HOT: Fancy Nance, 21 Daly St, South Yarra

Fancy Nance 21 Daly St South Yarra 20 HOT: Fancy Nance, 21 Daly St, South Yarra

If you like high tea then shoot down the rabbit hole into the Adriano Zumbo-created dessert wonderland called Fancy Nance.

Fancy Nance 21 Daly St South Yarra 18 HOT: Fancy Nance, 21 Daly St, South Yarra

Fancy Nance is this famous patissier’s new high tea salon that’s named after his mother, Nancy. It occupies the site behind his eponymous patisserie on Claremont Street and is the former premises of George Calombaris’ Mama Baba and Manu Fiedel’s short-lived Le Grand Cirque.

Can another celebrity chef make a go of this site?

Based on the spectacular high tea I tried today, I hope so. This is high tea unlike anything I’ve tried in Melbourne.

Fancy Nance 21 Daly St South Yarra 4 HOT: Fancy Nance, 21 Daly St, South Yarra

The setting is quite unique. The space is cavernous and the industrial framework can be quite cold (literally and figuratively). But the designers have carved up the centre into cosy plush booths to give it a bit of warmth. There’s a sleek brass cocktail bar with chic brass detailing once the venue opens in the evening.

Fancy Nance 21 Daly St South Yarra 5 HOT: Fancy Nance, 21 Daly St, South Yarra

Fancy Nance 21 Daly St South Yarra 16 HOT: Fancy Nance, 21 Daly St, South Yarra

Fancy Nance 21 Daly St South Yarra 6 HOT: Fancy Nance, 21 Daly St, South Yarra

Both ends of the room are book-ended by exuberant, psychedelic Alice-in-Wonderland inspired street art and you can watch the long open kitchen at work preparing your delicacies.

Fancy Nance 21 Daly St South Yarra 15 HOT: Fancy Nance, 21 Daly St, South Yarra

There’s no traditional three-tiered stand. Instead, you’re given three choices – $65 for twelve course degustation of sweets and savouries, $45 for seven mini savoury and sweet courses or scones with jam plus tea, coffee or hot chocolate for $15.

The courses come one after the other…and dessert comes first. I don’t have a problem eating dessert in any order during a meal but I did think it was curious…so I asked a waitress why the topsy-turvy approach. Apparently it’s just the way Zumbo likes to do it and in a traditional three-tier stand going from top to bottom you’d start off with sweets.

The ingredient combinations and attention to detail in presentation is quite stunning. Not everything was too my taste but 10 points for creativity!

To give you a rundown of the current menu:

Fancy Nance 21 Daly St South Yarra 1 HOT: Fancy Nance, 21 Daly St, South Yarra

Linzer cake with vanilla chantilly, grapefruit with white chocolate ganache, olive oil and shizo and a tube layered with passionfruit curd, lemongrass pannacotta, lime tapioca and coconut espuma.

Fancy Nance 21 Daly St South Yarra 3 HOT: Fancy Nance, 21 Daly St, South Yarra

Choux bun covered  in freeze-dried cherries and filled with…tarragon ice cream.

Fancy Nance 21 Daly St South Yarra 7 HOT: Fancy Nance, 21 Daly St, South Yarra

The dish is an wow-inspiring colour bomb but I can’t say I loved the savoury, anise flavour of the filling.

Fancy Nance 21 Daly St South Yarra 8 HOT: Fancy Nance, 21 Daly St, South Yarra

A deconstructed apple pie with a cinnamon marshmallow and sorrel leaf plus Zumbo’s signature macarons (or as he calls them, zumbarons).

Fancy Nance 21 Daly St South Yarra 9 HOT: Fancy Nance, 21 Daly St, South Yarra

There’s a reason these macarons are famous – the texture is just perfect, with a crispy-shelled but still moist biscuit sandwiching a not-too-sweet ganache. It also comes nestled on top of a WHOLE BOWL of chocolate beads which you can dig into at leisure!

Fancy Nance 21 Daly St South Yarra 10 HOT: Fancy Nance, 21 Daly St, South Yarra

The one concession to tradition – the scone – was perfect too, fluffy and light. [spoiler] What no one warned me about was that one of the jams was capsicum! I actually quite liked the unexpected peppery flavour and I worked out that one of the ‘creams’ was actually a whipped ricotta. The other jam is sweet (cranberry) and you can pair that with double cream…or cheese if you so wish!

Fancy Nance 21 Daly St South Yarra 11 HOT: Fancy Nance, 21 Daly St, South Yarra

The pastries are a segue into the savoury courses, with a petite pain au chocolat, a raspberry and coconut danish and a tartlet with caramelised olives and topped with smoked ricotta.

Fancy Nance 21 Daly St South Yarra 13 HOT: Fancy Nance, 21 Daly St, South Yarra

The traditional smoked salmon finger sandwich is turned into a cured salmon, crunchy rye, slices of fresh apple and creme fraiche. The other ‘sandwich’ is melting pork rillette inside a salt-flecked pretzel turned into a bun shape!

Fancy Nance 21 Daly St South Yarra 14 HOT: Fancy Nance, 21 Daly St, South Yarra

The final course is a cube of osso bucco decorated with delicate pea shoots. 
Fancy Nance 21 Daly St South Yarra 19 HOT: Fancy Nance, 21 Daly St, South YarraI really enjoyed my high tea at Fancy Nance. Their version of high tea is a playful take on an old tradition and you’ll be surprised at every turn. Given the menu changes periodically I can’t wait go down the rabbit hole again! Later the small space at the front will become a cafe and patisserie called ‘Little Frankie’.

