HALE W18 Masthead

The Christmas food on the Fyshwick Markets tables

Emma Macdonald

We find out what the people behind the Fyshwick Markets put on their own Christmas tables once they close their doors on Christmas Eve.

It’s beginning to taste a lot like Christmas.

And as is the tradition with so many Canberra food lovers, the place to stock up for the hungry hordes is the Fyshwick Fresh Food markets.

Providores such as Ziggy’s owners Toni and Ken Irvine have been frantic over the last few weeks ordering enough stock to ensure their customers get what they come for.

A surge in the popularity of their deli cabinet – and their selections of locally sourced and organic dips in particular – means Toni is opening new cold storage shelves to stock up.

“I guess dips are an easy thing to have around for friends and family and Christmas and last year we literally sold out of everything, so I am making sure that won’t happen this Christmas.”

Toni Irvine stocking the shelves at Ziggy’s

“You’d think the world was ending when you look at what’s left on the floor at the end of the day,” she says with a laugh.

What also flies out the door in the pre-Christmas madness is always stone fruit such as cherries, peaches, lychees and mangos – all in peak season.

Despite the fruit overload at work, the couple also love it at home and indulge in a massive fruit salad that gets a run for breakfast, lunch and dinner on Christmas Day. Toni emphasises the need for passionfruit pulp all over the fruit salad for extra flavour.

A family tradition is also to layer a trifle with berries and stone fruit such as peaches and apricots.

Over at Sea Harvest, owner Spyro Konidaris is looking forward to a Fyshwick Markets Christmas, having just bought the shop.

Spyro Konidaris from Sea Harvest

Spyro has been in the industry since the 1990s, and says seafood is the mainstay of his Greek family’s Christmas Day feast.

Prawns are always his top seller – with supplies in South Australia king prawns, West Australian tiger prawns, and, hopefully, some Coffs Harbour king prawns all looking strong.

Oysters and lobsters are also increasingly a Christmas Day staple and Spryo notes that many families opt for fish fillets – salmon, tuna or sea perch – as an easy dish to prepare in amongst the chaos of Christmas Day.

But over at the Konidaris’ you’ll find octopus takes centre stage.

Spyro does it on the barbecue after a long marinate in oil, salt and pepper, chilli flakes. A quick sear and a squeeze of lemon is all it takes.

Of course, a Christmas ham can be as easy or as complicated as you want.

Geoffrey Pini at Unique Meats and his team are holed up in their shop, smoking traditional boneless and bone-in Christmas hams weeks before the big day. All pork comes from Australian free-range stock and the shop also does a roaring trade in boneless rolled pork loins which include flavour combinations of apricot and macadamia, cranberry, apple and pistachio and a traditional sage.

Geoffrey Pini with one of Unique Meat’s Christmas hams.

When he finishes his last shift for the day, Geoffrey will go home and help prepare a feast for a family of 50. It always includes a roast leg of pork a turkey and a ham. While he is not in charge of the glaze, he loves one with cherries, brown sugar and a bit of brandy.

Once the Christmas food frenzy is over, there will be further reasons to return to the Fyshwick Markets, which are preparing for 40 new traders as part of the development of the Niche Markets.

The new area will provide 1500 square metres of boutique shopping and specialty traders.

This is the final part of a massive redevelopment of the markets that started in 2008 and will diversify from food into wider offerings including fashion, jewellery, homewares and more.

The fit-out will have a modern warehouse feel. Chez Frederic will also open a store there having established a loyal following for its hearty French fare from out of its Braddon location.

Meanwhile, there’s good news on the sustainability front for the markets, which were originally established in 1965.

Several of the major tenants have started the roll out of solar panels with 500 panels installed so far for Wiffens Premium Greengrocers and Deli Planet. Wiffens owner Jack Irvine is excited about the cost savings of going solar and the opportunity to help reduce the Market’s carbon footprint.

The solar panels are part of a dedicated environmental policy for the markets which includes a 175,000 litre rainwater tank and each store following a food wastage management system with local farmers and charities collecting food waste.

the essentials

What: The Fyshwick Markets
Where: 12 Dalby Street Fyshwick.
When: Christmas trading: gates open 6am-5.30pm on 21st and 22nd December, and from 5am-5.30pm on 23rd and 24th December.
Closed Christmas Day.
Ocean Fresh, Sea Harvest, Ziggys and Unique Meats open 29, 30, 31st December from 7am-4pm.
Normal trading hours of Thursday to Sunday 7am- 5.30pm resume on the 4th of January.

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Emma Macdonald

Emma Macdonald has been writing about Canberra and its people for more than 20 years, winning numerous awards for her journalism - including a Walkley or two - along the way. Canberra born and bred, she’s fiercely loyal to the city, tribally inner-north, and relieved the rest of the country is finally recognising Canberra’s cool and creative credentials. More about the Author