Under colder skies

We’re in Melbourne. And it’s bloody freezing!

We arrived late-ish last night, slightly delayed, after a long day spent either on planes or at airports. It was good to finally bend my back in a different direction and relax in the company of much-missed friends.

We have eaten delicious curry, slept in comfortable beds, shown our handwork to each other, and caught up on reminiscences and gossip. It was wonderful.

And today we made a trip down to Torquay, on Victoria’s Surf Coast. It’s a two hour drive, but pleasant.

The purpose was to have a delightful rootle on the shelves of Amitié Textiles, which had relocated there. Oh, and have lunch.

And rootle we did, after a brief unscheduled stop for a really excellent farmers’ market, where the party purchased locally distilled gin stuffed with Australian botanicals, a very authentic boerewors sausage, a bag of locally grown apples and some extremely luxurious baked cheesecake.

My friend Chippy and I both came away with fabric loot which I’m sure will be featuring on our blogs in the not too distant future. And then there was lunch, which was epic and awesome and warming and filling, and eaten overlooking a dark and blustery Bass Strait. But later, while we were checking out the surf at Bell’s Beach, there was a rainbow, so that was alright.

And then we came home and ate more curry. And tomorrow, there’s going to be a bigger gathering: friends, and family, and a lovely brunch at the Terrace Café at Melbourne Botanic Gardens.

So more on that later.

Clean food

By which I mean food free of things which do not nourish. Like pesticides, herbicides, preservatives, etc.

We’re trying to pay more attention to what we eat, and changing the nature of the things we put in our mouths. It has been months since I opened the sugar jar, and I’ve actually moved it out of the kitchen and into the store room. We’re buying heaps more vegetables, to the point where I’ve had to fire up the second fridge again; the weather’s too hot and humid here to keep them out of a refrigerated area. It’s paying off, we both feel better, sleep better and have less wobbly stuff to try and cram into our clothes. But up to now, it’s been a bit of a struggle to find some foods that are more rather than less as nature intended.

Until today. We have discovered a new Farmer’s Market which has been going for a short while in a lovely spot next to the Pioneer river in the centre of town. As this is still so soon after Christmas, there weren’t too many stalls yet, but I’m told that going forward, many others will return after their Christmas break.

On sale we saw: Home made jams, sauces and pickles; culinary and dessert sauces and locally made rum liqueur; freshly caught local seafood and fish; local garlic and herbs; local salads and greens; local pineapples, picked that morning; local pumpkins and zucchini; local jakfruit, watermelons, sugar bananas, pawpaws and mangoes; organic grass-fed, biodynamic pork, beef, bacon, sausages and proper pastured free range eggs; local musicians and coffee stalls, and more…

clean-foodI love a good porky snag (sausage, if you’re not an Aussie), so I bought a pack of them from Freckle Farm: pork, leeks, garlic, rice flour and salt. I needed eggs, so I bought a dozen of those too, from the same place. The hens are allowed to range freely, not yarded, and they are stocked at only 150 per acre rather than up to 4,000 per acre, which is apparently what the egg producing industry feels is free range. I don’t, and I’ll be buying these whenever I can in future. The farm uses no pesticides or herbicides, the animals are pasture raised on biodynamic principles, and visitors are welcome to see the animals and inspect their living conditions. I picked up a price list for the pork and beef, and while it is significantly more expensive than either the supermarket or the good butcher, I suspect we’ll be happier to eat smaller quantities of this superior product.

The Husband likes something a bit bitey with his eggs and snags, so we bought some sample pots of chilli sauces and chutneys, and we’ll buy a big jar of whatever he likes best next time we go. And finally, the nice man on the banana stall gave me a free sugar (Ducasse) banana and some very useful info about where to buy licensed slips for bluggoes (a kind of plantain), as I’ve seen no cooking banana types anywhere. This is a banana-producing state, so you have to go to a licensed supplier to avoid cross-breeding, pests and diseases.

If there’s anyone close enough to Mackay to pay a visit to the market, it’s well worth the time. Here’s the FaceBook page link, so you can see what’s on and what people think.

I’ll be going back next time I need eggs, that’s for sure. And I’m pretty sure the Husband’ll be wanting more of those snags…