Market wrap and an easy venison dinner


One of our favourite parts about travelling to Sydney every couple of weeks is meeting new stallholders at the markets we attend there. Last Saturday Tim and I went along to the first market of 2014 (for Mandagery Creek Venison at least - we always take January off). And as soon as the stand was set up but before things got busy, I did a little scout around to say hi to a few friends and see what was new in the market round.

First discovery of the day was Kettle Town. This small Sydney based company run by Lily and Vincent (above), blends beautiful, subtle flavours into an impressive range of teas that all sound, smell and taste wonderful. As I write I'm sipping on a big jar of iced summer rose tea and it's amazing - subtle, creamy and perfect with the last half-slice of Nadine Ingram's lemon love drizzle cake that I squirreled away from Tim and the kids to enjoy in peace today! You can find Kettle Town teas at Pyrmont Growers Market on the first Saturday of the month plus a number of other markets around Sydney (see their Facebook page for details) and via their online Etsy store.

Since they joined Pyrmont Markets late last year, Tim and I have developed a fully fledged love for everything baked by Nadine Ingram and her team at Flour and Stone. The lemon drizzle cake is deservedly famous among market goers and regulars at Nadine's Woolloomooloo bakery, but it's the panna cotta lamington that has really put this clever clever baker on the map.

Another recent addition to our Pyrmont market troupe is the Luk Beautifood Bar. These guys make the most beautiful edible lipstick (yes really - and you feel like a delicious goddess when wearing them) and at the markets set up arguably the best-dressed stall selling beauty bars (full of activated seeds, nuts, grains and goodness) and a range of smoothies and juices promising and delivering to make you feel and look great. I've also just spent a very happy half an hour browsing through the Luk Beautifood blog and have bookmarked some great new recipes.

I'd never heard of an Achacha before Saturday so was just a tad overexcited to discover that our new market neighbours, Justin and Alison Hill (below) of Achacha farms in Northern Queensland had dropped in to take the spot during their fruit season. Similar in ways to mangosteens but completely unique in appearance Achacha's are a major find. The Hills are pioneering this industry in Australia and as Justin says, they are still figuring out the exact beginning and end of their season but in general it runs from around November to February/March. Their website is fantastic and full of information on the origins of the tree, nutrition value of the fruit and how the family came to farm them. So, if you come across this beautiful fruit, stock up - because they can be frozen and as I discovered on Saturday night, are gorgeous when peeled and dropped straight into a glass of bubbles. Good luck with your farm and business Hills! Can't wait to see you at the next market. 

Of course, the real reason we were at the markets was to sell our venison and this we did. It wasn't the busiest market ever, but a good start to 2014 and great to see all our regulars again! Thank you so much to all of those lovely people who come and support us here every month, we love that you love our product and look forward to another great year supplying it to you!

Tim and I returned late Saturday night, exhausted and hot after the busy day. And while Sunday was supposed to be a day of rest, I got to hang out with the kids while poor Tim spent the whole day feeding, checking water troughs and doing general farm stuff - all in 35 degree heat (about as hot as it ever gets here in Orange). So we were pretty pleased when dusk rolled around, a cool breeze picked up and we could sit down to the below meal. It was almost entirely sourced from the market; featuring a packet of venison steaks we had left over, quickly pan-fried mushrooms from my old school friend Lisa's father Dr Noel Arrold's Mittagong farm, a micro salad from Darling Mills and an iced tumbler of Kettle Town Mintilla tea (a black tea with vanilla notes and loads of fresh pepperment). A good end to a busy, hot weekend. Recipe follows...

BBQ'd venison steaks with mushrooms, pearl barley and garlic

I know I'm biased but honestly these venison steaks cut like butter - so tender and really delicious with this lemony, garlic-y pearl barley dish. Serves 4.

1 x packet Mandagery Creek Venison steaks
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups pearl barley
1 clove garlic, peeled and bruised
3 cups stock (chicken or vegetable is good)

For the dressing; 4 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, juice of one lemon, salt and pepper to taste

25g butter
2 cups mixed mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 extra clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

2/3 cups of mixed salad leaves

Remove the venison from packaging, rub with the olive oil, thyme and seasoning and place in the fridge until needed (remove about 30 minutes before cooking so it comes to room temperature).

For the pearl barley; place barley, garlic and stock in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover and cook for 35 minutes or until tender. Drain then return to saucepan and drape a tea
towel over the top and cover again with the saucepan lid (this helps absorb any extra liquid and keeps the barley nice and fluffy). Meanwhile, mix dressing together in a jar until well combined.

For the mushrooms; melt the butter in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Saute the mushrooms and garlic until softened. Toss through the barley, add the pine nuts and half of the dressing.

Heat the barbecue to high and cook the steaks for a couple of minutes on each side or until cooked to your liking (we do 1 1/2 minutes on each side which yields beautiful medium/rare steaks).

Serve the steaks with the mushrooms, barley and salad. Drizzle the lot with remaining dressing and enjoy!


  1. oh goodie! I must get to the markets next time. It has been a while since I met. Everything looks great and there seem to be quite a few new stalls. I saw Achachas at the Hornsby farmer's market last week and was very intrigued. Thanks for the info!

  2. This really looks like such a beautiful market Sophie...something else for my Sydney list! The stalls look so vibrant and thoughtfully put together. Once again, thanks for sharing some great links and inspiration x


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