It was a gorgeous, freshly washed Dargle morning this morning as stallholders set up on the verandah of il Postino for the second local market. Early shoppers were delighted to find an abundance of early summer bounty – artichokes and broad beans, strawberry sorbet and mulberry jam, elderflower cordial and fresh peaches. Lucinda and Emily impressed everyone as they cooked up fresh Spanokopita using local cheese and home grown spinach, creatively served in folded newspaper boats. This is local living at it’s absolute best. If you had walked, cycled or driven down you could have had:
Gill’s fabulous bread was still warm when she unpacked it and it sold like proverbial hot cakes, with many dissapointed shoppers looking longingly at the “sold’ label on the last loaf. Deiter and Nikki had also baked bread, but unfortunately Ross couldn’t come today. He promises to be back next time with his artisan loaves too. (don’t miss his spinach and feta one). Everyone who bought a loaf was advised to get some feta or cream cheese from Gilly to go with it. Nikki’s handpounded parsley and pecan pesto would have been fantastic spread generously on fresh slices too.
Rose picked peaches from the orchard at Oak Tree Cottage. Delicate little Orion ones with white flesh, and the sweeter, plumper Desert Gold. Innovatively packaged in egg boxes, many shoppers couldn’t resist the first taste of summer and took home a box or two. Rose had earlier supplied Gill with lots of oranges from her garden which she had turned into golden marmalade. Look out next month for plums from Oak Tree Cottage too.
Ducks seem to thrive in the Dargle and you could have had a choice of Malvina’s duck egg mayonnaise (scrummy) or Ann and Mike’s whole duck eggs. Dieter (barefoot as always) had made beautiful slices of duck terrine which finished very fast. Dean and Serene cooked up breakfast for hungry shoppers. Huge duck egg and duck breast rolls, which proved very popular. Kevin even took his around the back of il Postino to savour in peace! Everyone was very impressed with Dean’s very clever ‘firelighter and tall log’ braai set up.
Sylvia had made a big tray of her famous tomato and mushroom tarts and lovely herb and cheese muffins too. (These are available at St Verde on the last weekend of the month too). Sharon’s aioli made from her own free range hens eggs was utterly delicious. She also sold Janet’s homemade horseradish sauce. Sharon suggested the horseradish was divine served with basmati rice – “cross between mustard and wasabi” – who could resist? Many people took home roots of fresh horse radish too.
There were plenty of freshly picked vegetables to be had. Andrew brought broad beans, Robin harvested enormous bunches of spinach, Tinks made up pretty posies of salad herbs and greens, Barend supplied cabbages and cauliflower. Nikki picked young artichokes and spring onions, while Carl offered generous bunches of fresh herbs. Nobuhle’s big chunks of pumpkin proved popular. Malvina had lettuce and lavender and mint. Cindy sold seedlings, there were tomato plants and raspberry vines too.
Sharon surprised everyone with her scrumptious Strawberry Yoghurt Sorbet. Everyone was offered a little taste of this treat and Jenny bought tubs for her grandkids to enjoy right then and there! Sharon also offered handmade mozarella cheese. To simulate the effect of the traditional buffalo milk, she uses 75% low fat milk with just 25% of full cream. il Postino serves her mozarello on their salads. She also produced feta with a creamy centre, just perfect for pasta or salads. At the Dairy Den run by Tammy and Gilly, a vast array of milky things were available – cream cheese and feta and yoghurt and flavoured milk too. A winner today was the mulberry icecream. Gilly’s gorgeous cheesecake icecream is renowned in the Midlands. She made little choccie pots today too.
It was not just food, there were Dargle crafts on display too. Tinks brought her funky handmade felt cushions. The wool is sheared from her own sheep, hand spun and dyed and felted to create beautiful things. Robin made wooden chopping boards (birthday girl, Ros, was spotted with a couple under her arm). Mandy sold her quirky cards, designed at Hillhouse in Petrusstoom (read her inspiring blog: Feel Good Stuff). Sharon’s crochet covered rocks were the prettiest paperweights ever. Andrew promoted the Dargle Conservancy selling branded clothing and sign boards.
We were astonished at how many people from further afield – Karkloof, Curry’s Post, Lidgetton, Tweedie wanted to come and sell their wares at Dargle Local Market. We explained that the idea was to promote Dargle produce and build food security right here in Dargle, so by not growing their produce in the valley, they didn’t qualify. We still consider these areas and people important parts of our community, but ‘Dargle Local Produce’ can’t really come from Howick! Pam McLaren, who has been up to both markets so far (from Howick) and has been a keen follower of the Conservancy’s two year programme on Sustainability,Transition and Local Food, commented from the comfy couch in the Dargle Dealer store “You have created a community in Dargle, and everyone wants to be part of a community.” We hope to inspire others to start small, local markets where they live too.
Don’t forget that Jean’s biscuits, Victoria’s rusks, Debbie’s mulberry jam and preserves (and HEAPS of other local stuff) are all available at the Dargle Dealer everyday. 082 831 4092.