My fellow readers, have I got a treat for you today. You get to go on a virtual Prahran Market “Hidden Gems” Tour right here on my blog! Of course, nothing beats the real thing – and unfortunately I can only feature some of my favourites and highlights of the tour otherwise this page would overflow with too much information and too many photos! So, soak up the following information below as a “teaser” but if you are a food lover and you love markets as much as I do, I would highly recommend you book yourself in to go to one of these tours... you won’t regret it!
Prahran Market is Australia’s oldest continually-running market with a very special story behind its history. Thanks to Nuffnang, I had the privilege of going on this guided tour. My tour guide, Kathy took me to almost all of the stores at Prahran Market and introduced me to some of the owners, gave me a bit of history / background of each trader as well as some lovely tastings! I am definitely a creature of habit, and I do tend to look for the same types of food at the same places whenever I shop. Thanks to this tour, I discovered so many special and unique products, fresh produce, and got to taste food I never tasted before in my life!
First thing’s first. To be able to shop comfortably you need a trolley, but trolleys can be quite expensive to purchase! So what do you do? Bet you didn’t know Prahran Market has trolleys available for hire… yes they do! For only $3 for 2 hours, these trolleys are a great way to shop for lots of goodies without the hassle of carrying them around in heavy bags. These trolleys are available to hire at the Hardware Store near the Fruit and Veg section of the market.
During the tour, I had the privilege to meet Damian from Damian Pike The Wild Mushroom Specialist. I was immediately drawn to this stall because I am a huge fan of mushrooms. I got to smell some amazing Black Truffles and got to taste some pretty special, hand picked Mouserron mushrooms! These mushrooms are a whopping $150/kg. I can never afford these mushrooms and I got to taste one little piece… very teasing… it was sooooo good! I was salivating at the thought of pan frying those mushrooms with butter and some herbs. Argh. (WARNING: Do NOT go on this tour HUNGRY!!)
A selection of delightful mushrooms at Damian Pike – the ones in the wooden boxes are the expensive ones! Mouserron (Top) and Chanterelles (Bottom) both $150/kg!
Before I went on this tour, I have actually been to Prahran Market several times but ONLY to shop at Lee’s Asian Grocery. Yes, ONLY to shop here. I cannot believe how ignorant I was of all the other stores now that I come to think about it… but let’s not focus on that and let me explain WHY I love Lee’s so much.
Here’s my reason.
This shelf may not look like much but this shelf stocks more fresh and rare Asian ingredients than most Asian Grocers combined! In the next few weeks, I will feature a recipe on my blog using ingredients primarily purchased from Lee’s Asian Grocery (and some others too) but here at Lee’s I happily pick up my stock of banana leaves, pandan leaves, curry leaves, Thai leaves, heaps of other yummy smelling leaves, and of course my dried chilli and “Hae Bee” aka dried shrimp and “Ikan Pusu” aka dried anchovies, and even Salted Egg for my Rice Congee, and shallots and other hot chillies. It truly is an Asian Food Haven for me!
Lee’s also stock a whole lot of packaged dried Asian goods, and some freshly made packaged cakes and sambal and other Asian foods, as well as homemade dumplings, some Asian medicines and some Asian cooking tools and utensils. I may be biased because of all the Asian cooking I do at home, but Lee’s is definitely my favorite store at the market. Hands down.
Finally, moving on a surprise trader as I was only newly converted to love this stall after I tasted some of its offerings.. Naheda’s Choice offers delicious, freshly made pestos, dips, etc. Everything is made with fresh ingredients, no added perservatives and made with a lot of love. Naheda and her husband, as well as their staff are extremely friendly and are very generous with their tastings.
Once you’ve tried some of these dips you will never EVER settle for a store bought dip ever again!!!
My absolute favourite (and I ended up buying tubs of these after the tour) were the combination of the 3 Olive and Garlic dip and the Chunky Chilli Red Pesto dip. Absolutely DIVINE! If you love garlic as much as I do, the 3 Olive and Garlic dip is made out of 50% olives and 50% garlic so the garlic flavour really shines through. I felt like I was smacked in the face with flavour, and after tasting that combo all the other dips as delicious as they all were faded in comparison. What can I say, I love strong flavours. Another lady who was there found it too strong, but it was just perfect for me!
Photo: Naheda and her choice (husband), lol.
Unfortunately that’s all I have time for today in my wrap up of my Prahran Tour. The tour took an hour and a half, and trust me, there was so much more I couldn’t even mention on here. I haven’t even begun to mention the array of fresh meat and seafood available in the market! Or the fact that all the traders donate 37,000kg of food annually for redistribution to 70 relief agencies which provides thousands of meals for people in need! I didn’t even get to show you the Market Square which is a nice, open area with restaurants and cafes as well as a children’s playground – great area to just chill with a cup of coffee or have lunch after a long day of shopping at the market. Not to mention the many Events and Activities regularly organised at the market to make it a fun experience for people of all ages. I guess you’ll just have to go and see it for yourself.
Huge thanks to my tour guide, Kathy for sharing all of her knowledge of the market as well as her own love for food. What a lovely way to spend an afternoon! To find out more about Prahran Market, visit www.prahranmarket.com.au.