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A feast with a story to tell

Authors Dad and Sister Christmas food Shopping at Newcastle City Markets Tricia Hogbin Little Eco Footprints

I won't be slaving away in the kitchen this Christmas. Nor will I be spending a fortune at the supermarket. Instead, our Christmas meal will be simple and sourced from my favourite alternatives to the supermarket.

I’ve ordered free range ‘‘happy ham’’ from Organic Feast. I like that our Christmas ham enjoyed a life of wandering paddocks, not confined to a concrete floored shed.

We’ll enjoy a few salads, including a prawn rice salad my mum has made each Christmas for almost two decades. Each year she brings out the yellowing torn recipe and reads between the splashes from past Christmases.

The prawns will be collected Christmas Eve morning from the Newcastle Fisherman’s Cooperative. My dad and sister arrived at the Wickham store last year at 5am just on opening. Expecting to be first in line they found themselves at the end of a queue of hundreds of people. Apparently people start queuing from 3am, so this year we’ll pack coffee and make an adventure of it.

For dessert we’ll enjoy a delicious pudding from Pudding Lane. These award-winning puddings are made in Newcastle using local free range eggs and locally baked bread. The custard will be made using local Udder Farm milk, picked up from my favourite greengrocer The Fresh Ingredient, who pride themselves on supporting local farmers.

Mangoes and cherries are another favourite for our family Christmas. We’ll buy a box of each from the Newcastle City Markets. Not to be confused with the Newcastle City Farmers Markets, these markets distribute wholesale fresh fruit and vegetables to the entire Hunter Region. Each morning from 4am they’re bustling with greengrocers and restaurateurs picking up their fresh produce. Thankfully, they open briefly to the public on Fridays between 9.30 and 11am. Last year, much to my dad and sister’s delight, mangoes were only $10 a tray.

We’ll also visit the Newcastle Farmers Markets for other Christmas foods and treats, including Dennis’s delicious natural cordial. My favourite is Rose Petal & Lime syrup, which mixes well with gin.

If you’re looking for a Christmas feast with a story to tell, try to steer clear of the supermarket and instead support our local producers and small businesses.

[This column appeared in The Newcastle Herald Weekender Magazine 08 December 2012]