Chilli – Heat up for Winter

Written by . Monday, 26 June 2017

A guide to the best chillies for your cooking

Some people can eat them straight, but for most of us chillies are added to our cooking or maybe our drinks. Chillies can make or break a dish. Here is a guide to the best chillies to buy and use in your cooking.

Chilli – it’s good for you

Chillies belong to the capsicum family, which also includes cayenne pepper, paprika, jalapeno and, of course, capsicum. They are thought to have originated in Mexico.

Chillies are rich in vitamin C and vitamin A, which is often called the “anti-infection” vitamin. They can help with fighting sinus congestion.Chilliv2

Capsaicin is the chemical compound that makes chillies taste hot. It is found mostly in the seeds and white membrane inside the chilli, although some also seeps into the flesh. Their spiciness is measured in Scoville heat units. The hotter the chilli, the more capsaicin it contains.

The power of capsaicin is well known. Herbal therapeutic creams use capsaicin to soothe muscles. Pepper spray also uses capsaicin.

Types of chilli

Much of the flavour of a chilli comes from its flesh. Chilli features in cooking all around the world, especially in Asia and Mexico, where they have perfected the balance of flavour and heat.

Here are some of the main types of chillies available in Australia and the types of dishes they are best suited to:

*Bell pepper (very mild): we call these capsicums in Australia. They are not spicy and can be eaten raw or cooked. Add to casseroles, sandwiches, pasta sauces and pizza. Or try them stuffed with rice or quinoa, meat and or vegetables, sprinkled with cheese and baked.

Capsicumv2*Long chilli (medium): these can be up to 15 centimetres long. They ripen from green to red. They are the most common type of chilli sold in Australia. Their heat levels will vary depending upon the season. The long green chillies are milder and are perfect for vegetable curries. Add long red chillies to salads, pasta sauces and meat curries.

*Jalapeno (medium): these are five to nine centimetres long. They are picked while green, but will ripen to red. Red jalapeno peppers, dried and smoked, are chipotle peppers. Jalapenos can be eaten fresh or pickled. They are often added to sandwiches, burgers, dips or sprinkled on dishes. Try adding them to your tuna salad.

*Cayenne pepper (medium): the thick skin of these chillies makes them suitable for grinding. They are usually ground to make cayenne powder which can add a kick to your cooking. The peppers were first grown and traded in the city of Cayenne in French Guiana. Try cayenne added with lemon juice as a dressing for dark green leaves, or add a little to an omelette.

*Bird’s eye (hot): these tiny two to four centimetre chillies can be exceptionally hot. They are often used in south-east Asian cooking, such as salads and Indonesia’s sambal ulek (chilli paste).

*Serrano (hot): these small chillies look like bird’s eye chilli but have a rounded tip like jalapenos, and when they ripen they are red, yellow and orange. They are often used in Mexican cooking. Add these to a salsa or chutney.

*Habanero (very hot): these are about five centimetres long and are named after the city of Havana, Cuba, where they were traded. They ripen to yellow, orange and red. These chillies are so hot that you must wear gloves to avoid burning your hands. Add a small amount of these to a spice blend for meat.Chilli

To deseed or not deseed?

In the world of chilli, there is considerable debate as to whether or not to deseed chillies. There are two schools of thought:

Seed lovers say do not bother deseeding chillies. They argue you will remove all of their heat and you would be better off adding less chilli, or substituting altogether with capsicum.

Seed removers argue that there is nothing wrong with deseeding chillies. Most of the flavour is contained in the flesh and you will still get some heat from using only the flesh. Also, the majority of the nutrients are contained in the flesh.

If you want to deseed a chilli, snap off the green stem at the end of the chilli, using a sharp knife cut down the length of the chilli to split it into two halves. Using either a knife or a teaspoon, scrape out the seeds.

You can keep the seeds and dry them to use in cooking or plant them to grow your own chilli plants.

When handling chillies, some people like to wear thin gloves. Usually, gloves are only needed for very hot chillies. However, it is good practice to thoroughly wash your hands after handling chillies and be cautious about touching your hands to your eyes—chillies cause a burning sensation if they come into contact with your eyes.

At the markets

Talk to your fresh produce stallholder for the chillies they have available and the best ones for your dish.

Try adding some chilli to your favourite recipes, or try a chilli that you haven’t eaten before. If you overdo it, remember milk based products, like cucumber raita, will soothe the burn.


Research with thanks to:

SBS Food: “The burning question: Do you deseed chillies?”

Good Food: “A user’s guide to chillies”

Chasing Chilli: “Types of chilli peppers (Chilli 101)”

The World’s Healthiest Foods “Chilli pepper, dried”

Margot Design captures Sydney

Written by . Thursday, 15 June 2017

Margot Warre, owner of Margot Design, speaks with us about her love for Sydney, her textile design work, and how she makes the products that have won her a loyal following. Margot1

Margot Warre loves Sydney. Her textile designs reflect the natural beauty of its beaches and landscape, and her time overseas, including studying design in Paris, has taught her that Sydney is where she wants to be. Now we can buy a piece of her Sydney at the markets.

A designer through and through

The creator of Margot Designs is internationally recognised textile designer, Margot Warre. Margot always knew she wanted to be a textile designer. Her grandmother was a founding partner of the iconic lingerie store, White Ivy, in Double Bay, and even created some of the lace and underwear for Queen Elizabeth II for her Coronation. And Margot’s mother is a painter and illustrator. Margot inherited the creativity of these women and also their love for fabric.

Margot2Margot learned to print, weave and dye. She has worked for Mokum Textiles, Warwick Fabrics and Sheridan. She lived for a couple of years near Sacre Coeur in Paris, during which time she attended the Parsons School of Design and studied Fine Arts, majoring in textile printing. It was here that she appreciated how different her aesthetic was to her fellow students from Europe and the US. For Margot, her colours were so bright and clear, and her designs and patterns were fresh, modern and based in nature. She wanted to bring this aesthetic home to Sydney, the city she loves.

