Thursday, February 11, 2010

This Little Piggy Went To Market...

...And so did this one...

...and this one came too!

...Oh, it's true, what they say: you Snooze, you loose - and if it rhymes, then it can't be a lie. Snoozing and losing, what's the deal you guys? While the rest of you were cocooned in your silently snuggley bedding, oh so soundlessly asleep, dreaming of betrayal and scandal and your teeth falling out while a stranger chases you through the bleak darkness that is your innermost self, while outside a grey but brilliant sky rained you a sulky-silvered lullaby, the rest of us were flipping the proverbial bird to the morning rain and having a bit of a damn good time at The Everleigh Market. CakeKnifeBabies! Wake up and smell the Toby's! Breakfast in bed is for grandmas, this is how the cool kids roll...

...Beautiful bouquet green herbs. Vivid-Alive-Could-Never-Contrive-Green. These brilliant bunches look like they were picked on Pandora. Singing Basil and Peppery Coriander, and stalks of perfectly prim plum hued rhubarb, all gathered up in cosy bunches, waiting to be sweetly poached and softly bitten. But it's not just the products you go to market for, it's the whole experience of buying them. No offence to any depressed Woolies check out chicks, but would you get a load of this guy?

...A smile like that can only occur on the surface of a truly happy mouth that is getting an adequate intake of beautiful antioxidants! Everleigh is full of friendly, beaming faces that know what they're selling you. Perhaps because most of them grew, picked, baked, mixed and cooked it up themselves. So social and convivial. Usually the only way you can get to meet a stranger around these parts is by getting rolled by one. How pleasant to wake up to a whole community just around the corner, this is a great way to shop and dawdle and look and touch (when no one is looking). And to Taste. Oh, to Taste. Believe me when I say you'll want to be tasting from the abundance of samples out on little, welcoming plates. Try to locate this smiling man and get a molar into one of his nectarines, they were the most blinding i'd had this season.

Now, if you come from a Lebanese family, an heirloom isn't a lacy, fragile precious something your fumbling but doting great-grandmother bestows you with upon your coming of age. No, no, no. An heirloom, for a little Lebanese girl, is a comically big, mishapen, glob of twinklingly tantalizing tomatoed deliciousness. These things are like a deformed fist shooting out of a bud. I love them! Heirlooms are varieties that have been passed down through several generations. If they were people, they would be well-bred Old Money. And as a tomato, they boast more flavour and character than most. These aren't little red riding hood tomatoes, to be sliced up nonchalantly and pressed against ham and cheese within some sourdoughed claustrophobia. No, these tomatoes are a damn meal in itself. I remember Dad getting a plate and a knife and just cutting one the size of half my head up, slicing wedges here or there and gently salting them. Hela told me I had to meet the Tomato Man at Everleigh who has them in a rainbow shade of exotic varieties. You don't argue with people from Poland, and so meet him, I did.

This is the Black Krim, it comes from around Russia, and let's face it: with a name like that you have just got to try one.

Or one of these shy little pale green babies. So beautiful! I got lost staring at these for a little while. Don't store them in the fridge, tomatoes are really quite delicate in flavour, if you make them too cold then all of the essential oils in them don't release their flavour so readily. I think this is true of all fruits, I don't like them once they've gone frigid (grapes and watermelon are an exception).

Lookie here at these muted scarlets and golden yellows. I don't know if it's the sadist or the glutton in me, but I would love to see these all hacked up with a too-sharp knife and presented on a big, rustic silver platter. All the wonderful colours smudging into themselves, with just a sharp flick of some sea salt and a drizzle of drunken olive oil, and maybe some basil, too. But then again, what won't an Arab put oil and salt on? Such precious produce, like globs of gleaming, glowing gems for refracted light to dance upon. You just know that they are packing more flavour than the pre-suicidal ones you see morosely lurking in supermarket aisles, their muted tomatoey cries for help, lost amidst the cries of some puny, withering Basil.

If you haven't tried the award winning Brilliant Food product line up, take your cue from Homer and use some free samples to try, try, try and maybe not buy. What these guys have done is taken amazing fish and either smoked it or made delicious condiments and creams out of it, which become a really accessible way for you to add fish to your diet. The Smoked Ocean Trout Rillettes is a spiced, smooth fishy paste that is just begging for some Sonoma bread to get all into a slather over. Bowie and Roxy love the freshness of these products, and so do the judges who keep giving them awards.

This is Rick, chatty and with my kind of humour, but I was going to like him anyway, for reasons more gastric. Rick is the Emilia Organic Pasta Dude, and that's a wonderful thing for a man to be. Emilia is a Sydney based pasta range I used to get for Danny from The Wholefoods House, he loves their fresh fettuccine and linguine and their amazingly rich and deep little potted pasta sauces. This is a precious brand, using free range eggs and meats and even boasting a spelt line of pasta.

Tell me, then, how do you like your tortelli? With Duck and Truffle? Or with Artichoke with Ricotta and Herbs? With Crab and Prawn? Or are you a ravioli kid? Rick made us try the beetroot and 'chev' with a creamy sauce, so, so good. Hela and Hakim were getting their toothpick on very well, indeed. The sauces star richer than Berlusconi italian mushrooms and thick, yielding cream, spicy tomato herb, pesto with parsley and macadamia... Cheesus Christ. Effortless, amazing Italian in big steaming bowls, all organic/free range and rich and true.

