The Christmas issue

Our December issue is out now, featuring Paul Carmichael's recipes for a Caribbean Christmas, silly season cocktails and more.

Subscribe to Gourmet

Subscribe to Australian Gourmet Traveller before 28th December, 2016 for your chance to win a share of $50,000!

Gourmet digital

Subscribe to Gourmet Traveller for your iPad or Android tablet.

Chilled recipes for summer

When the mercury is rising, step away from the oven. These recipes are either raw, chilled or frozen and will cool you down in a snap.

Decadent chocolate dessert recipes for Christmas

13 of our most decadent chocolate recipes to indulge guests with this Christmas.

What the GT team is cooking on Christmas Day

We don't do things by halves in the Gourmet office. These are the recipes we'll be cooking on the big day.

Sydney's best dishes 2016

For our 50th anniversary issue in 2016, we scoured Australia asking two questions: What dishes are making waves right now? What flavours will take us into the next half-century? Sydney provided 16 answers.

Paul Carmichael's great cake

"Great cake, also known in Barbados as black cake or rum cake, is a variation of British Christmas cake that's smashed with rum and falernum syrup," says Momofuku Seiobo chef Paul Carmichael. "This festive cake varies from household to household but they all have two things in common: tons of dried fruit and rum. It's a cake that should be started at least a month out so the fruit can marinate in the booze. Start this recipe up to five weeks ahead to macerate the fruit and baste the cake."

Summer feta recipes

Whether in a fresh salad or seasonal seafood dish, feta's creamy tang can be used to add interest to a variety of summer dishes.

Mango recipes

Nothing says summer like mangoes. Go beyond the criss-cross cuts - bake a mango-filled meringue loaf with lime mascarpone, start off the day with a sweet coconut quinoa pudding with sticky mango, or toss it through a spicy warm weather Thai salad.

Shark Bay Wild Scampi Caviar

Bright blue scampi roe is popping up on menus across Australia. Here's why it's so special.

The farmer’s strife

It's not all "the good life" being a producer - sometimes it's more like the good, the bad and the ugly, writes Paulette Whitney from the other side of the market trestle table.

Yesterday, after the farmers' market, I was sharing a cider with a friend and having a chat about our day. "A lot of people about?" he asked, thinking that a good market is about dollars, which it is, but dollars are not the primary driver for me, or I'd be an accountant, not a farmer.

"There were a few about; it was busy," I replied. "But today was different; everyone was kind. There's usually someone who'll give us a hard time, but this week everyone was really nice."

Sometimes you're standing there and you can't feel your hands, your kids are moaning about being bored, you're trying to make labels for your produce, drink some coffee to warm up while you wait for a customer, and someone will come by and lob a nasty comment at you.

Last week it was: "Everyone at this market is selling old kale. I like it small, like baby spinach. Here it's all too big and too old."

Matt, my co-gardener, who is also a chef, chimes in. He tells our accuser how he likes to cook kale, that it's a vegetable that responds beautifully to being braised or dropped into a soup. His descriptions are making me hungry. He suggests that if she wants something more tender, something that she can cook more quickly, she could try the cime di rapa.

She interrupts his flow, saying, "You should harvest it younger," with a particularly caustic tone. So I join in; I try explaining the horticultural angle. Kale is a cold-season plant that we start in January and harvest from the same planting all winter. That it's a far more sustainable option than cultivating every few weeks to replant a baby-leaf crop, that we get kilos of food from a single cultivation, with no need for pesticides or fertilisers.

She asks again how to cook it and I give her my ideas. I like it in a lamb curry, shredded in a salad, braised with green lentils, bay and garlic. She picks up every bunch from our pile, examining and up-ending them as I talk to her. She lifts the final one close to her face, squints at it, and dumps it on top of the turnips. She turns away, glances over her shoulder and says dismissively, "I'll think about it."

Our kale is $3.50 for a good-sized bunch. We hand-cultivate the beds, hand-weed, harvest the day before market, carefully arrange the fruits of our labour, with a not insignificant amount of pride, on our table. We've spent 15 minutes talking to her, and another five minutes putting the display back together. We've been honest, passionate, informative and friendly. Although it might seem like a small thing and we should be able to shake it off, every week there's at least one person who behaves this way and it's a real kick in the guts.

"Your gear is too expensive. I got herbs at home, I grow 'em cheaper 'an you an' I'll come down 'ere an' sell 'em. Youse a bloody rip-orf."

