I recently wrote about some of the culinary discoveries I made around Melbourne during our exile from Yarraville. Now that I am back in the cosy bosom of Melbourne’s inner west I have loved returning to some of my favourite food haunts and stumbling upon some new ones. Here are a few of the reasons I love eating and cooking in Yarraville.
Aaaah… there’s no place like home…
122 Roberts St
Rocco’s is everything a small suburban deli should be. Run by Rocco and his wife Adriana for more than 30 years, Rocco has served prosciutto, olives and provolone to just about every household in the neighborhood. There is so much I love about this place: the bouncy bustle of Italian accents, the way Rocco greets his customers by name, and the old dears who shuffle through Rocco’s door with their push-trolleys as they must have been doing for the past, well, thirty years. This is the perfect neighborhood shop to have on hand when the urge for antipasto takes hold.
43 Anderson St
I found heaven on a plate at Cafe Urbano, and it comes in the form of Italian Chocolate Cake. I noticed this cake sitting on the counter one day when I was about five months pregnant and had a finely tuned hormonal radar for chocolate. This cake is not much to look at – it appears to be a plain chocolate loaf – but what it lacks in glamour it more than makes up for in personality.
Warmed through until the centre of the cake melts into a puddle of puddingy sin, this cake is the perfect solution for those days when your taste buds speak louder than your waistline. Indulging in a slice is one of my favourite ways to turn a frown upside down.
32A Ballarat St
Hausfrau takes the cake (pardon the pun) for authentic German baked goods. Now, having never been to Germany, I can only assume they’re authentic. But even if they’re not, this is a truly great bakery, and is my favourite place to pick up a cake when it’s my turn to bring dessert.
The Bee Sting is so light it practically floats like the proverbial butterfly, and they have a great selection of lunchtime nibblies too (try the pumpkin fritters and the potato pizza slices). Other notable mentions include their entire range of cheesecakes, Proust-worthy Madeleines and the world’s most perfect sacher torte for those moments when only a dirty great big chocolate cake will do.
My only criticism of Hausfrau is that the service can be a little terse at times. But it’s terse in that German, (dare I say Soup Nazi?) kind of a way. But let’s face it, with cake that good I can forgive just about anything.
James & Dean Meat Supply
22 Wembley Ave
Most people think that the ultimate in Yarraville butchery is Andrew’s Choice, the golden child of Yarraville’s butchery circuit. Of course Andrew’s Choice is great if you’re fond of a bit of swanky sausage, but for excellent value and the most personal service I have ever received in a food store, you can’t go past James & Dean.
This is a tiny butcher tucked away in a small shopping strip off Francis Street. There’s only a limited display in the window, and for good reason. George and Helen will cut the meat BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES! This was a revolution in butchery to me. Need some diced beef? Easy. Just select the fillet you would like it from and Helen will cut it to your specifications. Want some mince? Fine. Just choose the meat and watch it come out of the mincer. Helen even carried my bag out to the car for me as my hands were full with Bubba Lunchalot.
You’d probably expect this kind of service to cost the earth, but the prices were actually on par with the butcher stands at Footscray markets. And to top it off, you can even place your order by phone and have it delivered to your house. Now that’s what I call service.
Domenic’s Fruit Supply
27 Anderson St
The only thing as important as a good butcher is an excellent grocer, and it’s really easy to spot a fruit and veg shop that has taken the time to cultivate good relationships with excellent suppliers. Domenic’s range of fruit and veg never fails to impress me. The produce is so fresh the entire store appeals to my senses – I just love the beautiful ripe colours, and the fresh clean smell of quality seasonal fruit and veg. Check out the fridge down the back for the punnets of meaty olives and fresh herbs.