Chances are that if you’re reading this blog, you are a foodie in some shape or form. Perhaps you like checking out what’s happening on the cafe scene, or love buying the freshest local produce and cooking up a storm at home. Or, if you’re like me, you love both!
However, it took me quite a while to discover both the best places to eat and the best places to buy produce. Some might say it’s not difficult to find a good place to eat – there are entire blogs and websites dedicated to rating and reviewing restaurants and cafes. But buying the best stuff to make and cook at home? I think that’s more difficult. It often requires a bit of extra effort to find fresh food, but you’ll be thanking yourself when you taste the difference between real produce and what you buy at your local Colesworths.
So here is my list of places to shop in Adelaide for the average foodie. This list is by no means extensive; it’s just where I generally go to stock up. Let me know in the comments section if there’s anywhere else I should be visiting!
Queen Street Grocer
Queen Street Grocer is located conveniently next door to Red Door Bakery, perhaps my favourite place in the world. After eating my fill of sausage rolls and croissants, I’ll often sneak next door and top up on pantry essentials. My weekly purchases always include muesli – QSG stock the Goodies and Grains toasted varieties, some untoasted/bircher mixes, as well as my absolute favourite, the maple nut crunch. This crunchy muesli isn’t always in stock, so when it’s available I tend to hoard it and buy half the batch (sorry, guys!). It’s a tad more expensive but in my opinion completely worth it. On a weekend I like to poach pears in honey syrup, cinnamon and star anise, and serve these with muesli, natural yoghurt and some fresh fruit. This is an amazing gourmet breakfast at home, and a lot cheaper than eating it out, too.
This brings me to my other purchases. QSG sell little glass jars of herbs and spices for $3, and will refill your jar for $2. This is pretty much the best value ever, not to mention you’re getting much better quality than your standard packet from the supermarket. They also have a great variety of nuts, dried fruits and grains, as well as showcasing SA produce.
Adelaide Showground Farmers Market
Who doesn’t go to the farmers market these days? I started making the trek regularly a couple of years ago and since then it has really boomed. There’s people everywhere and the lines are ridiculously long at the more popular stalls. If you dislike crowds you can go in the afternoon, but the best picks are always gone by 11am. Don’t let this stop you though! The atmosphere at the market is great, with such a variety of patrons, buskers, and of course the stallholders. I can’t really explain in words the joy I get out of the market; it’s more than just buying really good quality produce. It might just have something to do with the friendliness of the stallholders and the feeling you get from knowing you’re supporting our state’s deserving farmers rather than the profit margins of the supermarket duopoly.
I like to buy huge bags of red capsicums to roast from the Tsmikilis family at their corner stall – for about $5 you can get 1.5kg of slightly blemished capsicums which are much better than your average supermarket fare. I usually purchase my apples from Otherwood Orchards – I have never bought a floury apple from them, and that’s saying something. Head to the Honey Lady inside if you want the best honey you have ever tasted – she has a huge variety of raw and spiced honeys. My personal favourite is the cinnamon honey, which is great with black tea before bed. For a special treat, buy a box of toffee from Dickens Delights. I don’t know how it’s made but it tastes amazing. My family has been known to buy a box and finish it off that night. I also have a bit of a soft spot for Paolo’s fruit buns; they were originally sold as hot cross buns, and since they were so popular he continued baking them! I wish other bakeries did this sometimes, but I know I’d (eventually) get sick of them. If you need another special treat, head to From Scratch Patisserie. You may have seen their popup stall near Coffee Branch on Friday mornings – it is pretty much just a stall of yum. The pastries and macarons are to die for, and you can tell that a lot of thought has been put into what they create.
I could probably write an entire blog post on the Farmers Market, but I’ll just end on this: there is a perception that the market is more expensive, or for the hardcore foodies, but I’d have to say this is completely incorrect, in my opinion. If you want to search out the heirloom vegies, the tastiest fruit, and buy the best from primary producers, there is nowhere better to do it than here. You’re supporting the farmer directly and providing a direct source of income. Because there is no middleman, the prices are often similar to that at your local greengrocer or supermarket, though may sometimes be cheaper or more expensive depending on the seasons and availability. You won’t find strawberries or bananas in the middle of winter at the farmers market, and this is for a good reason. I think cooking good food comes from buying seasonally, and this is easiest to do at the farmers market.
Adelaide Central Market
The Adelaide Central Market is slightly more accessible than the farmers market, and also has a wider range, as it’s not limited to local production (see here for the differences). It is open most days and with such good competition in the market, prices are often quite good. There is everything from average to the best quality in the central market – the trick is to take the time to search out what’s best. Every stall is going to have something to offer.
Apart from your basic fruit and veg, you can pretty much purchase anything else you desire from the market. A recent new stall is San Jose smallgoods, who also pop up at the farmers market on the weekend. Their amazing chorizo is the perfect touch to spice up a risotto.
The other bonus about the central market is that with the surrounding restaurants and cafes, not to mention Rundle Mall down the road, you can easily make a day of your shopping trip.
I don’t come here often, but when I do it’s for something quite specific. Bottego Rotolo are located in Norwood, quite close to the city. I like to think of them as Adelaide’s Essential Ingredient. If you want something that’s quite hard to find, chances are you’ll find it here. Think vanilla pods, fancy imported cheeses and very expensive balsamic vinegar.
Tony & Marks
Tony & Marks, on the other hand, is at least a weekly stop-off for my family. It’s more than just your average greengrocer – we buy Tweedvale milk, cheese, olives, yoghurt and Careme pastry here, as well as fruit and veg and the occasional bunch of flowers. The prices are also excellent too – for example, cheddar cheese is $10 per kilo, as opposed to the $20 per kilo imported varieties at the supermarket.
Around the corner from Tony & Marks is Standoms Butchers, though they are of course located all over Adelaide. After purchasing meat and smallgoods from Standoms for so long, it’s difficult to eat meat from the supermarket, I actually can’t stomach it. You can just tell their meat is always fresh, and when you buy ham from Standoms, it actually tastes like ham rather than plastic (I like the schwartzwelder personally).
I may have dedicated a whole blog post to Red Door, but it’s worth mentioning again that in terms of weekly supplies, they have the best bread, ever.
Goodies and Grains
Located in one of the arcades off the Central Market, Goodies and Grains is a bit like your supersize Queen Street Grocer. They sell everything loose, from tea to nuts and dried fruits, dried beans and pasta, a huge range of herbs and spices, ten different types of flour and five varieties of rolled oats (that may be an exaggeration but you get the idea). The best thing about being able to buy in this way is that you can purchase only exactly how much you need, which means that you get everything super fresh and it’s also cost effective. There’s no need to buy a huge jar of sumac if you only need a teaspoon. They also give you a discount if you bring your own jars or containers to put your purchases in, so this might be worth considering if you plan to buy a lot. Goodies and Grains is definitely worth checking out if you’re health-conscious or have food intolerances as they have a wide range of ingredients to cater for this.
So that brings me to the end of the list. I’m sure I’ve missed out places, and I have definitely not done each store or market justice in a few paragraphs or less. That said, there’s only so much I can say without rambling – the best thing to do would be to visit yourself :)