For our new book, Broadsheet Sydney Food, we crisscrossed this sprawling city in search of the hidden gems and not-so-secret institutions that every Sydney food lover 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 food you buy.
How should you wrap cheese? Do eggs really need to go in the fridge? Here are 10 quick insights guaranteed to bring you joy in the kitchen.
Cling Wrap And Cheese Don’t Mix
According to Simon Johnson, “the moment you wrap cheese in plastic, you’re suffocating it.” So what to do? Keep the waxed paper wrap from your cheesemonger, which is porous, giving cheese oxygen to keep it fresh. Baking paper will also do the job.
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.
Herbs: paper towel, plastic, or jar?
The answer? 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. Besides, baking works best when eggs are incorporated to your mix at room temperature.
The perfect cut for the amateur steak enthusiast
When it comes to cooking the perfect steak, everyone has an opinion. But before you get to the grill, which cut should you buy? If you’re not too practised, go for a scotch fillet or rib eye. “They're premium cuts,” explains Anthony Puharich of Victor Churchill. “It's harder to bugger up a premium cut of meat.”
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.
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 Sydney 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
Sydney’s bounty of fresh produce markets are the backbone of the city’s thriving food culture, and many of our favourite stores and suppliers set up outposts at weekend markets across the country. So (obviously) do farmers themselves. As an example, at Orange Grove Markets in Lilyfield, you can find bags of cheap avocados, seasonal flowers, strings of French-style saucisson, pots of pâté, cheese, seafood on ice and Flour and Stone’s black sesame chiffon and croissants. In Broadsheet Sydney Food we’ve created a comprehensive guide to four of our favourite markets and their key stalls. Wherever you go, make sure you chat to the folks behind the counter at your favourite stalls – they know their produce better than anyone.
The place for cakes
Speaking of Flour and Stone, in a perfect world every birthday party would have one of their cakes as its centrepiece. Nadine Ingram, owner and baker of the cult Woolloomooloo store, has a magical way with butter, cream and sugar. Flour and Stone’s small counter heaves with lemon dream cakes, black sesame chiffons and lemon drizzles. Call 48 hours in advance to order cakes big enough to serve 10 to 20 people, and if it’s something custom you’re after, Ingram and her team are skilled enough to handle any iteration.
Learn how to make a table pop
You’ve shopped, chopped and sweated it out in the kitchen. Don’t let a lacklustre table setting diminish your dinner party. Food stylist Imogen Roache gives advice on how to set a beautiful table; including mixing contrasting textures and colours that allow drinks and food to shine; and layering plates – rather than placing them beside each other – to create more room on the table and give a little height to the setting.
Take the hassle out of Christmas gifting. Our new book, Broadsheet Sydney 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.