Melburnians are crazy about their markets. Whilst I don’t cook that much (ok, ok I basically don’t cook) I have had the chance to go on several market experiences via The Plus Ones which have somewhat opened my eyes to the delights of food shopping. Markets are an interactive sensory experience. The sights, sounds and smells un-sterilize our senses and get us thinking about more than food.
When we were invited to tour the Footscray Market I was slightly sceptical. This wasn’t a night market experience like South Melbourne Market or Queen Victoria Market but rather a journey through one of Melbourne’s immigrant melting pots and some of our best produce. Taking us on the journey were a very entertaining duo – Frank Camorra (Head Chef – Movida) and Adam D’Sylva (Head Chef – Coda). Ok. If these guys were putting their name to the event there must be something to it.
Footscray Market is the source of some of Melbourne’s finest produce. These were the words of two of Melbourne’s finest restaurant proprietors. Adam leans towards French/Vietnamese flavours in Coda’s menu and he loves spending time at the Footscray Market. Frank pointed out a number of proprietors that he relies on for Movida’s menu. One in particular, Fresh Fish – was a favourite with their produce coming ‘straight off the boat’. You have to get in quick though, a queue of Italian mothers (a tell tale sign that the produce is amazing!) usually snap up the best deals.
Just down the road from the Footscray Market is Little Saigon. This place was once a Bi-Lo (whatever happened to that store?) but has now transformed into an Asian grocery Mecca. A lot of the produce is not available in Western markets and everything is up for sampling. We were shown around Little Saigon by its longtime security guard! It made perfect sense – who else would know the place in and out and have good relationships with every vendor there. Vendors were typically proud of what their wares and the market feel is electric.
Next we ventured a bit further up the road to Raw Materials – an incredible cooking demonstration venue. I learned a ton about chefs here. They can’t taste their own food. They like the offal-y bits that most people shy away from (tripe would be Frank’s last meal and chicken liver is one of his favourites). They have a number of fairly unique phrases – ‘don’t over cook it or it’ll become like snot’ and can’t stop swearing – no matter how hard they try!
We’re indebted to both Frank and Adam for taking a good three hours of their time to spend with a bunch of media folk. Not to mention the beautifully fresh dishes they put together in front of our eyes with produce sourced entirely from our market walk. Delicious. Did it inspire me to cook more…probably not. I did however realise that a walk through a market is a great date idea! I’ll also be spending a lot more time at Movida and Coda.