A Food & Travel Blog

Tasting Australia and Tasting the Mt Pleasant Farmers Market

12/04/2019 | By

Adelaide’s Tasting Australia festival is exciting, but can be pricey. Tasting the Mt Pleasant Farmers Market is a delicious, authentic and affordable option.

Long table lunch, Tasting australia at Mt Pleasant

Any foodie worth their salt will be aware that one of Australia’s longest running and most prestigious annual food and wine events, Tasting Australia, launched here in Adelaide last Friday. 

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The Porta Palazzo Market, Turin

18/01/2016 | By

A wander around Turin’s Porta Palazzo Market, the largest open-air market in Europe.

markets, Porta Palazzo

One thing that really stands out about the food culture of Italy is the abundance of fresh food markets in each city. The locals tend to shop for fresh produce daily, rather than doing the weekly (soul-destroying, IMHO) shop which is more the norm here in Australia. This means that, for the most part, people are eating fresh, local, seasonal produce  – a much better way to stay connected to the food system.

porta palazzo markets, Turin

Porta Palazzo markets, quail eggs

When visiting Torino (Turin) last year at least one market visit was high on my list of priorities. The city has 42 open-air markets and six covered markets dotted around the neighbourhoods and on our second day in the city we visited the most significant, the Porta Palazzo Market.

Porta Palazzo Market, eggplant

The Porta Palazzo Market takes it’s name from the ancient gate which marked the entry to the Roman town of Augusta Taurinorum and is the largest open-air market in Europe. It is open six days a week and boasts 800 stalls spread over a 50,000 square metre space, surrounded by four  covered markets – a clothing market, a fish market and two other food markets, plus various stores, cafes and restaurants.

Porta Palazzo market artisan cheese

Gorgeous , little handmade cheeses direct from the producer at Porta Palazzo Market, Torino

Unusually, part of this space is also shared by up to 100 farmers market stands, with the farmers travelling in to sell their produce direct to the public – making it one of the few places where city folk can come into daily contact with the people who grow their food.

Porta Palazzo market, fragrant herbs

porta palazza market tomatoes

Honestly, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to be bothered with a sterile shopping centre when there is so much more pleasure to be had buzzing around these intriguing stalls which sell just about anything one could need. From vegetables, oils, cold cuts, cheese, breads, local delicacies and flowers to clothing, shoes, household goods, second-hand goods, jewellery – you name it, someone there will be selling it, guaranteed.

offal meat, Porta Palazzo market

Offal – all the spare bits ready to cook at the Porta Palazzo Market

Porta Palazzo market seafood

Fabulous, fresh seafood at Porta Palazzo Market

Porta Palazzo Market, pesce sciabola

Pesce Sciabola – also called Silver SCabbard Fish – a local deep-water favourite.

Porta Palazzo Market, sometimes known as ‘Torino’s kitchen’, is much more than just a food source for the city of Torino, though, and is recognised as a local cultural and social hub, for both Italians and migrants to the city. The importance of the market is such that an anthropological study, “Porta Palazzo: The Anthropology of an Italian Market”, has been published using this market as an example to show how important such centres are for the culinary culture and social life of cities.

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Eveleigh Farmers Market, Sydney

15/06/2015 | By

Travel and food – for me they are inseparable, so I jumped at the chance to visit  Eveleigh Farmers Market on a recent short trip to Sydney.

Brilliant Food - that just about sums up Eveleigh Farmers Market!

Brilliant Food – that just about sums up Eveleigh Farmers Market!

Brilliant Food produces an award-winning range of smoked seafood products.

I don’t get up to Sydney very often at all these days, so when I was there for couple of days last month for the Sydney Writers Festival and was invited for a morning trip to Eveleigh Farmers Market I jumped at the chance to squeeze just one more thing into an already busy schedule.

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Bulgarian Fresh Food – With Produce like This, No Wonder They Love Salads!

04/11/2013 | By

DON’T MISS OUT! WIN A $300 DOUBLE PASS TO GORGEOUS FESTIVAL HERE!

