Altona Fresh, 62-76 Second Ave, Altona North. Phone: 9399 1390
At the launch of Feasting In Footscray, invited guests were provided with showbags of goodies, among which were copies of The Foodies’ Guide To Melbourne by Michele Curtis and Allan Campion.
At home, I proceeded to nonchalantly flip through the book, homing in – of course – on content concerned with the western suburbs, somewhat smug in the assumption that any such content would hold no surprises.
I was wrong.
Altona Fresh – what’s that?
Yet when I googled the address and checked out the street view, I realised we had driven past Altona Fresh in pre-CTS times.
The world looks very different these days, besides which the establishment’s exterior is a tad on the dull side.
So it’s a joy to set foot through the automatic doors and discover a true foodie haven.
I enjoy chatting with Sandra, part of the family that has run the business here for 20 years and an earlier generation of which operated out the premises that continues as The Circle Fruit Fiesta.
It’s interesting to discover how the store’s product range has evolved as the area has changed.
So while there’s an undeniable Italian-ness about the place, there are, too, many products of a more rounded and diverse range.
The Foodies’ Guide To Melbourne describes Altona Fresh as “being “like a mini-Mediterranean Wholesalers”.
It’s true this place is more compact than the famed Sydney Rd emporium, but I think the comparison does Altona Fresh a disservice.
There are, however, two major differences – Altona Fresh sells fresh produce and doesn’t sell alcohol.
More generally, though, the range and breadth of what is available here seems to match or equal anything to be had at Mediterranean Wholesalers.
Sandra tells me the fresh produce is these days taking up less space than previously, but what I see is of excellent quality and pricing.
For this first visit I only have a small shopping list, so this story and the photos that accompany it are necessarily a somewhat superficial look at what is sure to become regular fixture for us.
I buy some Maltese sausages from the bustling deli section – $10.99 for snags that appear splendidly rich and highly seasoned.
We’re not a big cheese household, but the Altona Fresh line-up impresses.
And how about this swell array of olives and antipasti?
Check out the Altona Fresh website here.