Author Archives for Monique

About Monique

I love to eat and find new things to do in Melbourne! Open to recommendations, meeting foodies or collaborating on new projects. Email me at monaventuremelb[at]gmail.com. Meanwhile the.adventouriist contributes her photography - the.adventouriist[at]gmail.com!

Gelato in Melbourne

I am one of those people who believe any time is a good time for ice-cream, and that there is always room for dessert. Here are some places around Melbourne that have satisfied my gelato cravings:

Helados Jauja

IMAG3160Situated out in the open on Lygon St, Helados Jauja is an Argentinian gelato store with a wide selection of unique flavours (see below). They were typically busy on a Friday night, whether due to its location or their enticing flavours, who knows? I’d say it’s quite a favourite of many Melburnians.

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We had taste tested a few flavours, but as the store was busy, the staff didn’t seem too warming or talkative. We tried the dulce de leche (Argentinian style caramel) and rosewater (the “Holy Mi Amor” in the picture I think, it was a long time ago!), as they were popular flavours that I had heard of. The rosewater was not too strong and I didn’t mind it, but it was not entirely to my taste. I did however enjoy the dulce de leche. I would love to try more flavours but there is a never-ending list of places to go in Melbourne and ever so little time!

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It is quite the norm now to have unique and unheard of gelato flavours (goaty cheese sounds particularly interesting, but not something I would try), but they remain traditional with their storefront and are quite a popular destination on the Lygon strip.
Helados Jauja on Urbanspoon
N2 Extreme Gelato

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The new kid on the block, surrounded by hype and lots of smoke, is N2 Extreme Gelato. The novelty factor is that you watch them make your ice-cream from liquid nitrogen, resulting in smooth and delicious flavours.

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I’ve heard of the Sydney branch, and wasn’t even aware it was in Melbourne until I heard that a friend works there. We braved the busy weekend line to try the flavours, and perhaps unsurprisingly tried the French Earl Grey Dulce De Leche. I was excited for a collaboration between N2 and Luxbite (cafe/dessert place near Chapel St) that weekend, however it ended up being a kaya flavour, and I can’t stand coconut!

The wait can be lengthy during peak times, and with all the hype, the line went well out of the door. The flavour was delicious, and although $6 seems expensive the cup was quite filling even though I shared it with my friend. For any further indication, my friend enjoyed the flavour and she usually doesn’t even like ice-cream. I know some people are doubtful over the value due to the hype, but I believe they are making new and innovative flavours!

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The fun doesn’t stop there – there’s funky art on the walls, the seating at the back is covered in fake grass and there’s a bit of a grungy garage feel. There’s also fruit plush toys sitting around for people to pose with (in their instagram photos).

What will keep people coming back is their weekly change of flavours, constantly teasing fans with photos of their ingredients on social media. I have noticed they keep some flavours for more than a week, such as the sorbet for vegans and popular flavours such as the creme brulee.

N2 Extreme Gelato on Urbanspoon

Spring St Grocer

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Before the N2 craze, Spring St Grocer was at the top of my “ice-cream to eat list”. Finally, on a lonesome adventure the other day I thought I would drop by. It is also an open store on a corner in a less adventurous part of Melbourne, on Spring St near Parliament Station.

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I perused yet another interesting list of flavours but could not bring myself that day to be adventurous. I did try a spoon of the salted caramel and chilli, but the chilli kick that comes after a few seconds was a bit weird rather than tasty to me. I was in the mood for something I knew would be delicious, so I went with a safe hazelnut.

The flavour was delicious and comforting, and at $4.50 or $4 was a generous price for something that looked small but was filling. I might even bring myself to try something a little different next time, like pear and nutella.

It lacks the novelty of N2, but provides a more homely feel as it is also a grocer. They are no frills with their gelato hidden under silver tops, and rely purely on their word of mouth and mix of classic and modern flavours.

Spring St Grocer on Urbanspoon

Edward’s Place Coffee Lounge & Bar

Last but not least, this gelato was purely bought locally to enjoy a sit by Edwardes Lake on a sunny weekend. I went for my favourite fruit, mango, and we also tried a nutty nougat flavour. I think I’m starting to see a trend in my lack of tolerance for interesting flavours, because the nougat was overbearingly nutty so I stuck to my mango, although it was a bit weak and watery.

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I have heard the The Lab, another nitrogen ice-cream place has opened on Bourke St, so that’s another one for my list. If you have any favourite flavours from these places or somewhere else, please let me know so I can give it a try!

