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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Abbotsford Convent Slow Food Farmers Market and Beatrix, North Melbourne


There was one place in Melbourne that stole my heart. Beatrix in North Melbourne. Welcome to the final post on our three-day Melbourne adventure. And yep, I saved the best for last. I know we managed to eat a massive amount of food on our mini-break. People would ask why we were going/had travelled to Melbourne. I don't think they really believed us when we bluntly replied "to eat".

Shoppers on the lawn at Abbotsford Convent Slow Food Farmers Market
Relaxing on the lawn at Abbotsford Convent

The only sightseeing I had planned on our (comprehensive) itinerary was the Slow Food Farmers Market. Okay, I know this involves food, but surely walking + outdoors equals some points for touristing, right? As luck would have it, our visit coincided with the monthly market at Abbotsford Convent.

Artichokes at Abbotsford Convent Slow Food Farmers Market

We spot the swarms of people even before we reach the car park. There are hordes of people both entering and leaving the market. Everywhere you look are happy smiles of stallholders, artisan products and a rainbow of organic produce.

Certified organic leeks at Abbotsford Convent Slow Food Farmers Market
Certified organic leeks

Certified organic Tuscan kale at Abbotsford Convent Slow Food Farmers Market
Certified organic Tuscan kale

Certified organic Dutch carrots at Abbotsford Convent Slow Food Farmers Market
Certified organic Dutch carrots

Shoppers and stalls at Abbotsford Convent Slow Food Farmers Market
Shoppers at the markets

Certified organic baby celeriac at Abbotsford Convent Slow Food Farmers Market
Certified organic baby celeriac

Dogs, kids and shoppers at Abbotsford Convent Slow Food Farmers Market
Dogs, kids and shoppers

Dr Marty's crumpet stall at Abbotsford Convent Slow Food Farmers Market
Dr Marty's crumpet stall

I zero in on Dr Marty's crumpet stall like a moth to a flame. I'd been keen to get my hands on his crumpets again after first trying them at St Ali. They're a handmade crumpet made with organic flour, and their satisfying density was something I'd craved ever since.

Dr Marty's toasted crumpets at Abbotsford Convent Slow Food Farmers Market
Dr Marty's toasted crumpets with DIY spreads $5

Hand over five bucks and you can enjoy two of them freshly toasted on the spot. There's an assortment of spreads that you can slather on as generously as you please. And you can grab a take home bag of 6 for $8.50. I still have a precious few sitting in my freezer.

Buerre bosc pears at Abbotsford Convent Slow Food Farmers Market
Buerre bosc pears

Chestnut honey by Walkabout Apiaries at Abbotsford Convent Slow Food Farmers Market
Chestnut honey by Walkabout Apiaries 

And even though my pantry is full of honey, I still couldn't say no to a jar of chestnut honey from Walkabout Apiaries, a dark and intense honey harvested from chestnut groves in the Ovens Valley.

Fruit sponge cakes by Convent Bakery at Abbotsford Convent Slow Food Farmers Market
Fruit sponge cakes from Convent Bakery

Bunches of asparagus at Abbotsford Convent Slow Food Farmers Market

Beetroot at Abbotsford Convent Slow Food Farmers Market

Chemical-free raw pistachios grown in Wedderburn at Abbotsford Convent Slow Food Farmers Market
Hang Wan from Hi-Fye Pistachios, grown chemical-free in Wedderburn

We stumble upon Hi-Fye Pistachios and are taken aback when we realise they are selling all different kinds of pistachios. Wasn't there only one? Wrong. We're told there are more than 100 types of pistachios. At their farm in Wedderburn they grow 30 different varieties from 15,000 pistachios trees.

Chemical-free raw pistachio varieties at Abbotsford Convent Slow Food Farmers Market
Some of the 30 different pistachios they grow on their farm in Wedderburn

The sirora pistachio is the one most commonly grown commercially. It has a high yield and is easily harvested by machines. Hang Wan tells us that the shelled ones she has for sale are all done by hand.

They have an impressive range of other varieties, including mohseng, mumtaz, sayfhadeeny, larnaca and badami. I pick up a tasting bag of four different varieties for $25 to take home. It's eye-opening to taste them and notice their differences in shape, crunch and flavour. Hang says that because the pistachios all ripen at different stages (they will naturally crack), they hand harvest them one by one. Only the sirora pistachios are harvested by machine.

