Would you eat them in a box?
Would you eat them with a fox?
– From Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss
Foodie or not, my food safety training makes me highly suspicious of eggs in unnatural hues.
But, just like the subtle but complete change so effectively demonstrated by punctuation pedant Lynne Truss in the book Eats, Shoots and Leaves, when a celebrated chef calls his dish “Greens, Eggs and Ham”, you’ll find me chowing down appreciatively.
The wittily named “Greens, Eggs and Ham” was served up by Jared Ingersoll (now of Food for People, and of erstwhile Danks Street Depot fame), as part of the Early Bird Pop Up Breakfast at Sydney Markets on 18 October 2013, a one-off event for the SMH Good Food Month. I was lucky enough to be invited to this event as a guest of Sydney Markets.
The Growers’ Market and What’s in Season (and a Quiz)
The event started with a 7am walk through the Growers’ Market, where we learnt such interesting facts as the markets having top-class recycling systems for cartons and organic waste.
BELOW: The big photo showcases not the Halloween pumpkins, but the oversized, octagonal cardboard container.
– Something of a breakthrough, growers pack their produce in these cartons in their farms, and take the cartons to the markets where forklifts transport the cartons around.
– There’s no repackaging, and the cartons get recycled by the markets. That’s tops!
True to its name, the wholesale Growers’ Market is filled with vendors selling fresh produce that have come from their farms, usually within a 40 km radius of Sydney.
What is in season today?
~ Heaps of kale – flat, regular, super frilled, green and purple varieties (try making kale chips).
~ Beetroot – big, baby, red or golden.
~ Pears – Josephine, Packham or Buerre Bosc.
~ Dutch carrots– white, purple and orange.
QUIZ TIME! In the picture below, which are squat, bulbous carrots, and which are golden baby beetroot?
Answer: The carrots are the ones with feathery leaves.
As our group was ooh-ing and aah-ing over darling little punnets of edible flowers, a friendly OzHarvest volunteer came up to us, exclaiming, “Aha, there you are! They’re waiting for you for breakfast.”
BELOW: Edible flowers at the Sydney Markets
And what a breakfast. Three-course extravaganza, more like.
The gorgeous breakfast table sat in the midst of the hustle and bustle of working produce sheds, surrounded by leather-aproned wholesalers still going about their business of sales and distributions, having started at an eye-watering 11.30pm.
I’ve heard that 9am, when mere mortals are just digesting their Weetbix, you just might spy some wholesalers nursing a quiet beer and winding down after their “dinner”. As I ambled along the warehouses, two burly men standing beside a cash register looked up from their box of hot chips and amiably offered me one.
BELOW: The Santa Claus-y exterior belies a tough cookie.
Ross Roppolo, owner of fruit and vegetable wholesaler XL Fruit, has a working day
that stretches from 11.30pm to 3pm during the summer peak.
Little surprise, then, that XL Fruit’s warehouse has its own commercial-grade-looking espresso machine.
A Trio of Talented Chefs
My tastebuds were gently awakened by the zen-sounding, one-hand-clapping “Japanese-inspired broth with crab meat and mushrooms” concocted by Justin North (from the former fine diner Becasse; now at The Burger Shed).
Quizzed about what other unexpected ingredient the vat might contain, the affable North would only murmur with a smile, “Secret grandmother’s recipe.”
BELOW LEFT: Chefs Justin North (foreground) and Jared Ingersoll.
BELOW RIGHT: Justin North’s vat of Japanese-inspired broth, which really did taste like the light and virtuous broths I had for breakfast in traditional Japanese inns.
Matt Kemp, who made his reputation at Restaurant Balzac and now heads Gazebo Wine Garden, served up the sweet offering – a luxe French toast. Or, to give it its proper name: “Pain Perdu with sheep’s milk yoghurt, honeycomb and fresh berries”, with sweetly ripe raspberries and glistening black mulberries.
To complete the trio, we had Ingersoll’s Dr Seuss-inspired dish, comprising:
~ folds of prosciutto (a.k.a. parma ham, hence the ham component of the dish’s name),
~ a pool of properly wet scrambled eggs, and
~ a tasty green tangle of micro salad leaves, asparagus, curly parsley and snow peas.
For drinks, we had watermelon juice and espresso coffee, proffered by cheery OzHarvest volunteers, with proceeds from this event being used to support OzHarvest.
A Trio of Gladsome Gals
At the breakfast table, I had the pleasure of meeting Joanne, Margaret and Tracey, three vivacious ladies whose friendship stretches back to their schoolgirl days.
Living within a stone’s throw of one another, their children had grown up together, nourished by fresh food procured by the ladies’ Flemington Market shopping co-operative.
With a smile playing on her face, Tracey recounted the time she bought snake beans for all 13 families in the co-op: “I got many calls that day, asking me what to do with them!”
And here’s a random tip from Joanne on getting passionfruit cuttings to sprout: “Dunk it in water with custard powder.” As my 10-year-old is wont to say, I know, right? Joanne dished out her advice when we were gazing at the passionfruit vines artfully arranged on the table for decoration.
“Help! I don’t like kale. What else is in season?”
If kale is not your cup of tea, you can figure out what else is currently in season, simply by reading the list of breakfast items again and picking out all the fruit and vegetable components.
According to the event publicity, the three chefs sourced their breakfast ingredients directly from the markets.
I can verify the truth of that, as I did indeed spot all those fresh foods for sale while shopping at the markets after breakfast, for all my usual favourites like free-range eggs at bargain prices and seasonal specials. (Broccoli is expensive this week, though.)
Purple-kale eggs and ham, anyone?
I leave you with a rare sight of the Flemington Markets…
On Fridays at 9am, vendors in the Shed D Growers Markets vacate their stands, and an army of cleaners in trucks speeds around, clearing away packaging and organic waste for recycling.
By 10am, new vendors have set up their stalls, ready for the Friday retail trade.
Are you surprised to hear there is retail trade on Fridays? Read more about it in 3 Local Secrets about the Sydney Markets.
Other articles on Flemington Markets
- Top 10 Spring Bargains for $1
- What in the world? 4 strange but healthy foods
- $2 Food Shopping from Farmers Markets
- 5 Incredible $1 Deals from the Best Sydney Farmers Markets
- Bargain!! A$105 for quality fruit for my family…for 1 month!
A shorter version of this article first appeared in ourstrathfield.com.au. This review was not commissioned by Sydney Markets.
For another 2 uber-exciting SMH Good Food Month events, check these out: