Buongiorno, bonjour and “g’day”! (don't you like how they're all the same thing? ~ who knew Australian vernacular was so cosmopolitan???).

Also, "a good day to you, sir/maam" for our American pals, "Ni Hao" to China, and "Здравствуй" to our Russian comrades, "etcetera etcetera and so forth"... (for Yul Brynner).

It’s your old pal Kit (Christof) Fennessy here. I've been writing this blog with your help for ten years, and there's over a hundred and fifty recipes, restaurant reviews of Australia and around the world, and general gourmet articles in these pages for you to fritter away your idle hours on.

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Now, what's on the bill of fare today?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lancefield Farmers Market

Centre Plantation, High Street , Lancefield, Victoria

Next one: Saturday 26th April 2014 (Anzac Day long weekend)

Ah, Lancefield.  Lancey one day, fieldy the next.

At the foot of the Macedon Ranges, an hour and a bit from Melbourne up the Calder Freeway (past the airport), sits Lancefield. According to Wikipedia:

Lancefield district had a reputation for some of the best fertile soils in Victoria. Prior to being cut up into small blocks during the early 1970s the region produced high yields per acre of potatoes, fat lambs, fat cattle, wheat and other cereal crops.

Its elevation apparently also makes it very good for growing grapes.

But did you know they had a farmer’s market?  Neither did I; but our “rural brethren” around central goldfields Victoria are all over it like a rash.

Still, this was one of the better ones I’ve been to, and I’d encourage you to go for “sustainable” and organic food, and a nice day out.  Now, read on!

Located in the grass strip down the centre of the town’s main street, there’s music, cooking demonstrations, and it’s almost impossible to get a park. It’s a veritable institution for locals, having started in 2003, and a very positive sight in rural Victoria which (let’s face it) needs things like this to get their economy moving.

Our friend Lachlan had invited us up for lunch at Riddel’s Creek.  It was a lovely cold morning, and we dropped over a hundred bucks on cheese, wine, coffees, dumplings, etc with Lachy and his son Lucien.  A few tips for new starters:

They Don’t Have Everything
Do not go to a market like this looking for a supermarket shopping experience.  This is more the traditional style of market, what’s grown and made locally, seasonal, and you kind of have to wing your menu based on what’s available.  But treats are in store a plenty.
Still, there looks like an opening for someone who does a cheddar and a blue cheese…

Wear a Coat:
It was freezing when we went, and one of the traders was wearing a big fluffy down snow style coat.  “It’s my Lancefield coat.  It’s always cold here.”

There is a coffee stand, and you're going to need something hot to drink, but I got a tip from one of the bakers to go to the Lancefield art gallery (Mad Gallery, 16High St).  Everyone local was going there, but expect country style service; where you stand at the counter for ages while someone with a red face flusters because they can’t cope with having fifteen people in the shop simultaneously.

Start Early:
Get there early-ish.  Some stands run out of things (soft goats cheese – we got the last one), and it’s difficult to get a park right next to the market.


Animals:  There’s livestock for sale.  Buy live chickens, turkeys and piglets from a trailer in a gap in the median strip.  It’s like a petting zoo, but you get to take one home, slaughter it and eat it.  Yeah baby, yeah.
Burek:  savoury filled flakey pastry
Booze:  People are there who make their own wine and have the sun damaged skin to prove it.
Dumplings:  There’s a dumpling stand which is modestly priced and delicious.  They also do pork buns, etc. and there’s a queue lining up for them.
Goats cheese
Galloway beef
Organic veggies;  including garlic, just the thing if you want to plant some yourself.
Seedlings: An old Italian farmer who sells seedlings of whatever should be going into the ground at the time.  We picked up lettuces and broccoli, ten seedlings for five bucks.

So there you have it.  Go to Lancefield, have a plunge, then find a fireside and spend the rest of the afternoon reflecting how very nearly like Europe Victoria is becoming… then wipe the chook pooh off your eggs.

I rate the Lancefield Farmer’s Market Six and a half tentacles out of eight.