How to spot a hipster

Without hipsters, we wouldn’t have a food scene

I'M not buying Vegemite-gate and the hipster bashing that's going along with it.

The outrage over how a Newcastle cafe serves up its vegemite toast may be aimed at its presentation or the cost, but it's just an excuse to lay into hipsters.

But hipsters have done a lot for the food scene.

Before I was a food writer, I was an eater. I still am. And hipsters have changed the way we eat for the better.

Yes, the focus on the artisanal, authentic and homemade can be a bit of a wank - but it tastes so good. You can't argue with deliciousness.

Without hipsters we wouldn't have boutique coffee roasters which expanded our knowledge of caffeine from cappuccino to cold drip, nitro coffee, single origin and the very excellent espresso soft serve.

Check it out at Sample Coffee in Surry Hills, it's a great way to get a caffeine hit on a hot day.

Without hipsters, where would our beer scene be? Would we all still be drinking VB?

I vividly remember my first sip of Stone & Wood's Pacific Ale, a light, fragrant brew that not only went down easily but had so much flavour. I was hooked.

Just because it’s pretentious doesn’t mean it’s not good. (Pic: Peter Lorimer)
Just because it’s pretentious doesn’t mean it’s not good. (Pic: Peter Lorimer)

I specifically sought out pubs that had it on tap until it became so ubiquitous that it's now served everywhere.

My latest love is Philter Brewing's XPA, extra pale ale, made by Sam Fuss who was the former head brewer of Young Henrys. It was limited to draught beer in Sydney's inner west, but is now expanding to the eastern suburbs and bottle shops are selling it in cases rather than six packs because the word is spreading.

Have you ever waited in line to get into Cornersmith in Marrickville?

The popular corner cafe built its reputation on pickling.

Colourful jars filled with everything from pickled cucumbers to carrots to fennel line the walls, their contents used throughout the menu and you could even buy them to take home and create your own breakfast bowl full of fermented goodness.

t was such a phenomenon that it spawned a dedicated Picklery where you can learn to make everything from pickles to cheese to chilli jam.

And who hasn't had avocado toast at a cafe?

Whether it's pimped with coriander, fetta or chilli, it has now become a staple on menus around Australia.

So back to Vegemite-gate.

As my colleague James Morrow rightly pointed out, boards are an affectation and not the most sanitary ways to serve food. Plus, a smear of dark brown vegemite is not aesthetically pleasing.

Smashed avocado on toast may be the dish that divides a nation, but it’s also delicious. (Pic: Nathan Dyer)
Smashed avocado on toast may be the dish that divides a nation, but it’s also delicious. (Pic: Nathan Dyer)

But it's standard practice to serve toast with condiments on the side, especially when people are picky about how they like it; personally I'm of the lots-of-butter-little-vegemite brigade while my husband skips the butter for a thick covering of the dark stuff.

Then there's the uproar about the price. Seven dollars.

If you can't be bothered making your own toast and prefer to have someone prepare it and serve it to you while you take up space in their high-rent establishment, that's what it costs.

You're not just paying for the food, but the experience of eating it.

And then there's the cost of the food.

Up-market cafe chain Bills, founded by celebrity chef Bill Granger, charges $7.50 but the toast is made from some of the best bread in Sydney; Iggy's sourdough, Infinity rye or Bake Bar gluten-free.

Infinity Bakery, with branches in Darlinghurst, Paddington and Manly charges $5 for toasted sourdough with spreads, but only because it doesn't have to buy in sourdough.

"Sourdough is a long process and usually uses a higher quality flour because of the nature of the product," co-owner William Peterson said.

A loaf or sourdough retails from $7-$9 and cafes are charged about 60 per cent of that.

"It's still expensive for cafes to buy, because they are also looking at delivery costs.

It would be $4-$8 wholesale, with the average being $5.50."

So if you're going to be picky about how much you pay for your vegemite toast and how its served, just make it at home.

Renata Gortan is a Daily Telegraph food writer.



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