Gin and Irish Coffee marmalades plus the best falafel in Belfast: a visit to the historical St George’s Market

It is a must see attraction in Belfast, and also one of the most ancient traditions in the city: St. George’s Market collects among its stalls an important fragment of the Northern Irish capital’s soul.

Held inside a characteristic red bricks victorian building, St. George’s Market is the biggest and most famous market in Belfast. The historical frame doesn’t stop at its construction between 1890 and 1896, but goes further back in time: Belfast’s Friday market has always been in this spot, way before the costruction of the beautiful building that every citizen knows, since the tradition dates back to 1604.

As you go through the door, you enter a coloured and vibrant ambient, made of assorted stalls going from vintage and second hand to craft, passing through the true heart of the market: fresh food, especially bread, fish and oysters, and street food stands. Being Italian, I felt a bit my heart bleeding, since one of the things I miss in Belfast is to go around the italian traditional city markets, and St. George’s, with its air full of the smell of spices and continental foods, is the closest place to them.

st georges market 1l

St. George’s Market takes place three days a week, from Friday to Sunday, and every day is different from the others:

  • Friday is on the Variety Market: a market with different goods, that very proudly hosts a fresh fish section so big to be considered the leading retail one in all Ireland.
  • Saturday is on the City Food, Craft and Garden Market: this day is dedicated especially to street food and fresh, locally produced goods.
  • Sunday is on the Food, Craft and Antique Market: this is the day in which the biggest prominence is given to crafts, still keeping in the rest of the market a mix between the Friday’s and the Saturday’s stalls.

I went in visit during the Saturday market, since I was in a “culinary mission”: I wanted to taste the famous St. George’s falafel since everyone who went there for lunch told me they’re really good.

st georges 5l

Well, I confirm it: they’re really worth! These little chickpeas balls are so good to make for once agree omnivorous, vegetarians and vegans, all in silence queueing together watching the falafel cooked in the moment.

The street food stalls, grouped all together in the heart of the market around an area with tables and chairs, offer not just falafel but there are actually many, many options: my friend Antonia had cuban food, but you can find typical irish food as well, spanish paella, you can taste oysters, drink smoothies, coffee, tea, and a lot of other food and drinks. Really, it’s even hard to choose!

Many stands, also, give the possibility of tasting before buying: this is a pretty good idea, since often there are peculiar goods that for example I don’t know.

A typical product that surely I’ll go back to get is the one I found at the marmalades and conserves stall: an Irish Coffee Cream that made me very curious, together with the Irish Gin and Bitter Lemon Marmalade (!). If you’re surprised of reading so strange tastes, just know here it’s kinda normal: in Ireland there’s a cult for creams, marmalades and jams, and you can find them in any kind and colour, often produced locally as well.

Another marvel I met in the market’s alleys is the fresh local vegetables stall: with all those shapes and colours, it is impossibile to not draw it. And, in fact, I didn’t resist:

st georges marketl

So, if you pass from Belfast don’t forget to visit St. George’s Market since it is an incredible place: it is no coincidence that in 2014 it has been elected as the Best Large Indoor Market in UK. I’ll be back for sure to draw the fish and bread stalls 😉


St George’s Marketst georges market 3l
12-20 East Bridge Street
Belfast
BT1 3NQ

Times:
Friday Variety Market: 6am-3pm
Saturday City Food, Craft and Garden Market: 9am-3pm
Sunday Food, Craft & Market: 10am-4pm

 

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