Mimi V a writer, social media manager, foodie, music lover, and mum, currently residing in Sydney with Mr V, two little Vs and doggy V.
Published October 29th 2012
A Pandora's Box of fine exotic produce
Salt Meats Cheese is on the same complex as The Grounds of Alexandria (and also take part in The Grounds' monthly produce market), which means I have actually walked past it several times with my "I need great coffee now" blinkers on so that it never really registered before. For some reason, this time I did notice it, and the name alone was enough to pique my curiosity. At least two out of the three things in the name of the place are favourites of ours and the third we were curious about, so we decided to go inside.
We step through the doors and immediately realise that Salt Meats Cheese is a huge warehouse choc full of yummies. It is a veritable cornucopia of delicious deli and specialty goodness, a lot of which is imported from far flung climes at the four corners of the earth. There are North and South American sections featuring specialties like hot pepper sauces and canned spiced pumpkin, as well as soft drinks and some chocolate bars that I literally had to tear myself away from (yes, I'm talking to you, Peanut Butter Twix and Peanut Butter Snickers).
[ADVERT]Moving around the store, which sells to the public as well as supplying goods wholesale to restaurants, I feel that I've died and gone to food heaven. There is a freezer stocked with delicious desserts, flatbreads from all over the world, sourdoughs, biscuits, a large range of pastas and sauces, specialty coffees, canned goods galore, olives and olive oils, pizza bases, the biggest range of panetones I have ever seen, herbs and spices, jams, pickles and preserves, and much, much more. They also sell a 5kg jar of Nutella. Yes, you read that correctly. 5kg. Jar. Nutella. Be still my beating heart.
As well as the large range of products that they have sourced and selected from all over, they also have their own range of Italian products called Casa Gusto, roughly translated as 'The Taste of Home'.
Nutella (the 5kg jar) and Panetone - two of my favourite things in the world @ Salt Meat Cheese
At 'The Lab' they concoct cheeses right there in the warehouse. There's a sealed kitchen section with a fully equipped industrial kitchen and a viewing window, so that you can watch the magic happen right before your eyes. There are also many other imported and local varieties for sale, so if it's cheese you're after, you won't be disappointed. There's also a whiteboard outside the lab that lets you know what will be going on there for the week ahead; this can range from Mozzarella stretching to olive stuffing and assembling antipasti platters.
The finished product: Mozarella is made in-house @ Salt Meats Cheese. Photo: SMC
There are (mostly cured) meats of all types in abundance, from salami to proscuitto, which is mainly imported from Europe. If that's not enough for you there's the 'Museo Del Jamon' (Ham Museum), which is home to over 400 whole hams flown in from Serrano in Spain. Ham sandwich, anyone?
Serrano, Chorizo and Salam - if it's cured meat you're after, you can't go wrong @ Salt Meats Cheese. Photo: SMC
The salt was probably of most interest as it was something that we'd never seen before - pink Himalayan salt that is sold in chunks, slabs, and even bowls and pestle and mortar sets. This amazing substance can apparently be heated in the oven and then placed directly onto your food (e.g. meat or fish) as it cooks, to season and add flavour. Once you've finished cooking the food you can wipe down the salt, ready for the next time. If you choose to go the pestle and mortar route then you can use the salt to crush your other herbs and spices, and it will combine with the flavours as you do so. Who knew? Certainly not me, that's for sure.
While it goes without saying that a place like this is all about quality, variety (there are thousands of products on offer), and provenance, one of the things I loved about it was the quirky attention to detail. From the shopping carts made of re-fashioned packing palettes to the olive oil filling station where you just bring your own bottle, this place rocks (pun intended). Unique produce? Check. Funky interiors? Check. Hot to trot locale? Check. These guys have got it all going on, and I know I'll be heading back there soon to stock up on goodies for Christmas.
Their website has a restaurant tab which, when you click on it, proclaims "coming soon". I sincerely hope that's true; as soon as it is, I'll be there for sure.
We'll be seeing you soon - the colourful shopfront @ Salt Meats Cheese. Image: SMC