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

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Scarvelli Cafe – Homely Balwyn Local

panda 4.5 rating

Menu:
Food Menu Food Menu

I love finding breakfast / brunch options around my local area and Scarvelli Café was one these. Scarvelli Café is located along Whitehouse Road in Balwyn (only a few blocks away from the popular Snow Pony).

Scarvelli Café has a very homely and welcoming feel to it, probably owing to the fact that it’s layout is reminiscent to that old house. There is seating in the front room and then you walk towards the back of the venue (which reminds you of a dining room) where there is more seating and is completed with a big mirror and a moose head that wears a colourful scarf. There is also a courtyard available to enjoy those glorious sunny days. The moose head against the brick wall backdrop is definitely the star of the venue, although the large vintage mirror in the front room is another stunner. The moose theming continues on the menu with the antlers featuring as a design feature.

The food menu is broken up into two main sections – Breakfast (available all day) and Lunch (available from 11am). Breakfast dishes contain the usual breakkie dishes such as Toast (there are 4 varieties to choose from including gluten-free), Fruit Toast, Muesli, Croissants and Coconut Porridge along with dishes with a difference – such as Banana Bread served with warm espresso mascarpone and candied hazelnuts, The Good Life – Eye fillet with Avocado, Wilted Spinach, Poached Eggs & Toast or Omelette Au Saumon – French style omelette with wood-fire smoked salmon, chives and crème fraiche.
The lunch menu consists of a soup of the day, three different salads (Chicken and Ocean Trout, and a vegetarian option featuring butternut pumpkin), as well as a Confit Lamb dish, Braised Pork and a Wagyu Beef Burger – using some interesting names for each of the dishes.

Coffee is from Industry Beans and uses the Fitzroy Street Blend as their signature blend. There are also a range of single origin coffees available for espresso and cold drip as well as chocolate – all sourced from Industry Beans. I order a latte as I decide between the Banana Bread and the Dukkah Eggs. The latte is deliciously smooth with a combination of honey tones initially, followed by the slight tang of blackberries and a finish of chocolate and caramel. It really does hit the spot in terms of coffee goodness.

I decided on the Dukkah Eggs – Spiced Crumbed Eggs, Pomegranate, Pinenuts & Cauliflower Puree. When I ordered the dish the waitress asked if I wanted a side of bread as some customers needed it to mop up the cauliflower puree. I opted for no bread. The dish came out beautifully presented with the spiced dukkah eggs located at the centre and being the star of the dish. The eggs sat on top of the cauliflower puree with the pomegranate, peanuts and herbed greens all around forming a nest formation. The dish was colourful and looked highly enticing – you find yourself marvelling at the splendour of the dish.

The poached eggs were cooked to perfection – oozing golden yellow goodness. The dukkah coated on the outside added the perfect crunch and texture worked brilliantly with the silky, creamy cauliflower puree – which added just the right amount of sweetness to the dish. The pomegranate added a burst of tang and additional sweetness and the pinenuts brought the right amount of depth to the dish as a whole. A really tasty and mind blowing dish. The combination of the spice from the dukkah and the sweetness of the cauliflower puree and tang of pomegranate was mind blowing! Loved it!

There are also Ciabattas and Sweets available at the front counter for purchase as well. Staff are friendly and helpful if you are confused on what you want to eat. It’s great to see a place like this out in the suburbs: a great warm atmosphere, delicious interesting dishes and great tasting coffee!

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to pictures above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Homely, Cosy. They have a courtyard which is great for Mums with Bubs, as well as enjoying a great sunny day!
Standout Dish: Dukkah Eggs
Service: Friendly and Welcoming, as well as Helpful
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
https://www.facebook.com/ScarvelliCafe
143 Whitehorse Road, Balwyn
Tel No: 9816 8887

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:00am – 4:30pm
Saturday: 8:00am – 3:30pm
Sunday: 8:00am – 3:00pm

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ScarvelliCafe
Instagram: scarvellicafe
Twitter: @scarvellicafe

Scarvelli Cafe on Urbanspoon