Fancy Nance, 21 Daly St, South Yarra 1800 858 611

Wednesday – Sunday 11am-6pm

No reservations, walk-ins only

 HOT: Fancy Nance, 21 Daly St, South Yarra

NOT: Exxopolis Luminarium, Glow Winter Arts Festival 2014, The Jam Factory rooftop carpark, 500 Chapel St, South Yarra

Exxopolis Luminarium Glow Winter Arts Festival 2014 The Jam Factory rooftop carpark 500 Chapel St South Yarra 4 NOT: Exxopolis Luminarium, Glow Winter Arts Festival 2014, The Jam Factory rooftop carpark, 500 Chapel St, South Yarra

Glow Winter Arts Festival is a celebration of arts in the City of Stonnington being held from 14 to 24 August, with the centrepiece being the mysterious-sounding Exxopolis Luminarium.

Exxopolis Luminarium is an art installation that comes to Melbourne from the UK. The 20th Luminarium design is like a giant blow-up indoor maze which uses 3000 square metres of plastic to create tunnels and domes lit with colourful lights. The structure spans across the expanse of the Jam Factory rooftop car park so you can imagine how big it is.

Exxopolis Luminarium Glow Winter Arts Festival 2014 The Jam Factory rooftop carpark 500 Chapel St South Yarra 8 NOT: Exxopolis Luminarium, Glow Winter Arts Festival 2014, The Jam Factory rooftop carpark, 500 Chapel St, South Yarra

The idea is to create a multi-sensory immersive experience, with different colours melding from one area to another and inspiring imaginings of sunlight, forests and the deep blue sea. The serene soundscape sounds like those relaxation tapes you hear in massage rooms. There are many beautiful architectural moments to savour and the interaction of colour and the outside light is very photogenic.

Exxopolis Luminarium Glow Winter Arts Festival 2014 The Jam Factory rooftop carpark 500 Chapel St South Yarra 1 NOT: Exxopolis Luminarium, Glow Winter Arts Festival 2014, The Jam Factory rooftop carpark, 500 Chapel St, South Yarra

Exxopolis Luminarium Glow Winter Arts Festival 2014 The Jam Factory rooftop carpark 500 Chapel St South Yarra NOT: Exxopolis Luminarium, Glow Winter Arts Festival 2014, The Jam Factory rooftop carpark, 500 Chapel St, South Yarra

Exxopolis Luminarium Glow Winter Arts Festival 2014 The Jam Factory rooftop carpark 500 Chapel St South Yarra 6 NOT: Exxopolis Luminarium, Glow Winter Arts Festival 2014, The Jam Factory rooftop carpark, 500 Chapel St, South Yarra

Exxopolis Luminarium Glow Winter Arts Festival 2014 The Jam Factory rooftop carpark 500 Chapel St South Yarra 5 NOT: Exxopolis Luminarium, Glow Winter Arts Festival 2014, The Jam Factory rooftop carpark, 500 Chapel St, South Yarra

However, I think for $17.50 it’s not great value, even if you can meditate on the relaxing atmosphere with 30 other people (and possibly boisterous kids like mine) walking around interrupting your serenity. If you just walk around exploring you probably won’t spend more than 20 minutes inside. For that price I’d rather go see a movie at the Jam Factory.

The Glow Winter Arts Festival program includes more than 50 events over 11 days across Prahran, Malvern, Armadale, Toorak and South Yarra and there are other events which look appealing, from music to comedy to food. Save your money and support the festival elsewhere.

Exxopolis Luminarium, Glow Winter Arts Festival,  The Jam Factory rooftop carpark, 500 Chapel St, South Yarra

Thu 14 Aug – Sun 24 Aug, 12pm–9pm

$15 / free for children under 5 years

HOT: Zhou Zhou Bar, upstairs Oriental Tea House, 455 Chapel St, South Yarra

Zhou Zhou Bar upstairs Oriental Tea House Chapel St South Yarra 21 HOT: Zhou Zhou Bar, upstairs Oriental Tea House, 455 Chapel St, South Yarra

Oriental Teahouse in Chapel Street now hosts an (almost) secret bar upstairs called Zhou Zhou, named after its owner, the well-known Melbourne tea specialist and David Zhou.

Zhou Zhou Bar upstairs Oriental Tea House Chapel St South Yarra 5 HOT: Zhou Zhou Bar, upstairs Oriental Tea House, 455 Chapel St, South Yarra

I was invited to check out the Zhou Zhou on opening and after some confusion about the entrance I climbed the stairs from the brightly lit Oriental Teahouse to enter a dim Shanghaiese drinking den. The décor was moody and dark with timber floors and murals of Shanghaiese ladies in cheong-sam and touches of Chinoiserie and kitsch Asian paraphernalia dotted around. Zhou Zhou Bar upstairs Oriental Tea House Chapel St South Yarra 3 HOT: Zhou Zhou Bar, upstairs Oriental Tea House, 455 Chapel St, South Yarra

Zhou Zhou Bar upstairs Oriental Tea House Chapel St South Yarra 1 HOT: Zhou Zhou Bar, upstairs Oriental Tea House, 455 Chapel St, South Yarra

Zhou Zhou serves over 50 Asian inspired craft beers, which apparently was quite a feat of research for David Zhou, a self-professed tea man. The drinks list is rounded out with wine, sake and Asian-inspired cocktails such as the Hello Vera – a mix of West Winds Gin, peach, aloe vera and mint, or the Mekong Hijinks of lychee, lemongrass and hibiscus tea and more West Winds Gin. I preferred the latter cocktail for the balance of sweet and tart and it was served with a lychee sherbet lolly for a comical twist.

