To Market: The Queen Vic

The market of the longest reigning British monarch has had Melbournians ritualistically making the pilgrimage to peruse and gather goods for over 125 years, and for good reason. This market offers diversity, a darn good atmosphere and price tags to suit even students especially for fresh produce with the many stalls competing.

I lie, staring at the cracks of blue light peeping through the timber venetians, wide awake. It's about 5.30am. I ponder whether to just stay in bed and rest, get up and clean, write, do something useful. I remember it's market day. The market opens at 6am so I quietly slink out of bed, avoiding the burdensome set of creaking floor boards below. I pull on tights, boots, a woolen skirt, turtleneck, overcoat and hat and sit down at the coffee table to write a note lest my other should wake up and find me gone. Pulling my shopping cart behind me, I walk through the dark and dormant streets of Melbourne, chopping and changing my route through streets and lanes as I please.

As I approach the market I can here the busy chatter and clatter of vendors setting up shop. Rugged up, hauling crates and containers off the back off trucks, the hardworking men and women prepare to begin their day of business. In the wee hours of this chilly morning, I witness what most of us shoppers take for granted. A thousand smells waft past my nose; a warm yeasty aroma as I wander past bakeries, an ocean breeze near the seafood hall and the musty, creamy scent wafting from the delicatessens specialising in cheese.

In the general area, treat your mantle to an adorable set of Babushka dolls for around $12, pamper yourself with a variety of essentials oils for about $5 each, stock up on socks, knickers and thermals for the whole tribe or prepare for Christmas stocking stuffing with hand-painted wooden toys.

The general stalls offer a lot but this market is famous for it's foodstuffs.

Fresh ricotta from 'Curds & Whey' in the deli hall, heaped onto caraway seed rye, topped with capers, roasted capsicum and black pepper.

See the lovely folk at The Epicurean in the deli section to get tips on what's ripe for your cheese and wine gathering and if you are a meat eater - the Gypsy ham is a must. You might also like to try their blonde Calamatta olives. Just across from the Epicurean is Curds and Whey and be sure to get a hunk of fresh ricotta - absolutely divine. Up the aisle a little is Andrew's Bakery and if you haven't tried A&G Bakehouse's Vital Rye, you are seriously missing out, for a slice of this bread (always toasted) is a superb meal unto itself. We like to spread its toasted flesh with tahini, top with a crumbling of a nice sharp vintage cheddar and a pile of alfalfa or watercress, a big grind of black pepper, squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil...I digress.

Here are the details:

Queen Victoria Market
Corner Elizabeth and Victoria Streets

Tel: (03) 9320 5822
Fax: (03) 9328 2710

Market Trading Hours
Tuesday: 6am - 2pm
Thursday: 6am - 2pm
Friday: 6am - 6pm (General merchandise closes at 4pm)
Saturday: 6am - 3pm
Sunday: 9am - 4pm

Closed every Monday and Wednesday, Good Friday, Anzac Day, Melbourne Cup Day, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day

For more information, have a look here.

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