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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Adelaide Central Market

My favourite type of tourist attraction? The local markets.

Wandering the aisles is always tantalising for the eyes and the stomach, but it's also the best place to see what's grown and what's in season, find out the specialties of the region and chat with locals too.

If there's one essential pit stop for food lovers in Adelaide it's the Adelaide Central Market, conveniently located in the city centre. Founded by a group of market gardeners in 1869, the Markets have now been in operation for over 140 years.


The indoor markets are a riot of colour, stalls laden with fresh produce, and numerous delicatessens hidden by hanging whole salamis and smoked smallgoods. Old-fashioned butchers have meat on trays with parsley garnishes and smiling service staff behind the counter.

During our trip to Adelaide for Tasting Australia, Billy and I join the visiting media contingent for a customised tour of the market led by Mark Gleeson, a market providore and celebrated local. Slightly star-struck by the sight of Rosemary Shrager and Michelin-starred Northern Ireland chef Paul Rankin in our midst, we trawl the markets as we touch, smell -- and often taste -- the local produce on offer.

Rosemary Shrager at the Adelaide Central Markets

Rosemary, who is a delightful food afficionado at heart, can be regularly heard trilling "Isn't this fanTAStic!" and "Look at this MAAAARRRvellous produce!" every ten minutes or so. She asks questions with keen interest, peers a little close at the display, and then inflates her chest and shakes her head with wonderment and incredulity at the bounty of discovery.

Market deliveries

What I love most about the markets is how alive it is. A constant flow of people wend their way through, a happy mix of families, singles, couples and the elderly. Mark tells us that each morning, the head chefs of Adelaide's top restaurants can all be seen here, buying their supplies. A few hours later the customers become the local public, buying the same fruits, vegetables and meats that will be used for home-cooked dinners that evening.

south australian tomatoes
South Australian tomatoes

The markets are such fun that despite the two hour tour, Billy and I return a few days later for another long and leisurely amble through the aisles. I could have spent all day here, maybe more.

san marino prosciutto
San Marino Prosciutto

O'Connell's Butcher
O'Connell's Butcher

Mark takes us for a behind-the-scenes look at O'Connell's Butcher which has been trading at the Central Markets for 37 years. They still break down whole animals here, and the multicultural customer base means everything is utilised.

pork trotters
Pork trotters

Owner Tony O'Connell

Tony's plastic-link belt

barley, black beans, red persian lentils
Barley, black beans and red Persian lentils

smelly cheese shop
Cheeses at The Smelly Cheese Shop

More cheese

A wall of cheeses


Con's Fine Food

standing beef rib
Standing beef ribs at Barossa Fine Foods

chilli mettwurst sausages
Bum burners at The Mettwurst Shop

chilli mettwurst sausages
Fire Starters at The Mettwurst Shop

Stone oven sourdough by Dough...

Bagels by Dough...

Customers at Dough...

European small goods

Lachsschinken cold smoked pork ham $2.79/100g

If there is one thing you must buy in Adelaide, it's lachscchinken.

It means "salmon ham" in German, and when this cold-smoked pork loin fillet is shaved into thin slices, you really will think you're eating salmon. The pork is traditionally salted with brown sugar, dry-cured and then cold smoked for three to five days.

The lachscchinken is sliced paper-thin, and the result is a pale pink luscious and velvety treat that looks exactly like smoked salmon, and melts in the mouth the same way.

customer buying fruit
Buying fruit


the mushroom shop
The Mushroom Shop

wild pine mushrooms
Wild pine mushrooms

Billy and I almost tripped over ourselves with excitement when we spot the harvest of wild pine mushrooms for sale at The Mushroom Shop. However when we return a few days later, ready to stock up for the trip home, we're devastated to find they are completely sold out.

wild pine mushrooms
Pine mushrooms

But it doesn't really matter, because I've got the next best thing in my hands - a paper package of lachsschinken to savour slowly.

buerre bosc pears
Buerre Bosc pears

pavlova roll
Pavlova roll $12

Grab Your Fork visited Adelaide as a guest of South Australia Tourism for Tasting Australia.