Zhou Zhou Bar upstairs Oriental Tea House Chapel St South Yarra 8 HOT: Zhou Zhou Bar, upstairs Oriental Tea House, 455 Chapel St, South Yarra

The kitchens of Oriental Teahouse provide the savoury and sweet snacks, mostly dumplings, all for sharing and to match your drinks.

Zhou Zhou Bar upstairs Oriental Tea House Chapel St South Yarra 4 HOT: Zhou Zhou Bar, upstairs Oriental Tea House, 455 Chapel St, South Yarra

I tried the fat and fluffy pork buns and the chilli dumplings, always a favourite with their slippery pliant skins and kick of heat. But there’s lots of choose from so you don’t just have to stick with dim sum.

Zhou Zhou Bar upstairs Oriental Tea House Chapel St South Yarra 7 HOT: Zhou Zhou Bar, upstairs Oriental Tea House, 455 Chapel St, South Yarra

The relaxed vibe and hidden nooks of Zhou Zhou create a cosy counterpoint to the noisy street life happening downstairs on Chapel Street. It’s a place you can linger as you’ll be fed and watered in comfort and style while the rest of the populace fights for parking spaces. And if you’re at Zhou Zhou with a larger group I recommend commandeering the room across the hallway for your own private party!

Zhou Zhou Bar upstairs Oriental Tea House Chapel St South Yarra 6 HOT: Zhou Zhou Bar, upstairs Oriental Tea House, 455 Chapel St, South Yarra

Zhou Zhou, 455 Chapel Street, South Yarra 03 9826 0168

Wed-Thu, Sun 5pm-11pm Fri-Sat 5pm-2am

minilink HOT: Zhou Zhou Bar, upstairs Oriental Tea House, 455 Chapel St, South Yarra

HOT: Food Safari Picnic, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014, O’Connell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island

Food Safari Picnic HOT: Food Safari Picnic, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014, OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island

For the next few weeks there will be lots of Melbourne Food and Wine Festival event reviews on the blog. First up is the delightful Food Safari Picnic that happened on the weekend.

I was invited as a guest of Yarra City Council and didn’t really know what to expect. And for a first-time go at running the Food Safari Picnic I thought it was remarkably successful. Melbourne’s temperamental weather even pulled out a beautifully balmy day for the outdoor event.

Food Safari Picnic Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014 OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island 8 HOT: Food Safari Picnic, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014, OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island

Picnickers were instructed to gather at O’Connell’s Reserve, a small park at the end of Bridge Road before you hit the Yarra River. As I pulled up my bike I could hear the jazz musicians playing and smelled delicious porky aromas coming from the barbecue set up on the lawn.

Food Safari Picnic Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014 OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island 13 HOT: Food Safari Picnic, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014, OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island

The nice thing about this picnic was that you didn’t have BYO anything. Instead for $85 ($45 children) each person was handed a neon green cooler bag which you could fill with four dishes from the participating Bridge Road eateries – including previous blog HOTs Touchwood, Laikon Deli and Richmond Hill and Larder.

Food Safari Picnic Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014 OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island 7 HOT: Food Safari Picnic, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014, OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island

The choice was impressive, from kale salads to shrimp rolls to cheese platters to tiramisu. Each dish was a full serving too so in fact the four dishes could easily have fed two people. As such I chose items I thought would last a trip home as leftovers – a rich overnight-smoked pulled pork brioche bun with red cabbage slaw from The Collection, the famous spanikopita and baklava from Laikon Deli, the Mexican chicken salad from Touchwood and high tea set of baked treats by Qualia Empire cafe.

Food Safari Picnic Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014 OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island 10 HOT: Food Safari Picnic, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014, OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island

Food Safari Picnic Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014 OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island 6 HOT: Food Safari Picnic, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014, OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island

Food Safari Picnic Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014 OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island 9 HOT: Food Safari Picnic, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014, OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island

Food Safari Picnic Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014 OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island 12 HOT: Food Safari Picnic, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014, OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island

To get you in the eating mode everyone was offered a coffee/hot drink from the coffee cart at O’Connell Reserve before being taken on a private ferry boat to putt along the Yarra to Herring Island, an environmental park in the middle of the river in South Yarra which is only accessible by boat.

Food Safari Picnic Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014 OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island 1 HOT: Food Safari Picnic, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014, OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island

Even though the river cuts through the heart of our city I think it’s rare for most people to view Melbourne from the water. I urge you to try it sometime! Look at the wildlife that lives along the banks, feel the serenity of the narrow waterway and gawp at the multi-million dollar mansions on the slopes.

