The morning of the first day of Spring called for a visit to the Mornington Peninsula market. It is an everything market: produce, second-hand items, food, plants, craft, bric-a-brac. It doesn't pretend to call itself a farmers' market, but regular stalls are held by small-holding local farmers. We came home with a bag of Peninsula apples, three varieties, and some fresh vegetables; several potted African daisies, the ones that not only survive drought but spread; and a second-hand rotary lawn edger for $10, the kind that you push and gives you a cleaner edge than motor-driven ones.
These early Spring afternoons are made for work and I spent three hours in the garden of the beach house wielding a hoe in bright sunshine. The weeds gave way easily. There had been rain, the garden bed is elevated and the soil is slightly sandy. You could have filled the compost bin four times. I made a mound in the far corner. The weeds can break down in the open.
What to put in the ground? It will have to be hardy; we are not here all the time to water seedlings. The African daisies went into the front garden where they can nod their pretty heads at passers-by.
The fish shop has changed hands again. It looks promising. The new owner told me he has changed suppliers and is stocking the best fish. I knew something was up when I saw, on several days, a sign in the shop window that read: "Sold out. Back tomorrow." This was at eleven in the morning. That's a good business plan: the customers get to eat better fish and the fishmonger is home by lunchtime.
Garfish with parsley sauce.
Garfish have long been among my favourites. These were magnificent, long and fat and silver-sheeny. They were already cleaned.
Make the parsley sauce: blend half a cup of mustard seed oil, three cups of flat leaf parsley, three cloves of garlic, half a cup of drained capers and three tablespoons of lemon juice. Salsa verde is easy. Why not make it more often?
Poach the fish: whole in a little oil, a couple of tablespoons of white wine, a dash of lemon juice and some cracked pepper. Ten minutes gentle poaching will see the flesh perfectly white.
Serve with: new baby potatoes boiled and dressed in a simple vinaigrette; new season's broad beans.
Drink: a chilled Cooper's Creek sauvignon blanc from our sauv blanc experts across the ditch.
Welcome to Spring.