'Oh, that's dee-licious!', the customer next to me exclaimed. She was having a Mmmoment. It happens when you sample the ice cream, sorbet and gelato made by John and Ed Marshall of Frugii.
It all started about a decade ago with a copy of Larousse Gastronomique and a baby ice cream machine, Ed explained to me. John started playing around with different flavours. We made a few and took them to Canberra restaurants to seek feedback. Now there are hundreds of different flavours, ranging from basil ice cream to tzatziki sorbet.
Frugi/Frugii (Latin for fruits of the forest) handmade ice cream, gelato and sorbet can be purchased at IGA Supermarkets in Hughes, Ainslie and Narrabundah in Canberra. You will also find John and Ed at the Capital Region Farmer's Market and the Southside Farmer's Markets. There's also a 'freezer door' in the Canberra suburb of O'Malley. Mr Frugii started off 2012 by creating his first chocolate from scratch, with cocoa beans from the Dominion Republic; roasted, winnowed, conched, refined, and tempered to make beautiful miniature chocolate bars, and gelato! Frugii's new hit flavour Ice Cream is Salted Butter Caramel. Visit the web site if you would like to know more about Frugii.
One of my favourite stores is the Campbell Friendly Grocer in the elegant suburb of Campbell in Canberra's old inner north. According to Canberra online, the location 'was originally known as Duntroon and was gazetted as Campbell in 1956. Robert Campbell, Sydney's first merchant, is said to have received a grant of land on the Limestone Plains as compensation for the loss of one of his ships on government charter. In 1825 he built a homestead, naming it Duntroon after the Campbell castle in Argyllshire, Scotland. Other buildings erected by Campbell and his family are the Church of St John the Baptist in 1845 and Blundell's farmhouse (now a pioneer museum)'. The Australian War Memorial, ANZAC Parade, Lake Burley Griffin and the National Carillon are just nearby.
Given its close proximity to the City, Peter and I frequented the Campbell shopping centre after work and were regulars when we lived in the suburb.
We enjoyed the neighbourhood atmosphere and the good range of shops, which includes an excellent liquor store and supermarket, as well as The Lanterne Rooms restaurant and Leong Kitchen Chinese restaurant. All offer genuinely friendly service and quality products.
Campbell Friendly Grocer is owned by Albury born Matthew Farrah, who originally opened the bottle shop two doors down in 1992. Three years later, his brother, Chris, came on board and the two joined a trust which bought the entire shopping centre. This explains the well maintained look and 'village' feel of the complex. Matt now owns the supermarket or 'Friendly Grocer' and Chris owns Campbell Liquor Discounts. Interestingly, Matt also owns four vineyards in Marlborough, New Zealand, and a wine production business that makes brands such as Pear Tree, Little Black Stone, Beachwood, Waihopai and Mr Smith, an Australian wine which won a Gold medal at the London International Wine Challenge. Matt distributes his wines through his own wine distribution business, Rogue Wines. More on this interesting facet in a later piece.
Back to the Campbell Friendly Grocer, Matt and his store managers are customer savvy and keen to cater to the needs of their clientele. 'We are mainly a convenience store, but our shoppers really enjoy gourmet products, which is why we stock a good range of quality lines', Matt explained.
Indeed. On these shelves, you will find Poacher's Pantry smoked meats, Toby's Estate coffee, Charmaine Solomon curry pastes, desserts from Homemade Fine Foods, and Careme handmade pastries. There is also a focus on local products, such as Contadino Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Falls Creek, Dom's Woodfired Bread from Queanbeyan, and meat from Country Pride Sausages, among other good things. The latest products to grace the shelves are Pepe Saya butter and Red Belly Citrus Blood Orange Cordial. Matt has a vision to expand the gourmet lines even further in the next couple of years.
To cater to local office workers, Matt's Farrahdisio cafe, operates from the grocery between 8.00am and 3.00pm on weekdays. Here you will find gourmet sandwiches and quiche, as well as Mick's Bakehouse pies, roasted chickens and fresh sushi. Campbell Friendly Grocer is open seven days from 8.00am to 8.00pm, telephone 02 6247 3535. Make it a regular stop in for your grocery shopping, the concept and the store is delicious. You are going to love it!
