Written by Alice on February 20, 2016
Imagine a place where you can buy farm fresh fruit and vegetables, at a really affordable price and within a 20 minute drive from home. Not only that, but also a place that has ample parking and knowledgeable staff on hand to answer your every question. Well, no need to imagine any longer, as we have found this list, which names independent greengrocers in Sydney that are stocked by fresh produce royalty, the Sydney Markets. We recently visited Joe’s Fruit World in Wetherill Park for our weekly food shop and here’s what we discovered about this local greengrocer.
We arrived just before 7am on a drizzly Saturday morning. Surprisingly, Joe’s Fruit World was buzzing with staff scurrying around, filling up shelves with fresh produce for early bird shoppers like us. We had a quick glance about and were gobsmacked by what was crammed into one fruit shop. Don't be fooled by the name though, Joe’s Fruit World has much more than just fruit.
Even at that early hour, the shop was filled to the brim with endless varieties of fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables. We picked our way through mountains of mixed capsicums, peaches, multi-coloured lettuces and broccolini. We also spotted lots of specialty items such as prickly pears, figs, vine leaves, ox heart tomatoes, plantains and Australian purple garlic.
Tucked along the walls are grocery aisles with big bags of flour, artisan breads, assorted grains, herbs, spices and lots more. The freezer section stocks locally made pastas, while the fridge is full of basics like milk, yoghurt and butter. On top of that, there is a deli along the back wall. While we were dreaming about the extraordinary antipasti platter we could put together with some of the blueberry cheese, salami and olives on offer, we met Charlie, who was working behind the deli counter.
We found out that Charlie is a charcuterie expert who has worked in the deli industry for over 20 years. We asked him the obvious question: "who is Joe?" It turns out that Joe was the original owner of the shop, but these days, as Charlie explained, the place is run by Frank and Matt, “two very hardworking, young blokes”.
It was evident that all the staff here work hard to deliver a huge variety of quality produce to their customers. It made us wonder how an independent greengrocer like this competes with the big guns of groceries. “It’s tough”, said Charlie, “but our customers make the effort to come here because they know they are getting good quality for a good price”. It’s true. We found the prices here to be on par with what we usually pay for our fruit and veg at the Sydney Markets.
Later we bumped into part owner Matt and chatted to him while he stacked a few boxes of peaches. We asked about how they have managed to create a successful business. “We source a lot of produce from selected farmers and that plays a big role in the quality and freshness of what we sell. We also supply fresh produce to over 200 restaurants”.
While the future of small businesses like these can often be fickle, there’s no doubt that the passionate people behind them such as Frank, Matt and Charlie are putting every effort in to bringing us quality food. At the end of the day, it’s up to us, the customers, to ensure that these guys stick around so they can continue to offer us the best of the best in our local area.
Joe's Fruit World
Location: 1187 The Horsley Drive, Wetherill Park 2164
Open: 6am to 6pm (9pm Thursday) ,daily
Recipe: BBQ Panzanella with Buffalo Mozzarella
Visiting fresh produce suppliers always inspires us to try out new recipes at home. Here’s an easy recipe for Panzanella, a fresh tomato and bread salad. We made this salad using fresh heirloom tomatoes, Italian bread and buffalo mozzarella that we picked up from Joe’s Fruit World.
Serves 4-6 as a side dish
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 6 slices crusty bread (or 2-3 crusty Italian rolls) cut into 2cm cubes
- Several assorted tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon of red or white wine vinegar
- A pinch of sugar
- A handful of fresh basil
- 1 large ball of buffalo mozzarella
- Preheat a BBQ grill to a high heat.
- Add garlic and two tablespoons of oil into a large mixing bowl. Add the bread cubes and toss bread, oil and garlic together to combine.
- Toast the bread on the BBQ grill, turning often, until it's lightly charred, then remove from grill and place in a big salad bowl
- Slice up the tomatoes and add them to the bowl
- In a separate small bowl, mix together remaining oil, vinegar and sugar to make the dressing
- Drizzle the dressing over the tomatoes, sprinkle in a handful of chopped basil and toss gently to combine
- Drain off a large ball of buffalo mozzarella, tear into pieces and spread it over the top of salad.
- Serve alongside some barbecued meat.