A World of Lattes

There was a time when meeting up with a friend for coffee gave you the obvious choices – Cappuccino, Latte, Flat White, Espresso etc. But those days are long gone – with the introduction of a number of different varieties. The list of options is growing from strength to strength especially with the increase of the healthier way of living life; together with the increase of dietary requirements such as Gluten Free, Dairy Free etc.

Most recently, some people of Melbourne were outraged by the posting from Jamila Rizvi of her deconstructed coffee.

Deconstructed Coffee

The Deconstructed Coffee

What is deconstructed coffee you ask – it comes served on a paddle, in three separate cups, or test tubes, beakers in some cases — one with espresso, one with milk and one with water. Having the same ideal as a DIY coffee you can put exactly how much water and milk you want – essentially creating your perfect cup of coffee. It is thought that this trend hails from London; with this trend having both its haters and lovers. I myself haven’t tried a deconstructed coffee but seeing as I can just make myself one at home; I am on the not-a-fan bandwagon.

Variety of Lattes

An Array of Lattes [Picture: Courtesy Eugene Hyland]

There are many forms of different lattes and it almost seems like a new version of the latte is being developed every day! Here is a list of the lattes going around Melbourne so far:

Matcha Latte
Beetroot Latte
Tumeric Latte
Mushroom Latte
Rainbow Latte
Blue Algae / Smurf Latte
Red Velvet Latte
Pink Tea Latte
Yellow Tea Latte
Yep there are that many! Let’s delve into a bit of detail about each of these lattes.

Ground Whole-Leaf Matcha Tea

Ground Whole – Leaf Matcha Tea

Matcha Latte from White Mojo

Matcha Latte from White Mojo, Melbourne CBD

 

Matcha Latte and Original Latte from Fourth Chapter

Matcha Latte & Original Latte from Fourth Chapter, Prahran

The Matcha Latte – these have been around for a few years at select cafes; but you are starting to see more and more cafes embracing them.

Matcha tea is the finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea. Unlike traditional green tea leaves, which are steeped in water and then discarded, matcha powder contains the whole ground tea leaf, which is ingested whole. The taste and nutritional benefits are vastly different to standard green tea; matcha has a softer, creamier flavour and contains up to 10 times the antioxidant content of standard green tea brews.

Green tea leaves contain high levels of antioxidants known as polyphenols. These help to protect against heart disease and cancer, and are known to have anti-ageing properties. Because matcha tea contains whole leaves it has a significantly higher concentration of antioxidants compared to steeped green tea. It also contains good amounts of healthy compounds such as chlorophyll, which gives it the bright green colour.

Matcha Lattes are an acquired taste – but I personally love them! I am also a huge fan of anything green tea related so that maybe why. It has a very robust taste but coupled with the milkiness of a latte has a creamy undertone. I would highly recommend you try one for yourself.

Matcha Lattes are appearing in quite a few cafes – too many to name – but here are a few that do – White Mojo (Melbourne CBD & Balwyn), Fourth Chapter (Prahran), Serotonin Eatery (Burnley), Too Many Chiefs (Brighton), Eden’s Backyard (Carlton), Street Organic (Malvern), Matcha Mylkbar (St Kilda).

Beetroot Latte from Happy Place

Beetroot Latte from Happy Place, South Melbourne

The Beetroot Latte is something that is quite new – it is created to balance the power of a superfood together with a hit of coffee. Some cafes use organic Beetroot powder mixed with Almond Milk ( Real Food Organic in South Yarra) whereas others use freshly pressed beetroot juice, fresh ginger, original almond mylk (Matcha Mylkbar in St Kilda). Meanwhile at Happy Place in South Melbourne; they do a caffeine-free Beetroot Latte infused with Hibiscus.

The Happy Place Beetroot & Hibiscus Latte was the one I tried – it reminded me of a smoothie but warm – it literally was a nice warm hug on a cold and breezy Melbourne day.
Happy Place is a holistic lifestyle cafe; located at South Melbourne Market- recently opened by Melbourne coffee pioneer Salvatore Malatesta and celebrity nutritionist Lola Berry. The basis of the cafe is it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free and FODMAP friendly. The cafe is targeted mostly at take away (there are about 8 window seats) – with a mix of Chia Puddings; Mix and Match Salads together with Bone Broth (which is Paleo). Additionally there are Cold Pressed Juices and Smoothies (which are mostly fructose free) as well as the hot drinks (they do Tumeric, Carob and Mushroom Lattes too – all caffeine free). Oh they also have Crystal Infused Water! And if you are looking for something sweet – they do have raw cakes with flavours such as Mint Slice, Key Lime Pie, Cherry Ripe and Snickers Bar to name a few. I am usually not a fan of Cherry Ripes – however I did try Happy Places’ Raw Cherry Ripe which was scrumptious!

Back to the Beetroot Latte – I am interested to try another one – this time one which has the caffeine mixed in with it to see if it does taste any different. It has officially been put on the to-do list!

Tumeric Latte from Matcha Mylkbar

Tumeric Latte from Matcha Mylkbar, St Kilda

Turmeric lattes sounded rather interesting to me. I have always known Tumeric is great for you and has an abundance of health benefits such as incredible anti-inflammatory properties, and has been used medicinally in South Asia for over 4000 years! Tumeric Lattes are also affectionately referred to as Golden Lattes.

There are many different ways to make  Tumeric Latte – most consist of Tumeric, Cinnamon, Ginger and a variety of other spices which could include pepper and even cayenne pepper as the base mixture. This is then combined with either cow’s milk, coconut milk or nut milk. It is believed that some spices such as black pepper, help to absorb the essential nutrients of the tumeric; further enhancing the anti-inflammatory and immune system aiding properties. Coconut Milk is suggested as the best alternative for Tumeric Lattes as it doesnt separate out and enhances the spice flavour.

“Tumeric Lattes” have been around for centuries especially in the Indian culture – it is called haldi doodh in Hindi, which translates to Tumeric Milk. This version of the blend has cardamom, clove, ginger, nutmeg, turmeric, pepper, cinnamon, brahmi and ashwagandha (Indian spices) made together with a coconut-and-almond-milk blend. If you wanted to make it for yourself at home you can buy different Tumeric blends available around Melbourne and Sydney.

I had my first Tumeric Latte at Matcha Mylkbar, located in St Kilda. Matcha Mylkbar is a vegan cafe by Nic Davidson, Sarah Holloway and brothers Mark and Attil Filippelli. They are renowned for selling bright-green burger buns, vegan eggs and of course their different types of lattes including Matcha, Tumeric, Mushroom and the newest addition Blue Algae lattes (I will go onto talk about these too!). They also have great Pun-Fully named smoothies which come served in a skull glass – epic!

My first sip of the Tumeric Latte was intense to say the least – it was a massive kick to the back of your throat with spicy richness. It almost felt like I was eating a face mask I have used before (=p ); however as you take more and more sips it really does grow on you. I really enjoyed it after a few more sips and even welcomed the spiciness. A definite must try.

Mushroom Latte

Mushroom Latte

Mushrooms are one of my favourite veggies! However I am a bit apprehensive about how they would go in a latte form. I have yet to try a Mushroom Latte but definitely do want to try one out. What is a Mushroom Latte you ask – it is made with almond milk and sweetened with vanilla spice and agave mixed together with a Chaga Mushroom Blend. Going from the reviews – it apparently doesn’t taste like mushrooms.
Stay tuned – I will update this post once I have tried one!

Rainbow Latte from Too Many Chiefs

Rainbow Latte from Too Many Chiefs, Brighton

Rainbow Flat White from Too Many Chiefs

Rainbow Latte from Too Many Chiefs, Brighton

Moving onto the Rainbow Lattes and Rainbow Coffees – both of these can be found at Too Many Chiefs in Brighton. Rainbow Latte / Flat White / Hot Chocolate is essentially your standard coffee fix with the use of food dye in the milk used to form Latte art.

