Dessert

Passiontree Velvet, Macquarie Park

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Now that I’m back in Sydney, I’m retracing all the places I’ve missed since I left, all the new restaurants, cafes and shops. Finally getting a chance to sample all the food that inspired those drool worthy pictures that covered my Instagram feed over the years.

One place that has been showing up again and again is Macquarie Park. Back when I was in university, no one wanted to go to Macquarie University. It was out of the way and everything around it kind of sucked. There was nothing nearby to do or eat. It was just you, your university buildings and lots and lots of trees. Nothing against trees, but you know, you can’t eat em.

Well after a few short years, it looks like that has all changed. It seems like all the new hotness is opening up in Macquarie Park. The latest brands, exclusive stores and amazing restaurants. Because of that, naturally during my first week back in Sydney, I decided to pay Macquarie Park a visit. I was actually keen to try out KIN by us, which is just around the corner from the shopping centre. However, as it was a public holiday they were closed. I probably should have checked that before hand but as per usual, I didn’t. Luckily for me, there was still plenty of goodness on offer, and in particular Passiontree Velvet.

I wasn’t really looking out for this place. I kind of just stumbled on it while lost in Macquarie Centre. This is the first shopping centre that I’ve been to that has half floors. And the difference between a half floor and a full floor is five steps or a small ramp so needless to say, navigating this place sucks. So while I was wandering around looking for Aqua S, somewhere near the Aldi and the Coles, I stumbled across an island that happened to be Passiontree Velvet. To be honest, at the time I wasn’t really looking for it, but I was definitely happy to see it!

Passiontree Velvet is another fantastic export from Brisbane. Now all we need is MOS Burger to finally get exported! This modern looking cafe serves coffees, tea, light lunch meals and cakes. It’s not your typical cafe like The Coffee Club or the like, instead here, you’ll find croque monsieurs, baguettes and macarons, so it’s decidedly French. You can even settle here for a simple high tea with scones and Devonshire cream or the full deal with petit fours and ribbon sandwiches; in hindsight maybe Euro is more appropriate as opposed to French.

But what took my fancy were the cakes. Passiontree Velvet’s cabinets are filled with multiple scrumptious looking cakes, pastries and eclairs. Everything from your classics to more modern and fancy one.

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Instead of lunch, I decided to do the smart thing, and let cake be my lunch! For once, I decided to opt for some of the classics, instead of going for one of the crazy looking ones, like the log which looked like a forest with grass and green moss. Instead, here I went for the Pistachio and berry log ($7.50).

This was a simple treat but a tasty one. An airy and light eclair shell which had a really nice and strong eggy flavour to it, filled with a creamy but rather mild pistachio and nutty almond flavoured custard like fulling. This crispy but doughy like treat was covered in a pistachio and white chocolate which reinforced the nutty flavour of the pistachio and added that much needed sweetness that wasn’t really present in the custard filling. Finally there were a couple of strawberries and blueberries which added that contrasting sourness and really brought this whole pastry together.

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Every time I go to a patisserie, I always try to get a Lemon tart ($7.50). 1) because it’s one of my favourite pastries and 2) because it’s an absolute classic and any place that can’t do a solid lemon tart worries me. That is, I’ll think twice before trying something else there.

Luckily, that was not the case here. This lemon tart from Passiontree Velvet hit the spot perfectly. A perfectly smooth lemon curd with that strong citrus tang and that contrasting sweetness which cut right through it. This was paired with a rich and buttery tart and a sweet and fluffy meringue. This was the perfect balance between sweet, acidic tang and rich pastry.

There wasn’t anything special about this lemon tart but as a classic, its still the perfect treat after a long day with a strong cup of tea, not that I had a cup of tea or a long day, I guess. I mean, I was just shopping, which most people consider leisure or entertainment. But for me, thats a big day!

I’m a little disappointed I only sampled two desserts from Passiontree Velvet. Everything in their dessert cabinet, from the cakes to the macarons, looked so scrumptious. After sampling these two for myself, I think I might be dropping by again in the future for another cake or two!

Passiontree Velvet

Macquarie Centre, North Ryde

Website: passiontreevelvet.com

Facebook: facebook.com/passiontreevelvet/

Instagram: @PassiontreeVelvet

Opening hours:

Monday to Wednesday and Friday

9:30am to 6:00pm

Thursday

9:30am to 9:00pm

Saturday

9:00am to 6:00pm

Sunday

10:00am to 6:00pm

Passiontree Velvet Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Churros King, Braddon

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I love this place. Ever since I first sampled the goodness from this rather unassuming food truck (well, I guess its more of a cart but whatever) many many months ago, I’ve been keen to share this hidden churro gem with anyone who is willing to listen. Outside of this blog, there aren’t many, so I figure it is time to write up this post and try and spread the love for the Churros King!

The Churros King is located in The Hamlet, right to the side of the entrance as you walk in. It’s a simple set up with nothing more than a frier, two dipping bowls and a dough squeezing machine. On most nights, there’s just the owner, pumping out freshly made churros to order and on busier nights, you’ll find another person helping out. I’m not 100% sure when the Churros King is open, it kind of seems dependant on the weather but over a good weekend, you’ll find the Churros King open from Thursday to Sunday, from about after work hours till pretty late at night, but not any later than anything else at The Hamlet. On rainy and super cold weekends, sometimes the Churros King decides not to turn up at all, which is fair enough. He is kind of just out there in the cold all by himself, with no cover and next to no customers anyway since no one seems to go out when the weather is terrible. But with spring just starting, I’m sure we will see more of the Churros King.

The offer at the Churros King is simple. There is only one thing on the menu, churros. You can either get one for $2 or 6 for $10. For a little bit of variety, you can pick between a dark chocolate or caramel sauce dipping. You won’t find anything else here at the Churros King, no drinks, snacks or anything else, just plenty of glorious golden sticks of fried goodness. Normally, I would want some water and what not but here it’s not too problematic, you can always grab what you need at one of the other awesome food trucks at The Hamlet, like BrodDogs, the Spit Shack, Mr Papa etc.

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So what makes these Churros (6 for $10, half dark chocolate, half caramel sauce) at the Churros King so good? Absolutely everything! I’ve never had a churros this good, either in Canberra or in Sydney. Okay, I haven’t been to Spain but these are the best you’re going to get around here and in my infinite geographical naïveté, I reckon they could give Spain a ran for their money too. Nevertheless, forget San Churro, forget Guzman y Gomez or any other place that offers churros, if you want some of that deep fried goodness coated in cinnamon sugar, this is the place to be.

The churros at the Churros King are super light and extremely airy. They’re fried to the sweet spot, where the churros snaps in half with a crackle as you bend it but aren’t too crunchy where it takes away from the fluffiness. You won’t find a heavy, dense and rubbery churro that leaves you disappointed and chewing like no tomorrow. At the Churros King, instead you’ll just find the perfect combination of fried dough and sweetness from the cinnamon sugar and dipping sauce.

Outside of the perfectly cooked churro, you can choose to dip your churros into a dark chocolate or caramel sauce. Personally, I like the dark chocolate as I find it adds a nice bitter contrast to the sweetness of the cinnamon sugar. If you’re a fan of caramel and a massive sweet tooth, I’m sure the caramel sauce will hit the spot for you. Both sauces are high quality and extremely well made, you’ll find no cheap substitutes here. My only qualm about these churros and its a pretty minor one, is the amount of dipping sauce you get. The crew at the Churros King, dunk the churros into the dipping sauce of your choice. Unfortunately, you only end up with about a quarter of your churros smothered in chocolate or caramel sauce and honestly, I want more!

Finally, my favourite part about these churros and what makes it stand out from all the rest? The flavour. I couldn’t work it out at first but after many many ‘tests’, I think there’s a hint of citrus to the churros. After every bite, you get this uplifting citrus note at the end. To me, this is what defines the churros at the Churros King. It takes it from a heavy and dense dessert to something light and almost snack like that you can eat hundreds of. Well, I can.

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Here is an action shot of a churros in the making. Pretty cool right?! Everything made right in front of you and served to you super warm. I’m normally not a fan of places that call themselves ‘the best x ever’ or ‘winners of x award’, they never quite meet expectations but these churros, they deserve the title of king for me.

Its a simple set up, with a simple product and with just a few ingredients and tools, the crew at the Churros Kings gives you something absolutely amazing. The perfect snack on the way home after a filling dinner in the city or Braddon. The perfect snack to end the night.

If you haven’t had the churros at Churros King and you’re a fan of churros or just desserts, these are a must. I know these pictures aren’t amazing but these definitely taste better than they look. There are a couple of things in the world of food that will never really photograph well, one being anything in a roll, like a kebab, another one is these churros wrapped in some baking paper. That and my horrible photography and composition skills. Don’t let my descriptions, writing or pictures put you off. You’ve got to try these.

