One of the delicious and more colourful surprises at the Orange Grove Markets in Leichhardt is The Middle Eastern Kitchen, where you will find chef and cookery author, Rachel Grisewood, preparing delicious exotic offerings for her hoard of followers. Grisewood is the founder and CEO of Manna from Heaven and the Sydney Biscuit Company (1993-2010) and author of the award winning Manna from Heaven: Cooking for the People You Love (Allen and Unwin). She is currently busy setting up a new, boutique publishing company and writing her second book, Heaven on Earth, which documents her journey around the Mediterranean. The menu at Rachel's Middle Eastern Kitchen stall offers snacks and entrees (such as filo pastry cigars stuffed with rice, preserved lemon and 'all things nice'); mains, including slow cooked lamb shoulder with apricots, cinnamon and almonds; sweet things like orange flower water, pistachio and yoghurt cheesecakes. There are also condiments: harissa, preserved lemons, dukkah and much more.
John Fairley is all smiles. And so he should be. His Country Valley Lush Yoghurt has taken out the 'Champion Yoghurt' title as part of the 2012 Sydney Royal Easter Show. He also nailed Gold for his Organic Lite Milk and Silver for the rest. Well done!
The Fairleys have been dairy farmers in the Picton region of New South Wales for 170 years, John being the sixth generation and his son, Tom (who usually mans the stall at EPIC), the seventh. What makes Country Valley Dairy products so special (apart from the great taste!)? 'It's real and natural. There's no processing and whatever comes out the cows go into the milk, cream and yoghurt', John says.
Country Valley Dairy Products are available from seven markets, including Warwick Farm Farmer's Markets; Eveleigh Markets in Redfern; Marrickville Markets at Addison Road; Kings Cross Organic Food Market, Fitzroy Gardens; and the Southside Farmers' Markets at Woden CIT Campus in Canberra; and the Camden Grower's Market in Camden.
Meet Merna Taouk, Chef and Co-Founder of Homemade Fine Foods. Homemade Fine Foods is a range of award winning, hand-made desserts where, according to the lovely Merna, the main ingredient is homeliness. Merna's says her products are 'about keeping it real - from the quality ingredients used (such as the freshest cream from Country Valley Dairy in Picton, NSW), to the process of making the desserts through to the tantalising packaged delights'.
'My main focus is on using sustainable, locally sourced produce from suppliers who share my passion and commitment to quality and provenance. It’s all about keeping the food miles low and informing our customers where the ingredients in our desserts have come from', Merna explained to me when we met recently in Sydney.
The Homemade Fine Foods range includes an award winning Dark Chocolate Mousse, Raspberry Panna Cotta, Rice Pudding, Bread & Butter Pudding, Crumble, Sticky Date Pudding and Crumble Topping. The products are available from Farmer's Markets and a range of fine food outlets.
My European-born mother, a stickler for quality cultured butter, would have loved Pierre Issa and his hand-made Pepe Saya Australian cultured butter.
Talking with Pierre, I learned that he is absolutely passionate about producing great tasting Australian butter, that is full of tang and creaminess. Pierre says he 'loves playing with cream' and wanted to produce something very unique, drawing on his childhood experience of watching his grandfather 'spread butter like cheese' on his bread.
Pepe Saya cultured butter is made using quality fresh cream from a Picton farm, which is cultured with a lactic culture and allowed to ferment. This 'eats up' the sugar in the cream. After churning, the butter is strained, the buttermilk removed and the butter is washed with pure water. The butter is kneaded to further remove the buttermilk and then rolled and wrapped by hand.
Pepe Saya products (including butter, buttermilk and mascarpone) are available from various farmer's markets, such as Capital Region Farmer's Markets in Canberra, Eveleigh Farmer's Market in Redfern, Marrickville Organic Markets in Marrickville and Camden Farmer's Markets. To watch Pierre make butter and hear him explain 'the culture of butter', visit the Pepe Saya web site.
We discovered Yahya Sevim of Andy's Gozleme at the National Multicultural Festival and were delighted to learn that he has a stall at the Gorman House Markets in Canberra every Saturday.
Andy's offers traditional Turkish pastries and gozleme, including spinach and fetta, as well as with mince. Catering is also available.
Yahya was a chef in Mersin, Turkey, where he and six brothers owned a seafood restaurant, Picnic. He has been in Australia for ten years now, with five in Sydney and the last five in Canberra.
You will find Andy's Gozleme at the Gorman House Markets in Canberra on Saturdays and the Hall Market on the first Sunday of each month.
Farmers and growers, artisan producers, and wonderful providores.