Rainbow Coffee

Rainbow Coffee from Too Many Chiefs, Brighton [Picture by Eugene Hyland]

Rainbow Coffees however are the healthier alternative and created by the owners of Too Many Chiefs; is free from caffeine and is made out of turmeric, beetroot and matcha. This gives you your Vitamin C fix, fights the flu, boosts immunity and acts as an anti-inflammatory all in one. Wow!
To be quite honest it wasn’t until deciding to write this post did I know there was a difference between a Rainbow Coffee and a Rainbow Latte. When I am in the area I do want to try out what a Rainbow Coffee tastes like!

Blue Algae Latte

Blue Algae Latte from Matcha Mylkbar, St Kilda

Now onto the latest hipster trend taking Melbourne by storm – the Blue Algae Latte / Blue Latte or Smurf Latte. Yep that’s right it is actually Blue in colour. My favourite colour is blue – but having a “latte” that is in that colour I am not so sure about. That and the fact that it has algae in it – what the?

So just what is the Blue Algae Latte made of – it is a concoction of lemon, ginger, coconut, agave and E3 Live Blue Majik – a powdered and super expensive blue algae. It does cost $8 to try – and has no recorded health benefits.

Since I haven’t tried it myself I took to the reviews to find out just what it tastes likes. According to people who have tried it – the first mouthful was prominently sweet, gingery taste before changing to a funky sourness that lingered. Of course this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (pun intended); but just like with anything you will have your lovers and haters. I am still on the fence if I want to try out the Smurf Latte – but never say never!

Red Velvet Latte

Red Velvet Latte from Local Mbassy, NSW

Another coffee morning brew is the red velvet creation that I found a lot in Sydney cafes – The Locak Mbassy is one such cafe. The Red Velvet Latte tastes exactly like a Red Velvet Pancake along with the cream-cheese-esque butter cream and hints of popcorn. It really is quite rich and delicious all at once. I am yet to see the presence of the Red Velvet Latte in any Melbourne cafe.

Pink Latte

Pink Tea Latte from St Rose, Essendon

Another latte made famous via Instagram is the Pink Tea Latte and Yellow Tea Latte. This craze started all the way from Geelong at a place called Cha Cha Tea (You can find this available at King of the Castle Cafe – Pakington Street, Geelong) – with Sam Manning the girl behind the coloured tea lattes.
Cha Cha Tea mixers is essentially tea without the hassle of boiling or infusing with no added preservatives and unnecessary sugar; and are easy to make by adding sparkling water (or normal water), champagne or even an espresso martini – your choice really!
There are currently two flavours – Strawberry Swoon (Pink!) and Peeling Fantastic (Yellow!) tea lattes available – with more flavours to come.

The Strawberry Swoon Tea Latte aka Pink Tea Latte is a blend of Rosehip, Hibiscus, Strawberry, Beetroot and Apple and is sugar-free, Caffeine-free, Packed with Vitamin A and C and is also vegan friendly. You can purchase one from St Rose Cafe in Essendon or as mentioned above King of the Castle Cafe.
And thus concludes my visibility into the world of lattes – please do comment below if you have tried or know of any different “latte” available in Melbourne. Would love to hear your experiences.
Also follow @simtiaz_grazingpanda on Insta for daily foodie updates, stories and travels!

Green Press – How To Be A Smoothie Criminal

 

Smooth Criminal

It’s that time of the year again in Melbourne – when temperatures drop, rainfall increases and with this brings about the increase in coughs, colds – you name it – together with a tired and lethargic feeling amongst most. This is where the green smoothie can help to combat some of these winter nasties. They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day so why not kickstart your day with a smoothie – which can combine and help you increase your daily vegetable and fruit intake. Starting your day right is a key to a great day and smoothies could be the way to do it!

It was James McLoughlin’s move to New York that inspired the creation of Green Press in 2013. It was here in New York that McLoughlin was introduced to green juices and re-ignited his daily smoothie habit. The aim of Green Press is to make the everyday human eat more vegetables – by making them taste great with little effort possible – in order to evolve your palate so that you actually want to eat more veggies and plant based products.

Chocolate Cake Batter

Thanks to McLoughlin and Green Press they have created a smoothie book – aptly titled “How To Be a Smoothie Criminal” which contains delicious smoothie recipes in order to help you kick start the smoothie routine. The book also walks you through what fruits, greens, proteins, sugar free sweeteners, super foods and enhancers they recommend you use as well as extra information about each ingredient.

You are bound to find a smoothie for everyone in this book – from the chocolate lovers to the peanut butter and jelly fanatics – there is definitely something for everyone. The names of the smoothies are a play on words – such as Pine Kale-ada, Mochin’ on Heaven’s Door, Mjango Unchained just to name a few.

pine kale-ada

You can download the How To Be a Smoothie Criminal from the following link http://greenpress.co/pages/how-to-be-a-smoothie-criminal or alternatively you can email me and I can send you a PDF copy.

Mjango Unchained

Check out the Green Press website as well (http://greenpress.co/) – here you can find links to even more delicious and healthy recipes as well some top tips and tricks to stay on a healthy path! You can also SHOP for Green Press juices.
If you are in Melbourne you can even visit their store – details just below!

Happy Smoothie Making everyone!

Switch on Smoothie

Location:
Shop 7 / 525 Little Collins St, Melbourne

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:30am – 4:00pm
Closed Weekends

 

1932 Cafe & Restaurant – 30s Glamour & Great Food!

panda 4 rating

Manchester Unity Buildling

Manchester Unity Building

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Menu:
1932 Menu - Breakfast 1932 Menu - Lunch 1932 Menu - Pizza and Dessert 1932 Menu - Drinks 1932 Menu - Drinks

I have previously visited Cupp Superfood (you can check out my blog post here – https://thegrazingpanda.wordpress.com/2015/03/26/cupp-melbournes-first-superfood-cafe/) after I was invited by Victoria Pajouhesh, so it was lovely to hear from her again – this time inviting me to try out the newly refurbished and renamed 1932 Café & Restaurant – which is owned by both herself and her husband. Together with checking out the Café, I was lucky enough to also participate in a private tour of the iconic Manchester Unity Building

1932 Café & Restaurant – which has taken its name from the construction date of the building – is a charming Art Deco venue that boasts dark wood and plays music true to its time. It feels like you are stepping back in time and it leaves you mesmerized. The main wall has a multitude of pictures that are a combination of black and white pictures of the Manchester Unity Building from back in the day and colourful pictures depicting the 30s era.

I am welcomed by the staff and shown to my table where I peruse the menu whilst waiting for my Latte. The Breakfast menu (served from 7am – 3pm) has quite a variety to choose from – 14 different dishes – which include Smashed Avocado, Blueberry & Ricotta Hotcakes, The Protein Omelette (you can build your own as well!) and Hash Stack.
The Lunch Menu offers the same great variety and is offered from 12pm – 3pm. Dishes include a selection or burgers and sandwiches, baguettes & toasties (which are made fresh daily), salads and Pizzas (you can choose from 6 different types and as a bonus all the pizza can be made on gluten-free bases!). There is also a Soup, Roast and Pasta of the day which the staff will inform you about.
The Dessert menu (the most important menu in my mind =p) include Freshly Baked Scones, House Made Muffins, Gourmet cakes (which are made fresh daily and are preservative free), selection of ice cream and sorbets as well as two options from Life Seeeds (Signature Key Lime Cheescake and Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Ganache).
The drinks menu is quite extensive as well and includes Smoothies, the usual cold drinks including Iced Coffee, Iced Chocolate and Iced Mochas, Beer, Wine, Cider and hot drinks.

