Lebanese Bakery, 41 The Circle, Altona North. Phone 9391 7991
International Foods, 37-39 The Circle, Alton North. Phone: 9399 3434
Al Amena, 29 The Circle, Altona North. Phone: 9399 2526
Doing the Consider The Sauce has wrought various changes in our habits and lives.
For one thing, it’s made it tougher to regularly visit our favourite haunts. Though the eateries the made the top five we provided to Leader newspapers have certainly all been revisited since the story was published.
On a brighter note, we are looking at our vast and intriguing neighbourhood with new eyes.
We are taking more interest in the shopping strips and precincts we pass as we cruise around. This is a good thing!
More prosaically, blogging has altered our more mundane and earthy shopping habits.
To that end, The Circle in Altona has become our favourite. It’s a bit of drive from our Yarraville pad, but worth it for the breadth, cost and pleasure of the enterprise.
We’ve finally twigged that the hub has an IGA, at which we can pick up staples such as Black & Gold rolled oats to make muesli.
We get the dried fruit and nuts for the muesli at The Circle Fruit Fiesta, along with all the fruit and vegetables we need, and sometimes pasta and tinned tomatoes.
But before we get around to that sort of stocking up, we now routinely stop at The Circle’s Lebanese bakery for lunch, so’s to make sure we aren’t indulging in the folly of shopping on empty stomachs.
This place doesn’t seem to have a name as such – various searches revealed that out there in listings land it’s still annotated as “The Circle Fish and Chips”, even though it’s these days a spartan Lebanese pizza-and-pie joint that enjoys considerable business.
Eating in, we love the $2 oregano pizza topped with our choice of very fresh cucumber, green capsicum, tomato, black olives and onion at 50c per item. Rolled up and presented in a form that looks just like a takeaway kebab, these could technically be called salad rolls – but the deserve far better than to be compared with the insipid salad rolls dispensed by your average sandwich shop.
For taking home, bunging in the freezer or for school/work lunches, we favour the spinach and cheese pies and the fabulous chicken and tomato pies. The latter are stuffed with chopped chicken and juicy fresh tomatoes, and liberally seasoned with oregano. Careful, though – when heated the high fluid content can lead to scorching heat of the food napalm kind!
Next door is International Foods, which has a large grocery/dry goods section we are only starting to explore and a good range of fruit/vegetables that is nevertheless more modest than that of Fiesta next door.
But what we do like, a lot, at International Foods are the individually wrapped pieces of nougat, which come in a range of eye-snagging colours and flavours – several with pistachios, one covered in dried rose petals and one, we found recently, that tastes like cough medicine past its use-by date. No matter – these are another hit for lunchbox inclusion.
Also at International Foods are a range of wrapped Lebanese cakes for $2 a pop from Balha’s Pastry in Brunswick. Again, these are big on pistachios – dates, too. More fine lunchbox fodder.
A few doors further on is Al Amena, a small and typical halal butcher.
In due course we will surely be buying some of their affordable chicken and lamb, but in the meantime we are totally hot on their hot dogs. My ears pricked up when told by the staff that their hot dogs were made for them by a South African sausage maker, it being well-known that that nation knows a thing or two about snag manufacturing.
We love our hot dogs, and always have some in the freezer.
We especially love the heavily smoked porky varieties sold by the likes of Andrew’s Choice in Yarraville. Good as they are though, they’re sold by Andrew’s at exactly the same price as their ritzy snags – that is, nudging towards $20 a kilogram.
That works out at about $2 a single hot dog.
The hot dogs at Al Amena, by contrast, are an incredibly cheap $8 a kilo.
No pork, of course, and not smoked, but they have their own alluring beefy flavour – and at that price, we’re sold.