Julie is the author of a number of guidebooks, including 'Melbourne's Best Bush Bay and City Walks' & 'Melbourne for Dogs' (with RSPCA). Read more of her adventures at her walks blog: walksmelbourne.com
Published August 2nd 2012
Where to find the gourmet ingredients to make it happen
Inspired by Masterchef? Do your kids talk about 'plating up' instead of serving dinner? Finding yourself experimenting with glycerine sheets, blow torches, - even had a crack at tempering chocolate? There's no doubt that Masterchef as a cultural phenomenon has given a lot of Melburnians a boot along in the culinary department. But sometimes you come unstuck at the first hurdle - your great enthusiasm is stymied because you just can't find those exotic ingredients.
Luckily, Melburnians have a couple of good options. The much loved Victoria, South Melbourne and Prahran markets have stalls which stock all kinds of wonderful fresh gourmet foods and condiments. A big bonus is that at many stalls, you can have a taste before you buy. There is even one stall at Prahran market which just sells gourmet potatoes and has done for the last 120 years - on any market day you can find 20 or more different gourmet varieties.
MJ Mow Gourmet Potatoes, Shop 108 at Prahran Market
If shopping from the comfort of your armchair, recipe book to hand is your thing, check out Gourmet Goldmine. This great-idea-come-true is a new online shop set up by two Melbourne-based home-cook gourmet enthusiasts who could never find the special ingredients or utensils needed, at a price they could afford, in order to try all the wonderful recipes they saw on Masterchef and elsewhere. This is place to find that magical popping candy which Adriano Zumbo puts to such spectacular effect, weird and wonderful ingredients that Heston Blumnethal uses in his molecular gastronomy extravaganzas or dumpling presses to please Kylie Kwong. In fact, I haven't even heard of half of the things they sell here, but they look good! I settled for more pedestrian Sumac and Za'atar spices and they arrived just 2 days after I ordered them - easy!
If you'd prefer to eyeball the lovely ingredients you intend using, a trip out to Essential Ingredient, just beside Prahran Market, is the place to go. It's a little bit like porn for foodies, so be warned - there's not only every ingredient you can imagine: not just edible gold leaf, but silver leaf too - but also utensils, recipe books, table linen and every fandangle specialist implement you don't really need but can't resist. If you are an ingredient addict, consider approaching a visit here just as a gambler would - set yourself a limit before you walk in, and stick to your shopping list, or it will be second mortgage for you!
Escargot and all things gourmet at Essential Ingredient
So whether you're inspired by Masterchef, the places you eat out at, or your celebrity chef cooking books, there's no need to hold back your creative firepower anymore just because you can't find the ingredients you need. Go forth and plate your heart out!