The Perth Twilight Hawkers Markets are back! In a nutshell, vendors selling all things edible set up every Friday night in Forrest Place (Perth CBD) once the days start to get longer.
I first discovered the markets with the family earlier this year in January. With the return of school, uni and work looming dangerously close; we’d piled everyone into the car early that morning, and spent the day meandering over Perth. The markets were the perfect way to celebrate the end of our time together, before everyone went their separate ways for the new year. The atmosphere is the stuff of childhood memories; but transported to Perth CBD on a Friday night. Kids were shrieking as they dashed in and out of that new water feature that had been installed in the ground (it was extremely tempting to join them…). An eclectic mix of musicians could be heard at different points throughout the evening. And the food! Anyone with a tendency towards indecisiveness will have a hard time here. It took me a good 10 minutes scope out everything on offer that night, weaving in and out of the crowd. I then had to do a second round before I could decide. There were pans of paella and Moroccan shakshouka so huge, that it was like being a kid again. Equally ginormous were the kettle barbecues upon which mounds of herb crusted ribs were cooked. The family enjoyed all three of these dishes ($10-15 for a decent feed) – and then shared a crepe drowned in sugar and lemon juice.
But the highlight of the evening was the homemade ice creams.
Alas, I forgot to write their name down – but La Paleta: the stall was run by 2 young women. Their delight in their product was absolutely catching. $4 for a delightful ice cream on a popstick, in just about every conceivable flavour combination (and then some. I recall several ice creams that involved summer fruits and herbs) I ended up settling on what was a take on a lime pie. Oh my, it was absolutely gorgeous. Punchy lime juice with warm, sweet and almost spicy notes. I then ran to fetch the entire family. With citrus addiction being something of a family trait, we nearly bought them out of lime ice creams… That ice cream even trumped the nostalgia of my first Simmos ice cream cone with my grandparents. Here’s hoping they return for the 2013-2014 markets season! If you spot these guys, don’t leave without treating yourself. I’d even go to the markets just for dessert.
I stopped by again when I was back in Perth for uni a month or two later, having just picked up some groceries. It was just as delightful wandering around by myself, at the end of a long week. Truly, walking with no particular purpose is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
This time, I tucked into some ribs (about $9-10 I think), served straight from the huge barbecues that billowed smoke. Herby and almost sweet, the ribs dripped juices into the little plastic plate that barely contained the pile of meat. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much meat in one sitting. Suffice it to say, I didn’t eat anything else that night.
Then in July, I was delighted to discover that a variation of the Twilight markets had popped up in the Perth Town Hall for the winter arts season: Perth Winter Supper Club is the name. A selection of the usual vendors from the summer markets were there; and I greatly enjoyed my shakshouka, chicken with chickpeas and crusty bread from the Moroccan stall.
My friends returned with steaming paella and an American style hotdog (complete with all the trimmings); and we tucked in, lined up on the kerb of the road outside that had been blocked off. Later, we headed back inside, where classical music was being performed and local pieces of photography were displayed. We sampled some warm and deliciously fruity cider. Then we spied the mulled cider. I ummed and ahhed, but then spotted the large stock pot of hot chocolate. A few minutes later, I was sipping liquid chocolate (deliciously bittersweet) from a paper cup and nibbling a brownie that oozed chocolate outside in the chilly winter air, as we walked back to the bus station along the river. Capital. During this frosty time of year, our social life tends to dwindle; mostly featuring nights in with cups of tea and movies. So it was a welcome change to get out, and enjoy something a little different.
So with last Friday being the first market of the season, things are already in full swing. You don’t have to wait for the Christmas holidays to inject a little festivity into your week (Speaking of Christmas…wait. No. It’s not even November). I highly recommend stopping by for a bite after work, or before heading out with friends one Friday in the very near future. Or if you’re anything like me, just make the markets themselves the night out.