Churros King

16 Lonsdale Street, Braddon

Opening hours:

Thursday to Sunday

6:00pm to 11:00pm

Churros King Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Belly Bao, Chinatown

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This is a sad and yet wonderful story of missed opportunities and new found loves. To put that all into perspective, it’s really about a restaurant closing that I never got to try, visit or see. I can write like a real writer sometimes. Sometimes. Anyway, so last week we ate at Belly Bao, which is situated in the Good God Small Club, down on, ah, well it’s near the Three Wise Monkeys Bar.

The sad part of this tale is that, as you know, I’m a fiend for all things American and previously at Good God there was a lovely little (or so I hear) establishment called The Dip. The Dip specialised in amazing hot dogs, buffalo wings and other awesome American things. My sister swore by that place and she told me to go there constantly, yet I never listened. Sadly, sometime last year The Dip closed without me ever having a taste of its hot doggy goodness. This event has left a void in my heart that I’m sure I’ll never fill. That’s the sad bit. On a more positive note, the empty space in Good God (and my heart) has been lovingly filled by an entirely different kind of meat in a bun concoction, Belly Bao!

Belly Bao specialises in those delightful Taiwanese treats, the bao. To me, a bao is essentially a sidewards taco made out of the white stuff you get on the outside of a pork bun, which is then usually filled with slow cooked pork. My first experience with a bao was at Ippudo, in the Westfield food court on Pitt Street. Since then, I’ve pretty much been on the lookout for these little gems because I freaking love these things.

We ended up Belly Bao on a Friday night and the first thing that we noticed (outside of the cool cave-like decor) was that there weren’t really that many tables at all, and take-away didn’t seem to be an option. With this in mind we did what any good person would do in an overfilled food court. That is, we stood around near tables of people who had empty plates in front of them, and tried to mentally will them into leaving. And it worked!

I hope you like bao’s, because that’s essentially all we ordered!

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First up, the classic, the Slow braised pork belly bao ($6.50) with pickled mustard greens, coriander, crushed peanuts and kewpie mayo. This is the one that started it all. The braised pork belly bao from Ippudo is what made me fall in love with these things in the first place and the one here at Belly Bao is no different. In fact, it makes me love them even more! So I guess I should get something out of the way first. I personally enjoy the baos here at Belly Bao more than the ones I’ve had at Ippudo, which I guess shouldn’t be a massive surprise to most. In the end of the day, Belly Bao does specialise in baos hence, they really are amazing! And I still do love the ramens at Ippudo.

The braised pork in the middle of this bao is extremely soft and tender, and practically falls apart as you eat it. If you look at the picture above you can see that there’s a ton of fat on this piece of pork, and that the pork itself is cut extremely thick. These are both good things. I’ve had a ton of bao’s in my life and if a place skimps on the pork then it’s dead to me. Belly Bao definitely did not skimp on the pork. A lot of people out there might be thinking “ew that’s so much fat” and to be honest it is a lot, but you have to trust me on this one, the fat makes the dish. It needs to be there. Although the fat is super important, the pork is easily the star attraction of this dish. The sides also do a great job of ensuring that the pork doesn’t become too much but onwards to the most important element. The pork is actually quite sweet due to the sauce that it was simmered in, and the crushed peanuts add some contrasting crunchy flavour as well as some saltiness. The pickled greens cut right through the richness of the meat and it’s what keeps this bao enjoyable the entire way through.

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Secondly, here is the Soft shell crab bao ($7.50) with watercress, chilli aioli and lemon vinaigrette. Like with the pork belly bao, this was absolutely fantastic. It was just punches of flavour left, right and centre. You have the strong and rich flavour of the crab, with is enhanced by the chilli aioli which is full of flavour and gives every bite a little kick but nothing too spicy or unbearable. Of course, this along would have been too overpowering and super sicken real quick. Hence, this is where the watercress and lemon vinaigrette comes in. Both these elements, cut right through the richness of the crab and the creaminess of the aioli, with a hint of bitterness from the watercress and a lovely citrus zest from the lemon vinaigrette. Together these four things bring perfect flavour and balance to eat bite.

I just realised that I haven’t spoken about the bao skin yet! I guess normally wouldn’t, since its a pretty straight forward and basic element to the overall bao but here at Belly Bao, I think their bao skins deserve a special mention — because they’re amazing! I’ve had my fair share of baos, these by far have been the best skins. They were super fluffy, moist and had just a hint of sweetness to them. But the thing that makes these skins the standard out, is the size or portion. The crew at Belly Bao have balance these perfectly, ensuring that the denseness of the bao skin doesn’t overpower and take away from the flavour of the fillings. I know it sounds stupid but it makes all the difference!

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Here’s a combo picture because that’s how they arrived and it just looked too pretty (and risky to pull out on to a dish to photograph separately). I’ll probably just talk about them left to right.

First up, the  the Panko crumbed chicken breast bao ($6.50) with lettuce, pickled radish, secret sauce, coriander, as well as coriander aioli. To me, this bao tasted like a really high quality schnitzel sandwich but with an awesome Asian twist. This might sound a bit derogatory but its definitely not, I kind of (absolutely) love schnitzel sandwiches. The chicken in this bao was extremely juicy, and I personally have a really strong preference for panko crumbs so that hit the spot perfectly. Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb that’s a lot lighter, larger, and a bit sweeter than the more standard breadcrumb that you get from Woolies. If you’ve ever had tempura anything, then you’ve probably had Panko crumbs before, and loved them too obviously.

The people at Belly Bao were really smart with this dish because a panko crumbed chicken breast isn’t nearly as rich or overpowering as a piece of braised pork. So with that in mind, the additions to this bao are equally not as powerful, instead of the pickled greens that you get with the pork belly bao, here we get straight up lettuce, bit of freshness, but nothing too crazy. No need for peanuts either since the crunchy texture is already there thanks to the panko crumb, and to accommodate how that might go down the throat, there are two separate sauces to keep things moist. Really appreciated the thought that went into this, and I really enjoyed the bao as well.

Secondly, in the middle of this picture, we have the Crackling roast pork belly bao ($6.50) with crackling, pickled radish, coriander and kewpie mayo. This was the second pork bao that is on offer at Belly Bao, they really do caters to all us pork lovers out there. First, the fatty and moist stewed pork belly, now the crispy pork crackling. If you look at the picture, you can see that this pork is just as thick as the braised pork from above, which is another awesome sign and makes me respect Belly Bao immensely. The pork in this bao is pretty drastically different from the slow braised pork from above, it’s been cooked in a different way and the result is a much firmer piece of pork that doesn’t have that distinctive Asian pork flavour. To me, that’s actually a really good thing, because I would’ve been a bit annoyed if both the pork options ended up tasting largely the same. The pork here reminded me heavily of the roast pork you get from Asian BBQ houses, and I love that pork so this was definitely a good thing.

The crackling on this bao was pretty interesting, it wasn’t just on the side of the pork where you’d naturally expect it to be. The crackling was cut off, and placed in the bao sideways, like a chip layer. Again, I need to commend the guys at Belly Bao on all the thought that went into this bao. If you think about it, leaving the crackling on the pork would have lead to a bit of a disaster (okay, maybe more of a mess) when you bit into your bao. By placing the pork in the bao with crackling separately on the side the way they have, the crew at Belly Bao has ensured maximum crackling coverage, and minimisation of mouth harming errors. Pretty cool.

Last but not least, the Crispy tofu bao ($6.50) with cucumber, peanuts, crunchy onions, coriander, chilli and sticky sauce. Something for all the vegetarians out there. I must say, I really do appreciate the menu at Belly Bao, we’ve kind of gotten to a point where hipster places are no longer offering options for people with dietary requirements, i.e. those places that only other one item. How about those of use who don’t eat meat, or don’t like fish, or only eat white meat?! Here at Belly Bao, theres something for everyone, from vegetarians, to fishcetarian to your sweet tooth’s out there. And the best part?! The alternative options are actually really tasty, the crew at Belly Bao haven’t just included these other options to ensure that everyone is covered, instead these options are actually here to please your belly.

In this veggie bao, there are amazing flavours and various flavours in each bite that you take. From the crispiness and freshness of the cucumber, to the crunch of the peanuts and onion. There also plenty of flavour from the chilli and sticky sauce and of course, to round it all off and absorb all the goodness, you have your amazingly light and crispy fried tofu. Only a slight word of warning for this bao, the chilli is legit, this thing has quite a kick to it.