Well, thank you, sir, for your shouted observations, that's made my morning. Maybe if you'd come closer than shouting distance I could have explained to you the economics of bringing things to market. The stall fees, the public liability insurance, the labour involved in growing and maintaining plants, as well as harvesting and marketing them. The gamble that nobody will buy them and I'll be eating mint all week, the time that I spend standing there to sell my produce, the cost of the marquee that keeps the rain and sun off it, and the fact that everyone, including farmers, has the right to work hard and earn a reasonable living.

"There is blood in your soil?" asks another woman after reading our methodology, which is clearly presented on our stall. Yes, there is. I explain that we buy local blood and bone meal, a source of phosphorous, nitrogen and countless other nutrients. That all soil is made up of decaying animal, as well as plant matter, that the alternative source of phosphorous is rock phosphate, a vital but diminishing resource used in conventional agriculture, and that peak phosphorous is a potential food security crisis not many people know about. That the abattoir waste that makes up our blood and bone would otherwise become a pollution issue for meatworks to dispose of.

"Humph," she says. "But your soil has blood in it, right?" And walks off to eat whatever food she can find that is completely unsullied by death.

But this week, there was none of that - not a jot of it. One lady came and told us, "Your salad is amazing. I loved it so much I need two this week." Another came and asked for some cime di rapa and, "This stuff is great. Can I please have a bunch with plenty of rapini in it?" Why, yes you can! I go through the pile and pick the choicest bunch, full of deliciously bitter little flower heads for her.

My girls swapped some seedlings for hot cups of miso flavoured with striped trumpeter and local kelp, and oca for cannoli. I bought soap, made with Tasmanian olive oil and herbs, for a friend's birthday present. We completely sold out of kale, cime di rapa, tomatoes and turnips, and came home for that cider tired but happy.

You get an incredible sense of achievement from feeding people produce that you know is well grown. We've worked hard, we've fed people and we've got our milk, cheese, apples and meat for the week from the hands of our friends who grew it. We've been given plant pots and strawberry punnets to re-use by our customers; one has a handful of passionfruit from somebody's garden in it.

Every week a woman comes and buys her greens along with a little edible bouquet. We chat about cooking and gardening. She tells us she misses her family in WA, that coming to the market and chatting with all of us makes her week full, makes her feel like she's part of a vibrant and warm community.

"It's only a little thing," she says, "but it makes all the difference."

Illustration: Tom Bingham

Newsletter

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

Latest news
Explainer: wild scampi caviar
30.11.2016
GT's Christmas hamper
29.11.2016
David Thompson's favourite hot sauce
28.11.2016
Our 2016 Christmas issue is out now
28.11.2016
Bruce Pascoe’s crowd-funded Indigenous agriculture project
27.11.2016
Where to start with French beef cuts
18.11.2016
GT
Signature Collection

Find out more about the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection by Robert Gordon Australia, including where to buy it in store and online.

Read More
The GT x STILY
Christmas Boutique is now open

The smallgoods, homewares, art and more from the pages of GT are now all under one roof, ready to take their place under the tree.

Read More
Gourmet TV

Check out our YouTube channel for our latest cover recipes, chef cooking demos, interviews and more.

Watch Now

You might also like...

Hot 100 2015 - Food

The world is getting hotter and we’re not talking about glob...

The producers: Two Rivers Green Tea

A leading local tea exporter now offers his leaves to the do...

The producers: Colony honey

A selection of regional monofloral honeys sourced direct fro...

Liquid gold

We find ourselves inexorably drawn to salt caramel in a jar....

The producers: Atssu Divers

Hand-dived abalone, turban shell and sea urchin.

Making a scene

Entertainer Julia Zemiro notes there’s little difference bet...

Game of Thrones food

Pat Nourse caught up with George RR Martin to talk about one...

Deutscher’s Turkey Farm

When it comes to talking turkey, the best birds have lived t...

Sandor Ellix Katz Q&A

Food fermentation 'revivalist' and guru Sandor Ellix Katz di...

The producers: Alexandrina Jersey milk

Meet the producers of the creme de la creme of Australian fu...

On the pass

Looking back over the 20 years she's been in business, Phill...

Gamze smokehouse

Bringing local flavour to artisan-made bacon.

Gourmet Traveller Gourmet Fast app

Now, here's a mighty handful: GT's Gourmet Fast recipes are ...

Food emoji we wish existed

What? More than 200 new pictograms in the latest Emoji set, ...

What is jumbuck?

The jumbuck has leapt straight from the pages of Banjo Pater...

get the latest news

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

×