Dessert

Dex2Rose Nitrogen Gelato

Nitrogen gelato might kind of be the norm now, but I was fascinated to find out what Dex2Rose had to offer. I had the opportunity to sample some of their flavours and meet their chef Jesse, who was lovely to speak with. Continue reading

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A Roundup of My Latest Adventures

It’s been a while since I’ve provided an update on my other articles, including some non-foodie adventures. Life has been a little hectic with the film festival I work for coming up and work being fairly busy.

But this is definitely not a reason to stop writing, it merely just means I’ve written less articles than usual and I have a backlog of places I want to share with you. Check out some of the ones I’ve managed to squeeze in writing about below.

Santina’s Cakes
Here’s a little cake place we discovered in Thomastown. It’s a little hard to find dessert catch-up spots up in the far northern suburbs, especially ones that stay open late, so it was a nice find.

Santina's Cakes on Urbanspoon

Popular Desserts in Melbourne
The Masterchef craze has contributed to the growing popularity of dessert spots in Melbourne. There’s plenty of goodies to discover including the places below. More detailed blogs on the food and experience at these places will be coming in the future.

Om Nom Dessert Bar

Om Nom Dessert Bar on Urbanspoon

Burch and Purchese Sweet Studio

Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio on Urbanspoon

A Day at Lake Mountain Alpine Resort
A day in the snow on a budget – perfect for a day with kids with activities that are a bit more laid-back than your usual snowboarding or skiing.

Coburg Drive-In Food Truck Festival
There are two more Wednesdays to go for this festival, August 27th and September 24th. What’s better than some great dinner from some food trucks before a classic drive-in film?

Lake Wendouree
You may have seen my previous articles from Ballarat, well another spot to definitely check out is the beautiful regional town’s lake. It’s great for a stroll and there are several cafes alongside the lake with a nice view.

Kryal Castle
Last of all, have a little fun and immerse yourself in a medieval experience. See some shows and find yourself in a torture dungeon…it all makes for a fun day in the castle and another great outing suitable for kids.

That’s all from me for now! Don’t forget to look out for my posts later this month in relation to Mon’s Mission #1 and feel free to suggest what my next mission should be!

Sugar Hit Melbourne – Don’t Miss Out!

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’ve surely been living under a rock! Sugar Hit Melbourne returns for its third and final night this Friday, full of K-pop inspired sweets and entertainment!

20140502_203819IMG-20140603-WA0067I’ve blogged about the first event previously, a Bangkok inspired event full of delicious flavours. The photos from this post are from the second Bollywood festival held in May.

This night contrasted the initial event, after the team consisting of Luxbite, N2 Extreme Gelato, Mork Chocolate and Krimper Cafe heeded feedback and came up with a new creative, concept. A DJ replaced the softer, live band from the Bangkok night, pumping out pop songs mixed with modern Bollywood music throughout the night.

The queueing area was more distinct, marked by fluorescent tape on the floor, even with directions to leave room for the walkway. As pictured (right, with my eyes closed) the walkway was playfully shaped as a snake, whilst fairy lights mark the entrance on the otherwise quiet laneway.

In addition to this, they prepared some handout menus this time, which allowed you to contemplate what dessert sounded best as you line up. Check out the menus below for a gist of how it works!

The Luxbite and N2 corner was still a bit crowded. Despite the floor markings, when you wait for your order, there’s not a lot of room so there can be a bit of confusion. The solution is just to make sure you listen out for your name carefully over the music.

If you hate waiting, there are some “Fast Passes” up for grabs for $10, which allows you express access to the dessert station of your choice. You can buy them here, but unless you’re in a rush to get somewhere, I don’t think the wait is so bad.

I should note that I was one of the first ones there on the first night, and the second time I came after 8pm, when it was a little less busy. As you line up, you get to soak up the atmosphere and you still have the company of your friends to entertain you.

Both events even had some snacks that you could taste test in line – at the Bollywood event we were offered some curried popcorn by Wondersnack. It’s definitely different and it’s something you will be telling people about!

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Of course, you also get to try amazing desserts such as the gelato above, infused with Darjeeling tea and a tea caramel syringe whilst the tube included pistachio crumble and watermelon yogurt mousse. With creative and impressive desserts such as these, who knows what will be in store this Friday?

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Evidently, we managed to order all the Luxbite and N2 desserts (above). Luxbite and N2 often team up to create a #luxbitexn2 special dessert for the night, so keep an eye on their teasers if you can’t wait until Friday night to find out.

