“So long as the sugar is on the tongue, you feel the sweetness in taste. Similarly, so long as the heart has love, peace and devotion, you feel the bliss.” - Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Today at lunchtime I went for a walk to the Queen Victoria Market. This market has been a vibrant, cosmopolitan and diverse place where Melburnians have been shopping for 130 years. The Market is best known for its huge variety of fresh produce and foods. Almost 50% of the Market area is dedicated to the sale of fresh produce, including fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, chicken, seafood and delicatessen products. The Market is divided into a number of Market Precincts: The Delicatessen Hall, the Elizabeth Street Shops, F shed laneway, Victoria Market Place Food Court, Fruit and Vegetables, The Meat Hall, The Seafood Aisle, Organics, General Merchandise, Victoria Street Shops and the Wine Market.
The remainder of the Market is used for variety and specialty goods, with Sundays being the most popular day for this category. On Sundays, the hustle and bustle of the weekday Market gives way to a more relaxed and leisurely family day. Queen Street is closed and converted into an outdoor café area, with children’s rides and other activities.
It was a pleasure to walk through the aisles of the greengrocers’ stalls and admire the huge variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Even though I was just wandering through, in the end I couldn’t resist buying some rhubarb and raspberries for a wonderful dessert that we make in the Spring:
Rhubarb and Raspberry Fool
- 500 g rhubarb, trimmed and sliced, at 1 cm thick
- 1/2 cup raspberries
- 1/2 cup honey
- Zest and juice of 1 orange
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split
- 1cup heavy whipping cream (chilled)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 6 crumbed, sweet, plain biscuits
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 stalk rhubarb
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup reserved fluid from the compote
To make the fool, put the rhubarb, honey, orange zest and juice, candied ginger, and vanilla bean in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combine, then cover and cook, stirring every few minutes, for 10-15 minutes, until the mixture has come to a boil and the rhubarb has softened. Add the raspberries, stir through and remove immediately from the heat, allowing to cool. Remove the vanilla bean and transfer the compote to a colander over a bowl, refrigerating uncovered for at least 30 minutes, until very cold. Reserve the fluid.
Whip the cream and sugar until soft peaks form. Set aside 1/3 cup of the compote to garnish the dessert, then fold the remaining compote into the whipped cream. Spoon the fool into six 1/2-cup glasses or dishes and chill for 1 hour. Mix the crumbed biscuits and cinnamon with the butter until they are well buttered. Serve topped with the remaining compote and sprinkle with buttered biscuit crumbs. This fool is best served the day it is made, but any leftovers can be covered with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
If you would like to garnish the dessert with candied rhubarb strips, make them as follows: Preheat the oven to 100°C. Line a baking sheet with lightly greased baking paper. Cut the rhubarb into 15-cm lengths, then cut each piece into strips 1/2 cm to inch thick with a mandoline. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Cook and stir until the sugar is dissolved, then remove from the heat. Dip the rhubarb ribbons into the syrup, and leave them to soak until the syrup has cooled somewhat. Place the strips on the prepared baking sheet, laying them out flat and ensuring that they do not touch each other. Bake for about 45 minutes, until dry. While they are still warm, twist the strips into shapes, wrapping them around your finger or the handle of a clean wooden spoon. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.