Camilla Ferraro is the lovely lady behind The Alimental Sage; a very clever photographer, writer and clued-up, cool Melbourne local.
She recently re-launched her blog and it’s already full of recipes I want to cook and stories I’m loving reading. In her words, it’s about “a way of living based on celebration of the little moments, the simple pleasures…random acts of kindness, the human connections…honouring the talents of others…and the formation of community’. Boom there it is.
So, of course I am very chuffed to have her here on the blog today sharing her notes on the best places to eat, drink and play in her beloved patch of Melbourne…
Please tell us a little about your local area
I’m a Melbourne northside girl, specifically I’ve grown up in and currently live in the in the burbs, in a suburb called Essendon, roughly north-west of Melbourne and a 20 minute car drive from the CBD. Once, nothing more than your average suburb saturated with schools, supermarkets, too many four wheel drives and not much more, I am now happy to say that we are now in walking distance to some mighty fine cafes, great coffee, local artisan food stores and an organic sourdough bakery. We even have a local farmers market beginning soon – not bad for the burbs I must say!
We are lucky to live on a big block with decent front and back cottage gardens and a lovely vegetable patch (my mum is the green thumb!), which allows us to grow a lot of our fresh produce and convert all of our fresh scraps into compost.
What would be the perfect Spring morning for you, in your hood…
The perfect Spring morning for me would consist of waking up early, popping my walking shoes on, sunnies in hand and heading out for a nice long walk. Most often my mum will come with me and we generally make a pit stop at our favourite café, St. Rose, for a strong takeaway latte to accompany us along the way. Sometimes we might also make a cheeky second stop in at our local French patisserie, Parisian Baker, for one of their award winning croissants (which just between you and me, are usually straight out of the oven between 8-8.30 each morning!). There’s nothing a warm, buttery croissant can’t fix.
And where should we go for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner?
Breakfast/Lunch: Definitely Darling St Espresso, a recent find for us but their brunch fare is sweet perfection and much more than just the usual suspects of poached eggs and smashed avo. Close favourites for breakfast/brunch are St. Rose Café (again), North and Eight and Ascot Food Store.
Say I was heading your way for a nice couple of days with my family, where should we base ourselves to get the best out of the area?
For out-of-towners, Essendon is probably that touch too far from the action of the inner city, so I would suggest finding a cute AirBnB terrace or loft apartment, in nearby Kensington or North Melbourne.
What if we fancied a nice picnic, what about picnic supplies? And can you share your favourite picnic spot in the area?
I would head to Queens Park and find a patch near the lake, or down to the Maribyrnong River where there are picnic grounds a plenty. For supplies, I would head to The Victorian Larder, which stocks all Victorian produce, for some delicious charcuterie, relishes, some fresh bread, olives and more…For CHEESE though… teeny tiny, gem-of-a-cheese shop, Harper and Blohm is a must visit (there is even a great wine shop attached – one bird, two stones!)
We love discovering beautiful fresh produce on our travels, where should we go to taste, browse and buy the best of the area’s goodies?
For the most delicious, daily-made organic sourdough goodies head to Crumbs Organic Bakehouse – and be sure not to leave without a slice or two of their pizza and a piece of their house-made cake and/or a donut. Lots of gluten free and vegan options too.
Of course, a cupcake and/or cinnamon scroll from Mr. Nice Guys Bakeshop across the road, never goes astray either. Can you tell my penchant for baked goods?! Haha. In addition to The Victorian Larder, you will also find a selection of artisan groceries and a range of seasonal organic fruit and veg at The Happy Apple in Ascot Vale. For larger one–stop-shop organic grocers, we have two we frequent weekly, a little further North – Terra Madre and Wild Things Food.
Can you also recommend some nice shops for pretty things?
Arghhh pretty things…for all things homewares I would check out Raine and Humble – just be prepared not to leave empty handed! Local boutiques, Albero and Storybird, are also a must, stocking the most beautiful bespoke pieces from bags to jewellery… to ceramics and knitted scarves and throws. Many pieces often by local designers and creative.
All images by Camilla Ferraro
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