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Divine and Delicious by name (and nature)

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Fairbairn, the quiet precinct located just beyond Canberra Airport, might seem an unlikely foodie hub – but strike it off your ‘good eats’ map at your peril. Not only is it home to fabulous chocolatier Lindsay & Edmunds, but right next door is Divine and Delicious, a little gem of a café offering great tasting food that is full of flavour.

If you’ve been a reader of HerCanberra for a while, you’ll have already drooled over some of the recipes originating from this gorgeous eatery – from Spiced Cinnamon, Date & Pecan Cake with Butterscotch Sauce to Zucchini Fritters with Smoked Salmon Capers and Lemon Creme Fraiche to Dark Chocolate & Orange Mousse. Yum.

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Divine and Delicious is the creation of Alison Tolley, a qualified chef with a fascinating background. After completing her apprenticeship at the National Art Gallery, the Canberra native headed overseas, working in London and then as a private chef on Super yachts sailing throughout the Greek Islands, Turkey, Corsica, Sardinia, French & Italian Rivieras, Caribbean Islands & the Bahamas.

“I sailed across the Atlantic Ocean twice, searching for fresh produce at different farmers’ markets around the world, catching fresh fish & lobster in the Caribbean, shooting for wild boar in Turkey, and learning how to smoke meats and make sausages in Italy. It was an amazing experience,” said Alison.

But after eight years abroad, it was time to come home to Australia, where she settled in in Brisbane with her husband and started Blue Sorrento Catering – focussing on corporate entertaining, private cocktail parties and weddings.

In 2008, now with a young family, Alison and her husband moved back to Canberra and started Divine and Delicious from her tiny kitchen in Spence.

“As a mother of two young children I had to create a business that would allow me to work from home and juggle work and family demands. I started by just doing the Old Bus Depot Markets, but there was such an interest from local cafes to have something that looks and tastes great and  is mostly gluten free, that I soon went from doing a few cafes to remodelling my kitchen at home to house three commercial ovens and more bench space.”

In 2011, Alison decided it was time to take the leap and find a commercial premises, and in February this year, opened the doors to the humble little cafe in Fairbairn.

For me, the most striking thing about walking into Divine and Delicious was the sheer variety of fresh, colourful food – all made with obvious care. Everything from a big fat chocolate cake to leafy salads to tarts to slices to wraps to pies…the list goes on. It is a good thing that I am not based nearby or I would be the size of a house.

“We make all our biscuits, slices and cakes by hand and with a lot of love,” says Alison.

“Every morning we make a selection of gourmet salads, paninis, wraps and sandwiches. We bake our own hot savoury food including Beef & Red Wine Pies, Tuscan Sausage Rolls, Roast Pumpkin & Rosemary Tarts and Spinach & Ricotta Pastries, and the salads are incredibly popular in the warmer months!”

Divine and Delicious range of gluten free cakes are particularly popular, with coelaics across the Capital excited that they have so much choice – Alison says that each weekend at the Old Bus Depot Markets she is guaranteed to sell out of Florentines.

And now’s the time to get prepared for the festive season…if you can’t be bothered soaking your own fruit for your Christmas pud, Divine and Delicious does a fabulous Christmas range which usually comes out at the end of November but you can order now.

Next time you’re at Majura Park running the Costco gauntlet, need a sugar hit post-Gymbaroo, or just feel like some damn good, wholesome, tasty food – make your way to Divine and Delicious – your tastebuds will thank you for it…

Divine and Delicious is open 7:30am to 4pm Tuesday to Friday at 1/20 Amberley Avenue in Fairbairn. Divine & Delicious is located just behind the Canberra Airport. From Piallago Ave, turn left at the traffic lights onto Glenora Drive, follow the road which turns into Fairbairn Ave. Turn left into Richmond Ave, then right into Pearce Ave and a quick left into Amberley Avenue.

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