A couple of weeks ago, myself and the Beau took a very fleeting trip to Belfast on a Friday evening to see some friends. In our brief look around the city on the Saturday morning, we went to visit the St George's Street Market.
The minute we walked in the door I was jealous, as you can see from the picture above, it's vast! We also happened to enter to the end with the seafood stands and the variety of fish, shellfish and other underwater delights was overwhelming. I'm not the world's biggest fish fan but at that moment, visions of paella, bouillabaise and simple baked fish dishes floated through my mind.
But it didn't just stop at fish, pretty much anything you could imagine was there. We spent about an hour there wandering around and drinking in all the sights, smells and sounds. In the middle of the market was a space where people could sit, eat and listen to the band.
Around this central space were stalls that specialised in food to eat there and then. These varied from the usual sandwiches and crêpes to more exotic things such as paella and intriguing Indian dishes. There was even a hog roast, if I hadn't just had my breakfast, it would've been in my belly in the blink of an eye!
The vegetable stands also caught my eye, and if I thought it would've survived the journey home on the train I would've bought a week's worth right then and there. As it was I contented myself with a bundle of extremely fresh rhubarb.
The two stands that really caught my eye were the seaweed stall and the most amazing spice stand that I have ever seen. I will have to write a shopping list for both of them and then return as the choice was just so varied, especially for the spices, that I couldn't remember what I had in my own cupboards at home. The seaweed I liked as I've never knowingly eaten it, but I've always wanted to give it a try and there seemed to be so many different types available.
The oddest thing I was shown while we were there was "Vegetable Roll", which seems to be an exclusively Northern Ireland thing, as it consists of a large sausage which has some green bits flecked through it. According to the Beau it's the green bits that earn it the title of "vegetable" despite it being almost entirely made of meat.
Regional idiosyncracies aside, the market also contained some lovely looking bread and cakes. There was also the usual fancy oil stand (though I loved the way he showed off the oils by putting lights behind them) and a delicatessan stand with olives, cheeses and a range of chacuterie style meats.
As you can probably guess from my rather gushing tales of the market that I loved it. Is there anywhere in Dublin that has somewhere like this? Where there is a huge selection of produce at competitive prices? If there was I would be there every week to buy my groceries.
Next time I go to Belfast I will be bringing the car and a lot of shopping bags.