Food Safari Picnic Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014 OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island 3 HOT: Food Safari Picnic, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014, OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island

 

Food Safari Picnic 1 HOT: Food Safari Picnic, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014, OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island

Food Safari Picnic Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014 OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island 14 HOT: Food Safari Picnic, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014, OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island

Food Safari Picnic Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014 OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island 5 HOT: Food Safari Picnic, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014, OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island

After about 40 minutes of hearing nothing but laughter and gently lapping water we pulled up at Herring Island. Many people don’t realise that this secluded island oasis exists in the heart of inner Melbourne, and that you can visit in the summer months. 

Food Safari Picnic Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014 OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island 11 HOT: Food Safari Picnic, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014, OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island

We were directed to the picnic area, stopping to appreciate some of the sculptures hidden in the forestry. At the picnic area again there were picnic blankets, scatter cushions, low seating under umbrellas and even some gentle live music to chill out to while you enjoyed your picnic hamper. Best of all, you could have some creamy ice cream for dessert from the Sicilian vintage Bianco Latte gelato cart (which they had to carry on board a boat and sail to the island!).

Food Safari Picnic Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014 OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island 4 HOT: Food Safari Picnic, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014, OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island

To walk off all that eating the Herring Island society ran free tours of the gallery and environmental sculpture garden every hour. Sculptures include works by Jill Peck, Ellen Jose, and Andy Goldsworthy.

Food Safari Picnic Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014 OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island 2 HOT: Food Safari Picnic, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014, OConnell Reserve Richmond and Herring Island

The Food Safari Picnic was one of the most charming, good-value events I’ve participated in throughout my years of attending the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. For $85 you received four picnic dishes (about two more than you’d actually need), coffee, gelati, water, a picnic bag, return ferry ride and entertainment. I hope that Yarra City Council run it more often during the year as it’s a brilliant idea, not only to introduce people to the food and wine of Bridge Road but to allow Melburnians to appreciate their city from another point of view and to discover the unknown gem that’s Herring Island

NB The Herring Island punt service only operates Saturdays, Sundays and certain public holidays. The punt will not run on Christmas Day, New Years Eve, New Years Day, or Good Friday.

Punt Starting Date: Saturday 11 January 2014 11:00am – 5:00pm. Pick up and drop off from Como landing.

Punt End Date: Sunday 27 April 2014 11:00am – 5:00pm. Pick up and drop off from Como landing.

The punt is $2 per person or $5 per family, with pensioners, unemployed and children under 12 free. It can take up to 12 people.

There is no set timetable as the service runs on demand between 11am and 5pm

HOT: The Stables of Como, Como House and Gardens, cnr Williams Rd and Lechlade Ave, South Yarra


The Stables of Como Como House and Gardens cnr Williams Rd and Lechlade Ave South Yarra 4 HOT: The Stables of Como, Como House and Gardens, cnr Williams Rd and Lechlade Ave, South Yarra

For a cafe that’s not on a high street or eating/shopping strip, The Stables of Como is one super-busy eatery.

It’s a spacious place (though not cavernous) and on a weekday lunch hour there was still a  queue for an indoor or outdoor table. And it wasn’t just the ladies-who-lunch and the yummy-mummies of Toorak and South Yarra turning up. I saw hipsters! Hipsters at a National Trust property!

For The Stables of Como is not just any old cafe. It’s located amongst the beautiful landscaped gardens of Como House, a 160 year old property just minutes from urban Melbourne, and is housed in, you guessed it, the former stables of the grand mansion.

Perhaps the reason people are making The Stables of Como a dining destination  is because of its pedigree. The group behind Eastern suburb favourites Porgie + Mr. Jones, Snow Pony and Friends of Mine are the people behind the cafe and the diverse menu, friendly smiling staff and attention to detail in the decor demonstrate their hospitality experience.

On a sunny day the picnic benches resting on fake turf are in hot demand, but the interior decoration is just as beautiful. Enamel pendant light shades, white bentwood chairs and elegant floral arrangements offset chalkboard walls, a back shelf groaning with colour-coordinated jars of produce…and one huge wooden bench beckoning you with glass-domed cakes, biscuits and pastries, like a grown-up version of a toddler’s birthday party lolly table.

The Stables of Como Como House and Gardens cnr Williams Rd and Lechlade Ave South Yarra 5 HOT: The Stables of Como, Como House and Gardens, cnr Williams Rd and Lechlade Ave, South Yarra

The kitchen offers all day breakfast menu and lunch dishes which start at 12 midday. I opted for a main serve size of a spring risotto, a velvety mix of rice, spanner crab and fennel, finished off with prosecco and herbed marscapone for extra decadence ($24.90).

The Stables of Como Como House and Gardens cnr Williams Rd and Lechlade Ave South Yarra 8 HOT: The Stables of Como, Como House and Gardens, cnr Williams Rd and Lechlade Ave, South Yarra

My dining companion Gourmet Chick had the Tuna Nicoise ($24.90), an outrageously large slab of just-seared tuna served with a mix of vegetables, a drizzle of smoky lemon vinaigrette and crowned with an oozy soft-boiled egg.

The Stables of Como Como House and Gardens cnr Williams Rd and Lechlade Ave South Yarra 7 HOT: The Stables of Como, Como House and Gardens, cnr Williams Rd and Lechlade Ave, South Yarra

As I mentioned before it is well worth saving room for dessert. We shared a frangipane and blueberry tart ($5.50) which was very pretty but too dry, leaving a rather unpleasant mealy texture in the mouth.

