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Mark Brosnan ... one of the cogs in the very heart of Adelaide. All images: John Rozentals.

DESTINATION: Adelaide

By JOHN ROZENTALS

TRAVEL: 16 NOVEMBER 2014

JOHN ROZENTALS thoroughly enjoys a reintroduction to Adelaide Central Market and his first stay in beachside Glenelg.

“The wisteria on the back veranda is still blooming. And all the great aunts are either insane or dead ...”

I’m a great fan of Australian singer/songwriter Paul Kelly, who I reckon occasionally shows Dylanesque touches to his wording, and his song Adelaide is as beautiful and evocative an ode to birthplace as any.

But I can’t agree with his line about all the king’s horses and all the king’s men not being able to drag him back again. Certainly in the case of Adelaide Central Market, it would take all those men and all those horses to drag me away whenever I visit.

It is, for me, Australia’s finest food marketplace, and I’m hardly surprised that it rates as the top tourist attraction in a city that also boasts fine colonial architecture sitting astride grand boulevards, magnificent gardens and cultural festivals that have become the models for our other major metropolises.

What does surprise me, and continues to annoy me enormously, is that Sydney — a city with nearly four times the population of Adelaide — just isn’t able to organise and support a central marketplace anywhere near as good.

It seemed strange at the time, but when I visited the southern Spanish port of Malaga — founded by the Moors and by some counts Europe’s oldest city — I immediately found comparisons between its marketplace and Adelaide’s.

Yes, Adelaide Central Market has a very European feel to it. It’s in the heart of the city and, in ways, is indeed the very heart of the city — a place where locals come to shop, where children learn good taste and where years later they eventually sit over a coffee and exchange gossip.

The great produce is there — succulent fruit and vegetables from the fertile Adelaide Hills, delicious salami and mettwurst from the Germanic barons of the Barossa Valley and beyond, smelly cheeses from the next suburb and around the world.

But it’s the characters in these stores who really make the place.

Characters such as Mark Brosnan, who’s been operating The Mettwurst Shop and specialising in Riverland smallgoods for well over 15 years.

He obviously loves chatting to his customers and the glint in his eye shows an alert sense of humour, something that emphasised by some of the products he displays — fire starters and bum burners among them.

He reckons that the success of the markets lies in having a dedicated group of people that have great diversity but share a common passion about providing excellent produce and exceptional service.

There are obviously plenty of cityside accommodation options in a place such as Adelaide, but it’s also worth considering beachside Glenelg, which is handy to the airport and a genuinely quick tramride to the CBD.

Glenelg has been a recreational magnet for Adelaidians since the city was founded nearly 200 years ago and it remains a tourist drawcard that apparently attracts more visitors than does the Barossa Valley.

It has an excellent museum and visitor centre, a pristine beach and delightful pier to wander along, and a promenade of bars, cafés and bistros from which to choose your dining and drinking experiences.

Rob McBride has been managing the family-owned Best Western Ensanda Motor Inn for more than 30 years and loves the location — and the fact that the locality really hasn’t changed that much in the years he’s been there.

And one can hardly blame him. He runs a charming oceanfront location which offers extremely comfortable hotel and apartment accommodation, and he has a regular list of business and leisure clients.

“It’s always been a family-friendly destination, somewhere to have genuine fun and enjoy a bright, clean environment,” he said.

Yes, indeed, it is all of that. And there’s a nostalgic touch that has me drawing mental images of a suitably modestly clad ‘Gert by Sea’ promenading along the boardwalk.

Adelaide Central Market ... the Smelly Cheese Shop and Dough bakery.

IF YOU GO

Adelaide Central Market: 44-60 Gouger Street, Adelaide. Phone 08 8212 8866 or visit www.adelaidecentralmarket.com.au.

Best Western Ensanda Motor Inn: 13 Colley Terrace, Glenelg. Phone 1800 810 778 or visit www.ensenada.com.au.

Glenelg: glenelgsa.com.au.

A favourite haunt for regulars at Adelaide Central Market ... Lucia's café and pizza bar.

Adelaide Central Market ... Marino Meat and Food Store.

More than 30 years on the Glenelg beachfront ... Ensenada's Rob McBride.

Above and below: Glenelg ... a tourist drawcard that apparently attracts more visitors than does the Barossa Valley.