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For all you people who thought ‘I NEED SUGAR AND DESSERT URGGGHH’ then the Strawbelly bao ($6.50) is for you! It is a golden fried bao, with a log of vanilla ice cream and fresh strawberry slices which are then drizzled (or drowned) in condensed milk! Decadent. That’s the word for this. The golden fried bao is fantastically crunchy but also airy once you get into it. It’s honestly kind of like a funnel cake, from the US. That is, essentially a donut with all the doughy bits gone and replaced with a crunchy and fried outer shell while still remaining soft and airy inside. Definitely not dense at all. Yeah I did a terrible job there, I guess more reason to try it!

The ice cream log is, of course, fantastic, since it’s a giant log of vanilla ice cream covered in strawberries and condensed milk. This was really a lot better than it had any right to be. I thought that this dish would be cool to look at, but not much in the taste department since it seemed a little gimmicky, but I was completely wrong. This ended up being one of my favourite bao’s, sitting just behind the crispy pork probably.

There’s also a banana version which comes with nutella, I opted for strawberry because it’ll be a cold day in hell before I say no to condensed milk, but it’s something to keep in mind for the dessert fiends out there.

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Good God, being a bar and all, serves some pretty delightful beverages and it would be remiss if I didn’t speak about a couple of them. To wash down our baos, we grabbed a (left) Spirit Walker ($12), Bulldog gin with fresh line, orange bitters and ginger beer. I’m a very boring drinker sometimes, and when I find something that I kind of like, then I’ll generally stick to it. This is because there are a ton of drinks that I just don’t really enjoy, mainly because of my terribly immature palate, but nevertheless, it’s what I enjoy.

I actually remember one night out with my sister; we went through the cocktail menu, picked some out that spoke to us, and she promptly went up to the bar to order. While she was up there, she noticed that they had this special cocktail called the ‘Sazerac’, and she considered for a quick moment whether to just grab it or not. At that exact moment, some other girl was at the bar and she completely lost her mind saying ‘OMG is that the Sazerac?! I must have it! One Sazerac please!’ So of course, my sister ended up walking back to our table with a Sazerac in hand. It essentially tasted like fire in liquid form, and we both hated it, and subtly cursed that other girl for expressing her love for it so enthusiastically.

So I guess the point of that whole story is that, when I see something that looks like a Dark n Stormy, I’m going to order it, and I’m probably going to like it! This particular one was pretty good, the orange bitters was a nice little twist on a standard recipe, and I polished this off really quickly. If you like ginger beer plus anything, then you should get this because it scratches that itch!

Our second drink, (the one on the right) was the Japanese Cowboy ($12), dry plum wine, vodka and sweetened soda. This was really refreshing and a good complement to the overall richness from all the baos that we had. It had just the right amount of sweetness for me, not too much making it taste like candy water, but enough so it doesn’t taste like pure alcohol, at that point, I might as well just take shots. The plum wine also definitely came through, giving you that lovely sweet and almost yuzu and cherry like flavour to it. Overall, love it!

I thought the drinks at Good God were pretty awesome, based off the two that we tried. Plus, the other ones available on their drinks menu looked really creative and tasty as well, must come back in the future to sample a couple more of them out, like the jugs and shots!

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The decor at Good God is really quite cool, the entire bar is downstairs and half of it is all cavey, whereas the other half is just a normal dark bar. We liked it so much we took a picture of the coaster, because why not?

Belly Bao

Good God Small Club, 53-55 Liverpool Street, Sydney

Facebook: facebook.com/bellybao

Instagram: @BellyBao

Website: bellybao.com/

Opening hours:

Wednesday to Friday

5:00pm to 10:0pm

Saturday

6:00pm to 10:00pm

Click to add a blog post for Belly Bao on Zomato

Patissez, Manuka

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I must admit, I was pretty sceptical about Patissez when I first decided to check it out over the weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I was super excited to see a new patisserie and cafe open up in Canberra but at the same time I was pretty nervous. I love all things sweet but when it comes to pastries, I can get pretty pedantic and picky.

Since moving to Canberra, I’ve sampled tons of goodies from pastry, cake and dessert shops all over Canberra and in my experience, I find there are definitely more misses than hits. I know that sounds horribly negative and ‘food criticy’ but it’s just an opinion. Canberra has some darn fine patisseries but they’re definitely few and far between so whenever I see a new patisserie pop up, I get really excited, hoping that I’ll be able to add to my list of awesome patisseries in Canberra. Of course, at the same time I wonder if I’m about to waste a meal on something not so great. Another thing that raised my level of paranoia about this place was that I’ve never been super keen on Manuka in general, I just never seem to have a great meal there.

Hence, my reservations.

Well, I guess this is a bit of a spoiler alert, but as with Penny’s in Kingston, Patissez is was actually a really delightful surprise and easily a standout amongst its peers. I was sceptical but on sampling the food and the cakes, everything that we tried was pretty darn tasty.

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Patissez is a cosy little cafe nestled in between Ona on the Lawns and Urban Pantry, right on the Manuka Lawns. The shop is simple and quite small with only about two tables for larger groups and a couple of smaller tables for those dining in two or threes inside. Outside, there are a couple more smaller tables. Normally, I try to avoid sitting outside since it gets horribly cold and windy in Canberra but here at Patissez, I opted for an outside table. The tables outside are shielded from the wind, and there is also a heater on each side, keeping us nice and snug. It was also a lot more peaceful as it was quite cramped and noisy inside.

Although the decor is quite simple, the food is anything but. The menu comprises of many traditional dishes, but all with a hipster twist. There are also burgers and a couple of sweet brekkie goodies for those who who like to start the morning on something sweet. Of course, outside of the cafe options, there is an extensive drinks menu, which includes coffee with Belaroma beans as well as a couple of super awesome shakes. Another thing that surprised me was that they had matcha lattes!  I absolutely love them and not enough places do them! Outside of their cafe offerings, Patissez also has a range of vegan, GF and normal scrumptious and playful pastries.

Like with any good foodie hot spot, Patissez sources the majority of its produce locally, with all the meats from Jordo’s Chop Shop, while the bread comes from Canbera’s favourite (or close to) bakery, Autolyse. There are a lot more suppliers, but I won’t take the time to list them all here, suffice it to say they seem to be quite respectable sources.

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When I originally headed out to try out Patissez, I was only interested in their pastries. However, after having a quick squizz at the menu, everything just kind of caught my eye. I just couldn’t say no, so we decided to grab a table and sample of few of Patissez’s cafe options. So apparently, Patissez has only started serving food in the last two days. Prior to that, they were focusing on coffees and cakes. Must say, we definitely came here on the right day!

Our first dish from Patissez was the The Cheesy Scramble ($12), cheesy scrambled eggs with crispy bacon and a potato rosti on a brioche milk bun. Not only does this look amazing, it also 101% lives up taste wise as well. The burger wasn’t overly complex, just three elements but each were done really well and together they made for some delicious mouthfuls. The cheesy scrambled egg was super buttery and creamy, it was cooked perfectly, leaving it in a yolky and moist manner. Cheesy scrambled eggs was something I first experienced over at Penny University in Kingston. It’s something I absolutely fell in love with and here was no different.

The scramble eggs were coupled with a crispy, pan fried bacon which added all the meaty and savoury flavours that you would hope for some a breakfast burger. They gave you probably a bit too much bacon, though I’m sure no one is ever going to complain about that. The visual effect of a burger coming out with giant bacon tentacles coming out of it is a really cool one.

Finally, to top it all off and leaving the best part until last, there was a potato rosti. The rosti was amazing, definitely on the softer side but with bits of crunchiness laced throughout it and best of all, the rosti was just so full of flavour. It was super herby and had a strong shallot flavour to it, this more earthy flavour complimented the savoury flavour of the bacon perfectly. Finally, all the ingredients were nested in a brioche milk bun, that help soften the flavours. The brioche did a good job of not overpowering the ingredients in the bun and making things too bready. One thing I should mention is that this dish is surprisingly messy to eat. You’ve been warned.

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The second dish that we opted for was The Field ($17), portobello mushrooms and poaches eggs on crusty bread with goats cheese, a balsamic reduction, shaved truffle and toasted pine nuts. Like with the The Cheesy Scramble, this was another super tasty dish but unlike the burger, this dish was much lighter and cleaner, the perfect way to start of the weekend.

There was nothing super fancy or complex about this dish but it was different to your typical mod oz brekkie joint. There was just that prefect balance of texture and flavour. The crispy bread with the flavoursome and buttery mushrooms and to top it all off, the creaminess from the egg yolks and this lovely caramelised and earthy sweetness from the balsamic reduction. I also really appreciated the fact that the mushrooms weren’t overly powerful or salty. I find mushroom dishes can get a little too much real quick, especially as they’re salty as hell when it comes to cooking and too many places are just too heavy handed with them, a bit like anchovies but for vegetarians!

