Food + Drink

7 Pretentious ‘Artisan’ Foods That Are Actually Worth It

By Ellen Seah - 13 Oct 2015

In Melbourne’s diverse, eclectic, sometimes super confusing foodie scene, the word “artisan” gets flung around an awful lot. From describing fresh breads to the labels on store-bought cookies, you’d be forgiven for thinking that “artisan” simply meant, “officially wanker approved”.

So to straighten some things out, we’ve put together a list of the best artisanal eats and drinks in Melbourne. From cheese to pizza and cocktails to fairy floss, here are our favourite, traditionally crafted feeds (the pretentiousness in this article is complimentary).

#1: Doughnuts

The craze credited to bringing a national Nutella shortage upon Australia, if people truly believe donuts are a phase, they have a lot to learn about the city of Melbourne. All Day Donuts in Brunswick keeps it simple: five donut flavours on rotation and filter coffee by Seven Seeds. You won’t crave much more, not with these fluffy pastries and finger-licking cream fillings.

A newer addition to Melbourne’s pastry scene, it’s all about sugar and class at French patisserie Chez Dre. All donuts are made in-house with the finest local produce. Snack on these feather-light carbs of joy while you browse the best of South Melbourne Market.

Known for lamingtons, ginger toffee balls and some of Melbourne’s best donuts, Cobb Lane is a must for holy-pastry lovers. You’ll find them, and a queue, in Yarraville.

#2: Pizza

Just like fashion, everyone has their own style of pizza. But once you’ve been crowned for the best margarita on the planet, there’s not much room for argument. 400 Gradi’s world championship winning pizza has just a handful of fresh ingredients on top of pillow-soft dough. It’s the best in the world, so we doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Thin-crust lover? Il Pizzaiolo’s traditional, roman-style pizza bases are crispy discs of deliciousness. A modern take on traditional Italian flavours, Pizza Religion’s bases are thin, golden and bursting with chunky toppings like braised beef cheek and caramelised onion.

#3: Gelato

When it’s hot in Melbourne, there’s no shortage of frozen treats. After a research trip to Italy and one grossly successful pop-up, Pidapipo is one of Melbourne’s best ice cream stores. Try their velvet soft fior di latte at Pidapipo’s permanent store in Carlton.

Artisan is the go at Gelateria Primavera, with all gelato kept in old-fashioned pozzetti cabinets to protect the delicate dessert from air and light. Gelato is made from seasonal ingredients and churned fresh daily, so don’t be surprised if flavours rotate. You’ll still be struggling with choices, regardless.

Melbourne’s favourite quirky ice cream store, Gelato Messina, uses raw ingredients for their housemade flavours. From brownies to jams, all gelatos are pasteurised and churned fresh daily. Freshness has never tasted sweeter.

#4: Cheese

Much to the despair of cheese-lovers everywhere, a good cheese takes time and patience. Not exactly the forte of Melbourne’s dairy-obsessed community. Luckily everything in Spring Street Grocer’s cheese cellar is aged on-site, offering the perfectly ripe blue, brie and cheddar to take home everyday.

If you’re picky with your cheesy choices, Milk the Cow offers rotating weekly cheeseboards and paired wines. With over 150 artisan cheeses, it’s a good way to narrow down your picks. Or not.

In the heart of one of Melbourne’s best regional areas, Main Ridge Dairy produces their own milk and handcrafts every cheese in their range. With the Mornington Peninsula on their doorstep, you won’t find cheese like this in Melbourne’s metro. 

#5: Bread

The never-fail staple for Melbourne breakfasts everywhere, we sandwich, spread, sprinkle and top our favourite yeasty slices with an alarming amount of determination. From cold cuts to salads and sauces to cheese, there’s no lack of options when it comes to bread.

Der Partisan is a wise starting point if you’re looking for art in your artisanal bread. Really. European-style dark rye loaves come with a face of flour—you can choose between a curly haired lady and moon-faced man.

If faces on your morning loaf doesn’t impress (who are you?!) Dench Bakers in North Fitzroy uses organic flour in their artisan sourdough breads. After setting up shop nearly a decade ago, Dench Bakers is one of Melbourne’s best bread suppliers. 

While it may take a little longer, Abbotsford’s Convent Bakery uses old-fashioned techniques for their rich breads. If you’re there, might as well get a pastry or seven.

#6: Cocktails

Yes, cocktails can be artisanal too. No, they’re still not technically good for you, but who’s counting? Attracting some of the finest mixologists around, 1806 takes tradition seriously. With a menu designed around cocktails from each decade since 1806, indulge in classics from the past.

One of Melbourne’s finest drinking institutions, Eau De Vie’s extensive cocktail list specialises in whiskey. Here cocktails are done right, with no mocktails in sight.

Like any true Melbourne institution, The Everleigh is frustratingly hidden. Featuring the best of the golden era including old fashioneds and whiskey sours, there’s no pressure to be impressive at The Everleigh. Leave that one to the bartenders.

#7: Fairy Floss

Arriving fashionably late to the artisanal party, Melbourne is going gaga for adult-friendly, shame-free fairy floss. Home grown Sydney company Fluffe has recently created their own sugar-laden range with no suspiciously vague blue and pink flavours in sight. Featured fairy floss flavours include Birthday Cake (French vanilla topped with sprinkles and powdered cake), burnt honey and cookies and crème.

If you like your floss with some bite, Melbourne favourite Spice Temple offers a Chinese-style Pavlova with vanilla bean fairy floss. Chapel Street’s A25 Pizzeria serves their persian sugary strands with rosewater and blueberry jelly. Because if you’re going to (rightfully) indulge in what is essentially flavoured sugar, you’re going to do it in style. 

Image credit: Fluffe via Instagram, Chez Dre by Simon Shiff for The Urban List, Bibelot by Sabine Legrand for The Urban List, Dench via Facebook, Pidapipo via Facebook, All Day Donuts via Instagram

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