I am obsessed with markets. I love the atmosphere, the colours and smells and the passion that comes from the vendors selling the food/homemade morsels and goodies. Most of all though, I love the food itself. It is usually fresh, local and delicious, what more could you want? My favourite market of all time you ask? The South Melbourne Market.
After my friend moved to South Melbourne at the start of the year, she was quick to discover this market and even quicker to pass on the word. So, as you may imagine after one visit with her, I was hooked and in love. The charming smells of paella, the greengrocers’ competing voices and the samples, oh the samples. Everyone will tell you I am a sucker for samples and if there is one market where you can try before you buy it’s here.
Many visits later, I feel the need to share this market and entice those who have not yet experienced it.
In general, I try to go to one new restaurant, market, and food experience per week. One friend in particular loves hearing about all my new endeavours and joining in on all these adventures. So, when I started raving about the South Melbourne Market, I had her hooked immediately. This is what brought about my latest trip.
We began at the obvious starting place, coffee. This is not just any coffee shop. In fact, I would not even call it a ‘shop’, rather a small nook in the wall with the sweetest of sweet treats and coffee, glorious coffee. Located at stall 89, on Cecil St, Clement Coffee, fits right in with the carnival like atmosphere of the market. For those coffee aficionados, think St Ali slash Proud Mary, which makes sense as barista and roaster Kris Wood worked at both. Two blends were available, Pony blend and Boa Vista. I was advised that the pony blend was best to be enjoyed with iced coffees and promptly I followed this instruction. My friends chose to have a flat white, also with Pony blend, and the other a long black with Boa Vista on the advice of the barista. Bringing a bittery, sweet taste into our mouths, we were amazed and buzzed with caffeine, ready to attack all the market had to offer. Apart from the coffee, Clement also offers a small selection of sweet treats. This visit featured donuts with peanut butter and cherry glaze (there was no way we were saying no to that) but we chose to save it for later, as I advised the girls to save their stomachs for all the fresh foods, baked goods and samples.
My first piece of advice is to choose your foods wisely, otherwise you are sure to get full straight away, and start in the fresh and baked goods sections, just in case vendors are feeling extra generous (and trust me they will be).
In the fresh and baked goods section you will find a lot of diverse seed and muesli mixes, fresh pasta, homemade treats such as biscuits, slices and my personal favourite, chocolate! In this section we tried the fresh pumpkin gnocchi, which is always a special treat, however my sweet tooth got the better of me with the Anzac biscuit from the stall next door, which was so chewy and delicious! We also made an essential stop at Rita’s Coffee and Nut Shop. You’ll find everything here from seeds and nuts (obviously) to exotic coffee blends and gourmet chocolate or pre-mixed muesli combo’s to die for! If you are a serious foodie, you need to come here stat!
All these samples and sweet temptations were making us hungry for a sit down meal. In terms of larger meals there is a lot on offer, including paella, sushi, seafood and the famous South Melbourne dim sims. This time we were eyeing off the Gozleme’s from Koy, a Turkish style tapas bar on the Cecil St side. We chose to share a spinach and cheese gozleme, but they also offer a number of other fillings such as chicken and mushroom. Personally I hate to play favourites, but the spinach and cheese is the best.
As my friend had never been here and many know South Melbourne market for the dim sims I had to make her try one (or three?) I suggested giving both steamed and fried a go and although the nutritionist in me hates saying this, the fried won hands down.
After all this savoury goodness we needed to wash it down with water chocolate, and Pana Chocolate was calling from Discount Health Foods. Firsty, if you haven’t had Pana Chocolate, what are you doing still reading this? Go and get some. Secondly, Discount Health Foods is great, I am talking Carman’s in bulk for under $15 and Cocao Powder for under $10. Shall I keep going? It was difficult to just buy a bar of Pana chocolate but I did make up for it because I bought three bars of Pana, my addiction had been officially fed!
Now, I could go on for days about all that is the South Melbourne Market but you’ll get too hungry and actually so will I! So just go out there and try it for yourself! There are just a few more tips I’ll give you before giving the market a go.
1. Get there early, as parking is a nightmare, especially on a weekend! So for those of you who like to sleep in maybe skip the trip until you’re 100% committed to the early venture.
2. Bring plenty of green bags. The vendors hate dislike giving you plastic bags. So be nice to the environment and bring some green bags, and lots of them too!
3. Have a light breakfast, you don’t want to arrive here on a full stomach, you’ll regret the weetbix straight away once you start salivating over all the potential degustation you have in front of you.
4. Leave plenty of time, I mean it. At least 2 hours.
5. Go eat!