I like Brunswick.

Right now there’s 3/4 kilo of beef bones sitting in 3L of water with some onions and garlic and a bay leaf. I know they’re enjoying themselves – I can smell it.
This is in preparation for a pumpkin soup I’m making this evening. See, the “potatoes, potatoes, fresh and new” guy came around this week and I bought a whole pumpkin. And the most amazing onions. I’m not usually one to wax lyrical about onions, but these… they’re purple spanish onions, and when you slice them they’re so fresh and bright – the layers seem clearer and crunchier than usual onions. We really enjoyed cooking with them and making them into onions last time (don’t get me started on the tomatoes – oh MY GOD!!): organic = yes baby. The taste is far superior to chemicaled crap: you don’t need so many herbs and spices to make flavours, and can really explore simple, effective flavour combinations. Plus everything is so happy and healthy. No gross chemical urk to wash off. Yay!
any hoo…
So I check out Stephanie’s big orange book for pumpkin options – I wanted an interesting pumpkin soup or curry recipe. I love love love a pumpkin and mustard seed curry I’ve had at Nepalese restaurants, but don’t have a recipe. I also like Thai-ish pumpkin and coconut milk soups. But I settled for a sort of Spanishy/European pumpkin soup. Uses bacon bones to make stock, then add pumpkin and spud (oh, what’s that I see? Some organic potatoes (fresh and new)? how wonderful!), and finally some chorizo to finish.
Yesterday, after lunch with J I stopped off at the Spanish supermarket to get some Spanish chorizo (no, not Portugese. Spanish).
Today I got my veggies from la manna, then went over to the Mediterranean supermarket to get some fresh Italian sausages (no thanks to the Italian chorizo – I’m good), side-stepped a brawl between two Italian nannas and tried (in vain) to find that good parmesan Brett buys. Looks like I’ve got to go up to the IGA to get some. Yes, our local IGA sells fucking AWESOME Italian cheeses. We live in BRUNSWICK – home to spotlight and the best food shops EVER.
Then, I dropped in at Nino and Joe’s, a new, fancy (and huge) butcher I’d not been into before (we usually go to Istanbul Meats or up to Coburg to the Chinese dood) to get some bacon bones to make the stock for the soup. No joy on bacon, but they did give me 1 1/3 kg of beef bones for free with some awesome lamb shanks, steak, etc etc. That butcher ROCKS. They do huge, sexy boned lamb leg roasts, a sweet looking rolled beef roast, and even their pre-prepared chicken dishes looked good (marinated drumettes). I don’t usually eat that sort of shit because I hate jarred sauces and stuff – too much salt, too much sugar, too many preservatives, too many extra ‘flavours’ – and frankly, why would you buy that crap when you live 5 minutes by bike from such AMAZING delis? But the ones in that butcher looked good. The herbs were actually fresh herbs. Plus the Italian nannas were buying it, so….
So tonight we’re having soup. I had thought to do the sausages with a fennel salad on the side, but I don’t think I could fit it all in my belly…
Anyway, I do love living in Brunswick very much. And, if you followed those links to the various providore I frequent, they’re all listed under ‘ethnic’. Which is so weird – the crappy skip butcher next to spotlight isn’t listed under ‘ethnic’ (even though it should really be listed under ‘don’t fucking buy meat here’). Sure, sure, I could get onto the whole whiteness = ethnicity thing, but you know the drill. And can google.
But it just seems weird to hear these places popped in the ‘other’ basket, when for me they’re just my local shops. I go to la manna because the veggies are good and fresh and they deliver (though which days they deliver vary depending on who you ask). I go to the mediterranean supermarket because it’s across the road from la manna and sells canned tomatoes for 55c (as well as dried pasta for 90c, fresh pasta, dried fish, chorizo (Italian, thanks) and has a coffee shop full of Italian nannas and poppas and cakes). I went to Nino and Joe’s because it’s around the corner from all these other places. And of course, Spotlight is right there in the middle of it all. All on one block in Brunswick.
The people I see in all these places are my neighbours, and I often run into them at each place or on the bus or street. I like it that the skips are in equal proportion to the Greeks and Lebanese and Syrian and Lebanese and so on.
And I can’t imagine the sort of shit that went down in Sydney going down here in Brunswick… though I did worry when that nanna got shitty in the supermarket. She would totally kick my arse. It just seems like such a mellow, friendly family area. The local high school has kids from at least 30 different ethnic and language groups enrolled. The Chinese butcher in Coburg greets the Greek and Italian nannas with “ciao senora!” The Hope Street Bus* driver will stop to pick you up, even if you didn’t waive him down, just because he saw you walking along the road (and he always waves to me on my bike). I don’t much care for all the young hipsters moving into the area – they’re far more interested in the pubs than the greengrocers and care far too much about their fashion. Arseholes.
But I love Brunswick.
Remind me to tell you the story of the three old Greek doods and the the time I carried three giant plastic crates home on my bike. It’s a good one.
*yes, the Hope Street Bus route is only about 1.5km each way (roughly 10minutes by leg or 3 terrifying high-speed minutes by bus. If you see/hear the Hope Street Bus coming when you’re riding down Hope Street you get on the pavement. You just do). It’s for nannas. And you can get on or off it anywhere. Everyone sits up near the front and talks. Most people get it if theyr’e too tired to carry 10 kilograms of lamb or a charcoal grill home.


  1. I like Brunswick too, although I don’t get there very often. I used to work in Clayton, where there’s a good range of ‘ethnic’ foods. Fun = going to Springvale for lunch and telling your horrified 40yr old white male colleagues where you’ve been. I discovered Korean BBQ this way (although still not a fan of kimchee)…

  2. Now I am writhing with nostalgia. No Nannas any more in St Kilda – even the IGA isn’t as good. I called into Piedemontis yesterday because I was over that way, but some of the authenticity has drained out of that too, compared to brunny.

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