Goody bags

Kalyani Prasher | Updated on January 24, 2018

Baker D Chirico pic: Kalyani Prasher

DOC Courtsey: DOC DELI

Courtesy: Gewurhaus

Pic: Kalyani Prasher

Courtesy: Yarra Valley

South Melbourne Market pic: Kalyani Prasher

If you set store by ambrosial food — so much so that your shopping consists almost entirely of things to eat — here are six stops in Melbourne just right for you

Baker D Chirico, 178 Faraday Street

Daniel D Chirico is an artisan baker but you’ll be forgiven if you mistake him for an artist.

His breads fold and turn in ways that make the heart beat faster, as you dish out cash in a haze and buy half the store before you can say sourdough.

In my quest for good bread in Melbourne I discovered that Baker D Chirico serves the best sourdough in the city — yes, the best, if you are to trust the locals; the only other bread store that came close was one called Firebrand on Glen Eira Road.
At the Faraday Street store, you will be charmed by the design, even before you turn to the bread: its roof is a wave of wooden slats and the kitchen behind a glass partition (where they are making the bread as you look) is sleek, industrial steel.

On offer, apart from loaves of sourdough, are raisin breads, crunchy baguettes, olive breads and, for those who get hungry, some readymade sweet and savoury bread things.

Gewurzhaus Herbs & Spices, 342 Lygon Street

Let’s not attempt to pronounce that. Instead let’s walk straight into this shop that looks and smells like a magical wonderland. Imagine all the colours you like, and some that you don’t care for, and now imagine tea and spices in each of those colours.

Blue masala? Yes sir. Pink tea? Sure. Purple salt? Of course.

Gewurzhaus is such a fantastic place, it’s almost a tourist spot by itself. Jars of colourful tea, herbs and spices (sourced from all over the world by the two women who own the place) are stacked in rows and you can walk about smelling, and even tasting them.

It is all too divine — from something as simple as Moroccan mint tea to a suspicious vintage merlot salt, everything smells great and the only tough question is what not to buy.

Apart from the spices, there are some quaint kitchen things at the counter that are easy to miss in this overwhelming place, but should not be.

D.O.C, 330 Lygon Street

Lygon St is in the Italian part of the city, so a cheese and pasta store cannot be far away.

D.O.C Deli (not to be confused with the D.O.C espresso bar nearby) is where you go for pizza if you live in Melbourne, but if you are packing away stuff to bring back home you should turn your attention to the cold cuts, the cheeses and the handmade pastas.

Charming Italian men will offer you a tasting platter with rolls of prosciutto and other aged and air-dried hams paired with cheeses ranging from mild to smelly. All around you are stacks of meat and hand-rolled pastas and some sauces to go along.

Tip: You could opt for the Carlton Food Tour organised by melbournefoodexperiences.com. au. That way you can visit some legendary food stores such as Donati’s meats, apart from cafes and wineries, and learn about the history of every place you visit.

South Melbourne Market, Coventry Street

Ostensibly a weekend market open Fri-Sun, 8am to 4pm (also open on Wednesdays for some reason), South Melbourne Market is basically a giant food store. At the back of the market is a fresh fish and meat area, which is more for the locals, but the smallish market is a maze of food stalls that keep you hooked for the better part of the day.

In the corner fresh veggies store, you can browse for some excellent local dried fruit and nuts; inside you can find speciality tea, coffee, and garlic-infused olive oil. Apart from actual food, you can get stuff to make it in — browse for coffee filters, thongs and aprons and scores of such stuff…

And there is a yummy candy store. Buy a doughnut and a coffee and carry on browsing.

Tip: If you have the time, check out SO:ME Space, a little artistic corner inside the market, where you can find works by local artists apart from some clothes and jewellery.

Yarra Valley Chocolaterie, Old Healesville Road

When I first heard about it, I thought it was some children’s place and was quite reluctant to visit, but god! am I glad I went.

Dark chocolate with espresso is no children’s chocolate, nor is lavender and honeycomb a combo for the little ones.

An hour away from Melbourne, this chocolate store is an absolute must-visit if you like chocolates, or know someone who does (and, of course, if you have children).

My favourite is the freeze-dried strawberries coated in dark chocolate and the macadamia nut and salted caramel bar. And yes, I bought the espresso one too.

Tip: If travelling with children, visit the Healesville Sanctuary nearby (a 20-minute drive) to spot wombats, kangaroos, koalas and some local bird species. Admission free for children up to 15 years of age. Tickets can be pre-purchased on www.zoo.org.au/healesville

Green Olive at Red Hill, Mornington-Flinders Road

Another hour-long food excursion out of Melbourne that will be totally worth your while is to Green Olive at Red Hill, a vineyard stay with a fabulous restaurant that is home to a small store. This store is worth its space in olives, packed as it is with designer oil pourers, pretty oven mitts and aprons, as well as a lot of beautifully packaged goodies such as olive oil, flavoured salt, and dukkah — a herby mix that goes well with bread and olive oil.

An added advantage is meeting the lovely free-spirited couple that runs the small place; a conversation with Greg or Sue over their coffee will be a cherished moment.

Tip: You can book for lunch, cooking class and tour of their farm in advance on www.greenolive.com.au

(Kalyani Prasher is a Delhi-based freelance writer)

Published on June 12, 2015

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