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Monday, May 07, 2012

Adelaide Central Market, Adelaide Showground Farmers Market and Inside a Bee Hive at Buzz Honey


There ain't nothing like a protective suit to really feel like you're living on the edge. We're not heading into a biochemical hazard zone but off to get up close and personal with a working bee hive in the Adelaide Hills.

I made my first trip to South Australia for Tasting Australia two years ago, a biennial event that brings together chefs, publishers and journalists in food, wine and travel from all around the world to celebrate the best of Adelaide and South Australia.

Late last month I returned for Tasting Australia 2012, an eight-day trip that took me from Adelaide to Eyre Peninsula and deep into the Barossa.

Adelaide Central Market

Adelaide Central Market
Smallgoods at Adelaide Central Market

It should come as no surprise that the most visited tourist attraction in South Australia is Adelaide Central Market. Vibrant, fragrant and full of life, the market has provided city shoppers with fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood, cheese and smallgoods for the past 140 years.

Over 80 stalls can be found in this huge undercover market. I love the old skool signage of the delis the most, where every spare inch of counter space is congested with a dizzying array of bottles, sauces and European pickles.

Potatoes and garlic at Adelaide Central Market
Potatoes and garlic

Sure Sydney has Paddy's Market, but here there's a greater connection between the stallholders and their produce, where origin is important and organic is prioritised.

Broccolini at Adelaide Central Market
Broccolini florets

Radishes at Adelaide Central Market
South Australian radishes

Celeriac at Adelaide Central Market

Pimentos at Adelaide Central Market

Lemon bergamot pears at Adelaide Central Market
Lemon bergamot pears

Say Cheese Smelly Cheese Shop

After a tour of the Adelaide Central Market, we're shepherded to the wholesale site for the Smelly Cheese Shop (who also run Say Cheese). Here we're introduced to their pride and joy, the cheese maturing room - the only one of its kind in Australia.

Walking into a cool room piled to the ceiling with wheels of cheese is quite a sight. Until the smell hits you. It's like a teenage brother attempting to suffocate you with last month's sweaty footy socks - the ones that have been quietly festering in his gym bag for several weeks. There's the sharpness of ammonia too, finding its way up your nostrils and not departing again for at least another hour or so.

And yet, it's a heavenly place to be, among these great big blocks of cheese ageing quietly in a temperature-controlled 10C with about 90 per cent humidity.

Valerie Henbest from the Smelly Cheese Shop
Valerie Henbest

The aim of the maturing room, owner and self-described "cheese tragic" Valerie Henbest says, is to ripen cheeses so they are at their best. Many cheeses that arrive from Europe dry out during freight; others--like the Heidi racelette made by a Swiss cheesemaker living in Tasmania--are matured for better texture and flavour. Each week the cheeses are washed in brine or vinegar, and rotated for even ageing.

We're led through a cheese tasting that allows us to note the complexities in flavour and texture that arise between young cheeses that tend to be chalky and a little tangy to mature cheeses that are firmer, drier and with a much more concentrated flavour.

Cheese tasting from the Smelly Cheese Shop
Affidelice cows milk washed rind and Cazelle St Affinique sheeps milk cheese

Adelaide Showground Farmers Market

Apples at the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market
Fresh apples - all picked within the last three days

Early on a Sunday morning, Billy and I make our own way to the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market, where stalls are manned by the farmers and producers selling their products direct to customers.

The markets are huge and bustling with locals doing their weekly shopping, but but we're both stunned to see queues thirty-deep of shoppers waiting to buy their organic produce. They stand in line with baskets and shopping trolleys, eventually reaching the head of the queue where they muse over leafy greens, knobbled carrots and gloriously uneven-sized apples.

Choggia beets at the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market
Large choggia beets and pesticide-free field grown tomatoes

We have the benefit of two local food bloggers to lead us around the market, catching up with The Foodologist and Pike On A Plate (who shops here every week). There's almost a carnival feel to the market, but it's also clear that shoppers are not just visiting for a casual look-see, but regulars who are specifically buying the household groceries here and not at the supermarket.

Miss Merbein produce at the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market
Miss Merbein stall with produce from their Murray River farm, 10km from Mildura

From Scratch Patisserie

From Scratch Patisserie at the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market
...From Scratch Patisserie

I'd been told to keep an eye out for From Scratch Patisserie by some Adelaide locals I bumped into in Port Lincoln. They're hard to miss, a beautifully designed stall made from vintage pieces that combines shabby chic with breathtaking pastries.

