Han Market – Da Nang

01/09/2014 | By

Warning – some graphic images.

So – even though I was on vacation and fully committed to lying around in the resort as much as possible, and the 8.00 am start was outrageously early – when I was offered a chance to pay a visit to Han Market, the major market place in Da Nang, I think you could guess my answer. There I was, camera ready, first on the bus, but alone.

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Wish You Were Here Postcards – Real Food

23/04/2014 | By

I love to visit the local markets whenever I travel and one of my favourites in Italy is the central market in Florence.

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Vancouver Shares It’s Gourmet Secrets

24/02/2014 | By

I love Australia and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else but, if someone held a gun to my head and forced me to chose, I’d opt for Canada and most certainly Vancouver. This is truly one of my most favourite places in the world. It has a population of around 600,000 souls thus is not so large that it is unfriendly, it’s not too hilly, so therefore very walkable, a mild (if slightly wet) climate and, with the glittering harbour on one side and snow-capped peaks on the other, it is breathtakingly beautiful. And they love food.

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Montreal Mange – A glimpse at How Montreal Eats!

18/11/2013 | By

Sitting on an island in the St. Lawrence River, Montreal is the worlds second largest French-speaking city – and damn proud of it. The French architectural influence makes it a gorgeous looking city and it is very user friendly, with 47 square kilometres of green space, 500 kilometres of bike paths and over 5,000 restaurants. Really, if you can’t find a good feed in this town you are doing something seriously wrong.

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Bulgarian Fresh Food – With Produce like This, No Wonder They Love Salads!

04/11/2013 | By

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The mountains behind Sofia

Bulgaria is a very beautiful country, full of rolling mountains, glistening lakes and alpine valleys, with a culinary tradition influenced by 500 years of occupation and a strong agricultural tradition. Before World War II, agriculture was the chief sector of the Bulgarian economy, but the face of this changed substantially after the war with the collectivisation of over 90% of agricultural land. Private, domestic vegetable plots have always been maintained on some level, contributing quite substantially to alleviating food shortages at some stages of Bulgarian history and probably going some way to explaining the passion in that country for the range of fabulous, fresh salads available everywhere.

Fresh berries at Sofia's Women's Market

Since 2007, Bulgaria has been a member of the European Union and agriculture is once again a thriving part of the economy. The countryside is a cornucopia of orchards and fields of vegetable crops, and almost every home in every village that we drove through had extensive and well tended vegetable gardens. Most of the produce from these gardens is organic as few can afford costly fertilisers or pesticides.

figs! Sofia night markets

market  vendor at the Womens Market, Sofia

Those who live in the cities and towns source their fresh produce from a range of outdoor markets of varying sizes and at the random roadside stalls that pop up spontaneously in side lanes and street corners. I visited the largest of these, The Women’s Market, which is extensive, with a wide range of seasonal produce supplied and sold by small-holders from near-by outlying regions. The food here is truly magnificent, although it would be unrealistic to expect to find your new best friend here – the traders are a somber lot. This may have something to do with the prices which are eye-poppingly cheap – great for the consumer, but not such a happy circumstance for the grower.

red capsicums, The Women's Market, Sofia

the Women's Market, Sofia

I also paid a visit to the night markets on Graf Ignatiev Street in central Sofia. This is a popular shopping street, with trams running down the centre of the road. If retail therapy is what floats your boat, I’d suggest having a wander through the many small boutiques and stores around there but, once again, I just couldn’t take my eyes off the amazing fresh foods. One stall was selling hot, ready-cooked pumpkin which was available in whole slabs or prepackaged with a spoon, ready to eat while you wander around window-shopping.

Cooked pumpkin, night markets, Sofia.

pomegranates, Sofia Night Markets

 grapes, the size of small plums - Women's Market, Sofia

My visit was in the early days of the northern autumn, so wonderful food was still readily available – I’d imagine the selection would become much more limited later in the year, although I suspect the Christmas markets would be pretty special. With such abundance around me, I enjoyed fresh berries and fruit with my morning yoghurt (another of their specialties), but the one thing that truly blew me away was the flavour quality of the tomatoes. I ate the local specialty, Shopska Salad, every day and was never once disappointed in the colour, flavour or texture of the tomatoes. No wonder they’re so keen on their salads in Bulgaria – they’d be mighty disappointed if their tomato selection was limited to the poor examples we tolerate here.

Bulgarian tomatoes

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All eyes are on London – and the Borough Market is well worth a second look!

30/07/2012 | By

As the eyes of the world focus this month on London and the 30th Summer Olympic games I thought it timely to write up my final piece about our recent trip and most specifically our visit to the famous Borough Market.

Sitting on the south side of the Thames, near London Bridge, the history and fortunes of London’s Borough Market has waxed and waned over the last 800-900 years.  Originally adjoining the end of London Bridge, it has historically been a source of fresh fruit and vegetables, but in the mid-18th century it became so busy that the congestion it caused in the surrounding roads led to it being abolished by an Act of Parliament.  The Act allowed for the market to be moved within the area and during the 19th century it became one of London’s largest and most important fresh food markets, thanks to it’s proximity to the riverside wharves in the important “Pool of London” stretch of the Thames.

Owned by a charitable trust and administered by a board of volunteer trustees who must live within the area, the Borough Market of today is one of London’s largest and most significant tourist attractions.  Its use as a popular filming site for television food and cooking shows has made it something of a foodie mecca in London and it has evolved away from it’s historical focus on supplying the locals with fresh produce.  Trading to retail customers is limited to two half days and one full day per week and, while still selling some fresh everyday produce, the market has now grown to over 100 stalls which sell an impressive variety of both British and international produce.  It has become a very fashionable place to shop and, I have to say, the prices reflect this.

We had visited earlier in the week when it was officially closed and found, as is the case in Adelaide Central Market when closed, only a few stalls open and not a lot of life.  On our last day in London we headed back in on the tube, arriving right on opening time.   I like to be thorough with markets, so we did a first complete reconnoitering lap checking out all of the stalls and their wares, then a second lap making regular stops to buy urgently desired victuals to eat on the spot, then a third lap to fill a bag to take home to share with our hosts at afternoon tea.

As expected, there was an amazing array of products for sale – most of which I wanted to buy or at least try and fortunately most of the stalls offered tastes.  There were products that I had not encountered before, like fresh licorice root, an amazing selection of summer produce including another diverse selection of tomatoes, hot roast meats, paella, local seafood, French saucisson of all flavours, some very “interesting” looking cheeses, fresh made goats-milk ice cream, fresh-made confectionery  and an array of cakes and baked goods that just about had me weeping with desire.  By the time we were ready to leave the place was really bustling and seating was at an absolute premium.  Regardless of the fact that we were to fly out that evening we still managed to leave with our carry bag significantly laden and  The Husbands wallet correspondingly lighter – I’m afraid I just couldn’t help myself.

 

 

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