Cast Off! Sustainability Festival

castoff53_1And so we find ourselves back in the Woy, NSW, and I’m starting think this is becoming quite the groovy place to be. Two organisations seem to be contributing mightily to Woy Woy’s foodie ascendancy – the Gnostic ’empire’ and The Fisherman’s Wharf.castoff31

It’s the latter spearheading Cast Off!, on its second outing for highlighting sustainability in the region. Especially, naturally enough, of fish. But also, importantly from my point of view, obviously, as it’s an Australian do – beer, wine and cider.

Spread out all along the wharf at Woy Woy, and across into Fisherman’s Wharf itself, on a bright and sunny Autumn day, the rows of cheerful stalls ran, mostly representing local produce and enterprises, as well as one or two from further afield.

I was surprised to see that New Zealand had a showing from Cloudy Bay Clams, selling what looked like a seafood curry in a giant paella tray:

The ‘Malaysian sauce’ didn’t taste that authentic to me, but I can’t argue that the seafood – mussels, prawns and two distinctly different types of clam – wasn’t pretty damn tasty. They insisted this was still sustainable seafood, despite being flown across to Oz, vacuum packed. Well, if they say so.

Other seafood offerings from further afield included some lovely, tender octopus all the way from Fremantle, served up by Avoca locals bombini:

Contented customers wallowed nearby in gaily striped deck chairs, soaking up the sun and possibly the cocktails from this chap, of Bar Toto, Ettalong, fame:


Though we noticed another bar from Ettalong mixing up the drinks nearby, from Gusto. No wonder everyone looked so relaxed.cast2

Whilst on the subject of drinking for relaxment (do believe that’s a new word, there; you’re welcome) we are lucky enough to have not one, but two, artisan breweries on this bit of the Central Coast. The rather fabulous six strings, of Erina, who’ve gone down the canning route (flying in the face of fashion there) and relative newcomers Block’n’Tackle, who prefer to encourage reusable mini kegs and bottles.

No surprise then perhaps that after all that booze, and watching of bands, we were feeling a tad fuzzy…

Happily there was more food; the fish tacos were good, though very wee, which probably explains why there were orders coming through of half a dozen at a time. Bit steep at $5 a pop I thought but hey ho, I’m notoriously stingy.

Plenty of other options available mind; loads of fish including albacore tuna, swordfish, paella, fish & chips, pippies and pasta, fish burgers, and many more. Coffee boost from the lovely rustic looking All Ears: 



There were take home options too, with Six String Lemonade and Coastie Ale, jars and spice mixes, and gluten free from the No Bull Food Co:


In the desserts corner were ice creams, churros, margarita slushies (that counts as dessert, surely?) and the rather splendid Fat Meringue, which I obviously made a beeline for. Miso ginger meringues!

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So excited was I, I almost forgot to pay. I l loved the caramel syringe – as if there was ever any chance of not eating every last sugary drop – it was still fun to inject through the crunchy outer shell.

For those bored with eating and drinking sustainably, there were cooking demonstrations lined up all afternoon long from a variety of chaps; Matt Kemp while we were wandering past, plus an information section with advice about sustainable local (Hawkesbury) fishing, just for the look of it, you know.castoff52 (2)

Finally, sated by the all afternoon nibbling, we headed round the craft and goodies stalls, checking out the lovely plants and homewares:castoff1_1 castoff1_5 castoff1_6 castoff1_2

This sort of do is a real plus for the area, well organised and well ‘stocked’ with quality vendors. Go The Woy!



Radelaide Market

I mentioned to someone that I was was spending a weekend in Adelaide, and there were two comments, bound up in one utterance: Radelaide! Go the food market! No idea whether the rad jibe was meant well, or sarcastically, but evidence is that hipster has well and truly arrived, at least in the field of food artisan types. Plenty of restaurants requiring detailed ‘research’ – which we’ll sadly have to defer to future visits, as this was a short trip with a pre defined agenda. But we managed a couple of outings to that market.