Sydney – a palette

For Margot, Sydney is her inspiration—the light that is unique to Sydney, and its flowers, smells, summer heat, freshness and “the sparkle that Sydney gets”. A self-confessed water baby, Margot regards the beach as medicine and goes to the beach every chance she can, often ending her day there. The colours and movement of the beach landscape give her daily inspiration, as do the intricate shells and seaweed.

By design

Margot’s designs tell a story.

Mélange (French for “mixture and medley”) – Margot’s first collection is a mixture of colour, pattern and textiles inspired by the flowers of Sydney in summer. This collection comprises six floral designs printed on 100 percent silk Georgette, a beautiful draping, lightweight fabric with a crepe-like texture.

*Popular design: Yesterday, today and tomorrow is a stunning blue, floral design, colourful and vibrant. The design is inspired by the plant of the same name which Margot’s mother used to point out to her as a child.

La Mer (French for “the sea”) – Margot’s second collection is inspired by watching storms roll in and change the colours of the sea in winter. This collection comprises four designs printed on a silk, wool twill base cloth.

*Popular design: Jardin de la mer (French for “garden of the sea”) features a Jacaranda blue that rains down upon Sydney. Margot3

Her upcoming collection will be released shortly and is inspired by the art deco buildings of Sydney.

Margot’s designs are available as cotton linen throws, which can double as beach towels or picnic rugs, scarves, cushions, and framed, limited edition prints. She also has available, at the markets only, small artworks priced at $15.

Making the art sustainable

Margot uses sustainable, natural fabrics in all of her designs—silk, wool, linen and cotton. There are no synthetic fabrics used, no mass production. All of her work is hand finished.

The work is produced in Sydney, because Margot wants her work to come from here. She oversees the production and works directly with the people who manufacture the work. They also care about the quality of the product and are proud of it too.


Margot Design products are available at markets, the first being The Market Tales, Precinct 75 at St Peters, with potentially some upcoming markets in Paddington and Avalon. You can also purchase direct from or you can contact Margot to visit her in her studio.

For more information see her website or visit


Rose Bay Farmers Market

Written by . Monday, 05 June 2017

The Eastern Suburbs have welcomed Rose Bay Farmers Market with open arms. The new weekly market is perfectly located in a leafy park, mid-way between New South Head Road and Old South Head Road. The market offers a quality line-up of produce stalls and a range of gift items too. Whether you are after a quick stock-up, a leisurely morning or a lunchtime snack, you won’t be disappointed.

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Piles of fresh produce are ready for the taking including The Regional Store which is laden with fresh Macleay Valley grown fruit and vege. Once a month the market is also proud to be collaborating with the Rose Bay Community Garden who are harvesting their seasonal produce for purchase. Boasting a zero food mile footprint, it is showcasing sustainable practice at its best!

Locals can also stock up on fresh eggs and organic, grass fed meats thanks to The Ethical Farmers, there are delicious breads and baked treats from Organic Bread Bar, raw desserts from Cream Fork, nut butters from Yummee Gluten Free, hand cultured butter from Pepe Saya, fresh creamy milk from The Pines in Kiama (milked the day before!), fresh seafood and beautiful native flowers from Sweetpea and Honeybee to name a few..

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The organisers, Cambridge Markets have created a lovely local market with a range of core stalls and a handful of changing merchants to mix it up each week. From French market baskets to gourmet and organic goodies as well as an activity space for the kiddies, there is something for everyone.

Spread the word – this local market is here to stay!

Every Tuesday – 8am to 2pm

Pannerong Reserve
Corner Newcastle St and Wilberforce Ave,
Rose Bay

Avoca Beachside Markets always impress. They offer a range of select, unique stalls, are visually stunning and even have a shuttle bus to and from the local pub. Come to Avoca Beachside Markets and see for yourself. Avocastage2

Just over one hour north of Sydney, Avoca feels like another world. Avoca Beachside Markets offer a special experience for market goers. So if you like your markets unique, relaxing and beautiful, this is the place to be.

Creative duo and owners of Fixx Events, Bianca and Brad Cardis, first started the Avoca Beachside Markets seven years ago. They wanted high quality, selective markets in their own community. With their extensive experience in the arts world, together with Brad’s background in organising big events, they have brought a new creative vision to the Central Coast.

What’s on offer?

Avoca3Avoca Beachside Markets are held on the fourth Sunday each month and are a feast.

*Stalls: These markets have had a waiting list of stallholders from day one and you can see why. There are over 120 stalls with local artisans selling exceptional fashion, homewares, jewellery, art, plants and foodie goods. These markets pride themselves on their Australian produce, with eighty percent of their produce locally made.

*Atmosphere and entertainment: Bianca and her team have made the markets visually attractive and distinct. The markets have a creative, bohemian vibe, with flags, backdrops and quirky, hula hoop signs. All add to an outdoor space that is welcoming and reflects the relaxed Central Coast. Performers take centre stage here as part of the Avoca Beachside Markets Music Momentum Programme, so be prepared to be entertained with live acts by excellent, local and emerging artists.

*Transport: A shuttle bus runs every fifteen minutes from the Avoca Beach Hotel to the markets and back again. This lets you have a beer at the end of a day of shopping and relaxing at the markets. It also cuts down on the traffic going to and from the markets. There is even an “after party” at the Avoca Beach Hotel which everyone is invited to come along to. This is great for live entertainment and some cheap, tasty food before heading home.

Neon Garage - Cretive Space & Workshops

In March last year, Bianca and Brad launched the creative space, Neon Garage, co-ordinating events and workshops and helping performers get their start.

