Mercato e Pranzo literally means Market & Lunch in Italian. Two of my favourite things; going to the Farmer’s Markets as it opens early on a weekend morning to purchase seasonal produce, and then to return home to employ my market haul for lunch with others!
This fondness was the reason behind the Mercato e Pranzo events at The Village Cooks. The very first took place, in collaboration with my friend Gillian Bell, on Saturday, 4 August 2018. What fun we had! We met our new friends for 8am at The Ramsgate Foodie & Farmer’s Market, gathered our fresh seasonal bounty whilst discussing recipe ideas along the way, then returned to The Village Cooks to prepare an authentic Italian inspired 3 course lunch. Together, we enjoyed Zuppa di Finocchio (Fennel Soup), Pici con Sugo di Noce (Pici Pasta with Walnut Sauce), Insalate (Salads), Torta di Olio, Polenta, e Foglia d’alloro (Bayleaf & Olive Oil Cake), Crostata di Cumquat (Cumquat Tart), and Formaggio (Italian Cheese).
An authentic Italian feast!
Farmer’s/Grower’s Markets are part of my DNA – I am sure of it! My parents, Mafalda & Benamino Palermo grew up in the southern part of Italy; Calabria. Tucked into the mountains in a small town called Vasci (belonging to the municipality of Lago in the province of Cosenza), they both, alongside their families, tended to their land. They grew vegetables, fruits, preserved their harvest, nurtured cows, goats & sheep for milk and cheese, feed pigs to make salami & pork products, chickens for eggs, and milled their own wheat for flour. They sold and bartered their produce at local markets. This is how they survived!
I too sold my produce (of a baked-kind; Italian pastries & biscotti) at Farmer’s/Growers Markets years ago throughout Sydney. These included Eveleigh Growers Market (now aptly named Carriageworks Farmers Markets), Northside Produce Markets & Castle Hill Farmer’s Market. I really enjoyed the administration of being a market stall holder; I would bake for 3 days solid leading up to the market, leave early the morning of the market to set up, then sell my products all the while chatting to clients about the food I love to bake and cook. It felt so organic to me, like something I had done all my life. However, it was extremely difficult to maintain whilst working full-time as a Pastry Chef, and eventually falling pregnant with our first born; Freya. In the end, I dedicated time to raising our little girl and fulfilled my Market yearnings as a paying customer.
My amity of gathering with others & entertaining them with simple fresh seasonal fare – is also apart of my DNA! I can not think of anything more enjoyable then being together with others – chatting, laughing – all while eating glorious manner from heaven. I feel so fortunate that I am now able to do this in my work; in classes and workshops at The Village Cooks, and addtionally, at Cornersmith, Marrickville. It doesn’t feel like work!
And thus was born Mercato e Pranzo (Market & Lunch).
Now, about my good friend Gillian Bell; you may know her as the amazing travelling wedding cake maker, or the private cook, or the recently famous podcaster with her friend Annabelle Hickson on Dispatch To A Friend I know her for all this plus more. I know her for her generosity and funny sense of humour. There is never a dull moment with Bell, and our first Mercato e Pranzo proved that!
Subsequently, Gillian and I will be at it again next month for Mercato e Pranzo; Primavera (Spring Market & Lunch) on Saturday, 27 October 2018. We look forward to another small and intimate group of food aficionados who will assist Gillian and I in gathering seasonal produce, and in the preparation of a 3-course Italian spring lunch. We will then enjoy the fruits of our labour and each others company dining alfresco at The Village Cooks.
For more information on this event and to purchase your spot; please click on the link HERE.
Something to leave you now with; Julie Gibbs attended our first Mercato e Pranzo and she began the day and ended it with this saying: “All the best people find each other!”. It was the most beautiful thing to of heard that morning and it has stuck with me every since.
I look forward (as I know Gillian is too) to connecting with more “best people” such as your good self and sharing my love of Markets and being together for Lunch at The Village Cooks.
Photos all by Laura Reed photography.