If we didn’t have dinner beforehand, I would have loved to try some drinks such as a classic mango lassi by Krimper or some hot chocolates. You’ll notice in the menu, you also have an option of infusing some drinks with alcohol. Not sure how this went down for Bollywood, but it was extremely popular to have a vodka Thai milk tea at the first event.

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The Bollywood atmosphere was enhanced by some performances scattered throughout the night. Some space was left in the corner for the performers and everyone really enjoyed the energetic dances.

On the side, there was also a station where you could get henna or bindis to embrace the culture. The team were even dressed up in Bollywood outfits. So prepare yourself for Friday, who knows what fun they’ll have in store to spread the Korean craze.

As Friday draws nearer, keep an eye on social media as teasers continue to pop up. Warning – it might make you salivate. Here’s a few below:

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When: Friday 6th June, 6.3pm-11pm, so make you sure you fit it in somewhere in your Friday activities!
Where: 20 Guildford Lane, Krimper Cafe, Melbourne CBD
Price: Free entry, food ranges $5-$10
Website: sugarhitmelb.com.au
But Fast Passes to skip the queue can be bought here for $10.

Krimper on Urbanspoon  LuxBite on Urbanspoon  N2 Extreme Gelato on Urbanspoon

Rue & Co

I wrote about the new eating spot Rue & Co recently on Weekendnotes but I’m yet to express my opinion on the food.

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It houses Melbourne foodie names such as St Ali (which has cafes in North and South Melbourne), Masterchef George Calombaris’ Greek venture, Jimmy Grants, and Kong, a taste of Chin Chin’s Chris Lucas’ yet-to-open restaurant.

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You’ve probably heard all about it by now, but it also contains a large work of art by street artist RONE (the portrait in the first picture), whilst fairy lights and projections add to the beauty at night.
20140502_175028After examining the menus, we felt spoilt for choice. Lucky we had a group of five or so, which means we could all get something different.

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As a massive lover of Chin Chin, I was eager to try Kong (menu above), influenced by Korean and Japanese food. The buns looked a little small and not too interesting as we peered over at other peoples’ meals. One friend chose the roast pork belly kong bo ssam (below). We weren’t entirely sure what it was, but the description says it is served with kimchi, ssam jang (spicy sauce) and butter lettuce ($14). We also thought it’s hard to go wrong with pork belly.

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Unfortunately it was a bit underwhelming for $14. The sauce was light and doesn’t add much flavour, and I’m not sure what the difference between lettuce and butter lettuce is, as it tasted fairly normal.

I also ordered a ssam roti roll with BBQ lemon and gochujang chicken with slaw, Korean chilli paste and zucchini kimchi ($12). This was like a normal wrap in roti bread with a touch of spice. It’s possible I’ve set my expectations too high because of Chin Chin, but I’d be happy to try the restaurant when it opens in Richmond and its full menu before I completely write it off.

Kong on Urbanspoon
Meanwhile, my friends were lining up at Jimmy Grants for the 200g slow roasted lamb shoulder ($18.50, below), served with pita bread and tzatziki sauce. I’ve heard a lot about Jimmy Grants but never had the chance to drop by the original restaurant, so this location seemed convenient.

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They also bought a serve of chips with garlic, feta and oregano ($7, above), which were nice whilst the lamb was standard, but serving size seems a bit small for $18.50.

I preferred the souvlaki, Mr. Papadopoulos ($9.50, below), which another friend ordered. It contained lamb, mustard aioli, chips, onions and parsley. This was surprisingly the best thing I tried that night – even my friend who doesn’t like Greek food enjoyed it too.
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Jimmy Grant's on Urbanspoon

After this I was still hungry so it was time for round two! After much debate, we went with a shroom burger with caramelised onion and thyme from St Ali’s Church of Secular Coffee with chips ($12, below right). It’s a good option for vegetarians as the mushroom is large and juicy.

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My friend didn’t realise the omission of the word ‘meat’ so was a bit disappointed haha, but I guess for non-vegetarians there are more exciting burgers. Someone on my Instagram recommended the soul searching burger, which contains kimchi and shrimp with spicy mayonnaise.

