Farmers' Market at Gasworks Park, Albert Park, Victoria

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August 21, 2006 - Farmers' markets proliferate in Victoria. There are regular ones like that in Gasworks Park, just a few blocks from home. It's held on the third Saturday of each month and I decided to check it out on a recent sunny morning.

The venue had gone to the dogs. Well, not quite. A local dog obedience school was in full flight when I arrived with most of the pooches doing exactly as their owners commanded.

I slipped into the circle of market stalls to check out the produce along with the crowd of mums, dads, kids, grannies and grandads. Organic fruit and vegetables, artisanal breads, cheeses, smoked treats, meats, fish, eggs, doughnuts and cakes, sausages, rabbit meat, plants, pizzas, nut, pates, honey, olive oils, pickles, jams, sauces, fruit juice, hot beverages, wines, vinegars.

I stopped by the Jindi Pig stall run by free range pig farmers from Gippsland. They farm Tamworths, Large Blacks and Wessex Saddlebacks - rare breeds with old-fashioned flavour.

I learned the term rare breed refers to traditional farm animals no longer grown commercially and in danger of becoming extinct. The farmers maintain that by purchasing rare breed meat, customers are creating a demand and ensuring the breeds' survival. I did my bit and bought a seasoned shoulder of pork.

A little further around and I came upon the Mt Bellevue stand. The property is situated at Myrrhee, north east of Melbourne and they farm Welsh Black beef. They had meats and sausages but I was attracted by the sign which promised family-sized Black beef pies for $10. As The Spouse and one of the sons were planning on watching Bledisloe Cup rugby on TV in the afternoon, I thought a pie snack might be in order before we switched cultural caps and went to the opera in the evening. I believe Welsh Black beef is the leanest of British beef, at the same time satisfying today’s demand for flavour, texture and marbling. I can report the pie was good eating.

One of the vegetable stalls had lovely pale green kohlrabi. I had to buy one and got some free cooking advice with my purchase - grate them and saute with some oil or butter and seasoning, or cut them into pieces, parboil then roast them. I also tucked some small leeks in my bag, they looked so fresh and beautiful.

I've been on a quest for smoked fish - just ordinary smoked fillets of white fish. There were a couple of gents with a cabinet of lovely fresh barramundi so I asked them if they happened to smoke the fish. They'd just sold out but consoled me with a small tasting of what I had missed out on. I've have to get to the market earlier next time.

Further on I came across High Country Smokehouse selling its products. I was hopeful but their smoked fish was trout, scallops and salmon. I bought some of the latter for a recipe I want to experiment with.

I'd just about run out of ready cash but after trying some Granny's Blue from Red Hill Cheese on the Mornington Peninsula, I tucked a wedge of that in my bag and went in search of some bread. A loaf of sourdough from Solebake completed my purchases.


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