I am slowly discovering the beauty of car boot sale, antique shops and fresh farmers markets, is that a sign of old age? Actually, don't answer it. Apart from eating and cooking, another latest hobby of mine is spending the weekend at the farmers markets. I have to admit I am actually still a newbie when comes to farmers markets, especially the ones in Sydney, there are still lots of them that I haven't been to. 2 hours drive down to Sydney at the break of dawn on a weekend just for the markets is not something I would called fun, I much prefer my sleep ins during weekends. Hence, I usually only visit the local markets here in the central coast and Newcastle City farmers market is my new found love.

I discovered the Newcastle City Farmers Market while visiting a friend who suggested that we should go and check out the market. He also very specifically looking for few items while we were there: Beetroot and Rhubarb Jam, and organic goat milk soap. But alas, the jam was sold out and the soap lady also wasn't there that weekend. Despite the let down, I was totally in awe with the size of the market. Hence, I decided to bring The Pom this time to check out the market the size of a football field and beyond!

Okay, maybe I am exaggerated a little, but it is definitely one of the biggest farmer markets I've visited. The Newcastle city farmers market is held at the Broadmeadow Showground most Sundays, rain or shine. Yes, it is in a showground! I've counted, there are around 100 stalls at the markets, scattered around the village green atmosphere of the showground and also inside two huge pavilions.

It is just as busy and crowded as I remember when we arrived at the showground, but thank god for the car parking facility within the showground at only $2, which goes towards improvements to the Show Ground. Soon, we are surrounded by the sight and sound of fresh farmers meat and produce, artisan crafts, gourmet food and a whole lot more.

Admiring at the different cuts of juicy red meats neatly stacked behind the glass display on the back of a truck beat watching TV anytime! And right at the far end of the market is a petting zoo with pony rides for the young ones! To top it up, they even have a resident chef, Stephane Pois, on hand to demonstrate a range of different meals all made with ingredients sourced from the farmers and producers.

The local farmers are always happy for a chat and you can find out where the food come from, and also share a few tips on how to prepare in the kitchen to bring out the best results from their produce.

And next to the petting zoo, there is also a food court area where you can sit down to rest those weary legs after all the walking. We decided to have a light lunch and got ourselves some gourmet pies from the Ridgey Didge Pie stall. We both get the Beef and Mushroom pie and Pepper Chunky Beef pie with steamy hot chunky beef in a golden brown puffy pastry. I love the rugged looking hand kneaded pastry top, rather have a 'gourmet' home made feel to it.

I also get the Peel Valley flavoured milk drink to go with the pies. This is made with fresh milk squeezed from a cow, with added flavours choice of strawberry or chocolate, bottled and chilled in glass cabinet of ice at the stall. No preservatives, no expiry date. It definitely has a stronger taste of fresh milk compared to those commercially bottled that you can get at the supermarket which is overly sweet sometimes.

We then explore the indoor pavilions for more fresh produce! There are three isles inside jam packed with more stalls that need their produces stay out of the sun, cheese, bakeries, gourmet food, butchers and the like. I even spotted a stall selling nothing but macarons at $2 a pop!

I sampled some of the fine cheese at the Binnorie Dairy stall from Pokolbin. Their goat cheese is exceptionally strong and gamey, which still a taste that I am yet to familiarise myself with. I bought the washed rind, a pie of gooey cheese that had been bathed or scrubbed with brine to encourage the growth of the surface culture which gives it a sticky orange surface. The washed rind has the soft and supple texture of brie, but the flavour is so much stronger and it gets even wilder while aging it even longer in the fridge.

Another score of the day is a jar of natural Australian 'Chunky Honey' from the Middlebrook Honey stall fron Nundle, NSW. I am advised by Monkeyboy's girlfriend that you can beat hay fever by consuming the honey from the local area, which injects an immune system into your body from all the pollens in the honey. The "chunky honey" that I bought is a blend of mixed blossom gathered from all the bee farms within a 150km radius, so I hope it works. But the big chunk of raw bee wax in the jar already wins me over.

I am lucky to walk away with this little stash from the Newcastle farmers market. The Pom loves his mint and bought all three varieties - Chocolate Mint, Lemon Mint and the normal Peppermint. First time I've tried the chocolate mint and it does have a very subtle hint of chocolatey in it. I bought the big loaf of 770g medium rye sourdough from Stoneground sourdough bread stall. They proudly labelled their breads as Bills Certified Organic, not to be confused with Bill Granger.

There were a big fight over the "boozy duck" liver pate at the Stella May Fine Foods stall. I managed to score the last tub of the "boozy duck" pate which is sublimely smooth and boozy, goes with the sourdough I bought hand-in-hand. I also bought a chicken, veal and peppercorn terrine from the same store, love a nice fatty terrine with fresh peppercorn for the punch.

I easily could have brought home a trolley load of goodies from the market, but I restrained myself to give me an excuse to venture out to the Newcastle farmers market again... real soon.

Newcastle City Farmers and Craft Market
Most Sunday 8am-1pm
(please check Market Calender for details)

Broadmeadow Showground Entry from Griffiths Rd, Broadmeadow.

Parking facility available - A $2 parking fee applies, which goes towards improvements to the markets site.


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'A Taste of Peru' competition winners Announced

Congratulations to our 'A Taste of Peru' competition winners:

1. Nillie 2. Andy C 3. James

An email will be sent out to notify all the winners. Once we have received your mailing address, the Olive Greens organics hamper will on its way to you form Illapu Peru. Congratulations once again!