Neon Garage’s workshops offer you the opportunity to learn directly from local artisans and producers. More of these workshops are coming up later this year. Here are some of the big hit workshops:

  • Farrah’s Stone - Alexandra Farrah is an illustrator working with a range of media. In this workshop, she teaches techniques and practical skills in watercolour painting. Participants get to complete their own A4 watercolour to take home.
  • Fermenting Australia - led by fermenting revivalist and nutritionist, Sammi Zajko, these fermenting vegetables workshops are a must. They were incredibly popular last year and are being run all over New South Wales as people seize on the fermenting food trend.

Keep an eye out for workshops coming up on the Neon Garage website.

Avoca Beachside Markets are held at Heazlett Park Foreshore every fourth Sunday, from 9am-2pm, with the next one being held on Sunday, 28 May 2017.

Put it in your diary and see you at Avoca Beachside Markets. See their Facebook page for more details: Avoca Beachside Markets


With approximately 1500 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year in Australia alone, it’s time to take notice. The Rozelle Collectors Market Charity Auction is supporting the fight against the disease with a unique antiques roadshow and charity auction.

Rozelle Collectors Market will be hosting a roadshow and fundraising auction to help raise awareness of Ovarian Cancer on Saturday 20 May 2017. IMG 0693v2

From 10am you have the opportunity to have your vintage treasures professionally valued ‘Antiques Roadshow’ style for a paper note donation (from $5).

The charity auction will kick off at 12pm and will be hosted by Adam from Aussie Pickers and Lawson’s Auctioneers.

The eclectic auction items range from vintage leather bags to tribal art, a retro robot, an antique library chair, an old netted fisherman’s buoy, workshops, framing, food and shopping vouchers. You can even bid for a marketing internship or a tour of Atlassian.

A full list of auction items is on the charity Facebook or Instagram page.

About Rozelle Collectors Market:

With a history spanning over twenty years, Rozelle Collectors Market is widely regarded as one of the first in Sydney’s now bustling market scene. An essential component of Rozelle’s eclectic community, Rozelle Collectors Market is loved by locals and out-of-towners alike.

The open-air market is dedicated to pre-loved goods and takes place every Saturday and Sunday within the grounds of the historic Rozelle Public School. Packed full of stalls, from one-off pop ups through to longstanding stallholders that specialise in vintage, bric-a-brac and antique wares, Rozelle Collectors Market was taken over by a new operator in 2016, and has continued to evolve whilst retaining its original charm.

The market also prides itself on showcasing local entertainers and artisanal provedores alongside its range of stalls, making for a fun day out for all the family.

Supporting an important cause:

Organised by longtime stallholder John Moran and his family, the Rozelle Collectors Market Charity Auction is supporting the fight against ovarian cancer. Moran Family Feb 2016

John and his wife Megan decided to organise the event following their own experiences with the disease. Megan was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in December 2015 and after a 17 month battle, is now in remission. Nevertheless, with an average of four women in Australia diagnosed with ovarian cancer every day, the Morans are determined to continue raising awareness of the silent killer.

The five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer currently sits at just 43%, so it’s important women of all ages know what to look out for. As well as the auction, the Morans have organised an information stall where visitors can find out everything they need to know about the disease.

How you can get involved:

Head down to Rozelle Markets from 10am and enjoy a great day at one of Sydney’s most popular antiques, vintage, retro and collectibles markets. All donations will go towards ovarian cancer research and can be made on the day, or via the fundraising page below:

Rozelle Collectors Market

Rozelle Public School, 663 Darling Street, Rozelle.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

10am – 12pm

Further Information:



Brussels sprouts are making a comeback. They are packed with vitamins and when cooked right are sweet and irresistible. Brussels sprouts* are good for you, rich in vitamin antioxidants, including Vitamin C and Vitamin A, in the form of beta-carotene, and Vitamin K. They are also high in fibre, providing 4 grams of fibre in every cup.

Here are tips for buying, cooking and storing your sprouts.

How are sprouts grown? Brussels2

Brussels sprouts are part of the cabbage family, Brassica, which includes broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. Looking like miniature cabbages, they measure between 2.5 and 4 centimetres. They grow on a central stalk, measuring about 60 to 120cm, rather than on the ground like broccoli and cabbage. Each stalk contains 15 to 20 sprouts.

Brussels sprouts are thought to have been cultivated in Brussels, Belgium, in the 13th Century. Some have said that the town of Brussels looks like a Brussels sprout when viewed on a map.

Brussels sprouts are available all year round and are at their best from autumn through to early spring. Choose sprouts that are firm, compact and bright green. The smaller they are, the sweeter.

How to cook sprouts

Brussels sprouts, when cooked properly, are crisp and dense in texture, like a true miniature cabbage. Their flavour is sweet.

It is important not to overcook sprouts as they lose their nutritional value and emit an unpleasant sulphur smell.

They can be boiled, steamed, parboiled and then sautéed or they can be roasted. They can also be eaten raw and shredded in salads and stir fries.

To steam them, so they cook evenly and quickly, cut each sprout into quarters and steam them for five minutes. Alternatively, cut a deep cross into the base to enable the heat to enter the middle of the sprout and steam for seven to ten minutes, depending upon their size. Test regularly, using a knife, to avoid overcooking. Eat steamed or use one of the variations below.

If you are sautéing the Brussels sprouts, but not straight after steaming, cool them in an ice bath, this will help them stay bright green. Also, when sautéing, use a large pan so that they have space and to stop them from steaming further.

Brussels3v2Here are some of the best ways to serve and eat sprouts:

*Combine cooked Brussels sprouts with red onion, walnuts and a mild flavoured cheese such as goat cheese or feta.

