Growers, sellers, makers and shakers
ONE of the best ways to meet Canberra’s food-loving population is to wander into the blue dawn of a Saturday at the Capital Region Farmers’ Markets. Start the day buoyed by the aroma of coffee or the freshest orange juice, justsqueezed by farmer Mick Auddino, who rotates his 44 hectares so that he can get citrus all year round, plus a custard- or jam-filled doughnut from Bombolini – while you stock up on fresh produce.
There are over 100 stalls to browse, and for the most part, they are all makers or growers – so you’re getting your food from the source. The stallholders all undergo careful curation and regular inspection by market directors Tony Howard and Clive Badelow to make sure of it. one of World Barista Champion Sasa Sestic’s cafes – you can book a 30-minute cupping session.
The cafe is named after the process industry pros use to objectively judge coffee, so it’s only natural that there’s a strong emphasis on coffee appreciation and knowledge here; plus, Ona’s Project Origin is not just about sourcing sustainable coffee, but also about bringing in only the certified best, as scored by an international jury.
For anyone looking to judge coffee, it’s important to go through the entire 30-minute process – the coffees can change drastically in the cup over that time, and many only show their defects at the end.
A cupping session will teach you to consider acidity, sweetness, bitterness, balance, finish and texture – and odds are, you’ll never look at a cuppa the same way again!
Then hop on over to the tiny, spartan-but-friendly Frugii Dessert Lab on Lonsdale Street, where you can get more than a scoop or two of boutique ice cream from owner John Marshall. The gregarious, hilarious ice cream maker is as generous with his knowledge as he is with the fresh ingredients he
What started 14 years ago as a Rotary Club project to help local farmers face down a particularly bad drought, has now turned into a beloved local weekend ritual.
It’s also a library of sorts, holding a myriad fascinating stories - from Canberra Urban Honey’s Mitchell Pierce, who at 22 is Australia’s youngest urban commercial beekeeper (and currently off on a New York adventure), to the young farmers whose initial 40 chickens expanded to a huge brood of 6,000 – so they decided to turn some of their eggs into lovely breads.
Families of farmers and generations of growers mingle with diehard bakers and pie-makers at the market, making it a wonderful cross-section of local produce – and local heart. – SL loads his confections with, so he hosts regular ice cream-making courses after hours.
And while the favourites like chocolate are always on tap (scoop), one of Marshall’s most popular items has been a durian ice lolly! That one sold out in no time, a run no doubt fuelled in part by homesick Malaysians.
The ice creams, sorbets and gelatos here are the real deal – Marshall makes all the bases in-house, tempers his own chocolate and flavours his ice creams with real fruit etc.
Frugii caters for vegan, nut-free and gluten-free lifestyles as well. The gorgeous, floral-citrus lemon myrtle flavour, salted caramel, chocolate and mint flavours have been deservedly popular, but Marshall’s endless experimentation has yielded lemongrass, passion fruit pavlova and gingerbread as well (and most unexpectedly – seafood laksa, black garlic and a couple made with Indonesian and Chinese herbal remedies!).
Next week: Look out for the wines and wherefores of ACT, with a gourmet trek just outside the city.