stirling farmers’ market
As we approach the Stirling Council car park, we can already tell the eight months old Stirling Farmers’ Market is going to be great. It’s got two hallmarks of success: plenty of parking and plenty of dogs. Yes, dogs. It sounds crazy but that’s my patented litmus test. The more pooches, the more successful the market will be. (It’s probably related to the market loving demographic.)
Let’s start with the food. Since markets require a fairly early start, a good breakfast is a required treat, or a reward for the unwilling, still sleepy bag carrier.
Making crepes to order at the Wholey Crepe stall.
Wholey Crepe’s banoffee crepe.
Captain Bobo’s bratwursts.
Wholey Crepe ("It’s not crap!" says the owner!) (Don’t you just love the name!?) makes, what has got to be, one of the best crepes in Perth. A fluid buckwheat based batter is spread over gleaming, seasoned cast iron pan and is transformed into soft, luscious crepes. We had a lovely banoffee (banana and caramel) crepe for brekkie. There were some tempting savoury choices too, like Le Norske (smoked salmon) and Ozzie (vegemite and cheese). The crepes are not only delicious, but gluten free and organic.
For a meatier start on the day, get into the Rotary Club’s beastly burgers of bacon and egg tucked into fat bread rolls. It’s a pretty delicious excuse to support a good cause. The bratwurst stall with the prerequisite cast iron pan is fast becoming a regular appearance on the farmers’ markets scene. Captain Bobo’s does a "fully loaded" hot dog complete with sauerkraut and onions. Sounds good, no?
Hot Pot Popcorn Co pouring popcorn straight from the kettle.
Warm popcorn almost ready for bagging. And eating.
The next stall we saw, had me literally doing a dance in the car park. Three words: kettle cooked popcorn!!! Popped and cooked in a round bottomed kettle, Hot Pot Popcorn Co’s popcorn is perfectly fluffy and golden and most importantly, buttery. When ready, the hot popcorn is tipped over a perforated tray to catch the unpopped kernels. It’s bagged warm on the spot, ready to be eaten. We were all over the tasters like fat kids on cake and immediately bought a bag of sweet and salty popcorn. There’s also vanilla, cinnamon, salty, caramel (a best seller) and salt & vinegar.
Oranges from Gingin.
Green and purple varieties of kohlrabi.
Swan Valley Gourmet Fungi’s oyster mushrooms. Grow-your-own logs will be available soon!
So let’s move onto the shopping. Direct from the farmer, oranges from Gingin were a stellar buy. One of the stalls had a particularly good range of spuds. We picked up a bag of the tiniest new kipfler potatoes for $6, perfect for the next roast chicken dinner.
One stall I always make an effort to visit is Swan Valley Gourmet Fungi. These guys produce the freshest oyster mushrooms and soon will be selling oyster mushroom logs, so you can grown them at home. Sometimes they even have the French horn mushie in stock.
Needless to say, farmers’ markets are also the place to spot unusual produce. I can’t even remember the last time I saw kohlrabi and that morning not only did we seen the creepy green bulb but the purple one too.
Beets are always good buys at markets. Look for squeaky, lively tops, that can be also eaten like cooked like spinach.
HUGE Kiefier pears at the Marchetti & Sons stall. If the scale doesn’t seem right, the hand belongs to a big guy.
Talking about weird produce, at Marchetti & Sons the jumbo Kiefer pears were the stars of the show. About four times the normal size, the pears are freaks of nature, grown on the very same trees that produce the normally fist sized keifier pears. They taste a lot like crunchy nashi pears with a delicate flavour.
We spotted at least three produce stalls selling a good cross section and variety, so you can do your weekly fruit and veg shop in one fell swoop. Business was brisk at the seafood van, with fillets being weighed and wrapped in old fashioned paper. The beef van was present for carnivorous shoppers and eggs were covered by market stalwart Ellah’s Eggs. But get in quick because not a single egg was left by 10am! (Tip: Ellah’s ‘mega’ eggs go fast.) Bread is covered by the insanely popular Tammy’s and Il Panino.
Tammy’s loaves of bread. About half an hour after this photo was taken, most of them were gone.
There were two unusually good buys at the market: pistachios and El Asador’s meat products.
Australian grown pistachios are a rarity, with most pistachios sold in supermarkets imported from the United States and are hence stale. Fresh pistachios are especially beautiful with deep green kernels and purple husks and these were what we found at WA Pistachio’s stall. We loved the look of their chocolate bars studded with pistachios and there were bags of shelled pistachios (handy for the avid baklava bakers out there). Of course, there were bags of roasted pistachios for sale. I picked up one for K for $22.
The market stall to really pay attention to would be El Asador’s. I spotted El Asador at the South Freo Growers’ Green markets a couple of years back and they’ve just kept getting bigger and better. Specialists in Argentinean condiments like chimmichurri sauce, they’ve recently started selling a range of meats.
These little morsels were being cooked on a Weber as tasters and oh boy – EVERYTHING – everything, the short rib, chorizos and morcilla (blood sausage) were amazing. The vacuum packed short ribs were tender and flavoursome from a long marinade and long, slow cook. However it was the morcilla that was fan-bloody-tastic (hah pun). Decidedly ‘unbloody’ tasting, it had a crumbly texture with a hint of spice. Into my shopping basket it went.
For a young market, there’s a good range of produce vendors, but I reckon they need one more produce stall to round it out (by the way, Rotary are seeking stallholders for the market – contact the Karrinyup Rotary Club).
Before we left the market, I did the one thing I almost never do. After circling the flower stand endlessly, I bought myself a bunch of flowers! Grown in Roleystone, the bouquet cost a mere princely sum of $10 and they lasted for almost two weeks. They are sitting next to my screen as I type this. If that doesn’t speak for the freshness of farmers’ markets, I don’t know what will.
The Stirling Farmers’ Market is definitely one of the best markets around. It’s hassle free, has interesting stalls with lots of tasters and plenty of tables for that quick bite. Get in there quick, as these markets need as much support as they can get!
Stirling Farmers’ Market
City of Stirling Civic Centre car park, Cedric Street, Stirling WA 6021
Open every Sunday 7.30am – 11.30am
See my farmers’ market page to find more markets in and around Perth.
Flowers from Roleystone.
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