*Toss cooked sprouts with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to make a cooked salad.

*Shred finely and add raw to a salad for crunch and vivid green colour, or add to your favourite stir fry.

*Sautee with bacon and onion.

*Delicious when roasted, let them become crisp and golden brown with some burned leaves for depth of flavour, and toss with balsamic vinegar and honey.

*Roast with olive oil and herbs, or roast together with sweet potato for a colourful side dish.

*Roast until crisp, add bacon, béchamel sauce and a crispy bread crumb topping for a gratin.

*The traditional UK Christmas dinner includes Brussels sprouts served with cooked chestnuts.

How best to store sprouts

Keep sprouts unwashed and untrimmed in the vegetable compartment of the fridge. They are best eaten within three to four days, but can be kept unwashed in a moist towel in a perforated plastic bag, or in a bowl lined with paper towelling for 10 days.

If you are able to purchase Brussels sprouts on the stalk, these will last for up to a month in the fridge if stored with a moist paper towel around the stub.Brussels1v2

They can also be snap frozen. To freeze, rinse and dry the sprouts and blanch for 4 to 5 minutes. After refreshing in cold water, drain and freeze in freezer bags or containers.

Your local fresh produce seller

Stop in and see your fresh produce seller at your local markets for your tastiest Brussels sprouts.

*Wait - we know what you’re thinking, we’re calling them Brussels sprouts (plural), when you’ve heard them called Brussel sprouts (singular), right? No it’s not a typo, there’s been big debate about that and you can read all about it here.


Research with thanks to:

“Brussels Sprouts”,

“Flemish sautéed Brussels sprouts”, Global Table Adventure,

“Brussels sprouts”,, The world’s healthiest foods,


More than one million plastic bags are used every minute worldwide. This is taking a massive toll on the environment. But there are things you can do to reduce your usage of plastic.

Plastic Bags – The Shocking Stats

A staggering ten tonnes of plastic waste litter Sydney Harbour and its foreshores each year. And plastic bags are a significant contributor. Plasticbags2

It’s not just the look of this amount of rubbish that matters either. For sea life, a plastic bag resembles a jellyfish, something eatable. This is why fish, birds and turtles often die from plastic ingestion, the bags and waste caught in their stomachs. Worldwide, one million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed each year from plastic in our oceans.

Here are some facts on plastic bags:

*worldwide, approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used each year, this is more than one million bags being used every minute

*46 percent of plastics float and they can drift for years before settling in the ocean

*plastic takes between 500 and 1,000 years to degrade

*only about 3 percent of plastic bags are recycled - did you know you could recycle them?

Go Plastic-free at the Markets

Many markets and market goers support plastic-free shopping. People want to buy fresh local produce made using sustainable farming practices with minimal environmental impact. This means fresh food, without packaging.

Some market retailers implement plastic-free initiatives and market goers expect plastic-free shopping, often bringing their own reusable bags to the market or purchasing reusable bags there.

Retailers and consumers will lead change in this area, as government bans on plastic bags have been slow to come into force. In Australia, single-use plastic bags have been banned in South Australia, the Northern Territory, Tasmania and the ACT. There are no bans in place in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia. The Queensland government has said their ban will come into effect next year.

Tips for Cutting out Plastic

In addition to bringing your reusable bags to the markets and other shops, here are some tips for reducing your plastic usage: Plasticbags3v2

*bring your own washable coffee cup for your next cup of coffee

*carry water in a washable canteen rather than buying bottled water

*carry reusable utensils in your bag to use when you are out

*travel with a small cloth bag for unexpected purchases

* favour retailers who don't package their goods

*at home, use reusable food covers

*pack kids lunches, and your own, using reusable cloth sandwich sleeves and reusable food wrap

*recycle any plastic that you do have to use - many supermarket chains have dedicated bins to collect plastic bags and wrappings that aren’t collected by local councils in normal garbage and recycling collections.

Plasticbags1No More Plastic

Plastic pollution is a global problem with action being taken only by some governments. Consumers and retailers will have to lead the way on reducing the use of plastic bags and packaging, and shopping at the markets is a good way to start. See you at the markets, with your reusable bags ready for shopping and your own coffee cup!


Research with thanks to:

*“22 facts about plastic pollution (and 10 things we can do about it)” Ecowatch,

*“Sydney Harbour hidden plastic pollution is killing endangered turtles and marine life” ABC News,

*Plastic bag recycling


Australia - a coffee culture

Coffee is the go-to drink for many Australians. The way we order our coffee is important, but so is the source of our coffee. And now, more than ever, Australians want to know what goes into their coffee.

We invented the flat white but many enjoy the long black, espresso or macchiato. The taste of these coffees turns on the quality of the beans used. Little wonder we are becoming more knowledgeable and selective about the source of our coffee beans. Coffee1

How much coffee do you drink?

Coffee is consumed by nearly half the Australian population. One in three people aged 19-30 years, and two in three people aged 51-70 years, drink coffee. The median amount of coffee consumed daily is 330 mls, which is about one large mug.

How do you take your coffee?

Everyone has their own preferences for how they take their coffee – is yours a flat white, cappuccino, latte, long black or short black? Here are some newer ways of making coffee that are taking off:

Pour-over coffee: this is made using freshly ground coffee in a filter and a “pour-over dripper” which holds the filter. The coffee is not “plunged” into water, like the French press, instead water is slow dripped over the coffee. This method is slow and emphasises the flavour of the coffee beans.

Filter coffee: people are again buying coffee filters for home. As with pour-over coffee, the quality of the coffee bean is paramount because the flavours are extracted more slowly than with other types of coffee. Filter roast coffee is usually lighter than espresso roast, having been less developed in the roaster. The final finish is milder than the more caramelised finish of the espresso roast.