Their story reads like a indie movie script - she was an experienced pastry chef; he was a pastry student at TAFE. They met at the Farmers Markets where they were working at different stalls. After he (Jonny Pisanelli) completed a one-month estage at Bianchini Guido, a well-known pasticceria in Benevento, Italy, she (Edwina Peoples) travelled to Italy before they both headed to Paris for more work experience.

The couple quit their day jobs in hospitality and are now committed to From Scratch Patisserie full-time. They run the stall every Sunday at the Farmers Market and also operate a pop-up operation in the city on Friday mornings.

Macarons by From Scratch at the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market
Macaron display

There's a lovely sense of warmth and genuineness in the set-up of the stall, from the typed descriptions on old-fashioned luggage tags to the egg cartons used to pack half-dozen orders of macarons.

The pastries themselves are wondrous to look at: bountiful layers of a simple crossiant and the lure of a glossy slick of hot pink icing on a strawberry eclair.

Crossiants by From Scratch at the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market
Plain crossiant and cornetti butter crossiant filled with Italian custard

I had the cornetti, a butter crossiant piped with Italian custard and dusted generously with icing sugar. The pastry was light, the custard was silky, and icing sugar and buttery crumbs rained all over my t-shirt and the concrete floor.

Almond crossiants by From Scratch at the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market
Pain amandes almond crossiants

Lemon meringue pie by From Scratch at the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market
Don't be shy... lemon meringue pie

Strawberry eclair by From Scratch at the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market
Strawberry fields eclair

Chocolate fan at the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market
Chocolate fan

Fresh cheddar curd at the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market
Fresh cheddar curd from the Alexandria Cheese Company

Billy and I were also excited to find fresh cheddar curd and both purchased some immediately. I see poutine in my future...

Aki's tofu products at the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market
Aki's Hand handmade tofu and tofu products

Aki's Hand was another interesting stall, with a range of products that used tofu and okara, the highly nutritious pulp leftover after filtering soy milk.

Soy milk banana bread at the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market
Soy milk banana bread made with no milk, egg or butter

Tofu doughnuts at the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market
Pikachu tofu doughnuts

Inside Adelaide Showground Farmers Market
Seating area inside the Farmers Market

Kids in the kitchen at the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market
Kids' Club making salads

The Kids' Club is a regular feature at the markets. Today the kids were making salad and dressing, and they all looked pleased as punch with their chefs hats on!

Kid chef with avocado at the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market
Cutting avocado

Kid chef with organic carrot at the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market
Organic carrots are funny!

Buzz Honey Bee Farm

Buzz Honey Bee Farm

When we think of bees we think of honey, but as Buzz Honey manager Jude Crowe reminds us, bees are the legs of plants - nature's facilitator for pollination that ensures bountiful and healthy crops.

Live bees sign at Buzz Honey Bee Farm
Live bees ahead

One of the highlights of my trip was visiting a working bee farm, Buzz Honey, in the Adelaide Hills. We suited up in beekeeper overalls, like giant jumpsuits with a mesh hood that zipped closed at the front.

Billy Law at Buzz Honey Bee Farm
Intergalactic Billy ahead

Graham Brooks at Buzz Honey Bee Farm
Graham Brooks and the Langstroth hive

We headed out into a field with Graham Brooks, apiarist and owner of a nearby bee farm Buzzie's Bee Juice. Although we were suited up, we weren't provided with gloves. "You'll be fine," Graham said. "Just don't make any fast flapping movements."

Bee hive cover at Buzz Honey Bee Farm
Removing the cover that helps insulate the hive

Smoke is used to calm the bees who think the hive is under threat of fire and gorge themselves on honey should they need to relocate. The honey pacifies the bees, reducing the risk of stings to the beekeeper.

Bee hive Honey Super box at Buzz Honey Bee Farm height=
A frame from the Honey Super top box where honey is stored

The bee community within each hive is complex and highly structured. We learn how scout bees exit the hive in groups of two or three to find new sources of nectar. When they return, they do a waggle dance to the other bees that tells them the distance and direction of the nectar source in relation to the sun.

