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Sunday, November 1, 2009

To Market, To Market (to get a big belly)

I had legitimate reasons to head to Subi Farmers Market again this Saturday morning other than wanting to eat pizza for breakfast, really I did. My sister and I are catering for our Mum's 60th birthday party this coming weekend, and one of the guests can't tolerate gluten or lactose, so I wanted to see what Sophistibakes Gluten-Free Bakery had to offer. I also needed some fruit and veges, and wanted to check out the stalls I didn't have time to visit last week. If I happened to eat some pizza for breakfast while I was there, it was entirely coincidental.

I also wanted to meet with Market Manager Sally Lewis, who got in touch with me after coming across my recent review of Subi Farmers Market. She was easily found at the information stall when I arrived nice and early at the opening hour of 8am, and we had a really nice chat. Sally is a nutritionist by trade, which explains her enthusiasm for natural, seasonal produce, and it really seems like the overall plan for the markets is positive and practical. She is keen for it to develop at a reasonable pace, not bringing in too many stalls from the get-go, and to ensure quality over quantity. For instance, a new stone fruit stall was due be added this week, but they've held off as they fruit wasn't quite at its peak yet.

There are also plans to bring in buskers, chef demonstrations and also gardening and health experts to round out the whole natural living theme. I must say though that I'm particularly looking forward to a promised stall selling egg & bacon rolls with homemade relish. I think it will be making its maiden appearance this coming weekend when I will be up in Gero busily preparing to feed 80 people at my Mum's party, but I guess this means they can iron out any teething issues before I next get down there to taste their wares. Their bacony wares. Mmmm.

It was also interesting to hear that many of the stallholders, and/or their children attended Subiaco Primary School where the market is held, which must add to the community feel of the place. It does have a pretty happy vibe to it, with the stallholders all happy to have a joke and a chat and tell their story.

The market in a way reminds me of one of my favourite restaurants in Montreal, a vegan restaurant and juice bar called aux vivres. Given my enthusiasm for the upcoming egg & bacon roll stall, it's pretty obvious I'm not vegan but I loved this restaurant. Really affordable, filling, delicious meals that in no way made you feel like you were missing out on anything. Quite a diverse menu too, which I'm sure would be surprising for most non-vegans, and I often found it difficult to choose between quite a few things that took my fancy. One of the most striking things about this restaurant though were the people that worked and ate there. These people were in the upper percentiles of attractiveness when compared to the general population, let alone when compared to those frequenting your average shopping centre food court. Not really the best place to go when you were having a particularly fat or ugly day as I'm sure being surrounded by such people would leave you wallowing in your tempeh and drowning your sorrows in agave-sweetened smoothies.

After chatting with Sally and enjoying a long black from Luke & Pat's Coffee Shack, my tummy was telling me breakfast was required and I somehow found myself standing in front of Diablo's Oven. There were three calzones on offer this week, all rocking out 80s themed names. Rocket Man consisted of free range ham, organic tomato, rocket, bocconcini and pesto ($10), Funghi Town had organic tomato, mushroom, pesto, rocket and feta ($10) and there was a kids option with an organic tomato base, real pineapple, free range ham and mozzerella called Agadoo ($6). Disappointing there was no dessert Bananarama or Papa Don't Peach, or a nice gamey Echo & the Bunnymen, but I decided to take a ride on Rocket Man.

After ordering the calzone, we wandered down to Simplee Yummy that I noticed last week had some interesting dishes on offer but I had not the tummy space to enjoy. I wanted to try some "pohpia" which the sign described as consisting of "stir fried turnip with beansprouts, egg and mock meat floss" ($3). After asking for it, the stallholder asked if I had been to Singapore before, as I had pronounced it correctly (poh-pee-a). In fact I've never been outside the airport in Singapore, and have never heard of pohpia before so I felt quite clever for my pronunciation skills. I do wonder though how other people have been pronouncing it, as I can't really see any other way that makes sense except for possibly "poh-pie-a"?

