For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Melbourne caprese salad, let me explain what the deal is here: it’s quite similar to a regular caprese. It’s got tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. The difference? Every ingredient must be lovingly selected from marketplaces in the nation’s culinary capital. The ingredients are then sliced up and served in a quirky terraced house and washed down with some Yarra Valley red. Most importantly, the basil is sourced either from your garden or your neighbour’s.
ESSENTIALS FOR HANNAH’S MELBOURNE CAPRESE
– Tomatoes from the Melbourne Tomato Festival (yes, that’s a thing that exists in Melbourne);
– Smoked mozzarella + fior di latte from the local Italian dairy shop;
– Basil from the backyard of said terraced house;
– Smoked salt from herb & spice merchant on Lygon Street.
I LOVED: ambling around Carlton & Fitzroy, drinking coffee, experiencing Lord of the Fries for the first time (someone please bring this to Brisbane), Nora, Russel’s Fruit & Veg, Gewurzhaus, GEWURZHAUS.
I DIDN’T LOVE: trams cramping yo’ style when they arrive at the stop…………………. that’s about it. Having to leave, I guess.
On the one hand, I wanted to eat out all the time and experience the food culture in Melbourne, but on the other, I just wanted to munch on shichimi togarashi oven fries (that we made over and over again) and slowly eat my way through the bag of heirloom tomatoes on the bench. Decisions, am I right?
Coming back to the salad, though, if you’ve never had caprese, I encourage you to try it! It’s the essence of (what I consider to be) Italian food – simple, fresh and full of flavour, especially if you are privileged enough to get your hands on beautiful produce as I did this week.
But as much as I loved Melbourne, I’m happy to be back home in Brisbane, and I have a heinously long list of things to cook for you. I’m so excited to get to it.
Oh, and if someone could tell me where to find salt that is cold-smoked over oak Chardonnay barrels in Brisbane, I’d be overjoyed.
PS Thanks to Reana for helping me with these pictures and also to her bearded man Kieran for lending me his lovely, fancier-than-mine 50mm lens and also for being my tour guides, making me cups of tea and feeding me. I have wonderful friends.
Caprese salad | Serves 4 as a side
2-3 extra large, ripe tomatoes
2 large balls of fresh mozzarella, smoked mozzarella and/or fior di latte cheese
12-15 large basil leaves
olive oil to drizzle over the top
salt & pepper to season
optional toppings & extras: balsamic glaze & capers, slices of fresh crusty bread.
Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella into roughly 1cm thin slices. Arrange in a spiral on a large serving plate, as shown in pics above. Scatter the basil leaves evenly over the salad. Drizzle with olive oil as desired, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to your taste.
If desired, serve with a bowl of capers and balsamic glaze at the table, along with some bread.