Tag Archives: Italian

Merry Christmas!!! – Cookie Love + Giveaway *Winner Announced*

Merry Christmas everyone :)

Merry Christmas everyone 🙂

My small little family (Mr Bao, Cupcake and myself) would like to wish all my Dearest Readers a very Merry Christmas and Happy Boxing Day 🙂 Hope you’ve been enjoying this wonderful festival of overeating, overspending but more importantly spending time with loved ones.

I know I am once again guilty for disappearing and not posting for a few weeks. I really apologise for that, however, I simply have not had the time do very much with work being so busy, working until early hours of the morning and also moving houses. We haven’t found our new place yet, so for the interim we’re back at my parents ~ But hopefully in the New Year we’ll find our new home! Wish me luck 🙂

Farmhouse direct

Because I feel bad for not blogging for such a long time a have a gift for one special Reader 🙂 Keep reading and scroll down to the bottom for details how to enter this giveaway. Christmas a time for giving and also receiving. And although we tend to spoil ourselves during the holiday season, I think it’s important to remember to give to those who are less fortunate than ourselves. That is the reason why I was keen in trying and reviewing the new website ‘Where Your Heart Is’ website. This is a new website created by both Farm House Direct (a website which supports and helps sell local produce) and Good Spender (a website that sells products from Australian social enterprises).

Cookie Love from Teresa :)

Cookie Love from Teresa 🙂

The concept of Where Your Heart Is, is to give consumers the options of purchasing products which not only help local producers but also help give back to those in need. I think it’s a great idea and definitely makes Christmas shopping a lot easier! So save the link for next year! I was sent some beautifully packed baked goodies from Cookie Love a local artisan baker from Phillip Island in Victoria.

20141219-IMG_5250Teresa the founder and artisan baker of Cookie love wrote me one of the nicest Christmas cards I’ve ever received explaining how she came up with the idea of selling her gorgeous cookies and moreish panforte. Oh by the way, if you haven’t noticed that’s not my hands haha I recruited Miss D to come help me devour some cookies!

Christmas Cookies

Christmas Cookies

I opened the first box and squealed to see a range of talented decorated Christmas cookies, I particularly like the Santa Claus because he has the most adorable little face. Miss D and both tried a little gift box cookie, as we wanted to save the bigger ones for later ~ I was particularly impressed with how soft the cookies remained and had a nice texture. These cookies would put a smile on anyone;s face!

Gingerbread Men

Gingerbread Men

Underneath Christmas cookies were another layer of Gingerbread men! Once again delicately made with the cutest faces! I’ve made them once before… and lets say some of my gingerbread men we’re definitely not as happy or cheerful looking! They had the same soft texture as the butter cookies, however, these had a subtle ginger and cinnamon flavour through them.

Panforte Noire

Panforte Noire

We then moved onto the other two boxes which were Panforte. For those who are not familiar Teresa explained in the Christmas card that panforte are very traditional Italian fruitcake with lots of nuts. Some may mix chocolate through it to make it a ‘Nero’ a dark version of Panforte.

Panforte Bianco

Panforte Bianco

The serving suggestion is to sprinkle with a little icing sugar, cut into slithers and enjoy with a cup of coffee or I would suggest champagne.

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The panforte bianco has white chocolate mixed through, a variety of nuts and dried fruit. I’m not sure I’ve had panforte before so I’m probably not the best judge, but Miss D and I really enjoyed the chewy texture and crunchiness of the nuts. Compared to the dark chocolate (nero) panforte, we found that this wasn’t as sweet and tasted more fruity.

Panforte Nero

Panforte Nero

Moving onto the Panforte Nero which is exactly the same as the Bianco except it has dark chocolate (Lindt) mixed into it instead. It still has the roasted nuts, glace fruit and also honey for sweetness. I think the dark chocolate one looks more like a regular chocolate cake ~

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Once again severing suggestion is icing sugar (which I forgot oops!) and cut into slithers which mine are also too big…what can I say I’m a greedy person 😀 I must say the texture is very similar for both panforte but my personal preference would be the nero as it is sweeter and has a more intense chocolate flavour. I would have loved to have this with a glass of latte, unfortunately my life is in boxes right now so I don’t even know where my coffee machine is hehe.

