A few months ago, a Colombian lady I know gave me a hot tip about a certain Latin American bakery called La Morentina in Sunshine North. After stalling for that long, I finally got around to visiting a few weeks back and let me tell YOU! This place is awesome. Just awesome.
While I don't normally write about eateries, I think La Morenita is pretty special and Marco, the baker/owner was kind enough to chat to me as he baked the empanadas, which I'll show you in just a minute. But first a bit about this marvelous place! La Morentina has been about for twelve years, in the same little shopfront in Sunshine North(it used to be called Las Penas). It's run by the lovely Maria and Marco, a Chilean born baker. Five days a week, Marco cranks up his imported Chilean ovens to bake bread rolls, empanandas and sweets. Maria meanwhile, makes the best sandwiches which are made in both the Uruguayan and Chilean styles. But, it was the empanadas I came for and the empanadas I watched being rolled, filled and baked.
When I got to the bakery early-ish on a Friday morning, Marco welcomed me in and began to roll out the dough he made the day before from flour, water and lard(it's the only way to make the best dough, according to Marco!) To stretch the dough out and get it down to the right thickness, it gets rolled through this press a few times, just like you do with pasta in a pasta machine.
He piles them up to rest for a while.
Everyday Marco makes new batches of each variety. But I watched the beef ones happen, which is what's going on here. A single black olive and little slice of boiled egg go down first.
Marco then places ice cream scoops full of beef mince cooked with onion in the middle. It seems like a good tool for the job; you get a nice round mound and each one is portioned out correctly.
......and baked until golden brown.
And that's how it's done. While I'm pretty sure that these pictures should be enough to convince you, I feel it's worth saying again that these empanadas are really good. The dough on the baked ones is perfectly soft with a bit of chew and the fillings are delicious. The fried ones are excellent too. If you do drop by for an empanada, I highly recommend a serve of the Chilean chilli sauce, pebre, on the side and if you can fit it in, one of the beef and green bean sandwiches and also maybe an alfajore for dessert! If that's not enough, look at how happy the empanadas make people. Guy in the blue can't hardly believe it!
Thanks very much to Marco and Maria for showing me around your ace bakery! Everything I have tried at your place has been super delicious and I don't seem to be able to leave without completely overdoing it. Nice work.
La Morenita, 67 Berkshire Rd, Sunshine North, VIC.
Ph: 03 9311 2911