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

 

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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

Click to add a blog post for 1932 Cafe & Restaurant on Zomato

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

 

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

Hooked – Delicious Tasting Healthy Seafood

panda 4 rating

Menu:
Menu at Hooked Lunch Menu at Hooked Specials Menu at Hooked

Hooked is the brainchild of Ray Good and has been around for a while now serving healthy seafood – in three different branches – Fitzroy, Windsor and its newest branch in Hawthorn. I was lucky enough to be invited to try out their latest branch.

The fit-out is exactly what you would expect to find beach-side with a modern twist – white rustic wooden panels combined with white washed exposed brick walls. There is a large communal table at the centre of the venue, surrounded by wooden tables which largely seat parties of two. To the right along the wall are sailor striped booth style seats and a lifebuoy with the inscription – Hooked – In Cod we Trust – further adding to the seaside vibe. Painted on the brick wall as you walk in is a mural of a blue grenadier, further on the wall is a painting of a diver complete with a diving suit – something for you to admire whilst you await your food. These extra touches, together with the friendly smiles of the staff behind the counter complete the warm and welcoming feel.

The menu is located on top the counter which you order from – which is reminiscent of a your local fish and chip store. There are a plethora of selections to decide from. There is a Seafood section from which you can order House Fish (either Grilled or Lightly Tempura Battered) or Calamari (Grilled or Salt & Pepper Battered) both served with either Hand Cut Chips OR Rice & Asian Greens OR Salad. There are Boxes available – Box for One (1 House Fish, 6 Calamari), Box for Two (2 House Fish, 8 Calamari, 2 King Prawns) and a Kids Box (Fish Bites or Calamari with Rice or Mini Chips and Juice Box or Water – with a side salad). The two Boxes also come with the same option of Hand Cut Chips, Rice & Asian Greens or Salad.

There are also 3 different burgers to choose from – Hooked Fish Burger, Seared Tuna Burger and a Veggie Burger. If you are feeling like something different maybe you can try out their Taco and Burrito Menu (Fish Burrito) – with two selections of tacos – Baja Fish and Grilled Prawn. If Salads is more your thing – there are three delicious sounding salads to choose from – The Hooked Salad, Superfood Salad – think quinoa, broccoli, spinach, sunflower seeds etc and an Asian Slaw.

There are also specials that you can have during Lunch hours, as well as a Fisherman’s Soup all for $10.95. You can also buy Extras if you want to add to your meal – such as Chips, Prawns, Scallops. In addition to this are their Home Made Sauces – Dill & Caper Tartare, Sambal, Salsa Verde or Sweet Chili. What’s great is that they give you a recommendation as to which sauce works well with a particular dish. For example the Sambal is delicious with grilled fish with rice or salad. There are also Gluten Free options available. Drinks include the usual soft drinks, Charlies range of fresh juices as well as Phoenix New Zealand Organic drinks.

I decided to order the Box for One – and chose Grilled Fish and Salt & Pepper Calamari, as well as Rice & Asian Greens, with Sambal sauce on the side (I went with the recommended salsa – but was keen also to try the sauce). The dish comes out served on a large white round plate, with the seafood on the one side and the rice and Asian greens on the other with the salsa and a slice of lemon in the middle of the two. The house fish they serve is blue grenadier – the fish was fresh, white, fleshy and cooked to perfection and tasted absolutely delicious – you really don’t need the addition of anything else. The fish remained succulent and juicy which was another win. The rice has a mix of sweet and savory flavours – thanks to the combination of soy, kecap manis together with a dash of sesame oil. The grains are separate – just the way I like my rice. The Asian Greens are blanched and lightly sautéed – keeping in theme of being healthy whilst being the perfect accompaniment to the rest of the dish. The Calamari was another standout – I loved the lightly battered salt and pepper tempura flavouring. There wasn’t a thick layer of batter rather a light covering, which allowed you to enjoy the freshness of the calamari and also made for a less greasy dish overall.

S ordered the Superfood Salad (Quinoa, Broccoli, Rocket, Spinach, Semi Dried Tomatoes, Peas, Mint, Toasted Pumpkin, Sunflower Seeds & Sesame Seeds finished with a drizzle of Yoghurt Lemon Dressing) with a side of House Fish together with the Salsa Verde sauce. We shared our dish with each other so I got to sample some of her Superfood salad. Once again the salad had a combination of refreshing flavours and crunchy textures which was finished off well thanks to the yoghurt lemon dressing. S liked the salad so much that since then she has tried to replicate this at home. The Salsa Verde sauced packed a punch of flavours with coriander being the main character and was quite delicious.

Hooked prides itself on producing healthy food with the key factors being highlighted – low in fat and cholesterol, high in protein and rich in Omega 3. This is thanks to the use of cholesterol free cottonseed oil in all their cooking. Their chips are freshly hand cut from Gippsland potatoes each and every day, and cooked from scratch using cottonseed oil. A fun fact to note is that Hooked will not serve any flake – after all it isn’t a fish!

Hooked has created a modern day healthier version of your local fish and chip shop – which includes an inviting ambiance and vibe that makes you feel like you have just spent a day at the beach. Together with friendly and warm service, delicious tasting food and funky décor – it should be next on your list to visit!

Note: Students can receive a 10% discount (Monday to Thursday 11:30am – 5pm)
Another thing to note is that the Fitzroy and Windsor branches are fully licensed, with the Hawthorn Alcohol License coming soon!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to above pictures or check out http://www.hooked.net.au/menu/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Warm, Inviting and Beach-like
Standout Dish: House fish & Calamari, Superfood Salad
Service: Friendly and Welcoming as well as prompt – we were surprised at how quickly our food came out, despite being quite full.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.hooked.net.au/contact/hawthorn/
669 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn
Tel No: 9939 4412

Opening Hours:
Sunday to Wednesday: 11.30am-9.00pm
Thursday to Saturday: 11.30am-9.30pm

Hooked on Urbanspoon

Other Branches
http://www.hooked.net.au/contact/fitzroy/                                                               http://www.hooked.net.au/contact/windsor/
384 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy                                                                                         172 Chapel Street, Windsor
Tel No: 9417 7740                                                                                                               Tel No: 9529 1075

Opening Hours:                                                                                                              Opening Hours:
Sunday to Wednesday: 11.30am-9.00pm                                                                      Sunday to Wednesday: 11.30am-9.00pm
Thursday to Saturday: 11.30am-9.30pm                                                                       Thursday to Saturday: 11.30am-9.30pm

Hooked on Urbanspoon                                                                                                      Hooked on Urbanspoon