Saturday, October 31, 2009

Koko Black, Carlton

It would be sacrilegious for a 'Hot Chocolate & Latte' blog to not mention the wonderful and fabulous Koko Black! In our opinion, we really believe Koko Black did wonders for Melbourne and it does everything beautifully - from their hot drinks, smooth chocolates, desserts, salon decor and more recently even their tea selection (separate blog entry to be posted in November). Out of the total 6 salons in Melbourne, why did we choose Lygon St do you ask? Our answer is simple and sweet - two delicious words .... 'Chocolate Moelleux'. 167 Lygon St Carlton.

"There are quite a few Koko Black stores around but only the Carlton one serves up special desserts and one of my all time favourite is the Chocolate Moelleux, it is to die for :) Tasting that dessert again, it was still as good as I remembered. I love seeing the delicious runny chocolate oozing out of the centre when I dug my spoon into it. That lovely raspberry sauce that accompanied the dessert matched very well, it reduced the overly rich taste of the chocolate. Usually I would order my all time favourite hot chocolate but since we were already having a chocolate dessert, I decided to go with the hot chocolate mocha. It has to be one of the best mocha's around :) Most place's mocha tend to have a stronger coffee taste but I much prefer a stronger chocolate taste with a hint of coffee and this place created the right balance that I like." MICHELLE

"The only reason we venture to the Lygon Street Salon is for their Chocolate Moelleux with Raspberry Espuma' dessert dish. We've been to most of the salons, and so far Carlton is the only place that serves this heavenly concoction on a plate. I still remember the first time I sampled it with my good two good friends - I was blown away. When you gently dig your spoon into the soft chocolate sponge, dark smooth gold oozes out and when combined with the sweet sour taste of the raspberry cloud-like froth, bits of pistachio and crunchy biscuit - it is absolute heaven. This is definitely the star of all desserts here. It is so good that it actually silences Michelle and I for a few minutes whilst we enjoy every spoonful. It is quite rich so it's nice to share this dish. The lattes at Koko Black are consistently great - so good that I am always tempted to get a second one. I have never had a bad latte here so that is very re-assuring! Enjoy!" TAM

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cafe Vue at 401 St Kilda Road

Shannon Bennett seems to have wowed Melbourne with his successful Vue De Monde restaurant so we were very glad to hear that his second Cafe Vue was situated just outside the CBD, a much more accessible location. As usual, we were both over-excited at the thought of sampling what the genius Mr. Bennett had to offer on a more affordable scale and this is how our first visit went. 401 St Kilda Rd (near the corner of Toorak Rd).

"Cafe Vue had a nice ambience - it was spacious and modern with nice french touches here and there and I have to say the service was fantastic, extremely friendly and thoughtful waiters/resses. My typical breakfast out is always a coffee and a pastry whereas Michelle on the other hand has to start her day off with something savoury, traditionally eggs on toast. So to keep her company, I decided to try the duck cassoulet jaffle which I have never seen on a breakfast menu before and for $6.50, it was extremely affordable. I was expecting tiny portions but it was quite big with generous filling. The duck was fatty and teamed with the beans it was very good. However it is best to eat this straight away when hot. The croissant was very average and not something to rave about (the jam was heavenly) and unfortunately neither was the coffee. The coffee was cute but small and a bit too strong for my liking. Of course, we HAD to get some baguettes takeaway for our lunches which were SO good. I tried the cocktail prawn and it was beautiful - the baguette was chewy just like in Paris and the prawns were big and full of flavour. I loved every bite and know I would be returning for their baguettes. And maybe an eclair or a macaroon next time as well. Overall I would say 401 is great for lunches and meals." TAM

