Thirty Three Candles

Yesterday was my birthday.  Thirty three years in all for Lady Moss.

Down at Rainbow Lane, birthdays last a week and mine started with a bang. Treated to a bounty of Middle Eastern fare Monday night at the divine Neild Avenue by Lady Kitty, I don’t think I’ve stopped eating since. The big day was a crescendo of feasting in foodie heaven. When I die I’m going to live in Haberfield.

This is the food I want to eat everyday for the rest of my life. Sadly lacking in my little village are the proud producers of fresh fruit and vege, specialty butchers slicing off taste teasers of melt in your mouth meat hung for months before making their entrance into the shop. I had heard tales of the IGA like no other, where red baskets are dotted around the deli floor as customers fill them from afar, coming back to check on their place in the line. When we took a ticket the rumors turned out to be true. Our number 152 was far out in front of the lucky punter being served at 35.

 I love to explore new suburbs and play tourist in my own town and admit that I have wanted to come to Haberfield armed with a menu and an open mind for a long time but never quite got there before our tree change such as it was. For my birthday I was determined to create a lunch using only what was seasonally best and on offer. You could easily do your grocery shopping here but I would recommend doing it early or on a weekday. Even on Wednesday, nearly every shop had a queue out the door, with each customer given proper care and attention from the store keeper. It takes some getting used to, shopping would take up an entire Saturday but oh what a joy to spend family time this way.

We started at Franks Fruit Market, a tiny dark, treasure trove of fresh jewels. The scent of blood orange greeted us at the door and at $5 a kilo they would form the base to a sauce in a version of Spanish Chicken with Choritzo. All produce here is Australian unless otherwise stated, much of it  grown in local backyards. There were fifteen different varieties of heirloom tomato, yup I counted, Ari was given a handful of teency Johnny Lovebites to taste which she declared to be the sweetest and yummiest she had ever eaten. Many a time have I wanted to buy a punnet of heirlooms but the price tag couldn’t be missed. At Franks you will pay no more than $6.99 a kilo for any type. We bought a bowlful that the Littles have been dipping into as often as their hands can reach the bench. Exactly how I want my children to behave, I couldn’t justify the excursion more. As I shopped I tasted, I smelt and I savoured, under the watchful eye of Frank who put aside all work to help me choose the best, most luscious fruits and the most wholesome veges to nourish my family. I asked for Kale, which he didn’t have but declared he would order in specially if Bella would like to come in next week? Um yes!  

We wandered up the street to Paesanella or I’ve died and gone to cheese land. I spent $23 and came out with seven different types of cheese including a wedge of their famous Mascarpone Reale, layers of gorgonzola, mascarpone and walnuts so creamy and luscious its ridiculous.

When you find a deli that has an entire aisle devoted to pasta you know you’ve hit jackpot. Ari got a crash course in Italian pronunciation at Zanetti’s 5 Star learning how to twist her tongue around Orecchiette, Pappardelle, Farfelle and quite fancies the idea of eating “little ears”. By this time it was filthily hot so we indulged in a soda of which they have every flavor on the planet, grape anyone?

We chose hand kneaded bread from Cassiniti Bakery so oven fresh it was still warm and hollow to the tap. I honestly thought I had misheard when Mama Cassiniti rung up our purchases at the princely sum of $4.50 with enough bread to last a week.

Mossy and the Littles were flagging by the time we stopped in at Lamonica IGA so I eschewed the 150 deep queue for deli fresh slices of parma ham, speck, mortadella and salami pre-packaged that morning. Not as romantic as standing chatting to your neighbour’s, cousin’s aunty that you’ve known your whole life but afternoon naps were calling. We picked up a kilo of Parmigiano Reggiano before leaving for $24.99 I’m sorry what?

A final stop at David Gojak Butchers with my favourite kind of signage out front, “all meat free range”. Their pricing is the most reasonable I’ve seen for quality meat, especially pork, female, so in vogue that even the cheapest cuts are over $30 a kilo elsewhere, here about $16. I had a duck chopped up at my request, tasted fresh made sausages before selecting and chicken thighs with the skin still on perfect for crisping up with my choritzo and blood orange.

By now even Lady Moss was tired of queuing and almost considered bypassing Pasticerria Papa and the most famous baked ricotta cheesecake in Sydney but thanks to Mossy’s insistence Ari and I stood for twenty five minutes to secure our prize. Three types of birthday cake, the fore mentioned ricotta splendiferous, a thick creamy biscuit pastry tart enclosing fresh strawberry jam and chocolaty, velvety perfect tiramisu. Amazing. Seriously amazing for $4.50 a slice. And yes the most incredible piece of cheesecake I have ever tasted. Ever.

We hauled home our bounty and amassed a fine spread that was soon devoured in our backgarden, surrounded by a chorus of frogs before we lay down our aching tummies for a long afternoon nap. The best kind of birthday.



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