I hate supermarket stock. Hate it. Really, really hate it. Masterchef and Marco Pierre White may be spruiking them but to me, they taste horrible (I don’t even go near stock cubes, the smell makes me nauseous).
I’ve have tried over and over again, because, lets face it, they’re about a quarter of the price of stocks like Maggie Beer. I’ve even experimented with long, long coooking times to see if that gets rid of whatever that taste is I find so offensive, but it doesn’t work.
I also don’t like the fact that most stock is presumably made with battery chickens and feedlot beef (and I’m guessing, mSG disguised as ‘natural flavour’). So, I tend to make my own. Usually just vegetable or chicken. It feels good to use left-overs up and the result is far superior to bought stuff. A little hint from a lazy cook- let your stock cool and jellify in the fridge; then you can simply scoop off fat or impurities that solidify on top. I don’t clarify my stock either- frankly I can’t be bothered.
Anyway, I first tasted the owner of Stock Merchant Ben’s product last year. Where I got it exactly escapes me now, but I was so impressed I rang him up and had a chat with him about it.
Number 1 difference is the taste. There is a lack of dried herb/msg flavour. It’s beautifully pure and clear, and his stocks are made from free-range animals. Basically it ticks all the boxes as far as I’m concerned. Last year, he was packaging them in cute jars, but this turned out to be too hard, so they’re now in soft packs instead. Which is fine. If I don’t have time to make my own-his are what I’d choose. They cost around $10, which yes, is exxy, but if you’re making something special, it’s worth it not to ruin it with a supermarket stock. You can buy online here http://thestockmerchant.com.au/ or at Gordon & Luxton butcher in Graceville. I’m sure it’ll find it’s way into more stores soon too.
It’s like when you’re pregnant. All of a sudden there seem to be pregnant women everywhere. I did a story on coffee, now all I see is cafes that I swear weren’t there before.
And so it was with Ma Belle Amie. It’s a gift shop and cafe just off Sandgate Road and it’s cute and a little kooky. I found it in a totally random way but just had to stop and explore. There’s heaps of nice things to buy-all a little beyond your classic pot-pourrie’d gift shop and there are some cakes and cute little fruit and jellies in old teacups, but it was the coffee that interested me. There were no branded umbrellas, barriers and even the coffee cup was completely nameless. And the coffee was damned good.
”So what kind of coffee do you use?” I asked the girl serving me as she prepared me one to go.
”Sorry, it’s a secret. The owner really wanted this brand, but the supplier said they’d only give it to us if we didn’t advertise it.” Sounds a bit strange, but coffee suppliers seem to have all sorts of deals with clients. They’ll make promises not to supply their coffee to competitors within 500 metres or whatever. Anyway, the coffee is good and the ambience, especially as it’s sandwiched between two busy roads is quiet and lovely.