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Here is a shoot of the poached eggs. In the tale of poached or pwned, the answer is, very close to poached! They weren’t perfectly poached but no where near pwned or anything like that and considering how some bad poached eggs seem to get in Canberra, I thought these weren’t bad at all. There was still definitely enough yolk to cover the mushrooms and soak into the crispy bread, giving it some moistness.

As a part of Patissez menu, you can add house made hollandise sauce to anything at no extra cost. Woot! I’m a massive fan of hollandaise sauce, that butter and yolky goodness with a hint of citrus at the end. Its like the lemon curd (I really like lemon curd, I have been known to eat spoonfuls for dessert) of breakfast. I of course gladly ordered some, it was given to us in a seperate side bowl next to our burger, I guess it fit a lot better there as far as the plate goes. To be honest, Ouk originally thought it was a cheesy sauce for his burger, and he doused his burger in it. He recommends doing the same because it made the burger absolutely amazing, so keep that in mind out there! For me, the hollandaise sauce added that extra richness that I really enjoy but of course if you’re the healthier type, it may not be to your fancy. But each to their own!

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I was here at Patissez to sample their cakes and I couldn’t leave without sampling at least a few! We got there at about 2PM and the selection was still quite solid. They had sold out on one or two choices but overall they still had plenty of goodness to try. Plus, the variety was great! There were whole cakes that you could purchase in slices, these looked pretty amazing, some were traditional while others were a lot more fancy, like Turkish Delight and peanut butter. I saw one guy eating a slice of the cake, and the cake itself was probably 13cm tall and the slice was 5cm wide. Pretty amazing value. There were also tarts, slices, chia cups and gluten free options as well. A couple of the treats also looked really vibrant and colour with fluro greens, pinks and what nots.

I decided to opt for something a little more interesting and familiar to my Asian palette, the Matcha and pistachio slice ($8), matcha cream coupled with pistachio cream between matcha cake. I love matcha, its up there with pandan and taro for me. When I think of cakes, desserts and sweet treats, these are the flavours that come to mind and make me nostalgic for my childhood, I grew up on these flavours as opposed to chocolate, caramel or strawberry sauce. So, I get very excited when I see it in Western patisseries. In my experience, the Asian palette is quite different, so our traditional cakes and desserts tend to be a lot lighter and fluffier, but a lot less rich and decadent. Hence, its not everyday you get to see the richness of French cooking coupled with amazing Asian flavours. But here at Patissez, you do!

This cake was the perfect balance between Western richness and the delicate flavours of Asian desserts. The flavour of the matcha permeates throughout the cake layer, there is also a good amount of it in the top layer of cream. This strong and almost bitter tea flavour is complimented by a couple of lovely and rich layers and pistachio cream. Between the cream and the cake, the overall slice is perfectly moist and delicious. If, for whatever reason you find the cake a little too rich, there is also a syringe full of acidic apple concentrate which really helps to change the overall feel of the cake.

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Our second treat from Patissez was the Salted caramel pop slide ($6.50) with coconut dacquoise, salted caramel crème brûlée parfait, caramelised saffron apple centre, white chocolate and honeycomb. I normally get pretty sceptical when I see places offering cakes like this. I kind of just assume they’re trying to go for the hipster appeal, but the taste just never seems to live up to the cool appearance. Luckily here at Patissez, this wasn’t an issue.

While the matcha slice felt more intricate and ‘mature’, this was a delightfully rich and decadent treat for your sweet tooth. Although the pop slide was really sweet, it was still extremely well done with many different elements, flavours and textures throughout the cake. The flavours also played off each other really well, helping the cake stay enjoyable right until the end without one element becoming way too much (which happens a lot with cakes like this). The the sourness and fruitiness from the saffron apple centre really helped to balance out the sweetness of the salted caramel. In addition to this, the coconut dacquoise and honeycomb added all the texture that you need to keep the pop slide interesting and exciting throughout.

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Finally the food out of the way. Of course, we couldn’t call this complete without drinks and so of course, we grabbed a couple of drinks from Patissez. First up, the Matcha latte ($4, regular). As you may know now, I absolutely love matcha, when it comes to flavours, it’s my red velvet cupcake. So, I get pretty excited when I see it on a menu, especially in Canberra! This is because matcha is more of an Asian flavour and there is a smaller (but no worse!) Asian community in Canberra compared to say Sydney or Melbourne, so these types of treats are much harder to come by than I’m used to.

The matcha latte at Patissez is quite unique to others that you’ll find in Canberra and nothing like the ones you can get in Sydney, and I mean this in the most positive way possible. Matcha lattes are mainly served in Asian cafes and restuarants and with the coffee culture only really becoming an thing now in Asian places, you’ll find that most matcha lattes come out really sweet (perfect for me of course) but much sweeter than a normal coffee loving person would prefer. Here at Patissez, the matcha latte comes out with no sugar. Its strong, bitter and full of green tea goodness. I of course opted to add a ‘couple’ of sugars but at least this way, you can adjust it to your own preference. I did find that the matcha latte here wasn’t as smooth as you would expect but it’s definitely better than no matcha! The matcha latte was also slightly lukewarm, that might have contributed to the slightly grainy texture. But this is no Chanoma so I can’t complain.

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Onwards to something that Patissez does specialise in and shine at, the Nutella ‘Shake It’ ($8), cold Nutella shake with whipped cream and crushed salty pretzels.

I love a good, creative and wacky looking milkshake and Patissez delivers. Not only does it look good, it also tastes pretty darn fine too. If you like Ferrero Rocher, this is the perfect drink for you. Although they’ve used a couple of different things to create this drink, in the end of the day it tastes like a crushed up Ferrero Rocher, which is awesome of course! It even has the right texture, thanks to the crushed up satled preztels giving you that crunchiness that you find from the crushed hazelnuts and wafer in a Ferrero Rocher, along with the Nutella and whipped cream that brings you that creamy hazelnut goodness. Very impressed with how they made this taste so much like one of our favourite little chocolate treats by using all different ingredients! One cool thing I should mention is that they slide on copious amounts of nutella over the rim, so if you love licking nutella out of the jar, this ‘shake it’ is for you!

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Finally, our last treat from Patissez, the Banana Matcha ‘Smooth Criminal’ ($8) with Medjool dates, Jahna Greek style yoghurt, raw honey and granola. This wasn’t my favourite drink of the day, but it was still pretty cool. I really liked that you could chose between normal diary milk, almond milk and soy milk for the Smooth Criminal shakes and at no extra cost. Nothing worse than having to pay an extra $1 for almond or soy milk. I mean at that point, I might as well just go to Aldi, put out an extra 50c and buy a litre. I really do appreciate places that don’t try to gouge you at every chance possible. I understand that there are costs in stocking different options that may or may not be used, so I guess I don’t expect it, but I do appreciate it. But enough about my cheapness!

The drink itself although quite bright, green and vibrant, didn’t really have a strong matcha flavour to it. Instead, to me it tasted more like a banana milkshake but milder and without that sweet ending, I guess that is thanks to the matcha which rounds it off. Although there were a couple of other ingredients, like the Greek yoghurt and the dates but I didn’t feel like the flavour really came through which was a bit of a shame because I quite enjoy dates in milkshake. I know dates sound a bit basic but they’re surprisingly tasty. In the end of the day, bananas are an overpowering flavour and it did seem to overpower here.

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So there you have it, our trip to Patissez. I came here not expecting much at all and left feeling very happy and absolutely full. I’m glad to see another good patisserie open up in Canberra, especially one that has some pretty fantastic opening hours. Oh, not sure if I’ve mentioned it previously but Patissez is actually open seven days a week from 7am to 4pm, woot!

Oh, a side note. The food menu just started over the weekend, so when we were there the service was a little haphazard. Everyone was really nice and helpful but they were still getting into the groove of things. Due to this, we found that things took a little longer than expected, or we had to ask for certain thing several times, which was completely understandable for a brand new restaurant but I thought I should mention it just so you guys are aware as well. Expectations are everything after all.

Patissez

Shop 2/21 Bougainville Street, Manuka

Facebook: facebook.com/patissez.pty.ltd

Instagram: @patissez

Opening hours: 

Monday to Sunday

7:00am to 4:00pm

Pâtissez on Urbanspoon

La Sable Patisserie, Mitchell

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So I started hearing some murmurs about La Sable Patisserie on the Internet a couple of weeks ago but I didn’t pay much attention to it. For some reason, when I saw the name and where it was located, I kind of dismissed it. Yes, shame on me. I shouldn’t judge places based on their names and location, lesson learnt. Because of my snobby stupidity, I didn’t get to lay my hands on the deliciousness available at La Sable Patisserie until last week.