I was tossing up between the Smashed avocado, Blueberry and Ricotta Hotcakes and the Exotic Mushrooms – in the end I decide to order the Exotic Mushrooms – with sautéed spinach on organic sourdough topped with a poached egg – and I ask to add some avocado. The dish comes out plated beautifully – the mushrooms and sautéed spinach placed on top of the sourdough and finished with the perfectly poached egg with the avocado fanned out to the side. The flavouring of the mushrooms were delicious and they were cooked just right – still juicy and tender – paired with the runny yolk of the poached egg and the avocado – it really did make for a great tasting dish. The latte I ordered definitely hit the spot – nutty and full bodied richness.

The café was brimming with chatter from an almost full restaurant as it headed closer to lunch time – some were regulars who were greeted by name – others new but you could tell they really embraced the atmosphere – one patron saying “she really loved the music playing.”

After a quick chat with the manager about the refurbishment and about the menu – she asked me if I had room for dessert. I decided to have a look at their colourful cabinet of cakes and slices and decided to go with the Strawberry Tart – which came served with either Ice Cream or Fresh Cream – I opted for the Fresh Cream. The strawberries were fresh, juicy and semi-sweet which paired perfectly with the sweet cream and thin crust.

Once the eating was over it was time for the tour of the interior levels of the historic Manchester Unity Building. We headed up the escalator – which I was surprised to learn was the first escalators in Melbourne. This escalator used to lead to the first-floor mezzanine shops but today they lead up to Smile Solutions – Melbourne’s Home of Dentistry. I was shown some of the Smile Solution suites which used to be individual shops before. Next we took the original elevators to visit the famous boardroom located on Level 11. The majestic boardroom table is clearly the highlight of this room – measuring around 6 metres by 1.8 metres, was crafted out of Queensland maple cross-banded with rosewood. It is topped with a single sheet of plate glass that alone weighs some 330 kilograms. The glass had to be produced overseas and delivered to Level 11 through the ceiling as it was too big to fit through any doorways or windows. And what is magical is that it has survived all of the building’s refurbishments. I was also shown the fine china and ornamental pieces that are only ever used for special occasions, as well as pictures of the very first board meeting and its members. Another interesting item found was a pair of workers shoes which are placed near the boardroom entrance to signify the history. It really is unimaginable the amount of history and stories that are stored in one place.

Next we visit the breathtaking Rooftop and Tower – which has the most amazing views overlooking the city and allows you to get a closer look of the Manchester Unity Towers. The tower also houses dentist chairs and if you have a look at the picture – it really is a treat to have your dentist work done from these chairs as you have the best view. If you are usually fearful of what dentist’s visits might bring – then this place is for you as you will be definitely distracted with the amazing view.

I had a great time not only eating and enjoying the ambience at 1932 Café & Restaurant but getting a chance to witness the iconic Manchester Unity Buildling and its architectural wonders. It truly was a magnificent experience – of which I thoroughly enjoyed every minute. Pictures don’t do this place justice – you really do have to see it for yourself.
And now you get a chance as Manchester Unity Building has teamed up with 1932 Café & Restaurant this year to introduce an exclusive “Meal & Tour” experience.
The “Meal & Tour” experience includes luxury breakfast or lunch, including champagne, nibbles and desserts at 1932 Cafe & Restaurant  before embarking on a formal guided 1 hour tour of the famous Level 11 Boardroom, Level 12 Rooftop and Tower of the Manchester Unity Building.

For more information about tours you can visit:
https://www.facebook.com/1932CafeRestaurant/app_1417086145279588?ref=page_internal

For Tour Bookings you can visit the following links

Book via Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/1932CafeRestaurant/app_844133455634667?ref=page_internal

Book via the Manchester Unity Building Website:
http://www.manchesterunitybuilding.com.au/tours.html

The menus for the Meal & Tour Experience can be found at the following links:

Breakfast: http://a.pgtb.me/nqTJpC
Lunch: http://a.pgtb.me/R2XC37
Afternoon Tea: http://a.pgtb.me/f6xtf1

About the Manchester Unity Building

The Manchester Unity Building is one of Melbourne’s most loved architectural icons. Built in 1932 to a record-breaking schedule of works that has never been surpassed, it captured the imagination of Depression-era Melburnians and quickly became a symbol of economic recovery. Today the building attracts thousands of visitors every year and receive a considerable number of enquiries from people who dream of touring its interiors.

We are pleased to announce that the Manchester Unity Building has teamed up with 1932 Café & Restaurant this year to introduce an exclusive “Meal & Tour” experience. 1932 Café & Restaurant is a brand-new art deco–inspired breakfast and lunch destination in the arcade of the Manchester Unity Building. The restaurant’s 1930s era theme showcases the history of the building itself.

For more information you can visit:
http://www.manchesterunitybuilding.com.au/

For more pictures of this visually stunning building you can visit:
http://www.manchesterunitybuilding.com.au/gallery.html

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to pictures above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: A Step Back In Time – Fun, Welcoming and Warm!
Service: Friendly, Inviting and Warm
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
https://www.facebook.com/1932CafeRestaurant
Lower Level
Manchester Unity Building Arcade
220 Collins Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 663 5494

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:00am – 4:00pm
Saturday: 8:00am – 4:00pm
Sunday: 9:00am – 2:30pm

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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/1932CafeRestaurant
Twitter:
Instagram: 1932caferestaurant

Serotonin Eatery – All About Happiness, Sunshine & Smiles =D

panda 4 rating

Menu:
Serotonin Menu Serotonin Menu 2 Serotonin Menu - Lunch & Kids Menu Serotonin Menu - Breakfast & Sides Serotnin Menu Drinks About Serotonin

I was looking at Instagram one night and came across a picture of a café that had swing seats – when I clicked through I was surprised to see that the cafe was located right here in Melbourne – Richmond to be specific. The place was called Serotonin Eatery.

With such an interesting name I was intrigued and clicked through to the website. I was greeted with a large banner that said The Science of Making you Happy! This was a café that was all about making you feel happy, being positive and sharing happiness with a smile. Their main vision is to be the world’s leading Happiness Educational Institution – what an awesome vision to have! I couldn’t wait to check out this place (and between you and me – the swing seats too!!) – so much so that I went there during my lunch break at work!

Serotonin is the brain child of Emily Hazell – and integrates both a nourishing Eatery together with an Exercise centre (located right next door). The idea is based around eating a plant-based diet to ensure the body, mind and earth all function at their best. Basically you can achieve health and happiness with little effort. Simple!

So what exactly is Serotonin? Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a large part in regulating your mood – it is also the chemical that is linked to a healthy appetite, digestion and sleep. Here at Serotonin Eatery – the idea is to deliver a high Serotonin menu that will improve people’s moods and literally put a smile on their dial – as well as providing a sanctuary to escape from our fast-paced lives!

Emily has enlisted the help of nutritionists, naturopaths, dieticians, food scientists and psychologists to get not only the menu just right but the feel, look and vibe of the venue. Serotonin sources produce locally from quality farmers and select organic where possible. The entire menu is created by in-house chef – Sean Muir – with each dish featuring produce in its most natural state and assisting in increasing the daily intake of fruits and vegetables of its customers. If the great tasting and healthy food wasn’t enough (Serotonin Eatery), you can get healthy in the form of exercise with an on-site personal trainer in the form of Hazell’s brother – Gus Arundel (Serotonin Exercise) as well as wellness education talks (Serotonin Education – you can book these sessions via the website) and regular events like cricket matches, hula classes, acro-yoga…and laughing classes!

Serotonin is located in Burnley – right across the road from Bicentennial Park and serves as the perfect location for a café like this!
The venue is decked out with wide windows allowing tonnes of natural light to filter through paired together with blonde wooden furniture and bright yellow cushions dotted across the yoga mat style seats and finished with hexagonal tiles – this is the link to serotonin’s chemical structure – smart right? This theme continues with the tableware – hexagonal etched plates, beakers and gold (how cool!!) cutlery.
There are three main seating areas (with seven different styles of seating!!) – the day bed style seating that greets you as you enter together with standalone tables and chairs in the front area together with some swing seating by the window, another seating area as you walk past the kitchen towards the back and finally the outdoor seating area – which has a combination of marble topped low tables and swing seats for the high tables which allows you to look into Bicentennial Park. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE SWING SEATS (sorry for the Caps – I just really love the idea!!).
Customers can also take their meals to the adjacent park – with their food being packed into a picnic basket.