> Read the next South Australia 2010 post
(Russian piroshki at Taldy-Kurgan)

< Read the first South Australia 2010 post
(lunch with Maggie Beer and Rosemary Shrager)

View Larger Map

Adelaide Central Market
Gouger Street, Adelaide, South Australia
Tel: +61 (08) 8203 7203

Opening hours:
Tuesday 7am - 5.30pm
Wednesday 9am - 5.30pm
Thursday 9am - 5.30pm
Friday 7am - 9pm
Saturday 7am - 3pm
Closed Sundays and Mondays

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
South Australia - Enoteca Restaurant, Adelaide with Antonio Carluccio
South Australia - Maggie Beer's Farm Shop with Rosemary Shrager + Maggie Beer
South Australia - Taldy Kurgan Russian piroshki at Adelaide Central Market
South Australia - The Manse Restaurant, North Adelaide
24 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 9/14/2010 12:58:00 am


  • At 9/14/2010 2:46 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    This makes me miss Adelaide so much! I used to spend so much time at the markets, and always lamented that it wasn't open every day. Can't wait to get back there... I'm counting down the months 'til I get home!
    Another thing I love about the Central Markets is that it's so integrated into Chinatown and the Gouger St community. I love that such a large part of the city is completely dedicated to food, from the food courts to the Asian Grocers to the markets and then onto the street... go to Wah Hing if you get a chance. ;)
    Ok, done with my nostalgia.

  • At 9/14/2010 8:02 am, Blogger the dainty baker said…

    Cheese cheese cheese!! Meat Meat Meat!!! will definitely be on my radar next time i visit Adelaide

  • At 9/14/2010 8:45 am, Blogger Shanks said…

    Central Markets are certainly up there as the top markets when it comes to produce. I wasn't game to try the bum burner, tried lots of cheese there - yum!!

  • At 9/14/2010 9:25 am, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    I'm intrigued by the sound of the salmon-ham! Will definitely have to visit the markets when I am down there later this year, I'm constantly hearing about all the great fresh produce in Adelaide!

  • At 9/14/2010 9:27 am, Blogger ragingyoghurt said…

    oh. em. gee. VERY interested in those pavlova rolls! don't suppose you put one in your trusty backpack? ;)

  • At 9/14/2010 9:49 am, Blogger Sara @ Belly Rumbles said…

    I love the Adelaide Markets, actually I love any market with that kind of set up. You wander around and just lose yourself in the smells and sights. I wish we had something like this in Sydney.

  • At 9/14/2010 10:00 am, Anonymous Sarah @ For the Love of Food said…

    I'm so lucky to be able to do my weekly shop at this Market! One of my friends owns a stall there (Jagger Fine Foods) where you'll find every gourmet and hard to find ingredient you can imagine. I go on Friday's and my partner takes our little girl on Saturdays for breakfast and face painting (while I sleep in of course). It's a great source of foodie entertainment and I always bring such great goodies home to try.

  • At 9/14/2010 10:24 am, Anonymous Amanda said…

    We are very spoilt here in Adelaide with the Central Market - but a great many locals don't seem to realise how very special it is. I have been going in weekly for many years and never tire of wandering around picking up things that I don't really need, but can't live without!!

  • At 9/14/2010 10:29 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    I'm in complete agreement about markets being my favourite tourist destination anywhere I am! Can't beat the hustle and bustle goodness. Am seriously hankering for some salmon ham now and holy smokes, those pavlova rolls! <3

  • At 9/14/2010 12:31 pm, Blogger Gummi Baby said…

    Lovely evocative photos as usual, made me feel like I was right there beside you! Specially the pavlova rolls, yum! :D

  • At 9/14/2010 12:38 pm, Blogger Jen said…

    I love all types of markets too - flea markets, flower markets...but food markets are the best! The pavlova rolls look so good. Wish we could follow in Melbourne and Adelaide's footsteps and have markets like these in Sydney city.