La Sable Patisserie is a relatively new pastry stop which has opened up in Mitchell. I don’t know about you, but when I hear Mitchell, I think ‘there can’t possibly be anything good out there’ but I live in Braddon, so that explains a lot about my unculturedness. La Sable Patisserie is located in the industrial area next to a couple of trade shops, its pretty missable if you’re not looking out for it, as you can see in the picture below! It looks like a tradie store if you’re driving by. But once you realise its there and sample its goodies, I guarantee, you’ll be back too!

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La Sable Patisserie is opened six days a week, from 6.30am to 4pm on weekdays and from 7am to 2pm on Saturday, which is great because I love sweets, cakes and pastries but can’t really get out to Mitchell before 4pm on a weekday and I won’t wake up prior to 8am, not even for cake.

La Sable Patisserie offers a range of pastries, cakes, tarts, as well as some pies and coffee. I went a little crazy and grabbed about seven items all up, which I’m sure you may be thinking is a bit much for two people to handle, but I ate it all! I arrived at about noon and they still had a good variety available. However, I did notice that there weren’t many croissants and pastries left. I also watched someone buy the last macaron so if any of this catches your eye, I wouldn’t leave it til past 12.

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So I grabbed a ‘couple’ of things from La Sable Patisserie, including this Espresso macaron and verrine ($6.50) with chocolate, coconut and apricot. Did I buy this because there was a cute little macaron next to a cup of sweets? Yes, yes I did. I can’t help myself. I’m that horrible person who picks what I eat largely based on how thinks look. That kind of hurt me in this particular case (from a non taste perspective) but more about that at the bottom.

The actual dessert was great. La Sable had a couple of different macaron options, they had an espresso flavoured one, a hot cross bun one and another purple one which might have been blueberry, maybe. Since the stand alone macarons had run out for the day, I grabbed this instead to give La Sable’s maracons a taste, and of course I was enamoured with the cute little curvy cup anyway. The macaron here was of the espresso variety and was actually really tasty and was pretty much what you’d expect to find in all good macarons. Nice crispy shell, with a soft and slightly gooey interior. There wasn’t a lot of filling to it, which is usually disappointing but it worked here. The flavour of the espresso was still extremely strong and permeated throughout the whole macaron. The filling gave it just enough moisture.

I’ll talk about the verrine a little further in the post. Since I’m separating it out, it might be obvious what happened, but if you haven’t figured it out yet I might just keep the suspense going for a bit longer.

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My next dessert for the day, a Blueberry and strawberry tart ($6.50). So I kind of thought I was getting a strawberry tart here, turns out it was blueberry. The signage for the cakes and tarts were a little inaccurate and they were a little busy so I didn’t want to ask too many questions. But who cares, because this was probably better then a plain strawberry tart anyway!

This was a great little tart (it wasn’t that small, it might just be inching towards standard sized). The tart was really creamy, buttery and littered with blueberries throughout. I really liked the crust especially, it had a lovely biscuit crumb like crunch to it while the inside was soft and slightly gooey with a ton of buttery smoothness. I also found that the fresh strawberries really added this lovely nice angle to the overall tart, giving it a little bit of texture and some balancing sourness to contrast the relatively sweet blueberry tart. Really liked this.

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Next up the Lemon meringue tart ($6.50). Generally, I find lemon meringue tarts extremely hit and miss. Both parts are so important, if either the lemon curd or the meringue isn’t quite up to scratch, its so absolutely disappointing, especially since I think lemon meringue tarts might be my favourite tart of all the tarts out there. The sticky sweetness of the fluffy, light and slightly crispy meringue needs to perfectly contrast the really sharp, acidic and silky smooth lemon curd.

The best thing about La Sable Patisserie was that this lemon meringue tart was exactly what I just described there. Every element of this tart was done perfectly, and I could not have asked for anything more. The texture was amazing and completely on the ball. There was also a really strong and rich citrus lemon flavour to the curd and to top it all off, the base of the tart was super buttery and soft with little bits of crunchiness here and there. If you’re into citrus tarts, this is a definite must try. Oh, and if you don’t like the meringue part of lemon and meringue tarts, La Sable has you covered, they also do straight lemon tarts.

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So, here is where the mystery comes to an end, I stupidly ended up with two of the same desserts! The Chocolate, coconut and apricot verrine ($4.50). Luckily, it was pretty darn tasty so I wasn’t too upset but still! What a waste of stomach space, it totally could have been used to try out La Sable Patisserie’s other tarts, like the pear tart, which I was tossing up. As it might be obvious by now, this verrine is the same as the verrine that you get with the macaron. To be honest, unless you dislike macarons, I’d go with the other one. For an extra $2 you get a tasty macaron and a much larger verrine. To be honest, I’m not 100% sure that it’s larger, it just kind of looked that way, it felt like I got more in the other version but maybe it was just the way it was presented.

Flavour wise, there were a couple of distinctive, powerful and strong flavours. The flavours worked surprising well together, complimenting and balancing each other out. The verrine starts with a sweet and moist roasted coconut and muesli, this was followed by a creamy and fluffy chocolate mousse. After the chocolate comes another layer of coconut, this time without the museli and more like the inside of a Bounty. You think it would end there but no, this verrine has two more layers, a fruity apricot jam and finally you end with a creamy and silky smooth vanilla custard. Its pretty much anything you could possibly have, all in a little cute, tasty cup.

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If you’re not a massive fan of sweets, that fine because the savouries at La Sable are just as good. First up, the Quiche Lorraine ($4). I should admit that I have a weakness for Quiche Lorraines, even though it’s probably the most uncultured quiche in the world of quiches. When I first arrived in Canberra, I’d regularly travel out to Dobinson’s and partake in their quiches because it was the closest place I knew that had quiches on display (I’m still a bit too weird to try and ask for something that’s not displayed). I’m not sure if any of you have ever tried a Dobinson’s quiche but they’re pretty much a giant pool of buttery goodness, that somehow has egg and bacon mixed into it. That may sound negative, but it isn’t, there’s a part of me that just really enjoys a crapload of butter on things.

So, I guess it’s time I actually talk about the quiche that I bought here and La Sable, well let me start off by saying that the quiche was really good! It’s a pretty small quiche, roughly 15% smaller than most quiches at this price point, but the texture was really lovely. The egg was quite firm and held together well, not gluggy at all. There probably wasn’t as much bacon as I would’ve liked, but this probably ensured the quiche wouldn’t get too oily, something my heart approves of I’m sure.

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Here’s a post bite picture of the quiche, as you can see, the egg wasn’t too oily at all, and it was a pretty good quiche to munch down on. One issue I did kind of have that may be visible in the above picture (albeit barely), the cheese along the top of the quiche eventually stuck together and when I tried biting into it, I almost took the entire layer of cheese with me. I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but even I know that if I eat all the cheese in the first bite, the rest of my time will be a cheeseless joyless endeavour. Knowing that, I had to fight to ensure that the cheese stayed on the quiche with every bite. Just a slight annoyance, though I’m sure most people will just fly by the edge of their seat and just take each bite as it comes. I only wish I could be so brave.

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Onto something more fancy, the Gourmet chicken and leek pie ($7.50). This was honestly a shock when I first got it, because man $7.50 for a pie is pretty excessive. I love pies as much as the next person, but yeah, that’s a lot. I should mention that generally, I’m really not a big fan of chicken pies either, they’re just never done as well as beef pies in my opinion. Though this pie has made great inroads into changing that opinion. Now, I’m not going to do a cost to pie ratio, but if I’m looking at this pie purely on the merits of taste and deliciousness, then this is certainly up there with the best pies I’ve ever had (Flute Bakery and Dojo Bread being my current favourites.)

First things first, the pastry needs to be mentioned. It was really quite puffy and flakey, and just a lovely rich pastry to have as part of a pie. One thing that surprised me was how it managed to hold up against all the filling inside it, because this is one of the bigger pies I’ve ever had! The base of the pie was really quite oily, so keep that in mind if you’re not into that sort of thing. I loved it though.

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Chicken pies tend to be quite bland to me, either they use chicken breast meat (the mortal enemy of flavour) or they just fill it with vegetables and hope they do the trick. This is the exception to that rule. The main flavour that hits you with this is pure leek, they’ve clearly cooked the crap out of a lot of leek when making this pie, and the soft onion flavours really make this pie a flavoursome experience. One thing I particularly appreciated was that they cooked the leek really heavily, so that when you ate it, you didn’t end up with tough and chewy chunks of leek getting stuck in your teeth, they all went down really easily.

The sauce inside the pie was extremely creamy, and not particularly runny. This made it a pleasure to eat, because you weren’t fussing about with liquid pouring out and causing a mess. A really great pie, and easily the best chicken pie I’ve ever had, though to be honest I haven’t had very many.