There are seven dishes to choose from the Breakfast Menu which include the Burnley Big Breakfast, Twiced Baked Beans, Super Smash Avo, Nutrition Bomb (a rainbow bowl with poached egg, broccoli, wilted greens, house made hummus, cold roast veggies sprouts, nuts, powerkraut and pickles) and Positive Pancakes just to name a few. The Lunch menu has eight dishes to choose from including the Smiling Pizza, Hearty Lasagna and Blissful Open Burger. There is also a kids menu with 3 different variations – Pancake, Super Smash Avo and Vegemite Toast. There are a variety of drinks available – organic teas (which are locally made), specialty coffee (Coffee is from 5 Senses and Timboon Milk from The Schulz Organic Farm) and specialty lattes – my favourite! Specialty lattes include – Chai Latte, Matcha Latte, Cocoa Latte and Golden Latte (house made turmeric, ginger, cinnamon + black pepper on almond milk).

I couldn’t decide where I wanted to sit – and in the end decided to sit outside in the back where the sun was shining and I had a clear view of the swings. I couldn’t actually sit on the swing seat as I had my laptop with me and needed to do some work. The tables were marble and a cactus in a stone hexagonal shaped vase – simple yet beautiful. Water is served in a conical flask – further adding to the sciency theme of the venue, whilst staying cool and classy.
Whilst perusing the menu I ordered myself a Matcha Latte – Fine Organic Green Tea Powder spun with Timboon Milk. The Matcha Latte came out in a beautiful black ceramic cup with honey on the side. The Matcha was strong, rich and perfectly creamy thanks to the wonderful tasting milk. It was my first time drinking a Matcha Latte and I loved it!
It took me quite a while to decide which dish I wanted – I was tossing up between the Positive Pancakes, Happy Zucchini Linguine and Protein Pasta. I ended up going with the Happy Zucchini Linguine – Raw Zucchini Spirals, Red Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes, topped with Fresh Herbs.
The Happy Zucchini Linguine came out beautifully plated with cheery red sauce and fresh green herbs surrounding the zucchini linguine and topped with a bright yellow lemon wedge. I love that the linguine was actually made out of zucchini – such a brilliant idea to replicate linguine. The flavours worked well together and the additional of the lemon really enhanced these flavours. I loved the slight crunch that came from the linguine which added texture to the dish.

There are also Organic Desserts available such as Raw Balls (Coconut, Bee Pollen or Raw Cheesecake with Berry and MAtcha Layers), Fruit Slice, Cookies and a selection of difference cakes daily. On this day they didn’t have any of the Raw Cheesecake so I opted for the Carrot Cake. The Carrot Cake came out presented really well – the main cake in the middle with a scattering of nuts surrounding the cake. The cake itself was soft, moist and filled with plenty of nuts. The flavouring was good – but there was something missing – the cheesecake icing on top was delectable.

I went to Serotonin Eatery on a working break and it really did work for me – I got a lot of work done! And it really did make me feel a lot better – happier in fact! The staff are really friendly and willing to help in any way they can. Serotonin Eatery is all great food, improving your mood and creating a great experience for you. Check it out !

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Refer to Menu above – Breakfast (All Day) and Lunch with a great selection of drinks – Specialty Lattes, Coffee, Tea, Bluice (Blended Juice), Juices
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Fun, Vibrant, Welcoming and Relaxed
Standout Dish: Happy Linguini –
Service: Fantastic, Friendly and Helpful.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.serotonindealer.com/
52 Madden Grove, Burnley
Tel No: 0421 233 150

Opening Hours:
Wednesday to Friday: 7am‒4pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8am‒4pm
(Kitchen closes at 3pm)

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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/serotonindealer
Instagram: serotonindealer
Twitter: @serotonindealer

Cupp – Melbourne’s First Superfood Cafe

panda 4 rating

 

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Blended Smoothie Menu:
Cupp Menu Cupp Menu Cupp Menu

These days the main topics of conversations that you hear a lot of are centred on exercise and eating healthy which includes smoothies and of course; products such as the Nutribullet, the Ninja, the Magic Bullet and any other intriguing fast paced named machines.
Talking about what ingredients you put in your healthy smoothie each morning as well as learning about what specific fruits and vegetables combine to create the perfect flavour combination is all the rage. Welcome Melbourne’s first Superfood café Cupp – located in the heart of the CBD in the unique Manchester Unity Building Arcade (right near the corner of Collins and Swanston Streets).

Cupp was created by owner Victoria Pajouhesh and specialises in blending natural superfoods and raw ingredients all whilst retaining 100% of the nutrients and creating a delicious and wholesome smoothie.
Blending is seen as the healthiest method out there, even when compared to pressed juices which are known to lose a significant amount of natural goodness from the ingredients during the juicing process.

There is a very personal story behind the creation of Cupp – which begins when Victoria’s mother was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer at the tender age of 43. Finding out that the benefits from juicing could be useful in fighting this disease, Victoria helped her mother in trying an intensive course of juicing by making her a variety of juices a few times a day. She was dismayed at the amount of waste that was produced by this process as well learning that juicing strips the natural fibres of the fruits and vegetables leaving the sugar content to be very high.
A few year after her mother passed away, Victoria discovered that she had inherited the BRAC1 gene and had an 85% change of having Ovarian Cancer and a 65% chance of Breast Cancer. It was knowing this that pushed her into wanting to start the juicing process early and fortunately for Victoria she happened to see a demonstration on blending fruits and vegetables together – using the entire piece and not having to get rid of the pulp. From this day on she would only have blended smoothies and it was her mission to pack as many superfoods and vegetables as she could together all whilst making them taste delicious. She also found herself feeling fuller for longer and not wanting to snack as much. It was this drive, passion and her husband’s need for wanting a healthy smoothie in the area that led to Cupp being created.

Cupp blends are made from whole pieces of fruit and vegetables blended with natural yoghurt, coconut water and a choice of milk, plus superfoods like chia seed, linseed, oats or whole grains. They are created together with specialised nutritionalists to ensure that their smoothies and meals are nutritious, delicious, low in sugar and can be adequate meal replacements.
The Cupps are made fresh daily and presented on shelves in store pre-blended, to show off their raw ingredients in layer form. Customers can then select the right Cupp for them based on the step-by-step blend guide in store (or by asking the friendly Cupp staff about each of the blends and their benefits).
Cupp also has a large variety of salads, wraps and soups in store as well as on-to-go snacks like raw veggies, chia seed puddings, organic slices, protein energy bites and fro-yo.

The Cupp store itself is small yet roomy – with limited bench seating located in store with more tabled seating directly outside the store. As you walk in you are greeted by the friendly staff behind the counter. To the right is an open display which showcases all of Cupp’s products from Salads, Puddings, Yoghurts and of course their range of blended smoothies. Cupp has recently developed a Kosher range to cater for the growing need and interest – showing their ability to adapt to their varying customer base. Another positive about Cupp is that everything is packaged separately – for example you can buy a boiled egg on its own, a combination of vegetables on its own, tuna on its own – which allows you as the customer to create your own lunch combination. The labels let you know what ingredients have been put into each dish as well letting you know what dietary requirements it covers which makes it a lot easier for customers.
To order a blended smoothie you simply pick your Cupp, take it the counter, select your liquid that you want added to the Cupp, the friendly staff will then blend it for you and voila you are ready to enjoy your Superfood – Superfast!

