Thursday, January 12, 2006

Food Source: Prahran Market

Food and shopping are two of my favourite hobbies. Logically, you’d think that food shopping, the combination of these two favourite pastimes, would be my ultimate leisure activity. Sadly, this is not always the case. I’m sure you’ve read about my run-ins with not-so-intelligent sales assistants, my searches for obscure and impossible ingredients and my last-minute forced substitutions. And even when there are no major problems, the whole shopping-for-food-for-the-How-to-Eat-project thing can be a bit of a challenge in itself. You see, I can’t just wander whimsically through the markets, selecting whatever looks the best and freshest. No, no no, I have a project to do. I have recipes. I have things that need to be made.

Before I can even think about shopping, there’s the essential planning of meal times around our various work commitments and social engagements, choosing which recipes to make, and carefully compiling a shopping list, with contingency plans and substitutions, in the case that I can’t find what I’m looking for. (This is all the more difficult because I don’t drive). So then, I have to get Dad, Mum or sometimes Daniel to take me out to the shops – Box Hill, Coles, Safeway, Prahran Market or even Victoria Market.

Luckily this food-sourcing challenge usually does not prove impossible, and sometimes, just sometimes, everything works out fantastically.

Case in point – today’s shopping expedition. It started off last night when I was bumming about on-line last night (MSN messenger, Ebay, blogs, forums etc). I had a look at the recipe count on this very blog, and realised, to steal the words of a much wiser woman, that I really had to “light a fire under my ass”. So I spent the next three hours with my mate DG on MSN messenger planning my week of meals, and came up with one scary-ass shopping list. (These will all make an appearance on this blog in the not-too-distant future!)

- calvados
- clams
- cod
- chives
- crab
- 100g smoked cod’s roe
- fresh pita bread
- proper chorizo (none of that “Spanish-style” bullshit)
- bacon

I figured that I’d be able to find all that stuff at Prahran market, except for the calvados. I knew that my ordinary bottle-o wouldn’t stock it, so I googled “calvados”, and found ONE place in Melbourne that stocks it – Como Wine & Spirits Bottle Shop. And wouldn’t you know it, it’s right around the corner from Prahran market, on the corner of Toorak road and River street.

So this morning, Mum, Dad & I drove down to Como Wine & Spirits, and got the last bottle of calvados there. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Next was Prahran market. All of the fishmongers stocked clams, and I substituted gummy shark for the cod (it’s easier to find, and firmer, I think). I saw some very delicious-looking crabs at Theos and Sons Seafood, but the friendly and very delicious-looking fish-selling-dude didn’t have the facilities to cook and pick those crabs for me. Not to worry though. Dad unexpectedly said, “Nah, don’t worry about it! Cooking crabs is easy. I used to do it all the time in Malaysia, I’ll show you how to do it”. Fantastic! So I bought the crabs.

I got the chorizo at one of the delis, whose name I forget. Smoked cod's roe was a bit more challenging, though. None of the fishmongers had it (though I must say, the dude at Theos and Sons was quite impressed when I said "I need the roe to make taramasalata", pronounced in a proper Greek way), and then we started looking through the delis. It was all looking a bit hopeless, until we got to Delicatess. The sales assistants there gave us the usual response, "Er no... um... we've got salmon caviar?", but out of the corner of my eye, I could see the owner looking at us.

Owner-dude: Hey, what are you making with it?
Me: I want to make taramasalata.
Owner-dude: Yes, I've got what you need, we've always got it in stock if you ever need it.

He then went to the fridge and pulled out a 100g tin of "tarama", smoked mullet roe, which is EXACTLY what I needed! YAY!. The owner of Delicatess totally rocks. We love him.

Ownder-dude: the sales assistants in a kinda pissed-off way... Look, guys, THIS is smoked roe, ok?

We got our bacon there too. And finally, we got fresh pita at the wonderful Falafel Cart, run by a father and son, who make their own fresh pita and salads and dips and felafels every day. We'd have eaten lunch there if I hadn't already planned to cook something. But for your interest, here's a picture of a felafel I had from there a few months ago.

felafel - delicious!

And here are our ingredients...


Chorizo, calvados, tin of tarama, chives, carton of pomegranate juice (I have no recipe in mind for that, but saw it and couldn't not buy it!)


This was a fab way to spend our morning.


Como Wine & Spirits Bottle Shop: Corner Toorak road and River streetSouth Yarra - Vic 3141

Prahran Market: 163 Commercial Road, South Yarra 3141 Victoria, Australia
Theos and Sons Seafood 9826 4288
Delicatess 9824 1752
Falafel Cart 0414 724 578

1 comment:

Lisa said...

You found some primo ingredients -- look at that chorizo & Calvados, woo! Hanging out at the market & giving us the sources -- you're not only cool, you're ueber-organized! No wonder the Greek deli dude wants you to come back for some more tarama.