Our ded­i­cated food fanciers re­veal the trea­sures of their neigh­bour­hoods

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Indulgence -

SUC­CES­SIVE waves of mi­grants to Aus­tralia have of­ten set­tled in close prox­im­ity, build­ing com­mu­ni­ties that keep alive their eth­nic her­itage. With th­ese so­ci­eties, within the broader sweep of city life, come cafes, restau­rants and sup­pli­ers of spe­cial­ist pro­duce. Th­ese food neigh­bour­hoods have be­come a scin­til­lat­ing part of city life that of­fer the riches of eat­ing glob­ally with­out leav­ing home. Lit­tlest Italy, Haber­field, Syd­ney: Nearby Le­ich­hardt (Lit­tle Italy) is fast and so­phis­ti­cated com­pared with this in­ner-west­ern Ital­ian vil­lage on the sin­gle thor­ough­fare of Ram­say Street. Across from the gar­dens and band­stand of Pi­azza Fed­er­azione, La Pas­te­ria sells fresh and frozen pas­tas; there are bot­tles of fresh tomato and cream, pesto and boscaiola sauces. Peppe’s Pasta has fresh flat pas­tas: rocket and lemon zest, saf­fron and squid ink.

The La­mon­ica fam­ily IGA (In­de­pen­dent Gro­cers of Aus­tralia) store sells rabbits at its butch­ery counter and fresh ar­ti­chokes are among the fruit and veg­eta­bles. Ev­ery­one is of­fered a taste as they choose cheese (lo­cal and im­ported, in­clud­ing parmi­giano reg­giano) and pre­served meat (Parma ham, among sev­eral lo­cal prosci­ut­tos).

At Pas­tic­ce­ria Papa there’s a con­stantly mov­ing queue along the pas­try counter (whole cakes, two tiers of tarts and pas­tries, hand­made bis­cotti, rus­tic bread). A. & P. Sul­faro spe­cialises in cream pas­tries such as can­noli, hand­made choco­lates (in­clud­ing vi­o­let creme and pra­line choco­late mice) and im­ported tor­rone. Cole­fax Choco­lates is a tem­ple to in­dul­gence, with truf­fles and pra­lines made from pure Bel­gian cou­ver­ture and chocs shaped into ev­ery­thing from stilet­tos to soc­cer tro­phies.

At Frank’s Fruit Mar­ket, I find prized ox­heart toma­toes and car­doons (the stalks of ar­ti­chokes, to be sliced and cooked). And at my fi­nal stop, the tem­ple to Ital­ian cheeses, Pae­sanella, I buy as­trin­gent stracchino (hard to find any­where other than the in­ner west), gor­gonzola-lay­ered marscapone (rec­om­mended with quince-dark demi-dried basilic-caramelised toma­toes), boc­concini, ham-filled moz­zarella rolls and so much more. David Jones sources ri­cotta from here. Ju­dith Elen Ara­bic bazaar, Brunswick, Melbourne: Most vis­i­tors to this neigh­bour­hood ven­ture no fur­ther up Syd­ney Road than the Brunswick in­sti­tu­tion Mediter­ranean Whole­salers, which stocks more types of an­chovy, tuna, cheeses, cured meats and olives than you could poke a salami at.

But it is worth press­ing on. Syd­ney Road may look down­trod­den and the Le­banese in­flu­ence may have been di­luted but there are still old-school butch­ers and bak­eries to be found among the new­com­ers. Signs in Ara­bic script read ‘‘ Sorry no al­co­hol’’: a re­minder of the Mus­lim in­flu­ence. At Tiba’s Restau­rant, shawarma (lamb ke­babs) are a sta­ple, while the gar­lic dip is world-class. And Rumeli restau­rant is an in­ti­mate fam­ily-run af­fair serv­ing au­then­tic Turk­ish food.

The A1 Bak­ery is the Le­banese ver­sion of Mediter­ranean Whole­salers. While it bakes fresh breads and Le­banese piz­zas, A1 Bak­ery is also an Aladdin’s cave of in­gre­di­ents, from harissa paste to finely shred­ded kataifi pas­try.

