Farmers markets are one of my favourite things. I can’t explain it, but strolling through a farmers market makes me feel that all is right with the world.
When I’m in Byron, visiting the farmers market is a Thursday morning ritual. I love the super-fresh seasonal produce, unusual ingredients, passionate providores and live music.
There are several vegetable stalls and I tend to buy the bulk of my veggies at whichever one catches my eye on the day – they’re all great. So this is by no means a comprehensive list of stalls worth a visit! But these are the ones I frequent:
Coopers Shoot Tomatoes
If you’re not familiar with Byron and its surrounds, this name may sound a little strange. Coopers Shoot is a suburb in the Byron Hinterland. Presumably it’s where this produce is grown. The Coopers Shoot Tomatoes stall is my go-to for multiple types of tomatoes (obviously…) and often eggplant, cucumbers and capsicums.
The produce here is always bursting with flavour. I feel like it’s still very much alive and full of energy; so different to supermarket produce that’s been sitting in refrigeration for who knows how long.
Byron Spice Palace
I love making my own dips, and usually I find that store-bought dips are lacklustre in comparison. Byron Spice Palace dips are definitely an exception. They’re made using fresh, mostly local ingredients and they’re full of flavour. Plus, they’re vegan and gluten-free. My favourites are the Almond Hummus (amazing dolloped onto a salad or Buddha bowl, as below) and the Beetroot, Mint and Almond dip. Their pesto also rates a special mention.
Byron Spice Palace also makes the best harissa – a red and a green version. I almost always have a jar of the Green Harissa in my fridge. I add it to basically everything, but possibly my favourite use is to mix a few spoonfuls of it into home made cashew sour cream to make a delicious dip. Perfect way to use up leftover sour cream after a Mexican feast.
Byron Bay Tempeh
Tempeh… need I say more? Actually, yes. Byron Bay Tempeh is, as the name suggests, locally made. They have an Organic Split Pea and Brown Rice Tempeh (my favourite, pictured in my Buddha bowl above), Organic Chickpea Tempeh and a Fava Bean and Wakame variety.
If you’re not yet sold on tempeh, allow me to remind you that it’s full of probiotics, a good source of protein, and rich in a bunch of minerals. If you tried it once and didn’t like it, then try it again. Marinate it. Cook it differently. I’m convinced tempeh is for everyone, even if you haven’t realised it yet!
Wild, lush, crazy tropical fruits abound at Picone Exotics – you’ll find whatever’s in season, which at the moment includes dragonfruit, late-season mangoes, guavas (which smell heavenly and taste even better), star fruit, white sapotes and a few others. They often have one or two fruits I’ve never tried before, which is pretty exciting.
Macadamia nuts. Whole, raw, freshly shelled, amazing macadamia nuts. Macadamia oil (an amazing base for salad dressing). And macadamia spreads (Macadamia Cacao spread, anyone? It’s kind of like Nutella, but way tastier and good for you and you can enjoy it without destroying orangutan habitat. Yes please!)
I have a feeling this stall may also stock produce that’s unrelated to macadamia nuts, but I can’t say for sure; I can’t see anything beyond my macadamia-induced stupor. In case you’re not yet aware of my macadamia obsession, you can read a spotlight on them here, along with a recipe for Macadamia Whipped Cream. And here’s a recipe for a crumbly Macadamia Crunch to sprinkle over desserts, smoothie bowls etc.
Rainforest Foods’ raw macadamias are the freshest I’ve ever come across, with the possible exception of farm-gate sales.
Sprouting yourself is easy-peasy. And sooo cheap. But it does require a couple of days of forward-planning. When I’ve dropped the ball in that department (often) Sprout Lovers is an essential stop on my market stroll.
I usually get a bag of mixed sprouts, which includes lentils, chickpeas, mung beans, alfalfa and I’m not even sure what else.
The Gourmet Salad Hut
My favourite stall for fresh, vibrant leafy greens: basil, watercress, coriander, kale, loads of lettuce varieties, spinach, pak choi, and herbs.
Lots of these end up being green smoothie ingredients – the one pictured below contained plenty of basil, kale, some ginger, a mango from Picone Exotics and couple of passionfruit from Terania Creek Passionfruit.
Terania Creek Passionfruit
These guys sell awesome passionfruit for $5 per bag. That’s already a pretty good deal, but occasionally you get really lucky, and can get an enormous bag of seconds for $5. These bags are about as big as I am. Okay, maybe not quite – but I bought one recently that contained about 80 passionfruit!
I like passionfruit a whole lot, but not even I can eat 80 of them over a week or so. So Ifroze a bunch of the pulp in silicon muffin trays for later use. A lot of it will end up in smoothies and flavouring kombucha.
Byron Gourmet Pasta
Amazing fresh pasta with several vegan options, including a spelt spaghetti, and often a roast vegetable ravioli. This pasta is perfect accompanied by pesto made from herbs from the Gourmet Salad Hut, or a tomato sauce made from produce from Coopers Shoot Tomatoes.
Byron Bay has a strong busking culture so you’re guaranteed to hear great music at the markets. Phil & Tilley (below) are one of my favourite local acts.
Happy shopping! What are your favourite farmers market finds? xx