Oh, Mushrooms. Mushrooms are stultifying. They're more profound than most things in life. You can ponder a fine mushroom forever and still not be done. Mushrooms are many and mushrooms are madness. People who love mushrooms don't love them calmly, they love with a little bit of fungal fanaticism! They sit up in their chair and love them! I once went to a place in Japan called Mushroom (in Japanese) which had an entire menu built around more varieties of mushroom than I ever knew existed. The lovely chef told me that in autumn there are 42 kinds of mushroom on his menu! Living in Australia as a fungal fanatic can be a little difficult, but boutique mushroom growers are mushrooming up all over the place. Delicate and earthy, they taste like something deep and secret, and are rich enough to carry a meal without any meat. They love a knob of salty organic butter and a little finely chopped herbs. And then they are Ready. Ready to get your eyes rolling into the back of your head, around through the parietal bone and out of your inner ear canal and onto the startled floor!

I was going to talk to the mushroom guy and do a bit of investigative journalism for you. I was going to impress you with little tidbits and cooking tips. I was going to regale you with tales of where they are grown and how. But after the mushroom guy saw me staring dreamily at his wares for what must have been more than 30 seconds, and especially after he overheard me saying 'FUCK, i just LOVE mushrooms', it got a little bit awkward for everyone and Hela pushed me along to the next stall.

Don't let that daunt you, though, there are a stack of recipes at this stall for you take home, giving you lots of ideas and techniques that will make you swoon for the 'shroom, if you are indecent enough to not do so already. The flavours are so subtle and the mushrooms themselves are so soft and delicate, you really feel like just running your adoring fingers through them and stroking their silky, winding backs. Mushroom molestation. It could be a crime in 2010.

Oh, Sonoma, when don't I have something to say about thee. The bombtastic parcels of earthen-ly baked beauty are all here in a happy little bread scrum for you to pick and choose.

That, in the middle, is my darling Kamut, it's the best bread I have ever bitten into. Danny and I use it to make larder luncheon thick, old fashioned Austen-esque turkey and cheddar sandwiches with amazing butter and a little salt. The bread is divine. It's silky, perfectly poised between moistness and dryness. It is the Daniel Craig of breads, delicious and powerful, and so, so intense. I tried the Miche for the first time in a cafe in Sydney the other day and loved it as well. It tastes wholesome and nutty and has a beautiful texture to it. Both the spelt and regular granolas are also up for grabs. I just have to point out that when I say 'regular' I still allude to the most spectacular granola on the face of this earth. If a parallel universe existed and I could live in it simultaneously, happiness would consist of eating Sonoma granola there and here. Crunching it up all over the bloody universe. I bought some for Hakim, if he has fallen yet, he's shortly about to.

Eumundi Smokehouse Sausages and I go way back (not as way back as the gym and I, though). Try some at Everleigh if you haven't already, they're usually fresher and have a better range than at any shop you can find them in. They're gourmet but not at all wanky, each sausage has rich, well balanced flavour and is beautifully seasoned. They're intelligent sausages. So many new sausages have all these crazy combinations, they taste different but they don't actually taste good. Eumundi's are always delicious, and still manage to be different. I've put them into sandwiches and topped pastas with them, eaten them grilled with salad and veges, and even made potato stews and soups with them, which was very Irish of me, indeed.

You're a sparky readership. You get the gist, right? There is all this and more, ice cream sandwiches, citrus spiked, giant marshmallow, veges and fruit, chocolate and pate, fresh roasted coffee, sticky salty sausagey somethings and greasy bacon and egg rolls staining your fingers with sauce, beautiful yoghurts with sweetly scented fruits and honey and spice, and mousses and dips and breads and cupcakes and lollies and oils, in every flavour under the rain. There's a fair bit of gluten-free going on as well, which is also something to get excited about.

That's sausage in a pan.

And that's some delicious lamb.

Any time you feel lazy about getting up early and getting into the markets, I want you to roll over on your sleepy side and think of The Polish Workhorse, aka Hela. This amazing lawyer to be not only gets up early to walk into Everleigh in the rain, she does it before she goes to her regular Saturday swimming lesson, in the rain. That's the kind of discipline that is truly inspiring. If you're not inspired by that, then check out the fluro pink cossie!

The Everleigh market happens every Saturday, 8 am - 1 pm, at 243, Wilson St Darlington, next to the old carriageworks.

This is a much more European way to shop, it's more involved, has more of an aesthetic and lets you take care of yourself, your friends and your family with far fresher produce and meats than you're likely to find in a supermarket. And it's fun, all the while exposing you to things you might not normally try. Get some friends together, if you have them, and make a morning of it, the Glebe markets are only a 15 minute walk away if you feel like moving onto fashion afterwards.

But who wants to go near clothes when your gloating belly is so full from the salacious act of 'sampling'. Oh, a word of advice to new samplers, don't be shy. Hakim was a first time Everleigh boy, after politely taking only the smallest offering when we first walked in, about 20 minutes later he was colonizing the front of any stand, with seasoned pro Hela in tow, and just taking it as quick as they could offer. It's dog eat dog out there, push, shove and elbow your way to deliciousness. That way you get some cardio in as well.

Everleigh Market is what Sydney needs more of, trust me when I tell you that we very happily cried wee wee wee, all the way to Max Brennar in Newtown for Hot Chocolates afterwards. That was a good day!


A Slave Journal said...

oh amanda, i love your fungal fanaticism!

just makes me realise i have waited TOO LONG to go to everleigh!!!


amanda said...

natasha! have you been yet? im going again tomorrow i think, let me know if you find anything good when you do try it x

Claudia said...

Everleigh is fabulous - as are the markets at Orange Grove Public School in Lillyfield - less kinda polished concrete and Kylie Kwong sitings that Everleigh but also the site of good organic produce and shetland ponies should anyone scream for diminutive four legged friends. Great cheese man at Orange Grove - also Sonoma makes an appearance and the pasta people too. Great fresh flowers - worth a look.

amanda said...

hey claudia, yep i go to orange grove as well, want to blog it with me? we can go one sat next couple of weeks x a