The Stables of Como Como House and Gardens cnr Williams Rd and Lechlade Ave South Yarra 2 HOT: The Stables of Como, Como House and Gardens, cnr Williams Rd and Lechlade Ave, South Yarra

A better option was the orange Bergamot NY baked cheesecake with gingerbread ice cream ($13.90). I have not had a New York baked cheesecake since those solid doorstopper cakes were all the range in the 90s, but this is a very good version – not too heavy, not too light, just right and with a hint of citrus to spike the dairy richness. The gingerbread crumbs and ice cream also elevated it above the norm.

The Stables of Como Como House and Gardens cnr Williams Rd and Lechlade Ave South Yarra 1 HOT: The Stables of Como, Como House and Gardens, cnr Williams Rd and Lechlade Ave, South Yarra

Other old-fashioned treats which will be sure to appeal to children or those with a fondness for sweets that hark back to sticky childhoods include the musk sticks ($1.90) and giant chocolate freckle ($2.50).

The Stables of Como Como House and Gardens cnr Williams Rd and Lechlade Ave South Yarra 6 HOT: The Stables of Como, Como House and Gardens, cnr Williams Rd and Lechlade Ave, South Yarra

If you’re visiting Como House and Gardens but don’t fancy a sit-down mea, The Stables of Como offers picnic packs and you can even rent a croquet set, frisbee and rugs to loll on! What a beautiful way to spend a day (and from 22-24 November the Paris to Provence French Festival will be taking over the grounds as well – check out my review of last year’s event).

The Stables of Como, Como House and Gardens, cnr Williams Rd and Lechlade Ave, South Yarra (03) 9942 3630 

Monday to Saturday, 9am until 5pm
Sunday, 10am until 5pm

minilink HOT: The Stables of Como, Como House and Gardens, cnr Williams Rd and Lechlade Ave, South Yarra


View MEL: HOT OR NOT in a larger map

HOT: Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class, Ganache Chocolate, 250 Toorak Rd, South Yarra

Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class Ganache Chocolate 250 Toorak Rd South Yarra 1 HOT: Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class, Ganache Chocolate, 250 Toorak Rd, South Yarra

One of the downsides of writing a blog that’s heavily focused on food is that I often get hungry as I work on the computer.

Fortunately for this post I have had a stash of excellent chocolate to sustain me – thanks to a chocolate making class at Ganache, my favourite chocolatier in Melbourne.

For Good Food Month in November Ganache are holding some special events at their South Yarra chocolate lounge, including a special Chocolate High Tea and a chocolate class with a Christmas theme. I was invited to participate in the first session of the Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates class with master chocolatier and owner of Ganache, Arno Backes.

The class started off with a brief tour of Ganache‘s pastry and chocolate kitchens. As you can imagine the whole place smelled buttery and chocolatey and all round delicious. But all the staff (including Arno) are amazingly thin! Maybe if you work with chocolate and pastry all the time you’re less inclined to gorge yourself eating it (though Arno says he eats a KILO of chocolate a week – the key is to eat good quality product).

Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class Ganache Chocolate 250 Toorak Rd South Yarra 4 HOT: Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class, Ganache Chocolate, 250 Toorak Rd, South Yarra

We then perched up on steel work benches with a couverture hot chocolate in hand and watched and listened to Arno as he talked passionately about his work and chocolate. You’re not just being talked at for 2.5 hours though – the class was very hands-on and you will find yourself licking chocolate off your fingers and arms!

Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class Ganache Chocolate 250 Toorak Rd South Yarra 2 HOT: Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class, Ganache Chocolate, 250 Toorak Rd, South Yarra

We learnt about different methods of tempering chocolate, the process which binds the cocoa mass, cocoa butter and sugar in couverture back together after it has been heated so it can be worked with.

We then moved onto moulding different Christmas-themed chocolate. First up was a very tricky hollow Christmas tree. Aparently Arno wasn’t allowed to make one of these until six months into his apprenticeship and it’s because otherwise you’ll end up with something akin to my creation – a recognisable tree but with blobby and smudgy decorative elements instead of fine detailing.

Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class Ganache Chocolate 250 Toorak Rd South Yarra 6 HOT: Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class, Ganache Chocolate, 250 Toorak Rd, South Yarra

Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class Ganache Chocolate 250 Toorak Rd South Yarra 8 HOT: Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class, Ganache Chocolate, 250 Toorak Rd, South Yarra
Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class Ganache Chocolate 250 Toorak Rd South Yarra 7 HOT: Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class, Ganache Chocolate, 250 Toorak Rd, South Yarra

We then moved onto moulding a small solid Christmas tree with ‘snow’ speckled stacked branches and an assortment of cute snowmen filled with creamy ganache of different Christmassy flavours.

Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class Ganache Chocolate 250 Toorak Rd South Yarra 5 HOT: Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class, Ganache Chocolate, 250 Toorak Rd, South Yarra

Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class Ganache Chocolate 250 Toorak Rd South Yarra 3 HOT: Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class, Ganache Chocolate, 250 Toorak Rd, South Yarra
Some other tricks we learnt on the day:

  • always polish your moulds before you use them to give your chocolates a high glossy shine and to make de-moulding easier. Coles cotton balls work best!;
  • buy solid plastic chocolate moulds as they will last longer. The flimsy plastic ones you can get normally last about three goes and silicon moulds are usually only good for jellies. Arno buys his chocolate moulds from a Belgium company called Chocolate World and a German company in Rosenheim (can’t remember name). Ganache has a small pantry section where you can buy moulds, chocolate and other chocolate making products used by Ganache‘s kitchen;
  • don’t touch the inside of the moulds as you could damage them. The Christmas tree moulds we used cost $120 each!
  • Ganache should be made a day before and then left to sit overnight on the bench with clingfilm right on top of the mixture so no condensation or skin forms over it. Do not put it in the fridge otherwise the ganache will separate and split;
  • When you melt chocolate you need to get it to 45 degrees to melt all the cocoa butter crystals; and
  • keep vanilla beans individually wrapped in the freezer and defrost for an hour on the bench before use. Freezing helps the oils and fats inside the vanilla pod ‘sleep’ so the pod doesn’t lose flavour over time.

After experiencing the time and effort required to make all the chocolates (and watching the professional kitchen team at work) it’s easy to understand why Ganache‘s chocolates look and taste so different to mass produced stuff and why it’s priced accordingly. You will generally get a fresher product at a small chocolatier – at Ganache the hazelnuts in their chocolate bars are roasted the day before and stock is replenished every 2 weeks. Compare this to a mass produced brand which may use nuts which are up to 2 years old then filled with sugars and oils to prevent spoilage on the shelf. If you’re not convinced about why you should buy chocolates from specialist chocolatiers and not supermarkets, this class will change your mind.

You can join the second and final session of the Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates on November 20. The class costs $100 and is a fun and educational couple of hours – plus you get to take all of your creations home! For more information click here.

HOT: LuxBite Tea Set for Two, 38 Toorak Rd, South Yarra

LuxBite Tea Set for Two 38 Toorak Rd South Yarra 6 HOT: LuxBite Tea Set for Two, 38 Toorak Rd, South Yarra

Afternoon tea is my favourite meal of the day and the South Yarra patisserie LuxBite are offering possibly the most affordable afternoon tea in town.

The LuxBite Tea Set for Two includes two drinks, four macarons, two cakes and two sandwiches of the day for $48.  As you can choose your drinks, macarons and cakes from their full range you can indulge in your favourite flavours, whether it’s Ribena Lemonade or Bamboo Oolong Tea, and I was invited to try it out for myself.

The tea set was presented on a glossy ceramic platter and the bright jewel colours of all the decadent sweets means you really do gasp when it arrives.

LuxBite Tea Set for Two 38 Toorak Rd South Yarra 1 HOT: LuxBite Tea Set for Two, 38 Toorak Rd, South Yarra

The toasted sandwiches that I tried on the day included a home-made pork jerky with cucumber and a light-as-air avocado and sweet corn mousse. While they were quite good they were really the support act for the desserts.

LuxBite Tea Set for Two 38 Toorak Rd South Yarra 7 HOT: LuxBite Tea Set for Two, 38 Toorak Rd, South Yarra

From the macarons drawer we chose sour strawberry, rose and lychee, pandan and peanut butter and jelly. LuxBite‘s macarons are always consistently excellent in texture and their rainbow cabinet of interesting flavour combinations exemplifies their passion in combining French technique with uniquely Malaysian ingredients.

From the drool-worthy cake cabinet we chose the ‘Meringue Monster’ just because it looked the most extravagant plus their ‘Lolly Bag Cake’ made famous on Masterchef.  

LuxBite Tea Set for Two 38 Toorak Rd South Yarra 5 HOT: LuxBite Tea Set for Two, 38 Toorak Rd, South Yarra

The Lolly Bag Cake consisted of layers of nostalgic childhood sweets, starting with a banana lolly jaconde, freckles crunch, mandarin jaffa ganache, spearmint leaf buttercream, another layer of ganache flavoured with musk sticks and topped with a redskins glaze. It was a gorgeous candy-coloured confection and as you’d expect it was tooth-achingly sweet. I think it’s best to eat it layer by layer so you get the full effect of each of the lollies!

LuxBite Tea Set for Two 38 Toorak Rd South Yarra 4 HOT: LuxBite Tea Set for Two, 38 Toorak Rd, South Yarra

I preferred the Meringue Monster, a giant cylinder of finely piped meringue columns making an interior of green tea sponge, pistachio, watermelon yoghurt and a hot pink sour strawberry mousse. It’s a good thing that the dessert was shared as I challenge anyone to eat that much mousse and meringue in one go – ‘monster’ is the right word.

As I wasn’t in the mood for tea or coffee I choose to sip on a large frothy mug of decadent Mork hot chocolate with salted caramel. Talk about a major sugar high!

LuxBite Tea Set for Two 38 Toorak Rd South Yarra 9 HOT: LuxBite Tea Set for Two, 38 Toorak Rd, South Yarra

The LuxBite Tea Set for Two is a delicious shared treat at a great price and the best bit is because it’s up to you to choose your sweets you can curate your experience.

LuxBite Tea Set for Two, 38 Toorak Rd, South Yarra +61 3 98675888

Open 7 days, 10.30am – 7pm

minilink HOT: LuxBite Tea Set for Two, 38 Toorak Rd, South Yarra

HOT: LuxBite x N2 Extreme Gelato Melbourne x Uber Melbourne

LuxBite x N2 Extreme Gelato Melbourne x Uber Melbourne 1 HOT: LuxBite x N2 Extreme Gelato Melbourne x Uber Melbourne

As far as marketing stunts go, the collaboration between dessert specialists LuxBite, ice cream laboratory N2 Extreme Gelato and premium taxi service Uber Melbourne is a deliciously fun one.

