Tasty on the Hudson

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Hudsons Road Wine & Beer, 2/88 Hudson Road, Spotswood. Phone: 9131 1069

Hudsons Road Beer & Wine has been open just a week or so, but is already a big hit on that strip.

And so it should – it’s a very cool place where the passion for the produce speaks very eloquently.

The accent is on small producers and quality all the way.

 

 

The fit-out, including furniture from neighbouring Quazi Design, is sleek and welcoming.

Partners Alistair Smith (a long-time reader and supporter of CTS) and Leigh Boin stock about 200 beers and 150 wines.

The deli section is compact and the hand-picked philosophy no less evident.

 

 

My lunch, for instance, is a simple and superb platter that costs me $16 and is matched with a glass of La guardianese fiano from Italy.

On my board is an amazing, fine-sliced Mr Canubi capocollo of dry cured pork neck, free range from the western plains.

Also in attendance are a wedge of Challerhocker (Swiss) cheese, ciabatta from Candied Bakery across the road, a gooey quince paste and some fresh pear slices.

The deluxe board for $45 shapes up as a very enticing lunch for two that Bennie and I will try soon.

Alistair and Leigh will continue to fine-tune their business hours, but as it stands they are noon-11pm Monday-Friday, 10am-11pm Saturday and 10am-9pm Sunday.

 

Meal of the week No.19: La Delicatezza

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Sort of hidden in plain sight – surrounded as it is by high-profile Malaysian eateries and overtly public cafes – it’s easy to not notice La Delicatezza on Pin Oak Crescent in Flemington.

I was last in here several years ago for a ploughman’s lunch.

Not much has changed, though that item no longer seems available and the place appears to be now run by a whole new crew.

But it is the same in terms of being a tranquil spot to hang for a while, with its cool interior and adjacent courtyard.

Lunch here comes down to a long list of toasties and paninis, a couple of soups, canelloni, lasagne (see below).

I roll the dice and make my choice – the chicken schnitzel panini with coleslaw ($8.90) – wondering as I do if these folks know what they’re doing.

The answer, emphatically, is a rousing: Yes!!!

Let me count the ways …

The bread is gorgeous, fresh and wonderfully warmed through.

The coleslaw is just right in substance and flavour.

I’m assured the chicken is of the crumbed variety.

But so meltingly tender and superbly seasoned is it, that it comes across more as roast chook – and I mean that as a compliment.

This is an incredibly ace sandwich – a masterpiece even.

And as such, and at a price below $10, it excels in ways that many hipster joints of the kind that end up on Top 10 lists and charge way more struggle to match.

Gee, I want to try them all …

 

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Providorable – all sorts of nice things in Willy

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Providorable, 46 Ferguson St, Williamstown. Phone: 9399 9355

Consider The Sauce had been aware of Providorable, but it took Miss Biscuit, Julia, to actually get us to check out the Williamstown shop.

Before getting around to an actual visit, I found myself becoming more and more impressed with the regular updates Providorable proprietor Kelly posts on her shop’s Facebook page – they’re full of passion for the goodies she stocks.

A visit to the Ferguson St emporium confirms the sincerity of those updates, with Kelly pointing out some of the high-quality products and their suppliers for which she is most enthusiastic and which you may struggle to source elsewhere in Melbourne (or our side of it anyway).

Products such as …

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… McGrath dressings from Albury and …

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… Arthurs Creek oils and condiments and …

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… she-tea from Daylesford (the tea is imported but the packaging and gorgeous artwork are done in Victoria) and …

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… lovely fruit-studded nougat from The Sweet Boutique in Brighton.

Mind you, Kelly is also has some delightful imported goodies as well, such as …

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… Harney & Sons tea from New York and …

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… fabulous Mazet chocolate in various flavours from France.

Providorable maybe isn’t the kind of place you’ll go to “stock up”, but for just that particular product or luxury item you seek or deserve, it’s a treat.

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Raw Materials – all aglow with foodiness!

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Raw Materials, 138 Cowper St, Footscray. Phone: 1300 305 129

Raw Materials founder Andy Gray is adamant the story – my story – should in no way, shape or form be about him.

