Alimentari: Salads and Other Classics From a Little Deli That Grew
Alimentari literally means 'good food and camaraderie' and that is just what is celebrated at this cult cafe. Full of cafe and deli favourites, Alimentari recipes are perfect for sharing and entertaining with friends and family. It's where Mediterranean meets Middle Eastern, and where delicious, wholesome ingredients and accessible techniques combine to create the perfect book for home cooking. Think incredible salads, beautiful breakfasts and dinners for entertaining or for the family. The book starts with morning (early breakfast and brunch), midday (light salads, takeaways, mains salads, sitting in), later (Lebanese, from the woodfire, sweets). And finishes with pickles, preserves and condiments. Recipe examples include breakfast favourites such as spanish tortilla; mini ciabatta with scrambled eggs, prosciutto, sea salt; chickpea coriander fritters; and semolina porridge with rhubarb compote. A dedicated salad section includes delicious recipes like like soybean, kale, mint, spring onion and lemon salad; risoni pasta with grilled zucchini, Greek feta, lemon and mint; mother-in-law tabouleh salad; and lunch specials like felafel and kibbeh wraps; stunning sanwiches; and chickpea, fregola and wild fennel soup. Dinners include easy recipes for the family or fuss-free but impressive meals that are perfect for entertaining like suckling pig and fennel lasagne; meatballs; eggplant cannelloni filled with ricotta; Portugese fish stew and cabbage rolls filled with mince lamb, mint, rice, garlic and tomato. Dessert and afternoon tea lovers are not forgotten with Persian love cake; fig and marscapone tartin; red velvet cakes; and baklava. Alimentari recipes are perfect for easy weeknight dinners, entertaining with friends, healthy and flavoursome salads and sanwiches, as well as old favourites for that lazy weekend morning breakfast or afternoon tea. It's the ideal book for the home cook who wants to eat well without the fuss. Like having your favourite corner cafe at home, Alimentari shares the secrets of the best recipes for how we eat today.
Linda Malcolm spent her twenties travelling through Europe, working in hospitality and dreaming of transporting a little of the magic of southern Italian alimentaris home. Back in Melbourne, she teamed up with old school pal Dolores Napolitano and decided that what Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, needed was an old-school deli. The pair had no money and no business plan, the most basic of working kitchens and no toilet at their chosen corner site, as well as just two collapsible tables thrown together for nix by their coffee supplier. But 15 years later, Alimentari is one of the best-loved fixtures in this constantly evolving food precinct. Regulars and explorers come here for breakfast, lunch and take-home dinners, as well, of course, as coffees - there is a constant all-day trade. The original site has been extended at least twice and in 2014 Linda and her business/life partner Paul Jones (also the chef) opened Smith Street Alimentari, a couple of blocks east. Despite being a bigger, grander version, they have managed to transplant a little of the original's rustic, homely soul to Collingwood. Such is the community love of this place, when Dolores died of cancer five years ago, loyal customers were represented in their hundreds at her funeral. Paul and Linda's vision since has been to grow the business serving an array of standout salads, soups, sandwiches, and changing daily pastas, as well as food influenced by Linda's Lebanese heritage (her aunty is the famed Melbourne restaurateur Abla Amad). Linda's mother has introduced kibbeh, haloumi pies, labneh and pickles - and many days the 70-year-old is there in the kitchen leading the team. Linda and Paul are often asked to open more outlets across Melbourne, but they know that doing so will dilute the magic of what they have created.