The infectious aromas hit you a block away and pull you towards the Queen Victoria market. By 5pm on any summer Wednesday night in Melbourne, magical scents fill the air and music dances through the evening sky. Sizzle. Pop. Whoosh. Sounds of chefs flipping, searing & cooking their delicious gifts flood the food section of the Vic Market.
Closed during the day, the Wednesday Night Market explodes with crowds waiting to feast on various cuisines. Hundreds of white plastic tables and chairs line the wide aisles. People eat sitting, standing or perched on whatever they can find devouring colorful & decadent plates. Variety is afoot every which way you turn.
Entering the market from Peel Street (the extension of William Street), there are stationary containers housing coffee shops, waffle treats and local Melbourne wares. Opposite the shipping containers, the market stalls begin with art, tea, hot sauce, clothing, trinkets and original creations. There are buskers throughout showcasing their musical talents. Onlookers drop coins in their hats or buckets with one hand while balancing their giant sangria or lemonade in the other. Turning the corner, there’s an array of colorful banners close to the roof. Hundreds of stalls with cuisine from all over the world are here. There’s too many to count or describe. The food looks amazing. At least one lap is in order before making any decisions, maybe two.
We see some familiar vendors from years past as well as some newcomers. The Colombian arepa stall is not here this year, but my favourite Korean twist potatoes are and by popular demand they now have two booths. Afghani, Sri Lankan, Indonesian, Mexican, Brazilian, Dutch, French, American, African and more; each stall is more intoxicating than the next. We stop for some Sri Lankan treats as we wander and each quickly inhale a handheld cylinder of fried goodness. Mine was filled with potatoes and vegetables. As each bite burst with flavor, we find more energy for the rest of our decision-making lap.
Turning the corner past an Aussie bakery’s version of the ‘cro-nut’, we enter the other section of the market. Another snack necessary, we jump in the long queue for the twist potato vendor. Waiting, I watch as people peel, slice, skewer and fry. Now the next choice-which seasoning do we choose to top this already yummy treat on a stick? There is chicken salt, pepper, cayenne, salt & vinegar, and cheese. (Wouldn’t it be nice if this was one of life’s most difficult decisions?) Pepper it is-yum! More stalls, more food, more chairs, more buskers, more smiles and more people fill the huge hall that exits to the backside of the market. On the street, more of the same and a few bars serving their best alcoholic beverages to market goers.
Our lap complete it is time to decide. Struggling between Mexican quesadillas, Indian masala, and anything with chocolate I choose a Turkish gozleme. I watch as the ladies dressed all in white hand-roll the dough that will later appear on my plate. The ball is made, pressed, thrown on the grille and we are ready. One round is topped with spinach, cheese and seasoning and capped with another. Pressed to perfection and sliced, within minutes this oozing deliciousness is on my paper plate waiting to be gobbled. Napkin in hand to catch the dribbles I dip my first piece into a mixture of greek yoghurt and sweet chili sauce. Mmmmmhhhh!
Mathew chooses a plate of steaming hot Nepalese dumplings filled with shredded chicken and topped with a sparkling peanut satay sauce. We eat outside in the sunshine amidst revelers. The air is clear, the noise euphoric, the aromas scintillating and the market bustling. Last time dessert was the biggest pancake I’ve ever seen topped with chocolate and creamy goodness. Eyeing the churros, ice cream on a stick, profiteroles and crepes I wonder what it will be this time. I’m certain it will involve chocolate and whatever it is, I know we’ll be back again to try something new.
What’s your favourite part of the Queen Vic night market?