  • At 9/14/2010 12:56 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    If I had access to that Smelly Cheese Shop, my blog would probably becoming a full-blown cheese blog rather than a chocolate + other things blog with the occasional cheese review ;)

    I'd leave someone else to review the pigs trotter, though!

  • At 9/14/2010 1:32 pm, Blogger Anna said…

    I visited the Central Adelaide Markets a couple of months ago and thoroughly enjoyed perusing all the stalls.. It's such a wonderful atmosphere there and the produce is incredible!

  • At 9/14/2010 2:41 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love reading post about markets! So many vibrant and colourful fresh food to gawk at!

  • At 9/14/2010 3:46 pm, Anonymous Jen (jenius.com.au) said…

    Love these pics! I usually skip all the usual touristy landmarks and head for the food markets too. It tells so much about the local culture, etc ;)

  • At 9/14/2010 4:50 pm, Anonymous Mrs Pigflyin said…

    This was the first place I visited during my first trip to Adelaide, stocked up big time and had enough food for the next few breakfasts :p

    Let me know if you want to come along to my next mushroom picking trip

  • At 9/14/2010 8:11 pm, Blogger foodwink said…

    You've captured one of my favourite markets so beautifully. I used to come here every weekend when I was living in Adelaide.

    Did you see the "fried" sushi stall? Sounds weird, but incredibly good. Oh, there's an Asian bakery called Nanna's in one of the alleys - they sell excellent sambal ikan bilis (anchovies) buns.

    I know, I could go on and on ...

  • At 9/14/2010 8:44 pm, Blogger Charmaine said…

    Love the Adelaide markets, so full of colours, fantastic produce and lovely food.

  • At 9/14/2010 11:49 pm, Blogger shaz said…

    I love markets too :) When we head down for Womadelaide, we make sure we stop at the markets at least once (or twice or thrice) to stock up. Must try the lachscchinken next time!

  • At 9/15/2010 9:47 am, Anonymous Anna Johnston said…

    Great memories of Adelaide markets you've given me here. The Mushroom Shop is "the" place I first spotted so many wonderful varieties, in fact I don't think I've seen anything like it since. When I think of Adelaide I always think of how much exquisite foods & wines I've been introduced to from there.

  • At 9/15/2010 10:35 am, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    I agree, major markets are a must-see whenever visiting places regardless of whether they're small country town affairs or massive ones like this or Melbourne's QV Market.

  • At 9/16/2010 1:07 pm, Anonymous nish said…

    This post is such a lovely read. But just a mention, that close-up on the pine mushrooms is such a beautiful beautiful picture!!

  • At 9/29/2010 11:10 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Megan - I agree. It's such a treat to see a Central Market so much a part of everyday lives in the CBD

    Dainty Baker - The markets are fab. Be sure to schedule it on your next visit!

    Shanks - We had a sample of the bum burner and I think Billy took some back with him.

    Stephcookie - Bring back lots! It's amazing.

    Bowb - I would have loved to. I did a double-take and took a photo as soon as I saw it :)

    Sara - I agree! Sydney needs this and more!

    Sarah - What a perfect Saturday (for everyone!).

    Hannah - Ooh yes cheese, Gromit!

    Mrs Pigflyin - Sign me up! Immediately!

    foodwink - I didn't see the fried sushi stall, perhaps just as well as I love that stuff! Missed out on Nanna's too. Anchovy buns? Yum!

    nish - Thanks so much :) I was quite in awe!

  • At 5/14/2012 4:18 pm, Anonymous lizzie said…

    I wish I lived in Adelaide. Lucky for us a new farmers market has started in Noosa, you should check it out when you come up. It is on Sunday mornings 7am - 12. http://www.noosafarmersmarket.com.au/

    PS: Love the photos


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