Paris, an Aunt’s secret recipe, and a wide-eyed traveler looking for that new adventure.
Josephine started making macarons in her Aunt’s kitchen in Paris. They made them by hand and they made them because they enjoyed making them. Josephine doesn’t even really eat macarons. It’s just the process, the achievement in creating something beautiful.
Fortunately for us, Josephine has taken her craft to our side of world.
Wanting to travel around Australia, Josephine hit our Melbourne shores/airport 5 years ago and never really left. It’s probably more accurate that she hit Brunswick shores/streets and never left.
Like many of our backpacking visitors, waitressing was the main game, but on the side, Josephine kept perfecting her craft, making and wholesaling small batches of macarons to cafes around Melbourne. In 2012, convinced she was going to stay and make a business of this macaron-ing, she opened By Josephine café in Brunswick, conveniently and strategically located opposite the foodie haven; Albert St Food and Wine Store.
The design of the café is the work of friend Anne-Sophie of Sasufi.net. Salvaged doors painted white wall the space, cleverly incorporating shelving and cabinets for her many handmade jams and pickles. A display of pretty china plates and the odd tea-cups bring a feminine touch, but it is an overall clean, fresh space with much care taken in the detail. Not unlike the macarons themselves.
In her working week, Josephine holds macaron-making workshops on the days that she’s not bottling jams, or pickling pumpkin, or catering a function or making hundreds of her famed salted caramel macarons. And she doesn’t even like salted caramel!
Where: 365 Sydney Rd Brunswick
When to go: Wednesday – Saturday 9am – 5pm, Sunday 10am – 4pm.
What to order: So many sweet treats to choose from, but maybe go off the main road and try her smoked salmon tartine. As well as the macarons of course.
From 8am to mid afternoon, the air in East Brunswick is caffeinated. The roasters are on at the East Brunswick Project café coaxing passers by into the warm aroma. If the original aim of the project back in 2008 was to centralise the community around coffee, then the steady stream of incoming locals, is a clear indication their goal has been achieved. Apparently these same customers have been coming here for years.
The café is the home of Padre coffee. Starting with the East Brunswick Project, adding South Melbourne, and then the 2 city locations with the most recent, a converted shipping container at Queen Victoria market.
Wide Open Road is very much a working space. Its humming can be heard even before you enter. Opened shortly after A Minor Place, the Brunswick location was sourced primarily to roast beans, but Hootan also wanted a place to incorporate a café and a creative hub to encourage local artists. Now fully functional, the upper floor houses a creative centre for film, literature and fine art.
Downstairs on the street level, the warehouse is sliced into distinct sections with the front accommodating the café, and out the back, the café kitchen on one side and the Giesen small batch roaster in the other. The roaster is the heart of the place with its beating hum just heard over the café chatter. Hootan is passionate about the technical business of formulating a balanced flavour, creating the unique Bathysphere blend that you can try and compare at public cuppings held regularly. He offers training, advice and machine servicing, and will even happily walk through the complexities of the process to layperson like me. We also discuss the small, tight-knit community of Melbourne roasters and I’m told that despite a rapid growth of specialty roasters, demand still exceeds supply. Our obsession is growing!
Being greeted out the front of A Minor Place was a pleasant surprise on this frosty Melbourne morning and upon entering, there’s a mixed bunch already defrosting. RMIT students are just leaving to go to class, there are drive-by mothers waiting outside for their orders, and inside, the usual chattering of catching-ups. One thing that stands out, is that sitting still amid the morning rush is a couple of readers…of books, and not the morning paper. The presence of a filled bookshelf may have inspired, but to find readers at 9am is uncommon. Surely this is a testament to the homely feel when people would rather get dressed, brave this bitter morning and go to A Minor Place to read a book. Nathan himself described the place as “Cheers” like and with people settling in for hours, that description may be accurate.