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Published March 24th 2015
A sultry Saturday spent walking around in the heart of Balmain yielded a treasure trove of experiences at some of the best shops in the locality.
A suburb resplendent with a rich architectural and cultural heritage, this time, a day of browsing took us inside some of the best food, clothing, art and craft, grocery shops in Balmain. A locality once famous for its working-class residents and waterfront industries, today Balmain's shopping district is a place for families and friends to hang out, chill and just enjoy the day with good food, laughter and a spot of shopping.
At Simply Perfection, the owner's passion for pretty floral and patterned clothing, kaftans and beautiful accessories are reflected in the blended riot of colours in the store. Simply Perfection, offers "beautiful things for people" while owners Susan and daughter Alex make you feel comfortable and special with their friendliness as they help you pick out the perfect ensemble.
A calming décor and relaxing ambience characterises this uber cool massage place. It showcases a creative Indian-themed decoration and a unique interior that helps to set the mood while the massage services are supposed to rejuvenate and relieve you after a stressful day or week.
Adriano Zumbo Patissier You have probably heard of Adriano Zumbo, an Australian patissier and world-famous celebrity chef who also appeared on MasterChef Australia. This is his Balmain shop where he offers some of his best and most luscious French-inspired cakes, Zumbarons (his special range of macaroons), pastries, fresh artisan breads etc. Grab yourself a spoon and dig in.
The Workers Yes, it is what it sounds like – a bar and kitchen for people to hangout, relax and pig out on some comfort food. Sink your teeth into some delicious burgers or taco and chill out with beer and a spot of live music, chess, foosball, jenga, pingpong and all sorts of other cool games. The hammer and tongs logo over the entrance just reels you in.
Brays Books Within lies a wonderful world of imagination, of beauty and of knowledge". These lines over the shop entrance will lure you into a magical world of books. As independent booksellers, Brays has an exhaustive collection of current and classic titles at competitive prices. If you are a bookworm then this shop is for you.
The Source Bulk Foods This store promotes the environment through its eco-friendly, organic produce and products. You can find literally anything here – organic agave, natural honey, chemical –free oils, legumes and pulses, chia seeds, raw cacao, organic tea, berry blend, tropical fruit paleo balls, cereals and even non-food items like natural shampoo, soap, recyclable storage jars etc. For those not so taken with healthy foods, you can indulge yourself in their wide selection of confectionery, candy and chocolates. Do check it out and don't forget to say hi to their super-friendly and pleasant staff.
Veye P Veye P offers the largest ever collection of creative, stylish and uber-cool glasses, sunglasses and other optical accessories by independent designers. Their unique collection includes local Australian as well as global small-scale brands that are making their own mark in a brand-conscious world. Do check them out for some great alternatives to big brand names at a fraction of the cost and equivalent or better quality.
Elmstock Tea Merchants A tea lover's paradise, Elmstock promotes and proudly upholds the tea-drinking heritage by offering flavourful tea and blends sourced from around the world. As an added treat they even sell colourful and eye catching teapots, cups, mugs and other accessories. An all-Australian business, Elmstock boasts a rich tradition of green tea, black tea, white tea, etc and even herbal and fruit infusions that will perk you up in a jiffy. So here's to the humble cuppa.
At Ryokan Gojyuan, you will get a Japanese experience like no other. You'll find tatami mats lining the floors; tansu (cabinets/wardrobes); chabudai (short-legged Japanese tea table) and shoji screen (paper) doors in 8 tatami sized guest rooms, where modern amenities like TV and appliances are hidden away; a koi pond; a traditional Japanese hot tub; and kaiseki (traditional Japanese multi-course dinner). This Ryokan or traditional Japanese inn (from the Edo period) feels like stepping back in time. If you are looking for a rejuvenating experience to relieve the stress of city life, then check into this little Japanese oasis in the heart of Balmain and fell the stress melt away.
This exquisite collection of artwork is a creation of the famous Japanese artist and painter Reika Masuda. Well known in artistic circles she uses natural colours from shell, coral, mineral pigment, and gold leaf to create beautiful paintings. One of her works, called Sparkle is priced at $1000; it is a vivid and life-like painting of a white cockatoo surrounded by bright flowers and foliage.
Artlab, by Masayo and Richard is a special shop which encourages creative and unique Japanese art like Daruma dolls, Kewpie dolls, Rakuzen and other regional craftwork.
A long talk with the friendly Masayo will give you a vivid glimpse into the history of each craft, the region it comes from and of Japan in general. A lot of the artwork is created to support the people of Fukushima, the province that was hit by the disastrous 2011 earthquake.
Artlab not only aims to help the people of Fukushima recover but also encourages local interest in the 300 years old traditional Fukushima arts, artifacts and crafts called Kachi-Uma, Rakuzen (traditional Aizu lacquerware) and also Shirakawa Daruma - handmade Japanese daruma dolls from the Shirakawa city in Fukushima.