“It’s all about the product,” he repeats several times as he shows me about the company’s Footscray premises – warehouses, shop, studio, cooking and demonstration spaces, offices.

Words such as family and community also feature prominently in his running commentary.

He displays a profoundly uncanny knack for crab-walking out of view whenever he senses my camera may be at risk of coming to focus on him.

Nevertheless, it’s impossible not be carried along by his boundless enthusiasm as he brandishes favoured products we pass and extols their virtues with true fervour.

I’m right at home – being here is the Consider The Sauce equivalent of a tour of the Louvre with a true believer as my guide.

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Started in 2002, based at Docklands, Raw Materials these days supplies more than 3500 outlets across Australia, as well as places such as Singapore and Hong Kong.

Andy works on the premise that “small fish taste sweeter”, so Raw Materials specialises in supplying “small, independent groceries nationally”.

You’ll not find Raw Materials-sourced goodies at the likes of Coles or Woolworths, despite approaches having been made from those quarters.

The small but fascinating shop area is open to the public, but the gist of the company is to be found on the shelves of small businesses all over the country.

If you loyally shop at a good local deli or providore, then you are almost certainly buying some products supplied by Raw Materials.

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Raw Materials stays clear of the coffee field on the fully understandable grounds (!) that there are many fine specialists in that area doing a fine job.

That aside, the Raw Materials repertoire is as stunning in its range as it is in its dedication to quality.

The split between imported and Australian products is about 50/50.

They range from pulses, luscious candies and chocolate, oils and Spanish ham to smoked and cured Yarra Valley Charcuterie meats, and sauces, condiments and beverages of a bewildering and colourful array.

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Among them are beautiful hand-crafted knives by Peter Lorimer, some made using bones from “found” dead bush animals.

These knives are so special, so individual that Raw Materials does not sell them online – a personal, hands-on familiarity is a requirement of purchase.

According to the Raw Materials website: “The handles are made from recycled pieces of native New Zealand timbers, and decorated with brass, paua or black pearl, which means each knife is unique. Peter uses Austrian D2 steel, a high-carbon steel with a low chromium content, which means that the blades can be very hard without being brittle.”

Check out the Raw Materials website here.

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The Rusty Fox

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All smiles on opening day – (from left) Rusty Fox crew members Jennifer Galea, Kim Scott, Rebecca Creighton and Manuel Santeiro.

The Rusty Fox, 501 Macaulay Road, Kensington. Phone: 9372 1218

It’s very early on opening day for the Rust Fox, a brand new and ultra-chic “old-style provedore and locally driven deli” on Macaulay Rd.

As such, we’re happy to leave a closer examination of the food available – both eat-in and take-home – for another day.

Which isn’t to say we’re not tempted by the list we spy that includes, among other lunchy and brunchy items, Vietnamese chicken coleslaw and a simple sandwich of leg ham, cos lettuce, cheddar and Dijon mustard.

But we make more than do with a very excellent cafe latte, a hot chocolate and a couple of crunchy, buttery chocolate and walnut cookies.

Bennie’s hot chokkie adventures can range, often within a single week, from magnificent to thoroughly unmemorable. So we’re happy to report the Rusty Fox is very definitely of the former category.

The Rusty Fox fit-out is a true delight, capped off by a number of murals by street artist Kaff-eine.

We enjoy our beverages and munchies in the back garden space.

Front of house has a single table in the window area and a number of stools cuddling up to the servery/bar area.

Between the eat-in menu, the blackboard list of available meats and cheeses, a refrigerated area containing soups and the like, and a wall adorned with house-made condiments and other tasty items, it seems the Rusty Fox crew have put a lot of thought into making the best use of the space available to feature a lot off high-class foodiness.

 

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Altona Fresh

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I buy some Maltese sausages from the bustling deli section – $10.99 for snags that appear splendidly rich and highly seasoned.

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We’re not a big cheese household, but the Altona Fresh line-up impresses.

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And how about this swell array of olives and antipasti?

