First hint that I knew I was in a special place were the chocolate crackles because not only were they HUGE but they were made from belgian chocolate. They were in the display window of Providore – a shop that was owned by Mark Gleeson who had until recently been the chef/owner of renowned restaurant Grange Jetty Kiosk. He was to be our tour guide around the markets for most of the morning. We were supposed to be joined by a group of Korean journalists but they cancelled at the last minute which I didn’t mind because the smaller the group the more special it would be.
I was expecting us to race off and start sampling everything and anything but instead he made sure we were settled and pulled out some olive oil, tomatoes and salt. Total surprise but I eventually got it when he pointed out that all the produce was sourced locally within an hour of Adelaide and at the same time he gave us a bit of history about the markets. Our first sampling consisted of a shot of olive oil in small cup. We had to guess what it smelled like, which if I recall correctly was apple and pepper. I couldn’t smell anything until Kelly pointed out the apple. After the smell he made us taste it like you would a fine wine – including a slurping type taste which mixes with air to give you a complex range of tastes. With the one sip of oil I had about four different flavours pass my tongue, the favourite being the peppery aftertaste. Some of us couldn’t quite stomach drinking olive oil but I really enjoyed the process. Next he cut up some of the wonderful red tomatoes, drizzled oil over the top and seasoned with Murray River rock salt. With some small pieces of bread we scooped up his mixture and popped it in our mouths which blew my mind. I’d forgotten how perfect tomatoes were with salt and it was just so simple!
After that he took us for a walk around. We stopped to sample some greek yoghurt which is plentiful up in Brisbane so that was just an excuse for us to eat something. He then gave us a history about Lucia’s which is a cafe started by an italian immigrant in around the 1940s. She brought the first coffee machine to Adelaide. What impressed me about the place is that they were making some of the food right in front of you in the shop. I noted it as a place to back to to buy some of the pasta sauce.
The next store on the list sold only water and related products. I was starting to question this selection and was wondering why the hell we were in there, but after listening to the salesman for a while I started to warm to the subject. He avoided any of the coca cola waters (ie Mt Franklin) on the principal that the company is buying up all the drinking water in Australia. His fridge was stocked with the purest water in the world from New Zealand (Eternal) along with waters that were supposed to help you de-stress or sleep better. Supposedly they are good for stopping jetlag. We got to taste some of the waters and it was interesting to spot the difference between them – it’s surprisingly very obvious. I was impressed by the fact that there is such a market for boutique water.
We then wandered some of the fruit and veg stores, marvelling at the range on offer and learning the difference between buk choy and bok choy. He made us consider what organic was and what the difference was between the different types of organic. We visited butchers, delis, cheese (omg smelly cheese is cool) tasting all along the way. We were introduced to dukkah, something I’d never heard of before but now see it everywhere. Our visit to the fish store got us tastings of salmon and tuna that was the freshest fish I’ve ever tasted and the tuna was just so smooth. I couldn’t stop eating the raw fish and as a longtime fish hater that is a big deal to me. We tried Russian piroshkis which I suspect was Auntie Sue’s favourite taste and mine too (maybe in my case because it’s been a while since I’d had anything fried). He took us to a tea store where he showed us tea that opened as a flower when making it to impress your guests. The tour ended with a cup of coffee/tea and a chat.
In that morning my eyes concerning food were opened completely and the way I approach food now is utterly different. It also left me wishing that Brisbane had a permanent market like that with the prices that Adelaide were paying for them. I was intensly jealous and I think all of us on the tour were suddenly inspired about cooking and excited by simple ingredients. Thanks Mark for opening our eyes.
We all wandered around the markets again after the tour and decided we’d all meet up in the hotel room to eat lunch and decide our next move. Mum, Pauline and I ate the french baguettes we’d purchase while Kelly turned up later feeling full to the stomach because she’d eaten one of Adelaide’s famous pie and peas. After a bit of a rest Fiona and Auntie Sue rejoined us and we headed out to Rundle Mall.
We walked down King William St looking for the bank that Auntie Sue had visited over 30 years ago when she had travelled around Australia. It had left an impression on her, I think because it was a huge overbearing bank that put the fear of god in her (that was my interpretation anyway). I sorted out the car hire in North Terrace, we wandered through the cool central train station then ambled along the mall. To me there wasn’t much to look at as Brisbane has it’s fair share of chain stores all selling the same things in a mall. I almost bounded to the end really only stopping for photos of the pigs and balls because I had a mission. I wanted to go to the sneaker store. I didn’t really know the name of the street, I just had a vague idea after looking on the map. Fiona, Kelly, Pauline and I wandered the streets a while until Pauline got jack of it and asked a shopkeeper. We headed off in the general direction and when I saw a girl with cool nikes heading off down a side street I knew we were near the place. Funnily enough when we got there the selection had nothing to appeal to me however Pauline ended up trying on a black pair of airwalks and bought them! Of course when we got back to the mall Mum thought they were mine but ha ha! they weren’t. 🙂
We took the bus back to our rooms to rest a while then decided to head off to Gouger street to eat. This street is one end of the central markets and is a well known eat street of Melbourne. We walked up and down a little to see what was on offer but ended up going with Mark’s suggestion of Wah Hing. It’s managed by a father and daughter and although simple in looks and design it packs some flavour. Pauline was enraptured with Mum’s oysters whereas I was pretty happy with my honey ginger chicken. We all shared the meals to get across all flavours while some of the party got a little drunk on the wine. The meal was inexpensive and really satisfying.
On the walk back we stopped to get some baklava (or balaklava as Auntie Sue called it) then returned to the hotel to pass out. A totally great foodie day in Adelaide.
For more photos, check out the Day 3 Photo Gallery.