Whether I am in Manila, Australia or in the US, I always seek weekend markets. My spirits soar at the sight of homemade jams, fresh fruits and vegetables, and homemade baked goods.
As soon as I arrived in Singapore, I looked for such a market. But, I was disappointed to find no such tradition here. My search ended last month when I finally found one. Tucked in Loewen Gardens, deep inside the Dempsey Hill, is Singapore’s first Farmer’s Market. It happens only every first Saturday of the month from 9 am to 3pm.
The morning showers didn’t stop my trek on foot to this destination. It didn’t matter if waiters and other Dempsey regulars have not heard of it, I still continued to walk under the rain. Despite the downpour, the mood was festive at Loewen Gardens. There were fresh flowers for sale and face painting for kids. But the star of this market was definitely the food. Mr. & Mrs. Tsakiris sold Green Gold, extra virgin olive oil from the family’s 500-year-old olive grove in Greece. The wife enticed me with her Moussaka. And the tasting began. It was layers of eggplant, spiced meat, and rich béchamel sauce. Delicious, she sells it for $8/serving. Then the jamon Serrano, the dry cured Spanish ham caught my eye. A charming Spanish gentleman excitedly told me he supplies all the ingredients necessary for an authentic fiesta. Behind him, a large paellera was cooking the rice, vegetables, seafood, and meat. A serving of paella sells for $5/serving.
Olive Grove and their spread of olives
The sight of white serving plates filled with olives was a heavenly vision to this food stylist. I complimented the ladies and bought some kalamata olives to nibble on. Ayse, the lady from Olive Grove, coyly said she woke up late and just quickly laid these plates on the table.
Lisa from Amazing Graze and her pates and quince jams
Having the cook or baker personally selling her food creations makes a huge difference. I grew up selling the cakes, cookies, and other goodies my mom and I made. It is this very interaction that makes Farmer’s Markets such a hit with me. Lisa, an Australian from Geelong, is the lovely lady behind Amazing Graze. She specializes on spreads ideal to have for instant get-togethers in your home. Her bestseller is her Cointreau and Orange Pate. The silky chicken liver spread is made even more decadent with the citrus tinge. Delightful!
The Pantry's adorable cupcakes entice you
But hardest to ignore is the large table selling freshly baked goods. The pastel colored cupcakes tied with bows are signature of Loewen Garden’s tenant, The Pantry. The cupcakes call your name. Then when you stand close to the table, the baked goods cast a spell on you. You are compelled to breads, cupcakes, and anything straight from the oven. As I stood there admiring the goodies and inhaling the aroma, the chef replenished the Cheese Scones and the Cornish Pasties. I took it as my cue to buy one of each. With non-stop purchases of bread, scones and pasties, the vendor was overwhelmed. The head chef of The Pantry, Jane Glasgow, chided her, “Who thought of this idea? She’s insane!!!” It turns out Jane is responsible for starting this Farmer’s Market last February. This chef has been a resident of Singapore for 25 years now. But missing this local tradition, as in her beloved hometown of Guildford, UK, she had to start her own in Dempsey. The result is a once a month madness of baking at 4am and a festive day selling British pastries in warm tropical weather.
The Pantry's British baked staples
I left the buzz of activity with my warm pastries. The rain had stopped. I walked on the damp grounds of the former British army barracks with a smile on my face. Bite after bite of the still warm cheese scone, I savored the delicious joy of finally finding a Farmer’s Market in Singapore.
Copyright2010.MaidaPineda.Sixdegreesofexpatriation.com (first posted at my blogazine, www.sixdegreesofexpatriation.com)