As she was still in the process of getting everything out and ready, we got a have a chat while she prepared the pohpia. She told us that she used to be quite a lot heavier some time ago, and credits pohpia with her significant weightloss. She ate it for lunch every day, losing weight until she was told she was starting to look haggard and then she knew she'd lost enough weight! She and her husband, who also runs the stall with her, have been living in Australia for many years now and it was only once they moved here from Singapore that they started to cook for themselves.

Making pohpia at the Simplee Yummy stall

The pohpia was made by first spreading some chilli paste over the bottom corner of a spring roll wrapper, then adding some fried turnip, beansprouts, mock meat floss and chopped coriander. I think the sauce drizzled over next was a sweet soy sauce, which was followed by some cubed boiled egg (as opposed to a boiled cube egg) and then rolled up into a spring roll and cut into bite size slices. I was too busy chatting away and had to be gently reminded by the stallholders that I hadn't paid them yet. Oops.

Back to Diablo's to pick up the now-ready calzone and then it was time to find a sunny spot to sit, hurriedly photograph the food and get eating.

Rocket Man calzone of free range ham, organic tomato, rocket, bocconcini and pesto from Diablo's Oven

Pohpia from Simplee Yummy

Another Saturday, another tasty calzone. Great combination of fresh, flavoursome ingredients and soft, fresh base (is it still referred to as a base if it's a calzone? Base and lid? Receptacle?). I think a good dough is more important with a calzone than with a regular pizza, as the dough:topping ratio is higher. In fact, I'm not normally a fan of the calzone due to this, and I must admit I did not eat all the outer folded bits of my breakfast calzone due to the importance of effective stomach-space use when doing the farmers market eating circuit.

The pohpia was a really nice surprise. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but my friend and I both enjoyed it. The turnip was warm, soft and mild, while the beansprouts and coriander added a real freshness to the flavour base rounded out with the chili and soy. I wonder if pohpia's properties still work if eaten in conjunction with a calzone?

Chocolate beetroot cake from Sophistibakes

Empty tummy crisis averted, I then went to suss out if Sophistibakes had anything to offer that was both gluten-free and lactose-free, and I was happy to discover that all their breads and also their chocolate beetroot cake cover both these bases. I decided upon a small loaf of German rye, and a slice of the cake for my Mum's friend so that she would be able to have some bread and dessert should she want to. Both are now sitting in the freezer until the weekend, and I'm hoping the cake will defrost well. I guess we'll soon find out.

After getting some more of the amazing asparagus that I bought last week, along with some other fruit & veg I also bought a cherry tomato plant. Let's hope I'll be enjoying the fruits of this purchase before too long (boom boom!).

Cambray Sheep Cheese stall

I didn't have a chance to check out the Cambray Sheep Cheese stall last week so that was next on the list. From memory, they had seven cheeses out to taste and I thought it was only fair to try them all. I was particularly taken with the Greek-style yoghurt and the hard, aged cheese (can't remember the proper name for it), but they were all excellent cheeses. My research reveals that Cambray Sheep Cheese were also involved in Terra Madre (which I mentioned in my Slow Food post) in both 2006 and 2008 and are one of only 12 sheep dairies in Australia. Makes me wonder how many sheep dairies are in New Zealand?

After eating all this cheese, luckily it was time to leave to hit my gym class.

I had a craving for some smoothie action after my workout and actually ended up heading back to the market to try one of the Raw Kitchen smoothies that I saw last week and also recently read about on Wellness WA. Four types of smoothie were on offer - Green (baby spinach, banana and water), Choc It To Me (cacao, banana, agave and fresh almond milk), King Hit: Choc Chilli (cacao, banana, agave, fresh almond milk and cayenne) and Strawberry Sip (strawberry, banana, fresh almond milk and vanilla) all for $6. You could also add a Super Booster for 50 cents, with the options of maca, coconut oil, wheatgrass, chia, acai berry, barley grass, bee pollen and spirulina. As intrigued as I was by the thought of drinking bee pollen, I passed on the boosters and chose the King Hit: Choc Chilli and my friend chose the Green smoothie with added mango ($1 extra).