For this weekend only (Friday 30 August to Sunday 1 September), Malaysia’s kaya coconut jam will be featured in two special ice-cream dishes at two Malaysian-run businesses on both sides of the Yarra. Ostensibly the event is to celebrate Malaysian Independence Day but really I think it’s just an excuse to ‘eat dessert first’ (or twice, in this case).

LuxBite x N2 Extreme Gelato Melbourne x Uber Melbourne 2 HOT: LuxBite x N2 Extreme Gelato Melbourne x Uber Melbourne

So first stop, LuxBite. This innovative dessert parlour is offering a high rise Kaya Toast ice-cream sandwich ($10) using a large split macaron housing a scoop of Kaya gelato by N2 Extreme Gelato, a smear of salted butter and rolled in some toasted shredded coconut. The final touch is a liquid-nitrogen-smoking mix of Milo and Old Town instant coffee crumble for an added ‘Wow’ factor.

LuxBite x N2 Extreme Gelato Melbourne x Uber Melbourne 8 HOT: LuxBite x N2 Extreme Gelato Melbourne x Uber Melbourne

As you can imagine it’s an absolutely delicious combination of sky-high sugar sweetness and probably a dessert best shared between two.

DSC01482 497x540 HOT: LuxBite x N2 Extreme Gelato Melbourne x Uber Melbourne

Second stop, N2 Extreme Gelato. What makes gelato extreme? When it’s made to order using liquid nitrogen! A bank of infused creams with unique flavour combinations (potato and leek?) sit behind a row of Kitchenaid mixers which churn the base until it’s ready for the crowd-drawing cloud of liquid nitrogen.

LuxBite x N2 Extreme Gelato Melbourne x Uber Melbourne 4 HOT: LuxBite x N2 Extreme Gelato Melbourne x Uber Melbourne

LuxBite x N2 Extreme Gelato Melbourne x Uber Melbourne 7 HOT: LuxBite x N2 Extreme Gelato Melbourne x Uber Melbourne

The nitrogen freezes the mixture so quickly that there’s no time for ice crystals to form and the result is a beautifully silky ice cream.

LuxBite x N2 Extreme Gelato Melbourne x Uber Melbourne 6 HOT: LuxBite x N2 Extreme Gelato Melbourne x Uber Melbourne

New flavours are released every Thursday and for this weekend’s parntership they are serving up a limited edition ‘deconstructed kaya toast’ combination of milk gelato studded with broken up ‘Ping Pong’ cream crackers, rolled in toasted bread crumbs and stabbed with a syringe of warm Kaya by LuxBite ($8). The ice cream is impressively silky smooth and the whole concoction definitely eye-catching!

LuxBite x N2 Extreme Gelato Melbourne x Uber Melbourne 5 HOT: LuxBite x N2 Extreme Gelato Melbourne x Uber Melbourne

LuxBite x N2 Extreme Gelato Melbourne x Uber Melbourne 9 HOT: LuxBite x N2 Extreme Gelato Melbourne x Uber Melbourne

The final piece of this kaya dessert fest is that Uber Melbourne can help you traverse nasty old Punt Road. Their bank of luxury cars are offering two FREE rides up to the value of $40 between the two venues for existing and new riders. Just enter the promo code N2Lux on the Uber app. Ride must begin at either LuxBite or N2 Extreme Gelato and valid from 7am Fri 30 Aug to midnight Sun 1 Sept.

LuxBite x N2 Extreme Gelato Melbourne x Uber Melbourne 3 HOT: LuxBite x N2 Extreme Gelato Melbourne x Uber Melbourne

LuxBite, 38 Toorak Rd, South Yarra

Daily 10.30am – 7pm

N2 Extreme Gelato, 329 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

Daily 1pm–11pm

HOT: Put Victoria on Your Table Cellar Door and Artisan Market, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2013, Como House & Garden, Corner Williams Rd & Lechlade Ave, South Yarra

DSC07025 540x359 HOT: Put Victoria on Your Table Cellar Door and Artisan Market, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2013, Como House & Garden, Corner Williams Rd & Lechlade Ave, South Yarra

Melbourne’s unpredictable weather has turned on the sunshine this weekend – perfect weather for outdoor eating and drinking. And a festive garden party is a picturesque location for wining and dining al fresco as part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2013.

Put Victoria On Your Table: Cellar Door and Artisan Market is a weekend event that’s being held in the surrounds of Como House and Garden. Winemakers, brewers, butchers, fisheries, bakers and producers from all around Victoria have come together for an upmarket and festive farmers market with food and wine tastings, activities, demonstrations and live entertainment throughout the day.

If you’re a regular at Melbourne’s accredited farmers markets you’ll probably be familiar with a lot of the producers. I bought gourmet ice cream from Gundowring Fine Foods, chocolate hedgehog from Springhill Farm and Persian feta from Yarra Valley Dairy in the Cheese Room (yes! a room where you can eat your fill of cheese!).