The St Ali menu has changed slightly after its initial opening from the menu below, thus now each day has a special burger and some names may have changed.
Whilst my friends went to get our burger, curiosity took the better of me and I went to try some of Jimmy Grants’ dim sims ($7.50 for 3 pieces). I’d seen many people express their love for these on Instagram, but for my friends it was a bit odd with ingredients such as peas inside. *A lovely reader has pointed out these are in fact capers not peas. Not that odd, however still not entirely to my taste. The dim sims contain cabbage, chicken, coriander and capers!

I was indifferent, but they didn’t live up to all the hype I’d observed and I would choose my sister’s homemade dim sims any day!

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We didn’t have any dessert as we headed off to Sugar Hit Melbourne – Bollywood that night.

This just meant I found an excuse to drop by one morning before work. The only thing open at this time is St Ali and although it was 10am, a long line of corporates and everyday Melburnians greeted me (below).

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As I overheard someone tell his colleague, “Yeah that’s what you do in Melbourne. Coffee.”

St Ali has some of the best baristas in the world, so why not drop by? I can concur my latte was great and I rarely like lattes without a hint of flavour. I eyed the interesting profiteroles on the menu last time so I bought a mixed pack of six to share with colleagues ($3 each) on this occasion.

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The chocolate and hazelnut was great, with a little hazelnut on top, chocolate cream inside and a bit of a crumbly texture akin to a cookie and different to your normal profiteroles.

The salted caramel was great too, with the salty hint not too strong. I can’t decide which one I liked more!

Church of Secular Coffee on Urbanspoon

Overall, the food did not wow me as much as I’d think these big names would. Maybe I didn’t try the right items, but I think it’s the atmosphere and beauty of Rue & Co that really draws you in.

Rue & Co is open from 7am until late every day and is located at 80 Collins St, Melbourne CBD.

Insiders of the Month: May

If you haven’t seen, I’ll be featuring recommendations from people each month. The plan was to feature one recommendation, but now I’ve realised a compilation would be better, so my readers can have the same variety of options as me! Check out my Insiders below!

Kay has recommended Zombie Burger in St Kilda as it has yummy burgers! Although I work in St Kilda, it’s not close enough for me to visit on lunch but it’s definitely on the to-go list.

Zombie Burger on Urbanspoon

Jennie has suggested Camy Shangai Dumpling in Chinatown. You pay $15 for All You Can Eat with no time limit. You need at least five people to have All You Can Eat and they just keep on bringing out dishes!

Camy Shanghai Dumpling on Urbanspoon 20140507_190246 Banoiboy can’t contain his love for Jinda Thai, all he can say is, “Jinda Jinda Jinda!” Luckily Jinda happens to be on my train line. I managed to try it yesterday night, and it’s so popular as of late I was lucky enough to receive dish recommendations from Never Too Sweet and I Eat Therefore I Am. A post will be coming on it shortly!

Jinda Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

I would love to mention a few more but I also would like to try them out myself and provide everyone with a review. Keep recommending me places by emailing me or commenting on my blog/social media, and it might be featured next month! This month’s features will be up on the side bar of my blog soon. In the meantime, here’s a roundup of some of my latest articles on my other websites: Rue & Co A new eating spot on the Paris end of Collins St. How can you resist the combination of St Ali cafe, Masterchef George Calombaris’ Jimmy Grants and Chin Chin’s head man, Chris Lucas, with a taste of his new Korean restaurant Kong. I’ll probably be writing more of a review on the food soon, but for now click here to read more on the place itself!

American Restaurants in Melbourne
Similarly I’ve written about some of these restaurants before, but if you’d like a little summary and to see more recommendations from my Weekendnotes readers, read on!

Round She Goes Preloved Fashion Market, Box Hill After the last amazing event in Coburg, this unique market will have its next round at Box Hill. The lovely founder Emma personally approves each stall so the market is full of quality and variety. For more, click here! Ice Hockey
If you’ve had a taste of this intense sport in North America, well it’s now coming on tour to Australia. Witness a match exhibiting the serious rivalry between USA and Canada and their iconic sport at Rod Laver Arena. Read the article here.

The trailer is having some issues in my article, but for now you can check it out here:

There are more articles not listed here, so check out my Weekendnotes and Livlicious profiles if you’re interested. Thanks for all the support in the past months. I’m currently ranked in the top 25 writers on Weekendnotes whilst this blog is continously growing, reaching new personal bests for site visits this month!