The panforte were quite large and could easily feed 6 to 8 people depending no the sizing of the pieces as it is quite filling. I’ve enjoyed all the products from Cookie Love and really enjoy supporting products made in Victoria. You can also order these Cookie Love products from this Farm House Direct link and be sure to check out the other products they have. It’s like a local farmers market online without having to wake up early the products are directly sent to you 🙂

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Now thanks to Teresa (Cookie Love), Where Your Heart Is and Farmhouse Direct I have one set of this Christmas pack to giveaway. I’m sorry that it’s after Christmas but it’ll be more like a New Years present 🙂

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To enter this giveaway
– Leave a comment and tell me have you tried Panforte before? Will you like the Bianco (White chocolate) or Nero (Dark chocolate) more?
– For more entries please ‘Like’ me on Facebook and Follow me on Twitter ~ If you’ve already done that please let me now! Thank you!
– Giveaway ends on the 4th January (Sunday) 
– You may reenter daily, one entry per day
– Winners will be chosen by me personally and announced on this blog and notified via email on the 5th January
– Open only to all Australian residents (Sorry International Readers!)

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My little Reindeer (Cupcake) would like to wish everyone good luck in this giveaway and also have a safe and Happy New Year!

WINNER ANNOUNCED!!!

Congratulations CC you are the winner of this Cookie Love giveaway!

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I will be emailing you and sending you the gift pack very shortly.

THANK YOU EVERYONE who entered!

Garfield’s Birthday Dinner – Sapore

Hello My Dearest Readers 🙂 Sorry I’ve been so quiet, but I promise I have a good excuse! For starters, I became an Auntie again my sister Win Win gave birth to a baby girl who is  our little angel! We don’t know her name yet, it’s been two months but they are still indecisive, so if you have any suggestions please share them in the comments below.

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Unfortunately, after giving my birth my sister had a hard time coping taking care of a very curious 4 year old and also a new born. So I decided to go back to Hong Kong for a week and spend some much needed time with family. I’m not very good with babies and trust me when I say I respect all mothers! It requires so much unconditional love to take care of babies and children, and I am definitely not ready for this responsibility yet. But I was glad to be home to spend time with them and do anything I can do to help 🙂

Sapore

Anyhow, in this post I wanted to share with you another birth and that is the birthday of my high school friend Garfield. If you’ve read my previous posts, you will remember Garfield only really likes Thai food, but I think he should try something else for his birthday! So he compromised and said he’ll be happy to go somewhere that makes good calamari. He has pretty high standards so I had to search high and low for a good place. I then remembered last year, when I visited Sapore they did a very good calamari and coincidentally they were doing a 50% off offer on Dimmi.com, so that’s how we ended up there on a quiet Monday night.

Beer $9

Beer

I have visited Sapore before and for those who are not familiar, it is at the end of Fitzroy St near the Esplanade and in summer it would be lovely to sit outside. Garfield started off with a beer imported from Italia and described it as rather dry.

Cider

Cider

While I stuck with a pear cider which was quite sweet to begin with, however, the aftertaste is sweeter. A shame Mr Bao couldn’t join us because I knew he would’ve enjoyed this.

House smoked salmon, asparagus, baby beet and cos salad $18

House smoked salmon, asparagus, baby beet and cos salad $18

 

The 50% offer was very generous everything on the menu including entrees, mains and desserts were half price. We quickly decided on the entrees and this was the house smoked salmon with an asparagus, baby beet and cos salad and also a horseradish mayonnaise. The smoked salmon had a much softer texture than the store bought salmon and not as salty which was quite pleasant.

House smoked salmon, asparagus, baby beet and cos salad $18

Don’t worry the salmon is there 🙂 It’s just hiding behind all the salad hehe

Salt & Pepper Calamari with aioli, bitter leaf salad and a lemon dressing $18.5

Salt & Pepper Calamari with aioli, bitter leaf salad and a lemon dressing $18.5

Next up was the salt and pepper calamari, the main dish I wanted to bring Garfield and get him to try. Even though the calamari is on the entree menu, the waiter said next time if we wanted to we can also make it a main meal size.

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Garfield had a couple of bites and started to slowly nod his head. And I started smiling because I knew that meant he approves! The calamari is lightly battered in what I suspect to be polenta as it is quite light but still soft and tender in the inside.

Barramundi with mashed Potato and clams $32

Barramundi with mashed Potato and clams $32

Moving onto our mains, Garfield surprised me by ordering the Fish of the Day which was the barramundi with potato mash and clams. I didn’t expect him to order the fish, as I’ve alway seen him as 2 meat 1 veg sort of guy and would go for the steak 🙂 I stole a bite and the barramundi was cooked very well with a good crispy crust. I would have liked a little more sauce, other than that it was very nice dish.