Across the road is Eh Fahya Sweets, which makes myr­iad types of baklava, Turk­ish de­light and other del­i­ca­cies. Ta­bet’s Bak­ery serves tasty cheese pies and pide topped with spiced lamb. Next door at Is­tan­bul Ha­lal Meats, qual­ity ha­lal lamb costs half the price of that at Melbourne’s fa­mous open mar­kets. Ed Charles Tastes of Europe, Nor­wood, Ade­laide: If Ade­laide’s di­verse Ital­ian com­mu­nity has a heart, it is in leafy Nor­wood where toma­toes, pep­pers and plump lemons are still cul­ti­vated in back­yards and many of

’ the restau­rants and cafes throng­ing The Pa­rade have strong con­nec­tions with the old coun­try.

The Euro­pean Cafe (wood-fired piz­zas and home-style dishes) has been op­er­ated by the Cavuoto fam­ily for al­most 30 years while Gusto Ris­torante has its roots in Cal­abria. Cafe Bravo is a great spot to view foot­ball (the round or pointy ball variety) over cof­fee with throngs of fans.

Pro­vi­sion­ing, too, has an old-world feel. Vari’s Generi Ali­men­tari Ital­iani, run by Frank and Grace for nigh 50 years, is crammed with home-cured olives (grown in Nor­wood) and an­tipasti and prepre­pared meals (think pasta fave and spinach and ri­cotta can­nel­loni). Next door, the pis­ta­chio-hued Cibo Gela­te­ria doles out tiny cups of ice cream (try the de­li­cious wa­ter­melon or creme caramel flavours).

Fur­ther afield the slick Bot­tega Ro­tolo on Os­mond Ter­race boasts an im­pres­sive cheese room, truf­fles in sea­son and an ex­cel­lent se­lec­tion of wines. Just up the road and across the border into Step­ney on Nelson Street, Rio Cof­fee (bulk beans and an Ital­ian su­per­mar­ket) car­ries a good line in Ital­ian seeds (rocket, bit­ter greens) for the home gar­dener.

Ade­laide’s Cen­tral Mar­ket (10 min­utes from Nor­wood) is an im­por­tant food satel­lite for the Ital­ian com­mu­nity. Here the Marino Meat & Food Store makes the best pro­sciutto in the coun­try and its range of Ital­ian small­go­ods is sec­ond to none (try the chorizo). Lu­cia’s Pizza & Spaghetti Bar is an Ade­laide in­sti­tu­tion, founded in 1957 and one of the first cafes in the city to serve proper cof­fee. The take-home pasta sauces and gnoc­chi from the ad­join­ing fine food store are sen­sa­tional. Chris­tine McCabe Waves of change, West End, Bris­bane: The food scene in in­ner-city Bris­bane’s West End re­flects two con­sec­u­tive waves of im­mi­gra­tion. Greek ar­rivals colonised the area af­ter World War II (David Malouf’s book Johnno is set here) and pow­er­ful re­minders sur­vive. Prom­i­nent among them is the quaintly named Mick’s Nuts on Hard­grave Road where Satur­day morn­ing queues form. This tiny cor­ner store is filled with tan­ta­lis­ing aro­mas of al­monds, macadamia nuts and dried apri­cots.

Since open­ing the doors of their shop 35 years ago, Mick Kallis and his wife Mary have seen the Greek com­mu­nity dwin­dle. Now, Viet­namese restau­rants, bak­eries and food stores catch the eye in busy West End thor­ough­fares such as Bound­ary Street, Vul­ture Street and Hard­grave Road. For French-style crois­sants, go to Kim Thanh Hot Bread Shop. Above the bak­ery is Huong’s BYO Restau­rant, one of West End’s first Viet­namese eateries. Nearby is Hong Lan Asian Food Sup­plies, where crates of Asian greens, yams and much more spill on to the street and the shop’s shelves beckon with ex­otic in­gre­di­ents from Viet­nam, Thai­land, Ja­pan, In­dia and South Amer­ica.

