Who is Klarisa Cengic? I’m the owner of The Goods Wholefoods cafe in the city.
Best recent dining experience: I’d say it was at REBEL REBEL. I think they just do a phenomenal mix of everything there – from breakfast to lunch to dinner, they just nail it every time.
The last time I was there, I tried their sugarloaf cabbage with tahini and harissa oil.
Most embarrassing pantry item: I’ve from a Croatian background and we eat this thing called pašteta.
It’s basically a can of chicken paste (bit of a stretch to call it pâté as it’s really not) and ordinarily, I’d be like, “no way”, but the taste of this brings back so many fond childhood memories for me that I love it.
Must-buy ingredient: Herbs and spices. They just lift all meals.
Next big thing: I think everyone is starting to shop and support local a bit more and be aware of where their food is coming from.
Favourite place for breakfast in the ACT: I do want to say REBEL REBEL again, but I also love Mocan & Green Grout in the city and Silo Bakery + Cafe in Kingston – not only are their pastries amazing but they also do a really lovely hot breakfast as well.
My Canberra food secret: I don’t know if it’s a secret, but Tutto Delicatessen in Mawson is the best deli in Canberra. You can pick up lots of European and Mediterranean goods as well as usual deli supplies, which I love.
And then, while it’s not a secret, I love the Farmers Markets at EPIC and Phillip. I don’t want that to be a secret because I’d love people to shop local and seasonal there.
Biggest culinary influence: Definitely my family. My mum was a really, really big cook in the family, and so was my grandma.
I learnt lots and lots from them.
Favourite cookbook: At the moment I’m loving Acquacotta by Emiko Davies. It’s a really lovely Tuscan-style seafood book.
I’m one of those people who will often buy cookbooks and look at them but not make the recipes, but I’ve actually been committing to making some recipes from the book.
Who I admire on the Canberra food and wine scene: This is a hard one.
I think there are just so many people, but at the moment my admiration goes out to any small hospitality business owner who has been willing to ride out not only the crazy ride that is hospitality but the crazy ride that is hospitality in COVID-19 as well.
I really admire the philosophy of Chris Dennis who is behind Two Before Ten in Aranda as well – real paddock-to-plate stuff!
What’s on the menu this week: At The Goods, we introduced a summer series just before Christmas to use in-season produce.
We’ve really elevated our salads to be a bit more summery, and so we’ve added a watermelon and feta salad and a strawberry, tomato and cucumber salad.
Where I’m going next: I really want to get Onzième in Kingston!
Hopefully, we will also make it to Tasmania soon. We were meant to go this summer but unfortunately couldn’t in the end.
Death row meal: Let’s just say I wouldn’t have one meal – I would have a massive banquet of all of my favourite things.
I’d start with freshly shucked oysters, a beautiful seasonal salad – maybe a peach burrata with tomatoes or something like that – and then a seasonal handmade pasta dish before finishing off with one of my grandma’s cakes and a Turkish coffee.
I’m going out with a bang!
COVID-19 response: It was about being really adaptive. You can’t really predict what happens next, so you have to be flexible and change to better suit your customers.
For me personally, having a positive approach was also really important.
My really simple recipe tip: Apart from seasoning your food, I’d suggest not being afraid of adding a bit of acidity to a meal, whether that’s vinegar or lemon juice.
The Goods Wholefoods cafe is located at No Name Lane, 1/40 Marcus Clarke Street in the City. It’s open Monday to Friday from 7 am to 3 pm.