Doing the smoothie salsa.. or is it the smoothie shuffle? I can never remember..

Green Smoothie with added mango from Raw Kitchen

King Hit: Choc Chilli smoothie from Raw Kitchen

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the Green Smoothie, but it could best be described as a big cup of cool freshness. The banana took centre stage in the flavour stakes, followed by a muted spinach flavour that just seemed to add an overall fresh quality, with the mango following up in the rear (think I could get a job commentating the Race the Stops a Nation tomorrow?). As nice as the Green Smoothie was though, it had nothing on my King Hit Smoothie as far as I'm concerned. A big mouthful of chocolate, with an undertone of banana, followed by decent hit of chilli that lingers. The perfect degree of sweetness too, only just enough. Delicious! And totally healthy and calorie-free, right? Cos it's just fruit? Good, I'm glad we agree on that.

Out of Africa's Durban Curried Chillies

Also totally calorie-free: samples. If it's free, it doesn't count. Just as well, as I took my smoothie a-walkin' over to the Out of Africa stall that I didn't have time to properly peruse last week. My South African friend J was right, they are otherworldly. I particularly loved the creamy Mint & Peanut Paste, and the Chilli Coriander Jam, but I ended up getting my wallet out for the Durban Curried Chillies. They won a Gold Medal for Tastiest Chilli Product at the 2009 Perth Chilli Festival (which by the way will be held in Fremantle next year as opposed at Araluen) so I don't seem to be alone in my like of this smack-you-in-the-mouth chilli product. It's pretty hot, filling up your entire mouth with its presence, but in a really tasty way. Not just heat for the sake of it.

Post market lunch (cos I needed to eat more food): roo and vege stir-fry with curried chillies

I got home and decided to add it to some kangaroo and vegies for a tasty stir-fry lunch. I mixed some through, and plopped some extras on top, and had to keep the tissues handy during my meal. I love chilli but I wish it didn't make my nose run. Oh and if you happen to follow my lead and buy these curried chillies, watch out for stray cardamom pods. With the combination of a running nose from the chilli and watering eyes from chewing on a cardamom pod I am glad I was dining alone.

Oh and errr... I might have had some more fudge for dessert. This time, choc mint. Really nice and minty, with the aroma wafting out of the bag as I hurriedly unwrapped it. I didn't enjoy it as much as the Cherry, Chocolate and Coconut fudge, but I am such a sucker for coconut it would be difficult for any other flavour to top that one. I'm sure I'll make my way through them all by the end of the year, reaquainting myself with the Cherry, Chocolate and Coconut at regular intervals just to make sure it's still good. Like how I have to check any chocolate I'm cooking with isn't poisoned before I use it in a recipe.

Seeing as I'm going to be up in Geraldton this weekend for the big partay, I won't be doing a third Subi Farmers Market post in three weeks, don't worry. Although.... guest post anyone? I want the lowdown on those egg & bacon rolls!


Rilsta November 2, 2009 at 9:46 PM  

Happy birthday Conor's mamma! :) Good luck with the party planning - hope your mum has a lovely 60th!

Your post about the markets remind me I haven't been to a market for a while. I should go!

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite November 3, 2009 at 12:18 AM  

I wonder if pohpia's properties still work if eaten in conjunction with a calzone? LOL!!!

Great post Conor! That shake stall reminds me of the ones in Laos...

Betty @ The Hungry Girl November 3, 2009 at 5:42 AM  

Ooh pohpia! I've only ever tried it once, and I absolutely loved it. Haha and on the side with a calzone - perfect! Happy 60th to your mum :)

Belle@Ooh, Look November 3, 2009 at 8:15 AM  

I like your thinking - if it's free or fruity, it doesn't count. Hmm, I might mob some markets this weekend to scoff some guilt-free goodies!

Natalie November 3, 2009 at 11:14 AM  

Everything looks so delicious, much better than the market in Dallas! The mint chocolate fudge is really catching my eye, I would like to recreate it or something similiar!