Bee hive wire tray at Buzz Honey Bee Farm
Spraying smoke to remove the wire tray that prevents the queen bee from escaping

The hive is kept at a constant temperature of 36C. In summer, the bees will head out and bring back a total of three litres of water per day which is then fanned in the hive to bring down the temperature.

Bee hive frame at Buzz Honey Bee Farm height=
Removing a frame from the Brood Box layer

There are about 80,000 bees per hive, which are moved at night when the bees are sleeping. If the truck carrying the hives has to stop at a petrol station, they must ring ahead so the lights can be turned off - otherwise the bees may wake thinking that it is daytime and exit the hive. We're told how sunrise was miscalculated on one occasion and as the truck crested a hill toward a waking sun, the bees left the hive in droves, blanketing the entire town in a cloud of bees.

Bee hive at Buzz Honey Bee Farm

Graham is carefully searching for the queen bee who has slightly different markings. She's only about 1.5 times bigger than the other bees, but her size prevents her from leaving the bottom layer of the hive due to a specially-sized grille.

Bee hive at Buzz Honey Bee Farm height=
Looking for the queen bee

There are bees flying around us everywhere at this point, and it's hard not to feel a little nervous as they buzz past our ears. Graham is as calm as can bee, ahem, I mean be.

Bee hive close-up at Buzz Honey Bee Farm
Bee calm, people

It's hard not be mesmerised though, an insight into a feverish colony of activity.

Bee close-up at Buzz Honey Bee Farm
A hive of activity

Queen bee in the hive at Buzz Honey Bee Farm
We found the queen bee!

And at last, Graham spots the queen bee. Every day she will lay her body weight in eggs. If she becomes sick or injured, or starts to lay eggs haphazardly, the worker bees will kill her and throw her body out the front of the hive. The female bees will then feed another bee with royal jelly to create a new queen.
Bee suits at Buzz Honey Bee Farm
Bee tourists

Graham Brooks from Buzzie's Bee Juice
Graham Brooks from Buzzie's Bee Juice, Clare Valley

Jude Crowe showing us the Queen bee shipping box at Buzz Honey Bee Farm
Jude Crowe from Buzz Honey showing us the box that queen bees arrive in by post

Back at the warehouse, Jude Crowe gives us a detailed insight into the bee community. She shows us the little wooden box that the queen bees arrive in by post. One queen bee costs $12.50. They spend $12,000 per year on queen bees.

Where do they get their queen bees from? "Queensland!" she says with a laugh. And it's true.

Honeycomb at Buzz Honey Bee Farm
A rack filled with honeycomb

Fresh honey tasting at Buzz Honey Bee Farm
Taste-testing fresh honey

We dig our spoons into the rack of honeycomb, savouring the sweet syrup and the waxy honeycomb. How could you not jump for joy over this precious bounty?

Jump shot at Buzz Honey Bee Farm
Sugar high!

Grab Your Fork attended Tasting Australia 2012 as a guest of South Australia Tourism.

>> Read the next post: Press Food & Wine and Adelaide Dessert Bars: The Aviary and Devour

Adelaide Central Market
44-60 Gouger Street, Adelaide, South Australia
Tel: +61 (08) 8203 7494

Opening hours:
Tues 7am-5.30pm, Wed and Thurs 9am-5.30pm
Fri 7am-9pm, Sat 7am-3pm, Sun and Mon closed

The Smelly Cheese Shop and Say Cheese
Stalls 44 and 46 at the Adelaide Central Market
Tel: +61 (08) 8231 0347

Wholesale and classes at 25 Wright Street, Adelaide
Tel: +61 (08) 8231 5867

Adelaide Showground Farmers Market
Leader Street, Goodwood, Adelaide, South Australia
Every Sunday 9am-1pm

From Scratch Patisserie
Adelaide Showground Farmers Market every Sunday 9am-1pm
Leigh Street pop-up every Friday morning 7am-9am
32 Leigh Street, Adelaide next to Coffee Branch

Buzz Honey
Lot 5, Ding Dong Road, Dawesley, South Australia
Tel: +61 (08) 8388 0274

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Tasting Australia 2010 - Adelaide Central Market
Tasting Australia 2010 - Enoteca Restaurant with Antonio Carluccio
Tasting Australia 2010 - Lunch with Maggie Beer
Tasting Australia 2010 - Taldy-Kurgan Russian piroshki at Adelaide Central Market
Tasting Australia 2010 - The Manse Restaurant with Stephanie Alexander

>> Read the next post: Press Food & Wine and Adelaide Dessert Bars: The Aviary and Devour
17 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 5/07/2012 01:16:00 am


  • At 5/07/2012 2:40 am, Blogger idontcryieat said…

    OMG! I wanna visit a bee farm now! Thanks for such a great post :D

  • At 5/07/2012 3:24 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow awesome pot! Looks like you had a lot fun : P

    so all you need for a hive is a queen bee? It's so interesting to see how they work like machines... very efficient.

