It's hard to pass up an outdoor market once the season has turned to Spring, so Saturday saw me taking my first trip to Market By The River. This monthly market takes place on the first Saturday of each month in Halvorsen Park, Ermington.
It sits in the middle of a riverfront development that’s part of the changing face of this suburb.
Dominated by a playground, the park itself is a fairly austere, treeless affair with brown grass. The market stalls thus bring some colour and interest to the site.
What you will find is a decent collection of high quality food and drink stalls, some fresh produce, and a number of artisan and handmade stalls, with only a few commercial ring-ins like Tupperware.
My market highlights included cheeses from Little Creek, a Wyong-based cheesemaker, where I picked up Sapphire ($8), a wax-wrapped semi hard blue cheese, and one of their creamy Club Cheddar ($8) cheeses.
I was impressed with the olives and olive oils by Gwydir Grove, and with the way they encourage recycling by refilling old containers for a cheaper price.
Plentiful samples were available, including salumi by the two Juans at Dos Juans Fine Food where I picked up Jamon ($15.50) and Blood Sausage ($12/4). This pair of cheesemakers are based in the Hunter Valley, and produced a really pungent soft Persian feta for me to try.
While there were plenty of places to get a sugar fix, the one that really caught my eye was Sweet Joys.
I'm a sucker for marshmallows, and this stallholder was doing samples from her fizzy blood orange and a slightly muted balsamic strawberry marshmallows. They're of a similar shape and texture to the ones made by the experts at Sweetness The Patisserie, though this maker uses freeze dried fruit powders rather than purees to flavour them.
Her nicely laid out stall also offered up fudge, stylish iced cookies, tarts, lollipops and iced Cinnamon Scrolls ($5) which looked so good, I couldn't resist taking one home.
While fresh vegetables and greens weren't that prevalent in this boutique market, I did pick up a nice Autumn Mix ($3.50) from pasture-raised pork producer, Near River.
Sauces and condiments were both abundant. With my dining companion being a sucker for a chilli sauce, we tasted quite widely.
We left carrying two chilli sauces. The first is Cory Chilli Smokin' ($10) which won us both over with moderate heat and super-smoky jalapenos, and scrubbed up a treat on a bacon and egg roll this morning. The second is Belicious Jala-Piri ($3.50/small) which is a very bright green jalapeno based sauce that will liven up avocado on toast.
Ferment It offers up a reasonably expensive range of fermented products from beetroot to sauerkraut. The best thing I tried was their unusual blend of raw organic Lime Mango, Coriander and Chilli ($20/500g), which would be great in a roti wrap with curry. What I did like about this stall was that they also sell the gear to make your own ferments which in the long run would be a more cost effective way of eating more healthy, fermented food.
You can pick up pate and some lovely onion relish at Milnes of Mudgee, and there's plenty more stalls to see that I haven't had room here to talk about.
The park's lack of trees is offset by the provision of covered seating areas, which makes eating in situ more inviting.
There's certainly a lot to eat, with marketgoers given access to everything from crepes to Spanish empanadas to Turkish gozleme, to Filipino BBQ to barbecued smoked meats from Rangers Texas BBQ.
The standout for me was the super-cute Kombi van set up called Jarrod's Shakes'n'Snags.
Not only is the food truck itself beautiful to look at, the items on the cool surfboard menu all sound great!
With hotdogs currently Sydney's biggest food trend, we settled upon the Wild Pig Snag ($9). A super-soft hot dog bun is stretched to the limit with a generous amount of smoky, chilli pork chorizo, fresh baby spinach leaves, cheese, onion, bacon bits, pineapple, jalapenos and Jarrod's chimmichurri. It's one of the best hotdogs I've tried.
We wash it down with a beverage from a Persian mother and daughter team.
They're making both hot and cold beverages. The hot stand runs from mulled cider to chai to pink unicorn hot chocolate, while the adjoining cold stand give you options including tropical punch, rosey apple and Persian lemonade. I settle upon Pink Lemonade ($5), which was fruity and refreshing.
For a market that only began in December last year, this was a very solid offering that is well worth a visit.
Market By The River
Halvorsen Park, Ermington
Next market: Saturday 7 October, 2017
Ph: (0435) 813 851