Cupp works together with many gyms and fitness venues in and around the Melbourne CBD and often creates fun events to showcase their vision and products. Cupp caters for a wide range of customers especially office workers as they can quickly create a blended smoothie as well as having a healthy lunch all ready and prepared for their customers to have on the go.

I was lucky enough to be invited down to Cupp and speak to the owner – Victoria – as well as trying out their blended smoothies. Victoria is friendly as well as being both passionate and determined about getting the word out that healthy eating can be both fun and delicious and there shouldn’t be any bad stigma attached to it. She loves the idea that she can get her kids (and I’m sure any other children for that matter) to eat vegetables like spinac, kale when mixing it together with other natural ingredients and they have no idea that they are eating them! It just tastes that good!

The Blended Smoothie Menu is great – it lists out each of the ingredients that are in the smoothie as well as outlining the benefits of each of the ingredients – which allows you to pick a smoothie to really target any areas that you feel are lacking. After looking at the menu for a good while (there were so many that I wanted to try) I finally settled on the Warm Me Blended Smoothie – Banana, Coconut Oil, Tumeric, Cinnamon, Ginger, Avocado, Mango and Almond Milk. I have never seen the use of Tumeric in smoothies before, so really wanted to see how it worked with the other ingredients. As the name states – the turmeric really does provide that “warming” feeling and is complemented by the other ingredients, all whilst not being too strong. I really enjoyed the blended smoothie – the sweetness from the mango coupled with the avocado and cinnamon were divine!

I also got to sample some of the Cupp’s other products such as the Superfood Cupp Corn and Beetroot Chips.
The Superfood Cupp Corn was out of this world AMAZING! Made up of Popcorn, Butter, Vanilla Essence, Chia Seeds, Cashews, Almonds, Pistachios, Coconut and finished with a Rice Malt Syrup – it was delicious. I loved the different textures that you got when you took a pinchful to put into your mouth. It was so addictive that you couldn’t help but finish the whole cup in a record time! If you love popcorn and always feel guilty eating the unhealthy version – you should definitely try Cupp’s version.
The Beetroot Chips sounded interesting from the get go. Made simply using Beetroot, Thyme, Lemon Zest and Salt and baked in the oven. They tasted pretty good but I found that some of the chips were blackened a bit too much and therefore gave a “burnt” taste to it.

Cupp is a great addition to the city and serves a range of blended smoothies and healthy meals which caters for a large variety of customers. They are looking to expand this customer base further by looking into creating meal plans that customers can tailor to suit them, as well as opening more stores. They love to support local business such as counsellors, beauty stores and gyms as well as sourcing local and organic ingredients. If you want smoothies with a difference, delicious and healthy snacks to keep you going through your work or uni day or even for a great tasting meal – then Cupp is the place for you. Also keep a look out on their Youtube Channel ( https://www.youtube.com/user/cuppaustralia) for fun workout videos, recipes and more!

Disclaimer: Grazing Panda was invited to Cupp as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – A great range of blended smoothies, salads, water, yoghurts, puddings and desserts – Refer to http://cupp.com.au/menu/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Comfortable and Relaxed
Standout Dish:Superfood Cupp Corn
Service: Fantastic – Friendly, Warm and Welcoming
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://cupp.com.au/
Manchester Unity Building Arcade
220 Collins Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9663 5494

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:30am – 4:00pm
Closed Weekends

Cupp on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cuppaustralia
Twitter: @CuppAustralia
Instagram: cuppaustralia
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/cuppaustralia

 

Where’s Marcel? – Great Vibe & Super Friendly!

panda 4 rating

Menu: 
Beverage Menu
Beverage Menu 3 Beverage Menu 2 Tea Brew Bar Menu Tea Brew Bar Menu 2 Iced Tea Infusions

I am always on the lookout for new cafes and new coffee joints in and around the city – as most times the new cafes are located in the suburbs or inner city – both of which I cannot access during the week when I am at work. My latest find – Where’s Marcel? – is thanks to moving onto a new client for work and hence a new work location. Where’s Marcel is located in the foyer of 180 Lonsdale St (near the corner of Russell and Lonsdale Street) – which used to be the BHP Biliton building and is near QV.

Where’s Marcel is a boutique coffee roastery and cafe with a casual and friendly vibe in a modern and welcoming setting. Where’s Marcel has an extensive menu of drinks available from coffee, tea, to fresh juices, milkshakes and iced tea infusions – the menu is spectacular. Coffee lovers will definitely enjoy what’s on offer here – they have a Brew Bar Menu which consists of Stove Top, Turkish, V60-Pour Over /Chermex, Batch Brew, Cold Drip Filter, French Press, Aero Press and Cupping. Have a look at the full menu in the pictures above. They roast their own coffee and have 3 different blends – Culture (this is the stronger blend), Evolve and Decaf.

Along with having a great variety of beverages on offer – they have an equally impressive food menu – consisting of sandwiches, salads and burgers, not to mention their delicious sweet varieties – cakes and raw balls. All food is made freshly each day with love and care.

On my first visit I was too tempted by the cakes and had to order one – I went with the Spice Apple Tea Cake with Maple Icing. I also ordered a Latte. The coffee was great – strong with hues of nuts and honey and the perfect amount of crema. The cake was absolutely divine – the combination of the soft, melt in your mouth spiced apple tea cake together with the sweetness of the maple icing. I would highly recommend anyone try this cake out – it is that good!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – A whole selection of beverages and freshly made food
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Modern, Welcoming and Casual
Service: Super Super Friendly and Warm
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.wheresmarcel.com.au/
Located in the Foyer of
180 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9654 8593

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:00am – 5:00pm

Where's Marcel on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wheres-Marcel/1450308265201080?fref=ts
Instagram: wheresmarcelnow

Shizuku – Ramen & Ramen Burger Extravaganza!

panda 4 rating

Menu:
Page 1 Menu  Page 2 Menu  Page 3 Menu
Shizuku is located at the Abbotsford end of Victoria Street, and is a recently opened Japanese restaurant, nestled amongst a street that is known for its Vietnamese cuisine. Their main focus is on Ramen – which sits up there as one of my favourite foods – and I cannot wait to try out their offerings.

L & I arrived on a weekday night and were greeted by large heavy wooden doors – as you step inside you are greeted with a simple yet snazzy set up. There are lanterns hanging from the ceiling that remind you of flower blossoms that provide lighting for the whole restaurant. Your eyes are also drawn to the colourful bar counter which houses their variety of drink offerings as well as a tree branch that has been decked out with hanging clear baubles – I love this display, adds a touch of vintage chic to this otherwise modern looking venue. The tables are black and wooden; with seating able to cater mostly two’s and fours, however you have the option to join tables together for larger groups.

David Chen is the owner of Shizuku who was inspired to open his own Japanese restaurant after working as an assistant manager at Shoya Japanese Restaurant. Together with partner, Shinako Suzuki, his dreams were made into reality, with doors opening for Shizuku in July 2013.

We are shown to our table and handed a book of a menu – there is so much variety to choose from! Another touch I like are the water bottles at the table, which are re-used colourful alcohol bottles that have been finished – adding a pop of colour to the otherwise black surroundings.

The menu begins with ‘Zensai to Share’ which are Entrees – there is a HUGE (an I am not exaggerating when I bold and capitilise this) selection – think double columns of an A4 page! Reading down the list you will find yourself saying ‘yep I want to try this and I want to try that’ for every dish. Some Zensai include Lobster or Pork Sliders, Uni Sake Shots, Octopus Sashimi, Unagi Salad, Croquettes (Vegetarian or Crab Meat), Octopus Balls, Salt & Pepper Squid, Wasabi Prawns, Pickles, Kimchi, Spicy Bamboo and Edamame. Following the Zensai menu is the Gyoza section where you can choose from six different gyoza’s. Unfortunately for me none of the gyoza’s only had seafood or vegetables, but were pork filled and therefore I couldn’t try any

Next on the menu is the star of Shizuku – authentic Ramen. Head chef Ken Yoshida who has a wealth of experience and has worked in some of Japan’s renowned ramen shops is the man behind this traditional ramen – which has been prepared over 15 to 18 hours. There are thirteen different types of Ramen to choose – from the Tan Tan Men to the Spicy Miso Ramen to the Kimchi Ramen, and they even have a Vegetarian Ramen. All Ramen is made with no MSG and they try to locally source ingredients – even the miso soup is made by the chefs onsite.

