Christmas market

This morning I did a bunch of house cleaning. This afternoon, my wife wanted to go check out the Sustainable Christmas Artisans’ Market, a new twilight market held at the Coal Loader, a historical industrial site near my place, now converted into a public facility.

We walked over about 4pm – according to my walk tracking app the return walk totalled just over 5 kilometres. Fortunately today was overcast and not too hot, although it was pretty humid. As we approached the market, there were streams of people walking form the nearest railway station, as well as cars choking the streets, seeking elusive parking spots. We realised it was going to be busy.

Coal Loader market

Although there were a lot of people there, the market was spread out in a large area, so it wasn’t too crowded. They had some food vans and a bar set up, with some seating in the middle for people to eat and drink, with the stalls set up around the perimeter of the space. Several people had brought their dogs, so Scully got to say hello to a few, including Norman, another black poodle who we’ve met a few times in a park near our place.

It was the sort of market that has stalls selling giant pepper grinders, hand-turned from native Australian woods:

Grinders

The Coal Loader is in a nice location, on the side of a cliff overlooking the inner harbour:

Christmas market

Well, the water is behind the row of stalls! We bought a Christmas present for Scully – a new lead, with a cool Pac-Man design (although I suspect she’s too young to know Pac-Man). There was also a stall selling syrups and marmalades made from native fruits – I got a couple of bottles of cocktail mixer syrup: native lime, and riberry.

The walk back home was pleasant, in the cooler evening air, although uphill a lot of the way.

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Le Marché Français

Today was a family Sunday! My wife heard about a French market day being held at a school ground in a suburb not far from us, so we drove over with Scully to check it out. It was way busier than we’d expected!

French market

We were lucky to get a parking spot within two blocks in the normally quiet back streets, which were absolutely chocka with cars. Fortuitously we spotted my wife’s sister and mother arriving as well – we’d planned to meet up here at the market, but it would have been tricky with the crowd, so it was fortunate that we happened to run into one another right after finding parking spots. There were dozens of stalls selling all manner of things with a French theme, and also dozens of food tents and trucks selling crepes, raclettes, pomme frites, gateaux, cheeses, baguettes, pastries, sausages, and all sorts of other French food. And there were also several portable amusement park rides for the kids, including slides, merry-go-rounds, and even a dodgem-car pavilion. All this was set up on the school’s playing fields.

Scully had a good time exploring and sniffing everything.

Scully sur le marché français

And I found these amazing eclairs (L-R: Salted caramel and peanut; mango, lemon, and raspberry; guava and banana custard; and pistachio and blueberry):

Gourmet eclairs

They were as delicious as they look!

After spending a good chunk of the day at the market, I spent some of the afternoon cleaning the bathroom again. Not a regular weekly clean, but I finally got around to scraping the excess plaster and paint off the wall tiles. It’s been there for decades, and slowly getting discoloured and more noticeable, so I took a knife to the walls and spent an hour or so scraping them clean. It looks so much better now.

And I went grocery shopping. Mostly for supplies for tomorrow’s Science Club experiment at the school. But I’ll describe that tomorrow after we’ve done it!

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Arts & Crafts Market

Sunday was cool and a bit rainy in the morning, but fined up during the day. My wife wanted to go check out a new market that we hadn’t been to before, dedicated to arts and crafts, at Gymea, a suburb in the south of Sydney. A friend of mine who used to live in the area told me that the venue used to be an old heritage estate, with a house and large grounds, but fenced off and inaccessible, with a bit of a spooky reputation. But in the 90s they opened it up to the public and turned the house into an arts centre. It has a gallery and studios where they hold classes in painting, pottery, and so on.

The market had stalls both inside the gallery and spilling out all over the lawn, with maybe a hundred or so different stalls. There was also a stage with a band playing live music, and a small cluster of food stalls. Several other people had brought small dogs, so Scully got to meet some of them.

Hazelhurst market

After browsing around all the stalls, we sought some lunch, heading a block over to Gymea’s shopping strip, where we found a place called The Portuguese Bakery. Figuring this was… wait for it… a Portuguese bakery, we grabbed a table and got some savoury pastries for lunch. Of course they had the well known Portuguese egg custard tarts, so I had to try one.

The Portuguese Bakery

But wait, there’s more! When we’d visited Portugal earlier this year, naturally we tried tarts in many places. All the bakeries there make them. But they make them all in the very traditional way – flaky pastry base, filled with custard. They were great, but quite similar to one another. But the great thing about a traditional baker emigrating to Australia is that they start to incorporate the local tastes into their products. They had not only traditional tarts, but also passionfruit, orange, raspberry, and fig custard tarts!

You would never see such sacrilege in Portugal, but here it makes sense. Passionfruit in particular is used a lot in baking and desserts, and marrying it with a custard tart turned out to be a genius level inspiration. Because I had one, and it had a layer of fresh passionfruit pulp under the custard, which added a pleasing fruity tang to complement the sweetness of the custard. The Portuguese may deny it, but I think this creation is even better than the traditional version. It was that good.

We got home in the mid afternoon and relaxed a bit, before taking Scully out for a run around the local park and chasing some tennis balls. And that about filled out the day!

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