Tag Archives: roadtrips

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!

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The Lane & The Forge Pizzeria

On a completely off note, doesn’t that sound like a dramatic blog post title? Like the name of a fantasy novel, only more like a parody of it…

Anyway, I recently visited Ballarat and explored all there is to do outside of Sovereign Hill. A part of that included wandering the historic town and it led me to the cafe, The Lane.

20140531_111235It’s part of the George Hotel and what drew me in was its spacious layout, its wall of green foliage and its mural at the back.
20140531_122904I sat right in this corner to admire the artwork whilst I waited for my iced coffee. It was quite expensive at $8.50 and I wondered whether it was a result of the tourism of the town or whether the hotel itself was costly.
20140531_103538 copyI like how it was presented in an old fashioned mug. It’s also nice that they give you a proper straw in addition to the striped one for presentation, as it tends to taste a bit like soggy paper.

There wasn’t anything special about it for $8.50 but I enjoyed the serene feeling that emanates from the lovely artwork. You can also get free wi-fi, which is always a plus!

The Lane is located at 27 Lydiard St North, Ballarat. They are open 7am until late on weekdays and 8am until late on weekends.

The Lane on Urbanspoon

Next up was a highly rated and recommended pizza place, The Forge Pizzeria. It appears they have two locations, thus I’ll clarify that I visited the branch on Armstrong St.
20140531_135820It wasn’t extremely busy but seemed steady enough. The seating area is vast and lengthy, so you don’t feel too close to anyone.

20140531_134041Once again the rustic and historic aspects of Ballarat shone through, this time with this music box-like tin for our utensils.
20140531_135829With a fireplace, wood-fired ovens and earthy brown brick walls, this place does not attempt to be something modern, but fits in nicely to Ballarat’s tapestry of vintage spots and its remnants of the mining era.
20140531_140106 20140531_140058 copyThe portraits below were probably the only additional elements to the decor, and they seemed to embrace the multiculturalism of Australia by placing various cultures in a Ballarat background. With the art gallery just a street away, Ballarat seems to be home to quite a bit of historic Australian art.

20140531_140127Service was adequate enough, although with large places sometimes it’s hard to catch the attention of a waitress. They helpfully explained to us the different sizes of pizza and roughly how many pieces they would have.
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Not a fan of pizza, my friend went for a fettuccini carbonara ($14, small) pasta. I’d probably advise against pasta for a place with only three pasta dishes on their menu. The pasta was too cheesy, although I know that’s the nature of the dish, it wasn’t the pleasant sort of flavour. It was difficult to stomach so we didn’t finish it.
20140531_140904The remainder of the menu is, of course, pizza, so we ordered a few to share. The above was the Butchers, with bacon, sausage, shaved ham, salami, mozzarella, tomato and rosemary ($19).

Overall, what I like about the pizza is the soft, doughy crust. No frills such as cheeseburger crusts but not a hard crunchy crust either – just right.

20140531_140955Besides that, the toppings sounded great on paper but nothing really stood out. For some pizzas, such as the pulled pork ($21, above), the cheese had a strong and unique taste that didn’t suit us. It’s possibly because we aren’t accustomed to strong European cheeses.

Upon investigation, the ingredients include sage, mozzarella, gorgonzola dolce, garlic, green apple coleslaw and Flying Brick cider dressing – I suspect we couldn’t appreciate the gorgonzola dolce, a type of blue cheese.

20140531_140940Another was the Blacksmith, with premium pork sausage, mozzarella, mushroom, garlic, parsley ($19, above). The sausage was tasty and the pizza didn’t seem to have any little quirks that we didn’t like.

Our friend also recommended the Shearer’s pizza, a lamb and goat’s cheese pizza ($22, below, top left corner), which the boys enjoyed as it tasted “like a kebab on a pizza”. This and the Blacksmith were probably the most agreeable pizzas for us.
20140531_141000They had a special that day, which was a chilli meatball pizza of Habanero chilli meatballs, San Marzano tomato, basil, buffalo mozzarella, Grana Padano & salsa verde (below). The meatballs gave a chilli aftertaste after a few seconds, but we were a bit put off by the fact that the greens (salsa verde?) were not spread out on the pizza, but placed in lazy looking clumps.
20140531_141155This place has a great variety of pizza, however I can’t say it’s amazing as everyone makes it out to be. The pizzas sounded different and interesting but the results tasted a bit odd. Maybe it’s true to Italian culture with its use of various cheeses, but I can’t really say. Let me know your thoughts in the comments if you’ve been here!

The Forge Pizzeria is located at 14 Armstrong St North, Ballarat and is open 12-10pm seven days a week. See their menu here.

For other activities in Ballarat, don’t forget to check out my Weekendnotes article!

The Forge Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Where to Relax, Read and Dine

If you want to know where to dine with some amazing views, what’s a relaxing place to enjoy a read or what’s on next weekend, my latest Weekendnotes articles will tell you all that. Simply click the links below or visit here. You can even show me your support by clicking “Like” or “Subscribe to Monique N” in the left hand corner of that page!