What is definitely a game changer and what has critics raving is the Ramen Burger – created by chef Hiromi Hanzawa (previously Aka Siro and Pabu). The bun is made of tightly packed ramen noodles, that have been bound together with eggs and cooked on a flat top, with a lightly crunchy texture on the outside. The Ramen Burger comes in two different flavours – Candied Pork Belly with homemade plum and prune sauce, kewpie mayonnaise OR Miso Glazed Eggplant with sweet miso jam. These culinary creations hail from New York – where Ramen burgers are all the rage, but here at Shizuku they are the first and only Australian restaurant to replicate these delicious burgers. More on these later.

Whilst we were waiting for our dishes to be served we were given a White Radish, Wombok and Wombok with Carrot dish to prepare the palate. They were all unique in flavouring with a consistent vinegary taste through all of them. Quite tasty.

The first entrée we ordered was the Uni Spoon – Sea Urchin Sashimi, Cucumber, Wasabi Soy. Both L and I hadn’t had Sea Urchin before so were keen to see what type of flavour it had. The Uni Spoon (as the name specifies) comes served on a spoon, with a base of cucumber, topped with the sea urchin and drizzled with wasabi soy to finish.

I ordered the Lobster Slider – Lobster kewpie salad, pickled carrot and daikon, corn brioche bun – as I wanted to see their take on a Lobster slider. The serving of lobster was quite generous, but I think there was a bit too much of kewpie mayonnaise added which drowned out the natural lobster flavour. I did enjoy the combination of the pickled carrot and daikon with the sweetness of the lobster and kewpie.

My favourite dish of the day was the Shizuku Spring Rolls – Spring rolls stuffed with melted cheddar and edamame young soy beans. Just reading this dish on the menu set my creative juices flowing trying to envision what this dish would look like. The spring rolls were angularly cut to showcase the rich inside filling – which was the edamame soy beans enveloped in melted cheese. The combination was absolutely divine! The crunch of the outside combined with the soft billowy pea puffs and warm melted cheese was happiness in your mouth. Definitely one to try!

We also couldn’t leave Shizuku without trying their signature Ramen Burger – Ramen noodle patty “buns”,miso glazed eggplant. The bun is made with ramen noodles bound together with eggs and cooked with a slight crunch on the top exterior layer – leading into a softer noodle layers for the rest of the “bun.” The filling was made of soft, delicious eggplant that was beautifully complimented by the miso jam. There were also salad leaves, coriander and onions added. Every bite you take of the ramen burger was delightfully filled with an explosion of juicy flavours – the burger was not greasy at all which further added to the ramen burger love. Yet another dish to try out – you have to experience it to understand the feeling!

It was time for our main dishes – Ramen! L ordered the Tan Tan Men – Free range pork mince, egg, chilli oil, preserved vegetables, rich sesame flavoured broth – which is the Chef’s Signature Ramen as well as their best seller. L really enjoyed her ramen and almost finished her entire generous serving!

I initially wanted the Spicy Miso Ramen – however as that was made with a pork and miso based broth I couldn’t, instead the helpful waiter told me to order the Vegetarian Ramen – Mix vegetables with miso sauce flavoured broth – with an added spicy chilli spoon to give it that spice and kick. The Ramen was quite tasty – the broth was thick, flavoursome and quite wholesome yet light at the same time – just the way that I like it. The vegetables added were fresh and still had a bit of crunch to it, which I think makes a dish better. The noodles were cooked perfectly which further added to the great quality of the ramen produced.

We were both really full, however we did need something sweet to complete our palate sensations. There are five desserts to choose from which include Almond Tofu, Espresso Pudding, Green Tea ice Cream, Black Sesame Ice Cream and Miso Caramel Ice Cream.

L ordered the Green Tea Ice Cream and I ordered the Pannacotta (which was a special for the day) which came served with Blueberries. Both desserts rated quite highly on our palates and were just the ending we needed to a great meal.

Shizuku offers delicious food at an affordable price in a relaxed, welcoming ambiance together with friendly service. Next time you are considering suitable dining options with a homely touch check out Shizuku – it really is a welcome addition to Victoria Street.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to pictures above or have a look at the Takeaway menu at http://shizuku.com.au/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Relaxed, Warm and Welcoming
Standout Dish: Shizuku Spring Rolls – Spring rolls stuffed with melted cheddar and edamame young soy beans and Ramen Burger
Service: Friendly, Warm and Happy to help out with any queries or questions
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://shizuku.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://shizuku.com.au/
309 Victoria St, Abbotsford
Tel No: 9995 8180

Opening Hours:
Lunch
Monday to Sunday: 11:30am – 2:30pm
Dinner
Monday to Sunday: 5:30pm – 10:00pm

Shizuku Ramen on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shizukujapanese
Instagram: shizukuramen
Twitter: @ShizukuJapanese

Pho24 – Pho in Under a Minute!

panda 3.5 rating

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Menu:
Menu at Pho24
The recent phenomenon in Melbourne seems to be a large amount of Vietnamese restaurants opening up at every turn you look. I happened to be driving on Spencer Street and another one caught my eye – Pho24. It was about a week or so later that I received an invite from Two Birds Talking to come and experience Pho24’s offerings.

Pho24 is a franchised outlet from Vietnam, with the journey beginning 10 years ago and has 73 stores operating successfully throughout Vietnam, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Indonesia, Korea and Philippines. The main aim of Pho24 is to serve healthy pho to its customer in less than one minute, using a combination of simple and fresh ingredients in a modern and welcoming environment.

Craig Birchall together with Andrew Bunn are the co-founders of the Australian Pho24 business – with Craig coming across the chain several years ago when he was travelling through Vietnam. He shared his story and background about how he came to realising that Pho24 would be a great fir for Australia. It was not only the products and the vibe of the place that Craig thought was fantastic but the passion, love and service of the staff – they really were proud of the food being produced.

Pho24 is a quick and modern take of an old Vietnamese classic – that comes with no added MSG and is made with different techniques such as sous vide cooking style. This method allows for the retention of both flavour and nutrients – which you tend to lose in other methods of cooking. Together with this is their unique design of the nickel plated vats (PhoStillery), controlled evaporation, flavour and temperature which provides the clear stock to be infused with flavours perfectly. The equipment is also able to omit the fat layer of the broth that usually gets ladled out in other venues that sell pho.

Pho24 is located in a great location – opposite Southern Cross Station – on the corner of Little Bourke and Spencer Street. It has easy accessibility from the Southern Cross shops as well as Etihad Stadium – great for the footy or concert crowds to stop by for a quick bite. The venue size is quite large in size with a great outdoor area which overlooks busy Spencer Street. As you step inside you are greeted with colourful lanterns that hang from the high ceiling – which further creates space. The venue is bathed with natural light thanks to the windows that wraparound, with wooden accents throughout adding a modern touch. There are projection screens which showcase scenes from Vietnam such as rice paddy fields and people enjoying street food. One of my favourite aspects of Pho24 is that there are herbs placed around the projection screens with scissors hanging to allow you to cut your own herbs to add to your dish. What a great concept!
There are low wooden tables as well as high bench seats by the window to sit – depending on what you feel like. Most seats have a view of the open kitchen – where you can watch as your dishes are prepared in front of you. I also love the centre piece table setting which comprised of an Asian straw conical hat that dispenses tissues, alongside chilli sauce, soy sauce and Squid Brand fish sauce.

