5 great reasons to visit Queen Vic Market

Wendy Hargreaves is a journalist, restaurant reviewer and food writer who publishes Five of the Best, a digital guide to food and fun in Melbourne. After 25 years in the newspaper game, most recently as food editor at the Sunday Herald Sun, Wendy took her expertise online in November 2012. She also talks about food on 3AW.

5 great reasons to visit Queen Vic Market

I love every bit of the Queen Vic Market, from the heady smells of fresh fish and ripe cheese to the bargain ugg boots and winter coats.

She’s a living, breathing organism on seven sprawling acres with a history dating back 135 years, making her one of the city’s most important cultural landmarks.

But it’s a more basic need that keeps me coming back – human connection. Asking the butcher what’s good today. And how ’bout those Bluebaggers? Can this weather get any colder? Sure, I’ll have a taste of Polish sausage. Basic human interaction.

I’ve had enough of sanitised shopping centres and supermarket duopolies. Those fluro lights and piped music send me batty. And if I hear another formulaic “how are you today?” at a checkout, I’ll scream.

Give me the crazy, smelly Queen Vic any day. Her smaller siblings in South Melbourne, Prahran, Preston and Footscray are similarly fabulous, but it’s the Vic that draws me back.

Here are my top 5 reasons for visiting…

1. Closing Time

Bargain hunters take heed. From 2-3pm every Saturday, just before the Meat Hall doors close for the day, the Queen Vic butchers stand out the front of their stalls and yell for business. Trays of porterhouse for $10. Piles of snags for $5. All sorts of bargains. Buy up big and fill the freezer.

2. Bill’s Farm

If cheese is your thing, Bill Tzimas is your man. He finds the best boutique cheesemakers in Australia and abroad, batting up perfectly ripe goodies with a smile. Bill loves it when you say, “I’m having a party and want some good cheeses”. Watch him go. Find him in the Deli Hall at shop 17-20.

3. The Borek Shop

Don’t let the throngs of borek addicts put you off. On a busy day, this stall is chocker block. But those super-efficient ladies at the borek stall are fast, so you never wait long for a spicey lamb-stuffed tube of Turkish pastry goodness. The cheese and spinach is also a ripper. My kids have been known to beg for them. Find the boreks at shop 95-96 in the Deli Hall.

4. The Polish Deli

Follow your nose to this gem of a deli. Sausages of all shapes and sizes hang like a porky curtain in front of the shop, with piles more in the cabinet. My kids love the Polish wedding sausage, a garlicky flavour bomb that’s rarely in one piece by the time we get home. If it all looks too overwhelming, just tell Peter Langtry what flavours you like, and he’ll do all the work. Find him at in the Deli Hall at shop 5-6.

5. The Corner Chicken Shop

Want your chicken to taste like chicken? I’ve not tasted better. And the smiley crew at the Corner Chicken Shop (87-89, Deli Hall) make you look like a kitchen wiz, transforming the humble chook into all sorts of marinated, herbed, rolled and minced creations. They also sell rabbit, kangaroo, quail, duck, turkey, pheasant and even crocodile. And if you have any doubts about how to cook it, they’re full of helpful advice.

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