Few names are as iconic or as revered in Australia’s food industry as Simon Johnson. An importer and purveyor of exceptional ingredients from around the country and the globe, Johnson – himself an ex-chef – opened his first store in Sydney’s Pyrmont in 1992. That location was quickly followed by this Woollahra flagship – a spacious corner shop towards the Oxford Street end of the Queen Street’s retail village.
The store is curated with the air of a delicatessen, albeit one with a renowned, purpose-built cheese room and the highly curated selection of imported and local drinks and foodstuffs. Madagascan vanilla essence, Spanish peaches preserved in sticky syrup and pastel-hued blocks of salted caramel chocolate from Montargis are some of the coveted products you’ll find on the shelves.
The savoury section also offers plenty of opportunities for indulgence, with cured meats, dried pastas and specialty ingredients (Spanish chef Ferran Adriá’s molecular gastronomy kit full of emulsifiers and reactants is not for the novice cook) vie for attention. Upstairs, a whole floor of homewares and utensils is the focus. But you’ll also see many displays of big-name luxury food items, as Johnson is the exclusive local importer of brands such as Valrhona chocolate and Duchy originals.
Shopping here is a special treat that never disappoints, and how could it when there are French truffles and Swiss Gruyere in your basket? Knowledgeable and friendly staff guide you through your purchases, offering tastes, samples and serving suggestions all the while. This is the way all food shopping ought to be.
(Other Sydney locations in Pyrmont, Castlecrag, Castle Hill and Alexandria.)