quality & provenance.
The weather in Melbourne is definitely signalling the end of summer and the arrival of autumn – our basil, stone fruit and tomatoes are on their last legs while mushrooms are springing up all over the place. Don’t worry – it’s good eating no matter what!
We think Stephanie Alexander’s seasonal thoughts sum up autumn life in Victoria right now:
“Melbourne in March is justly famous for superb weather – warm days with just a light breeze, mellow afternoons, and cool evenings. Perfect weather for gardening. I have made jars of pesto and still have armfuls of basil. Reminder to self. Don’t plant so much next year! I have made two batches of cumquat marmalade and there is enough fruit for another batch. And I rescued my almond crop before the birds found it. The leaves of the stripped crabapple trees are just starting to turn a bit golden and the first leaves of the glory vine have drifted down. The first few pomegranates are ripening on my tree. They do have to struggle for sunshine so will not be prize specimens.
In the vegetable department I still have wonderful crops of climbing yellow beans, bush beans both green and yellow, capsicums, round zucchini, two varieties of eggplant, and the very last of the stunning tomatoes. I just couldn’t eat them fast enough so I made several pans of roasted tomato sauce and I have frozen it. Each container provides a perfect sauce for a grilled eggplant or a bowl or two of pasta, enlivened with more of that basil and some extra virgin olive oil. I have also harvested my first ever watermelon and I was really very excited about it. Next year I will be more careful about pollinating more flowers to get more than one melon. And the Chantenay carrots were very successful and I have sowed a third crop”.
Stephanie’s website is full of really enjoyable, seasonal information at
We’d add that this year has seen a most amazing fig season. We’ve had the best figs ever from some producers and especially from Mo’s mother’s fig tree in Northcote (Maria Esposito’s tree is now 40 years old and has never produced such superb fruit). We’ve had diners come in just to taste Maria’s figs! The figs have been used at both Esposito@Toofey’s and St Peter’s in sweet dishes as well as in some vegetarian savoury dishes – and with an eye fillet carpaccio with rocket & Maria’s delicious grissini.
An exciting, new site we highly recommend is the Locavore Edition – – this site is an intelligent, substantial & enjoyable resource for people interested in good food, edible gardening, farmers markets, producers, chefs (right now Aaron from Loam in Drysdale & Alla Wolf-Tasker AM from the Lakehouse in Daylesford), restaurants, cooking, charcuterie & meats, beer & ciders, wine, bread, bees & honey – from food politics to sustainability to the most delicious food & recipes, get onto this site!
“The Locavore Edition is a non-aligned, independent media platform that publishes editorial that explores different perspectives surrounding food production, supply and consumption – on a global, national, regional and local basis.
Through our editorial we aim to encourage producers, manufacturers, policy makers, retailers and consumers to consider ways in which we might better connect food production and consumption so that we can evolve and improve the various systems that produce our food – we believe this is a logical, ethical and wise thing to try to do.
Our articles focus on some of the big issues: from politics, ethics, sustainability and health to personal insights and innovative solutions”.
For edible gardeners or wannabe edible gardeners, our Facebook friend, An Organic Conversation has a simple, effective idea: a shoe organiser used as a vertical herb garden. Great solution for those with less space!
Mo’s escabeche of pear tomatoes
Summer is the time of the humble but mighty tomato – here’s a nice recipe for escabeche in which to marinade your fish, your chicken, pork or rabbit – this one uses lovely pear tomatoes.
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
4 onions, thinly sliced
4 head garlic, thinly sliced
1 bunch thyme
6 bay leaves julienned
4 long red chilli sliced
Sea salt and pepper
2 cups sherry vinegar
½ tray yellow pear tomatoes, halved
½ tray red pear tomatoes, halved
Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat
When the oil is warm, add the onion, garlic, thyme, bay leaf and hot pepper, season with salt and pepper
Cook until the onion slices are softened and nicely browned, about 10 minutes
De-glaze the pan with the sherry vinegar, scraping up any browned bits at the bottom
Bring to the boil, add the remaining ¼ cup olive oil and return to the boil
Add the tomatoes and return to the boil
Take off the heat and let cool for 10 minutes
Season to taste
Let stand for at least an hour, or overnight, in the fridge