Way back on the 23rd of January, 1869, the Adelaide Market was formed by a group of local producers who had previously been selling their wares at the Adelaide wholesale market. This enthusiastic little group started out in style with a dozen wagons full of fresh food and a brass band. I would like to think we could all learn a thing or two from this determined group of purveyors and from now on I will start all my new ventures being accompanied by a brass band.
The City Market as it was then called, was an instant success and the stallholders sold out of all their fresh food on that first day. Shoot forward 147 years with a little pause for a relaunch in 1965, and Adelaide now has the Adelaide Central Market, home to the greatest number of fruit and veg stalls out of any market in Australia.
I was invited to tour the market as part of the official Tasting Australia Words To Go Festival and I absolutely loved what I discovered in this gorgeous historic market in central Adelaide.
The first stop of the day was breakfast at Poh Ling Yeow‘s “Jamface” cafe. Poh was made famous by her very successful stint as one of the contestants on an early season of the MasterChef series. She has since gone on to solidify her place at the Australian food scene table with a number of her own cooking shows on SBS and ABC, a popular series of cook books, a handful of pop-up cafe stalls and more recently by launching her own little dining space in the Adelaide Market.
Jam Face is a delightful cafe to look at with so many charming and creative little touches that have become the hallmark of all of Poh’s endeavours. The food follows along in the same vein with popular and reliable brunch treats transformed by the wand of creativity, precision and attention to detail. To read more about my breakfast at JamFace you can sign up to my blog. Suffice to say, with Adelaide Central Markets aim to be one of the best markets in the world, Poh and her merry band of food makers were required to go through the same round of interviews and applications that every stall holder at the market undertakes. Adelaide Market has a large number of third and fourth generation stall holders and a resulting obsession with getting the quality and mix of market stalls just right. JamFace is a welcome addition to the market experience.
The Kangaroo Island Produce Store was the next stop on our tour of Adelaide Market. Home to the recent winner of the “Best Gin in Australia” Island Pure is the first regional market stall at Adelaide Central. This allows smaller producers from Kangaroo Island to sell their produce and product to a larger market. Justin and his team stock their store with produce purchased directly from the maker/ producer on Kangaroo Island and the stall is staffed by family members of the various Island producers.
Visit to purchase the award winning Old Tom Fun Gin with hints of lemon myrtle and aniseed. Or pick up a bottle of renowned Sticky Fig sauce or a delicious Sticky Fig, made over three days at The Figgery from Great Grandma’s secret recipe. They also stock Kangaroo Island honey, oils, nuts, free range ham, lentils, soaps, creams and much more. The good news is you can order online! 🙂
Visit www.kionline.com.au for more.
Cheese is my favourite food and so the next stop was sure to excite. The Smelly Cheese Shop is a cheese lovers paradise with an amazing selection of local and international cheeses on offer and an enthusiastic and knowledgable fromagere to guide you in your selection.
Valerie says that tasting cheese is all about engaging your five senses and the she sees herself as the story teller who has the opportunity to meet the producers of her cheeses and then share their story with people who visit the market. She loves to take people on a journey to try a slightly different cheese than they might normally select.
She asked us to sample one of her favourite cheeses at two different ages and the difference was remarkable. The oozey, gooey, smelly slightly older variety was my favourite but actually everything we sampled was excellent.
Next stop was a visit to none other than the Mushroom Man himself. Marco runs the Mushroom Man stall which has been in his family for over 40 years and this is the place to visit if you want to introduce some variety and textural change into your cooking via the inclusion of interesting varieties of mushroom. The Mushroom Man is the supplier of the highly coveted first Australian wild porcini mushrooms in Australia. His weekend is often interrupted by his suppliers who have foraged for local wild mushroom and have their supply ready for immediate delivery. If the amazing wild porcini mushroom from the Adelaide hills is not your thing then you might like to try one of his many other varieties including the wild European or Asian mushroom. But why would you say no to the local porcini who’s symbiosis of 20 years takes longer than the precious truffle? Either way, visit Marco for a smile, a tip, and bagful of life giving fungus.
Next we met Stephan from Central Organics. Stephan, who is 83, has a beautiful organic fruit and vegetable store where he sells only accredited organic produce. Stephan is passionate about and committed to the health and wellbeing benefits of eating accredited organic food. He also has a very interesting tale to tell about how a man born in Paris came to be spending every day at the Adelaide Central Market. In 1923 Stephan’s Dad retreated to Paris from Russia during the revolution. Then in 1949 Stephan immigrated to Australia, a journey mirrored by many people in Australia including my own Father.
Central Organics has been in operation since 1972 and it is widely believed to be one of the first organic retail operations in South Australia. Stephan and his wife were originally organic growers but they later purchased the store in 1982 in order to be involved in the retail side of operations. Stephan’s own interest in organic produce began when his sister became unwell as a result of chemicals used in farming practises. This sparked his interest in growing and then selling certified organic produce that still continues to this day.
Stephan was knowledgable about his produce and passionate about organic food and his produce looked wholesome and divine.
Our next visit was to Jo at Something Wild where I tasted a little morsel or crocodile against my better judgement. It was smoky and delicious and I learnt my bourgeois lesson about fussy eating, not for the first time. Something Wild has just launched an exciting new partnership between the Motlop and Gunner families which will see it become Australia’s first Indigenous-owned native greens, game and traditional meat provider. You can buy crocodile, kangaroo, goat, emu and more from their interesting store.
Last stop of the day was for lunch at Lucia’s Fine Foods where there was an impressive antipasto spread laid out for our enjoyment. We dined on cheese, bread, wine, baguette and an amazing display or cured meats. Lucia’s is a family owned business and it is run by the descendants of its namesake. Visit for pizza, pasta, pastries, coffee and more.
Adelaide Market aims to be one of the best fresh food markets in the world and with its great location, excellent mix of stalls and passionate, family run businesses they are well on their way. They plan on introducing a producer in residence stall in the next few months which should enliven and enrich the market experience even more. Adelaide Central Market excites, even without a modern day brass band.
Central Market, 44-60 Gouger Street, Adelaide. Opens on Tuesday to Saturday, with late night opening on Friday but early closing (3pm) on Saturday.
A lot of the stall have delivery options so visit online to find out how to get the best of SA delivered to your doorstep. (TIP “Old Tom” Gin from the Kangaroo Island Food stall was just awarded Champion Australia Gin.”)
To read more about my Tasting Australia and Words To Go 2016 Festival click here.
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