The City Lane was invited to an event organised by the Maribrynong City Council and Haystac last week. The event was Footscray Fresh Food Markets presents Adam D’Sylva (Coda, Tonka) & Frank Camorra (Movida) and gave us an opportunity to meet 2 of Melbourne’s top chefs, shop with them at one of Melbourne’s best fresh food markets and to learn how to cook some amazing dishes and, of course, eat the resulting dishes. How could we say no?
This event was so in depth that we’ve decided to split our write up into 2 parts. This first part covers the Footscray Market and the Little Saigon Market, which together form the Footscray Fresh Food Markets. In part 2 we’ll talk about how Camorra and D’Sylva used the produce that they purchased at the Footscray Fresh Food Markets to cook up a variety of tantalising dishes.
The Footscray Fresh Food Markets consist of 2 markets. The Footscray Market and the Little Saigon Market. The Footscray Market opened in 1992 and contains over 55 shops selling fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, dried goods, dairy produce and clothing. 35 different countries are represented through the food and stallholders, although the overall character of the market is distinctively Vietnamese. Camorra commented
Like all good markets, the atmosphere is fast paced, loud and vibrant… it’s authenticity and accessibility at its best.
The tour started here, with Camorra and D’Sylva telling us about the different kinds of fruits and vegetables that we might have not seen before, along with some tips on how to use the different produce and how they use them in their restaurants and at home. I knew that D’Sylva would use a lot of these ingredients at Coda, with its Vietnamese/Australian fusion food but it interesting to learn was just how much of the produce is also used by Camorra in the Spanish dishes at Movida.
I suppose this shouldn’t have been too surprising though – many of the ingredients that I grew up with that I assumed were exclusively Greek/Macedonian because of my grandparent’s heritage I found out later in life were used in many other cuisines. Different names, different styles of cooking, same ingredients.
We also got some tips on which stalls specialised in which produce, including this great tip from Camorra
J & K’s Retail Fish Co sells some of the best seafood in Melbourne. People in the know come far and wide for their seafood.
The smaller of the 2 markets, Little Saigon, also opened in 1992 and is housed in what used to be a BI-LO supermarket. The site was purchased by the current owners and subdivided into a number of smaller tenancies. Setting foot in the hectic and loud Little Saigon Market is the closest thing in Melbourne to the authentic Vietnamese market experience. You’ll hear more Vietnamese than English spoken here and you’ll find a variety of exotic fruits and other produce that are hard to come by elsewhere – think dragonfruit, mangosteen, lotus flower, cassava root, longan, pig’s ears and double yolk eggs just to name a few.
I split from the group for a few minutes to get some mangosteens from this vendor – the best I’d seen since I was in Vietnam back in 2013.
4 varieties of live crab, including these amazing looking mud crabs were just a few of the things on offer at one seafood vendor in the Little Saigon Market.
If you’re in need of offal or any other kind of exotic meat product that’s hard to find elsewhere, Little Saigon Market has what you’re looking for.
I’ve been to the Footscray Market before but actually browsing through the market with D’Sylva and Camorra who shop here on a regular basis made me appreciate what the market has to offer so much more. As for the Little Saigon Market, I never even knew that it existed. I’m glad that next time I visit, I’ll know exactly where to go and what to look out for. D’Sylvia put it simply
There are very few places in Melbourne which offer such authentic cultural experiences at market prices to match.”
At the end of the tour, D’Sylva and Camorra posed with the landlords of Little Saigon Market, who walked around with us and kept an eye on the market, making sure that things were running smoothly.
Keep your eyes peeled for Part 2 of Footscray Fresh Food Markets presents Adam D’Sylva & Frank Camorra, where we show you the amazing food that D’Sylva and Camorra cooked up and share a few tips to help you in the kitchen at home.
81 Hopkins Street
Telephone: (03) 9687 1205
Tue – Wed: 7:00am to 4:00pm
Thu: 7:00am to 6:00pm
Fri: 7:00am to 8:00pm
Sat: 7:00am to 4:00pm
Little Saigon Market
63 Nicholson Street
Telephone: (03) 9687 3505
Sun – Thu: 9:00am to 6:00pm
Fri: 9:00am to 9:00pm
Sat: 9:00am to 7:00pm