Posted by kathryn in Blogging
During this year’s Good Food Month I’ve most enjoyed the opportunities to try out new shopping locations and new places to buy produce. While not always following the official trail, by going out of my normal comfort zone, I’ve discovered new foods and ingredients – which have, of course, led to new recipes and eating experiences.
Campsie, the Castle Hill growers’ market and Hawkesbury Farmgate Trail have led me to the tastiest of strawberries, vegetables fresh-picked that morning, four different types of tofu, Ocello’s blue cheese, kimchi, toasted sesame seaweed, celeriac, dried wild oregano, hot chilli pastes. These are all foods I’ve bought this month: bought, eaten, researched and tested different recipes with.
My last GFM food tour was an official one (finally!) – Mangia Italiano – the self-guided food tour of Five Dock. Described as the place “Italian’s like to shop”, Five Dock is in the inner west of Sydney, with the main shopping area on the busy Great North Road. Shops and cafes are slightly old-fashioned. Most are open early, closed by 6pm and half the street is closed on Sunday. Money is obviously spent on stock, rather than expensive and glamorous fit-outs – something I’ve got no problems with!
For some reason the official guide only includes six stops, which is a shame, as there are plenty of other shops, cafes and delis to investigate. Officially the tour starts at Caffe Migliore, which is about 15 minutes walk from the main drag, on Queens Road. They roast their own coffee, sell coffee-making equipment, run barista courses and also have a little cafe out the front. To be honest the coffee is okay, but hardly startling, shallow in flavour and much more bitter than I like it. There are also plenty of coffee shops on Great North Road.
Next door however, is -Duccio Gelato_, where they sell a small but good-looking range of fresh-frozen pasta. Most of the freezer is taken up with one brand of pasta, but displayed on the lower shelves is a more simply packaged range, with no labels, all made by a local lady. I purchased a large bag of home-made gorgeous looking spinach gnocchi.
Number 6 on the official tour is Caminiti’s Butchery, which being vegetarian, I gave a miss (see Cucina Rebecca’s round-up for more info). Next door is Dominic’s Fruit&Veg, which I also bypassed, as I’d already spied better fruit and veg at Five Dock Fresh (125 Great North Road) . Globe artichokes are in season and they had large bags on special for $1.99. The bag included about 8 heads and while one was slightly sweaty, the others are all good quality (the full-priced artichokes are also a bargain – 10 for $5).
My best purchase however, was a kilo of truss tomatoes – bright red, ripe and smelling of summer, they were better than any I’ve seen recently and at $5.99 a kilo, were also significantly cheaper. Fresh broad beans in the pod were also included in my shopping basket.
Raineri’s Delicatessen is an aladdin’s cave: piled high with produce, there’s every Italian foodstuff you could possibly want. Plus an excellent delicatessen with meats, cheeses, olives and so on. Having got the heads-up from Rebecca, my main purchase was frozen porcinis. These are flash-frozen, straight after picking. To convince me of how good they were, the assistant just opened the bag and out wafted a wonderful, earthy mushroom smell. Porcinis are not cheap and these are $65 per kilo. You can buy part of a kilo – for example, I bought the two lovelies below for $10. Having only ever had dried porcinis before, I’m looking forward to tasting these.
Also included in the official tour is Pasticceria Tamborrino, an Italian cake shop. Yes, I know, I know, I’m a nutritionist and cakes are “bad” food, but to be honest, it’s all about balance and proportion. I aim to eat well 80% of the time and try to exercise regularly, which leaves me the flexbility and space for the occasional little cakey-thing. Tamborrino’s are worth it and they sell a range of their cakes in mini-size, so you can taste a couple without doing too much damage.
Five Dock is a great place to shop. Unlike Leichhardt, it has an unpretentious and authentic feel. All the shops are reasonably priced, quality is high and there’s a wide range of Italian foods available. It’s not a large shopping area, with most of the delis, cafes etc in a small two-block strip and you could easily cover most of the ground in an hour. As well as the six shops on the tour, there’s another deli, a good bakery, Five Dock Fresh (the fruit and veg shop I visited), at least one other butcher and several cafes. The Mangia Italiano guide can be downloaded here and it includes all addresses and opening hours. Note that most of these shops are closed on Sunday and some do shorter hours on Saturday.
For more about what’s happened during Good Food Month, take a look at Cucina Rebecca’s weekly round-ups.