Gourmet Groceries

By 11 July 2005 69

Having moved back to Canberra from San Francisco fairly recently, I’ve been having trouble locating some food items I wanted for cooking, so I thought a thread on where people go for their shopping might be helpful. A few of the things I’ve been looking for are:

Parmesan – fresh, real parmigiano-reggiano

Monterey Jack – a white cheese, a bit like cheddar but not sharp, that melts well and is commonly found in California and used a lot in Mexican-style dishes

molasses – I was stunned that this was not available in a standard supermarket, but perhaps it is a very American thing

really, really good bread – I hear great things about the bakery/cafe in Kingston, but I’m in Lyneham and I’d prefer some place in the Inner North

My thought was people could post suggestions for where to buy things, and also lists of what they are looking for, as well as any special deals they run across (like really cheap dried porcini mushrooms, etc.).

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69 Responses to
Gourmet Groceries
rjg 11:03 am
11 Jul 05

Belconnen or Fyshwick markets, while out of area, would be a good option. The Ainslie shops have an ‘independent’ grocery store, that is foodie friendly, and a good deal closer.

ssanta 11:30 am
11 Jul 05

My suggestion would be to head for the fyshwick markets. Your cheeses will be able to be sourced from a joint called ‘Poachers Pantry’ out near Murrumbateman. there is meant to be specialty cheese shop somewhere, but i have no idea where.

Molasses you can get in a chain of shops called ‘Ankor what’ ironically and Asian produce joint.

As for bread, i make my own, so frankly i dont give a stuff!

tortfeaser 12:08 pm
11 Jul 05

You’re going to have to make a trip into the inner south. Silo in Kingston have both the greatest bread this side of Victoire in Balmain, and have a specialist cheese shop in the store. That’s probably the cheese shop ssanta is on about.

Silo is run by a couple who used to have something to do with Cornucopia in Braddon. Cornucopia have great breat (not as good as Silo), and fantastic tarts and pastries (better than Silo). But no cheese.

Poachers Pantry have a few cheeses, but not the range and quality of Silo. Poachers have the most fantastic smoked meats I’ve ever had. Great smoked lamb cutlets and Christmas hams. Getting Monterey Jack anywhere could be a problem – its not common in Australia. Try gruyere instead.

Molasses – not common – try dark golden syrup – its a very very close substitute.

As to general calls about good places to shop in Canberra – its a small market, with some excellent individual places. But there’s some big gaps in the market.

Silo is the standout for foodies. Their sourdough on the weekends is fantastic. The butcher in the city market (Civic) (where Supabarn is) is great. The supabarn there is probably the best supermarket in Canberra.

The fishmonger in Belconnen markets is the best I’ve found, good produce and won’t lie on what has been frozen. Has some lines that are hard to get (eg unfrozen scallops on the shell). I think the fruit shop in the city market is a good one, with a great range. The poultry shop in Fyshwick markets is good. The deli near Deep Dish in Manuka is good for western meditteranean stuff. The deli in Fyshwick markets is good for italian.

But I can’t find french butter (lescure), paella rice, black pudding and a few other things not immediately to mind. Would love tips on sources for these.

terubo 12:38 pm
11 Jul 05

Often hanker after a haggis – where to buy?

Thumper 12:53 pm
11 Jul 05

I’ve oftern wondered how you catch a haggis? Do they run fast? Do they live in little burrors in the highlands of Scotland?

What would happen if Haggis’ were released into the wild in Australia? Would they become feral noxious animals like rabbits?

The mind boggles. I can just see a red hairy Scotsman in a kilt with a big stick chasing a furry haggis around in the gloaming….


ssanta 12:59 pm
11 Jul 05

black pudding… high country meats.

wonsworld 1:08 pm
11 Jul 05

For those who ever get any of Oprah’s recipes….

Two items that I had difficulty finding were Hickroy Smoke Marinade (for cooking real good tasty ribs mmmmmm) and Grahams Animal Crackers (base material for biscuit bases etc).

After tasting them both in States I can tell ya that the first one can be a problem to be found here but you can generally find a good suitable substitute in Jack Daniels or Southen Comfort marinade sauce brands.

I have never seen the real Grahams crackers here but again after a taste test in the States, the best thing to say they are like would be a slightly saltier version of Arnotts Milk Arrowroot biscuits.

..and haggis is good tucker

RandomGit 1:12 pm
11 Jul 05

For molasses, buy very dark brown sugar (thats what it says on the packet, made by CSR, available in all supermarkets) and melt it in a pot over a gentle heat.

Looks like a gourmet outing to Kingston is on the cards this weekend.

Where is Poachers Pantry?

ssanta 1:17 pm
11 Jul 05

Poachers Pantry is on the way to Murrumbateman. About 15km’s past the border.

rossco 1:20 pm
11 Jul 05

Croissant d’or (in Civic) do really nice breads and french pastries too.

RandomGit 1:21 pm
11 Jul 05

Ah yes, that one. I tad out of the way, but I think I’ve noticed some stores carry some of his produce.

RandomGit 1:23 pm
11 Jul 05

Best pide is Mahnaz in Gunghalin marketplace. He wholesales to a few posh bakeries who sell his pide and charge double what he does.

