The Forrest’s ginger is so fat it seems to be bursting out of its thin papery sheath. ‘It looks likes cartoon ginger!’ I exclaim to Dougal. After a relatively dry winter, everything on their stall looks joyously abundant, succulent, flourishing. Forrest organics has been operating at farmers markets for decades, forerunners of the organic farming movement which today has become mercifully commonplace. Dougal is one of four kids raised on the 50 acres of properties in Federal; all their first jobs were on the farm, and even though at one point he decided he wanted to be an electrician the farm eventually lured him back. Turning the soil over and oxygenating it – all by hand – is what results in the great-quality produce they sell, and Dougal is justifiably proud of it all. Apart from the ginger, he singles out their garlic – the huge Russian variety and the very small, intense Italian – as well as the Dutch Cream potatoes, the latter always generating great feedback, he tells me.

It seems there’s little the Forrests cannot grow, but it’s the ginger that’s calling to me. Dougal’s mother Sue, ever-smiling face familiar to market-goers, makes a ginger cake (the ‘Ninja Ginger’) she sends me the recipe for so of course, because what is life without cake, I am forced to make it. But the great glory of ginger is that its uses are not confined to sweets – a favourite and frequently exercised fish recipe of mine, courtesy of Peter Gordon, calls for salmon marinated in fresh ginger, star anise, soy sauce, palm sugar and sesame oil before being baked.  Brisket slow-braised for hours in fresh ginger, Sriracha, garlic, Chinese five-spice, hoisin and honey then pulled apart is another dish on high frequency at our place.

As for that cake though!

Victoria Gosford

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