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Tulips, Tulips Everywhere

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If you are looking for a some beautiful scenery in the Dandenong Ranges, there are numerous options. Come spring, the Tesselaar Tulip Festival is a popular destination for tourists, families, couples and anyone looking for a relaxing day. Oh, and for anyone feeling a bit photogenic.

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Each year, the tulip farm holds a festival around September-October. I also visited last year, but I really don’t remember it being as packed as it was this weekend! The carpark was enormous, yet vehicles lined the streets, disregarding the no-parking area.

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The fields are lined with vibrant colours in strips, and basically everyone is strolling down them and taking photos with their DSLRs. It’s really a sight to see and it happened to be some great, sunny weather. The fields are quite muddy – so be prepared to get your shoes dirty! To assist with this, there are various “boot scrapers” located around the venue, where you hold on to the structure, put your shoes up and, well, scrape the dirt off your shoes!

Each weekend has a theme, unluckily it was the same theme as the time I visited last year. It would have been nice to experience a different culture, but nevertheless I experienced the Dutch Weekend again and tried some Dutch donuts. Unfortunately, they were very oily, doughy and not as flavoursome as I thought. There are various stalls for ice-cream, Dutch poffertjes (pancakes), sausages, ice-cream and more, but expect a long line for the main cafe.

There was also a cute, traditional Dutch dance performance in clogs. The seniors who are part of this group are very enthusiastic and happy to perform for the crowd each year.

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There are other sections to stroll through besides the tulip fields such as the separate gardens where they grow tulips (below), cherry blossom trees, walkways of other brightly coloured flowers, and little spots for kids (a fake rainbow, some poles that make music etc).

IMAG0596Pretending to be a tulip with my short hair last year – can’t see me, can you?

As usual, there are some downsides. The main food lines are long, as are the toilet lines. The portable toilets got clogged up and on the way out, as I eyed the line of cars illegally parked and thought no one would fine that many people – behold! Two ticket inspectors making their way down the line. Perhaps the event holders need to look into this parking situation for the future.

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Besides these minute cons, I highly recommend this place if you just want to have a stroll with friends or family amongst some beautiful colours. If you are interested in going this year, make a move! They still have a Food, Jazz and Wine weekend and an Irish weekend left.

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Tesselaar Tulip Farm is located at 357-359 Monbulk Road, Silvan. Tickets are $20 adult, $17 concession and can be bought online or on the day, more information here.

Hidden treasures: Vapiano

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The beauty of Melbourne, is that it’s hard to run out of places to eat. Hidden in every nook and cranny of the CBD is something waiting for you – an indie burger place, a new pub, a hidden Asian gem.

We ventured on Flinders Lane, not our usual way (to Chin Chin), but between Queen and Elizabeth to discover a spacious Italian place. If you haven’t heard, the unique thing about their restaurant is that they provide you with a Vapiano card each and some menus. You order at various stations for pasta, pizza or drinks, you tap your card on the counter, they record your order and then cook it. This helps with that dreaded moment when splitting bills, when notes start flying, coins starts dropping and confusion ensues.

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It’s an interesting approach – you get to choose your type of pasta and see it being made fresh. This does mean a lack of service as you wait for your order, grab some cutlery and bring it back to your table. However, they do clear the tables quite frequently. The wait for the pasta is also not too long, but I observed for the pizzas that you have to take a pager.

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We were all quite satisfied with the results! I chose the “POLLO AMATRICIANA:
chicken breast, tomato and herb sauce with onion, mushroom and bacon” with fettucine as my pasta (bottom dish). The servings are generous and tasty, and I didn’t find it overpriced. They also provide you with complimentary bread if you like.

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The other refreshing aspect is the cute decor inside. The little pot plants and warm lighting make a very comfy atmosphere for a night out or catchup with friends. Another bonus: the complimentary gummy bears at the front desk where you enter/pay at the end.

A downside? The card states that if you lose it, the value that must be paid is $75! (Solution: Just don’t lose it!)

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Overall, it was a new and fun experience. I have seen some average ratings but my friends and I found the experience very enjoyable. The venue is surprisingly large and this means for a place that only takes bookings for 10 people+, that they will usually be quite equipped to fit everyone in!

Vapiano is located on the corner of Flinders Lane/Fulham Place (between Elizabeth and Queen St) and is open between 11am-11pm.

Vapiano on Urbanspoon

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