Can’t find familiar food items in Australia? All is not lost.

If, like me, you have been craving familiar food items from back in the UK but can’t find them in Australia, all is not lost, read on.  

Pork Pie

I have to own up.  I’ve been craving a proper pork pie since Christmas 2017.  We had decided that our first Christmas in Australia was certainly going to be different.  There was no way we even wanted to replicate the turkey roast dinner followed by Christmas pudding in 30+ degrees of heat.  So we settled with the idea of having a ‘true Aussie Christmas’ by going to the beach, followed by ‘shrimps on the barbie’ at home. 

Turns out this was actually a rather clichéd idea of an Aussie Christmas and many do, in fact, have roast dinners or some other kind of dish, often relating to their family’s cultural background and traditions.  Shrimps on the barbie is not really a thing.  

Can't find familiar food items in Australia?
Pork pie, pickle and cheese platter

Anyway, despite my desire to become a seasoned Aussie local at Christmas, I could not get past this hankering after a proper pork pie.  We had found some mini ones in South Melbourne Market, which were good, but they were just ‘not the same’.  It was not a wasted trip though, as here we found Colmans Tartare Sauce and Colmans Mint Sauce.

Apologies to any readers who do not know what a pork pie is – I think it’s a very traditional British recipe.  It’s basically a pie made from thick shortcrust pastry, containing a kind of pressed pork and jelly.  Yes, jelly – kind of a clear gelatinous substance formed from the meat juices.  You can practically feel your arteries hardening just thinking about it.

Moving on from my obsession with pork pie (which I only eat once a year, I promise), I found myself on a quest to find other important staple items that I had been missing from the UK.  Here’s where I found them.

Coles

The first thing to realise is that not all Coles are created equal.  My local Coles, for example, does not have a ‘British shelf’ but others do.  It all depends on the demographic of the local community.  I’m in the northern suburbs so I found the best Coles for me to pick up British stuff is in Ivanhoe.  That’s where I go to get Bisto Gravy Granules (including a ‘chip shop curry sauce variety), Batchelors Mushy Peas and occasionally, Cadbury’s Chocolate made to the English recipe – yes it definitely tastes different.

Can't find familiar food items in Australia?
Cadbury Dairy Milk and Curlywurly selection

Woolworths

Again, depending on the individual stores, Woolworths has a decent range of British goods.  I go to the Eltham store to get Ambrosia Rice pudding and Tunnocks Tea cakes. You can of course tap into a plentiful supply of items like Branston Pickle, HP Sauce, Heinz Baked Beans, Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce etc., at most Woolworths and Coles.

The Reject Shop

This store often has items from Tesco, such as own-brand apple & blackcurrant cordial (or a bottle of squash as us Brits call it). They have just recently announced further collaborations with Tesco so it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on your local store.

Treats from Home

This shop is located in Collins Street (Level 1, 234 Collins Street Melbourne VIC 3000 – near Dymocks) but also has an online store, as well as a store in Sydney.  They will deliver Australia-wide, including free shipping for orders over $75.

And last, but not least – and this is the star of the show for me …

Rob’s British Butchers

Can't find familiar food items in Australia?
Scotch eggs on a plate

I cannot believe it’s taken me so long to find Rob and, I’m happy to report that the Holy Grail, the elusive ‘proper pork pie’ is to be found right here. 

Rob and his family originally hailed from England (Newark in the East Midlands) and have been operating their British & Irish Butchery shop in Melbourne for over 29 years.  They are to be found at 177 Lonsdale Street, Dandenong VIC 3175.  I would suggest that wherever in Melbourne or Victoria you live, it is well-worth the pilgrimage to Rob’s.  Just make sure your credit card is ready for the experience as you will find it difficult to resist the plethora of goodies that will remind you of home.  

Apart from the biggest pork pie I could carry, I also came away with Cornish pasties, steak and kidney pie, Scotch Shell pies, Cumberland sausage, gammon steaks, Walkers cheese and onion crisps, Paxo stuffing mix, Polo mints and two cans of Lilt.  I will be making a return visit for Scotch eggs (made fresh on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays), Eccles cakes and some suet puddings.  Take a look at the Facebook page for all the goodies, too many to mention here.  I believe Rob also does a delivery service where you can order on a Monday for delivery later in the week.

Living in Australia has introduced me to a wonderful variety of dishes, both home-grown in Australia and from all over the world, and there is never a shortage of good, fresh produce and choice.  Of course, there are all sorts of familiar brands on the shelves at all supermarkets but it is also very wise, and more exciting, to keep a very open mind and try something different.  I do like to support local suppliers and Aussie farmers wherever I can, but sometimes, you just need that little taste of comfort from home.  If anyone of you have found any of your own little gems (or Midget Gems?), feel free to enlighten us in the Comments section below. Bassett’s Jelly Baby anyone?

Can't find familiar food items in Australia?
Jelly Babies assorted

The Melbourne Mum

Thinking of emigrating to Australia? Already moved to Melbourne? Find out what it's really like to make the big move Down Under.

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