Mmmm I love the possibilities of planning a lunch in winter: Shall I make a Bouillabaisse-inspired fish pie? a rabbit and mushroom pie? An oxtail pie? Shall I serve it with smashed potatoes or a celeriac mash? What about dessert? A steaming crumble or something a bit more unusual?
At 6 this morning I headed in to the city to the Queen Victoria market in search of rabbit, good seafood, baby vegetables and the makings for a bastardised charcuterie/antipasto plate. The first two were easy - the meat and fish hall at the QV continues to field a host of top quality butchers and fishmongers with an almost overwhelming selection. I really have to know what I want before I get there otherwise one of two things happens: I buy more meat and fish than I need or I buy nothing at all because I can't make up my mind. I've written before about the stall with beautiful cuts of goat, and next time I go I am determined to buy me some 'variety meats' (as the Americans call offal). Two bunnies? Done. Some nice local prawns and scallops? Done. Baby vegetables? Not so much. I wandered the three aisles of fruit and veges and was struck by the blandness of the offerings. With few exceptions, the fruit and veg were mostly the varieties I could buy at Woolworths, just cheaper: the same apples, oranges, potatoes, beetroot, repeated - stall after stall after stall. The exceptions were a stall offering exotic mushrooms, and a couple of vendors selling things like raddichio, baby cauliflower etc. I was so uninspired. Where were the heirloom beetroot varieties I had heard were now in season? Why was everyone selling Queensland strawberries - big and tasteless? I know I'm showing my age, but I remember when the fruit and veg aisles of the QV outnumbered those selling Australian souvenirs and knock-off bags. When walking the produce aisle was an inspiration to cook. Now I suspect that many of the small growers, and those with more unusual offerings, are off at the inner city farmer's markets, which are on my to-do list. (My opinion on some of the local Farmer's Markets could fill a blog! Lots of jams and biscuits, but very little fresh produce)
Moping home with my small bag of goodies, I opened the shop and popped in to Fred's (the Kallista Biodynamic Market) and wouldn't you know it - right on my doorstep were tiny jewel-like brussel sprouts and baby fennel to make my Sunday lunch complete. Over at the Kallista market I picked up some of the freshest sourdough I've had in a while, dropped off my knives to be sharpened and enjoyed the gorgeous winter sunshine over a coffee and the paper. Now if I could just get someone to sell rabbit, goat and other (not really so) exotica nearby, I won't have to schlepp into the city whenever the urge to cook them arises!