Cold brew: this type of coffee is replacing the traditional “iced coffee”. It is made by steeping fresh ground coffee in cold water for between 12 and 24 hours. The cool temperature of the water and the lack of movement mean that not as much flavour is extracted from the beans. Some retailers use twice as many beans in making the cold brew so that drinkers get the full “hit” of flavour.

CoffeeFarmWhere in the world does your coffee come from?

Because the new trends in the way coffee is consumed emphasise the flavour of the bean, it isn’t surprising that people are increasingly interested in where their coffee is sourced. Like wine grapes, there are regional differences depending upon where the coffee bean is grown.

Black coffee drinkers in particular will want to source single origin coffee. This means the coffee has been supplied by one farm or estate, rather than a blend.

The two main coffee trees are Arabica, which produces about 70 percent of the world’s coffee bean harvest, and Robusta, which produces the remainder.

Coffee is best grown in warmer climates and therefore usually comes from the “coffee belt” which is roughly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Brazil is the biggest producer, followed by Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Mexico, Ethiopia, India and other countries.

Between these countries and within them too, there are variations in rainfall, temperature and soil conditions which, similar to the growing of grapes for wine, impact the flavour of the beans and the ultimate cup of coffee. There are also different types of coffee bean varietals, for example, common varietals of the Arabica tree are Bourbon, Caturra and Typica. All produce a slightly different flavour.

With so many variants and influences, the coffee bean is sounding more and more like the wine grape.

Will the coffee run out?

Coffee farming worldwide is likely to be affected by climate change which has brought about more erratic rainfall in some areas, and an increase in pests and diseases. The Climate Institute in Australia estimated that by 2050 climate change will have halved the area suitable for coffee production. Given the poverty of many coffee producing nations, there is a lack of diversification of crop and a lack of investment and research in ensuring continuing coffee production.

In 2010, the Initiative for Coffee and Climate was founded by key players in the private development and research sectors, to address issues arising from changing climate conditions. Their pilot programs are being run in partnership with coffee farmers in Brazil, Tanzania, Trifinio (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador) and Vietnam, which are some of the biggest producers in the world. Coffee3

The hope is that with attention now being given to the sustainability of coffee production and real investment in new production methods, some of the worst predictions won’t be realised.

Is “Fair Trade” and organic coffee worth it?

In the coffee trade, the “Fair Trade” certification is important – it guarantees a minimum price and this assists farmers who are often from some of the world’s poorest nations. The “Fair Trade” organisation also supports research programs relating to climate change which will help bolster the resilience of farmers to changes in climate and resulting market conditions.

As for organic – the proof is in the taste. Organic coffee is grown without the use of chemicals and artificial pesticides, and using only natural fertilizers. Coffee that is grown conventionally is heavily reliant upon synthetic pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizers. This affects the crop, the farmers who are handling it, and the soil and environment. 

Organic coffee allows for more sustainable crop production, and is also supposed to be higher in anti-oxidants – so it is better for you and tastes better too. 

Your local coffee seller

Stop in and see your coffee seller at your local markets.

Visit the Saporium Market in Rosebery, held every Saturday from 10am-3pm, and visit

Welcome Dose Coffee which has a “bean-to-cup” philosophy. 

or The Little Marionette at Pyrmont Growers Market on 4th Saturday each month.

Toby's Estate Coffee at Northside Produce Market


Australian Bureau of Statistics “Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results – Foods and Nutrients, 2011-12”

National Geographic:

Climate Institute:

Initiative for Coffee and Climate ]

The best chocolate for Easter and all year round

Cacaoette owner and chocolatier, Philippa Bembo, speaks with us about her chocolate obsession, her chocolate market stall and the treats she will be making and selling in the lead up to Easter. Cacaoette5v2

Philippa is a self-confessed, life-long chocoholic. She says that chocolate has to make you go weak at the knees, otherwise there is no point. Her sublime chocolates are fast developing a loyal following among market goers.

The essential, simple bliss of chocolate

Philippa Bembo, now an artisan chocolatier, began working with chocolate about six years ago, initially in a chocolate shop. Her childhood love for “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” meant chocolate had long held a fascination for her. Working in the shop, she found the “essential, simple bliss of chocolate” was something she loved and could not let go of. Three years ago, she made the leap into opening her own chocolate business.

The real chocolate factory

Every week, Philippa makes chocolates in her commercial kitchen. These chocolates are for the Frenchs Forest and Kings Cross markets, the Peakhurst Night Foodie Market, pop ups, and some corporate buyers and select wholesalers. She also has a market at the Prince of Wales Hospital from time to time in support of the Prince of Wales Hospital Foundation.

Cacaoette1The chocolate source

Cacaoette uses single origin, EU certified organic chocolate from Belgium, the cocoa beans coming from the Dominican Republic. The chocolate is hand-tempered in Sydney.

Philippa does not use any pre-prepared pastes or compounds. Instead, she makes everything herself and that includes marshmallows, ganache and even the honeycomb, which begins with Paperbark, Red Malley or Ingleside honey from the Northern Beaches @foreveryounghoney and bought from the markets.

Whenever she can, Philippa uses Australian organic products, such as sultanas, raisins, honey and roasted almonds.

New wave chocolate

Chocolate is increasingly becoming art, Philippa says, and points to these current chocolate trends.

Colour: There is now a more sophisticated use of colour in chocolate making, with some incredibly vibrant chocolate being created through hand painting and spray guns. Lustre dust is also popular, in a wide range of colours.

Artisans: Now, more than ever, people want to buy chocolates made by hand and by local chocolatiers. The tactile, sensual nature of chocolate makes the markets the perfect place to buy chocolate, because you can see and taste the chocolate before you buy.

