Crates piled high with glossy, plump tomatoes; soft local cheeses; fragrant herbs; buckets of ready-to-shuck oysters; a litany of vendors jostling for your attention. Strolling through a city’s produce market guarantees fresh fare and an insight into life as a local. Here are five of our country’s best produce markets, and the food you should be looking for there.
Adelaide Central Market, Adelaide – SA
Although Adelaide Central isn’t strictly confined to South Australian produce, there is a big focus on local meat; fish; cheese and dairy; and natives. There are entire stalls devoted to selling ice plant, samphire and karkalla, as well as game meats such as crocodile and kangaroo. The Central Market is next door to Chinatown, so it’s also a great place to stock up on Asian groceries and indulge that craving for Hainanese chicken rice (make sure it’s from Ricky’s).
The sprawling market has live music on Fridays and Saturdays, and lots of places to sit and sample the local fare. Be sure to visit Jamface, a bakery and cafe by MasterChef series-one contestant Poh Ling Yeow, for pies, sausage rolls and cream-cheese-filled melting moments.
Wed & Thu 9am–5.30pm
Farm Gate Market, Hobart – TAS
There’s simply no better location to source this much quality Tasmanian produce in one spot. This small farmers’ market, on Bathurst Street in central Hobart, sells only local produce; think briny bivalves from Bruny Island; creamy cheeses from Coal River; and bread and pastries from Philadelphia Bakers. All the fruits, vegetables and herbs are at their seasonal best and there’s loads of organic meat, fresh fish, homemade jams and raw honey, too.
Tip: Visit Jono & Jo’s for barbequed octopus, which comes hot and charry with a shot of ouzo on the side.
Carriageworks Farmers’ Market, Sydney – NSW
The only market in Sydney that polices its fruit and vegetable growers. That’s right: any produce they sell must be locally grown, either from their own or a neighbour’s farm, and vendors are not allowed to pass off resells as their own. As a result of this quality control you’ll often find some of Sydney’s top chefs at Carriageworks, shopping for themselves and their restaurants.
Beyond fruit and veg you’ll find fresh, non-homogenised milk from The Pines; cultured butter from Pepe Saya; poultry from Burrawong Gaian Poultry; and even alpaca meat from A Taste of Alpaca. For a mid-market snack, stop by Billy Kwong for dumplings and pancakes, or Porteño for barbequed pork and crackling. Pick up a panna-cotta lamington (or two) from Flour and Stone for dessert.
South Melbourne Market, Melbourne – VIC
For almost 70 years, the South Melbourne Market’s most potent drawcard has been dim sims. These flavourful meat- and cabbage-stuffed parcels have been made to Ken Cheng’s secret recipe since 1949, and his sons have continued the tradition after his passing in 2006. The markets are also a great place for Asian groceries; stallholders sell otherwise hard-to-find goods such as lap cheong (Chinese sausage), lotus root and shiso leaves.
The South Melbourne Market is also a fine source of seafood, with a variety of fresh-fish vendors dealing out whole snapper, salmon and lobster. If you’d prefer to just eat rather than cook, stop by Claypots for a bowl of steamed mussels and a crisp beer. For sweet treats see Agathé Pâtisserie – its innovative croissants, in flavours such as pandan and matcha, are among the city’s best.
Wed, Sat & Sun 8am–4pm
Preston Market, Melbourne – VIC
There were already many reasons to visit this multicultural hub in Melbourne’s north, which has been a bustling mainstay for 45 years. But with the recent launch of its Fresh Hood Market section, there’s no excuse left not to.
In the market’s main precinct you’ll find a range of fresh fruit and vegetables, specialty traders such as the Slavonija Deli, which sells Eastern European and continental smallgoods, and fresh oysters from the Preston Market Oyster Bar inside the seafood section. (Be as liberal as you like with the condiments: bottles of Tabasco, sweet-chilli sauce and white-wine vinegar are there for the using).
Operating from an adjoining shed, the new Fresh Hood Market hosts bands and artists, and is home to food stalls such as Burn City Smokers and Hoy Pinoy. Fuel up with a roast-chicken-and-chips pack from Henrietta’s Chicken Shop, or a charcoal burger from Meet Patty, before facing the crowds outside.
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