An eternal problem has been solved for me in the last month, twice actually, with the advent of two new produce markets that open on a Friday. You see, I love shopping for fresh produce from primary producers, yet Saturday is one of only two mornings where you can actually lie in bed until a decent hour with your partner. What to do? My new answer - swing past one of the new inner city markets on a Friday instead!
Here is an article I wrote for The Alternative Media Group about my experiences, interspersed with some photos I took of my first visit the day they opened on the 19th September, 2008...
The Country on The Rocks
By Jackie McMillan for The Alternative Media Group
Just when you thought you might have to take trainers to cross the city to enjoy the farm fresh produce on offer at Cook and Phillip’s Hawkesbury Harvest Farmers & Gourmet Food Market each Friday, those of you in the neighbourhood of The Rocks have been granted an even better way to sample and buy farm fresh produce. The Rocks Farmers’ Market launched last Friday 19th September, 2008 on a day filled with beaming sunshine. Buckets of brightly coloured tulips scattered between the stalls caught my eye as I wandered through, gasping at the availability of products even I had never seen before.
Scattered buckets of tulips herald that Spring has sprung
I was very excited to see both Kale and superb mashing Otway Red Potatoes (yes, I’m a fan of Colcannon) from Block 11 Organics. Better yet, I could also see that these products had only travelled 316 kilometres to be there. So if your eye (like my own) is geared toward reducing your food kilometres, here’s a market that makes it easy with a clear indication of food kilometres at every single stall.
Otway Red Potatoes (amongst other varieties)
Kale (on the far left) is used in dishes like Colcannon
Authenticity is the key with this market, open every Friday (10am-3pm) and Saturday (9am-3pm). You’ll actually be meeting the farmers and producers themselves, as I found out when I chatted to John Meredith from the famed Thirlmere Poultry about his cross-breed ducks – they’ve been running for thirty five years. I’m still on the fence as to whether I like them better than last week’s market offering of Pepe’s Duck… but I’ll let you know when I’ve sampled them a few different ways. It’s a tough life testing all this wonderful duck.
Thirlmere Duck had a range of products, but sadly no bags to keep them cool on your way home.
However I have no doubt that the mushrooms from Li-Sun Exotic Mushrooms, which grow in a disused railway tunnel in the Southern Highlands 118 food kilometres from Sydney, represent the best mushrooms I have ever purchased. You can also purchase Over The Moon Jersey cow milk from Johnson’s Farmgate. I’m not ashamed to say that this milk makes Coco Pops into an almost religious experience - even a Dining Reviewer has her vices.
Li Sun Mushrooms are really amazing...
Pasta Emelia (for those who don’t want to blow fuel on driving 9.2 kilometers to her store in Bronte) also have some fine offerings that are well worth taking home. I was treated to a wonderful lunch at Pony where chef Damien Heads employed Pasta Emelia’s Angel Hair Pasta with Confit Tomato, Garlic Oil and Herbs. The simplicity showed off the spectacular nature of the pasta. My greedy eyes wandered over her Truffle Cream - but it’s important to leave something new for a second visit!
Pasta Emelia's bounty... see note below article for an update on this!
The Rocks Farmers’ Market is located at Jack Mundey Place (corner Argyle and George Streets), The Rocks. For full transport details visit www.therocks.com or call 131 500.
Fresh flowers abound, and at good prices too.
After touring the market, I was lucky enough to be invited to enjoy a lunch at Pony where they used produce from the market to make a variety of lovely dishes. It was put on by the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, whom we all have to thank for the new market. Here is a photo of the beautifully decorated communal table:
I sent my CBD dwelling significant other to this market to procure dinner last Friday, pushing him toward the Pasta Emelia Truffle Cream ($5.50) I mentioned in my article. Here is the result:
This was a wonderful bowl of fresh pasta (from Pasta Emelia's stall), Truffle Cream (from Pasta Emelia's Stall), organic garlic chives (they smelt amazing) and three mushrooms including amazing Chestnut Mushrooms and King Browns from Li-Sun's stall. It's vegetarian to boot, and I think we paid $16.50 for the produce that was used to make it, plus a little oil (truffle of course) from the cupboard, making it a bargain at $8.25 per person. We're also being more responsible for our planet by buying pasta that is made in Bronte, mushrooms that have travelled only as far as from the Southern Highlands... yes, I think I can write SAVING PLANET - TICK for this week at least. ;-)