Skinny Dippa Frozen Yogurt

When you think of frozen yogurt, you usually imagine a simple, bright shop. It might be a small stop along a busy street, or part of a food court and so forth. But when it comes to Skinny Dippa Frozen Yogurt, your ideas will be confronted when you see a spacious interior, outdoor seats and a very different concept.
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What really impressed me was the design of the shop and the idea and use of the skinny dipping analogy. This analogy extended into a beach theme, hence the wooden houses bearing the flavours and a little “Beach Closed” sign right at the back of the flavour room (below).
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The place had a similar layout to other frozen yogurt places such as Goyogo, with the flavours at the back, toppings along the side of the shop, then ending with where you weigh and pay.

20140425_141731 Yet simultaneously the atmosphere felt so different. The floorboards and potplants just provided a bit more of a homely feel, and it felt more like a cafe rather than a quick froyo place where you stop by. The skinny dipping idea continued with the sign above, and I enjoyed the naming of their sizes, ranging from snack (225g) to famished (600g). Having just had lunch, I went for a peckish (340g).

The beach house design in the flavour room was very cute, as well as the hanging board signs. Such small details, but it really helps to differentiate Skinny Dippa from other places. The staff were kind enough to let us taste test the flavours before committing to a whole cup.

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The burnt caramel is one of their signature flavours. Curiously, I tried it and found it not to be that much different. But after a few seconds my friend and I went, “Ohhhhh,” when the burnt aftertaste kicked in. It was a strange sensation but amazing as to how these flavours are created.

The toffee macadamia tasted exactly as I expected but it was catered to vegans so I could taste the undertones of soy (although it’s not that strong). In contrast, the peanut butter biscotti had a strong taste of peanut butter so I’d recommend it to peanut butter lovers!

The natural uses stevia, a natural sweetener instead of sugar and you can taste a slight difference – somehow the yogurt just feels that touch more natural. In the end, burnt caramel really grew on us so I chose that along with the natural flavour.

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The next hard choice was choosing the toppings. Once again, their adorable plants and blackboard signs continued a subtle, playful beach theme. I liked the consistency of this theme and how it worked so well throughout. Their toppings ranged from fresh fruits, to granola and of course juicy balls (boba).

I couldn’t resist the lychee boba (below), and by the looks of the bowl, a lot of other people couldn’t too. I also got the mango whilst my friend decided to have well…all of them.

20140425_142752 After this I debated whether to get oreos as I usually do, but got swayed by the cheesecake pieces instead! I love having the crumbly cheesecake base mixed in with my yogurt, and the yogurt also helps to dampen the richness of the cheesecake.

My cup (bottom left) was full to the brim of natural and burnt caramel, whilst my friend got a few more flavours to taste a bit of everything, including raspberry, coconut and vanilla bean. The sign below stated they use real flavours, such as real raspberries and coconut, and my friend found this evident in these flavours.

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He even thought the raspberry was a bit sour like real raspberries. I think it’s great that you can taste the difference in their flavours, knowing that they are more natural and healthier without ingredients such as sugar.

Skinny Dippa charges $2.80 per 100g, and then you can sit at their tables, which exhibit their fun design. The plants kind of remind you of shrubs by the coast whilst the boards on the wall are like your swinging bathing box doors.

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Another cute aspect of their marketing is that they are running a competition for schools, whereby the school with the most receipts for frozen yogurt will win free yogurt for their school for one day. There was a wall of jars for each school. I observed some families putting their receipts in the jars, demonstrating that this is a great incentive to encourage families to have a healthier option.
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Located on Chapel St, Skinny Dippa faces a bit of competition but I believe their concept and natural flavours makes them stand out from the crowd. They seemed to attract a reasonable crowd on a public holiday, and the atmosphere really entices you come in and enjoy the whole theme.

Skinny Dippa Frozen Yogurt is located at 121 Chapel St, Windsor and is open daily between 1pm-10.30pm.

Skinny Dippa Frozen Yogurt on Urbanspoon

*Mon’s Adventures was invited as a guest of Skinny Dippa Frozen Yogurt

Heirloom

In the mood for Japanese, but something different from your standard dons and bentos, I decided to try Heirloom, a bit of a higher-class and modern take on Japanese cuisine. When you pass it on Bourke St, you won’t realise it’s Japanese and might mistake it for an upper class bar.

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Well, perhaps it is, but with a strong focus on Japanese food and drinks. The service was prompt and faultless. Our waitress did not have the best English skills but she was attentive and willing to help. The overwhelming part was when she provided us with about five different menus. This might be an area that they want to brush up in. One standard booklet would be sufficient rather than separate sheets with her explanation of what each one was.