If you love cheese and smallgoods, Adelaide Central Market is the place for you. Literally a smorgasbord of utterly fantastic cheeses over many stalls, from ‘Smelly Cheese’, to ‘Say Cheese’, via the exclusive looking Lucias, from where we also picked up an awesome prosciutto:???????????????????????????????and some smoked paprika – I’m a complete sucker for those kitsch tins. We admired the fridgefulls of smallgoods, including salumi from the guys I’ve been trying to source from Sydney since quattro formagio inexplicably stopped stocking it.??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

The Smelly Cheese Store almost wrest tears of longing from me and made me seriously consider moving to Adelaide. I fondly imagined choosing 2 or 3 artisan cheeses a week to linger over; working my way through the entire, gigantic stock in a lactophillic orgy drawn out over the course of the months, until I was able to begin again at the gloriously cheesy beginning.??????????????????????????????? It’s hard to chose a favourite from the mere half dozen or so I tried in a short space of time – they’re happy to let you try before you buy, always a plus when you’re looking at a $75 per kilo cheese, believe me – but this was simply amazing:


There were 2 Reypenaer cheeses available, but this, the 36 month xo was a stunner. Caramel sweetness with calcium crunch, it immedietely reminded me of Valrohna Dulcey chocolate. Which I found weird, until I realised that it’s essentially just another milk based product, so why not?

We filled our boots with more food than we could possibly get through in a couple of days and filed the rest under ‘must get back to Adelaide asap!’


Fabulous Fish – Nishiki Style

???????????????????????????????It’s not hard to see that Japan is a country that relies heavily on seafood. On our trips to Japan this has been readily apparent – not just in the sashimi either (though in the end we ate less of that than we do on a typical week in Australia).

Nowhere was this so obvious as at Nishiki Market in Kyoto. Whilst not specifically a fish market, quite a few stalls were dedicated to seafood in one form or another. Seafood is very, very popular! Read More….

Miso with that?

So. Been away a while – please forgive the silence. Our jaunt in Japan – sadly now becoming a distant memory – got rather in the way of blog writing. I’m working on a review of our foodie exploits; and to whet your appetite, here’s some miso encrusted radishes in a stall full of miso encrusted whatnots:IMG_7911Well, I hope it’s miso, anyway.


Souvenier Cabbage

One of the things I love the most about travelling around the state is visiting the many farm shops that line the highways. Whether they be fully fledged veg stalls the size of small supermarkets (the one outside Bellingen has it’s own petrol pumps so as to maximise drop bys), to a cardboard sign outside someone’s house, flogging excess garden produce, I love them all.

So it was no surprise to Mr C that our trip back from Bellingen recently took hours longer than it should have, mainly because I was slowly filling the back seat of the car with locally grown produce.

Any visit to the banana coast of course cannot be complete without a stash of beautiful yellow ‘nanas. But this time my eye was also caught by pineapples (not that local as they almost certainly came from Queensland, but hey! it was closer than it would have been….) – two different varieties – and many different varieties of avocado. Or snot pears, as my inlaws so charmingly describe them. Peppers, aubergines, nuts (local pecans), onions…into my basket they went. It doesn’t have to be exotic, as long as there’s the whiff of just-picked about it.???????????????????????????????

So it was that we reached Gladstone, NSW, a tiny place north of Kempsey just off the Pacific Highway. Really, there’s not a lot there. But what there is, is a small shop run by a lovely lady who sells her own produce from her farm, supplemented by her own chutneys and jams. IMG_6095She’d just picked a small box of broad beans and was anxious to show me how to pod them – and was delighted when I told her I usually grow my own; though hadn’t had the space this year. We bought a half kilo (I do get bored of double podding after a half kilo or so), some of her chilli mustard pickles, and half a freshly caught cabbage. We ate the broad beans in a simple pasta/olive oil & herbs combo with lots of parmesan that night; but what to do with that lovely cabbage?

Having BBQ pork belly in mind for dinner this week I immediately thought of a semi pickled cabbage accompaniment to cut through some of the fattiness. So it was only one small step beyond that to actually preserving my lovely cabbage for future enjoyment…

Pickled White Cabbage



  • 1/4 large, firm headed white cabbage
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 litre cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon each black peppercorns, fennel seeds and coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons each salt, sugar
  • 1 large clove of garlic, finely sliced
  • 2 large jars, sterilised. You’ll need to judge how many/what size according to the size of your cabbage.