The mountains behind Sofia

Bulgaria is a very beautiful country, full of rolling mountains, glistening lakes and alpine valleys, with a culinary tradition influenced by 500 years of occupation and a strong agricultural tradition. Before World War II, agriculture was the chief sector of the Bulgarian economy, but the face of this changed substantially after the war with the collectivisation of over 90% of agricultural land. Private, domestic vegetable plots have always been maintained on some level, contributing quite substantially to alleviating food shortages at some stages of Bulgarian history and probably going some way to explaining the passion in that country for the range of fabulous, fresh salads available everywhere.

Fresh berries at Sofia's Women's Market

Since 2007, Bulgaria has been a member of the European Union and agriculture is once again a thriving part of the economy. The countryside is a cornucopia of orchards and fields of vegetable crops, and almost every home in every village that we drove through had extensive and well tended vegetable gardens. Most of the produce from these gardens is organic as few can afford costly fertilisers or pesticides.

figs! Sofia night markets

market  vendor at the Womens Market, Sofia

Those who live in the cities and towns source their fresh produce from a range of outdoor markets of varying sizes and at the random roadside stalls that pop up spontaneously in side lanes and street corners. I visited the largest of these, The Women’s Market, which is extensive, with a wide range of seasonal produce supplied and sold by small-holders from near-by outlying regions. The food here is truly magnificent, although it would be unrealistic to expect to find your new best friend here – the traders are a somber lot. This may have something to do with the prices which are eye-poppingly cheap – great for the consumer, but not such a happy circumstance for the grower.

red capsicums, The Women's Market, Sofia

the Women's Market, Sofia

I also paid a visit to the night markets on Graf Ignatiev Street in central Sofia. This is a popular shopping street, with trams running down the centre of the road. If retail therapy is what floats your boat, I’d suggest having a wander through the many small boutiques and stores around there but, once again, I just couldn’t take my eyes off the amazing fresh foods. One stall was selling hot, ready-cooked pumpkin which was available in whole slabs or prepackaged with a spoon, ready to eat while you wander around window-shopping.

Cooked pumpkin, night markets, Sofia.

pomegranates, Sofia Night Markets

 grapes, the size of small plums - Women's Market, Sofia

My visit was in the early days of the northern autumn, so wonderful food was still readily available – I’d imagine the selection would become much more limited later in the year, although I suspect the Christmas markets would be pretty special. With such abundance around me, I enjoyed fresh berries and fruit with my morning yoghurt (another of their specialties), but the one thing that truly blew me away was the flavour quality of the tomatoes. I ate the local specialty, Shopska Salad, every day and was never once disappointed in the colour, flavour or texture of the tomatoes. No wonder they’re so keen on their salads in Bulgaria – they’d be mighty disappointed if their tomato selection was limited to the poor examples we tolerate here.

Bulgarian tomatoes

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Farmers Markets, Shopping Lists & Maple Caramel Pecan Shortbread

24/10/2013 | By

 Caramel Pecan Shortbread

When it comes to efficient supermarket shopping and saving money, they say there are a few good rules to remember  – take a shopping list, know where everything is in the store so you don’t get distracted and never go shopping while hungry as you’ll buy more than you need. However, you need to throw those rules away when shopping in a farmers market, because the ideal way to make the most of the experience and get the best of the seasonal produce available is to do the exact opposite!

When visiting your local farmers market – and I would urge you to do so, for a whole heap of reasons – the best plan of action is to firstly do a quick reconnoitering lap of all the stalls to work out what looks best on that particular day, whose prices you like and also to give you time to think about what you might make with the produce available. Once you’ve done your “reccy” it’s time to get out the purse and shopping bag and get serious. It’s also important to be realistic about how much to buy – there’s no point in buying a whole heap of magnificent fresh produce if you are not going to have the time or resources to cook it all up and store it before it spoils.