Conor @ HoldtheBeef November 3, 2009 at 4:46 PM  

Rilsta - thank you! Should be a great night if my sister and I don't have breakdowns getting all the last minute stuff done ;) At least there will be lots of food and champers to get our strength back with!

Mardi - methinks perhaps the calzone amplifies the weightloss benefits? Possibly even quadruples it, seeing as there were four bits of calzone ;) Thanks, glad to remind you :)

Betty - I think a calzone qualifies as a side dish, without a doubt, haha. Thank you! Will be sure to pass on the well wishes of my bloggy friends :)

Belle - It's totally true! The same thing also applies to absolutely everything eaten on your birthday.

Natalie - I think if anyone could recreate it, it would be you! Still loving your 'throw it all in' fudge, mmmm.

Trissa November 3, 2009 at 5:02 PM  

Kudos for featuring your local farmers market - it is great to promote your own local suppliers. And wishing you success in your catering. We want to hear all about it!

charlie November 3, 2009 at 5:22 PM  

I like this series (and I like these markets being nearby!!) and I am going just to try one of those smoothies. Yum! Have fun in gero.. :)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella November 3, 2009 at 6:49 PM  

LOL I love your sample rationale! Yes if it's free it's calorie free too :D

Pam November 4, 2009 at 12:26 AM  

I love going to the Farmer Market here in Oregon - so much fun food and cool people watching.

Annette @ Wellness WA November 4, 2009 at 3:13 AM  

Loved this article connor! And the smoothie dancing pic is so cute hehe!

From what you've seen so far do there seem to many people going to these markets? Hopefully it works out and sticks around for a long time to come.

Home this Friday so I might even get to check it out myself on Sunday! Wooooo!

Conor @ HoldtheBeef November 4, 2009 at 12:41 PM  

Trissa - Thanks, it does feel good to 'shop local'. Do not fear, you will certainly be hearing all about our catering efforts, successful or otherwise!

Charlie - Thanks!! You should, they are both tasty and colourful which is surely a good thing :D

Lorraine - haha thanks! It must be true... trust me, I'm an engineer!

Pam - oh yes the people watching component is great. It's a favourite pastime of mine ;)

Annette - Thank you! :D Yes they seem quite well patronised without being huge hordes of people that get in your way too much. Am sure the numbers are going to keep increasing as more people hear of it, and more stalls come on board. Hope you can check it out soon, but make sure you go on a SATURDAY not a SUNDAY or you'll just be standing in an empty quadrangle on your own!!

Maria@TheGourmetChallenge November 5, 2009 at 8:47 AM  

More Fudge!!!! drool! I love the photo, the angle and the teeth marks makes me want to bite into myself. I'm a sucker for coconut too! but the choc mint does sound divine!

Iron Chef Shellie November 5, 2009 at 7:41 PM  

FUDGE again! haha we are like fudge sisters across the country :P I love it!

Good luck with the catering thing, I'm sure you guys will do a fantastic job... and blog it i hope ;)

I'm soooo coming to the Subi Markets next time I'm in town!

Conor @ HoldtheBeef November 8, 2009 at 10:59 PM  

Maria - thanks for making me feel like it is actually the fault of the fudge for making me eat it all in an embarrassingly short period of time. If you are also feeling the need to bite into it, then it's clearly not a self-control problem with me but a tasty tasty problem with fudge :D

Iron Chef Shellie - I know, haha!! Goooooooooo team fudge! Thanks, am very happy to report the catering went exceptionally well but I'm still so completely knackered that god knows when I'll get the blog post done! I think I need some fudge energy to keep me going.

3 hungry tummies November 11, 2009 at 3:58 PM  

The fudge looks to die for!!

Conor @ HoldtheBeef November 13, 2009 at 8:39 AM  

3 hungry tummies - hard to resist, too hard..

Anonymous January 19, 2010 at 4:24 PM  
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My love of cooking is surpassed only by my love of eating, though I never quite recovered from the beef I was served at college. I'll try almost anything once, but it takes a very special piece of offal or beef to get me to try it again.

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