Check out the Altona Fresh website here.

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La Delicatezza

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La Delicatezza, Shop 1 & 2, 32 Pin Oak Crescent, Flemington. Phone: 9372 2822

Who killed the Ploughman’s Lunch?

Once upon a time they were everywhere – and not just in pubs, either.

It may be unfair, but I reckon it’s reasonable to apportion some of the blame on the French and Italians, and maybe even the Spaniards, what with their charcuterie and antipasto platters and tapas.

Those naughty Continental types!

But sometimes I don’t feel like cornichons; I feel like pickled onions.

And sometimes I don’t feel like bocconcini; I feel like a nice, sharp cheddar.

La Delicatezza has an Italian name, an Italian vibe and even an Italian boss, Nick, so seems like an unlikely place to find a ploughman’s lunch.

But there it is – on a long list of breakfasts, paninis, salads and other “platters”.

La Delicatezza is an appealing deli, just up the road from Chef Lagenda and Laksa King.

In the front room there’s a serving counter and display, groceries and a couple of tables.

In a back room there’s more groceries, two more tables and a window bench with stools.

Outside, a courtyard area with more tables is shared with some apartments.

My ploughman’s lunch ($15) does the job.

The bread is superb and in just the right quantity – warm, crusty, not too heavy.

Two slices of good ham.

A slab of OK cheddar. I would’ve preferred something a little sharper and older.

Some tomato segments.

And I get pickled onions AND cornichons!

The pickled onions are a little sweeter than I prefer, but they’re crunchy – nothing worse than soggy pickled onions.

Moreover, the seasoning is beguiling – maybe a mix of cinnamon and coriander among other things?

Nick grabs the bottle of onions from the kitchen so we can read the ingredients list together.

The onions are produced by Emelia’s The Saucy Australian in Kyneton, with the ingredients on this particular product being listed as “onions, white vinegar, sugar, chillies and spices”.

It’s a mystery!

I buy a bottle of Emelia’s chilli pickled onions from Nick anyway, and when I get home I call the company and have my call answered by Emelia herself.

She tells me the wording is deliberately vague – it’s not just a mystery, it’s A Secret!

She refuses to divulge more but tells me her onions are guaranteed to stay crunchy for the life of the bottle. And that the white – and often soggy – ones found in fish and chip shops are bleached.

Pushing a little harder, I go fishing: “Cinnamon and coriander?”

“Definitely not,” she says with a smile.

Emelia has a fine range of products.

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Antipasti Deli Cafe

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Antipasti Deli Cafe, 1 High St, Yarraville. Phone: 9318 0103

Yarraville Square Shopping Centre is the nearest shopping centre to our home, yet we rarely use it.

A well-stocked Coles with frequently long queues, a bottle shop, average chicken joint, a Subway – there’s not much there for us and the way we do.

Searching for details and information, this quip came up:

On a quiet night, the northern end of the parking lot affords a lovely view of the Subway store.

Turns out we’ve been missing a real gem the whole time.

When we visit for a Sunday lunch, Antipasti Deli Cafe is busy in a fetching way.

Locals and regulars are coming and going, picking up lunch makings and coffee, keeping the place humming and the staff busy.

The shop is quite small but stocked with a comprehensive range of goodies.

I suspect this place serves as a much-appreciated point for many folks putting together short-term shopping and evening meals when a full-on visit to the supermarket is not possible or warranted.

There’s all sorts of filled rolls and pies.

There’s the Sunday papers.

There’s all a good range of antipasti, cheese and dips.

There’s pasta and sauces and oils and a limited range of fresh produce.

The display of packaged biscotti and other sweeties is alluring.

There’s pasta sauces to take away – tomato, bolognese, pesto – all  for under $6.

There’s some tables inside and another half dozen or so outside.

Outside, too, there’s flowers and freezers offering all sorts of gelati and ice-cream stuff.

Antipasti Deli Cafe does cooked breakfasts, but we’re here for lunch … and what better than an antipasto platter for two, as befits the establishment’s name?

I really love the way Bennie has taken to these exercises in yumminess.

