When talking about Canberra, what normally appear in your mind? One of my interstate readers recently emailed me asking what Canberra is like, especially food-wise, considering the political nature of the city. Well, surprisingly enough, the Canberra region has a lot to offer when comes to food, especially food produce. Of course the produce here is quite different to what I had in South Australia but they are unique enough for a long stay visit.
Whether you are local Canberrans or you are visiting from interstate, to me the food produce of a city is always something that can get someone excited for, especially for foodies like you and me. The Canberra Region Farmers Market is the perfect place to discover what the nation’s capital has to offer.
The Capital Region Farmers Market is the largest farmers marker in the Canberra region, focusing on premium and fresh food and produce. Established by the Rotary Club of Hall in 2004, the market today is still its original format and with a nearly 20-year tradition of opening every Saturday. When Tina and I attended the Market, we had the pleasure to discuss with the Market Manager and found out the story how the market came together. The very first market was held in March 2004, at which time most of the previous market project in Canberra failed.
Since moved to Canberra two years ago, I have been a frequent visitor to the market. However, Tina and I were invited to rediscover the market and some of its best kept secrete this time round. The market has gift card which you can purchase and can be a good gift if your friends are foodies as well. The gift card can be redeemed at most stalls and you will get a cash exchange for the unused quantity.
Besides food produce, the market has a significant number of plant nursery stalls, or if you come with an empty stomach, there are lots of gourmet breakfast and coffee options.
Some key stalls I visited include Three Mill Bakery, Farmer Brown’s Free Range Eggs and Murray River Smokehouse.
Below are some of the stalls which I thought as a must-visit or I bought produce from on the day I visited. I am sure you have your own preference so please feel free to share with me in the comments of this post.
The Husk Bakery is one stall primarily located in the market while travelling through the suburbs with their van, selling premium quality baked goodies. They are also available at a number of other markets.
We tried their famous lamb sausage roll ($6) and Pistachio Croissant ($6) on the day we visited. After relocating to Canberra, I somehow started to get addicted to sausage rolls and this was certainly one of the best ones I had. Immediately after the first bite, I was immersed in the fragrant lamb flavour and the fat was just moving over the whole palate! The pistachio croissant was subliming as well with fillings in the centre and the crunchiness to complement. Both of them are highly recommended!
The Wagga Free Range Pork is a family-run business by Steve and Leah Anderson with children. The business focus on their heritage bred – Berkshire Pork. The premium bred is considered the most flavourful and most prestigious pork in the world. Like wagyu beef, Berkshires are marbled throughout with a sweet nutty flavour. At the market, they also sell a large variety of small goods.
Price-wise, it is cheaper than some of the small good vendors or butchers, taking into consideration the quality of pork. I bought a Russian Salami for $12.85 and a pack of pork ribs at $21.90 per kg. The Russian Salami had plenty of flavours and a crack of peppery taste – a must try.
The Narooma Seafood Direct is arguably my most preferred seafood stall so far. Established in 1949, the business is now in the hand of their second generation. Narooma seafood produce is famous alongside the east coast with its clean sea water. I must say it is a long distance to drive from Narooma to Canberra for the market. There are a large number of varieties sold at the marker, ranging from fish and oysters to prawns and abalones. The Aussie world-acclaimed black lip abalone can be found here for only $50 per kg while the unopened oysters are at $15 per dozen.
Look at this huge abalone above. It looks gorgeous, doesn’t it? Aussie black lip abalone is considered as a luxurious delicacy in Asia and this size is certainly impressive. During the trip, we bought two abalones and costed $35 – well worth every single dollar in it! Even after cleaning and shelving, the abalones are large enough to impress.
The below are all the produce I bought on the day – mushrooms, feijoa, abalones, oysters, pork rib and Russian Salami – in total $109. And not to forget the lamb sausage roll and the pistachio croissant.
So what did I do with them? Of course – eat them 😀
For the mushrooms, I made preserved mushrooms using the recipe I wrote 9 years ago. Delicious. The mushrooms are so fresh to take in all the goodies from the juices I made.
For the pork ribs, I did deep fried ribs and enjoyed a great evening with rib and movie :).
For the oysters, eat them raw. Through the last decade or so, I have become skilled in shucking oysters. You insert the oyster knife from the very end of the oyster, twist and here you go, a beautiful oyster opened! Don’t need to wash them though as all the essences are kept within the shell :).
To be honest, I must say the oysters from the Narooma Seafood Direct was really good quality to showcase the Narooma produce (and this makes me wanting to go to the Narooma Oyster Festival next year!). The oysters were so flavourful and so different from the ones I bought from local fish shops in Belconnen – these ones have the sea flavour captured within while the rock oysters exhibit slightly nutty tastes. This is a must-try produce in the market. Ask for the live and closed oysters which taste better.
For the abalone? Red braised abalone with chicken stock concentrate. I literally cooked the clean abalone in pressure cooker for an hour and then braised in chicken stock for 40 minutes until the stock became a very concentrate syrup. Flavour-wise? Second to none. The abalone was cooked to perfection that was so tender and moist and every cut and bite was an enjoyable experience – hence why it is a delicacy perhaps 🙂
The Capital Region Farmers Market is really an interesting place to visit, whether you are a local Canberran or you are visiting from interstate. The market has everything you need from day-to-day grocery shopping while also captures a significant amount of delicacies in various stalls. Visiting the market and listening to the stories of the farmers has been a great pleasure and my long time readers would know I really love visit and write about markets in different cities and towns, not only because it is the first thing I tick off when visiting a place but also because it is where people shop or live.
Until the next post, have a great week.
Exhibition Park in Canberra, Old Well Station Rd
Mitchell ACT 2911