Add interest to your festive table this year by checking out the offerings at these globe-trotting cafes and food stores. Whether you dine in or take away, these multi-cultural treats are a one-way ticket to Christmas joy.
All marble and mosaics, Brunetti Carlton channels the best of Rome with an incredible array of fancy cakes, biscuits and pastries in gleaming glass cabinets. Choose an adorable selection of plum pudding chocolates, gravity-defying Panettone, a 1kg box of biscuits or beautiful fruit mince tarts. You can also indulge at Brunetti on Flinders Lane, making la dolce vita even easier.
Fromage fiends will be in rapture when they descend the steps to Spring Street Grocer’s underground cheese ‘cave’, home to delicious farmhouse and artisan varieties. Or stock up on high-end groceries, charcuterie, local olive oils or house-made meals to impress your guests. Hand-churned gelati and sorbet in unusual flavours like fior di latte are available from the on-site Gelateria Primavera.
A staple of the Lonsdale street Greek scene, International Diethnes Cakes offers everything from flaky baklava to chewy nougat and indulgent halva. If the impressive window display isn’t enough to entice you in, they also serve no-nonsense coffee and frappes. And because there are so many options you’ll just have to stop in and try a few before packing a box to take home!
When is a biscuit more than a biscuit? When it’s an alfajores – the cult cookie of Argentina. Two tasty cornflour biscuits are sandwiched together with dolce de leche, the king of caramels, then dusted with coconut. Festive gift boxes are available from San Telmo Restaurant during December, and you can grab a few bottles of hard-to-find Argentinian varietals while you’re at it.
Want to look effortlessly chic but don’t have time to bake? Head to fancy-pants Royal Arcade and pick up a selection of delicious French pastries from Agathe Patisserie’s petite shopfront. Flaky almond croissants, canelés, escargots and friands are all divine, or ruffle some feathers with a pandan or matcha pastry. You can also collect croissants by the bagful from Lune on Collins Street, Rustica at Melbourne Central or Rialto Towers and Mill & Bakery in Docklands.
A fine pitstop while Christmas shopping is Roule Galette, where Breton-style buckwheat pancakes are accompanied by a lively French soundtrack. Try a galette topped with truffle-tinged smoked salmon or a crepe flambeed with Grand Marnier. A French cider or Orangina does for drinks.
They might be small but La Belle Miette’s macarons are a luxury that just screams Christmas. Limited edition festive macarons include gingerbread and brandy snap flavours, replete with gold shimmer dusting. Find their stores in Hardware Lane and Collins Street.
Gather a group of friends and head to Dessert Kitchen, where pan-Asian fusion sweets are beautifully presented and taste amazing too. Fresh fruit, shaved ice, green tea and even soba noodles are fashioned into incredible creations here. Sencha cherry blossom or rosebud teas complete the picture.
Expats from the British Isles can get a taste of a UK Christmas – without the bad weather – at Treats from Home on Collins Street. Here, the mint sauce is Colman’s, the pudding is Yorkshire and the custard is Bird’s. Stocking fillers and gift hampers are also available.
Make like you’re at a wintry German Christmas market and peruse the spices and flavours of Gewurzhaus. Both their Carlton and Block Arcade stores have swung fully into the Christmas spirit, with everything from advent tea to chocolate ginger sugar and gingerbread caramels. Frohe Weihnachten!
For a multicultural food adventure under the one roof you can’t go past Queen Victoria Market. Pick up French cheeses, Polish smallgoods and Spanish olive oil from the Deli Hall before filling your basket with fresh fruit and veg. On-the-go munchies are also diverse, from Dutch pancakes to the famous Turkish boreks.