Going wherever the wind blows me and enjoying the ride.
Published August 30th 2013
Breads and pastries the way you only dreamed they could be
When I first entered Rustica Cafe, my initial impression was reminiscent of how I feel watching Jamie Oliver cook. There is an active buzz and a joyous passion seeping out of every inch of the establishment. It is the kind atmosphere one only ever finds in something that has been made out of love and a fire in the belly.
What I love about some of the grungier, eclectic areas of Melbourne is that the people who open cafes and restaurants are rarely there simply 'for the money'. Neither are they there just because they needed a job. More often than not, you find that in these parts of town, people have opened said businesses because it is their dream and more simply because they are doing what they love to do.
Having recently been invited to the re-launch of Rustica, I approached the bakery/café with breath that was bated, somewhat unsure of what to expect.
First opening in April 2012, Rustica has been using traditional sourdough techniques to produce beautiful artisan style breads. Now with its freshly renovated look, the café has reopened on Brunswick Street and is arriving on the Melbourne café scene with bells on.
There is an almost gleeful inventiveness when it comes to all manner of Rustica pastries, breads and tarts. It is somewhat of a sensory fiesta with airily light lemon curd pastries, fresh crusty loaves, popcorn macarons and pansy and honeycomb chocolate tartlets to name a few.
Often when you get a chocolate tart, they can be a little overwhelmingly rich, but these have a thick almost custard like gooeyness. The breads and pastries need only be tasted to reveal that they were probably just made and the popcorn macarons hold a hidden surprise.
Founder of Rustica Sourdough, Brenton Lang, has been baking for nearly 15 years. He entered the world of baking and pastries at an age where most boys were still playing handball outside class and drawing bumblebees on their math exams. His past resume includes roles as head baker at Bakers Delight, The Good Loaf in Bendigo and gourmet super brand, Phillipas.
With his years of experience, Brenton has perfected the art of sourdough. The technique uses wild yeast as a natural starter. This results in the unique flavour and texture of traditional sourdoughs.
There is a real unpretentious vibe at Rustica. The staff are friendly and down to earth. No one is afraid to have a good yarn it seems and you won't find any snooty waiters putting on airs. Keeping it in the family, Brenton has his father managing the books and his sister working at front of house.
With multi-award winning Roastcraft coffee in their grinders, it seems Rustica is really trying to knock our socks off from all angles.
Two soulful art pieces by Melbourne artist Mike Maka adorn the walls. The street art-esque spheres each tell a story of their own, encapsulating what Rustica Sourdough is about. Good old fashioned, traditional baking with slashes of modern innovation. Everything is lovingly made on site by hand. If you want a quick dirty feed, go away. You'll find no mass produced 'Fast Food' here. This is the home of slow cooking, freshness and versatility. The word QUALITY comes to mind.
For home samples, I received a jar of mixed berry conserve, roasted pumpkin loaf and a rosemary and vine fruit sourdough. The latter was awarded a silver medal this year at the prestigious RASV Royal Melbourne Fine Food Awards with Rustica's passionfruit curd filled tart taking out a gold.
Produce and Decor
Back at home, as I slather a gorgeous, almost toffeed mixed berry jam on a sticky, crusty baguette, I am acutely aware of the fact that it will only be a short time before I run out and I wonder what on earth I did before rosemary and vine fruit sourdough came into my life.
I was just quickly glancing at the Melbourne page and couldn't help but click through. Everything looks delicious! I haven't been to Melbourne in years, but I'm seriously considering heading over there on a bit of a food mission. ;)