Every time I smell the smoke from a wood fire I’m transported back to my youth. Spending time around a campfire watching the flames lick a marshmallow as it clings for dear life to the charred stick. "Just a bit longer", I'd say, before unceremoniously stuffing it in my mouth, third degree burns be damned!
As I walked down Wilson Street towards the Carrigeworks Night Market with my partner, we could already smell the smoke and I was transported once again. "Just a bit longer" I thought, picking up the pace.
The smoke didn’t relent when we arrived. The markets were a buzz with hungry folk looking to feast on charred flesh – we were secretly hoping to find Tyrion Lannister under the Young Henry’s stand. Walking down the steps we found people huddled around several fire pits, mesmerized by the high flames as the chefs turned and tended to a selection of animal carcasses.
The young and young at heart were roasting marshmallows (yessss!), bought along by the Country Women's Association, trying not to burn their mouths with the molten goo.
With 40 stands, we had our work cut out. Starting with a Natural Larger from the Young Henry's crew (no Lannister unfortunately) we wandered around to get the lay of the land.
Billy Kwong was our first stop. Through the noise and bellowing steam clouds, you could find restaurant manager, Kin Chen. Dumpling orders were flying, but he never once stopped smiling.
Next to Billy Kwong was the Bondi institution, Icebergs Dining Room and Bar. Its porchetta on a crusty bun was exactly what was needed on a cold night. The melt in your mouth smoky pork flavour was like a warm hug… from a pig.
In an attempt to escape the smoke (boy does that stuff make your eyes sting) we headed inside to see what else was on offer. Beyond the massive vaulted doors and the high voltage signs, the foodie paradise continued. The food on offer was next level, with La Bastide's deli meats, Food by Fiat's flame grilled skewers and Tequila Mockingbird's slow cooked goat shoulder - to name only a few because the choice was endless.
Archie Rose distillery was in high demand, its cocktails selling out by 8pm, but the guys were able to console us with a classic G&T.
Drinks in hand we sampled "The Crack" from Chrissy's Cuts (aka The Sausage Factory in Dulwich Hill). A crusty white torpedo roll with a Willie the Boatman cider infused nuremberg rostbratwurst sausage, pork shoulder and topped with horseradish sauce, pickled apple slices and crackling - very addictive.
With the night winding down (and our stomachs full and happy) we decided we still had room left for dessert. But on our way out we were presented with a tantalising prospect – Hartsyard’s pulled pork poutine. We couldn’t walk past, it would have been rude to say no. These Enmore boys knew what they were doing. Layers of smoky pulled pork and shoestring fries all topped with a hot liquid cheese. Served in a classic take away chip cup, it was the highlight of our night.
Full to bursting, dessert was now even more of a challenge, but we overcame the tightness of our pants and endured (the things you do for food reviews…) We chose to visit gelato maestro, Mr Goaty Gelato. On offer were flavours like Charred Pineapple Margarita and Burnt Honeycomb, it was hard to pick just one. The millennial within us went for the very Instagramable Charcoal and Salted Caramel Choc-top. It was so black and so #delicious.
All up a wonderful night with a warm atmosphere and fantastic food. The memories will last us a long time, but not as long as the smoky smell now part of my denim jacket. Bring on next year!
Words and images by our contributor Alex McGregor who was a guest of Carrigeworks Night Market.