UPDATE May 2015: The crowds have settled a little, but The Marketta Street Food Market is still a happening event. There’s been the welcome addition of a souvlaki stall and there’s a real family feel happening in this now twice-weekly event (Friday and Saturday nights). Our favourite dining time is still early enough to avoid the queues…Love it!
The Marketta Street Food launch was a smash hit! Sure, street food is trendy, but judging by the turnout and crowd enthusiasm, you could have mistaken it for an annual foodie event in a very hungry town.
Situated in the laneway running through the arts precinct of Rabbit + Cocoon, the event is part market, part street food, part pop up, part festival of food; the first night a mere glimpse of what will be a sensational weekly event.
We’d visited Rabbit + Cocoon soon after its opening and were impressed by its funky arty vibe. Not only is it the home to permanent art spaces, but the monthly Miami Marketta has established a regular following. The weekly Street Food market, however, will really extend its coverage and popularity.
We arrive at the Marketta Street Food launch as the sun descends on a perfect autumn day, our early arrival just before its opening a distinct advantage, as it turns out! We do a quick tour of the ‘United Nations’ of food, taking snaps of stalls as we go, but are sidelined talking before we even get to the drinks.
French, Hungarian, Mexican, Turkish, Spanish, Indian, Thai, Brazilian, Venezualan, Japanese, German, Italian…it’s all there. Much of it is traditional regional street food, the noteworthy difference being the venue – a clean environment and rubbish bins, rather than the dirty litter-laden thoroughfares of many world cities.
There’s a good range for vegetarian, vegan, and omnivore palates, with an emphasis on healthy, alternative and regional world cuisine. Some of it we’ve seen before, but it’s a great mix of familiar vendors and newcomers, throwing in a few stalls run by local restaurants such as Pablo Pablo, cooking up their fabulous paella, and The Office.
The Street Food Marketta has taken months of planning by Emma Milikins, with great publicity, booths carefully laid out, live music entertaining the crowd and seating for 300 in a ‘dessert’ hall. But it would have been difficult to envisage the sheer deluge of people who would turn out for the event. It’s family central, with children and prams in tow, blowing the myth that young families don’t eat out! This is casual dining heaven for everyone, the only problem being that ‘everyone’ is there!
By 5pm on opening night it feels like a rock concert within a tight space, as shoulder to shoulder people try to see what’s available, waiting patiently for food, or just trying to get to the bar.
The carnivores follow their noses, edging their way to JR’s Smokehouse Barbeque, the lucky ones scoring the $30 meat roundup plate, or a lusciously tender pulled pork roll. Others quell the beast at The Hungry Hungarian or Double T for tacos and tortillas. Vegans dwell in the Funky Forest for veg mex, have a Veggie Attack or dip into one of the raw food stalls. There’s an eclectic mix of woodfired pizza, gozleme, arepas, pad thai, quesadillas, sushi and gyoza, world burgers, even fish and chips cooked in rice bran oil! Let’s not forget dessert: authentic Apple or chocolate-fulled buckwheat Crêpes Bretonne, pretty delicious cupcakes by Jamosie Sweet, pomegranate frozen yoghurt, or even fudge for the sweet tooth…to name a few!
Patient the diners need to be, because all the food is handmade from scratch. While some food has been baked elsewhere, some stallholders such as JR’s have been there since early morning, the smokehouse steaming, workers slaving away to prepare for the big night.
“… street food is actually ‘slow food’, prepared in someone’s own kitchen with little to no shortcuts, from family recipes handed down through the ages. The food is cooked all through the night on the outskirts of the towns and villages, in kitchen ovens or in deep earthen pits, and brought into city and town centers each morning … Rich with tradition and heritage, street food is the purest form of true authentic … cuisine.” (Street Food of Mexicoby Hugo Ortegaand Penny de los Santos)
By Emma Milikins’ own admission, there’s some refining to be done before next week to better cope with the Marketta’s popularity. What it does prove, though, is the sheer hunger of Gold Coasters for down to earth good healthy rustic food in a casual dining environment. It reminds us that some of the best cooking is found in the most humble places! Cheap and cheerful despite the masses, the Marketta Street Food market is now a twice-weekly event not to miss!
Open Wed 5 – 9pm; Fri 5pm – late; Sat 4pm – late at 23 Hillcrest Parade, Miami, Queensland 4220