"Knowing that this cafe was related to the famous Vue De Monde, it got me very excited. I do like to start off the day with something savoury so I chose the eggs on toast. The eggs were cooked at 62 degrees which meant that it was still runny inside. Never had eggs done this way and it was quite nice. Only problem was that they added abit of pepper on top and I'm not a pepper fan. The croissant was only so so and the hot chocolate was nothing to rave about. It was actually quite milky, and I'm a big chocolate fan so like it to have a stronger chocolate taste. The take away wagyu pastrami baguette was so delicious :) The bread was really nice and the filling was so good and thanks to Tam who took out the cheese for me :) Will surely return to sample their baguettes again and their nice showcase of sweets." MICHELLE

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Simply Life, IFC Mall in Central Hong Kong

Hong Kong really knows how to dish out beautiful buttery pastries and they have the knack of providing an elegant and comfortable ambience cafe atmosphere to enjoy these delicacies as well. This is a nice relaxing place for some morning pastries and drinks with a gorgeous harbour view to match. Located in IFC Mall, Podium Level Central Hong Kong.

"We were on our way to get pampered at the Four Seasons Spa that morning (hence we opted for the healthier option of freshly squeezed juices instead of our Hot Chocolates and Lattes that morning) and we couldn't resist the pastries that were on offer here. I chose the cappucino danish and it was delightful. The grapefruit juice was indeed healthy but I wish I did order a coffee as it would have been perfect .. oh well .. next time". TAM

"Being in Hong Kong, we were looking for some asian breakfast to start off our day but nothing was opened yet. It's funny how things in shopping center's don't open till about 11:00am. Luckily we came across a pastry place that was opened early and everything looked so yummy and delicous. I usually prefer a savoury breakie but the pastries were just so tempting so I chose myself an apple danish. It was a great choice :) The pastry was so buttery and flakey and you could hear the cruchiness when you bite on it. The apple filling inside was also very nice, not too sweet. My orange juice was not as sweet as I would have liked but it's definitely fresh juice. I would come back anytime to enjoy their lovely pastries :)" MICHELLE

Tai Cheong, Central Hong Kong

Okay so this place is not a cafe and nor is it related to Lattes or Hot Chocolates ... BUT .. the egg tarts here are so good that it is definitely worth a mention on our blog .. that's how much we love it. Tai Cheong are famous for their egg tarts - and most of the time they are fresh from the oven - delish!!! The original store is located on Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Hong Kong (near the famous external escalators just off Queens Central) but there is a smaller one in one of the malls between IFC and Pacific Place Admiralty.

"I could never go to Hong Kong and not have an egg tart, that would be just wrong :P The egg tarts here were sooooooo good :) The pastry was nice and buttery and the egg custard was warm and eggy and full of taste. A definite must have when you visit cause you won't be able find egg tarts anywhere better back here in Melbourne. " MICHELLE

"I miss the fresh warm egg tarts from Tai Cheong so badly! Never will an egg tart back in Australia taste good again. The pastry is so buttery and crunchy and not soft or flakey - just so good and the egg custard was nice and wobbly and heavenly. Yummmmmmmmmmmmmm.." TAM

The Peninsula, Hong Kong

It has been a dream of Michelle to have afternoon tea at The Peninsula - she has been raving about it for years and finally - her dream has come true!! When we arrived - I realised how famous afternoon tea at this five star hotel is. Queues in Hong Kong indicate how popular or how famous the place is and there was a LONG queue of tourists and locals waiting for afternoon tea here. The Peninsula offers the perfect afternoon tea setting - a grand lobby accompanied by a string quartet and smartly dressed waiters. Be warned, there is a queue and there is a smart dress code and it is best to arrive early. Salisbury Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

"Yes, it has always been a dream of mine to have afternoon tea at the Peninsula hotel and I have to thank Tam for helping me fulfill this dream. The length of the queue was quite shocking, this place was more popular than I thought. I didn't mind queuing up as I was so absorbed into the grand and beautiful surroundings, the lovely music that was played by the orchestra and the delicious looking food on everyone's table. Funny thing was that, the highlight for me wasn't the food but the raspberry tea. It's one of the best tasting tea I ever had and if I do return, it's probably due to that :P The scone and the sausage roll I had was pretty nice as well, the others were a bit average. Food may not be the best but the overall experience was worth it." MICHELLE

