First published on 2 Jan 2012. Updated on 7 May 2012.
Matt Wilkinson is many things: successful restaurateur, head chef of Pope Joan and cheeky Yorkshire geezer amongst them. But above all, he is a lover of fresh veg and a champion of the local produce scene. We asked him to divulge his top spots for picking up seedlings, spices and the occasional new pal.
This was the first farmers’ market I went to, years ago. It’s beautiful, with such diverse and flavoursome in-season foods. Stop by the Blakey's for some awesome smoked garlic and go see Russell at Milawa Free Range Poultry – he’s good for a laugh and his skinny legs match his product. 18 St Heliers St, Abbotsford. Second Sat monthly 8am-1pm.
Sprout Market Thornbury
A real community market that sells organic produce – but I mainly go for their seeds and seedlings to plant in my garden. The best bit about it, is all money raised goes back into the development of the market. Sprout Community Gardens, Cnr Watt & Clapham St, Thornbury. First Thu monthly 3-7pm.
There ain't too many markets around that see ten-plus world cultures come together like at Dandenong. Ethopian, Afghanstani, Vietnamese – it’s the one market where I'm always asking: “What's this? Erm, and how do I use it?” It rocks. Cnr Clow & Cleeland St, Dandenong. Tue, Sat 7am-4pm; Fri 7am-5pm.
Superb farmers’ market. You have to go and try Warialda's sausages on the barbecue, Jim’s pork pies and buy some stunning holy goat cheese. A lot of the producers there are now great friends and I use their gear at Pope Joan on a weekly basis. Abbotsford Convent,1 St Heliers St, Abbotsford. Last Sat of the month 8am-1pm.
Footscray Wholesale Fish Markets
It’s wholesale, so if you ain't got a friend in the fish business I have no idea how you get in. At about 2–4am this little pocket of fish delight is humming with fresh seafood from all over Australia. Tuna day is the best when you see the fishmongers battling it out to buy the best, then sending messages to Melbourne’s kitchens telling them they have a beauty. It’s pure gold and it’ll be a massive shame if we lose it to development in the next few years. Footscray Rd, Melbourne.