I like to think I know the city of Melbourne well but, truth be told; when it comes to the west I am a bit of a tourist, which is something I am rectifying. Head to the inner western suburb of Footscray and you find yourself in a foodie heaven. Diverse and proudly multicultural it is possible to eat your way through fresh and authentic fare from over 135 cultural communities. Vietnamese and Ethiopian are the area’s specialities.
My love of food is just as much about cooking for friends and family as it is eating out, so l was excited to be recently shown around the Footscray Market and Little Saigon Market by Frank Camorra (MoVida) and Adam d’Sylva (Tonka/Coda). Like many local eateries, both chefs source fresh produce from these bustling indoor markets. On this trip we were gathering ingredients for some dishes that they were going to cook highlighting the markets’ produce.
Footscray Market is all about authenticity and accessibility. It has everything you expect at a great market – meat and seafood halls, nut and deli shops, fresh fruit and vegetable stalls and Asian and Continental supermarkets. The atmosphere is fast-paced, loud and vibrant.
A short walk from main market is Little Saigon Market. You know it’s the real deal the moment you step in. For me it felt like I was back at some of the markets I had visited in Ho Chi Minh City. Full of energy it offers a huge range of imported dried and fresh produce – all super cheap. Stallholders are happy to offer you tastings of the exotic fruit and vege they have on offer, so if you’ve always wanted to try dragonfruit, jackfruit or that one you don’t know the name of – then here is the place to do it.
Shopping with a couple of chefs is the way to go. I want Frank and Adam to come with me every time I go to the market! (Not likely to happen, but a girl can dream). They are excellent ambassadors for the Footscray Fresh Food Markets. As well as clearly knowing their way around and readily sharing their knowledge about produce, it was the little anecdotes they told, watching how they moved through the hustle and bustle, and what they chose to look at that I found particularly interesting.
Also interesting were the fabulous dishes that they cooked up after the market tour. Adam and Frank were kind enough to hand over their recipes, which will be featured on Second Helping over the next few weeks.
Good market shopping is about variety, discovery and freshness. Things that Footscray’s markets have in abundance. As with many markets, the later you go the better the deals. So if you are fond of a bargain and a bit of mayhem doesn’t bother you, head there on a Saturday afternoon when stallholders have specials galore.
For details on how to get to the markets, opening hours and everything Footscray head to footscraylife.com.au.
81 Hopkins Street
Footscray, Victoria 3011
Little Saigon Market
42 Byron Street
Footscray, Victoria 3011