While it’s chefs we hear about in the media, behind the scenes of restaurants and shops are local producers who work to make sure we get the best products possible.
This often means years of experience in the industry, months of refining a single product, as well as the task of marketing their specialty goods against far cheaper mass-produced products. With each of these producers, it’s the quality of their product that stands out. Why settle for less when you can have the best – home made on the Gold Coast from our own artisan producers.
Easing their way into business through farmers’ markets and the savvy creation of a huge social media following proved to be a smart move for Sharlene Fletcher and Riki-Lee Gilbert. With an already well-established fan base which followed their every move, it was a low risk move to place their business in the prime street front position in the Southport’s newly renovated Centre O on Ferry: Blendlove.
Blending the finest raw ingredients with love!
It’s 8.30am on a Saturday, but already there’s a line up for service. The shop is neat and clean, fresh and bright, stretching out with seating around the verandas. Diners are having breakfast, along with an early morning coffee (Supreme Roasters organic blend coffee, Rainforest Alliance certified using Fair Trade beans), loose leaf tea or cold pressed juice.
Beside me, someone is powering into a smoothie with maqui powder and blueberries; others choose an Açai bowl topped with chocolate buckinis, freshly sliced banana and strawberries and shaved coconut as a cool option on such a hot day. Shar tells me that the range of savoury treats is very popular, especially smashed avocado on rye sourdough either with a side of roasted tomato or layered with banana and walnut.
It’s too early for the salads when we visit, but there are four on offer for a revisit: the Zoodle (zucchini noodle), Thai mango and cashew, Thai peanut, as well as a Pumpkin, beet and quinoa salad. For those wanting a larger meal, the Veggie burger includes hummus, avocado, greens, sweet potato, eggplant and red cabbage.
This is vegan heaven.
But for once it’s not savoury items we’re after! Blendlove built its following and reputation on cake! Raw cake, to be exact, and on previous visits it’s all been gone, with shelves glaringly empty! Wiser today, we’re out of bed for an early start.
Being early, the display cabinet is fully stocked with neatly arranged squares of raw cakes in fifteen tempting varieties. White chocolate and raspberry, Cookie dough, Toffee-layered banoffee, Turkish delight and Chocolate and raspberry… the choice is almost overwhelming. Though they may seem like expensive goodness, if you’ve taken the time to make a raw cake, you’ll appreciate the labour and cost of ingredients used.
Knowing they’re a nutritionally dense little package, I choose just one to share: a Snickers Bar. Nothing like the commercial variety, this square of goodness is gluten and dairy free, including only natural sugars and non-dairy fats. With an almond crust, caramel and peanut filling, topped with Vegan chocolate, and roast peanuts topping, it’s a no-guilt treat. Surprisingly, it’s not as sweet as I expected, nor quite as dense as some other raw desserts – a very pleasant surprise! Quite yummy! We’ll be back on another weekend with friends to share more treats. After all, this is clean living – inside and out!
Think Gold Coast industry and an apiary may not be the first to come to mind, but it’s our latest food production unit, albeit small scale.
The Brickworks Centre has just installed four rooftop beehives, a project which will provide new habitat for over 300,000 bees and produce a signature ‘Brickworks’ flavoured honey. With rooftop beehives and gardens on trend in major cities across the world, The Brickworks is the first of several urban hives in the southeast, the others being at Jupiters Hotel and Casino and Halcyon House, Cabarita.
We spoke with beekeeper and hive installer Jack Stone.
“A healthy bee population is crucial to ensuring the diversity and sustainability of plants and crops, so this delivery of bees means gardens around Southport and Surfers Paradise will experience a complete regeneration,” he says.
“Bees are attracted to three things: the scent (of the flowers), the colour (of the petals), and the richness of the flavour.
“There is an abundance of giardiniera in the local area.
“Each bee pollinates about 50,000 flowers in its life time, so that means that over 15 billion flowers will be seeded within a five to seven kilometre radius of these new rooftop hives.
“Just like humans, one of the most important things for bees is a diversity of diet for their future health.” he says.
There’s a double benefit from the apiary, making it a great community initiative. Not only will local gardens regenerate, but also the hives are expected to produce around 480kg annually of honey unique to the local area.
“The Brickworks honey will have a distinct flavour profile depending on which season it is harvested, and what is in flower, so it’s a perfect opportunity for Gold Coasters to buy completely pure, unadulterated local honey” he says.
An apiarist for around six years, Jack has named his company ‘Bee One Third’ in reference to the fact that one third of the world’s food supply is pollinated by bees. Using 100% cold extraction from the hives, the raw honey is filtered to remove sediment before bottling.
Jack also sees his company as a social enterprise, employing refugees and at risk youth to help take care of the beehives. Beekeeping is one of the most symbiotic relationships between humans and insects, but one requiring constant care and patience.
It’s Jamie Oliver’s fault. I lift my nose in the air when it comes to sausages. I don’t do bits, and unless I know who made those sausages and what’s in them, I just won’t eat them.
Grobnik is different. We’ve bought Josip Marsanic’s sausages at the farmers’ markets long before we visited his shop.
