MONA is an enduring party during summer and owner, David Walsh, is kind enough to invite everyone. The Two Girls ventured to MONA for their Saturday afternoon market.
Tourists and locals alike, kick back with live music, great weather and the MONA Markets providing more than a little amusement. The MONA presence is overwhelming. A
huge green, with space for everyone, and views up to the Wellington Ranges and out across the Derwent.
These markets are thoughtful, you won’t find things found everywhere, or often, and you won’t find a lot. Just a handful of unique experiences.
Vintage sari silk shirts, a children’s craft tent, life drawing welcoming you to pick up paper and pencil, and a handcrafted sideshow alley, are some of the things we discovered. Staff circulate to rub sunscreen into exposed shoulders. Drinking water is available in recycled plastic cups and meals are served on metal plates with denim napkins for reuse.
And then there’s the food
On this year’s first visit we ate from the MONA food stall, a rare roast Thai beef and grapefruit salad and the basil, prosciutto and tomato pizza. They’re doing a handful of options and an array of pastries. It’s the food we’ve come to expect from MONA, the food available at their regular events.
But there’s more to the markets than MONA.
Interspersed with the bespoke designed pieces, you’ll find a construction of carefully considered food and drink outlets.
Swapping cocktails and nibbling at her Jerk Chicken Po Boy, This Girl asked Food and Beverage Curator, Jo Cook, about her selections.
Reflecting on the Po Boy’s creator, Honey Child from Louisiana, she tells me that a great many factors influence her choices.
She gushes about Honey Child’s Tres Leches cake discovered whilst scouting for the markets. It’s a sponge that’s soaking in a sauce of three milks that she tops with fresh cream and a blackberry or nectarine compote or such like. Jo looks for food that is memorable. She looks for food like this cake that she will wake up salivating over days later.
A place for quiet achievers
I’m really looking for food that you can’t get anywhere else and I’m looking for those quiet people that are doing something amazing that maybe not everyone knows about.
This is not your garden-variety market fare.
Where else are you ever going to get to eat nine year old miso paste? Hisao and Koomi from Empty Cocoon serve miso each week with a different onigiri and pickles.
One week the onigiri may have fresh peas and another hijiki and black sesame.
You won’t find it in a restaurant here and Honey Child doesn’t cook in a restaurant so it’s about finding a place for them to share their food.
Many of our stallholders don’t have an outlet yet so this is a place where they can share their food.
If you unpack the Jerk Chicken Po Boy you have in front of you, chicken that has rested two days in a wet marinade, followed by a day in a dry rub and finally smoked in Huon Cherry and Apple wood. Now that’s slow food.
Three types of pickles accompany the roll. The hottest is a piece of celery, sliced carrots come in at moderate, and the onion pickle is mild. Teamed with a cool iceberg and a yoghurt and mango dressing, it is a profound meal, far beyond the reaches of your average sanga.
A heartfelt cook
You’ll find food from a cook with a story here, and sharing the story behind the food and the cook is important to Jo. That’s why she likes to have the makers at the markets where they can engage with the buyer and the eater.
The makers are here so they can connect directly with the people who eat their food and Honey Child is really good at talking with customers and sits there like
the Queen on her thrown and really engages with everyone and makes them feel special.
Everyone is welcome to partake
The markets invite you to stay a while and it caters to all tastes.
It’s a small but carefully thought out.
There’s a nice selection of things that you can eat and drink throughout the day that caters to
all diets. So it really is considering vegan, vegetarian and gluten free.
On this occasion, the only meat was the jerk chicken.
Great quality and really quite unique food is also a driving force behind the selections you’ll find.
I’ve got Leatherwood and Hobart Honey Wildflower honey from the hills just behind us
by the Wellington Apiary.
Clive Crossley from Red Sails, is like the grandfather of cider in Tasmania. He’s got an orchard in Middleton where he’s been for 30 years and he has the second largest
collection of heritage cider apples in Australia. He makes four different styles, a UK style, two different types of French cider and a Wild Cider with natural wild yeast.
I’ve only picked some of the best cider in my opinion so I have Red Sails, Willie
Smith and Lost Pippin.
More to come
There’s turnover. Each week there’ll be something new to eat. The stallholders change their menu according to themes and the seasonal produce around them.
The theme during April is survival skills and post-apocalyptic party so it’s all
about people who know how to brew and grow their own food.
There’s more to this than beer and skittles
You might have seen MONA’s campaign to clean up the Derwent River that flows in the shadows of the water’s edge industries and their byproducts.
Heavy metal is the market’s overall theme and cleaning up Hobart’s flowing icon.
The theme of the first three markets was black and that’s about the heaviness and the sadness of the toxins in the river.
Black sesame, mole sauce and squid ink margaritas were some of that theme’s symbols.
This Saturday, you’ll find the tail end of the theme, the River, which is what this is all about, cleaning up the Derwent.
Expect oysters, rest assured, they’ll be sourced from elsewhere.