It was our Mount Zero falafel mix that first got baker and author, Natalie Paull’s attention, “that was what got me in,” she says, “in the shop, we’d use it for sandwiches. It’s such a great product.”
The shop she refers to is Beatrix Bakes. The tiny bakery and café that sat on a North Melbourne street corner from 2011 to mid-last year.
Nat garnered a loyal, cult-like following for her cakes, feather-light sponges, swiss rolls, apple turnovers, and chocolate cakes, all filled and layered with local, fresh and seasonal quality ingredients. Each day, they’d offer two sandwiches on the menu – hence, our falafels featured in the mix as well as our olives that she used on sandwiches filled with Nicoise salad.
Nat closed the shop a few months ago, seeking change and time, so she can write her second cookbook, Beatrix Bakes Another Slice, due in March 2024. There will be popups, too, but they will happen later.
Nat kept souls sated through Melbourne’s many lockdowns and became skilled in crowd management as well as exceptional baking. She is a hero to many, and her commitment to her product and her detail are just two of the many reasons we’re thrilled to have Nat on board as this month’s Mount Zero Hero.
Another reason? Nat loves to bake with our Frantoio extra virgin olive oil.
“I feel like we’ve been duped into thinking that all baking needs to use a neutral oil,” she says, “I love using olive oil in my baking. If I’m making a pistachio cake, I love to finish the buttercream with extra virgin olive oil, it leaves a lovely green, grassy note at the end.”
Nat started using our olive oil in her sponge rolls, “Passionfruit and olive oil are best friends,” she says, “and the Frantoio olive oil works so well adding to the zingyness of the fruit. It’s great with chocolate, too and adds a piquancy to the chocolate. Like putting a bit of salt into something, olive oil does that beautifully as well.”
At home, Nat admits to tapping some of our olive oil from the 15-litre casks she buys for her business and using it in her home kitchen.
She’s also a fan of our red wine vinegar, “It’s the only vinegar that we use at home, and I love using it when I cook quinces.”
She recalls eating quinces at CBD restaurant, Embla, “they had this fresh acidity with a touch of red wine vinegar added. The balance it offered was incredible. It restrains that hectic sweetness that quinces can have. You don’t want too much sugar and the vinegar is almost seasoning.”
Her love and commitment to quality is palpable.
“We need to hold on to good food, “she says. “If we can manage to use some beautiful ingredients, our food will always taste better. It doesn’t have to be a lot, an extra lick of olive oil is all that’s needed. It’s important to hold on to tiny moments of food, flavour, small things can be special.”
Nat is sharing her recipe for olive oil shortbread that is generously dotted with pistachios, “Olive oil and pistachio are beautiful together,” she shares, “and these biscuits are great after a meal, with cheese, figs, pear slices or crumble them over ice cream! They’re delicious!”
We can’t wait to get cooking and find out for ourselves, Nat!
the fast five
1. If you weren't in hospo what would you be doing?
I’d probably be a ‘gun for hire’ as an organiser.
2. Last place you dined out?
3. What's your favourite Melbourne restaurant?
My other home, when I need to feel good about life: Bar Liberty.
4. Favourite season/s of the year for produce?
Autumn; it brings a ten-car pile-up of fruit from late summer, figs and plums, stone fruit is peaking and all the apples. I love it.
5. Do you have any special projects scheduled for this year or beyond?
The book is to be released in March 2024. Potentially planning some pop-ups.