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Finally, ending with a classic, the Beef pie ($5). Now I love a good beef pie more than most things in this world, and this is up there as one of the better ones I’ve ever had, though sadly not the best. The pastry of this pie is fantastic, flakey, soft, puffy, just like the above gourmet chicken pie. The filling is of course a lovely thick gravy, that’s a bit runnier than the cream in the chicken pie, but still completely manageable. Swimming through that gravy are thick 1-2cm chunks of what I can only imagine is grade A beef. I know I’m describing pretty much any beef pie, but I mean, there’s only so much you can do with a beef pie.

I’m going to say something bogan here, but there’s one thing about this pie I wasn’t so hot on, but I’m pretty sure this is a personal preference that isn’t shared by most. I’m just not a huge fan of chunky beef pies. There, I said it. I just don’t really understand why they’re better than mince pies. When you bite into a chunky beef pie, you either get a mouthful of pure gravy, or you get a big chunk of beef. In the latter scenario, you inevitably pull the chunk out and leave yourself with a gaping hole in the pie. Not pretty. I for one am a fan of the consistency of a good old mince pie. I’m sure no one cares, but it affected how I felt about this pie, so figured it was worth saying.

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Here is a side shot of the gourmet chicken and leek pie but the beef pie was also the same side. So, okay have you ever seen a pie this deep!? Its fantastic! I mean, I was a bit shocked when I found out these pies were $5 to $7.50, but really, look at how big they are. This pie pictured above is probably 1.5x the size of the normal pie, so that definitely softened the pain of the price considerably and makes it kind of worth it. Now you have no reason to not sample these amazing pies.

There you have it, another amazing patisserie in Canberra and most importantly, it’s open on the weekends! I mean I love Flute Bakery as much as any other Canberran, but there are only so many days I can have off where the entire purpose is to eat pastries. I’m very glad La Sable has opened up to fill in this gap. So, if you were hesitating because you didn’t want to trek out to an industrial zone, don’t let that stop you, because you’re totally missing out. This stuff is amazing.

La Sable Patisserie

6/83 Lysaght Street, Mitchell

Facebook: facebook.com/pages/La-Sable-Patisserie

Opening hours: 

Monday to Friday

6:30am to 4:00pm

Saturday

7:00 am to 2:00pm

La Sable Patisserie on Urbanspoon

Aqua S, CBD

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Over the Easter long weekend, I finally got the chance to revisit Aqua S. I really enjoyed my first visit and I have been hankering to go back but never got the chance to. I sat and moped in Canberra as I watched various awesome flavours come and go, including taro, tiramasu, creaming soda, tomato and other weird and cool things like that. I drooled as I saw the pictures on Instagram but sadly couldn’t get my hands on any. Instead, I just sat at home in Canberra licking on my own lame recreation of sea salt ice cream (that is, I tried sprinkling salt onto vanilla ice cream). Before you ask, no, it didn’t quite quench my need.

Well I managed to come back and just in time for some new flavours! For the next two weeks Aqua S is treating us with tofu flavour and mango and orange flavour. I of course tried both! I probably won’t explain how Aqua S works, or how much the toppings cost and etc. I kind of went through that in my last post which you can check out here. Its not overly complicated and theres always kind of a line (even at noon, when they open). So by the time you get to the counter, you probably get the gist of it anyway.

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First up, the Seasalt and tofu cone ($3.80). Last time I visited, I opted for straight seasalt since the two other flavours (biscotti and lemon tea) didn’t quite appeal to me but this time when I saw tofu, I just had to give it a go. Whenever I travel, whatever weird famous food that country has, I’m pretty keen to try it, so something like tofu, even if it sounds weird, it wasn’t enough to phase me. Plus, I figure, wouldn’t hurt to get a little bit of extra protein while I’m enjoying my seasalt ice cream. Well it definitely was interesting, and definitely an acquired taste. I loved the sea salt flavour from the first lick, but the tofu didn’t have quite the same response.

Though credit where it’s due, it was amazing how similar it actually tasted to fresh silken tofu. It’s like the crew at Aqua S just got a bunch of tofu and blended it into a milk, which was then used to make a soft serve. Literally, tofu but with a silky, smooth soft serve texture. Interesting stuff. Would I get it again? Maybe. But I reckon I might just stick to the classic sea salt flavour next time. With that said, I’ve seen a lot of people complain about the sea salt flavour, and I seem to have loved it so your mileage may vary. For what it’s worth, I very much prefer pandan silken tofu milk.

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My second ice cream was the Seasalt and mango and orange with fairyfloss ($5.30). Yes I got two ice creams all for myself! I ended up eating four ice creams on this particular day and I’ll argue the virtues of such a lifestyle until the day I die. I’ll probably just talk about the mango and orange soft serve here, I think I’ve gushed about Aqua S enough.

So I was a little sceptical about the tofu, it was nice and all but I think I don’t love tofu as much as other people do. On the other hand, the mango and orange was love at first sight (or lick) I guess. The mango and orange soft serve was fruity, sweet and had a really nice yuzu like aftertaste to it and I love all things yuzu so I was all over this soft serve.

So there you have it, another awesome visit to Aqua S. Overall, I enjoy the different flavours that Aqua S has on offer and its quite exciting with the two rotating flavours, definitely makes me want to come back and try out the new flavours, especially when they are as weird as tomato, tofu and what not. I really hope they do bring back some of the flavours. I would love to try taro which was available about a month or so ago but missed out on because I wasn’t in Sydney those two weekends. As much I love the sea salt and other soft serve flavours, I can definitely see it being an acquired taste for some. So be warned, if you’re a picky eater and like the classics, you might want to consider sharing a cone with a mate.

Aqua S

501 George Street, Regent Place, Sydney

Website: aquas.co

Facebook: facebook.com/aquasaustralia

Instagram: instagram.com/aquas_au/

Opening hours:

Monday to Sunday

12:00pm to 10:00pm

Aqua S on Urbanspoon

Bambu, Cabramatta

Last week while heading back to Canberra, I decided to drop by Cabramatta to do a little bit of shopping and pick up some Asian goodies. Canberra is kind of overpriced when it comes to Asian groceries and ingredients and it also lacks a lot of my favourite things so I tend to hoard when I’m back up visiting family and friends. On this particular trip, we were heading up and down John Street, grabbing a couple of pork rolls, again hoarding since Canberra pork rolls just can’t compete with those from Cabramatta sadly, on taste or price. While walking down the street, I saw this really modern looking cafe with a screen out front displaying various awesome looking desserts and drinks. Once I saw it, I couldn’t say no! We were on a bit of a deadline but it looked to good to miss, so I put my plans on hold and headed in.

Bambu is located on John Street towards the upper side of the Cabramatta shopping area, near the Tan Viet Noodle House. Bambu along with a handful of other stores like Teinoya’s Garden, Gloria Jeans, What The Fudge, and various frozen yoghurt stores and milk tea chains which have opened up in recent years has really reinvigorate a largely traditional and Vietnamese cultural centre with a younger influence. Cabramatta isn’t just a place to grab Vietnamese groceries and food any more, its a place you can go to and sit down at hip, modern cafes and chat the afternoon away and then go back to picking up groceries and getting Vietnaamese food. It is nice to see the introduction of these types of cafes and eateries into Cabramatta and see it transform into something more like Canley Vale. Nothing is worse than arriving at 5PM on a weekday or weekend and everything is closed, these cafes will hopefully bring a night life to Cabramatta that Canley Vale has been able to create in a few short years, whether its 12 noon or 12 midnight, people are out and about, chatting and having a good time.

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At Bambu we opted for a Gaytime frappe ($5.60, small). Bambu’s menu included a range of sweet treats and drinks including frozen yoghurt, waffles, coffees, frappes, smoothies and fruit shakes. I think there is quite a big focus on the waffles actually, I remember when we were ordering our drink, they really did try to sell their waffles, which did sound and look really good but unfortunately we were on a deadline and couldn’t dine in for too long. Plus, I was here for the amazing looking drinks! So, when it comes to these lovely eye candy drinks, apparently there are two different types of shakes, the standard ones which have pretty basic flavours and then you have these ones, which include some really cool sounding flavours like Gaytime, Twix, Sneakers, Reese, Nutella, mint and other goodies like that, plus I’m pretty sure the crew at Bambu explained that only the special super frappes come with the fancy schmancy toppings, cones and what not where as the standard flavours are standard and boring looking.

Oh on a (very important) side note! Apparently, the small option is served in a mason cup while the large option comes in a plastic cup and doesn’t look as good. Okay, I know that shouldn’t really impact my food decisions but come on, who doesn’t eat with their eyes?! I definitely do, so I opted for a small and to be honest, it was a pretty good serving for $5.60 plus it was a really nice but quite a rich drink so between us, the small was more than enough to satisfy any sweet cravings we were having.