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Meet Your Maker – South Australia’s Thistle Be Good & its Creator Jacqui Good

16/04/2013 | By

There are days when even a domestic goddess such as my humble self struggles for the inspiration and motivation to put a meal on the table.  I enjoy cooking – no, really, I do – but the mind-crushing tedium of deciding what to cook every, single, bloody, night really burns my biscuits sometimes.  The best way around those occasions is to be the type of efficient paragon who sits down on a weekend and works out the week’s menu.  No last minute head-scratching, anxiety-racked ravaging through the freezer or panicked eleventh hour shopping visits in those homes.  No sir – just happy, shiny faces around the table and a wholesome, home-cooked meal on it.  Every. Night.

Probably no teenagers and young adults with fascinating lives and prevaricating plans in those homes either.  The number of people expecting to put on a nose-bag at dinner time in my house can vary wildly and with almost no notice.  One evening a few weeks back I went from anticipating six for a family roast dinner to buying take-aways for two – all in the space of three hours, as the numbers dwindled in the face of better offers.  For reasons like these and because I can be very lazy at times, I like to keep some quick cheats in the pantry.  There are the old stand-by’s of tinned beans and fish, but also a locally produced and wittily named range of “Thistle Be Good” products that I adore, made by the delightfully Celtic Jacqui Good.

Originally from Kirkcaldy in Fife, Scotland, Jacqui found herself in Australia in 1999, having indulged a fanciful wanderlust which took her nowhere in particular and everywhere in general.  Still wafting on the breeze (yes – a little like thistle down) it took her nine months to make her way to Adelaide where she promptly lost her heart, but found her home.  Settling with her Australian partner south of Adelaide, Jacqui was surprised to find how quickly she felt at home.  “I feel I belong here more than I ever did in Scotland” she told me.  Which is all just as well really, as she has become such an integral part of the South Australian and southern region food scene.

Jacqui took her first steps into the food world while working in the wine industry at a well known McLaren Vale cellar door.  Local well-respected food icon Russell Jeavons had taught Jacqui how to make the now popular Egyptian nut and spice blend, dukkah, and she was making it for functions and selling small amounts of it at the cellar door.  The passing mention of its possible use as a meat rub by a customer sent Jacqui scurrying off to her books to learn what a meat rub actually was.  It wasn’t long before her range was extended to include “The Rub”, followed a few years later by a range of  prepackaged  risotto and couscous blends and now her quinoa mix.

Jacqui and Thistle Be Good are a wonderful example of the role farmers markets have to play in developing and incubating small business – the Willunga Farmers Market is where Jacqui began to sell her range to the general public.  It quickly became clear to Jacqui that she would need acceptable commercial facilities to produce her growing range of products and she was one of the group of local food producers who set about establishing the first council approved community kitchen in her area.

Thistle Be Good now boasts 18 products over five ranges, employs four people, is still produced locally, with the kitchen in the town of Willunga and the office in Aldinga, and is now also available nationally, with distributors in all Australian states.  Jacqui is an advocate of “clean” food and always looks to local sources for her ingredients in the first instance so this is one product that I’m very happy to use to make my life easier.  I was already a fan of both the couscous mix and the risotto mix, but the quinoa blends have really won my heart – especially the Persian Date and Pistachio mix.  I used it the other night as the base for this very healthy, tasty and brilliantly quick Persian chicken salad.  I added my divineconfit cherry tomatoes and this recipe is as good a reason as any to make them.  The mix is delightful as it comes, but I admit to beefing mine up a bit with some added spice – just because that’s what I do.

Cheats Persian Chicken & Quinoa Salad

Life can be made even easier for the cook if you buy a cooked, free-range chicken for this dish, otherwise just poach 2-3 chicken breasts.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Author: Amanda McInerney of www.lambsearsandhoney.com

Ingredients

  • 1 Pkt "Thistle Be Good" Persian Date and Pistachio Quinoa
  • 350 gms cooked chicken meat
  • 4 spring onions chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery sliced
  • 1 cucumber chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved (or cherry tomato confit, if you have it)
  • 150 gms fetta cubed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh mint chopped
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  • Prepare quinoa as per the instructions on the packet. Fork lightly through to make it fluffy.
  • Combine the quinoa with the rest of the ingredients, drizzle with the olive oil and toss it all lightly together before serving.

 

 

 

 

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