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Why you're missing out if you haven't visited Ramsgate Food Markets

The hidden gem of Sydney's markets scene that locals can no longer keep to themselves

During Covid, Angela Genas, the matriarch of a big Greek Brighton-Le-Sands family turned to her daughters Anne and Jeanette and said, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Cooking had always been central to their family’s life and something they loved to do, so while business and life generally felt uncertain, why not see if they could sell what they cooked at the local markets?

They booked their first stall at Ramsgate Food Markets under the name Hand Made Greek Sweets in early 2021, starting by selling Greek biscuits and then expanding into savoury meals like spanakopita, moussaka, cabbage rolls and vine leaves. And they’ve been selling out ever since. “The whole week is shopping, chopping, cooking and washing,” says Jeanette, who says she’s the mere sous chef to 87-year-old Angela. “Mum does most of the cooking in my kitchen. She adores it. And as long as my dishwasher holds up I’m happy.”

The team from Hand Made Greek Sweets. Photo: Alexandra Carlton

This business is just one of the many small-scale, family-run stalls that makes Ramsgate Food Markets feel like they’re much more than just a place to come and stock up on produce for the week; they’re somewhere that truly feels like it’s part of the community. The markets have been running since around 2001, and take place every Saturday from 8AM to 2PM on the grounds of Ramsgate Public School, and they’re large enough for visitors to get a busy market experience, but small enough that they feel friendly and personal. Parking’s plentiful in the surrounding streets and everyone’s welcome with the exception of four-legged friends, who can’t enter because of the school’s regulations.

Around 60 stallholders sell everything from baked goods to flowers to wine to clothes, and while no one has an exact tally of the numbers of visitors, it’s thought to be in the low thousands each week. The market is part of the Organic Food Market network which means that although there’s no requirement that stallholders sell organic produce, they’re encouraged to do so, and any who are certified organic will have signs up that let customers know.

If you get there early you might be lucky enough to miss the queues for what’s possibly the best pulled chicken, spinach, mushroom and cheese gozleme in the city from Oh My Gozleme, or an aromatic Colombian flat white from Mule Coffee Roasters. Need a break from the kids? Herd them over to the jumping castle while you go and stock up on incredible value farmer-grown fruit and veg from Ramsgate Farmgate or Manelli Farm, based in Young NSW, or a banh mi from Miss Piggy. You might also recognise the names of some of the stalls from elsewhere in the city: cult-favourite bakeries Tuga – famous for their pastel de nata tarts - and Brickfields both have regular stalls here, as does Marrickville’s Eat Fuh.

Veggies from Ramsgate Farmgate. Photo: Alexandra Carlton

The best way to experience Ramsgate Markets? Ask stallholders for their tips, of course.

“The trick is not to get stuck in the front undercover stalls – come to the stalls out the back! There’s good stuff out here!” advises Cath Fiefia who sells her homemade gluten-free and dairy-free cakes, quiches and dips under the name The Hungry Tart, while her husband Hapi sells organic heirloom tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables as part of his business ‘Field to Feast Organic’. Cath’s other recommendation is to grab a gluten-free donut from G-Free Donuts before they sell out. “They’re really, really good and he’s so nice that he will also clean out all the bowls to make a dairy-free batch too,’ she says. Meanwhile Home Made Greek Sweets’ Jeanette recommends the beautiful trays of fresh zucchini flowers when they’re in season from Ramsgate Farmgate, that she loves to fry simply for dinner.

Cath from The Hungry Tart and her husband Hapi from Field to Feast Organic. Photo: Alexandra Carlton

But for John at Crunch and Dip, who’s been selling his fresh felafel, kibbeh and dips at Ramsgate Markets for four years, the best thing about these markets isn’t what’s being sold in the stalls. “It’s the people I love,” he says. “They’re not just nice. They’re the nicest.”

Joe and John from Crunch and Dip. Photo: Alexandra Carlton

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