    Was the beehive warm?

  • At 5/07/2012 8:59 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    will you bee mine

  • At 5/07/2012 9:55 am, Blogger Mel said…

    What a wonderful post! I LOVE the Adelaide markets...it's amazing that we don't have something like it in Sydney. The showground markets look great. And the bee tour - buzzig with fun (chortle).

  • At 5/07/2012 10:28 am, Blogger Phuoc'n Delicious said…

    Sounds like a fantastic week of food. Such a wonderful insight into the workings of a bee. Lol at royal jelly!

  • At 5/07/2012 10:31 am, Anonymous thesuzchef said…

    A German friend of mine recently told me that the food in Adelaide was up there in her top 3 of best gastro experiences... and your post is putting testament to that! Think I may need to head off to Adelaide, those markets look fab.

  • At 5/07/2012 12:40 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Oh, HELEN! This sounds even better than I first imagined when you told me your were to go off gallivanting to Adelaide for the foodsies!

    Soy milk banana bread! Cheese curd, which I've *always* regretted not buying when I saw it in a Trader Joe's in bsoton! Pikachu tofu doughnut (although I'd prefer Jigglypuff doughnuts. And will now be singing the Jigglypuff song all day. Jiiiiiigaleeeeeepuuuuuufffffffff!)

    And oh my golly, everything about the bees is so fascinating. I loved reading that. Poor poor broodmare murdered queen bees! Waggle dance! WAGGLE DANCE!

  • At 5/07/2012 2:58 pm, Anonymous Eha said…

    Have thought for a number of decades this would be the state capital city in which I would most like to live! I wonder why!! Absolutely delightful journey, even tho' I have yet to pick up any of the many opportunities I have had to be kitted up to meet the bees . . . Last time I met one was a critter lost amidst my bedclothes on an early summer morning in a hotel bedroom in Sognefjord, Norway - one very red swollen thigh for one whole day!! I'll eat the honey, but . . .

  • At 5/07/2012 4:29 pm, Blogger Jacq said…

    Fascinating stuff about the bees - it's quite brutal that the kick out the Queen once she's showing signs of wear and tear! Looks like you had a great time in SA, I can't wait to read more about your trip :)

  • At 5/07/2012 11:32 pm, Anonymous tania@mykitchenstories said…

    What an amazing trip. Thank God we have such dedicated Artisans here. The pictures of the central market are just fantastic Helen

  • At 5/08/2012 12:34 am, Anonymous Christina @ The Hungry Australian said…

    Great post, Helen.

    btw how the heck do you and Billy get so much air in your jump shots? OK I know I was wearing a dress that time but still... clearly, I need to practise!

  • At 5/08/2012 2:33 pm, Blogger sugarpuffi said…

    omg it looks like such a fun trip! im already following your trails via instagram but piling it together in a blog post is just crazy!

    what on earth is a pimentos?!

  • At 5/09/2012 4:17 pm, Anonymous SarahKate (Mi Casa-Su Casa) said…

    Love all those colourful pictures from the market. Makes me hungry just looking at all that fresh deliciousness! Not sure about the bees though. I think I'd be super nervous with all those bees buzzing around me!

  • At 5/12/2012 1:19 am, Blogger Mandy said…

    Loving the intergalactic Billy shots! LOL Great post!

  • At 5/13/2012 2:36 pm, Blogger Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said…

    LOVE From Scratch Patisserie! Also wonder what a tofu donut would taste like...

  • At 5/14/2012 9:53 am, Anonymous Cindy said…

    Yeah, that stuff looks great! Hubby and I get our tomatoes now from andyandted.com and they have tamarillos too :)

  • At 5/15/2012 9:00 pm, Blogger Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said…

    Great pics and a great write up. I love SA for its wonderful produce. Beautiful Helen!


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