Classic and elegant: More than anything, the chocolate has to taste beautiful, Philippa says. In Australia, we like our chocolate classic and elegant and not as heavy or creamy as the European market. We like seasonal ranges that recognise our warmer climate and make chocolate a treat no matter what the weather.

Easter essentials

Here are some Cacaoette chocolates guaranteed to make you swoon this Easter:Cacaoette3v2

Luxe Road eggs: these are available in milk or dark chocolate and made of blueberries, raspberries, organic coconut and roasted almonds. There is also a tangy, passionfruit and white chocolate version.

Honeycomb eggs: in milk or dark chocolate, these half eggs are filled with chocolate coated, giant chunks of honeycomb.

Golden bantam eggs: these 4cm eggs available in milk, dark chocolate or salted caramel, are dusted with gold.

Hot cross bun bark: milk or dark chocolate speckled with cardamom, ginger, dried figs, cinnamon, currants and gold dust.

Where to find Cacaoette?

Visit Philippa at the Cacaoette stall. She is there every week at Frenchs Forest Organic Food Market and Kings Cross Organic Food Market.

See the Cacaoette Facebook page for further details:


Is the best bit of fruit and veg really on the outside?

We all strive for a long and healthy life and we all know that we need to make sacrifices in the name of wellbeing. So, to a lesser or greater degree, we’re all willing to sweat for that goal, deprive ourselves of certain pleasures and resist the temptation to sit in front of the TV for too long. Grimas4v2

But did you know one of the healthiest things you may be able to do is simply to leave the peel on many of your fruits and vegetables?

Why eating the peel is a healthier way to consume fruit and vegetables

It’s not always true that beauty lies within. For many fruit and veggies, the peel is actually their most nutritious part. If you remove it, you’re missing out on a powerful source of antioxidants, vitamins, fibre, nutrients and minerals.

Here are some of the benefits of leaving the peel on common fruits and vegetables.

*Apple: the skin holds about half of its overall dietary fibre content and has four times more vitamin K than its flesh.
*Cucumber: the skin contains the majority of antioxidants, insoluble fibre, potassium and vitamin K.
*Eggplant: its purple skin has an antioxidant called nasunin, which helps protect the brain against cancers
*Carrots: the highest concentration of phytonutrients (another word for ‘good bits’) is found in the skin or immediately underneath.
*Potatoes: gram for gram potato skin has more fibre, iron, potassium and B vitamins than the flesh. It’s also rich in antioxidants.

Eating the peel on lesser known fruits and veggie

But let’s not stop with the peels you’ve already probably tried. What about bananas or even citrus?

Well, there are plenty of tasty ways you can eat their skins too, if you're willing to get a little creative. Citrus peel can be cooked into a sweet marmalade. The skin of a mango can be eaten raw, or cooked along with the insides, or you can simply pickle the entire mango. Lemon zest can be used in a creamy pasta sauce or in a delicious cake.

Peelingvegv2How to make sure pesticides don’t ruin the peel

Concerned that pesticides and chemicals might ruin all those amazing benefits? Don’t be.

The American organization Environmental Working Group (EWG) has been reporting on the “Dirty dozen” and the “Clean 15” since 2004. The dirty dozen is a list of foods they claim contain high amounts of pesticide residues. Meanwhile, the clean 15 is a list of the fruit and veg least affected by them. The question worth asking is how relevant is this information for Australians?

The Food Standards Australia New Zealand organisation (FSANZ) sets very strict maximum residue limits (MRLs) on all the produce we consume, whether domestic or imported. Besides, in Australia we use different herbicides and pesticides to those used in America and we reduce their impact by setting the minimum time between crop spraying and harvesting.

Of course, you should always remember to wash all your fruit and vegetables well before eating them. Plain water is usually enough to remove dirt, as well as any bacteria and pesticide residues. A vegetable brush can be useful too, to wash firmer produce like potatoes.

So make the most of an easier and healthier way of eating, leave the skin on and gain without the pain. Washingvegev2

Want more?

If you want to get hold of the very freshest fruit and veg that you can eat, peel on visit your local market.

Two of our favourite Sydney market fruit and vegetable suppliers are Grimas Farm Fresh Produce found at Pyrmont Growers Market and Northside Produce Market and Johnstone's Kitchen Gardens at The Beaches Market.




Pyrmont Growers Market Returns!

Written by . Tuesday, 14 March 2017

After a short break in 2016 one of Sydney’s pioneering farmers markets have reopened thanks to Pyrmont Ultimo Chamber of Commerce, The Star and a passionate local community.

It’s no secret Pyrmont Growers Market is a Sydney favourite, loved for its unique waterfront location and dedication to offering fresh farm produce and quality artisan goods. The monthly market now boasts over 80 stalls set along the wharf and the adjoining park with the city skyline as a backdrop.

There is a healthy mix of old and new stalls, and above all, provenance and freshness are key, each trader with a story to tell and a wealth of knowledge to share.



New comer Little Big Dairy Company offers delicious creamy milk, straight from their farm near Dubbo. They have also recently been accredited as the first Fairtrade flavoured milk producer, committed to the exclusive use of Fairtrade cocoa, coffee, sugar and vanilla.

It is also hard to go past Long Paddock Eggs who proudly told Local Market Guide that “the last of the eggs were laid and packed last night before hitting the road this morning”. Seasonal heirloom vegetables from Grima’s Farm Fresh Produce sit alongside Pepe Saya’s handmade butter, local olive oils from Alto Olives and freshly baked breads.

The joy of a market is that there is always something new to taste and discover. You will love Achacha, a tropical Amazonian fruit grown in North Queensland and Italian antipasti and smallgoods from Pino’s Dolce Vita Fine Foods “just like Nonna makes”.



It is great to see producers from the Macleay Valley food region too, including Westview Limes with their harissa sauce, fresh limes and chilli and pasture raised pork from Near River Produce.