When we first walked in we were greeted and served an assortment of handmade sliders and offered a selection of drinks – wine from DOC Wines, beer, soft drinks and coconut juice. I decided to have a coconut juice from Pearl Royal which was refreshing. It was great being able to chat to fellow bloggers, staff from Two Birds Talking as well as one of the founders of Pho24 – Andrew (Craig – the other founder- was busy in the kitchen prepping our food), whilst standing around having the canapés dishes. Nothing better than good conversation and nibbles of great tasting food to eat.

We all proceeded to the long table that had been set up for the night (under the colourful lanterns) and were welcomed by Craig – who told us a little about the franchise and about what dishes we could expect tonight.
The menu started off with Vietnamese Street Starters with the first dish being Fresh Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls – that had been cut up into bite sized pieces and served on an oriental spoon. The rolls were fresh and had a kick of spice through it which tasted good – a light and healthy dish.
Next starter to be served was the Baby Octopus Salad. The octopus salad came served in a glass jar with lettuce cups surrounding it. Craig told us that we were to spoon some of the octopus salad into a lettuce cup and then bite into it. The octopus was absolutely divine – tender bite size pieces of octopus paired together with vinegar and punchy chilli notes. I loved the combination of the crunchy fresh cold lettuce against the warmth of the octopus and chilli. A really great tasting dish that I could see myself eating jarfuls of.

Next up was the Vietnamese Pork Bahn Mi (which I couldn’t eat) – but judging from the response from around the table and from N they were good! The bread was crusty and the filling fresh and juicy, with the pate having a subdued taste compared to traditional pates.

Prawn Spring Rolls were next on the list. The spring rolls were filled with whole prawns and covered with a crispy layer of pastry. Just like with the octopus salad – we were told to wrap the lettuce around the spring roll and dip it into the vinegary daikon and carrot with a hint of chilli. The flavouring of the prawn spring roll was delicious and worked perfectly with the vinegar chilli sauce. I loved the combination and texture of hot (from the spring roll) and cold and crunchiness (from the lettuce).

The next starter was the Slow Cooked Pulled Pork Steamed Buns (which once again I couldn’t eat). These came out steaming with carrot, coriander and lettuce piled upon the slow cooked pork which was placed atop a halved steamed bun. The flavours were clearly delicious as they were devoured up quite quickly around the table to sounds of mmm and yum.

We were all getting quite full from these delectable starters, but it was time for the main event: Pho served to us in under a minute. Craig explained the idea behind this was for people who were after a quick, healthy and tasty meal – in their lunch break or at dinner time – and one that would allow them to sit in store and eat it (due to the super quick cooking times) and actually feel like they have had a break.
We had three flavours to choose from on this night – Tender Beef Scotch Fillet, Poached Chicken and Silken Tofu, however their menu caters for a bigger variety. The Pho also comes in two sizes Regular (380ml) or Large (500ml). N ordered the Regular Tender Beef Scotch Fillet and I ordered the Regular Silken Tofu.

The process was to simply order at the counter with a tray. Once you have placed your order just slide your tray along to the very end and by the time that you get down there – your Pho will be steaming hot and ready for you to eat! As you move your tray along you can watch as the team of staff preparing your order – each team member having their own responsibility; be it adding the noodles, broth or vegetables.
Something interesting to note is that the noodles that go into your pho is weighed to ensure consistency between each bowl of Pho – this way each bowl has the same amount of noodles! The Pho broth is ready to pour out of a PhoStillery that has a beer tap to dispense the liquid out – quite nifty and quick!

Unlike other Vietnamese restaurants who give you a plate of bean shoots and herbs separately – Pho24 already includes this in the pho making process. When you pick up your pho you can add lemon and chilli. And as mentioned before if you feel like you are in need of extra herbs (coriander and basil) you can cut this up for yourselves at the herb stations.
N said the scotch fillet of beef was thinly sliced and cooked to perfect medium rare and was soft and tender – melt in your mouth. He said the broth was full of flavour and wholesome. I really enjoyed my silken tofu pho – the noodles were cooked perfectly – smooth and well textured. The tofu was perfectly sliced in thin rectangular pieces and was like soft pillows of goodness. I loved the crunch of the beanshoots along with the big kick of chilli (I added a whole load of chilli) – it paired well with the pho broth. Overall we both really enjoyed our pho meals and I struggled to finish my bowl due to the largeness in size.

Craig was nice enough to offer everyone a tour of the kitchen and how each component was made – such as the sous vide meat packages, the large vats of chicken and beef stock that is left to brew for 6-8 hours, the pate that is freshly made onsite to the oven that toasts the buns for the Bahn Mi’s. Craig also mentioned to us that the name Pho24 not only came from wanting to be open 24 hours a day, but in fact there are 24 components that go into the process of making pho – from start to finish.

Once we got back to our tables we found that dessert had been served – Taro Pudding – one of their specialty desserts. This was served warm with sticky rice and further sweetened with dates and topped with a banana leaf. I am usually not a fan of taro flavouring, however the taro flavour in this pudding wasn’t as intense and I didn’t mind eating the pudding. Craig mentioned that they were looking into producing more varieties of desserts such as sago, but were investigating ways in which to plate the

Pho24 offers a healthy alternative for lunch or dinner at an affordable price point that works well for everyone, especially for students. The staff are friendly and you can tell that both Andrew and Craig really value the hard work and efforts of each and every one of them. Currently, Pho24 is open 7 days a week till late (usually around 9pm or 10pm) but is looking to being open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you want to experience good tasting pho – IN UNDER A MINUTE – check out Pho24 now!

Disclaimer: Grazing Panda was invited to dine at Pho24 as a guest by Two Birds Talking, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to http://pho24.net.au/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Modern, Funky, Welcoming and Vibrant
Standout Dish: Octopus Salad, Prawn Spring Rolls and Pho
Service: Friendly and Super Quick! #phoinunderaminute #phoinaminute
Online Booking: Yes via website –
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://pho24.net.au/
656 Little Bourke St, Melbourne
Tel No: 5915 9047

Opening Hours:
Monday to Wednesday: 7:00am – 9:00pm
Thursday: 7:00am – 9.30pm
Friday: 7:00am  -10:00pm
Saturday: 10:00am – 10:00pm
Sunday: 10:00am – 9:00pm

PHO24 on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Pho24Australia
Instagram: pho24aus
Twitter: @Pho24Aus

Pana Chocolate – Raw, Healthy, Handmade & Guilt-free!

panda 5 rating

Pana Chocolate was founded by Pana Barbounis – who is passionate about raw and slow-cooked food – and following on from the success of his 45 gram raw, vegan chocolate bars has opened his first standalone raw-dessert shop.

Pana Chocolate is a wonderful addition to the Church Street, Richmond area and serves up healthy handmade raw, delicious tasting and looking desserts, as well interestingly flavoured chocolate bars. Pana Chocolate uses natural, vegan and organic ingredients like cacao, nuts, coconut and 100% pure essential oils to create wonderful and unique flavour combinations – which include Fig + Wild Orange, Sour Cherry + Vanilla, Rose and Mint just to name a few.

Prepare to be overwhelmed with the number of selections here which leaves you wanting to try out one of each. As mentioned before no desserts are made or sweetened with sugar but are all natural and made from plant-based, organic ingredients sourced from all around the world. Cacao beans come from the Amazon, Coconut Oil has been cold pressed in the Philippines,  Dark Agave Nectar comes from Mexico, Cinnamon is organic and certified from Sri Lanka (where I am from!!), Cacao Butter is organic, cold pressed and fair trade from Peru and organic carob comes from Spain.

The space is simple and clean – with most of its offerings for takeaway patrons – however if you did want to eat in there is a row of seats available by the window looking out onto Church street. I love the décor of Pana Chocolate – there is an entire wall that is covered with clipboards that have cute, inspirational quotes and sayings on them. This adds color, brightness and wow factor in such an easy and simple manner. Such an awesome idea – Love it!

