I’ve been hanging around food markets for more years than I care to think about. Wherever I travel, I make it a point to check out the local fresh food markets and I do food tours wherever possible as I believe they are the quickest way to get to know any local food scene. In this blog I’ve written about fabulous fresh markets and food tours from Rome to Istanbul, Vietnam to Montreal and plenty more besides, but quite recently it struck me that I’d never actually done a formal tour of the market I am most familiar with and most fond of – our own Adelaide Central Market.
Somebody once said that “nothing is wonderful when you get used to it”, but I’d have to disagree. I’ve been a regular at Adelaide Central Market for all of my life and appreciate it more on every visit, but perhaps because of that familiarity it hadn’t occurred to me to take one of the most popular tours in Adelaide, Mark Gleeson’s Central Market Tour. Mark’s famous tours are frequently the first port of call for international chefs, food media types and food tragics from all around the world, so I thought it was high time I had a look at my market from the tourists point of view.
Central Market Tours are a multi-award winning walking, interactive food experience where the participants get to meet a selection of the market stall holders, learn a little about their story and and sample their wares. Adelaide Central market is a melting pot of food traditions – a mix that takes in many ethnic cuisines, as well as various culinary cultures – and the tours take in as much of the market’s culinary background as possible. Guests will be introduced to some of the Market’s longest-standing stallholders, whose own history is part of the history of Adelaide, as well as some of the more recent residents who bring newer layers to our growing reputation as a food centre.
Tour guests will get to know the story behind Lucia’s, an Adelaide institution and the birthplace of pizza in our town. They’ll meet Mario, the owner of Greenside fruit and vegetable stall. A Market stalwart, Mario runs the stall himself and has done so for close to 40 years. He grows quite a bit of the produce on his Adelaide Hills property and when his trees prove too prolific, he dries the fruit to on-sell, thus reducing food waste.
Have a chat with Stephan of Central Organic, who have been providing true organic produce in the market for over 30 years, specialising in “Certified Organic” produce, or grab some of the truly delicious raw, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, added sugar-free treats from the House of Health. Of course, they also stock a full range of health foods, vitamins, bulk grains and nuts, honey, olive oils, pasta etc, but all I had eyes for were the stunningly wicked looking creations from the kitchen of their clever staff member, Maple.
Our tour included a visit to Sunmi’s Sushi, one of my favourite lunch spots. An ex-pat Korean ex-Olympic athlete (bet you didn’t know that!) Sunmi makes a simple and delicious vegetable and herb pancake that I’ve yet to taste the better of and has become a much loved part of the Adelaide Central Market story. Around the corner from her is the new home of Sevenhill Fine Foods who stock an extensive range of German and Dutch products. Here you can taste and learn about Adelaide’s San Jose Smallgoods whose range of hand-made, artisan chorizo, salami, proscuoitto and jamon have been taking out awards all over Australia.
Tourists who have only limited time will be thrilled to find Proudly Kangaroo Island, a new stall which allows them to shop for produce from an entire region. This stall features a range from 25 Kangaroo Island producers – a region renowned for exceptional food products from a pristine environment.
Central Market Tours have a diverse range of tours available, all of which are escorted by experienced guides who are Market experts and you can book a tour for as few as two people. The stalls visited will vary from tour to tour, but what will not vary is the passion and warmth of both the guides and stallholders and the chance to get a genuine feel for the culinary heart of our town – Adelaide Central Market.
This tour was independently paid for.