If there’s something I’ve realised recently, it’s that Melbourne does food markets well. It’s not a surprise I suppose, considering the city’s status as the food capital of Australia, (sorry Sydney, but I think you know it to be true) I obviously just haven’t spent enough time there to realise before.
With regular markets like the Queen Victoria Markets, in particular the Wednesday night food markets, as well as the Night Noodle Markets, and a seemingly never-ending stream of pop-up events and festivals, there are no shortage of food trucks to bring all the flavours of the world to the insatiable crowds of Melbournians (or is it Melbournites?).
Even a day at the races can bring out the culinary delights of the city. Maybe I’ve been going to the wrong races, but if I think back to food experiences I’ve had at the races, I think the extent of it consisted of clutching a hotdog or sausage roll in one hand, champagne in the other, carefully trying not to spill tomato sauce all down my dress. A nearly impossible task for a messy eater like me, particularly while wearing heels.
Caulfield Racecourse however, will be bringing a different flavour to its Blue Diamond Stakes Day, with a taste of Asia hitting the race track this year.
As part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, and also coinciding with Chinese New Year celebrations, the Flavours of Asia markets will be at Caulfield on Saturday the 28th of February.
One of the stallholders at the markets will be the masters of the barbecue; Hoy Pinoy. They are not hard to find at any given market, with their smoky aromas wafting between various stalls as a guiding beacon to tasty food. Where there’s smoke there’s bound to be barbecue. Regulars at the Night Markets at Queen Victoria Markets every Wednesday evening, and recently having stalls at both the Melbourne and Sydney Night Noodle Markets, Hoy Pinoy bring Filipino barbecue food to the hungry masses.
What does Filipino barbeque entail you ask? Inihaw, or Filipino barbecue skewers. And not just any old kebab sticks, big ol’ skewers threaded generously with juicy chunks of tender meat. They keep things simple, with two flavours available; chicken and pork belly. Both will be served with rice and Achara, or pickled papaya.
Inihaw Ma Baboy
The Inihaw Ma Baboy, or pork belly, is glazed with a banana ketchup and the Inihaw Ma Manok, or chicken, has a sweet soy glaze.
Inihaw Ma Manok
The pork belly is succulent and melt-in-your-mouth goodness, and the smoky sticky chicken is everything you want from a barbecue. The tartness of the pickled papaya complements the sticky glazed skewers well, giving a bit of zing to the meaty fare.
James Meehan is the chef behind Hoy Pinoy, and operates a number of other ventures with his business partner Megan Phillis, including Cafe Italia, Frankie Says, The Meatball Company and The Melt Shop. Another product of Hoy Pinoy that garners plenty of attention is Lechon, or whole roasted pigs on the spit. Its easy to see why Hoy Pinoy is a crowd favourite. James’ wife Regina is originally from the Philippines, and says that the Hoy Pinoy brand reflects her home town. The company logo is of the Jeepney, the main form of transport in the Phillipines, and the simplicity of the menu is reflective of the dishes available there.
There will be approximately ten stalls at Flavours of Asia, providing gourmet market food to crowds starting from . With the Spring Racing Carnival taking most of the attention in the horse racing season, the February event at Caulfield will add something a bit different to the summer sporting event.
Another stallholder present on the day will be Hammer and Tong. The popular Fitzroy eatery are also part of the growing food truck phenomenon with their Hammer and Tong Food Truck providing some of their popular dishes on the road, such as the soft shell crab burger.
Julian Robertshaw, Melbourne Racing Club Executive Chef said that they wanted to provide something different to their usual food and beverage offering, and believes that the event will provide great sporting action mixed with a unique food festival.
The market is all about putting the food on display, with the almost theatrical production of food helping to draw punters interest. Meehan explains that this is a big factor for them, particularly with the roasted pigs. The event will be a street style festival atmosphere, and it will be easy to catch all the action of the day, with the ability to eat on the lawn in front of the race course.