The offering of wonderful stalls is curated by food professional TawnyaBahr.

Expect more wonderful additions to the regulars over the coming months and be sure to arrive early to avoid missing out!

4th Saturday of the Month Pyrmont Bay Park, Pyrmont
7.30am to 12.30pm

TGM Willoughby Launches

Written by . Tuesday, 28 February 2017

A new monthly market for Sydney's northside!

TGM is excited to announce their second monthly market, now open in Willoughby.

Nestled between Penshurst and High Street, the Willoughby market in set amongst the spacious grounds of ‘Club Willoughby ’with plenty of parking onsite. Most importantly it showcases a carefully selected cross section of unique and local stallholders. Each of the stalls is passionately run by the maker and producer themselves, boasting small product runs, one off pieces and a good ol’ chat!

For those wishing to deck their house out with soft furnishings you will love the range of products from cushions to plants and paintings. There is even macramé hammocks and hangings and beautiful handmade and hand painted ceramics. The market also offers a handful of tasty producers including fresh farm eggs, honey and artisan baked breads along with delicious lunch options too.

“TGM is proud to join the wonderful Willoughby community with a vibrant market, showcasing the best lifestyle products on the lower north and supporting local small business” says Jacqui Landis - Owner of TGM Markets. Jacqui and her team are dedicated to supporting local business which is already evident in the strong community they have built at their East Lindfield market.

Stay tuned – TGM is set to expand over the coming months, a market with a little something for everyone!

Here’s a few of our favourites:

Poppies and Amber / Originally Nic


Love Our Work / Urban Ledge


Bubawear / Little Rowan Redhead


Kallisto Soaps / Emilia Lorena Macrame


That Great Market Willoughby
Open  9am to 2pm - 2nd Sunday of the Month
Club Willoughby, 26 Crabbes Ave, Willoughby

Shop for design pieces made by some of Australia’s most talented artisanal designers.

On March 24th the Turramurra Masonic Centre will host Designers On Show, an annual boutique market, which features artisanal Australian designers. DesignersonShow1v2

Jane Slicer-Smith, owner of Sydney-label Signatur Handknits created the three-day event in 2007 to showcase items that are “too special” to take to an open-air market.

“The venue is air conditioned and you simply step into another world of colour, design, texture. It's like going to an art gallery with the exception that you can touch, try and buy everything you see on display,” she said.

Naturally, Slicer-Smith’s Signatur Handknits will be an exhibitor and will sell her trademark bright, textured swingcoats alongside other woolly items.

Slicer-Smith is one of those designers who has fashion in her blood. Her grandmother was a seamstress. “My barbies had ballgowns,” she said.  And she was drawn to knitting because it gave her an opportunity to create the fabric as well as the garment.

Designersonshow5v2Customers who are drawn to her wares will also have the option of buying made-to-order pieces, which will be made by a “great team of country knitters.” In fact, her oldest employee is 88. 

Most of the stallholders have been personally invited to participate at Designers On Show by Slicer-Smith. “Whenever I see unique creations, I introduce myself tell my story and ask the maker about their design journey, and invite them to join the show.“

There is no-doubt that Slicer-Smith is a fan of the exhibitors as she owns at least one item from most of the participating stalls.

Some of her event highlights include customised footwear by Page Shoes, the decorative pottery of Nicole Miranda and the versatile and elegant clothes of fashion designer Ruth Tate.Designersonshow3v2

The stalls on display will have ready-to-buy pieces but there will also be many opportunities to order bespoke items, ranging from engagement rings to watercolour paintings.

If that’s not enough incentive to take a peek, Slicer-Smith assures that the market will also feature “fabulous food.”

Designers On Show
24-25 March 9.30am - 6pm
26 March 9.30am - 4pm

Turramurra Masonic Centre
Cnr Turramurra Ave & Pacific Highway, Turramurra

The benefits of garlic

Garlic has been consumed and used for thousands of years and is said to be very good for us. But what exactly are its qualities, and how can we benefit? NSGarlic

Garlic basics

Garlic is a bulbous plant belonging to the onion family along with the shallot and leek.

From wild garlic to crow, field, silver skin, purple hardneck, and pearl there are many different types of garlic. Originating from the region between the Mediterranean and China, the Allium sativum has a rich history right around the world, from being used as food flavouring and seasoning, to ailments and traditional medicine.

What makes garlic so nutritious

The use of garlic has been well documented by Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans and the Chinese for its nutritious and medicinal qualities. It is the sulfur compound (allicin) responsible for garlic’s distinct smell that is also the cause of garlic’s health effects, formed when a garlic clove is chopped, crushed or chewed.

Today garlic is widely consumed for several conditions linked to the blood system and heart:

*Kicking the common cold: Health studies have shown that adding more garlic to your diet or increasing your dosage of garlic supplements can combat the symptoms.
*Reducing blood pressure: High doses of garlic appear to improve blood pressure of those with known hypertension.
*Lowering cholesterol: For those with high cholesterol, garlic supplementation appears to reduce cholesterol, leading to lowering the risk of heart disease.
*Preventing dementia: Garlic supplements have been shown to increase antioxidant enzymes in humans and significantly reduce oxidative stress in those with high blood pressure – helping to prevent cell damage and common brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
*Detoxifying heavy metals in the body: At high doses, allicin has been proven to protect against organ damage from heavy metal toxicity.

What makes garlic so delicious

There are also several culinary uses you can make the most of. In the kitchen, this mighty bulb is just as versatile, with its characteristic pungent, spicy flavour that mellows and sweetness considerably.

