Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Strawberry Fields Forever

I guess I am one of those people that John Lethlean would regard as a flat earth theorist or perhaps a deranged Qaddafi disciple. Last week John alluded to the idea that only celebrity chefs with a film crew in tow go to markets regularly to shop [link here] and cooks never just buy produce on the spur of the moment when they see something wonderful. Well John I can honestly say you should get out a bit more and perhaps a bit earlier.
I have been going to the markets most weeks for over 20 years and I can assure you that I am not alone in this activity. I see many professional cooks also doing the rounds searching for the ripe elusive treasure.
Last week as I was nearing the edge of the known world I spotted these wonderful Ugni or Chilean Guavas [ugni moliae] at Victoria Market. They are a member of the myrtle family and have a wonderful heady strong strawberry aroma and flavour. It said to have been Queen Victoria's favourite Jam. I have tasted it many times from a friend's garden but all my attempts at growing them have not been successful. The taste is like a little strawberry bliss bomb. Ugni are on of those fruits that professional growers shy away from  as picking them is so labour intensive but there are growers in Tasmania and now one close to us at Lovely Banks near Geelong. The marketers have chosen to call them Tazziberries contact details on website or Stephen Scott at Geelong 0409969710. But its not just the Ugni, without a market visit I could not pick my own fecund ripe figs from 3 varieties, chose my own pomegranates, find the finest autumn raspberries and so many other treasures that only a regular market goer can find.
Many stall holders are also small growers and have very limited quantities of produce that that seldom make it onto mainstream restaurant menus. There are also the secret ingredients that only the regulars get but I'm afraid I have to stay schtum on these.
Then as you are leaving [free parking till 10 am] you see the film crews arriving and GOODONEM they  are bringing publicity to one of the finest markets I have visited. Anyway I'm off to Asia if I don't fall off the edge of the earth at Footscray. But I guess John is right I must be a complete dinosaur as when I need to find out how to store the Ugni I reach for the bookshelf before the keyboard and vist my literary mates and gain more inspiration.

On another front there has been a story floating around the bloggsphere that wild Porcini [boletus edulis] have been found in  the Adelaide Hills and sold at the Adelaide Markets. First mentioned on lambsearandhoney blog   [link here] I rang some contacts at the botanical gardens and got positive scientific information that yes they have now been confirmed with the proper protocols. There have been many anecdotal stories of boletus edulis sightings going back to 1867 but none to date officially verified. Did I miss the mainstream media on this? I can remember going on a fungi foray in New Zealand to gather fresh specimens for Masterclass at the Melbourne food and Wine festival in the late nineties on the whisper that wild porcini were growing in Hagley Park Christchurch. Feeling more than a little silly on taking such a journey on a mere whisper, I accidentally stumbled on a very moving memorial to John Lennon of Strawberry Fields and lo and behold just at the side of the commemrative plaque there was a small group of ceps/porcini or whatever you like to call this King of the Boletes amongst the strawberry plants.

Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.
It is getting hard to be someone but it all works out.
It doesn't matter much to me....


Thermomixer said...

Well said. Simply love my books and amaze myself with what I find there that I have missed because it was not important at the time.

Stephanie's Australia is 20 years old, but many think restaurant kitchen gardens & specialist producers only started in the last few weeks.

Safe trip to Big Asia, if it exists past Nicholson St.

Sunnybrae and all who sail in her said...

Hi Thermo
I was trying to be light on this, the real deal behind John's story is to my [flat earthy] head is that Google has just done another mass appropriation of other peoples work to increase traffic for a third pary that has advertising with them.
Content as you know is the least important part of a google search. Eat Your Books just gives a third party access to your reading tastes and is then on sold to other marketers to help construct more accurate marketing profiles to sell you more books.

Thermomixer said...

Cheers. I had started logging my books on Eat Your Books until I realised everyone can see what I've got. Guess I was very naive thinking that it was a "community service".