Labour of love at the markets

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IT was a spectacular winter morning and just above zero, but when the Fyshwick Markets opened at 8am, Bean and Grain was ready with a warm welcome.

There is a lot of “warm” about this new cafe – the on-site coffee roasting, smells of fresh baking and shelves of artisan breads, genuine American-style bagels (the only bread product boiled before baked) and patisserie items.

The gold and ruby red art and rich colours on the pillows scattered about the bench seating add to the cosiness.

Bean and Grain is a labour of love, opened by husband and wife John and Hailey Bautista. As passionate are main chef Corey Wheatley and two dedicated bakers who work through dark and lonely nights creating sweet and savoury goodies.

Let’s start with the bagels. John, who was raised in California – the home of modern-day sour bread – understands what the real McCoy is and imported Bean and Grain’s big boiling kettle and bagel maker from New Jersey. The soft, chewy, donut-shaped bagels – 12 kinds – have a lovely sheen.

Corey is also American and you see the influence with several food items, including the peanut butter and chocolate tarts. John and Corey worked in Hawaii yonks ago, on opposite sides of the island. They met in Australia when working “in the snow” in 2006 and Canberra is now lucky to have them. Hailey worked at Lambert Vineyards for four years and it is her artwork on the wall.

We landed for breakfast and the gorgeous presentation of the dishes is a feast for the eyes. All dishes come with a complimentary fruit smoothie shot decorated with a ball of melon. My Gillette, made with potato and smoked fish, came with poached, free-range, organic eggs, tomato concasse, herb crème fraiche and caviar ($16). The classic eggs benedict were accompanied by a potato croquette made with chives and lightly fried in butter – crispy on the outside and soft on the inside ($16).

Cured salmon benedict ($17), with chilli sambal, and country benedict ($16) also feature. Those with a sweet tooth will adore the Belgium waffles ($14), made three ways, including with chocolate and poached peaches. Organic granola is available for the health conscious ($13).
The bagels are the big hit at breakfast and lunch. Enjoy in the morning with jams made in-house or flavoured cream cheeses, including berry, beetroot and fig. From noon, enjoy with roast lamb, pork tenderloin, rare roast beef, organic chicken with maple chili bacon, and several other ways.

It is all so yummy and it is only a matter of days before I will be back to give lunch a go.

Bean and Grain, Fyshwick Markets, call 6295 9220. Open Thursday to Sunday, breakfast and lunch. Indoor and outdoor seating.

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Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson: Food reviewer for Canberra CityNews magazine since 2004, covering stories for true foodies to digest.

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