On a quest to find a few final ingredients for the tuna fishcakes I had planned for dinner, I find myself lured into the Gourmet Salad Hut stall by vast bunches of dill and salad leaves. Just what I needed to finish off my dish!
Practically everything at Gourmet Salad Hut is currently gargantuan, vitally green, are so fresh I can almost hear the bunches squeak. Manager, Carl – tall, bearded, easy-going – tells me that they keep prices constant regardless of the size of the bunches. Obviously in winter they’re a bit smaller, but for now most of the bountiful, beautiful produce on the trestle tables provokes comments from customers. Clearly regular, by the sound of things. ‘Beautiful bouquets!’ exclaims one woman; ‘Luscious!’ from another. My friend Roe tells me she is a ‘very satisfied customer’, beaming.
One woman is buying absolutely enormous bunches of the basil. ‘I make pesto and freeze it’, she says – surely a couple of bouquets would suffice? But she’s piling them up in her arms. ‘Six months a year the basil’s that size’, Carl tells me. Another woman is buying six bags of the mixed lettuce – it’s for a weaving workshop. According to Carl, the two most popular products, amongst all those glorious greens, are indeed the mixed lettuce bags and the basil.
Based at Upper Burringbar, the business has been operating for 33 years, though under new ownership since March. Nothing has been changed: the produce 100 percent hydroponically grown, the water fertilised through pipes. ‘Fifty-two weeks a year our produce looks like this’, says Carl with pride.
There’s also jams, chutneys, pestos, marmalades, relishes – and lime, passionfruit and lemon curd, the latter purchased weekly by ‘a lady who bakes them into puff pastry’. Now there’s an idea!
Gourmet Salad Hut is at Mullumbimby Farmers Market each Friday from 7–11am.