You’re probably curious as to what they were – they included small and large tapas, some degustation courses, sushi degustation, bar food and their drinks menu. She also pulled a sheet out of her pocket and started to recite the specials. It might be helpful to display this somewhere for forgetful minds like us!

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After pondering over the many menus and finalising our order, I realised I might want some greens. So our first dish we received was the tofu salad (above). I feel their menu is quite more extensive than their current menus online. I can’t remember prices but this dish was fairly cheap at $10 or less.

The dressing was light and the tofu chunks were large and cold. Thus the tofu was understandably plain but I found it the perfect dish to have on the side, especially to balance out any accidental tasting of wasabi. My friend on the other hand wasn’t a big fan. Usually, I tend to like cooked tofu in nice sauces, but this did the trick as a healthy side dish.

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The wasabi happened to be in our order of salmon sushi aburi shio nigri (top, $7.50 per 2 pieces). This means the salmon is slightly grilled and I really enjoy that Japanese style of cooking, which provides a subtle smoky feel. There were bits of wasabi hidden underneath the salmon. I know they are making it traditional but perhaps they should ask about it in the future, as I know a lot of people who prefer no wasabi (yes we’re weak).

I also ordered a drink but not wanting to splurge on a cocktail, I noticed that they had an offer of shochu (Japanese spirit) mixed with various fruity flavours and soda for $9. I picked the lychee flavour and both my friend and I enjoyed it, along with an actual lychee.

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Next up were the sliders. I was tempted to have these after seeing another friend’s photos. I think they were only $5 each or so. We had the ebikatsu (fried and crumbed prawn, left) and pork belly (right). They were both so delicious that we couldn’t quite figure out which one was our favourite. They are both complimented by shreds of slaw and their own, rich sauces in soft brioche buns. There’s not too much of anything and the sizes are perfect for a non-messy fare.

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After trying the nigiri sushi with the salmon on top, we went for the soft shell crab sushi roll (above, $14 for 4 pieces). Each end seemed to have a great deal of crab, whereas the middle pieces seemed to only have avocado and a tiny piece of crab. This wasn’t too special and I preferred the nigiri.

In addition, I almost we forgot we had the wagyu kaburi skewer ($4 for about 3-4 pieces of scotch fillet). By itself, the skewer is pretty plain. For skewers I would try somewhere like Pabu Grill and Sake, as it’s more of their specialty.

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We managed to remember one of the specials, so we ordered the teriyaki salmon ($18). It was served with orange/mandarin pieces, which I found a bit weird drizzled in teriyaki sauce. However, I really enjoyed the sauce, which seemed to have an extra sweet kick from the mandarins, and the salmon was cooked perfectly.

These dishes didn’t exactly leave us hungry or full so we dived in for one last dish – dessert. We went with the Houji tea sticky date pudding (below, $13). This included caramel apple pieces, vanilla ice cream, (Japanese) nikka whisky caramel sauce topped with a sort of biscuit. The staff were happy to provide the whisky sauce on the side, so my friend wouldn’t need to avoid the alcohol.

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The sauce had a strong taste of whisky. I enjoyed it as it still had a base of caramel, but I couldn’t have too much of it, otherwise it felt too rich and strong. I enjoyed the addition of the biscuit on top to provide some crunchier texture and to lessen the sweetness of the dish. The Houji tea (a roasted green tea) made the sticky date a bit drier but with an interesting taste, so the ice-cream and sauce provide the needed cover, and I think it was an innovative take on the classic dessert.

20140411_194519Overall, Heirloom really delivers the service and food for a good night. If you go by your instincts and order what sounds good you’ll most likely be fine. The lights provide a great setting whilst they project anime on a screen in the distance. Service is attentive and swift, so I feel like it’s always going to be a place where you know you will be looked after. It’s not the cheapest but we paid less than $50 per person, so I feel like it’s a reasonable price for the quality.

Heirloom is located at 131 Bourke St, Melbourne CBD. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They serve a buffet breakfast (who knew!) Mon-Fri 7-10am and 7.30-10.30am on weekends.

They have daily specials for lunch, Mon-Fri 12-3pm and serve bar food 3-6pm. Finally, they serve dinner 6pm-10pm on weekdays and 6pm-10.30pm on weekends. Check out their menus here, but as I mentioned I think they have more items than this now.

Heirloom on Urbanspoon