End of an era: The Pyrmont Growers Market closes on April 2nd and it is not an April Fool joke...
For 18 years, it has been a monthly gathering of fabulous producers, dedicated food enthusiasts and celebrity Chefs showing their skills in well orchestrated demos. It has been a great help in my food blogger journey as it has given me casual access to the crème de la crème of famous Chefs from around Australia and sometime from further afield. Some of them have become good friends in the process. Also true of dozen of suppliers whose products I have bought, revised and promote (for free...) because they were outstanding and made with love and dedication.
Jill Duplex and Terry Durak, just landed from Melbourne at the time, started this venture in 1998, as they could not find in Sydney the equivalent of the Melbourne markets (and still can't, as there are no city based permanent daily markets in Sydney...) For many years, Joanna Savill relentlessly organised it, cajoling Chefs into spending their Saturday mornings entertaining and educating a smallish group of dedicated followers. I personally started reporting on these events in 2010. More recently, Joanna was replaced by the flamboyant Myffy Rigby, with the occasional help of the elegant Ardyn Bernoth. I was not going to miss out the last edition yesterday. Here is a series of photos and videos taken before and during the panel which was assembled to discuss the future of the food markets in Sydney. It was an interesting discussion curated by Myffy and Ardyn who gently grilled (!) the panelists: Josephine Perry (missy French) and dad Neil Perry (Rockpool), Jill Duplex (SMH), Ronni Kahn of OzHarvest fame and Somer Sivrioglu of Efendy Balmain and now at Barangaroo.
There were some interesting points raised and some proposals made as well as a quick appearance from Pepe Saya aka Pierre Issa.
The best story , I think, was when Somer recounted a conversation with his Dad about visiting the Growers Market, and his Dad asking "are they any other types of markets?. Precious!
I grew up in a culture and at a time where daily markets were the rule, and Mum was shopping almost daily for fresh food. We would then go to the butcher or the fishmonger, and the boulanger, bien sûr...
There is a petition running to open a permanent market somewhere in the City - Haymarket, Surry Hills and Barangaroo were mentioned. There were some "out of place " comments, I thought about the lockout laws and the cost of labour, but overall, it was all very civilised.
You will hear in one of the videos a talk about "imperfect vegetables and fruits" but nobody mentioned the good work done in that sphere by Harris Farm Markets. Nobody either acknowledged the great work done by Joanna Savill over the years, and she was visiting the market. I thought it would have been polite to invite her even briefly...
The quality of these videos is not perfect, but consider them as a record of an interesting way of sending off this 18 year old institution.
Neil Perry of Rockpool fame talks about imperfect vegetables.
Ronni Khan, the founder of OzHarvest talks about imperfect vegetables and fruits as well as food waste.
Somer Sivrioglu does a demo of how to open a pomegranate with his bare hands and remove the pearls without losing all the precious juice...
Joke of the day: What is stronger than a Turk? Two Turks... Sorry Somer!
Pepe Saya was invited to talk about all things butter and how this market (and Qantas...) helped him growing his business against European Community subsidised Lurpak. Neil Perry also managed to plug a ranting about lock out laws in Sydney, whether or not it was the right audience is debatable, but I like a man with a cause, and in this case two men!
We will miss this view forever...Good bye the SMH Growers Market
SYDNEY FOOD MARKETS - NORTH SYDNEY
I have not visited this monthly market in years! Organised by the Community Centre, it takes place every third Saturday of the month in the big open space behind the Council Chambers. Once a small affair of a dozen stalls, it is now comparable to Orange Grove or Everleigh in size and attendance.
Also, some of the big names are attending like Pepe Saya and Dessertmakers, Pastabilities, Willowbrae Cheese and a raft of French or French related products and people. Robinvale and Pukara Olive Oils and Ocello just to name a few. Plenty organic products and vegetables, as well as meat producers or wholesalers. Obviously there are also a good choice of coffee makers and goodies to eat on the spot!
Et tout finit par des chansons
The Everleigh Markets - Sydney
Set in the old locomotive workshop, this market started three years ago and is open every Saturday morning from 8.00am to 1.00pm. And...I never got a chance to visit until today!
Life has been quite full of (good...) surprises recently and that explains my seldom posting.
But hopefully, I will get back in the writer's seat from now on and will be able to entertain you with new stories on a more regular basis.
Although we have been blessed recently with very good weather in Sydney (after almost a year of rainy days...), it is a comfort to find the stalls of this market under shade, or shelter!
Being a more regular affair than the Pyrmont Market, it is obviously a bonus to be set in a more confortable setting. About 70 stalls are sharing this awesome space, complete with old machinery, blacksmith workshop (run by my friends Wendy ang Guido of Wrought Artworks), rail tracks and the ubiquitous violinist! - a change from the guitarist who entertains the crowds in Pyrmont.
Also, you can me Kylie Kwong our Aussie Chinese cook extraordinaire, actually cooking for you, delivering her famous dishes for a fraction of the cost in her Surry Hills restaurant. So, if you like fusion asian cuisine at its best, then rush to Everleigh!
Obviously, my friends from Willowbrae Cheese are there from whom I got a St Albans and a Mt Bowen, as well as a couple of other cheese makers, one in particular, Binnorie Dairy, coming all the way from the Hunter Valley, better known for its fabulous wines than other produce. I bought half a brie for a dinner party tomorrow night from them. So, you will have to wait a little longer for a review. It looks creamy enough, but might have required a bit more time to mature: no chance of that this time around though...