There are 10 different types of chocolate bars to choose from– Eighty (80 % Cacao), Raw Cacao, Orange, Coconut + Goji, Fig + Wild Orange, Rose, Sour Cherry +Vanilla, Cinnamon, Nuts and Mint. All chocolates are low in GI, have no dairy or soy, are Gluten Free and are handmade. In fact they are all handmade in a small scale kitchen located at the back of the shop. A major difference with these chocolates is that you can envision and see the love and care that has been placed into each bar of chocolate or dessert for that matter – down to the packaging and wrapping of each individual piece – it has been done by hand and provides a human connection.

I have tried the Sour Cherry + Vanilla, as well as the Fig + Wild Orange flavours. Between those two the Sour Cherry + Vanilla would have to be my favourite – the chocolate is smooth, silky and not overly rich and literally melts in your mouth – with the sour cherry adding a great tangy sensation that glides over your tastebuds. The Fig + Wild Orange was also great – the combination works brilliantly together and if you are into the citrus flavours this would be one for you to try.

The piece of resistance at Pana Chocolate is the cabinet of goodies. The first row is full of their raw cheesecake / desserts of the day which are in a slice format, that can range from Raspberry Ripe (their version of a Cherry Ripe), Chocolate Strawberry & Rose, Spiced Apple, Blueberry & Ganache, Banana & Chocolate – these range from $6.50 to $8.50.
Their second row has smaller bite sized treats such as Lamingtons, Lemon Slice (this is new!), Pana Pop (more on this later), Brownie, Vespa Wheel (their version of a Wagon Wheel – complete with a buckwheat wafer biscuit and a soft coconut marshmallow centre encased in a gooey raspberry chia jam and dipped in cacao) and Fudge just to name a few – these range from $3.50 to $5.50.
The third row is full of individual raw chocolates like hazelnut mousse, coconut barrels and truffles – in flavours such as Coconut & Mint Cream, Rose & Pistachio, Hazelnut Praline, Sneakers (yep spelt like this), Lavender & Macqui, Mango & Salted Caramel and Coconut Barrel – there are more flavours in store!
At the very bottom of the cabinet are their chocolate bars in all the 10 flavours mentioned above for sale ($6.50).
There are also other healthy goodies for sale – from coconut water, coconut + cacao balls to their very own hot chocolate sealed with the pana heart of approval.

After marvelling at the cabinet of goodies and spending a good 5 minutes oohing and aahing I decided to ask the friendly staff member of what she thought would be good try out and settled on the Pana Pop as well as the Fresh Mint & Raspberry slice.

The Pana Pop – was a white chocolate cheesecake with a berry centre coated in delicious cacao – represented a mini Magnum. From the very first bite you could tell this would be a memorable treat – the soft textured coating coupled with the creamy white chocolate cheesecake and zing from the berries worked perfectly together. You could almost eat the entire Pana Pop in one mouthful – but I would advise against this and instead treasure every mouthful; or you could just order another Pana Pop!

The Fresh Mint & Raspberry slice was another winner. There were three distinct layers – the bottom layer being a combination of cashew and brazil nuts, the centre layer being the mint and the top layer representing raspberry. The consistency of all layers was dense yet smooth – with the perfect level of sweetness across all three layers. I couldn’t really taste the mint flavour that strongly – although the strip of green at the very top held quite the minty flavour. I love the use of the fresh raspberries through the raspberry layer which not only added texture but extra flavour. The base was wholesome and added further texture and flavour bringing the whole slice together.

I enjoyed my time thoroughly at Pana Chocolate – I actually perched myself in a corner seat by the window and enjoyed these treats whilst working away on my laptop. On my way out I ordered a lamington to take away (as I had been told by a friend that these were simply superb!) which was packed away in a takeaway bag and sealed with a massive heart sticker – the Pana symbol – which I thought was really cute.

Whether you are into healthy eating, have certain dietary requirements or not – Pana Chocolate is definitely a place to check out. It produces great tasting chocolate that have been lovingly prepared using quality ingredients for anyone and everyone to enjoy.

Rating : 5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – The dessert menu changes daily but no doubt whatever dessert treat you get it will be delicious!
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Simple, Cosy and Enticing
Standout Dish: Pana Pop
Service: Very very friendly and helpful (especially when you are overwhelmed with choice and don’t know what you want)
Restaurant Details and Location:
panachocolate.com
491 Church St, Richmond

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 10:00am – 5:00pm
Saturday: 10:00am – 4:00pm

Pana Chocolate on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/panachocolate
Twitter: @pana_chocolate
Instgram:pana_chocolate

Paperboy Kitchen – Vietnamese Deliciousness

panda 5 rating

Menu:
Paperboy Menu

Asian street foods are all the rage at the moment and Paperboy Kitchen is a latest addition to the Melbourne CBD. Located on Little Lonsdale Street, between Elizabeth and Queen street is this small sized eatery. Set up by Adam Milgrom – who quit his marketing job and took up training at Leith’s cooking school in London – who started out creating a pop-up version before settling on a more permanent venue in the city.

The menu is simple, delicious and fresh. Paperboy serves rice-noodle bowls and bread rolls that come served with Asian slaw, carrot-daikon pickle, Sriracha -Mayo and Coriander. The menu is cleverly named Rolls or Bowls. Once you decide between these two – you then have to choose from a range of fillings which include Coconut Pepper Beef, BBQ Chicken, Satay Tofu, Panko Fish, Spicy BBQ Pork and Pulled Lamb & Hoisin. Both the rolls and bowls come served with a small side bowl of Popcorn topped with chilli spice. If snacks are what you are looking for – Crisp Fried Chicken served with Sriracha Mayo dip is available. If sweets is what you are after – the Milk-Bar Cookie is a must try.
Drinks from Charlie’s, Beers and Ciders as well Cola, Lemon Lime & Bitters, Lemonade and Ginger Ale from Phoenix are available, as well as fresh coconuts (that you pick you from the fridge and have them cut up). The coconuts come served with a cocktail umbrella to make you feel as if you are beachside.

The fit-out like the menu is simple – complete with wooden high tables and chairs to sit in and enjoy your scrumptious food. There is an industrial combined with an Asian grocer store feel to the venue thanks to the feature of wooden shelves that stored things like Sriracha sauce, soy sauce, water and plants.
The main counter from where you order from opens out into the kitchen – which you can peer into and watch as your meals are prepared. As you place your order you are given plastic animals that aid as table numbers which is a fantastic idea. On the tables together with Sriracha Sauce are bottles of chilli labelled “Hot Stuff” – the extra hot stuff for those who dare.

I ordered the bowl with Satay Tofu alongside a fresh coconut and a plastic giraffe. The food comes served on a wooden board with the Paperboy stamp on the bottom corner, with the bowl placed in the centre and side bowl of popcorn just above it. The serving size is very generous (I couldn’t finish the entire serving so took it away to have for dinner!) and from the moment it is placed in front of you, the smell of all the ingredients literally take your breath away. The dish is fresh, packs a whole load of flavour and is gobsmackingly delicious. The Sriracha Mayo is the perfect addition of spiciness and tanginess. The Asian Slaw is made from lettuce, cabbage, carrot and black sesame seeds. The Satay Tofu has a crunchy outside which complements the softness on the inside and flavoured to perfection. Together all the components of the dish work seamlessly together to provide a great flavour explosion for the palate.

The staff are friendly and always willing to go out of their way to help. Don’t delay the trip to Paperboy anymore!

Rating : 5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu:  Refer to the picture above or visit http://paperboy.com.au/#two
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual and Relaxed
Standout Dish: Any dish really!
Service: Friendly and Helpful
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
www.paperboy.com.au
320 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9642 0147

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 11:30am – 3:00pm

Paperboy Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PaperboyKitchen
Instagram: paperboykitchen
Twitter: @PaperboyKitchen