77 Nelson St Annandale, NSW 2038
|Opening hours||Wed-Sat 7am-4pm, Sun 11am-4pm|
|Prices||Cheap (mains under $20)|
It's all utterly idyllic; the way the world should be. A bloke from Blackheath Firewood is stacking ironbark logs from a wheelbarrow as a chef in a floral apron grabs a pumpkin from the produce shelf.
Chef Kimmy Gastmeier (Rockpool, Tetsuya's, Kitchen by Mike) and business partner Aimee Graham opened the food business of their dreams in early July, backed by Jake Smyth and the team from Mary's Burgers and Underground.
They've dubbed it a general store by virtue of its romantically styled produce shop, cabinets of cakes and shelves of bric-a-brac, but it's really a bakery lurking inside granny's parlour. Or maybe it's an Amish-style cult that worships artisanal crafts with fire, focaccia and coffee.
The broad, open-to-the-street space is like a country co-op, stocked for the apocalypse with jars of preserved olives, lemons, peaches and plums.
Two long wooden tables seat 20 on mix-and-match chairs that look borrowed from a church hall. At the glowering heart of it all is the oven, a labour of love built to oven-whisperer Alan Scott's principles behind a handsome 1860s iron facade, discovered in Ballarat.
Gastmeier is a passionate convert to direct-firing, baking bread in the embers, then swapping in pastries and biscuits as the temperature drops. It's not an easy beast to manage, but the results are outstanding.
Bread, obviously: dense, moist, thickly sliced sourdough that comes with more cultured butter than you can spread on it.
There are things that come in bread, such as giant sandwiches of salami, vintage cheddar and sauerkraut ($15) for lunch; and things that come with bread, such as a grandmotherly soup of beans, bacon and wilted kale ($10/$15), and things you can add to bread, like a spiral of Romeo's excellent pork and apple cider pinwheel sausage ($10).
At lunch, the Perfect Circle dish of the day ($20) is a big wedge of pumpkin caramelised with chickpea miso next to tangy kimchi pickles and a tangle of soba noodles and crisped enoki. Deeply, sweetly complex, it feels healing and nourishing.
Gastmeier's nostalgia for her New Zealand childhood comes through in a soft puff of doughnut ($6) filled with cream and topped with a house-made glace cherry; it's light and sweet, but the more rustic stuff, like the chocolate chip, spelt and burnt butter biscuits, is punchier. The pear tart ($9) is a slice of magic, its many layers distinct and airy, gently encasing bosomy, grainy pears from Pricklehill Farm.
There's an energy, connectedness and creative spirit that flows through Cherry Moon that's more than just caffeine-fuelled, although the coffee is legit; a dark, hazelnutty house roast from Loggerhead Coffee Co, the roastery set up by Tobin Ventham of 212 Blu in Newtown.
House-made cordials, chai, cold-pressed juices. The grand plan is to get a booze licence and hold long communal dinners and sourdough workshops, built around the oven. It's all meant to be "slow food", sure, but hurry up with those dinners, please.
Cherry Moon General Store
Loving: The whole general store concept of bakery, cafe, coffee shop and produce store
Not getting: The flimsy pink serviettes. Something more rustic, please.
Vegan factor: Vegan sandwich and soup specials, energy bars and more.
Overheard: "I don't think I'm an eating-the-whole-radish type of person."
Caffe latte: $4.