I love food markets.
There is something about the atmosphere, the people and the wafts of cinnamon donuts that is just so inviting.
I love wandering around the stalls, speaking to the stallholders and tasting what they have to offer. And my mother has a $10 jar of rhubarb & rose geranium jam as a result.
Over summer I experienced London’s Borough Market (a must do for all foodies), drank mulled wine at the Christmas Markets in Paris & London, ate very nice strawberries from the market in Nice, France (see what I did there?), and enjoyed many foods on offer at Melbourne’s Night Noodle Market & Queen Victoria Night Market.
But it has been a while.
Waking up to a photo of friends experiencing the Borough Market in London had me longing for cheese tasting and the aroma of roasted chestnuts. So as I sat drinking my instant coffee (previously mentioned friend moved out and took Nespresso machine) on a rainy Sunday morning with nothing urgent to do, I decided to tick off another Melbourne foodie hotspot.
Forty minutes later, I was wandering the aisles and smelling the aroma of Simply Spanish’s paella cooking on Cecil Street. I admired the fresh bunches of baby carrots and beetroot and made a mental note to check out the $1 bag of vegetables on my way out.
As I got lost, market-goers were enjoying freshly shucked oysters and purchasing fresh sourdough. Some were simply enjoying some people watching, with a coffee and peanut butter & jelly donut from Clement coffee. Oh, how they looked divine.
But then I found Mecca. A nut lovers Mecca.
Also known as Rita’s coffee & nuts
I was instantly drawn in by the mound of pomegranate and pistachio turkish delight sitting on the counter, and the large display of fruit & nut mixes.
I wandered around the store mentally note-taking present ideas and laughing a little at the activated organic almonds.
There were homemade italian biscuits on the counter, and a mound of pistachio & almond halva waiting to be devoured.
Dried fruits, nuts and muesli mixes. Coffee and tea by the scoop. Fresh Licorice and chocolate-coated freeze dried strawberries. Bottles of sauces and jars of nut butters, and bags of lentils and grains.
There really was something for everyone.
I even got to meet Rita.
That’s the thing about markets. Stallholders actually run their stalls. And they do it with so much passion too.
Rita sliced chunks of turkish delight and nougat for myself and other shoppers. They were a winner, as was Rita. She was hilarious, looked after her customers and had me coming back. That is, after I found an ATM. Word of advice: take cash.
I returned, spent more money than I intended, and left with some chai tea and a small bag of Helen’s Organic Sensation fruit & nut mix. (Those chocolate and nut mixes get me every time.)
Before I left the market, I had one more thing to do. For I didn’t think my south-melbourne-market-acquainted friends would approve if I left without trying the famous South Melbourne Market Dim Sims.
It was okay though. My market adventures had left me feeling a little peckish.
So I had a fried dim sim. I believe if you do it, you should do it properly. Although, they do sell them steamed as well.
It was good. Very good.
You should try one too.
After all, it is Wednesday and the market is open.
But if spontaneous mid-week market trips don’t work for you, spice up your hump day with my market inspired chai-infused apple ‘dim sims’.
I think they are delicious.
Chai-infused Apple ‘Dim Sims’
1 1/2 Granny Smith apples
1 tbsp sultanas
2 tsp Chai tea
1/2 cup boiling water
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp maple syrup
1 sheet of filo pastry
Melted butter/margarine for assembling
Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
Place tea in tea infuser (a tea bag will also work) & allow to brew for ~5 minutes.
Core & dice the apples, leaving the skin on for extra fibre.
Place apples, tea, sultanas, cinnamon & maple syrup (I liked this addition, omit/change if you like ) in saucepan, and simmer until apples are tender & liquid is reduced.
Remove from heat & allow to cool.
Cut pastry into 15cm x 15cm squares (my sheet divided into 6 squares).
Using a basting brush, brush each piece of pastry with melted butter.
Line two cups with baking paper and three sheets of filo, and divide apple mixture evenly.
Fold in each corner of the pastry; ensuring to brush each time.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
Enjoy with a dollop of yoghurt.
Although, vanilla ice cream would go alright too.