One of Belfast’s oldest attractions, St George Market is filled with fascinating finds, from fresh produce and fast food to downright weird stuff.
The award winning indoor market was built between 1890 and 1896.
There is a weekly Friday Variety Market, the City Food and Craft Market on Saturdays and a Sunday Market. St George Market took out the UK’s Best Large Indoor Market title in 2014 beating internationally renowned markets like Spitalfields, Billingsgate and Borough.
On Friday the market opens from 6 am to 3 pm with around 248 market stalls selling fruit, vegetables, antiques, books, clothes and fish. There are 23 stalls in the fish section and the market is regarded as Ireland’s leading retail fish market.
Expect to find local producers selling fish landed at Portavogie, pork from Cookstown, beef from Armagh, venison and pheasant in season, local organic vegetables. Continental and speciality foods include wild boar, tapas, cheeses, cured meats, teas and coffees from around the world, and delicious French pastries and crepes.
Here’s what I found on a Sunday visit.
Mushroom madness at St George Market
It was the size of a football and definitely the largest mushroom I had ever seen. There were a couple for sale and one had been sliced into rounds to reveal the interior which looked just like a normal button mushroom, only giant-sized, The stall holder couldn’t tell me much about them except they were the biggest he had seen too.
Snack on seaweed
I spied these paper bags filled with seaweed and was surprised to learn that this is a traditional snack food in Belfast. The seaweed was tasty – like very thick and salty nori. I could easily have eaten a bag but you would need to be hungry as it was quite filling. An economical snack at just one pound. The fishmonger had a bottle of tabasco sauce on the side to add extra bite.
Irish Whisky Cheddar Cheese
Two great foods combined into one. Does it get any better?
Fifteens at St George Market
I asked which were the local treats and was told they only make Fifteens for Northern Ireland. It’s a sweet slice of heaven with a cookie dough texture studded with marshmallow and topped with coconut. Delicious.
The speed of the tidal movement and the huge nutrient richness of the water, is what makes Strangford Lough oysters so memorable. Best accompanied by lemon juice and black pepper.
Live Nephrops lobsters were waiting patiently at the fishmonger’s stall for someone to take them home. I don’t think they were destined to be pets.
Bacon and cheese bloomer
This cheese, bacon and bread combo is definitely a thing in this part of Ireland.
The Ulster Fry
Available on nearly every second cafe menu, the Ulster Fry is a heart-stopper but delicious. Transformed onto a bap, which is a bread roll, it becomes portable for people strolling the market.
I’ve seen these before, but rarely so filled with seafood.
They don’t mind a few baked delights here and this stall had plenty to choose from.
St George Market is a 20 minute walk from the Holiday Inn in Hope Street, where I stayed. This is a central and reasonably priced hotel with very comfortable beds. They do a great breakfast which could be your first opportunity to try an Ulster Fry.
Disclaimer: Ed+bK travelled around Ireland with the support of Tourism Ireland. For more information head to Visit Ireland.