Saturday, 17 January 2009

Rita aka Cinderella

12.00 is the magic time at Island Markets. Why? Because that’s when the Paella from Churros Café is timed to be ready. Having been tipped off that the woman from the late-lamented Sisco’s (where Observatory wine bar now is) has the café at Island Markets and is turning out some of the dishes for which Sisco’s was famous, I have been trying to get out there for ages, and finally set aside time for it today.

I wasn’t let down. Churros Café, situated within Island Markets, is in the heart of commercial Moonah. The menu is small but what there is would surprise you, were you expecting Chiko Rolls and chips at this modest little café.

I ordered a Churros with dipping chocolate ($4) to eat while I waited the 10 minutes for the paella to be ready. This was handy as it meant I got to chat with several people on tables nearby about the food, and their thoughts and opinions on same. Mostly they’d come specifically for the paella, which they were all happy to inform me was a regular fixture, and which they deliberately timed their Saturday morning activities around!

When it came off the stove, it did indeed look splendid. There were by that stage about 10 people waiting patiently for this dish – something I found wonderful to observe. If it came to placing bets, I would have bet quids that they might sell maybe 4 or 5 servings of this meal, if they were lucky! I’d have been so wrong. These paella devotees were single-minded in their praise of the food, and their returning for it time and time again. Indeed, on tasting mine, I could see why they loved it. It is a beautiful, fully-flavoured plate of genuine Spanish paella, filled with all manner of seafood, including mussels, octopus and various fish. I ordered a small serving, for $5, and found it plenty for my lunch time appetite, but they do have a larger serving for $8.

I realize that Island Markets isn’t your usual foodies hangout, but you’re a fool if you insist on being elitist and sticking with the usual Salamanca/North Hobart food trail. Plus Island Markets is the only place in Tasmania (in my whole life) that I've ever seen abalone on sale for anyone to buy - both baby abalone in their cute little shells, and 'ordinary' abalone! It's there now - go buy some and try it if you don't believe me.
Posted on by Rita


hrv said...

M,mmmm Churros. Would have to be on the list of 'last meal requests'. The Island markets guys are related to the Siscos ownwers/operators so it would seem a natural fit. It would be good to see a little authentic Iberian food since there is very little in Tasmania. May have to make a trip Rita.

rockoyster said...

And for those who were wondering where the hell Island Markets are (as I was) you can find out more here.
I love paella so this is definitely on the agenda.

Tassiegal said...

Ok, thats next Saturday sorted then! I literally live at the top of the hill and tend to avoid Island markets as it makes me itch..but for good paella I'll go!!

Anonymous said...

The secret is out . . . . Better to arrive at 12.30 as the Paella has just come off the stove. The first time I saw a Paella pan I was gobsmacked at it's size - almost as big as my pudding bowl.

Has anyone tried 'written in tea' in sandybay rd - Bloody nice duck and dumplings , very well priced. Very honest food.


Rita said...

Hi HRV - lovely to hear from you again. I'd be interested to hear back if you go out there and sample the wares.
Thanks RO for adding the link. Don't forget to tell us your thoughts if you get out there.
TG - next Saturday sounds like the go!
CR - Bang goes my credibility. I thought I heard most hospitality-related news/gossip, but this one I have never heard of. Where is it?
Sounds like I need to go there and try their duck.

Christina said...

We finally got to Cullens bakery in Moonah on Friday Rita.
Phil chose the braised rabbit pie and I chose a cornish pastie.
The pie was sublime and made me regret my choice completely.
I'm a massive pastie fan but this one left me disillusioned. I'm used to all manner of vegies and minced lamb with plenty of pepper. This one contained lamb, potato and lashings of salt. The pastry was lovely and flaky though.
Next time I'll be onto a beef and red wine or mushroom pie I reckon.
The chicken and asparagus also sounded great.
Eyed off some cherry danish but would have felt like a guts, it did look amazing though.
Also purchased a vienna bread to bring home which was beautiful.
i will be returning when I do my Moonah food trip next week.
So funny Rita, we were nearly at Island Markets at 12 yesterday but got lazy and didn't go. Must go and try the paella now, I think it's just become a little harder to come by though.

Anonymous said...

How was my Bacon? Its OK, Lee was doubtful as to being available and so we took a rain-cheque for another time.
I absolutely love churros con chocolate, we make them during winter. Got to say though Rita, maybe I'm out of step but we charge a bit more than $4 for them and no one complains one jot. Also $5 - 8 dollars for paella. Look its none of my business, its not my business, but a coffee is averagely $3.60 + , charging $1.40 more for a solid crafted cooked meal with seafood in it, how does this contribute to your overheads let alone your own wages. Churro's its absolutely none of my business, but if I were wandering around Island markets and spotted a Spaniard cooking a Seafood Paella I would be happy to pay more than double for the small serve and twice as much for the churro's. On a side note, the old sisco's introduced me to something I had never eaten before (coz I'm pommie) Moreton bay bugs, utter heaven, so thank you for that, they were superb.


Manwell said...

Question - Does this paella thing only happen on Saturdays?

Rita said...

Hi Christina - I drove past Cullens on the way back
from Island Markets, and thought about popping in there, but didn't. Looks like we were on a similar page!
Cartouche - I didn't have a comparative costing for the churros or paella, so wasn't thinking about that aspect of the food when I ate it. Now you've pointed it out, I think you're right. The $5 is way low for what I got with the paella, and as for the churros - bargain! And I got the more expensive churros. If I'd had it without the dipping chocolate, it was $3.50.
Manwell (great name, too, BTW!) - I think this happens each day ther're open but am not sure. A call to the Markets would clear that up, I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Its not the cost of the ingredients Rita. If that was the case then a couple of eggs,butter flour, water, etc is not the problem. Most people just multiply by 3. Owners often forget to pay themselves, and do not factor themselves in as a cost. Look, I consider myself worth $30 an hour (minimum)and this gets factored into the day along with all the other overheads. Churro's are cheap to make, but will a hundred serves a day cover your costs, labour rent and power? You need to be thinking in these terms.


Anonymous said...

there's no eggs or butter in churros $30 man.

Basil said...

Is that Anon fellow correct Manwell?

Manwell said...

No No Mr. Fawlteee! In Bar Kelona we use zis recipeeee. Many eggs - no rats.

hrv said...

I've always used eggs in churros (there is a cheat's recipe that omits them) but the authentic churros is almost identical to a choux paste, perhaps that is where the French stole the idea?

Anonymous said...

Annon 8.26. Just trying to tell it as it is. And trying to be helpful at the same time. Nobody wants to see people going to the wall. The jobs hard enough, without a sour aftertaste. My Aunts name is Ruiz, its her recipe, you make 'em your way, but I'll stick to what I know.


Thudd said...

Get there early too and watch the Tango dancers strutting their stuff on every other saturday or so!

Also, the paella might be nice but it is nothing compared to the caramel souffle thingy - sample it before you die.