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Feasting at the Handmade Market Food Hall

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If you’re familiar with the Canberra market scene, you’ll know that the Handmade Market is probably the biggest event on the calendar.

But while most people probably venture forth with their eye on a particular print/ceramic/accessory/dress, I plan my day around the food.

That’s right—while Handmade is known for its wonderful non-edible items, it also has a whole hall dedicated to food, glorious food (and drink), with enough options to let you make a day of it (and dinner and supper too…).

I personally like to channel my inner hobbit at Handmade, starting with something hot for breakfast and then, after a wander, second breakfast. Whether you prefer to start your day with sweet or savoury, Handmade offers both (and it’s totally ok to have doughnuts or cannoli for breakfast!). If you prefer to save the hot food for lunch, that’s fine too, Handmade has that covered and ensures that everyone is catered for, whether they be omnivore, carnivore, or herbivore.

In between meals, or if you prefer to graze, there are plenty of other goodies to try and buy. These range from ready-to-eat treats like macarons from Macaron De Paris, doughnuts from Krofne, beautiful biscuits from Rosebery St Bakehouse, and cupcakes from Veganarchy Sweets and Eats, to name just a few.

Macaron De Paris’ rainbow of flavours

If savoury is more your thing, The Biltong Company, La Bastide, and Pialligo Estate Smokehouse will all be at the May Handmade Market this Saturday.

La Bastide’s saucissons (they even have kangaroo)

Or you can hedge your bets and head to stalls which have both sweet and savoury choices, like Twins Pantry (the honey caramelised macadamias are seriously moreish) or Cracking Corn, (seriously, you can get popcorn that is both sweet and salty—also very, very moreish. You have been warned).

Twins Pantry’s caramelised honey macadamias

If by this point you’re feeling thirsty, there are also plenty of tipples to try, both alcoholic and non. The Canberra Distillery and Underground Spirits are always popular (my friend flipped over Canberra Distillery’s musk vodka—it’s pink and it sparkles when you swirl it!), or perhaps a Krave Juice or Grumpy’s Ginger Beer is more to your taste. For the tea and book lovers out there, keep an eye out for the Literary Tea Co, which cleverly combines the two.

But your food and drink adventures don’t need to end when the market does. Handmade also features a range of stallholders whose products can be used in your own cooking. For example, Elfreds of the Peninsula has an astounding range of chutneys, sauces, jams, relishes, preserves, and more, and Fred is more than happy to have a chat about how to use them and to help you with recommendations (tip: I have it on good authority that his quince paste works a treat in spag bol sauce).

Speaking of chatting, one of my favourite parts of going to Handmade is talking to the stallholders.

Not only is it a great way to learn about their products, but also why they decided to make them, the effort they’ve put in, and what their journey’s been like. Since its inception, Handmade has provided a great launching pad for new producers, such as the award-winning Jasper and Myrtle chocolates and delicious pasticcini by the Sicilian Biscuit Company (who did so well on their first day they completely sold out and had to bake another 1200 biscuits that night so they had something to sell on day two).

Handmade also provides a platform for established producers to launch and test new products. The March market was particularly exciting for me because it meant Easter chocolate, and more specifically, Easter chocolate from Enigma Fine Chocolates, whose creations are as beautiful as they are delicious. Creating a chocolate hot cross bun dome? Genius!

The hot cross bun dome: a layer of vanilla bean caramel, hot cross bun infused ganache, and a spiced shortbread base, all coated in valrhona 64% Manjari dark chocolate.

In addition to chatting with customers, the stallholders also get a chance to meet each other at the market, and this has resulted in some creative collaborations. The Canberra Distillery and Made by Katherine have joined forces more than once; first creating a blood orange and gin, and more recently a pomegranate vodka.

So if you’re heading to the Handmade Markets this weekend and you can spare a bit of time, don’t forget to visit the food hall—after all, you need sustenance for shopping!

the essentials

What: Handmade Market Food Hall
Where: Exhibition Park in Canberra, Flemington Rd & Northbourne Avenue, Mitchell
When:  Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 May from 10 am – 4 pm
Food: All sorts!
Drink: Also all sorts!
Contact: Call 0402 247 532 or visit their website or Facebook page

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