La Marina Foods is a must-stop shop for excellent seafood and speciality ingredients in Gauteng, says Jodi-Ann Pearton.
You’ll be treated to a sensory overload when you walk into La Marina. What you encounter through the doors of what appears to be a small space in the Modderfontein showroom is nothing short of wondrous for anyone who loves food and all things related to cooking and eating.
The deli shop offers everything from fresh, sustainably sourced fish (gutted and portioned before your eyes), cleaned calamari and squid, succulent crayfish and caviar (yes, the real thing) to a huge selection of cheeses and endless shelves of salts, oils, spices, seasonings, imported chocolate and even culinary chemicals for the next generation of Heston Blumenthals of South Africa.
La Marina is where many top chefs in Gauteng shop – although their goods go out the back in bulk, not out this gorgeous and quaint European-style deli at the front.
Then, of course, there’s The Kitchen, where you can catch a breather during your shopping extravaganza and dine on some of the amazing produce that you see around you. The menu is small, but it’s actually incredibly difficult to choose what to eat. The Kitchen is open for breakfast and lunch, and it’s often tough to find a seat.
The sushi is some of the best in Johannesburg, with generous portions of incredible fish and perfectly cooked rice wrapped up in crisp nori. Every bite is just perfection. Watch your sushi being prepared in front of you and order as you go – it’s wonderful! The sushi is so tasty that you might end up purchasing all the ingredients and tools from the deli to make it at home.
Them there’s a wide selection of warm seafood dishes, ranging from prawns, salmon, calamari, sole and kingklip to seafood platters. For more earth-bound palates there’s goulash soup, delicately flavoured with hints of smoked paprika and garlic, which is definitely worth a try! For the more adventurous diner, La Marina serves abalone – and that alone is worth the drive out to this little outlet.
You have the choice of amazing coffee (a must), a small selection of soft drinks, beer, and two wines and a bubbly by the glass. It’s simple and quick.
Extremely passionate and enthusiastic staff are happy to engage with you about the products at La Marina and tell you where everything hails from, its history and how it should be kept, cooked and eaten. They clearly love this store and brand dearly. Each person – no matter their role in the business – will dive behind the kitchen counter, serve you a beverage, or assist in the deli. It’s wonderful to see such passion in a food business, and it really translates into the offering.
‘European deli’ is the only way to describe the energy when you walk into La Marina. You leave the office park behind you and begin a culinary journey into another world. Your mind wanders to places far away and your palate tingles as you imagine all the dishes you can create. Then you sit down to eat simple but beautifully prepared deli-style food around happy people who are as mesmerized as you are.
La Marina is definitely worth a visit for anyone who wants excellent seafood and speciality ingredients in Johannesburg. This is your one-stop shop, but be prepared to walk out with bags and bags of products. Once you see the truffles, saffron, duck legs and quails, there’ll be no stopping you!
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