Thumper 1:25 pm
11 Jul 05

Kashmir in Narrabundah for the best Indian. Ask for Iqbal and he’ll make sure you get one hell of a good vindaloo.

(If you’re reading this Iqbal then you owe me…hehehe)

terubo 1:43 pm
11 Jul 05

Re how to catch a haggis: not easy. They are enormous bumbling beasts, prone to sip from the loch late at night.
You need a ladder, jam jar, binoculars and tweezers. Find a suitable tree by the edge of the loch, use the ladder to climb to the highest branches.
When – or rather if – the haggis approaches, view its activities through the wrong end of the binoculars. That way, it will be small enough to pick up with your tweezers and deposit in the jam jar.

llib 1:59 pm
11 Jul 05

there’s a few asian stores in dickson that will cater for the weird asian food-stuffs (e.g., straw mushrooms and the tiny thai eggplants [pea-sized]).

does anyone know where you can get tomatillos, or a tortilla press?

ssanta 2:06 pm
11 Jul 05

Tortilla Presses you can bag at at kitchen utensil joint at the belco markets. I got one last week. tomatillos you can grab when in season at belco as well. better growing your own, it is a piece of piss under plstic all year round in the ACT. Just dont grow tomatoes near em, they gall up quicker than a fat man doing aerobics.

blossy 2:18 pm
11 Jul 05

Apparently the organic market in Farrer has some good stuff too.

cyborgzr 3:06 pm
11 Jul 05

The real parmigiano-reggiano which is imported from Italy is available at Woolworths. I have managed to find it at the Kippax store near the deli section so I guess other stores would stock it too.

bulldog 3:31 pm
11 Jul 05

WHile we’re on the gourmet gear, for tip top Indian-Fijian you have to get to Rama’s in Pearce. Pretty tightly packed inside, so takeaway or delivery is a sound option.

Also, Asian Supermarket in Tugerranong (Homeworld Centre) has awesome bits and pieces. Only store you can always find treasures like Galangal, Kaffir Lime and GOOD palm sugar. For all aisan cooking enthusiasts, it’s every bit as good as Dickson.

Ralph 3:34 pm
11 Jul 05

An Indian grocery store has also recently opened in Belconnen.

ssanta 3:39 pm
11 Jul 05

If you are a Yarpie, or just into slavery and South African products in general, the Holt Supermarket seems to do a roaring trade with the food stuffs it sources from that part of the world

Spitfire3 5:22 pm
11 Jul 05

Jeez, you guys are a wealth of information!

sk8erboi 7:00 pm
11 Jul 05

Although not in Canberra as such, usafoods in Melbourne should be able to help you out with specific merkin stuff. Check ‘em out here. I’m heading down that way in a couple of weeks, so I plan on dropping in and having a gander.

nick 7:28 pm
11 Jul 05

Well, I regularly go to the Belconnen markets – agree that the fishmonger there is one of the best – though lately I’ve switched to the farmers market at EPIC on Saturday morning for most fruit and veg.

Urambi Bakery also sells there, and I really like their bread – can also get it at the Old Bus Depot on Sundays.

And I’ve often shopped in the Ainslie grocery store and have to agree that it does a good job of stocking the odd, more gourmet-esque foodstuffs that my local IGA in Lyneham doesn’t carry – things such as polenta.

This evening I found… MOLASSES… there. An organic blackstrap molasses, imported from Paraguay of all places, for $5 for a decent-sized jar.

Everything I’ve heard about and had from Silo’s is great, but it is just too far for regular shopping – for things like bread, etc. And a bit pricey.

The inner south in general seems to be a bit better off for gourmet groceries – in addition to the various good shops in Kingston, there are the more organic/health food shops in Griffith. The little health food grocery store there is excellent, though very pricey on some things to my eye (admittedly an eye trained by San Francisco prices).

Someone mentioned Tomatillas – another important item for Mexi-Cali cooking, in addition to the earlier mentioned monterey jack cheese. Would also be nice to find good cheap salsa – this new Byron Bay stuff is about the best I’ve found – but when tomatoes are good it seems better just to make one’s own.

Also need to locate:

ancho chillis – dried, whole
chipotle chillis – dried, whole
cranberries – fresh or frozen

Thanks to every one for their useful suggestions and comments.

terubo 8:01 am
12 Jul 05

I agree, the wealth of info is staggering…but I still don’t know where to source that haggis.

Jazz 9:00 am
12 Jul 05

i’m pretty sure i’ve seen haggis at eco meats at the belocnnen markets. not sure it the have it all the time though.

blossy 9:05 am
12 Jul 05

“specific merkin stuff”

Uh huh…

terubo 10:08 am
12 Jul 05

Thanks, Jazz,
Will go sniff it out.

tortfeaser 10:34 am
12 Jul 05

I’ve tried for cranberries and not had any luck. I ended up reconstituting dried ones. How about juniper berries?

I’ll put in a vote for Ramas – definately the best Indian I’ve had in Canberra. Timmys in Manuka is a cracker for chinese/malaysian takeaway.

And I’m a bit keen on getting in to the tex-mex. Any good recipe archive site?

Jazz 10:52 am
12 Jul 05

theres a brand called herbies spices that do dried juniper berries. cooking coordinates (also at the belconnen markets) stock them

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