Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market is both a historic landmark and foodie hotspot. Open since 1878, it’s one of Melbourne’s last remaining working markets and as such has sections that are heritage listed. I’d been to the Queen Vic Market many times but it wasn’t until I joined the Hunt & Gather Food Tour recommended by my hotel that I realised I had never seen a whole section of the market before – and that I had been missing the best bit!
The Hunt & Gather Food Tour starts at Vic Market Place, minutes from the beautiful art deco Dairy Hall I had never seen before. The tour takes you through all sections of the market, starting with the Meat Hall, threading through the Organics and Fruit and Veg sections before looping back to the Dairy Hall to sample some treats.
The guide takes you through the history of the market (I learnt the car park was once a graveyard and other interesting facts) whilst introducing you to some of the specialities you can buy there.
The Meat Hall is a fascinating insight into Aussie eating habits – different butchers cater for different cultures with different cuts and types of meat – and needless to say there was a lot of Aussie beef and lamb on display. We got also a little insight into how the market works by looking at the rails which line the ceiling that are used to transport the meat in each morning.
Outside, the fruit and vegetable stalls were bursting with locals buying all the colourful goods. We watched as the guide made conversation with the stall owners and customers and I realised what a more vibrant shopping experience this was compared to going to Coles!
Finally we headed back into the art deco Dairy Hall to try some of the goods sold by the bakers and delis. There are 37 outlets in total (including bakeries, patisseries and a boutique beer and wine shop) but alas we could not try them all – not during our 2 hours anyway!
Our tour finished with a visit to the newest addition at Queen Vic Market, which I’m sure will be incredibly popular with foodies. Books for Cooks is an independently owned, award-winning, specialist bookstore selling exclusively new, vintage and antiquarian cookbooks and books about wine and food. From foodie travelogues to chef autobiographies, every type of food related publication is covered in this Aladdin’s cave of reading.
The tour ticket comes with a free coffee voucher so I took my chocolates from Koko Black and nibbled them whilst enjoying a latte from Market Espresso. I couldn’t think of a better way to have spent my morning in Melbourne.
The Hunt & Gather Food Tour cost $49 per person and takes place on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Visit qym.com.au/tours for details.