Sunday, February 24, 2008

To Market, To Market ... Prahran Market

Gay of A Scientist in the Kitchen is hosting a terrific blogging event called To Market, To Market where she asks us to blog about our local market, including a picture of the market and a description of its sites and sounds.

My local market is the historical Prahran Market, established in 1864, and situated in Commercial Road, Prahran, which is an inner suburb of Melbourne:

At Prahran Market, you can buy basically anything you need in the food department, and many other things besides. A slideshow of some of the goods on offer at Prahran Market is set out below:

I cannot generally get to the market other than on Saturdays, during its peak trading period. This means that when I shop at the market, it is packed to the rafters with people of all ages, many with prams or shopping carts, and you need a lot of patience and goodwill to negotiate the often narrow stalls. While the market itself is open on Sundays, most of the stalls that operate when the market is in full swing are closed.

There is a hum of human activity which permeates the market, that changes in the afternoon to a hawkers paradise as stall holders try to sell off their fresh produce before the close of trade. This happens around 2pm or so on Saturdays, when the best bargains on fresh fruit and vegetables are to be had. For example, F & J Fruiterers sells large bags of certain items for $2-$3 a bag. Just don't go when you are in a hurry or have a migraine headache.

One of my favourite stalls in Prahran Market is Cleo's Deli, where you can always buy 4 items for $10 from the fridges out the back of their stall. They sell beautiful flavoured Greek yoghurts, assorted cheeses, antipasto, dips and pestos, breads, meatballs, mayonnaise and even rice pudding in this manner.

The lovely lady pictured below is the key purveyor of the $10 specials for Cleos, and is always very friendly and helpful:

I often buy my olives in a $3 container from The Cheese Shop Deli. The man pictured below obligingly asked to pose for this photograph:

His obliging, friendly attitude is typical of the majority of stall holders at the market.

For general fruit and vegetables, I usually shop at F & J Fruiterers at the front of the market or Russos at the back. Some of their produce is featured in the slideshow. When berries are in season, I mainly buy them from Pinos, because they always have great looking berries at reasonable prices. However, the trick with the fruit and vegetables is to wander around the market before buying anything to compare the prices, as there will often be a variance in prices for products between the different stalls, even if there is no apparent difference in quality or size.

My absolute favourite stall at Prahran Market is the Crabapple Cupcake Bakery:

I have posted a number of times about this stall and the terrific cupcake cookbook written by its founder, Jennifer Graham. If I was a little girl, I am sure that I would want to live at the Crabapple Cupcake Bakery - it's pink, it's pretty, it's unerringly feminine. However, plenty of blokes patronise the premises for its delicious cupcakes - just check out the photograph above for proof. The proprietors rotate the flavours of cupcakes that are available (although certain flavours are available all the time). At today's visit, I was lucky enough to purchase a coconut cloud cupcake, being a coconut flavoured cupcake topped with marshmallow frosting and a gorgeous sugar flower:

The Sweet & Nut Shop sells large containers of the best ever turkish delight (I like the rose flavour best), as well as a large variety of dried fruits, nuts and persian fairy floss:

Next door to the fruit and vegetable stalls, there is a meat hall with a large variety of meats, poultry and seafood on offer. Some stalls have cooking demonstrations out the front, particularly those which sell gourmet sausages, and you can "try before you buy". As you can see, the meat hall is an especially busy part of the market:

If you are looking for an unusual gourmet ingredient to complete a dish, pots or pans to cook it in, or a recipe book for food ideas, you can buy it from The Essential Ingredient, situated next to the meat hall:

From time to time, you can also take cooking classes at The Essential Ingredient.

In a separate area at the front of the market is a variety of cafes, where you can refuel your flagging energy after a busy time shopping at the market:

My booty from today's outing to Prahran Market was as follows:

Looks delicious, doesn't it! Some of these items will pop up in future posts, so stay tuned.

Thanks to Gay for creating and hosting To Market, To Market ... - it's been a fun assignment!


Ivy said...

You're so lucky to have such a beautiful market. I am so jealous you have figs now. Have to wait for August until we can get some.

Gretchen Noelle said...

How fun to see a bit of where you shop! I went to market yesterday, but did not like any of my photos. This week I should be headed to the market of markets here in Lima, so I may be able to share about that later.

Curious - do you deal in US dollars? It looked like it on the signs in the shots.

Rosie said...

You can't beat shopping at local markets for fresh produce. I really in awe of your market Cakelaw especially your Crabapple Cupcake Bakery (sweet tooth that I have).

Looking forward to viewing your new posts on the produce you brought too..

Rosie x

Cakelaw said...

Hi Ivy, If Australian qurantine laws would let me, I would send you some figs! They look lovely, and they set me to thinking about making a fig tart next weekend.

Hi Gretchen, I really got into this event - it was so much fun. Can't wait to see your photos. We have our own Australian dollars - worth a little less than the USD.

Hi Rosie, I knew that you would love the Crabapple Cupcake Bakery - it is right up your alley. Stay tuned for those posts.

Anonymous said...

Hey, takes for joining the event. It's always fun to compare markets from different places. Would love to go there and eat all the stuff. We don't even have figs here in the Philippines.

Cakelaw said...

Thanks for organising this event Gay - it really was fun.

Susan @ SGCC said...

What a fantastic market! I could live in there! Sadly, we have nothing like it here in my neck of the woods. Oh, the damage I could do in a place like that.....