Of the Viet­namese restau­rants in West End, Kim Thanh is among the best. Hus­band and wife team La and Chieu Le have op­er­ated their restau­rant here for more than two decades. Viet Hoa is a small restau­rant run by a fam­ily orig­i­nat­ing from Ho Chi Minh City that has of­fered work ex­pe­ri­ence to home­less boys from a hos­pi­tal­ity train­ing cen­tre in Viet­nam. David Bent­ley By the beach, Dar­win: Say it qui­etly, but some of Aus­tralia’s best Asian food is served in the laid-back sur­rounds of Dar­win’s mar­kets. With care­ful tim­ing, the peck­ish vis­i­tor can spend the bulk of a week­end nav­i­gat­ing be­tween the fra­grant stalls and wafts of peanut sauce.

Two of the best mar­kets com­pletely take over shop­ping cen­tres in the sub­urbs of Parap (Satur­day, 7.30am-1pm) and Rapid Creek (Fri­day, 3pm un­til the vague hour of ‘‘ late’’; Sun­day, 6.30am-1pm).

An­other pop­u­lar choice in the dry sea­son is the sun­set mar­ket at Mindil Beach (Thurs­days, 5-10pm; Sun­days, 4-9pm). Next-door neigh­bours Ti­mor and In­done­sia are solidly rep­re­sented, as are Thai­land, Viet­nam, Cam­bo­dia and Laos. I like to fol­low my nose (and ul­ti­mately my stom­ach) and go wild among sa­tay grilling over char­coal, chilli pork, shrimp omelettes, gado-gado and roti.

By the time I make it to the paw­paw salad, rambu­tan and sticky rice cakes, I’m close to ca­pac­ity, ready to re­tire with a pa­per cup of crushed ice and lime juice, and watch with ad­mi­ra­tion as lo­cal gas­tro­nauts swoop and stock up on a week’s worth of high-grade laksa. Dar­winites know they’re on to a good thing. James Jef­frey Asian grazin’, North­bridge, Perth: The east­ern quar­ter of North­bridge, just be­fore William Street dips into the belly of the city, seems at odds with the tourist-town bus­tle so close by.

It’s here mem­bers of Perth’s South­east Asian com­mu­nity come to buy the in­gre­di­ents they can’t find else­where. Some of the most in­ter­est­ing finds are in the William Street Shop­ping Cen­tre. The So Fresh Chi­nese Butcher of­fers beau­ti­fully trimmed pork cuts and glis­ten­ing fresh of­fal. Nearby, At­lantic Seafood is as much zoo as shop, with its tanks of writhing fresh­wa­ter eels and live snow crabs.

Other high­lights here in­clude Wal­son Foods, which makes and sells its own tofu, and the Four Sea­sons Roast­ing Duck Restau­rant, which of­fers dim sum ev­ery day of the week.

Down the road at Emma’s Seafood, bar­gains in­clude huge bags of dried ex­otic mush­rooms and a variety of freshly made fish balls. It’s also the place to go for frozen nib­bles (mini-buns, dumplings, fish­cakes).

For other good, cheap eat­ing op­tions, fol­low your nose to the near­est bar­be­cue restau­rant or head for Red Teapot and or­der its sig­na­ture dish of pros­per­ous fra­grant chicken. Jane Cornes Stop­ping list, Can­berra: Dick­son is known as Can­berra’s Chi­na­town. The main ar­eas are Wool­ley, Bad­ham and Cape streets; here Asian gro­cers jos­tle with restau­rants of­fer­ing Thai, Viet­namese, Ja­panese, In­dian and Chi­nese fare; there’s also Ital­ian, Turk­ish and Ethiopian cui­sine, of­ten all along a sin­gle strip.

Deek’s Bak­ery & Cafe sells de­li­cious gluten-free prod­ucts. At Kingston, Giles Street, Went­worth Av­enue and Kennedy Street are the fo­cus. Head for Silo Bak­ery, Idelic Cafe & Deli, All Things Choco­late and the Old Bus De­pot Mar­kets, sell­ing fresh pro­duce ev­ery Sun­day. Ju­dith Elen

Shop til you drop: Clock­wise from top left, Vari’s in Nor­wood; Viet­namese trainees at Viet Hoa; A.&P. Sul­faro, Haber­field; Ibrahim El­turan at Rumeli; Parap mar­ket, Dar­win

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