Farm to Table #2: The Local’s Market, Surry Hills, NSW
Recipe, words & images by Harriet Davidson
For our second entry in our Farm to Table series, Harriet switches gears from rural to urban and visits Sydney-based market produce bag supplier, The Local’s Market in Surry Hills, Sydney.
The Local’s Market
It’s a spring Saturday morning, the sun is shining bright, we’re on a rooftop in the middle of the city; we might not be on a farm but we’re surrounded by some of the region’s best produce. Talia Smith, founder of The Local’s Market, makes the city of Sydney a brighter, healthier, more sustainable city to be in. To live in the middle of the country’s largest city and have weekly access to produce of this quality, while supporting local farms and feeling in touch with the seasons, is a true treat.
From ten years in kitchens in some of Sydney’s most renowned cafes, catering companies and fine diners to making cheese, pickling vegetables and cold pressing juice, food has long played a significant role in Talia’s life, and her in Sydney’s food scene.
“When I was working in kitchens, produce was constantly being dropped off that no one knew anything about. There was a huge disconnect between the farmer and the community,” says Talia.
From this came The Local’s Market in April 2013. It started out of Talia’s mother’s Potts Point laneway. The Local’s Market has shared the rooftop over its eight years with some of the city’s favourite producers from Nonie’s bread to Kristen Allan cheeses. Now, it’s Ryan Smith of Porch Ceramics, Dan Esfahani of Dan’s Pasta and Cameron Stephens of Condimental that fill the rooftop on the buzzing Saturday mornings.
Each Saturday, Talia wakes at 2.30am to get to the Flemington Markets by 4am to greet the farmers from the region that she’s been working with since she started, “So many have been there since the beginning. It’s their social event of the week – coming in from their farms,” says Talia.
So many have been there since the beginning. It’s their social event of the week – coming in from their farms.
The produce is packed into her van that pulls up out the front of Surry Hills café, hotel and recreation club, Paramount House, where market volunteers await. Around 60 bags are ordered each week that are packed and ferried upstairs via Paramount’s golden walled lift to its buzzing rooftop.
Talia spends the market morning behind a table piled high with the season’s most beautiful produce, along with other local goodies, like freshly baked Pioik Bakery bread. The community and following Talia has built over the years is a beautiful thing to watch.
“The community is what drives me. It’s all about the people. Seeing them come back week after week, knowing their children since they were born, meeting their friends. I love the way they use the space, coming to pick up their bag and sit in the rooftop’s sunshine with a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning,” says Talia.
Talia greets her customers as they arrive to their overflowing bags of produce, adding in a bunch of tomatoes or a papaya here and there.
The community is what drives me. It’s all about the people. Seeing them come back week after week, knowing their children since they were born, meeting their friends.
“I want to do more. I want to take it to the next level to enrich the experience and encourage people to cook.” Along with the produce, Talia’s adding products available to purchase to make life in the kitchen more delicious, and easier, like the recent addition of a mandolin as well as almonds from South Australia that she’s roasted. “Equipment like mandolins change the way people cook, and make produce go so much further.” Talia is also working with Potts Point-based ceramicist, Ryan Der from Porch Ceramics, on a salad bowl to be purchased with her bags over the Christmas period. “Ryan is spinning his wheel live at the markets and drying his pieces out in the sunshine on the roof – it’s so cool.”
This week, broad beans shine bright on Talia’s table. They’re a labour of love but goodness, it’s the best kind of mindfulness activity you’ll find – the perfect thing to make you slow down for a moment. The produce bags were packed to the brim with goodies from new potatoes and yellow squash to beautiful greens and spring onions.
“Right now is the best time of year for produce. Greens are bright and extravagant and everything is just so fresh. This pre-summer period, before things get too hot, is glorious,” says Talia.
Right now is the best time of year for produce. Greens are bright and extravagant and everything is just so fresh.
The Local’s Market produce bags are available to order each week through the website in a range of sizes with various selections of produce, and the option to add on seasonal goodies each week. The market is on every Saturday morning from 9am-12pm on the rooftop at Paramount Recreation Club, and is the pick-up spot for the bags. It’s a wonderful spot to start the weekend.
We took this week’s bag back to the kitchen and created a light lunch for the warmer months ahead centred around a zesty broad bean and ricotta dip.
Broad bean and ricotta dip
Broad beans are always a joy to see pop up – it’s like a wave of the flag that the warmer months are here. A beautiful time for produce. Broad beans have a short season so take advantage while you can. You could replace them in this dip with zucchini or peas at other times of the year. The creaminess of the ricotta balances nicely with the lemon and garlic. Roasted tomatoes, anchovies and fresh Poiki bread are the perfect table-top companions.
250g broad beans, unshelled
3 garlic cloves
Juice and zest of half a lemon
1/3 cup mint, plus extra for garnish
½ cup olive oil
2 spring onions
Salt and pepper
Start by removing the broad beans from their shell. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Add in broad beans for 2 minutes. Remove and plunge straight into iced water for a few minutes before draining. Peel each to reveal its bright green bean inside.
In a blender, add in ricotta, feta, two crushed garlic cloves, lemon juice and zest, mint, 200g of the peeled broad beans, a good pinch of salt and crack of black pepper. Blend to combine while drizzling in olive oil in a steady stream. Once combined, taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Set aside.
Using a mandolin (or sharp knife), thinly slice the squash and thinly chop the spring onions. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed frypan along with a piece of lemon rind and 1 crushed garlic clove. Add in squash and spring onions with a pinch of salt and crack of pepper. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until soft. Remove from heat leaving the lemon rind in. Add a splash more oil and the remaining broad beans to sauté for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
To serve, place ricotta broad bean mixture into bowl smoothing the top over. Top with sautéed broad beans and squash and garnish with chopped fresh mint, salt, a good crack of pepper and a drizzle of olive oil to finish.
To complete the table top, roast Talia’s beautiful cherry tomatoes (throw in a chilli or two and garlic while roasting) to serve with the dip, along with Pioik Bakery bread, a tin of Ortiz anchovies, Pepe Saya butter and wedges of lemon.
Harriet's table is set with IN BED linen placemats in blue & white stripe, napkins in white and a linen tablecloth in natural. All other props are Harriet’s own. With special thanks to Talia Smith of The Local’s Market.