Oh! I was recently on Bambu’s Facebook page and I noticed they have Devon cronuts! How awesome is that, you don’t have to go all the way to Woolloomooloo to get those crazy pork floss, squared shaped cronuts! I didn’t see any when I was there but I guess it must be a new thing. Next time I’m up from Canberra, I’m definitely dropping by to try some of the cronuts out!

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I guess I should probably talk about the Golden Gaytime frappe that we got. I’ll start with the most pressing thing, was it just novel or did it actually taste nice? Well, I can happily report, like with The Vogue Cafe, who also do really awesome looking drinks, this was a treat on the eyes and taste buds as well. It was just an awesome combination of chocolate, honeycomb and creamy goodness with heaps of different textures. The frappe comes with this massive ice cream cone that is filled with vanilla ice cream, topped with a swirl of whipped cream, a sprinkling of peanuts and covered in a drizzle of caramel. The cone and rim of the mason cup was also dipped in milk chocolate and nuts. This shake definitely has a lot going on but it works.

The milkshake itself was also quite tasty, there were hints of creaminess, caramel, toffee and honey, while the chocolate came from the rim which was a coated in a delicious and high quality milk chocolate. Reading that description and looking at the pictures, your probably assuming that its quite rich, well I’m not going to argue with you on that point but its rich in the best way possible, I just kept wanting more and more of this shake, it was just such a great balance between sweetness and creaminess.

I really enjoyed the addition of the vanilla ice cream inside the cone, I had no idea Bambu did this, I just assume it was an empty cone, until I took a bite and was pleasantly surprised. Of course, I ended up eating the cone as a treat on its own, I couldn’t help myself, it had ice cream, cream and nuts and caramel topping, it kind just felt like a sundae but in a cone!

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I didn’t get to try anything else at Bambu but the other menu items look quite appealing, especially the other super frappes, the fruit shakes and waffles. I will definitely have to drop by Cabramatta again to grab some more goodies from Bambu, plus the addition of cronuts from Devon Cafe is a massive plus for me, I hope they have some when I’m up next! I’m very happy and excited to see more places like this open up in Cabramatta. This turns Cabramatta to a place that I can relate to as much as my parents did and still do. Its no longer just a place to eat traditional Vietnamese food and grabbing groceries, it’s becoming a cultural centre for my generation just as much as it was for my parent’s generation. Well, I’ll probably still go get groceries and get pho here because well yeah that stuff is fantastic.

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N2 Extreme Gelato, Haymarket

This place brings back fond memories of my final year in uni. I mean, I remember all the procrastination that lead up to the final freak out. We had two weeks left to pull together a marketing strategy. How were we going to get the research, planning, strategising done!?! I don’t remember much of those two weeks but what I do remember is visiting N2 Extreme Gelato after we handed in that project. N2 had just opened up earlier that week and we were all pretty keen to try it out. It was the first of its kind in Australia. I mean, we’ve all known about making ice cream by using carbon dioxide. Everyone’s been through that primary school incursion where a guy comes in and experiments and freezes heaps of cool things. But no one turned that concept into a reality until N2.

Now its not so exciting, businesses like N2 have spawned up every where but in my opinion the original is still the best. Back when I first tried N2, I wasn’t blogging so I never got a chance to write about this fantastic and very hyped ice cream shop. Now that I’m Canberra, my chances to visit N2 are even slimmer but finally, over Christmas and New Year, I got the chance to head down and try out N2’s ice cream once again.

I remember when they first started it was pretty simple, about 5 or so flavours though they were extremely interesting ones. Whilst interesting, they were always just standard ice creams with really cool flavours, one or two scoops. No syringes sticking out of them, no donuts, cream, or other crazy toppings or anything. I normally complain when restaurants try to jump on whatever bandwagon there is and try to align their products with those i.e. putting macarons on to everything, making cronuts, doing injectable donuts. But here at N2 for some reason I don’t mind. Maybe its because it just seems to fit with their overall aesthetic, it seems like something they’re actually doing for more than just pure gimmick, and it works with their products.

Okay, I think I’ve bored you enough with my opinions and life stories, lets talk about this ice cream.

I grabbed the Cheesecake with salted caramel and whipped cream ($8). As you can see things are a little different now, no more basic ice creams. N2 still offers about five different options, two will normally be basic ice creams with cool flavours like lavender and honey or something interesting like that, these are about $5 for a cup. The other three will normally be more creative with an interesting and delicious flavour with a little bonus like a donut, macaron or syringe on top, these are about $8 per cup. All of N2’s options are displayed on a (very hipster) blackboard with little pictures to show you how it will look.

When I was there, N2 had this really awesome peanut butter and chocolate ice cream with a Krispy Kreme donut on top, it looked amazing! Unfortunately, I find peanut butter too rich whenever it’s used for desserts so I did the sensible thing and ordered something I’d actually eat. Although this didn’t have a donut on top, this one still looked and tasted amazing. The ice cream was super creamy with a strong cheesy aftertaste. The texture was perfectly smooth with some nice aeration making it super fluffy and to top it all off, there was a generous dollop of whipped cream because you can never say no to more delicious creaminess. Oh, how could I forget the bonus?! Of course, there was a syringe full of rich salted caramel, which added some lovely contrasting flavours. Lastly, there was a heavy sprinkling of almond meal or cookie crumbs (I couldn’t quite tell which it was but I’m sure they both do the same thing) which really topped off the whole “cheese cake” idea.

I’m normally not a massive fan of deconstructed dishes, like today I saw a deconstructed beef wellington, like what’s the point of that?! What makes a beef wellington so loved is the fact that it’s a super high quality meat pie (at least to me) and its actually quite difficult to make. So if you’re not doing the cooking in the pastry part anymore it might as well be called a steak with puff pastry on the side! Anyway, here this ice cream actually felt like a deconstructed ice cream cheesecake just way better!

There you have it, the very cool and delicious N2. This place might not be the talk of the town anymore and there are now plenty of similar offers all around but this is still the best and most innovative ice cream place out there. I may not go here when I want good tasting generic ice cream but if I want something fun, delicious, sweet and creative, N2 is still high on my places to visit.

So I recently saw that N2 Extreme Gelato will be heading down to Canberra for the Enlightened 2015 Night Noodle Markets hosted by Good Food Month over the next two weeks 27 February to 7 March 2015. How exciting, can’t wait to see what they have installed for us Canberrans!

N2 Extreme Gelato on Urbanspoon

Aqua S, CBD

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A couple of weeks ago Aqua S opened up in Regents Place opposite Chanoma Cafe in the CBD. I’ve been keen for months to see what would pop up in this little spot. Regents Place over the last few years has been transformed from a dark and gloomy alley way to a really cool, hip, and affordable hang out place, with plenty of new restaurants and cafes like Chanoma Cafe, Miss Chu, Sedap, Tenkomori and other awesome places. For a few months now, a small store space within Regents Place had been boarded up with a massive sign that said ‘Aqua S, ice cream’ on it. When I saw ice cream I got excited.

I wasn’t really sure what was installed for us but anything to do with ice cream could only be awesome. Time passed and I headed back to living my day to day life in Canberra, I kind of forgot about Aqua S to be honest, until the other week. Suddenly our Instagram feed was bombarded with these amazing looking soft serves. There was fairy floss, popping candy, pastel colours, hipster flavours like sea salt and other awesome things like that. When I saw those awesome and cute pictures nothing else mattered, I didn’t care if it tasted good or bad, I had to get my hands on one. Luckily for me and a bit of a spoiler alert, Aqua S isn’t just a gimmick, it is actually quite tasty!

The concept at Aqua S is pretty simple. There are three different soft serve flavours at any one time, the staple which should always be around, sea salt and two other flavours which changes every week. In Aqua S’ first week they had biscotti and lemon tea, this week they have strawberry cheesecake and salted dark chocolate. You can combine some of these flavours but not all as Aqua S only has two soft serve machines. When you’re in store, there’s a screen which highlights which flavours can be combined and which can’t. Once you’ve picked your flavour, you can choose to either get it in a cone or small cup for $3.80 or large cup for $4.30. Then it’s time to add the toppings. Right now there are four different toppings; popping candy, fairy floss, caramelised popcorn and toasted marshmallows. One topping will cost $1.50, two toppings will cost $2.50 and all four toppings will cost $4.20. I know it seems a little steep but what can you say, it’s the hipster age plus it’s not overly expensive when you compare it to Messina’s dessert bar which will set you back $0.80 per topping and $7.50 for the base and soft serve. So when you think about it in that respect, it isn’t too bad.

