The Entrance Lions Club Markets
Markets. We'd barely left our holiday apartment at The Entrance when we pulled over to the side of the road upon spotting the local markets. I love scouring second-hand stalls - an irresistible combination of shopping and bargain hunting, not to mention a chance to mosey at other people's eclectic wares and ponder their history.
Local ocean honey $4
and Trinidad chutney $5
In amongst the crockery, books and jumble of old appliances was one of the few stalls selling goods of the edible kind. The stallholder, a cheerful local, was quick to have a chat once he saw me pick up the jar of Trinidad chutney, thoughtfully labelled as "very hot".
"That's a pretty hot one. I make it myself using Trinidad Scorpion chillies and my own hydroponic tomatoes," he says, gesturing towards the plump glossy red tomatoes with green stalks still attached.
We try the chutney that evening, a thick soup of tomato studded with diced green capsicum. It's resplendent with the fantastic peppery heat of chilli that hits the front of the palate and tingles on the tongue to a gloriously addictive mild anaesthesia.
I also pick up a jar of local ocean honey, garnered by his next-door neighbour who has his own apiary. The honey is more liquid than your commercial variety, a thinner runnier syrup which has faint but complex floral notes that don't overwhelm, with a faint hint of smokiness.
We're there as the stalls are packing up and because I have an eagle eye for bargains, I spot two stalls that have little piles of things they are giving away for free. The Christmas tin has a few rust marks inside but the silver serving platters will be perfect for the next afternoon tea and I'm impressed that the little sauce dish is by Noritake.
Bargains in hand, we continue on the ten-minute drive to Mingara for the Central Coast Village Markets. The markets are somewhat disappointing, a mix of handpainted pottery, knitted tea cosies and hand scrubs outnumbering the few food stalls. We head into the enormous Mingara recreation complex soon after, a multi-storey air-conditioned behemoth in the middle of a sprawling carpark that houses an aquatic centre, putput mini-golf course, athletic centre, gym (with hundreds of treadmills and bikes that ironically face a Krispy Kreme across the road), kids clubs, sports bar, a multitude of restaurants and requisite pinging flashing poker machines.
We have a late lunch at the in-house Indigo restaurant, a kind of fancy bistro with the strange descriptor "Eats, Treats and Bar". Although one must order and pay at the cashier near the kitchen, meals are brought to your table by professionally attired wait staff.
Lamb roast of the day $10.90
served with traditional roasted root vegetables,
a selection of greens and house-made gravy
Two giant plasma screens don't dominate the dining room, but they are a little distracting with their constant slideshow of menu specials and upcoming Mother's Day dining offers. It's a shame too that the photos don't marry up with their final presentation. The roast of the day--lamb--is overcooked, dry and chewy, and not half as succulent as the picture would have us believe.
Fish of the day Dory fillet $24.00
served with Moroccan butter and lemon lime sauce
The Dory fillet fish of the day looks nothing like the picture (re-affirmed each time you look up and note the disparate picture appearing every two minutes) and isn't cheap at $24.00 either. The thick wad of fresh fillet has been replaced by two anaemic and rather bland wafers of fish; instead of hearty chunks of vegetables it's accompanied by chip and salad.
Beer battered fish and chips $11.50
Flathead fillets with salad, chips, lemon and tartare
I thought I'd gone for the safe option with beer battered fish and chips, but even this lets me down, the batter thick, heavy and greasy on the tongue with soggy fish on the inside.
Spiral pasta jardiniere $17.00
Spiral pasta with a mixture of garden vegetables
tossed in rich tomato sauce
Instead it's the kids' spiral pasta jardiniere that turns out to be the winning dish, a simple but tasty concoction with a generous mix of spring vegetables that includes crunchy spears of asparagus and the sweetness of bright green sugar snap peas.
Back at The Entrance, it's the charity shops that keep me occupied for many a spare hour. I'm pleased with this blackberry trellis Churchill England plate that I pick up for only a dollar at the St Vinnies op-shop. Sometimes the best things are right under your nose.
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Central Coast Village Markets
Mingara Recreation Club outer grounds
Mingara Drive,Tumbi Umbi, NSW
2nd Sunday of every month, 9am - 3pm
Mingara Recreation Club
Mingara Drive, Tumbi Umbi, NSW
Open 7 days 11.30am-3pm and 5.30pm-10pm
Tel: +61 (02)4349 7728
The Entrance Lions Club Markets
The Entrance Cinema car park
Bayview Avenue, The Entrance, NSW
(between Theatre Lane and Short Streets)
Every Sunday 8.30am - 12.30pm
Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Holiday at The Entrance: Part 1
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4/23/2009 12:36:00 a.m.