The Food Junkie

Taste, texture & tales. Inside the mind of a chef.

Personal blog of The Food Junkie, Rebecca Clark. Discover stories of taste, texture and tales inside the mind of a chef that's travelled the globe in search of her next food hit. Bec sports a private cook book collection to rival the British Library and Harvard and shares her cooking wisdom with practical tips and humour. She's co-owner of Fish D'vine and The Rum Bar in Airlie Beach, Australia. An iconic award winning restaurant in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef.

Our local markets

I have said before, the markets are the soul of the city and OK our tropical paradise isn't by any means a city, but our local market sure is part of our soul. Part of the amazing community that comes together every Saturday morning to sell, gather and create special moments. Community spirited moments and yes a tourist attraction has been born.

For many, many years, every Saturday I visit our local market to gather fresh produce for the restaurant, bar, functions and my personal pleasure. Not many a mojito from the rum bar has passed over, without some local grown market fresh mint.  Over the years, so many culinary pleasures and the discovery of fresh, new and unknown produce to let my food junkie passion go wild. It's kept me inspired for new recipes and seasonal daily specials for the restaurant. It is a place for tourists to taste, try, buy and ask about our tropical culinary produce. 

I myself have given many tips and advice on how to use such beautiful fresh fare to tourists and locals alike. How much pleasure does this give me, priceless.

Many moons ago my business partner, Kevin and I also were stall holders. Amazing times, amazing memories full of laughter, banter and market vibes. Vibes like no other. The early rising to set up your stall, waiting for the coffee machine to start steaming. Ok, so Kev did most of the early set ups, but I have an understanding of the effort, rain, shine or stinking bloody hot, ourselves and many stall holders, God for how many years have they put the effort in. Ever tried to put a marque up in the wind?  Quite frankly, how darn lucky are we.

The market over the years has grown to more than just a market. It's a sanctuary to buy local produce, beautiful handy crafts, jewellery, clothes, doggie treats, gems and the list goes on. It's a buzz of tourists and locals gathering on our foreshore, to shop in its truly beautiful setting.

No, it's not just a market, it is a tourist destination, with the glistening blue ocean behind, swaying palm trees, golden sand, and the sound of the tides as they drift in and out. The amazing sand sculptures being crated every week. The local musicians playing a variety of toe tapping tunes. A mix of buskers performing their artistic talents. The camels, safari style taking kids, little and big ones for the ride of a life time. Just take a look at how many happy holiday makers are blissfully wandering around snapping photo after photos. Yes it is more than a market, it is a hit list tourist attraction, a must do for Airlie Beach.

The other amazing growth our markets have experienced is in the array of cuisine now on offer. Street food from all around the word, from Laughing Mao dumplings to Coxinhas Tropicana Brazilian treats. Ice creams to delicious homemade sausage rolls, complete with a song. Come on, where else in the world is a market so unique?  The stalls that offer seating with waffles, wraps, fresh coffee, smoothies and savoury crepes. Spring out on the shady shores, toes wriggling in the sand. The Authentic Mexican tacos, Thai delights, BBQ buttered corn cobs, raw foods, fresh coconut juice and other coconut products. From local seafood, Bowen mango sorbet, chimney cakes made before your eyes and yes, the list does go on.  

A stunning venue to catch up with friends for breakfast, morning tea or lunch, or all three. So close to the foreshore, how lucky are we. It’s to the Lions club and present and past stall holders that have worked hard to create this, an Airlie Beach institution, for this I am grateful.

So it is understandable that to move the markets has created a stir. It is obvious it means a lot to our community, as it certainly does to me. I do understand that in a small town like ours, with its amazing growth, changes will take place. They have already and more than likely will continue to do so. Chamber of Commerce have put together a proposal, that could be beneficial for the stall holders and the locals. Moving back to the original site does have benefits. The foreshore remaining the back drop, the shady trees, the kiddies playground and increased parking. Is this the answer? 

The old and proposed 'new' location put forward by the Chamber of Commerce

The old and proposed 'new' location put forward by the Chamber of Commerce

I look forward to many more years of my market visits. My support of the market will continue.  Continue to have not only an amazing local market, but the tourist destination it has grown to be and maybe one that has room to actually grow in the future.  Have a read of the Chamber of Commerce submission and form your own view. Markets possibly in a better space, with room to expand and a market which can ultimately help events like the music festivals, is it a great idea? You can visit this link to download their submission...

I suppose we will never know if we don't give it a go!