Find your market rhythm

Sremska Grill Rocket Salad made using ingredients purchased from the Rocklea twilight markets.

There are some excellent farmers markets around but for my staple supply, the Rocklea Wednesday night twilight market is my constant. Conveniently close there is an abundance of parking and it is my mid-week date with my sister. The ambiance rocks, there is always a band busting out soulful tunes and the stall holders have more time to chat.

Best of all – I have found my market rhythm. I can weave through the people easily, I know the lay out, what stalls I like, what places to avoid and what signs to look for.

I accept that many of the produce stalls at the Rocklea markets do not sell local produce direct from the farm.  The commercial Rocklea market is on the opposite side of the road so it’s not hard to guess where a lot of the produce comes from.

There is  local options you just need to know where to look and what to ask. So this week I thought I would share my usual purchases and favourite stalls.

Meet James.

James is a vibrant character with a hearty chuckle and smile. With a background in growing his own prize-winning vegetables, James has carefully selected his suppliers. The product selection is small but his stall is always buzzing with regular customers.  My order each week pretty much remains the same:-

Cucumbers and mixed cherry tomatoes. These come from Helidon (near Toowoomba). The 'cukes' are small, super crisp and acid free and would have to be one of Jame's signature products.

A bag of white mushrooms. James can tell you the exact time he picked these up from the growers (usually very early that same morning). The food miles is negligible as they come from Archerfield. The large field mushrooms are organic.

I also buy a bowl of Rocket or salad greens for $2.99, also from Toowoomba. The freshness of the salad bowls is proven by the shelf life in your fridge. Even a week later these salad greens are still perky and crunchy.

Depending on the season, James will also stock blueberries and strawberries.

Meet Dave & Valerie from Olive You

Dave is a culinary experimenter, always trying new olive oil infusions or tinkering with his balsamic range. Dave's zest for the craft of producing his products and his love of good food is contagious.

Dave and Valerie own a small olive grove in Mutdapilly, Queensland. Life on the olive grove can be tough at times, especially this year with their olive trees failing to perform as well.  It is inspiring seeing small producers persevere  through trying times. Unless you want to see the market place dominated by agribusiness, it is worth supporting the smaller struggling producers.

My usual purchases include:-

  • A bottle of plain extra virgin olive oil
  • A bottle of infused extra virgin olive oil
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Fresh Pasta
  • Balsamic Vinegar

I go for the citrus infusions in spring and summer, bush spices in Autumn and the garlic, herbs and chilli infusions during winter.

Dave makes up a few batches of fresh pasta each week. You have to get in early. The fresh pasta is $6 and he makes a pasta sauce for $4.

If you get stuck for creative uses of olive oil or balsamic, just ask Dave. Balsamic is so versatile. I love it drizzled over steamed carrots.

Farm Fresh from Beaudesert

There is a little quirky stall run by Du.  She sells produce from her own farm in Beaudesert.  Many of the vegetables sold are specialty varieties. I am slowly working my way through these but  am clueless how to use them.  It helps that each product is clearly labelled, with a picture of the plant and a few suggested uses listed. Du will always make you feel special. Once the final price is announced she will either say ”’ but for you I make it” and proceed to knock a small bit of the price or she will slip (of course making sure you notice) an extra apple or a further handful of beans into your bag. I think it is nice when your patronage of a stall is recognised and appreciated with a little token benefit.

This is Mao. All I know about this is you have to peel the skin off first.

Bitter Melons

Wing beans - Use in Stirfry and Salads

Winter Melon - Use in soups and stir fry

I always buy my pumpkin from Du. The Jap Pumpkins are so rich in colour and taste, I highly recommend them.

Du also stocks a range of Stanthorpe apples with taste testing of each variety on offer.

Backa Smallgoods

Each week I buy something different from Richard at Backa Smallgoods, whatever takes my fancy. I like them because no preservatives are used and the meat is sourced locally. Have a chat to Richard about what you are after (e.g a pizza topping, something to grill or hungarian style pasta sauce) and he is happy to make suggestions.  The range includes

  • Pork and Beef Kulin
  • Italian Caccottori
  • Sremska Gril
  • Mild and Hot Chabi
  • Smoked Spec
  • Beef Sticks

Pork Kulin - made with pork meat,cracked pepper and hot paprika.

Italian Caccottori - these are coated in pepper.

Yummioh Organic Bakery

Yummioh Organic Bakery are sourdough artisans based in Mt Gravatt East. The sour dough is make using their own starter and contain organic flour, filtered water and salt only. There is no chemicals, preservatives, fat or sugar used at all in the production process. This bread is a work of art.

The organic spelt wholemeal sourdough lightly toasted with butter and Vegemite is my favourite comfort food breakfast.

Gradually getting to know your local market is satisfying and ultimately saves time.  New things pop up all the time and there is treasures to be found (like freshly shelled peas) so reserve a bit of time to browse once your shopping list is completed.

Tips for the Twilight markets:-

  • Bring enough cash to pay the $3 entry fee (per car) but there is an ATM on the premises if you need to top up.
  • There is  toilets at the far end of the car park.
  • For bargain prices – come closer to the end but be prepared for pushier sales.

One thought on “Find your market rhythm

  1. livingdelilah says:

    I agree, you need to your rhythm at Rocklea and know who’s usually where, and where they get their stock. When I was starting out, a clue to which stalls to avoid are those selling produce that isn’t naturally in season.

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