South Melbourne Market, 322-326 Coventry St, South Melbourne.
Having mused on the mindset that allows us to treat a suburb as far distant as Coburg as part of own backyard yet finds South and Port Melbourne – just over the bridge – pretty much out of sight and mind, it seems a fine time to make a relatively rare visit to South Melbourne Market.
Any hopes the shocking weather will ease the car-parking situation are confirmed as forlorn as I ascend to the roof-top and several patience-taxing delays.
There’s a lot of folks looking spaces.
The first two hours of parking are free, which is good.
All the ATMs appear to be of the $2.50 variety, which is bad.
It’s obviously been a while as many changes to the market are noted.
A part of the market interior now has several stalls of a more upmarket variety – manchester, clothes, shoes and even flash bicycles.
The whole of the Cecil St side of the market has acquired a series of more-or-less bona fide restaurants – Chinese dumplings/roast meats, Italian, Spanish, seafood – to join the familiar SMM dimmies.
The street stall paella sure looks and smells a whole heap better than is usually the case with such ricey enterprises.
Perversely if somewhat predictably, I still prefer the old-school food hall on the other side of the market.
More room, cheaper prices, proximity to the fabulous deli, meat and seafood stalls …
Equally predictably and perversely, I am lured to the Vietnamese stall called BaBa.
They have banh mi makings on display and you can get soup noodles and vermicelli dishes here.
But my eye is drawn to the stall’s Indian dishes.
Indian and Vietnamese?
I’ve seen Indian and kebabs, Indian and pizza, but this is a first.
My plate of vegetable curry, dal and rice, a can of soft drink and a meat samosa costs $12.50.
The samosa is on the oily side, but the filling is good and meaty. The parcel as a whole could only loosely be described as Indian food, though. No matter!
It has a nice chilli kick, as do my two plate courses.
The curry of carrot, beans, onion and more starts at a nice clip but fades off the pace a bit.
The dal is much better – yellow split peas with a nice touch of firmness left in them, the whole having a plain but very appealing flavour.
That’s down to, I subsequently discover, crushed tomatoes, tamarind, turmeric, salt and water.
While in the food hall, I grab a bag of Turkish rolls from Aroma Bakery.
These may be just right for lunches for the forthcoming week, feeling as they do a bit fresher and lighter than the supermarket variety or their ciabatta cousins.
We usually find both too heavy, stale and/or large, so the balance of bread to filling is way out of whack.
I get my post-lunch coffee from Padre, which seems to be one of those new-school cool coffee chains staffed exclusively by young hipsters.
My cafe latte is perfect, outstanding and puts a smile on my dial.
I have an interesting conversation with Ida from Ida’s Alterations.
Me, pointing at the sign: “Ida’s such lovely old-fashioned name – are you Ida?”
Ida: “My son, my son …”
Me: “Your son’s name is Ida?”
Ida: “No, the sign, the sign!”
Right – she’s Ida, he did the sign …
I grab onions, silverbeet and apples from one of the fresh stalls.
South Melbourne Market?
Nice for a visit every now and then.
But I still had to stop in Anderson St for milk, yogurt and dishwash liquid.