Anyway, lets talk about these amazing looking pastel ice creams!

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I opted for the a Sea salt soft serve with popping candy on a cone ($5.30). I originally wanted both fairy floss and popping candy but I was told that there would be a 20 minute wait on the fairy floss and this was 12.30pm on a Monday. The shop had quite a few people but it wasn’t busy or anything. If I wasn’t in a rush to get to another appointment I would have waited, I guess this gives me an excuse to come back in two weeks during Lunar New Year.

For my soft serve, I chose straight sea salt, I’ve read a couple of negative reviews about it, stating that pure sea salt can be too overwhelming and most people recommended combining it with one of the other flavours to balance it out. Being a rebel, I of course didn’t listen and got the full sea salt hit that I always wanted. I’m so glad that I’m terribly stupid and try things regardless of what others say because I actually really enjoyed pure sea salt. I love ice cream and I like soft serve even more. However, normally about half way through I’m normally over it, I find it too sweet and too much for me but here with this sea salt, I managed to eat the whole thing and I even wanted more afterwards. The idea of sea salt might sound really weird but it’s actually completely normal and tried and tested in Asian cooking. I didn’t know that adding salt to sweet things was weird until recently when a friend saw me add salt to watermelon. I’m telling you, it’s amazing. Salt does this thing where it kind of mildens and rounds off the sweetness of sugar and takes it from sickly sweet to pleasantly sweet. I guess that’s why salted caramel works so well, caramel by itself gets way to much but add a bit of salt and it’s just pure enjoyment from there on in.

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Anyways, this was how the sea salt soft serve was at Aqua S. It was sweet, super creamy and had this lovely salty ending. It wasn’t salty to the point where you feel like you’re eating something savoury but enough to help overcome the initial sweetness of the soft serve and round everything off really well. The addition of popping candy was pretty cool as well. The candy popped away as you licked away at your soft serve cone. However, I must say for $1.50 it wasn’t a lot of popping candy by any means. I mean I could have crossed the road and got a whole bag of popping candy from McDonald’s or 7 Eleven for $1. I think outside of the fairy floss, people have complained a bit about the lack of toppings, I think someone was saying that you only get like half a marshmallow. I reckon, if you’re charging me $1.50 at least be a bit generous! But cost aside, great soft serve, flavours and toppings! Oh also, the cone looks like chocolate but to me it just tasted like a normal cone. Not a bad thing at all, it was really crunchy and waffle like.

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I really enjoyed my ice cream at Aqua S. I know it’s got some pretty mixed review but it’s definitely still worth checking out either for the hipster and gimmicky side of it or for the love of all things sweet with a hint of salt. I’ll definitely be coming back to get the sea salt soft serve again and to try out some of the new flavours and fairy floss topping as well. I  think what Aqua S has here is an awesome idea and I really hope to see Aqua S expand in the future with more bases and toppings once they’ve become more established and what not. It would be great to have something similar to Messina’s dessert bar closer to the city, plus the Asian influence is pretty awesome too. Absolutely cannot wait! I might have to try and recreate sea salt ice cream in Canberra for the next two weeks to fight off the craving! I wonder if sprinkling salt on store brought vanilla ice cream will work?!

Aqua S on Urbanspoon

Black Star Pastry, Newtown

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Okay, its taken me a while but I’ve finally made it. I’ve made it to Black Star Pastry in Newtown and I can now die happy. I’ve tried the one and only strawberry watermelon with rose scented cream cake and boy does it live up to its hype, it truly is such a simple yet delicious cake. I don’t really have an excuse for not trying this out earlier, except for the train system in Sydney so I’m sure I’ll get a pass there, unless of course complaining about Sydney Trains isn’t a thing anymore. I can’t get to Newtown without first travelling from the west to the city and then back out to Newtown and unfortunately, that was just a thing I’m not willing to do. Yup, the worst excuse ever but that’s what has been holding me back, back from all this deliciousness.

So I guess for anyone who hasn’t tried it out yet (I can’t imagine there are many left, I mean even my friends who have no care in the world for food. You know, the people who eat to live as opposed to us who live to eat have managed to try out this cake). I guess this might be of more benefit to my fellow Canberrians. If you’re ever in Sydney and want to try out an amazing cake, check this place out. Its legitimately, to die for!

Alrightie, lets talk about these awesome cakes.

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Here you have it, the one and only Strawberry watermelon cake with rose scented cream ($7). One bite was all I needed to understand the fan fare and hype. It’s a cake that lives up to its reputation. Every single bite was a treat on the taste buds and after each bite I wanted more, which lead to me just tearing through this thing. This cake is essentially layers of fruit and cream, so there was no heavy feeling afterwards that tends to come with most other cakes. I probably could safely say, if I got the full cake from Black Star Pastry instead of just a slice, I could probably make a real dent into it and not regret any second of it. This is coming from someone that normally doesn’t even like cakes that much, I’m more of a pastry person. Weird. I absolutely loved this.

So, what made this cake so great? For me, it was how light it was, there wasn’t much baked bits to it at all. There were two layers of quite sweet tasting oats (or something like that), it had a coarse texture to it and came apart easily. That was probably where all the sweetness of the cake came from, the rest of the cake was really fresh and light. There was a whole layer of watermelon which was of course super refreshing and added that delicious watermelon flavour.

If anyone has baked with watermelon before, you’ll know how hard it is, no matter how much watermelon juice or pulp you add to your batter, the end product just never taste like watermelon, there’s normally no taste of watermelon whatsoever usually. The flavour of watermelon is just too mild to come through in cooking and no one wants to use that artificial watermelon flavour (its nice, well I like it but we all know its not real watermelon). Here at Black Star Pastry they found the perfect work around, just stick a whole fresh slice of watermelon into the cake. But they went further, to compliment and enhance the flavour of the watermelon, there were two layers of rose scented cream. The cream added a lovely texture and softness to the cake, while bringing out the flavours of spring and summer, notes and tones of floral, bees buzzing, sun shining, iced lemonades and what not. This would be the perfect pick me up in the middle of a Canberra winter, that’s for sure.

On top of the cake there were plenty of flavoursome strawberry which added to the spring and summer feelings and also added some acidity as well. There was also a sprinkling of pistachio nuts which added some crunchiness to the cake and some nuttiness as well. Together this cake just came together perfectly. I can safely say, I’ve probably never had a cake this good. I will definitely be battling Sydney Trains more often to journey out to Newtown to get more of this goodness. One point I should mention, you can get this takeaway. However, it lasts probably 2-3 hours max, after that it just becomes a gooey creamy mess. Keep this in mind people!

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I felt a little bad going to Black Star Pastry and not trying anything else, so I decided to grab an Eton’s mess tart ($5). I can see why the strawberry and watermelon cake is so famous while no one ever talks about the other treats at Black Star Pastry and somehow, I mean that in the best way possible.

This cake wasn’t bad it just wasn’t blow you out of the water good like their watermelon and strawberry cake does. I have no idea what flavour this tart was, I ate the whole thing whilst trying to work it out, unsuccessfully. It was yellow but it wasn’t orange or mango, it could have been a strange mandarin. I normally love mandarin but I find it a little strange when used as a flavour in foods (especially when its been cooked up). I can’t say for sure that’s what this tart was but I’m just okay to assume so for now and let my mind rest in peace.

The toppings on the actual tart was quite nice. There were slices of fresh blood orange which added great flavour, tartness and acidity. There were also bits of meringues which brought some nice texture and crunchiness to the tart. On top of that, there were bits of citrus jellies (I also guess citrus because they’re orange!) Finally, even thought they didn’t taste like anything, I’m always a big fan of flowers. They added lots of colour and liveliness to any dish, treat or dessert. I probably wouldn’t get this again but its a nice contrast to the strawberry and watermelon cake. Plus, I can also say, I’ve tried other things at Black Star Pastry outside of that super duper famous cake, so that means that I’m cultured or something.

Okay, this was an amazing experience. I do seem to gush a lot, and I’m excitable, but hopefully this shows precisely how much I loved this experience, it was absolutely wonderful and completely lived up to the incredible hype. I’m totally adding to the hype now but Black Star Pastry deserves every single amazing review it gets for this delicious cake.

I will definitely be coming back for more, plus I wouldn’t mind trying some other treats as well, I mean the Eton’s Mess was definitely overshadowed by the king cake, but it was by no means a bad cake, and some of the other cakes which they display online sound pretty good too. Thought I must say, I didn’t see any of them there on the day but then again the cakes are kind of spread around the very small store and its completely packed with people, plus lines out the door. I didn’t want to make a big fuss and just ordered my cakes quickly, paid and left to make space for other people since I’m easily swayed by such conditions.

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