What’s good at the markets, and how to cook with it
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. firstname.lastname@example.org