Luna 1878 Night Market, Victoria Market
A normal school week requires quite a degree of discipline for us to survive with aplomb.
School, work, school and work lunches, homework, two rugby practices, dinners to be cooked, sufficient sleep to be had, alarms to be set, breakfasts to produced – there’s a lot going on.
But it takes only a slight shift in emphasis, especially in winter, for a nice, tidy routine to become bleak drudgery.
So, of course, we are adamant about taking the occasional opportunity to throw off the shackles and hit the town.
Thus it is we find ourselves happily skipping towards Victoria Market with food and fun on our minds.
There’s been night markets going on here for several years, but this is our first outing – well, our first as a team anyway; Bennie attended a few years back in the company of others.
The night festival setting is superb and lovely.
The lighting, the gloom, the excited chatter of the punters, the rain pounding on the roof – and most of all the swirling of numerous cooking aromas cooped in by the roof – all contribute to a profoundly glamourous, sophisticated vibe.
We know full well that such a dynamic can distort and inflame the appetite adrenaline and that we’ll probably order a lot of stuff that will fall short of outstanding. And that, in some cases, similar and much better food can be had for significantly less just a few blocks away.
But we don’t let that transgress on our fun as we enjoy a couple of hours of what seems like rather naughty pleasure.
There’s a meatball stall with amazing giant woks of bubbling balls. There’s a Polish stall doing pierogi and the like. There’s wine and beer and even mulled wine.
But the dominant theme seems to be overtly carnivorous, what with American-style BBQ, Argentinian BBQ and Spanish, Sicilian and Colombian stalls all cooking up a storm to a meat beat.
The biggest thrill of the night comes as Bennie spies the ribs at the BBQ stand.
“That’s what I want!” he says with enthusiasm.
They’re also doing pulled pork, but ribs it is – in what, AFAIK, is Bennie’s first taste of this style of food.
At a price of $14 for five ribs plus coleslaw, they’re not cheap but they are good and tender and tasty. And we wangle a sixth rib so we can share equally.
Bennie absolutely loves them, just sharpening my anticipation of the pleasure that will be experienced when I eventually take him to the other side of town for a splash-up meal at Big Boy BBQ.
Calling the rather scraggly and mostly undressed cabbage and carrot strips “coleslaw” is a bit of stretch, though.
Our friends from La Morenita are in attendance, doing chorizo and empanadas and more, but we choose to move on to the less familiar.
We have a $5 plate each of Colombian marinated chicken-on-a-skewer, three cassava balls and a dab of whipped avocado.
The chicken is superb, the cassava nicely chewy, a little bit bitter and very filling.
There’s two back-to-back Asian stalls, one with a Viet flavour, the other Malaysian.
From the former, Bennie grabs and gobbles a small serve of chicken ribs – $5 for four.
From the latter, I secure what is called Sarawak laksa for $10.
It’s a thinnish and nicely spicy broth. There’s a heap of goodies, including lots of rolled-up segments of omelette, but sadly the plentiful and handsome-looking prawns are tasteless.
All the while, Bennie has been agog at the tantalising array of sugary stuff available.
He finally settles on a bretzel from Kingsville’s Bretzel.biz.
His choice is chocolate-filled, topped with nuts and slathered with more chocolate … and he loves every mouthful.
And seemingly every one of those mouthfuls is recorded by a keen photographer who takes a fancy to the spectacle of Boy Eating Dough With Extras.
Appetites finally sated, we wander about for a while enjoying the sights and sounds and smells.
But we head home happy well before the more formal musical entertainment of the evening commences.
After all, it is a school night.
Luna 1878 night markets at Victoria Market will be held on August 22 and 29.