Coffea Cake is not exactly a hidden treasure of Melbourne’s hospitality scene. It holds a proud position on the Elizabeth St side of the Victorian Markets, and does a thriving weekend trade, closing somewhere between 2 and 3pm each day. They sell a selection of beans which you can also buy ground to take away – the coffee is definitely tasty and worth a try. But that’s not revelatory news. So why do I mention Coffea Cafe? That’s easy. It’s the Castagnaccio. Those of you who have tasted it will most likely smile in satisfied agreement. Those of you who have not tasted – or perhaps heard – of Castagnaccio need to amend this severe life deficiency pronto.
Castagnaccio is walnut flour cake. Warmed (always ask for it to be warmed) it is like a sticky date pudding without the caramel sauce and with a slightly herbal flavour: it is made with raisins (or sultanas) and rosemary. There is no way to describe this sweet adequately. On paper, unless one is italian and has grown up with it, it sounds like an odd mix of flavours. But on the plate, it works oh so very well. Especially with an espresso to accompany.
Recipes exist on the interwebs for making your own, but I recommend trying Coffea Cafe’s freshly baked version as the best introduction to Castagnaccio you could have. And then you’ll be a convert, just as I and many before me have also been.
519-521 Elizabeth St Melbourne 3000 VIC
Phone: (03) 9326 7388