There are a number of organic fruit and veggies growers, plenty meat and charcuterie (bought a lovely chorizo from Eumindi Smokehouse...) and cakes and coffee (Toby's Estate, Bird Cow Fish...).
I missed an interesting olive and olive oil suppliers, although I shared a table with the owner and his daughter, as I didn't realised until I came home and did some more research for this article. Alto Olives is set on a large property in the Grat Dividing Range and the grove counts 15000 trees and 13 varieties both for oil production and for the table. I will talk to them over my next visit.
Another of my favourite product was there too in the form of raw honey, so raw in fact that some bits of the honeycomb are still in the honey. Mainly coming from ironbark trees flowers, it is quite mild in taste and really sweet. I bought a pot for my daughter (at least, this is my excuse..). Check it out at Nature's Gold Honey.
A simple lunch
A taste of France: baby zucchinis, heirloom tomatoes and goat cheese
A few people have commented to me recently that I was lucky to know how to cook, as they would like to be able to do so themselves.
(one of my clients recently tried, unsuccessfully so far, to convince me that cooking lessons were part of my contract. No way, and he is of Italian descent as well!).
Anyway, today is a quiet day, as my children are away studying or partying and my wife in France, taking care of my Mum...
This is not a good enough reason for not eating properly. Besides, I went to the Orange Grove Market in Rozelle and came back with some baby zucchinis and goat cheese(s) from my friends at Willowbrae.
So, here we go: Braised the baby zucchinis with some spring onions, added some heirloom tomatoes at the last minute and topped up the onions with a dollop of fresh goat curd. Some smoked salmon on the side, some more goat cheese and fresh figs for dessert: et voila!
I should mention as well the multigrain baguette from Pierre Labancz, a real treat and perfect companion to these goodies.
I have recently developed a sweet tooth for Pinot Grigio from the Venice region, thanks to my friends Ian and Ettore, the local importers of Abet Laminati, and tried some more at Ventuno and at various other Italian-infused restaurants. So, I had to have a few glasses with this lunch, and it proved to be a perfect match!
ready now for a good cuppa and some music: life is beautiful...
After a two month break, the growers are back at the Pyrmont Market in Sydney.
Before Christmas, I paid a visit to compatriot extraordinaire, Gilles, who with his wife of 30 years grows organic garlic near Braidwood, a small town between Canberra and Batemans Bay. It is a very seasonal business, as the garlic is harvested in November and all sold by the end of February, when it is time to plant again. See photo below.
Today brought two surprises; a new frenchman, Jean Marc Amar, who is at the market for the first time with his Australian made, but very French saucissons. It is believed that a 300g saucisson doesn't last more than 15mn...These ones will certainly have the same fate (or should I say fete...)
The second surprise comes in the form of an Italian inspired goat cheese from Willowbrae Cheese. Karen went on a grand tour of Italy last European Autumn and has refined her recipe since. One word: amazing!
Both products featured photographically below.
If you are going to have saucisson and/or cheese, then you need bread...and some red wine: you are in luck!
Near by in Ultimo, Ultimo Wine Centre have just received a shipment of the most amazing Pinot Noirs from Burgundy, and Domaine Gachot-Monot: Nuits-Saint-George, Cote de Nuits-Village and Bourgogne.
I have tried the Cote de Nuits-Village: it is simply delicious, supple, fruity, typical Pinot Noir, and thanks to the high aussie dollar, it is only 39.00$. I gather it won't last very long...If you miss out, you might want to rush and get one of the very few bottles left of Ultimo Wine Centre Hospices de Beaune Corton Grand Cru ‘Cuvee Dr Peste’ 2007...
Finally, we can find bread and pastries (fromage et dessert anyone???) in Rozelle, where Labancz Patisserie boulangerie has taken over my favourite bakery, Moana Bakery, which has been operating for over 15 years and with three different owners. Pierre Labancz, of Deus Cafe fame is baking a reasonable baguette, although not as good as Moana, but excels in the "pate feuilletee" department: croissants and pains au chocolat being butter rich, crispy and fluffy at the same time...
The Birthday Girl
July is a busy month for me, as my wife, my sister, my late grandmother and one of my sons have their birthday in July!
So today is my "special girl's" birthday, and we start the day early by going to the Pyrmont Growers Market for breakfast. A quick visit to Zav's stand for zucchini flowers, and to Willowbrae Cheese to have a chat with David and buy some of his goat cheese. Being a gentleman, he offers one to my wife as a birthday present and I buy a tomato fresh curd, my daughter's favorite. Then Tricia hunts for a table in the sun (David mentioned it was -5 degrees Celsius at the farm when they left this morning...so it might be 7 or 8 degrees now here...) and I queue for the goodies, snail and egg and smoked salmon roll, and later for coffee. Then, off for a stroll around and a visit to a new supplier: Lowes Mount Truffles showing the first harvest of the season, amazing! Everybody was haggling for a - small - piece of these marvels...At 2000$/kg, you can probably afford a sample, and it would be enough for a few omelets...
During all that time, we were regaled by Armando Percuoco of Buon Ricordo fame, teaching us how to make the perfect risotto...a bit of an overdose after George's masterclass on MasterChef last night, but an interesting twist on a classic altogether...
Then, off to the Fish Market to buy scallops, and on to Ultimo Wine Centre for a lovely couple of bottles:
Chablis, Domaine Laroche Saint Martin 2007, one of our favourite French Chardonnay. Tricia did the "vendanges" there a little while ago...(http://www.larochewines.com) and Chartreuse de Bonpas Reserve 2007, a lovely Cotes-du-Rhone, blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre (www.louis-bernard.com)
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.
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