Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Easter Hunting at the Market

You come here every week for warm, witty ponderings on the nature of food and cooking, peeking behind the curtain at the Market and our traders. Well, there is none of that this week! Instead, a whirlwind tour of all the delightful Easter treats we have to offer. There will be none of ye standard Lindt bunnies and the like (although we sell those too), but rather the unique and unusual offerings just here, just for you.

So let the Easter hunt begin!

Hot Cross Brownies available at the Brownie Bar - Julie's latest creation for the chocolate lover.

Divine artisan gingerbread biscuits for Easter from Vicki's Bickies at Pete 'n Rosie's Deli.

Hot Cross Bun Gelato dreamed up by Andrew at Fritz Gelato. This one is strictly seasonal!

Hard to find nut free eggs at Heritage Chocolates.

At Sweet Greek, Kathy's stocked egg dyes and stickers. Michael at Whisked recommends using "white" chicken eggs for dying and has them specially for this time of year. You can also find bunny ears, toy eggs and Easter bubble blowing kits for the chocolate-intolerant at Eggs Plus.

Café-Tasse is one of the more interesting Belgian chocolate houses and Jasper Coffee has some of their delightful Victorian-inspired chocolate egg boxes.

These Kennedy & Wilson Easter eggs are made in the Yarra Valley and prized amongst the chocolate-bean-set. (Although a hardcore cook might prefer the stunner of a copper bowl they're displayed in at the Essential Ingredient. Don't say I didn't warn you!)

 Traditional Italian Easter cake at Cleo's Deli, (similar to pandoro) called "Colomba". This means dove and is often baked in the shape of a dove for the Easter period. Some versions are also topped with pearl sugar and almonds.

Ripe the Organic Grocer has these gorgeous Fabergé type eggs containing organic dairy-free gluten-free champagne chocolate truffles. They are not cheap but they are simply lovely to behold.

And do we have hot cross buns! You can barely move around the Market without finding another variation of these popular fruity buns. Noisette will do a roaring trade in their tasty buns on Thursday and Saturday. You can also pick up Phillippa's buns at Pete n Rosie's Deli and Dench ones at Market Lane, as well as gluten free hot cross buns at the Gluten Free Providore. And Chaso's Gourmet Deli has been selling the Potts' family hot cross buns by the crateful, with their appealing glazed goodness.

 Oh and we do sell chocolate bunnies. Just in case you were wondering .... !

Wishing a safe and lovely Easter time to all our Market friends and traders!

Market Trading Hours during Easter

Good Friday: Closed
Easter Saturday: Open 7am - 5pm
Easter Sunday: Closed
Easter Monday: Closed

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2013

March is Festival Month in Melbourne, there's no denying it. And apart from my obvious affinity for all things delicious, I have a special place in my heart for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival because their headquarters are here, yes RIGHT HERE AT THE MARKET.

If you look up as you walk towards Market Lane, you might even spot the Festival staff on the balcony, making the decisions that shape the events this city enjoys so much. One particular employee has been known to occasionally accidentally dampen passerbys when watering the Festival herb garden!
If you think this means I get inside knowledge, think again. Everyone at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is sworn to secrecy over next year's theme and no amount of bribery will cause them to spill the goods. Humph. We wait (impatiently).

 There are more events than any one foodlover could possibly attend, but I particularly enjoyed two this year. One, our collabaration with Napoleone and Co Cider and Walter Trupp. Set up on the Market floor was our very own Market of Eden, hay bales and apple trees surrounding a hessian-clad table dotted with chilli plants.

Chef Walter Trupp designed and cooked four courses to complement different apple and pear ciders created by the team at Napoleone and Co. It was an enjoyable and unique experience and you can read about it in detail at The Chronicles of Ms I-Hua and MEL: HOT OR NOT.

The second was the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Langham Chef Masterclass over the weekend of 9 - 10 March. Packing demonstrations and discussions from chefs, winemakers and critics over a weekend led to a fabulous couple of days filled with new tastes, knowledge and ideas. So buzzing that I couldn't fall asleep for five hours on the Saturday night! Fortunately, thanks to the inhouse Festival coffee pop up, I managed to be bright(ish) and ready for the Bertrand Grebaut session on time on Sunday morning.

Matt Preston tries Magnus Nilsson's burned cream sauce
 A mixture of international stars and beloved locals, the Masterclass proved thought-provoking. The theme of the Festival this year is Earth, a subject dear to the hearts of many of our Traders, who directly see the impact of farming practices over the years on the produce they receive week in, week out.
Note Vegemite amongst the selection of ingredients!

And amidst all the dazzling tastes the food of Karen Martini stood out. A regular here at the Market, her techniques were not as startling as some nor did her ingredient list included edible ants or grits but it was food that I loved to eat and it was food that I will cook over and over again for my family. Her dish of kingfish with labne, nuts, watercress and pomegranate is already bookmarked to be shared over a Sunday lunch.

That's what the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is about for me. Discovering new producers, chefs and techniques. Tasting dishes that I know I'll never even attempt to recreate, wines that will never sit in my cellar (note, dirty cupboard under the stairs). Setting my mind ablaze to the point where I can't sleep and at the end, coming home. With a full stomach, some recipe notes and eyes to the future of food in a city I love.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Transeasonal Times

Garden State Fruit Supply
Transeasonal. A term more usually applied to a lightweight jacket, a heavy silk blouse, a pair of trousers capable of appearing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival AND the Spring Racing Carnival .

Ripe the Organic Grocer

And here at the Market, despite a brief squabble about the equinox, we turn a leaf over on 1 March and note the arrival of autumn, despite 30-degree-plus days convincing us otherwise. But it's distinctly odd, a time of promise and a time to linger. 

Wandering around the Fruit and Veg Hall (the best marker of seasonality) the early indications of autumn arrived last week. The first of the Corella pears, the first of the Jonathan apples. Small and sweet, the perfect size for little hands to grab from lunchboxes. And the first of the Australian pomegranates. We see only the Californian ones during the summer, grown far away in the San Joaquin Valley. But come the falling leaves and the local ones begin to make their way into the Market, followed by nashi pears and mandarins.

And yet, at the same time, you can still spot a box of cherries here and there. Plump, heavy, baked into chocolate cake, swirled through ice cream. Mangoes and pineapples still tell their brightly coloured tale of sunny days. Where to turn, what to do?

Cheong Fruit and Vegetables

Well, I for one am going to celebrate these mixed-up moments. Take Nigella Lawson's Antioxidant Fruit Salad - a simple salad, whose ingredients only collide at this time. One mango, one pomegranate, a punnet of blueberries. Dice, de-seed, tumble into a bowl, Squeeze a lime over. It could not be more simple or delicious. Just like now.