Market stalls at Abbotsford Convent Slow Food Farmers Market
Market stalls in the Abbotsford Convent grounds

Shoppers and stalls at Abbotsford Convent Slow Food Farmers Market

Beatrix, North Melbourne

Raspberry and sweet ricotta cream tarts at Beatrix, North Melbourne
Raspberry and sweet ricotta cream in a polenta cooked crust

Beatrix is tiny but has bucketloads of charm. It was the posts and IG pics from Sarah that led me to this little slice of sweet tooth heaven in North Melbourne. The owner isn't named Beatrix but Nat Paull, a qualified pastry chef who has worked with Maggie Beer, Greg Malouf, Stephanie Alexander and Cath Claringbold (Burch & Purchese).

Eggbeaters hanging at Beatrix, North Melbourne
Eggbeaters above the counter at Beatrix

The corner cafe has only a smattering of tables inside and out. There's a vintage kitsch feel the place, with an assortment of old fashioned eggbeaters hanging above the counter. Word is that if you donate your own from the kitchen, you'll be rewarded with a free slice of cake!

Cakes and pastries at Beatrix, North Melbourne
Cakes and pastries on the display counter

The savoury menu is written on blackboards mounted on the wall, but your eyes are likely to be drawn to the sweets in the display cabinet. Footed cake plates and handwritten labels on lace doilies make it hard to resist ordering one of everything. We were there on the day of the AFL grand final. Beatrix has firmly asserted itself as a Sydney Swans supporter with all kinds of red and white themed treats specifically for sale that day.

Potato brioche doughnuts with lemon sour cream glaze at Beatrix, North Melbourne
Potato brioche doughnuts with lemon sour cream glaze

I spend several minutes just gawking at everything. I expect you will too.

Date caramel and chocolate tart at Beatrix, North Melbourne
Date caramel and chocolate tart with toasted peanut crust

Rosewater meringues at Beatrix, North Melbourne
Rosewater meringues 

Rhubarb crumble cheesecake at Beatrix, North Melbourne
Rhubarb crumble cheesecake with gingerbread and cookie crumb crust

Calamity Janes at Beatrix, North Melbourne
Calamity Janes graham cookies with vanilla marshmallow, strawberry preserve and milk chocolate

Pulled pork sandwich at Beatrix, North Melbourne
The Plugger $15.50
Pulled McIvor's free range pork shoulder 

We concede to a savoury start before we hit the sweets. The pulled pork sandwich made with McIvor's free range pork shoulder is inordinately delicious. The pork is sweet and juicy, doused in a smoky barbecue sauce. There's a good handful of slaw to lighten proceedings and several tiles of crackling are the cherry on top.

Flat white coffee at Beatrix, North Melbourne
Flat white coffee

Cakes and coffee are served on an eclectic mismatch of crockery that's just perfect for Instagram.

Cakes, tarts and doughnuts at Beatrix, North Melbourne
Dessert time!

Mandarin chiffon cake at Beatrix, North Melbourne
Mandarin chiffon cake $6

I'm a huge fan of chiffon cake and this mandarin version is mighty fine. The crumb is beautifully light and fluffy, pulled apart without any resistance or residual oil on your fingers. It's as soft as a cloud with only a thin layer of tangy lemon icing on top.

Date caramel and chocolate tart at Beatrix, North Melbourne
Date caramel and chocolate tart with toasted peanut crust $8.50

At the other end of the scale, the date caramel and chocolate tart is a lesson in achieving richness without being cloyingly sweet. We sink our forks into the gooey pool of date caramel, the bittersweetness of chocolate and hit the buttery toasted peanut tart shell that's short and crisp.

Potato brioche doughnut with lemon sour cream glaze at Beatrix, North Melbourne
Potato brioche doughnut with lemon sour cream glaze $5

Potatoes, brioche and doughnuts have always been three distinct foods in my eating history but here they're presented as one. As I understand it, this delicacy involves making a brioche dough with potato starch and then frying it in doughnut form. I can confirm this is one helluva tasty mouthful. The doughnut is cakey but soft, and the lemon sour cream glaze has just the right amount of tang.

Anzac cookie at Beatrix, North Melbourne
Anzac cookie made with Myrtleford butter $2

But my favourite dessert had to be the Anzac cookie. Maybe it was the use of Myrtleford butter that elevated this Aussie icon, but it was the ideal ratio of butter, oats, coconut and crunch.

I miss you already, Melbourne. Can't wait to eat you again soon!

Date and chocolate tart and potato brioche doughnut at Beatrix, North Melbourne

Beatrix, North Melbourne

688 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne
Tel: +61 (03) 9090 7301
Open Tuesday to Saturday 9am-4pm
Beatrix on Urbanspoon

Abbotsford Convent Slow Food Farmers Market
Abbotsford Convent, Providence Lawn and Sacred Heart Courtyard
1-16 St Heliers Street, Abbotsford, Melbourne
Tel: +61 (03) 9419 0826

Fourth Saturday of every month 8am-1pm
$2 entry fee per person is encouraged 
(collected by the Abbotsford Convent Foundation maintenance fund)

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23 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 11/16/2014 02:00:00 am


  • At 11/16/2014 3:14 am, Anonymous CakeSpy said…

    I just LOVE reading about the foodie scenes in different parts of the world. I must say...POTATO BRIOCHE DOUGHNUTS???? That sounds amazingly awesome.

