We were actually going to IKEA. I hadn’t been to the big one at Tempe before. So when my good friend and neighbour requested my services as sidekick I was more than happy to oblige.
I don’t know that they’ve achieved anything over the smaller store at Rhodes. Acres of fairly cheap looking fabric. Much cardboard furniture that’s good for if no one will see it or you’ll only need it until you find somewhere permanent to live. The odd dozing boyfriend on a bed or lounge. Many shelves that will never attach to the plaster of my walls, composed as it is of sand and a century of paint, laid over diamond hard brick. An assortment of jars and containers I know from experience aren’t water, air or moth tight. I was uninspired.
I did pick up some cheap Christmas wrap and a set of biscuit cutters that will feature in a blog in the near future. And it was mildly entertaining. But it was what my friend, let’s call her Daniela, said next that made my day. “You know the Pepe Saya factory is in Tempe. Do you want to see if we can find it?”.
You know how I feel about Pepe Saya butter. It’s revolutionised my pastry making. As it’s expensive (not for what it is mind), I save it for best. You betcha I wanted to see if we could find it, even it wasn’t open to the public. I looked it up on Google maps. It appeared to be right next door to IKEA. A quick glance out of the car park showed that the shortcut would have involved scaling a set of quite fresh looking barbed wire fences. If only we’d bought one of those ten dollar throws that don’t appear to have any other use! But we must not repine. “Let’s go around the long way”, I suggested. “It’s just a block”.
Quite a large block, as it turned out. Down a little street lined by nondescript factories, skip bins and badly parked trucks on one side, tiny weatherboard houses from the past on the other. “Is it really down here?” asked Daniela. “It doesn’t look like anything and we’ve walked a really long way. We should have driven. Why didn’t we drive? Lucky I didn’t go to the gym today, I’d never have made it this far.” Down an even smaller street and right at the end was quite a tiny sign for a whole lot of gourmet dairy businesses. And Pepe Saya’s. Up a steep driveway littered with boxes and more apparently abandoned trucks and white vans and pallets and a forklift.
It was just a small glass door, behind which was a set of stairs. “Maybe it isn’t open to the public” I said. “I’m ringing them,” said the ever resourceful Daniela. As she pulled out her phone, the roller door opened to admit the forklift. A young man with very blue eyes started guiding it in. “Erm”, I said. “Do you sell to the public?” asked Daniela. “Of course, come on in, have a look around, there’s a fridge just behind there”, the young man said.
We wandered in. There was a fridge, as advised, looking like the sort of the thing the school canteen might have put in the cleanup. It had a couple of containers of creme fraiche, a pat or two of the familiar foil wrapped butter and not much else. We got chatting with the young man about dairy products and baking. He clearly knew his stuff, and I found out why when one of the forklift guys called out “hey, Pepe!”. Lucky I hadn’t realised who he was when we started chatting, otherwise I would have confined myself to “erm”.
We bought three containers of creme fraiche, a litre of buttermilk, Daniela got a pat of butter and I bought myself a two kilo wheel of butter. I’ve been feeling some baking coming on for quite some time and two kilos was the wholesale amount. It’s a beautiful thing too, lovingly shaped, wrapped in waxed paper, tied up with string and tightly sealed in cling wrap.
“You have to look after it” Pepe said. That didn’t involve reading it a bedtime story, as it turned out, just wrapping it up tightly every time you use it. “How far are you from home?” he asked. Daniela explained that we weren’t far, but we had undertaken the hazardous and windswept walk all the way from the IKEA car park. So he gave us a styrofoam box and lovingly loaded up his produce, tucking an ice pack in with it. We left him to look after his half tonne of freshly delivered fresh cream.
Oh, do I have big plans for this stuff. Ice cream, fruit cake, shortbread, little tarts. I’ve started on the butter already, carefully wrapping it back up again so I can be worthy of it. It’s so FRESH! I don’t really like the taste of the cultured butter straight off a knife but because it’s so fresh the cultured flavour is only just a hint. That’s it, I’m going to have to go to Tempe every time I go through two kilos of butter. At the wholesale price and with Christmas coming up, that’s going to be quite often.