Finely shred the carrot and cabbage. As this was a ‘homegrown’ cabbage, I washed the shreds. Even though the leaves of the cabbage were fairly close-knit, there was a bit of grit in between the leaves.

Place all the other ingredients in a non stick or stainless steel pan, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes to infuse flavours. ???????????????????????????????Meanwhile, carefully layer the carrot and cabbage into the jars, squashing them down as much as possible. When full, pour over the spiced vinegar. Leave for a few minutes for the vegetables to soften a little; you’ll find they will squash down further at this point and you can cram in even more. Really push them down, so as to leave as few airpockets as possible. Top with more vinegar if needed until all the vegetables are submerged.???????????????????????????????

Seal carefully and refrigerate. You’ll need to leave this for at least a week or two for the vinegar to mellow.???????????????????????????????

Avoca Market

Avoca Market made me happy. Where else on the Central Coast can you expect a Mermaid’s Kiss?


It’s a crafts and lovely things market more than a food market, though there are plenty of places to eat, and just about all of them looked very nice indeed. Not your run of the mill burger joints, anyway. I hadn’t even planned to write about it, but the stalls looked so pretty in the Autumn sunshine (it was bunting central) that I just couldn’t help myself. We did buy some lovely purple and green kale from an organic stall towards the car park end, as well as some fantastic smelling wood smoked garlic (she did a smoked sea salt and herb mix as well, but oh! the scent of that garlic!), but mostly we wandered about and admired the crafty things.


Smoked garlic – goes well with kale crisps!

So: this post is a bit light on words but full of pictures instead. There must be 150 stalls so there was no way I could snap everything, but I’ve selected a few which should give you an idea of the happy vibe of the place.

The first thing we noticed was the music floating over the field from the Lizotte’s stage. We ambled toward it and came across this little urchin, all on her own – not really playing anything but making a fortune by dint of being gorgeous:


Lizotte’s are a local music bar/restaurant and these guys were on stage rockin’ it while we were there:


If you have better eyes than me you might be able to make out the artist name from the board…


Another band were taking up a far corner too:


I did splash out on one of these gorgeous picnic rugs – not that I need one, but look! So pretty! And machine washable too. See for more details. 


Was also super tempted by a shell wall hanging, made by a lady who collects them from local beaches from Newcastle to Sydney:


I did buy a couple of cute little bowls from Paisleys (, thought I’d use them for salt and pepper when I have those mythical dinner parties…:


The owners of this stall, whilst happy for me to take photos (I always ask unless it would be obtrusive to do so), scarpered out of the way of this shot, which was a shame as they were both lovely! Great edgey jewellery too. I’m a bit over the skulls thing myself but it’s still very popular, and their stall was beautifully laid out:


I was seriously ready for some food by the time I got halfway round, especially as Mr C and I had had words over how much the house would benefit from some lovely stripey bunting. (Couldn’t persuade him but bought some anyway). Very very tempted by the Porkwich roll, but I was determined to stick to my wheat free day, so I plumped for the rice paper rolls, which, whilst small, were delicately flavoured with sesame oil and resplendent with Vietnamese herbs. Their scattered seating and rare shade was also most welcome!:


Mr C went for the lamb kebab arrangement from Mediterranean Grill. He liked it, anyway. Coffee looked good from fat Poppy:


Cupcakes to go with that coffee?


On our way back to the car we trawled the other side of the market and admired the chillout area run by wicked fruit (choccie dipped fruits and smoothies). Families sprawled over their lunches:


It’s also possible to have your fortune read by angels. Not an offer one gets too often I expect. I didn’t partake.


If body art is your preference, there’s henna tatooing too:


There were vintage stalls aplenty for homewares, art prints, cards and clothes, re-purposed goods – some super chairs:


printschairs card

These I think are unrelated to the market but made me smile anyway:


And finally – that Mermaid’s Kiss I promised:


Mermaid’s Kiss and Octopus Garden seemed to be next to each other, selling lovely hanging plants.

Avoca Markets

9am – 2pm
4th Sunday Monthly

Heazlett Park Foreshore Avoca Beach NSW 2251