Spring has sprung all right. Just ask Alex Elliott-Howery - who has opened a new branch of Cornersmith, Sydney's favourite all-pickling, all-upskilling, community-friendly café at a new site in Annandale in the city's inner-west.
The new café is part corner store, with a greater takeaway focus. It has all the café mod-cons for eating in, but is also set up for customers who want to grab their food and head across the road to Hinsby Park.
Elliott-Howery and her husband, James Grant, opened the original Cornersmith on Illawarra Road in Marrickville in 2012. Their Picklery, home to Cornersmith's open-kitchen "school" and shop, followed in late 2013.
The Annandale edition has a similar vibe to the mothership (and not just because it's another light-filled corner building). Set in what was once a milk bar, the new digs are almost twice the size of the first Cornersmith and have outdoor seating.
The deli section stocks Kristen Allan cheeses and yoghurt, Bread & Butter Project baked goods, charcuterie, olives and the full spread of Cornersmith pickles, preserves and chutneys. "Lots of picnic-type things and there are picnic rugs to borrow," says Elliott-Howery. "We're taking the European approach and encouraging people to buy things and take them outdoors."
The store also sells a number of Cornersmith's favourite small-scale produce to take home, including Country Valley milk from Picton, Nonie's gluten-free bread, free-range eggs sourced by Egg Lady Deliveries and Pepe Saya butter.
Chef Sabine Spindler has returned from a year's sabbatical in Europe to look after the café menu, which she says is "even more produce- and producer-focused than what we've done in the last few years", and follows the same all-day format as the original.
"They work in very low-fi conditions in Marrickville, but Annandale's full kitchen will give us more of an opportunity to push it further," says Elliott-Howery. That will equate to the kitchen getting even more creative with waste - fermenting pea shells and using the juice, for instance, and growing kefir grains for kefir butter. New menu items include the likes of pitch-black bread (made by Nonie's with activated charcoal, black quinoa and cracked buckwheat flours) topped with pickled baby eggplants, broad beans, peas and Kristen Allan's buttermilk ricotta. There's also a cheese and pickle toastie, and a pita with blackbeans, pineapple sambal and fresh goat's cheese.
Cameron Krone of Sydney firm Smith & Carmody has designed the sleek new space (he did the other Cornersmiths, as well as Chippendale bakery Brickfields). It's inspired by the colours of the Australian bush and features a moss-green counter and leather, touches of pink marble and plenty of pale timber.
Since opening in Marrickville, Cornersmith has become a local poster-child for fermenting, pickling, minimal waste and keepings things close (the Picklery hosts classes in everything from cheese-making to turning your vegetable scraps into natural dyes).
"Annandale people are really involved in their community and proud of it, which is what we're all about," says Elliott-Howery. "We love Marrickville, but this is a new adventure for us."
Cornersmith Annandale, 88 View St (corner of Piper St), Annandale, NSW, open seven days Mon-Fri 7am-4:30pm, Sat-Sun 7.30am-4pm, cornersmith.com.au