Monday, 17 June 2013


It's musical chairs round here at the moment - Fruit and Veg Traders in the Big Top and some of our specialist shops in Market Square marquees. Flower sellers next to fruiterers, everyone's settling in just fine.

And for some customers, it's a bit of an adjustment. We have tour guides and staff helping customers locate their favourite traders and to point them in the right direction. The Fruit and Veg Hall's been due for an update for a while now.

And it's all about learning to adapt. Finding the bright side. Enjoying a new neighbour, the aroma of sausages and lamb burgers sizzling on the new Health Bowl BBQ, the free one hour parking. Shaking things up a bit and getting out of the rut shopping at the same butcher, the same greengrocer, the same deli every time.

Standing in the Bracher Arcade, which now has two delicatessens and Jasper's Coffee running down the middle, I saw something new displayed on top of Delicatess' "Pop-Up Shop". Springhill Pantry's Chocolate Brownie with Crimson Raisins. I'd never noticed it in the deli and perhaps I never would have if it weren't here, now, in different surroundings.

I took this country Victoria brownie home and it was magnificent. A rich, deep-chocolately brownie with plump nuggets of raisin sweetness. It was gone within 2 hours.

The juggling round of stalls in the Big Top means that I now go past Ripe's fresh herb display every time time I walk through. And the organic coriander and parsley find their way into my basket and my cooking more and more often. 

But this set-up won't last forever. Building is on schedule and the first concrete slabs were poured yesterday. In a month or so we'll be opening the doors on the new Fruit and Veg Hall and welcoming everyone in. And for now, it's about discovery and adapting. And that ain't bad.

This recipe for Puy Lentil and Freekeh Salad was published in a January 2013 Market Moments post and has continued to appear at lunchtimes in the Market office in various guises. I've adapted it for winter by adding Moroccan spices, minced lamb, leeks and some of Ripe's great coriander and parsley. Served warm, it is a substantial and hearty winter meal.

Warm Lamb Freekeh Salad

1 cup freekeh (available at the Essential Ingredient)
1 cup puy lentils
500g lamb mince
2 tsp ras al hanout
2 leeks, sliced
200g Persian fetta
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
1 bunch coriander
1/2 cup green sultanas (available at 53 Degrees East)
1/2 pomegranate, seeds only
1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Olive oil
Sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Cook freekeh and lentils separately, until just firm. Drain and mix together in serving dish. Season with salt and pepper and pour lemon oil over the freekeh mixture.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in saute pan. Fry lamb mince with the ras al hanout. When the mince begins to absorb its liquid, add leek slices and continue to fry until both are cooked. Add to freekeh mixture.

Soak sultanas in red wine vinegar. Roughly chop parsley, coriander and feta. 

Add other ingredients to freekeh mixture, mix gently, season and serve.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Brighter and Better

You don't have a Market like ours without acquiring some history. (149 years of it to be precise!) Prahran Market has been around since land was first purchased by Prahran Council in 1864.

The Market flourished through two World Wars and the Great Depression. Then, on Boxing Day 1950, the Fruit and Vegetable area caught fire and was destroyed. A temporary structure was put in place, but it was not until 1976 that the Market's Fruit & Veg Hall was completed.

And now, it's time for something exciting again. The floor in the Fruit and Veg Hall has not been replaced in decades, it's old and it's uneven. So we're taking it up and laying a flat new surface, that will make getting around the Market easier and safer (just think of that as you pull your shopping trolley behind you). 

When the traders move back in to the Hall in July, they'll have their own coolrooms and hot and cold water at each stall. We're installing a new waste and recycling facility, putting in another entry from Elizabeth Street and a brand new shopping aisle to add to the range of  fresh produce and delicacies you can select for your table.

What does this mean for you in the meantime?

Traders based in the Fruit and Veg Hall will move into giant marquees in Market Lane and in our Market Square, so from Tuesday 4th June 2013 that is where you will find everyone.

Butchers, poulterers and fishmongers in the Bracher Arcade will trade as usual, as will our traders in the Deli Arcade.

Market Lane Coffee, Fritz Gelato, Health Bowl Cafe and the Essential Ingredient will continue to be open and accessible along Elizabeth Street.

Speaking of Elizabeth Street - watch out for the parking zones! Some of the street parking is now permit zone only for construction vehicles. This is only during the works period. Stop by the Market kiosk on the Elizabeth Street entry to Market Lane to collect a voucher for 1 hour free parking at the Elizabeth Street carpark.

There will be large maps at the entrances and you might find yourself shopping at different stalls for once - shaking it up a little bit! But at the end of this process, we hope to have the finest produce Market of its kind in Australia, if not the world. And once we've built a new Fruit and Veg Hall, then it's time to make new memories.