Philippine Fiesta 2013: article//website

If you didn’t get enough of Filo culture in my last post, did you know that each year there is a Philippine Fiesta in Melbourne? You can witness some amazing cultural performances, from singing to dance and wrestling matches. Meanwhile, you can venture through all the food stores and sample their amazing BBQ dishes.

If you look out, some Filipino groceries are selling presale tickets to the event or you can just rock up on the day!

Top Places to Read a Book in Melbourne: article

Need I say more? Sometimes, you just want to enjoy your latest novel and block out everything else. However, it’s always nice to do so in a peaceful atmosphere, whether it’s a beach or a park. Read my article for my favourite spots, including a little sneaky treat at the end.

Melbourne Dining Spots with a View: article

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Here you will find some conventional places that you may have heard of, within the greenery of areas such as the Yarra Valley and the Dandenong Ranges. If you’re wondering what will be nice for someone’s next big occasion, if you want to explore or if you simply just want to treat yourself, these places are perfect to drop by!

Come Away With Me

If you’re looking for a mini-getaway from Melbourne, check out some of my latest Weekendnotes articles for some ideas of how to escape. Click titles/pictures for links to my articles!

Picture This Ballooning: 
Hot air ballooning and breakfast in Yarra Valley

Mazes in Victoria
Getting lost in various mazes in Mornington Peninsula

Horse Riding
Learning to ride horses in the bush and on the beach

Treasure Hunt in Daylesford

Apologies in advance everyone, I’m changing jobs so I’m not sure how much time I will have for the blog. I will try my best to keep it going, I have some drafts and ideas already floating around, so never fear!

In the meantime, keep up to date with my Weekendnotes posts! I’ve just written about a little treasure that I completed around Lake Daylesford, which was quite beautiful that day – hope you enjoy!

Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice-Creamery

After discovering the existence of Yarra Valley Chocolaterie, and that it was not too far away (about forty minutes for me), I could not miss the opportunity to give it a try.

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We managed to visit on ANZAC Day, thus the place was bustling with children for the public holiday. Although busy, we managed to find seating quickly after taking some free chocolate (milk, dark and white) from three large bowls at the entrance.

Luckily for us, the cafe was launching their breakfast menu, perfect for a morning visit if you don’t feel like ice-cream for breakfast haha. As curious as I was about the chocolate, lamb, mint and onion sausages…. I went for the breakfast wrap with bacon, lettuce, eggs, BBQ sauce and aioli ($16.50).  I found it very refreshing and healthy with the lettuce, compared to some at other cafes such as Green Refectory, where it was very cheesy. My friend ordered the creamy mushrooms ($15.50) with sourdough, which were quite flavoursome with its herby sauce, but I feel it could have had more mushrooms. It surprisingly didn’t take long despite being so busy, so I was impressed by their ability to cope on busy days, especially with a new menu.

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I also ordered a “real hot chocolate”, which came with frothy milk with chocolate flakes, a chocolate shot and a whisk to mix it together. The idea of mixing your own hot chocolate, as I have experienced in places like Lindt Cafe, is always fun.

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Afterwards, we walked around the shop and I was amazed as to how many things you can make out of chocolate, from frogs to tennis balls. There was also the obligatory window where you can see the chocolatiers creating the delicious sweets.

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Before we left, I eyed the special chocolate display and discovered something that was surely made for me – Mango Tango: Fresh mango pulp in a creamy white chocolate ganache in white chocolate (below, second from the right). This combined my favourite chocolate with my favourite fruit – and one bite was heaven! Other flavours included champagne and apple cider.

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The location of Yarra Valley Chocolaterie also holds some scenic and luscious green views. It’s child-friendly with colouring sheets in the outdoor seating area, and there are balls scattered throughout the lawn, if the kids are in the mood for a kick. I would love to go back to indulge in more of the desserts and ice-cream (and mango tango chocolates), as the sundaes and chocolate fondue sound irresistible.

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If you’re interested in visiting soon, they are having a “Strawberry Affair” from Oct 14-31, featuring chocolate-coated strawberries and one-off strawberry sundaes and ice-creams.

Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice-Creamery  is open 9am-5pm everyday (except Christmas), and is located at 35 Old Healesville Rd, (corner Melba Highway), Yarra Glen. If interested, you can view their latest menu here.

Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery on Urbanspoon

Weekendnotes Update

Hello dear readers! Just an update, I had to delete my Point Nepean and Mt Macedon posts, as they appear on Weekendnotes Melbourne. You can still view them on the links! (Click the pics/links).

From now on more of my roadtrip posts will be on Weekendnotes and more of my food-related ones on here, however there will still be a mix on both depending on what articles already existed on Weekendnotes. Don’t worry, I will keep posting links to the Weekendnotes articles on here too! Thanks for all the support, I’ve really been amazed by everyone’s kind words.

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