“We use all of Dad’s recipes. He was a master butcher in Croatia, and worked on ships and boats, making traditional Bratwurst,” his son Marko tells us, adding that the business is named after Josip’s 1200-year-old hometown Grobnik in Croatia, about 5km from Rijeka, Croatia’s main port.
“In 1985 we came to Australia and then to the coast in the mid ’90s. Dad’s been a butcher now for over 40 years”.
In the shop, we use authentic European wood chips to hot smoke our goods on site. We’ve got a huge range of products, and we make all of them by hand: dry salted hams, cheese kransky, chorizo, pork hocks, braun, beef ribs, as well an extensive range of sausages.
All of our sausages use proper cuts of meat only – sweet Bangalow pork shoulder, chicken Maryland, tenderloin and breast – no filler and no water, no preservatives or additives, and naturally gluten-free. They’re cased in a natural hog casing. Our pork sausages have less than 5% fat.
Some of the most popular sausages are Lamb and mint, Chicken with shitake mushroom and baby spinach, Pork with whole fennel seeds and Chicken parmigiana. We spend four hours a week just mixing our own spices!
You want to know how to cook them? Cook, turn and brown. No poking or prodding! That would let all the natural juices out.”
Marko tells me about Cevapi, a traditional Balkan food, which Grobnik make fresh daily. It’s a skinless sausage which is served on grilled Turkish bread. Pour chicken stock over and served with squares of bread and ajvar pepper relish. The shop also sells burek, a favourite of their European customers. Mmm… I think I could probably master the sausages, but I’ll leave someone else to do the Cevapi.
The coffee roasting company, Silipo Coffee, is hidden away in the light industrial area of Bailey Crescent, Southport. From 7 o’clock each weekday morning, local workers can refuel with excellent coffee carefully brewed by barista Richard Silipo, grab a bite to eat, or buy their own takeaway coffee beans.
After owning the trattoria Basilico in Southport and Oompahs in Burleigh, Richard decided to concentrate on coffee, roasting platinum blend beans from around the world, running a barista school and wholesaling his coffee from this semi-industrial site.
It’s a simple but neat café which makes no apologies for concentrating on coffee. The coffee is superb: smooth, rich and with a perfect crema, made with care and attention. There’s also simple homemade food available and a cosy lounge and dining room where you can eat and relax with free daily papers and wifi.
A lot of the action, however, takes place out the back in the roasting warehouse, which produces 90% of the trade as wholesale to coffee shops and businesses. Taking pride of place is “Roy”, a 15kg Has Garanti roaster named after Richard’s grandfather, Roy Ingham, who was a veteran of the café and hospitality industry. “Roy” is the symbol of this heritage; the passing down of a passion for great food and coffee.
Eight years after opening, Silipo Coffee has won many roasting awards: three silver and three bronze Golden Bean Awards, overall runner-up in the 2011/2012 Golden Bean competition, and bronze in the Australian International Coffee Awards 2013. They’ve also moved premises to a nearby shopfront, added a deck to add to patron comfort, and more space for coffee machines, grinders and equipment.
One of only a few Barista Training Schools on the Gold Coast, Silipo Coffee runs barista courses on Wednesday nights, or by appointment. ‘One on one’ tuition is also available as well as mentoring for work experience students.
Roy Senior would be proud to see his legacy, as grandson Richard carries on the family’s tradition of service, his open smile warming the shop front as ‘Roy’ fires up out the back, keeping the wholesale trade running. Yes, Roy Ingham would be very happy.
Adrian Grazioli always had a dream of opening his own patisserie. After training at Brunetti’s in Melbourne, Adrian moved back to the coast, working for different cake shops before opening his own premises, ironically in the same block as the restaurant his parents founded: Riviera. Hidden away in a tiny suburban shopping centre in Sorrento, The Pastry Emporium is a gift to locals and a ‘need to know’ shop for the rest of the coast.
“The Melbourne style of cakes still amazes me,” Adrian tells us. They amaze us too! The patisseries along one little stretch of Ackland Street alone are a revelation; one we rarely indulge in for fear of being sucked into their doorways, never to return!
It’s those same exquisitely delicate treats we see in The Pastry Emporium, albeit on a smaller scale: Salted caramel tarts with a top notch of walnut, individual tarts with a swirl of meringue, tiny macarons of all colours, small pieces of cake, larger cakes (which can also be ordered online) and pastries.
“Which cakes do you like the most?” As if the beauty of the cakes doesn’t speak for itself, I ask Adrian to tell me more.
“Personally I like the individual cakes. They are all traditional but with a modern twist: For example, our Carrot cake has a cream cheese mousse with raspberry and strawberry jelly on top. It’s still the basic flavour of a carrot cake, but pimped up,” he says.
“Everyone likes a different cake, but our bestsellers are Mille-feuille and Almond croissants.”
The Pastry Emporium is open for breakfast until 11am daily, with Ham and egg bagels, Filled croissants and Truffled eggs among the brekkie dishes, and Merlo coffee to drink in or go. The shop may be small, but it’s air conditioned, the breakfast is delicious and very well priced!
Somehow, though, I don’t think we’ll make it out the door without a cake or two. Exquisite!