What’s good at the mar­kets, and how to cook with it

The Weekend Australian - Life - - FOOD & WINE - JU­DITH ELEN

On a damp late-au­tumn day, a beau­ti­fully cooked slice of beef brings sat­is­fac­tion all its own. In farm­ers mar­kets around the coun­try, chem­i­cal-free beef, raised eth­i­cally by lo­cal, of­ten small, fam­ily farms, is widely avail­able.

In Western Aus­tralia, the Edgar fam­ily (Leeuwin Grass-Fed Beef) is at Mar­garet River fort­nightly (there to­day), with beef raised on rye grass and clover pas­tures sup­ple­mented with hay/ silage from their own land. Ashley and Kristy Edgar be­lieve strongly in the health and su­pe­rior taste of grass-fed beef (hor­mone and an­tibi­oticfree) over grain-fed or feed­lot-raised.

Farmer Dan from Vic­to­ria’s Gipp­s­land re­gion, sells free-range, grass-fed, chem­i­cal-free beef at Kingston, Seaford and Mount Eliza mar­kets, and on­line. Il­wagyu’s Wagyu beef (grass and partly grain-fed), raised on open pas­tures in north­east­ern Vic­to­ria, is at Caulfield, Tal­la­rook, Flem­ing­ton and other Vic­to­rian mar­kets and on­line.

In NSW, Hol­brook farm­ers Leanne Wheaton and Gor­don Shaw sell their beef at lo­cal mar­kets, such as Wagga (to­day). Sue and Greg Oliver, with their grown chil­dren, raise grass-fed, cer­ti­fied or­ganic and bio­dy­namic beef at Green­hill Farm, Bun­gen­dore, sell­ing in Can­berra (EPIC mar­ket and Orana School) and Car­riage­works, Syd­ney (sec­ond Satur­days). And there’s grass-fed An­gus at Ho­bart’s Farm Gate.

Mush­rooms are a nat­u­ral ac­com­pa­ni­ment to beef, but also have a vi­brant life of their own. Au­tum­nal mush­rooms, in­clud­ing wild slip­pery jacks and pine mush­rooms (saf­fron milk caps), turn up on mar­ket stalls (Can­berra, NSW re­gions such as Oberon and Vic­to­ria’s north­east­ern val­leys are hot spots); they’re com­ing to their end now, in early May. Meaty saucer-like field mush­rooms and cul­ti­vated but­ton mush­rooms are al­ways avail­able. They make a meal in them­selves; just add gar­lic, but­ter, cream and fresh herbs.

An an­cient bi­b­li­cal sym­bol of pros­per­ity, figs are com­ing to their end but should still be around in cor­ners of the coun­try such as South Aus­tralia (try Ade­laide Show­ground, Gawler Farm­ers Mar­ket) and Vic­to­rian mar­kets (Har­ris Farm mar­kets, around NSW, had fresh Vic­to­rian figs into late April). Time to pre­serve all you can get hold of in a sticky fig jam that can be spooned on to tarts or served with ri­cotta, sharp cheese or be­side moist plain cake. ju­dithat­takethree@gmail.com

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