For our new book, Broadsheet Melbourne Food, we crisscrossed this sprawling city in search of the hidden gems and not-so-secret institutions that every Melbourne food enthusiast should know. While speaking with experts and researching our best bakeries, grocers, delis, markets, fishmongers, bottle shops, and more, we uncovered a wealth of tips on how to get the most from the produce you buy.
How should you wrap cheese? Do eggs really need to go in the fridge? Here are 11 quick insights guaranteed to bring you joy in the kitchen.
Herbs: Paper Towel, Plastic, or Jar?
All three, depending on the herb. Hardy herbs such as rosemary and thyme can be wrapped in a damp paper towel and kept in an airtight plastic bag in the fridge. Bigger-leaved herbs such as basil, parsley and coriander can be kept in water in a jar on the kitchen bench.
Say Yes to Cold Butter
Pierre Issa, the man behind boutique butter company Pepe Saya, says cultured butter should be stored below 4-degrees Celsius. If you find yourself with excess, stick it in the freezer, where it will generally keep three months after its best-before date.
… But Bakers Say No to Cold Eggs
If you’re eating them within a week, eggs needn’t be kept in the fridge. Baking works best when eggs are incorporated to your mix at room temperature.
Keep Good Salt
Table salt dissolves quickly so is perfect for seasoning pasta water, but it's worth investing in a finer, flakier sea salt such as Maldon Sea Salt for finishing dishes, and adding crunch to fried eggs. You’ll appreciate the cleaner, milder taste.
Don’t Suffocate Your Cheese
Cheesemonger Olivia Sutton of Harper & Blohm has a pro-tip for keeping fromage: “As soon as you get home, remove any cling-film and wrap your cheese in baking paper. Then put it in a container with a damp Chux over the bottom to stop your cheese drying out.”
Cured salamis and saucisson will deteriorate in humidity. If uncut, they keep for longer in a dry area (the pantry, say, not the fridge) at about 21-degrees Celsius. They should be kept in paper, not plastic and will last for around two months.
What About Bread?
Tivoli Road’s baker Michael James stores his bread in an airtight breadbox, and you should too. “Keeping the air out is the main thing,” he says. “Once it oxidises, it goes stale quickly. Don’t put it in the fridge. The cold air dries it out even more.”
Stick to Seasonal Eating
These days nearly everything is available to buy year round. Tomatoes line supermarket shelves in June. Broccoli, kale and oranges fill them in summer. It’s convenient, but good fruit and vegetables still shine brightest when harvested in their natural season. In Broadsheet Melbourne Food we pinpoint how to look for berries in summer, quince in autumn, pumpkin in winter and in spring, broad beans at their best.
Find The Right Market
It pays to explore Melbourne’s many fresh produce and farmer's markets to find exactly what you want. Wherever you go, make sure you chat to the folks behind the counter at your favourite stalls – they know their produce better than anyone. At South Melbourne Market, For example, few know obscure potato varieties better than the people at South Melbourne Market's Georgie’s Harvest, and for dairy, Field, Barns & Co. will freshly churn your butter. At Flemington Farmers Market, you'll find J & L Howell heirloom apples and if you're interested in a conversation about free range eggs, do seek out Dan the Egg Man.
Searching For Seafood
The best prawns for Christmas lunch? The answer might well be Ocean Made, a local fishmonger with a cult following. It supplies some of Melbourne’s best restaurants – you might have seen its fleet of cobalt-blue vans darting from Attica to Estelle to elsewhere, shuttling around 15 tonnes of seafood each week. Fortunately for the rest of us, it has a small retail outlet in a Collingwood laneway. Can’t get there? Visit Kensington Market before dawn each morning to select dripping-fresh, wild-caught fish.
Get The Good Oil on Industry Secrets
Your favourite restaurants – Chin Chin, Attica, Circa – shop at Made in Japan, a store stocking surprisingly affordable ceramics sourced directly from the Gifu Prefecture in Japan. Scullerymade has been supplying Melbourne’s chefs with the best in European kitchenware for 40 years – things like Krüger handmade knives, and elegant oven-to-table porcelain by French brand Apilco. Find out more about where the industry shops in Broadsheet Melbourne Food.
Take the hassle out of Christmas gifting. Our new book, Broadsheet Melbourne Food, is out now. (RRP: $29.95) Order online by Monday 18 December to guarantee delivery by Christmas – and if you order before 10am on Sunday 17 December, use promo code “72FREE” to receive free delivery.