One of the treasures in Parap Village, Darwin, and a gem inside and out, is Parap Fine Foods, a store that Peter and I discovered after a Saturday morning brunch and shopping at the Parap Markets.
Situated in of one Darwin's oldest suburbs, Parap Fine Foods was originally established as Parap Fruit and Vegetables in 1968 by Paul and Rene Pantazis, who recognised that Darwin needed a good retail greengrocer. That was some 40 years ago. The city has come a long way since then and their store today brings the best of fine quality, gourmet food and wine to the people of Darwin.
We were fortunate to meet and spend some time with Paul and Rene and their son, Neville, during our recent weekend in Darwin. They were kind enough to invite us 'out the back' and offer a cup of espresso and chat about life in Darwin and their love of good food. 'We wanted to make sure that Darwin doesn't miss out on anything,' Rene explained. Clearly the couple, indeed the family, takes pride in their business and in satisfying their customers. Rene and I talked about some of the lines: Maggie Beer, Brookfarm, The Stock Merchant, Careme Pastry and Charmaine Solomon pastes and marinades. Rene certainly knows her products.
We were absolutely delighted when Neville presented us with a copy of a beautiful book titled Forty Fine Years by Peter and Sheila Forrest. 'Enjoy the story of our family,' Neville wrote inside. Published in 2008, the book is a collection of stories and recipes celebrating the Pantazis family and their many achievements, including Parap Fine Foods. The legendary Charmaine Solomon was interviewed for the book and said 'At Parap there is this wonderful shop that brings the best of the world into Darwin, making it possible for local people to go country hopping and eat their way around the world with the very best ingredients. Paul and Rene have brought the food halls of Harrods and David Jones to Darwin.' Paul's Stuffed Figs and Rene's Skordalia are among the family recipes shared in the book.
So, if you are a Darwin resident, or you happen to visit Darwin at any time, make sure you pop in to Parap Fine Foods and meet the Pantazis family. And please say hello from Peter and me. Parap Fine Foods is at Parap Village, 40 Parap Road and is open seven days a week (9am-1pm on Sundays).
We'd been hearing about a delicious little venture called Stripey Sundae at Gold Creek Village, so decided to treat ourselves to a Sunday afternoon banana split. Stripey Sundae owner, Yvette McKay, offers 'home made ice cream and other delightful things'.
The ice cream is superb and is made locally by Canberra's Willy Wonka of ice cream, John Marshall a.k.a. Frugii. As the seasons change, so do the ice cream flavours. There's Frugii's famous salted butter caramel, candied orange and, of course, vanilla bean. Also produced sourced locally, Bateman's Bay Nuts are another product feature on the menu. Yvette says she 'loves all things local' hence the organic and Fairtrade coffee served at Stripey Sundae is roasted by Canberra's Wagonga Coffee too.
The venue is cosy and child friendly, and there are party packages available for birthdays and events such as Hen's gatherings.
Stripey Sundae is situated at 11 O'Hanlon Place, Gold Creek Village, Nicholls, and is open from Thursday to Sunday between 10am and 5pm.
The aroma of artisan prosciutto will lure you to the counter of San Jose Smallgoods, where you'll meet Jose Coutinho and and Pascaline Marchi.
Their multi-award winning, artisan Jamon is produced from free range Berkshire black pigs (sows) and handcrafted following old traditional methods. It is aged on the bone and has a moist, delicate and lightly sweet, salty flavour. It literally melts in your mouth and is best accompanied by grissini or good crusty bread.
Other products on offer include a range of bacon, bresaola, ham, pancetta, chorizo and salami; as well as premium quality delicatessen items.
Jose's philosophy is a 'refusal to compromise on quality' and this is evident in the very find products that have won so many awards.
Farmers and growers, artisan producers, and wonderful providores.