*When cooking with garlic, you’ll typically remove the skin before using in raw or cooked form.Roasted Garlic
*An alternative is to cut the top off the bulb, coat the cloves with olive oil and roast them.
*Extract garlic from its bulbs by squeezing the (root) end of the bulb or individual cloves.
*Combine with bread to create garlic bread or toast, bruschetta, crostini or canapés.
*Heat the heads of garlic over longer periods of time to come up with sweeter, syrupy ‘black garlic’ – popular in Korea and more recently the USA, UK and Australia.
*Infuse your oil with garlic for dipping sauces – also a good way to store it!
*Soak your cloves in vinegar to produce pickled garlic.
*If you’re cooking Southeast Asian or Chinese cuisine, use immature garlic (green garlic) for its aroma without the spiciness.
*Use the leaves and flowers (bulbils) on the head (spathe) too; immature flower stalks (scapes) can be used in dishes in replacement of asparagus, for example.

Grow GarlicGrow your own garlic

Most of our garlic globally is grown in China, followed by India, with the ‘garlic capital of the world’, claimed by Gilroy in California, which accounts for the majority of production in the USA. Across all these locations, the soils are loose and well drained; garlic does well in mild, sunny climates. In Australia, our terrain is just as suitable. So why not give it a go yourself and avoid buying the imported, chemically treated cloves?

Garlic is easy to grow, all year-round. You can plant individual cloves in the ground in containers of sufficient depth, leaving enough space for each bulb to mature. If you’re in a colder climate, dig a little deeper for your bulbs to prevent the growth of mould from the freezing and thawing. Watch its growth – stalks can grow up to more than one metre tall – and look out for its flowers that help with pollination and the spread of its growth naturally.

Come join us at Northside Produce Market

Discover more about Australian-grown garlic and hear from some of our finest local garlic farmers at the Garlic Month at Northside Produce Market throughout the month of February.

Garlic Month at Northside Produce Market

18 February 2017 at Civic Park, Miller Street North Sydney

Chinese New Year 2017: Celebrate the Year of the Rooster at the markets

It’s that time again: welcoming in a new year. The Chinese New Year, to be precise. Known as ‘Spring Festival’ or ‘Lunar New Year’, this is the highlight of the Chinese calendar and a special occasion for families to come together and celebrate their heritage. So grab your red packets and giant lanterns, embrace the food markets and lion dancing, and get ready to enjoy The Year of the Rooster.

Chinese New Year basics

Centuries old, Chinese New Year is celebrated across countries with significant Chinese populations: think Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Mauritius and, of course, Australia. Traditionally, the festival was a time to honour deities and ancestors. Today, it’s a major holiday recognised globally.Chinatown6v2

Celebrations typically run from the evening preceding the first day, to the 15th day of the first calendar month. In 2017, the first day of the Chinese New Year is on Saturday 28 January (the first day of the new moon), initiating the Year of the Rooster -- one of the 12-year cycle of Chinese animals appearing in the Chinese zodiac -- which is associated with confidence, motivation, and assertiveness, boding well for future success.

Chinese New Year traditions

Chinese New Year is all about family. Chinese families gather for their annual reunion dinner on the evening preceding Chinese New Year’s Day. As part of the traditions, every family will clean the house to sweep away any ill fortune and make way for good luck ahead; look out for the windows and doors decorated with red paper cuts, and the themes demonstrating good fortune, happiness, wealth and longevity. Those unmarried might receive a red envelope from married couples or elders -- ‘lai see’ which helps spread wealth and good fortune.

The tasty treats

Food is the cornerstone of the Lunar New Year celebrations. If you find yourself at a dinner table, or food market, in the next two weeks, you’re likely to come across the following Chinese traditional gastronomy

*Dumplings, especially those of vegetarian fillings, feature prominently in the meals celebrating the festival. They insinuate a sense of wealth -- the saying associated with dumplings refers to ‘ringing out the old year and ringing in the new’. Families traditionally spend New Year's Eve preparing the dumplings and will eat them at midnight. Legend has it that the more dumplings you eat during the New Year celebration, the more money you can make in the upcoming cycle.Chinatown2v2

*Fish, in the context of Chinese New Year, means ‘may the year bring prosperity’. Families buy a whole fish, symbolising unity, and typically steam it with ginger and a light soy sauce. Leftovers for the next day are important to signify that the prosperity will overflow.

*Rice cakes, of both sweet and savoury variety, refer to ‘increasing prosperity year after year’. Eating rice cakes celebrates the beginning of the rice harvest in the spring.

*Turnip cakes, steamed or fried, stand for fortune and are a must-have particularly for Cantonese people celebrating the New Year

*Noodles -- long noodles -- represent longevity. Served uncut to signify long life, they are also served as a birthday dish

*Mustard greens are a standard vegetable dish for the celebration. In the context of the New Year, they are labelled as ‘perennial vegetables’; they can't be overcooked, so they're an ideal symbol for a long life. You're expected to eat the entire vegetable.

*Mandarin oranges and pomelos are the common fruit during Chinese New Year, representing luck.

*Sweet rice balls are consumed during the 15th day of the celebration, the first night of the full moon of the new lunar year. The roundness of the rice balls signifies a complete circle of harmony and unity within the family. They are served in a soup and traditional fillings include sesame paste, red bean or peanuts.

Chinatown Night MarketsChinatown7v2

Held every Friday evening, Chinatown Night Markets are the place to visit this Lunar New Year. Dixon Street Haymarket is lit up with lanterns and lights, and featuring bustling street food stalls and stalls operated by students and young deisgners. Dont miss the Dragon Beard Candy stall for something different orginating from the Ancient Chinese Palace!

If you’re looking for Chinese cuisine, or a touch of the Lunar New Year to take home with you this time of year, be sure to visit one of the markets to sample some local goodness -- most markets will be embracing the New Year spirit. Gong Xi Fa Cai!

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