Sunday, October 22, 2006

Mangia Italiano

Billed as a self guided eating tour around one of Sydney’s premier Italian food providore areas, Mangia Italiano takes you at your own pace through pasticceria, delicatessens, fruit and meat retailers. And of course there’s the coffee. Five Dock has long been a Mecca for Italians and Italophiles yearning for the offerings of the old country.

Left and next two pictures below: the gorgeous display at Pastocceria Tamborrino



The assigned meeting place is hard to find. Café Migliore is the publicised starting point, but despite the fact that I’ve been to Five Dock before, a drive up and down the strip yields nothing. Our start point is decided by the proximity of parking rather than the official guide. And shopkeepers are more than happy to help out, with many of them having the little postcard guide available at their counters for you to collect. You can also download the guide from here and print it for yourself. Ultimately you could really start anywhere you like. This little guide also has the addresses and opening times of the participating retailers, so if you can't get there in October I'm sure you could construct your own 'Mangia' when you have time.

There are six official stops on the list, although there are many more shops to wander into and browse. A good chat with one of the people at P.N. Raineri Delicatessen (number 4 on the list) sets us up for the morning and guides us in the right direction with tips and recommendations. While we chat we nibble away on samples of Pannetone, cheese and olives, sip on a complementary short black (their own blend of coffee) and generally take in the bustle of this busy deli packed with treasures.

We buy some lovely hand rolled Calabrian pasta ($3.90 for 500g, $8.50 for bronzato style extra long spaghetti), a brick of coffee ($4.90 for 250g of Café Kimbo Neapolitan Espresso, my favourite Italian coffee), slices of super fresh mortadella with green olives, and in a purchase that will make funghi fanatic Neil green with envy, some fresh (frozen) porcini mushrooms imported from Italy ($65 per kilo, pictured below). I can see dinner on the plate already.

The guide says that spending over $30 in any of the listed retailers gets you a free cooler bag. Unfortunately they've run out and our helpful assistant rolls his eyes and berates the Council for not giving them any more. They ring and try to complain as we finish the last of our espresso, and I undertake to call the Council myself and ask them to deliver more bags to Raineri. So you might not get a bag if you decide to wander along to check out the Mangia Italiano.

Left: Jellies from Pasticceria Tamborrino

Onwards for some sweet stuff at Pasticceria Tamborrino (number 3 on the list). Run by a Roman family who’ve been there about a year, this small shop is like walking through the gates of heaven. Or what I imagine would be the pasticceria in heaven. Rows of delectable pastries, cakes, ice cream cakes, decorations – you name it. We have another espresso and a ricotta filled mini cannoli that is blissfully crisp and whisper smooth inside. We away with more treats for later.

As we stroll down the main drag we also see some lovely bread to buy to go with the mortadella and stop in at a fruit shop (not the official one) because the artichokes (pictured left) look so inviting. We grab 10 for $5.00 and resign ourselves to an afternoon of artichoke peeling and poaching. Maybe they’ll come in handy for a risotto.

I also wonder in this metropolis of coffee and sublime Italian pastries how on earth the Gloria Jean’s and Michel’s Patisserie can possibly make any money. I cannot understand who’d want to be in Five Dock and have a cinnamon hazelnut cappa-frappa-cino-late-grande-soy-skim-double-decaf. Iced. And some boring commercially made Danish to go with it. “Wake up and look around!!” I feel like shouting at the chain-store losers. It’s ok as a last resort in a sugar or caffeine deprivation emergency, but there’s 50 superb cafes and 12 sublime pastry shops within your direct line of vision! Oh well, some people never learn.

Left: Sugar animals from Pasticceria Tamborrino

We keep wandering and come across the last two on the list, which given the thrills of the deli and pasticceria are a little disappointing. We nearly have a veal argument in Caminitti’s butchery (MN is very, very fussy about veal and will not have yearling topside foisted on her, and becomes quite indignant when butchers try to tell her it’s veal when it looks like beef steak). We make a graceful retreat after he agrees “that” sort of veal – pale pink and pearly – is almost impossible to get. Whatever. If you look hard enough you can find it in the right season.

In all it took just over an hour to have a reasonable look around, but I’m sure you could spend longer. My problem is that I am now itching to get home and do something with the porcini and the artichokes, and the weather's getting very warm anyway. But I think I’ve switched allegiances from Haberfield (my regular Italian shopping haunt) to Five Dock. And after all the treats from Tamborrino (see picture left) are gone (and it didn’t take long I can assure you – we’re talking minutes not hours) I want to go back straight away.

That evening, after browsing through my Italian cookbook collection, I decide upon a simple recipe from The River Café’s Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray. Porcini sautéed in butter, herbs, lemon zest and a little white wine, finished with a little cream, served tossed through the delicious hand rolled pasta (below). Ah, Bella Italia. Mangia Buonissimo!




8 Comments:

Anonymous florizal said...

Tamborrino is my favourite for yummy cakes!

That pasta looks fabulous.....cheers Belinda.

7:40 PM  
Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said...

The frozen porcini mushrooms look gorgeous. I am drooling at the thought of your dinner!

I definitely intend to do a DIY tour of Five Dock. Hard to understand why they didn't just make the link available online at the gfm website? It's a great idea though. They should have one for every suburb!

10:40 PM  
Anonymous Ellie said...

Sounds like an awesome food trup that you had! And as for those pastries...I don't think I would've bothered with getting a box - well, maybe just to get them out the front door before I hoovered them up ;)

12:39 AM  
Blogger Reb said...

Thanks Florizal - I've only just discovered it and it has become my official fave. Love it.

I nearly had a coronary when I saw them there Helen - dream come true. They taste so different to the dried ones. I agree a food tour of every suburb would be great.

My problem, Ellie, was that I needed a bigger box :)

6:57 AM  
Anonymous kathryn said...

I'm planning to to do the food tour this week, so thanks for the heads-up on the porcini, they shall definitely be in my shopping basket. Caffe Migliore is quite a bit off the main drag - you'd never find it if you didn't have the address.

8:31 AM  
Blogger Reb said...

The guy at the Deli actually said Tanborrino did a better coffee anyway Kathryn, so we gave it a miss.

2:18 PM  
Blogger neil said...

I would ordinarily be jealous of your spectacularly cheap porcinis, but I've just come back from Casa Iberica with a box load of goodies, no Ortiz though, but I have found where to get them.

4:05 PM  
Blogger Reb said...

Ah! good for you Neil. If you have trouble getting the Ortiz let me know and I'll post some down to you from Sydney. If there's a Simon Johnson in Melbourne they might stock them

9:49 AM  

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