"To me the queue was worth it as it was certainly an adventure - and added to the whole afternoon tea experience. The venue was very grand and the orchestra music added to the elegant atmosphere. The food I have to say was so so - the highlights were the quiche and scones. My normal filtered coffee was just okay but I had some of Michelle's raspberry tea and oh my - BEAUTIFUL. It was perfect. I enjoyed my afternoon tea at the Peninsula very much but I don't think I would return. I definitely would recommend it to anyone who visits Hong Kong as it is a wonderful experience - do try the raspberry tea and take your time and savour the moment". TAM

Mandarin Oriental Cake Store, Hong Kong

WOW, the Honkies really know how to live the uber luxury life we've discovered - and to our pleasant surprise, decadent delicious treats in Hong Kong doesn't hurt financially at all. Hong Kong is not all about street food and markets - this vibrant city also offers some of the best culinary delights in the world including Michelin star restaurants and the best patisseries. The Mandarin Oriental cake store is one of those places and offers a wonderful relaxing ambience for the perfect tea break - whether it be afternoon tea, iced tea or coffees with their wide range of pastries and cakes - this is the ultimate place to escape from the humidity. 5 Connaught Road, Central Hong Kong.

"I really like this place. From the sophisticated decor, comfortable seats, beautiful china, delicate and affordable cakes, top notch service and a good menu - I wish I had time to return for a second visit (the truffled egg tea sandwiches were begging me to return for a taste!). The coffee here was delicious and my slice of carrot cake was very good. This place is nice and cool and is the perfect place to escape the heat without the stuffiness of a 5 star hotel establishment. This is definitely a favourite spot of mine and I will definitely return here on every visit to Hong Kong in future"

"It's not a cafe, it's more like a cake heaven to me :) Everything was so pretty and delicate. It was indeed hard to pick out something to eat from there but I had to make a decision. The chocolate truffle mousse cake was delicious, smooth and melted in your melt. I had a bit of Tam's carrot cake and that was yummy too. I couldn't say the same thing about their hot chocolate, it was a bit too ordinary for such a fine cafe. I should have picked something else like an ice tea which looked great when it was brought out to my neighbours. I agree with Tam, it's a must visit place whenever I am in Hong Kong. The egg sandwiches sounded very tempting to me too." MICHELLE

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Little Cupcakes, CBD

This is the cutest and most decadent and girly cafe ever!! It's a true Melbourne treasure selling possibly the best and most delicious Belgium cupcakes. Once you tried the cupcakes here, you'll set a whole new standard for what cupcakes are suppose to be like. Yap, that's how good they are. Shop 7 Degraves St, Melbourne Vic 3000 (they have another shop in Goldsbrough Lane Melbourne)

"Yum Yum Yum, these has to be the best cupcakes that I've ever tasted. They practically melt in your mouth and the frostings are to die for. They have a pretty big range of flavours to satisfy all sorts of people but that varies depending on the day you visit. Some of the flavours that I remembered are Belgium chocolate, mint, strawberry, white chocolate raspberry, mocha, cream cheese, lemon and others. This small cafe has a lovely ambience and best suited to go with your girlfriends. I wouldn't recommend the hot chocolate here as it was a pretty ordinary drink, other than that, I love it." MICHELLE

"I truly believe little wonderful shops like Little Cupcakes is what makes Melbourne great and it is perfectly situated in a very Melbourne place - in a little alley just a few stores down from Degraves. The BEST cupcakes I have ever tasted and so gorgeous to look at - they have a great range of flavours. The coffee was decent - a bit strong at first but the few sips after were not bad at all. The only bad thing about this place is they have very little seats and not very comfortable either but the decor is very girly and it is really all about the cupcakes here. Whenever I'm in the city I ALWAYS try to drop by to get some of their mini cupcakes. JUST heavenly. All thanks to my lil sister who discovered this little treasure - thanks DH!" TAM