Warrnambool shrugged off the winter blues today with a sunny display of produce and products at its premier ‘by the sea’ market-stall event.
Hosted by Fresh Market Warrnambool this seaside market is conducted amidst Lake Pertobe, a popular green space alongside the sea and sands of Lady Bay within the Warrnambool harbour.
Held on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month, the market is literally alongside Warrnambool’s popular tourist beach, and broadly promises ‘ a produce market showcasing the regions finest producers, creators and designers’.
The fresh-bread stalls seemed popular today as was the coffee and crepe vans, and there were well-populated tables and seats available especially for weary or overloaded shoppers.
There were at least two stalls for home gardeners, with local grown herbs, vegie plant-lings and salad produce on offer, along with natives and exotics.
The most-visited stall seemed the fund-raiser where books, videos, cd’s were all to be had for the princely sum of $1 (there were quite a few of us staggering back to the car with armloads of reading material).
My pick of the day is the Nhillbillies Gourmet Treats stall, both as a sentimental choice and particularly for its fiery ‘Capsicum & Chilli Jam’.
Nhill is a country town in Victoria’s western district where my grandmother was born, and some of the Nhillbillies recipes have been pasted down in families from the Nhill region.
This chilli jam does come with a warning from its creator – take care as it is particularly fiery.
Of course I smilingly ignored it and when I got home and tasted it I spent the next five minutes with my head in the freezer trying to dilute the fire in my mouth!
This Nhillbillies chilli jam is a versatile product – I added it to my son’s favorite mince and rice dish and found it really added another dimension to the flavor.
I left it to the son with the cast-iron stomach to try the chilli as a chutney, and he declared through tears that it was indeed ‘bloody hot’.
I once made the mistake of chopping a whole crop of chillis in a blender – when I took the lid off the steamy odour that arose hit me fair in the face, and I went down on the floor like a pole-axed steer. I had effectively maced myself. Left me crying like a baby for hours (upside was the kids had to take over the house work).
Another delight from the Fresh Market Warrnambool are jams and jellies from the Shannon Glen Berries stall.
More ‘locally grown and made’ produce, this time from further westward towards the South Australian border, Shannon Glen is renown for its biodynamics practices. Whatever they are doing it sure as hell shows in their products.
When you open the lid of a Shannon Glen Quince Jelly its like smelling fresh liquid honey, and taste wise the jelly is really light. Tease it on your favourite cheese and cracker, and you will struggle in the future to go without.
Both the strawberry and blackberry jams are something else. I love nothing better than home cooked jam, and I don’t know if I have ever had finer than this particular produce. Its so light, and the flavour is really compact. I like that the blackberry is not ‘seedy’ like often home produced jam can be.
Because Warrnambool is a good neighbour it was great to see some South Australian produce at our local market – the Hahndorf Gourmet stall from Royal Park in S.A.
And because life is not worth living if there is no salami in the fridge, my (much) better half ended up with both a Black Pepper and a Sopressa with olive salami.
The black pepper lives up to its name,its coating being studded with black peppercorns that reach in to infuse the flavor within the finely ground meat ( I found it a strong taste, maybe too strong for me on just a biscuit. My favorite option is to lightly grill salami, along with capsicum and onion, and then bake it on a fresh dough in the oven, so that will be my next experiment.).
There were plenty of other stalls to visit at the Fresh Market Warrnambool which will have to keep for another visit, but with the next market day due on the third Sunday of September I only have a couple of weeks to wait.