  • At 11/16/2014 8:12 am, Anonymous Maureen | Orgasmic Chef said…

    Helen, you write the most wonderful reviews. It's like I'm there with you. So... pass over a crumpet! :)

  • At 11/16/2014 9:08 am, Anonymous Francesca said…

    I can rely on you to show me the best cakes in Melbourne. Thanks so much.

  • At 11/16/2014 10:00 am, Anonymous Hotly Spiced said…

    The market looks like it's in a beautiful part of Melbourne and you were certainly there on a day of good weather. The organic produce looks incredible and what a great variety. The cafe is lovely - love the egg whisks on the wall xx

  • At 11/16/2014 2:57 pm, Anonymous Cindy (a foodie's joy) said…

    The market looks great but my eyes kept going to all the goodies at Beatrix! I can't wait to check it out when I am next in Melbourne for a few days! :)

  • At 11/16/2014 3:36 pm, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    that chiffon cake looks so light and fluffy!

  • At 11/16/2014 10:43 pm, Anonymous ChopinandMysaucepan said…

    Dear Helen,

    I've never seen Tuscan kale and I wonder if they would make good chips like regular kale.

  • At 11/17/2014 7:20 am, Anonymous Trisha said…

    What a timely post! Heading to Melbourne tomorrow for work and I'm putting together a small list of must-try places! :)

  • At 11/17/2014 7:41 am, Anonymous john | heneedsfood said…

    Must suss this market out when I'm next in Melbs. Perhaps I'll take an old hand whisk with me so I can get a free piece of cake at Beatrix!

  • At 11/17/2014 8:30 am, Blogger Ramen Raff said…

    Whoa! That potato brioche donut sounds and looks amaze!

  • At 11/17/2014 10:21 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    Some of the tastiest produce by far. I think we're all dreaming of homemade crumpets now! :)

  • At 11/17/2014 11:02 am, Blogger Jacq said…

    those desserts look amazing! I love the old skool egg beaters hanging above the counter too

  • At 11/17/2014 11:04 am, Blogger Milktea Eats said…

    its not even lunch time but this post got my stomach grumbling! ! can never have enough cake!

  • At 11/17/2014 12:59 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    I love the goodies you can pick up from the market. The vibe is always so laid back, perfect way to spend a Saturday!

  • At 11/17/2014 12:59 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At 11/17/2014 5:56 pm, Blogger gaby @ lateraleating said…

    How cute are those baby celeriac! You can't go wrong with food in Melbourne, can you?

  • At 11/17/2014 7:14 pm, Anonymous Gourmet Getaways said…

    Markets are the bomb! One of the few places I love. What cute artichokes, too! Thanks for sharing!!!

    Julie & Alesah
    Gourmet Getaways xx

  • At 11/17/2014 10:41 pm, Anonymous Amanda@ChewTown said…

    Potato brioche doughnut sounds incredible.

  • At 11/17/2014 10:44 pm, Anonymous Tania@ MyKitchen Stories said…

    Such beautiful pictures Helen. You've got a great eye.

  • At 11/18/2014 1:08 am, Blogger Von said…

    When people ask me why i go anywhere, the answer is usually 'to eat' haha :) Harvesting pistachios by hand seems so labour intensive :O I'm surprised they're not more expensive! The Potato brioche doughnut sounds amazing- would definitely love to try that some day!

  • At 11/19/2014 9:06 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    Oh YAAAAAY! Beatrix!!!! And I'm thrilled that my incessant posting about them made you want to go! Isn't Beatrix THE BEST?!?!

    Hopefully next time you visit Melbourne the timing will be right and you'll be able to try their "Greenslade" ciabatta: fried chicken, fried chicken, coleslaw, mashed potato, gravy and onion rings. ZOMG!

    PS The date caramel and chocolate tart with toasted peanut crust is sometimes called the Moroccan Snickers, which I really like. :)

  • At 11/22/2014 2:18 am, Anonymous Sara | Belly Rumbles said…

    OMg handmade crumpet store, how amazingly cute is that!

  • At 11/28/2014 5:05 pm, Anonymous Amanda @ Gourmanda said…

    What wonderful timing to have the markets on when you were there. I'd love to go the next time I'm in Melbourne!


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