Adelaide's market showcase

Updated: 2012-04-28 09:23

By Jean Lee and Han Bingbin (China Daily)

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Adelaide's market showcase

From top: Fresh vegetables and fruits are showcased at the Adelaide Central Market. A leg of ham is mounted on a rack ready for slicing. The Smelly Cheese Shop and its aromatic selections. Photos by Han Bingbin and Jean Lee / China Daily

Tasting Australia, the food festival that turns Adelaide into foodie paradise, is in full swing this week. Jean Lee and Han Bingbin file reports in Australia.

The first activity for world media gathering in Adelaide, South Australia, for the country's oldest running food and wine festival is a showcase of produce and products at the city's famed Central Market.

Adelaide Central Market, our guide Mark Gleeson tells us, is more than 140 years old, and the largest and only covered market in Australia, or the Southern Hemisphere for that matter.

It is not just your regular wet or dry market, but one that provides "the freshest and largest range of local, national and imported fruit and vegetables, seafoods, meats and poultry and the most amazing gourmet products including cheeses, coffees and small goods".

Gleeson, from Central Market Tours, has over 25 years in the hospitality industry and is well known and respected in the Adelaide Central Market. His knowledge of South Australian food and produce is second to none and he uses this to expose locals and tourists to the finest the state has to offer.

Throughout the market, you can find respite by way of cafes and stalls providing snacks from sushi to spring rolls Malaysian-style.

At Zedz, the coffees are works of art, and we stopped for a breakfast plate of toast with homemade marmalade garnished beautifully and simply with a walnut half sitting on top of a thin slice of persimmon.

We had a two-hour tour and it barely scraped the surface. There was much we wanted to see, feel, smell or taste, from fresh flowers and plants, organic vegetables (tagged so you know exactly what you are buying), cold cuts, fresh meats from Paddock to Plate, pastries and breads of all kinds, shapes and sizes.

When we dropped by the butcher's, they were in the process of cutting up freshly slaughtered pigs to be brined and smoked into lovely moist ham that we got to taste.

Our last stop, the Marino Meat &Food Store, is a family-owned store where we tried prosciutto ham and salami, and saw how a leg of ham is mounted on a rack ready for slicing.

There were so many gourmet products available at the Central Market that we only had time to pass by and snap pictures. And we even found a bookshop.

We rounded off the tour with a lesson on how to appreciate cheese. The Smelly Cheese Shop has a presence in the Central Market where they display their selections for sale. But we were able to visit their factory in Adelaide, just off Gouger Street across from the market.

Our first lesson was about live and dead cheeses. The ones that are not lovingly cared for will produce a taste that a cheese-lover does not care for - so they are referred to as dead cheese.

Artisan cheeses are complex and unique with qualities that vary depending on the conditions in which they are made and kept.

Whether you study "affinage" in your spare time or you are simply after some basic cheese knowledge, the resident cheese expert at The Smelly Cheese Shop can take you on a cheese appreciation journey that will provide you with a complete sensory experience. You will enjoy a deliciously inspiring selection of cheeses in perfect condition and get an exclusive peek inside their world-class cheese maturing room.

The cheese maturing room is regularly and carefully monitored for temperature and humidity control, and meticulous records are kept on when the cheeses are turned, and when and where they were made. Even in the cutting room, the temperature is controlled, because the presence of many cheese cutters and packers raises the room temperature.

The Central Market Tour was a fitting prelude to the bonanza of events that will take place next week, including chefs' workshops, tours into the produce hinterlands of the Eyre Peninsula, Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley and Kangaroo Island, as well as many other educational food activities, wine tastings and master classes.

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