Thursday, April 22, 2010

Canberra's gourmet delights

I know I know, one doesn't usually associate our national capital with a rich foodie culture. And over my several years of visiting there on book buying trips what has struck me most is the difficulty of finding something other than the generic, cookie-cutter Italian and Asian restaurants in the local shopping strips. However I have to say that I sell almost as many cookbooks online ( often really esoteric and specialist ones) to residents of the ACT as I do to NSW; and on my latest trip last weekend I also discovered the Farmer's Market out at EPIC - the Canberra showgrounds. There were lots of locals selling really excellent fresh produce, around 4 stalls selling organic locally-grown lamb and pork, several with beautiful baked goods, wine, honey you name it. David and I were on our way out of town for the drive back to Melbourne, so stocked up with muffins for breakfast and piroshki for lunch as well as beautiful new season apples and.... mushrooms.

I am a sucker for mushrooms of any sort but these weren't just any mushrooms - they were exotic varieties of a sort I hadn't seen since the Farmer's Market in San Francisco. They are sold by the man who grows them, in a disused railway tunnel in the NSW Southern Highlands, and were a delight to behold. We bought $20 worth of wood ear, enoki and king brown and that night sauteed them up in a stir-fry vaguely based upon the Monk's Dish - quickly fried with lots of garlic, sesame oil, oyster sauce and a touch of soy.

We followed that up with figs also bought from the market which I combined with frozen raspberries, drizzled with honey and topped with my standard "I don't feel like making pastry" crumble mix. After an 8 hour drive home witha boot full of books for the Clunes book fair (May 1st & 2nd) it was lovely comfort food.

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