Friday, 24 May 2013


Finally, finally, I acknowledge that autumn is here. And don't tell me that winter is technically a week away! With the long run of warm days, the temperature arcing into the mid-twenties, it has been quite possible to cling to the dream of an endless summer.

But looking at this week's Bureau of Meteorology forecast sends me hurtling back into reality. That, and being on the Market floor. Watching pallets of fruit and vegetables unloaded in the early morning, there are the distinct signs that the seasons are a'changing. Late stone fruit lingers, Imperial mandarins arrive, as do quince and pomegranate, but we're not simply living off silverbeet and sweet potato just yet.

The wild mushrooms begin to surface. This year, due to the lack of rain and warmer weather, there have been slim pickings. A couple of baskets of pine mushrooms here, a crate of Slippery Jacks there. But the determined will always seek them out, knowing there is nothing more glorious than a handful of mixed sauteed mushrooms, atop a slice of thick walnut toast or a bowl of polenta.

Slow cookers are pulled from the cupboard, as are the footy scarves. Salsa takes a backseat to sausage rolls and light, warm soups start to make their way to workplaces, tucked away in thermos flasks.

And the nuts! This really is the moment to savour them as the local nut harvests see chestnuts, hazelnuts and walnuts arrive at the Market in droves, in shell. Not all of us are into "chestnuts roasting on an open fire" but if you do not like hazelnuts, lightly toasted in a cast iron pan, then I do not know what is wrong with you.

And pears - Beurre Bosc, Packham and Red Sensation. Ripe the Organic Grocer and Paddlewheel often have heritage varieties of apple as well, Cox Orange Pippin and Braeburn, old orchard names you will not find on a supermarket shelf.

It's not only a time of change for fruit and vegetables, pheasant and guinea fowl have arrived at John Cesters Poultry. Guinea fowl have a short season, from April to July and unsurprisingly, this game bird goes beautifully with wild mushrooms.

Hmmn. Look at that! I've talked myself into liking autumn after all ... 

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