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Wendy Hargreaves: Melbourne’s best mood food

Denis Walter
Article image for Wendy Hargreaves: Melbourne’s best mood food

By Wendy Hargreaves

We all have that special food that delivers a big dose of warm fuzzy happiness.

These are just a few of mine in Melbourne. Where are yours?


320 Lygon St, Carlton, 03 93473128
Happiness on a plate. That’s the best way to describe Donnini’s tagliatelle alla carbonara, perfectly chewy pasta tossed in house cured pancetta. This tumble of hand-made goodness arrives at your table, where a big orange egg yolk is popped on top and twirled through the hot pasta. It’s all about the drama. And the carbs. And the super fresh eggs follow through with a big serotonin hit.

Sold in health food stores, and on cocktail lists at Pope Joan City and Cutler and Co
Fermented foods are getting a lot of buzz, with good reason. The good bugs in yoghurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha keep our gut bacteria in check, with a swag of new scientific studies showing that balanced gut bacteria improves mood and even reduces risk of depression. Daylesford’s Fermentary has a huge range of delicious fermented goods, but their new Kimchi Tonic presses all of my good mood buttons. It’s a bottle of the juice pressed from the kimchi making process, with all the deliciousness of smoked chilli, ginger and wombok. Pope Joan City and Cutler and Co are just a couple of the cool venues making Kimchi Marys with this little gem as a cocktail base. Chief fermenter Sharon Flynn reckons there are so many strains of lactobacillus that naturopaths have started prescribing it. Now THAT’S mood food.

23 Oliver Lane, Melbourne, 03 9639 5777
Chef Zac Cribbes can’t take the Korean pork hock off the menu. It’d cause a riot. Lucy Liu’s signature dish isn’t there for good looks, served with gusto and stabbed with carving knife. The pork takes 36 hours to prepare, marinated and braised before being flash fried, so the flesh is pull-apart juicy and the outside nice and crispy. It’s served like a piggy Peking duck, with steamed pancakes, apple kimchi salad and hoisin sauce. I like to think the good-bug-rich kimchi makes this dish a health food. It certainly makes me happy.

Stall 56, South Melbourne Market
Happy Place is the brainchild of nutritionist Lola Berry, and her menu is as sunshiny as Lola’s big smile. Expect super fresh produce, home-made raw treats, rainbow smoothie bowls, scrumptious salads – it’s all nutritious and absolutely scrumptious.

52 Madden Grove, Burnley
Want a bowl of healthy goodness with all all the colours? Serotonin’s big rainbow bowl has a poached egg, broccoli, tomatoes, kale, house-made hummus, roast veggies and sauerkraut, all topped with a nut/spice medley, house-made dressing, lemon and fresh herb green tahini. If you want to more, go right ahead. The whole menu is devoted to boosted serotonin in our brains, which is a chemical that regulates mood, sleep, appetite and basically makes us happy.

Wendy writes online at 5ofthebest.

Denis Walter