables…(just not quite yet)~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Two years ago: Easy as boiling an Egg