DSC07028 540x429 HOT: Put Victoria on Your Table Cellar Door and Artisan Market, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2013, Como House & Garden, Corner Williams Rd & Lechlade Ave, South Yarra

DSC07006 540x365 HOT: Put Victoria on Your Table Cellar Door and Artisan Market, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2013, Como House & Garden, Corner Williams Rd & Lechlade Ave, South Yarra

DSC06997 540x264 HOT: Put Victoria on Your Table Cellar Door and Artisan Market, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2013, Como House & Garden, Corner Williams Rd & Lechlade Ave, South Yarra

For take away eats there were barbecues roaring throughout the grounds though the most popular item seemed to be cone of fried calamari from The Flying Calamari Brothers located in ‘Sustainable Seafood Square’.

DSC07016 540x321 HOT: Put Victoria on Your Table Cellar Door and Artisan Market, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2013, Como House & Garden, Corner Williams Rd & Lechlade Ave, South Yarra

DSC06993 344x540 HOT: Put Victoria on Your Table Cellar Door and Artisan Market, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2013, Como House & Garden, Corner Williams Rd & Lechlade Ave, South Yarra

DSC07022 540x430 HOT: Put Victoria on Your Table Cellar Door and Artisan Market, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2013, Como House & Garden, Corner Williams Rd & Lechlade Ave, South Yarra

The Seppelt Lawn Bar is the place to be when you need a rest. Spread out your picnic rug and goodies bought from the stalls and loll under the shady umbrellas while sipping on local wine, beer and cider.

DSC06987 540x359 HOT: Put Victoria on Your Table Cellar Door and Artisan Market, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2013, Como House & Garden, Corner Williams Rd & Lechlade Ave, South Yarra

Finally, my favourite stand award goes to Otway Forest Shiitake where they are selling grow-your-own shiitake mushroms on behalf of Special Effects Nursery. Apparently each log will yield around 500-1kg of mushrooms a season and they can last for several years. I’m wondering whether RM would agree to sharing the bathroom or bedroom cupboard with a mushroom log ….

DSC07010 337x540 HOT: Put Victoria on Your Table Cellar Door and Artisan Market, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2013, Como House & Garden, Corner Williams Rd & Lechlade Ave, South Yarra

There’s loads happening on the opening weekend of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival so check out the other events in the program here.

Put Victoria on Your Table Cellar Door and Artisan Market,Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2013, Como House & Garden, Corner Williams Rd & Lechlade Ave, South Yarra 

Saturday 2 March and Sunday 3 March 11-6pm

$45.00 Adult with tasting. Child/Youth (12-17): $10, Under 12: Free. Adult General Admission $20

 

HOT: Paris to Provence Festival, Como House & Garden, Cnr Williams Road & Lechlade Avenue, South Yarra

DSC05966 347x540 HOT: Paris to Provence Festival, Como House & Garden, Cnr Williams Road & Lechlade Avenue, South Yarra

Paris to Provence, Melbourne’s favourite festival celebrating all things French, is back in the bucolic surrounds of National Trust’s Como House this weekend.

There’s market stalls, music, food and festivities and the festival gets bigger and better every year (this is its third year). Here are my highlights:

DSC05948 540x337 HOT: Paris to Provence Festival, Como House & Garden, Cnr Williams Road & Lechlade Avenue, South Yarra

Grab some charcuterie, cheese and a baguette for a picnic lunch from the large stall by Carlton favourite La Parisienne Pates. If you want a sit down meal you can also try the pop up restaurant by Chez Olivier but personally I think it’s better to make the most of the lush garden surrounds.

DSC05946 432x540 HOT: Paris to Provence Festival, Como House & Garden, Cnr Williams Road & Lechlade Avenue, South Yarra

Go to La Tropezienne and try some of the best French pastries (as stocked at Monsieur Truffe and L’Atelier de Monsieur Truffe) and the best macarons in Melbourne.

DSC05958 205x540 HOT: Paris to Provence Festival, Como House & Garden, Cnr Williams Road & Lechlade Avenue, South Yarra

Buy a  ceramic Christmas decorations from Durance, great as stocking stuffers or Kris Kringle for only $2.50. Also check out the homewares from Malmaison. Sadly their pocket advent calendar that I bought last year is no longer available but there is still lots of French provincial chic to drool over.

DSC06025 360x540 HOT: Paris to Provence Festival, Como House & Garden, Cnr Williams Road & Lechlade Avenue, South Yarra

As the weather heats up cool down with a creamy ice-cream sandwich from Pat and Stick’s. The biscuits actually make this treat surprisingly mess-free given the wedge of melting ice-cream inside plus the ice cream itself is high quality. I am going to look for my nearest stockist!

Over the weekend there is a timetable of presentations about French life and French cooking demonstrations plus you can participate in games such as croissant throwing, escargot eating and Notre Dame 3D puzzle reconstructions.

If you can’t afford to go to France then head to Paris to Provence for a fun, foodie, Frenchy day out in the sun. Take a wad of cash with you (there is a NAB atm on site but it wasn’t working when I arrived), slather on some suncreen, bring a large bottle of water given the heat (otherwise you’ll need to buy it) and Bon appetit!

Paris to Provence, Como Houe & Garden, Cnr Williams Road & Lechlade Avenue, South Yarra

Friday 23 November 4.00pm – 8.30pm
Saturday 24 November 10.00am – 6.00pm
Sunday 25 November 10.00am – 4.00pm

Adults $15 online -$20 at the gate, Youth $5, Children under 12 Free


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