We adore the $21 spreads we get at Barkly Johnson, but a recent lacklustre and more pricey serving at a revered Carlton business showed him just how standards and quality can vary.

An earlier visit has ascertained from the boss, Fab, that they have two antipasto spreads – $15 for one and $28 for two.

We tell him that $28 sounds like too much food for we two, so he agrees to create something at the $20 mark just for us.

He may have given some weight to our lunch in the knowledge that photos are going to be taken and words are going to be written, but we are well pleased.

Our platter is meat heavy – good ham and prosciutto, some mild salami, some mortadella.

We use mortadella for week-day lunch sandwiches and rolls, so Bennie leaves it for me – and even I struggle.

The olive quotient is varied and includes large and red items we’ve never seen before. Unlike some big olives, these taste fine.

Bennie has taken a liking to artichokes, so he has his way with ours – meaning I get to scarf the tiny marinated mushrooms.

There’s two breads slices topped with what I believe is generally referred to as tomato pesto.

The two chargrilled eggplant slices are claimed by myself, while the cheese factor is represented by two globules of buffalo mozzarella.

We both like the sundried tomatoes with pesto.

I’m unsure how much of what we eat is prepared on the premises and how much is simply cracked out of bottles and other containers – but it all tastes good to us.

We finish with a good cafe latte for me and a hot chocolate for him that he opines lacks the required level of sweetness.

Could be we will become Antipasti Deli Cafe regulars.

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Barkley Johnson

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11 Anderson St, Yarraville. Phone: 9687 6663

Perhaps it’s a sign that we’re putting down significant roots – that we have vivid recall of previous incarnations of premises inhabited by flash new businesses.

Certainly, both Bennie and I spent a goodly amount of time having our heads shorn – and, in my case, face shaved – in the old-school barber shop that previously filled 11 Anderson St.

After a long innings, he closed up shop quite a while ago.

He was part of what is a disappearing breed, often of Mediterranean or European extraction and usually cheap as chips. Well, compared to, ahem, hairdressers anyway.

We love them. We “collect” them. We may even start a blog on them in due course.

Anyway, being the nosy locals we are, we followed with interest the subsequent renovation. We had some idea what to expect, with Keith from Heather Dell telling us early in the piece that a wine bar of some sort was on the way.

And so it is. There’s wine, but not a whole lot of it. There’s deli produce and high-quality pastas, anchovies and other grocery items, but not a whole lot of them, either. There’s wholemeal baguettes for lunch at about the $7-8 mark, but virtually nothing else ‘cept antipasto options. There’s only toast for breakfast, very good coffee and less than a handful of sweeties such as baklava.

So what exactly is Barkley Johnson, and where does it figure to fit in the busy neighbourhood of Anderson and Ballarat streets?

The lovely staff tell me they’ve got to do the best and most they can with the space available.

I ask why I would make an extra stop for their deli items when I could cover them while at IGA across the road – or the new place being fitted out as we converse.

They reply in terms of quality, price and personal service.

I reckon they have a point, especially on the service angle.

As we sit at stools at the front window, with the early spring sunshine streaming in, Bennie and I feel like we’ve found a new favourite place in Yarraville to hang for a while and watch the world go by.

Despite space limitations, Barkley Johnson has nice vibe. There’s a smallish courtyard out back, a few more stools just inside the door to it and the handful of stools we’re hogging up front.

Bennie’s been a bit crook, so can’t even be tempted to have a hot chocolate, making do with a light, fluffy yoyo of, we are informed, Greek derivation – hard choccy top, sponge-like halves and creamy centre. It’s yummo and he digs it.

I have a similarly sized-and excellent coconut macaron with almond slivers.

Both sweeties and thoroughly superb coffee set back $8.

The previous week I’d had one of the filled baguette portions – ham, cheese, pickles. It was good, but the lovely wholemeal bread was of such robust flavour that the other ingredients struggled to make themselves known.

Nevertheless, on the basis of two very fine coffees, some sweeties an a couple of visits, we feel at home here.

Becoming regulars seems to likely to be both pleasurable and profitable.

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