Twice cooked pork belly with confit celeriac, apple and a balsamic glaze $36

Twice cooked pork belly with confit celeriac, apple and a balsamic glaze $36

I ordered the 12 hour twice cooked pork belly with confit celeriac, apple and balsamic glaze. The pork belly was cooked until it is very soft and I really enjoyed the apple and balsamic glaze. But the confit celeriac was actually quite sweet and caramelised.

Vanilla donuts with strawberry jam and custard $14

Vanilla donuts with strawberry jam and custard $14

Garfield was complaining he was so full he couldn’t eat anymore, well too bad I want dessert so he got no choice 😛 We tried the vanilla donuts with strawberry jam filling and also custard. The donuts were quite small and dainty with a slightly doughy texture.

Chocolate and pistachio slice with salted caramel, honeycomb and passionfruit $14

Chocolate and pistachio slice with salted caramel, honeycomb and passionfruit $14

Last but not least is this chocolate and pistachio slice with salted caramel, honeycomb and passionfruit. It was rich and decadent with a smooth texture. I really enjoyed the homemade honeycomb and also the pistachio. However, I found the passionfruit a little too tart and didn’t quite match the rest of the element of this dessert.

We had a wonderful dinner and enjoyed all the dishes, it was also at great value with the 50% discount from Dimmi.com. Garfield really liked the calamari and said that he’ll return even without the discount so that’s definitely a win 🙂 Recommend anyone else who has calamari cravings and would like to dine near the Esplanade in St Kilda.

Sapore on Urbanspoon

Iranian Pistachio Gelato – Il Melograno

I’m not sure if any Dear Readers have noticed, but I’m starting to blog a little more again 🙂 The last couple of months have been tough with work being so busy, personal commitments and everything else in between! I finally hit a wall and broke down… and even got a little teary at work… but my manager and team has been nothing but supportive! And of course Mr Bao has been doing thing he can to help. After the break down, I cancelled a lot of events and catch up with friends and gave myself more time. And realised that really helped clear my mind and help focus on the things that needed my attention!

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Anyhow, I’ve bored you enough with my break down, but don’t worry everyone 🙂 I’m feeling so much better now! As a matter of fact, I’m doing so well I managed to get this blog post up, even though I only visited Il Melograno two days ago! Two nights ago a restaurant had their launch party (will be blogging about that soon) and quite a few food bloggers were invited. It was a great event to see and catch up with everyone. Once the meal was finished, it was still quite early not even 9pm, I had my partner in crime Ashely (Im So Hungree) with me, and she actually suggested we should pay Il Melograno a visit. We then lured Allan (Almost Always Ravenous) to come with us!

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I have read of Il Melograno opening a while ago and have been on my ‘must-try’ list. We are so spoilt here in Melbourne with so many authentic gelato places to choose from. My impression of Il Melograno is that they focus on making small batches of traditional gelato, flavours were not as modern or creative as say Gelato Messina. However, I could taste the quality and effort placed into producing these gelato.

Thanks Allan!

So apparently Allan said that he owed me money from so long ago that I honestly don’t even remember, but he said gelato was on him 😀 Wasn’t going to argue with him! Thanks Allan hehe

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The gelato here is also very reasonable priced $5.8 for a small cup with two flavours and take note! The cups are also edible which I find intriguing and rare to find here! I swear we didn’t plan this…but all our gelato have the same colour scheme hehe

Chocolate & Rosemary and Salted Macadamia $5.8

Chocolate & Rosemary and Salted Macadamia $5.8

Ash chose a flavour on their specials board, which is quite interesting Chocolate and Rosemary which surprisingly paired quite well with each other. Neither was overpowering each other. Not something I would choose but the salted macadamia! Such intense flavour!

Coffee and Banana & Walnut $5.8

Coffee and Banana & Walnut $5.8

Not as adventurous 😛 Allan chose the Ricci Method Coffee and also Banana and Walnut. Just like before both flavours were intense and for those who can’t handle caffeine too well, I wouldn’t suggest ordering the coffee as you might have trouble sleeping at night! The Banana and walnut resembled a smoothie with that strong kick of banana through it.

Bacio and Iranian Pistachio

Bacio and Iranian Pistachio

I got two of my favourite flavours, Bacio think the Baci chocolate (hazelnut chocolate) intense with small pieces of hazelnut through it. But what really impressed me was the Iranian pistachio, the wonderfully friendly girl behind the counter explained to us, that proper pistachio gelato should have a very pale if any colour. And the ones that are mint or even fluorescent green has certainly been tinted with food dye. That really intrigued me, as I always thought pistachio equaled green. The flavour was probably not as intense as the other flavours, but still very good and great creamy texture.

I definitely enjoyed Il Melograno, flavours are intense and you get all you asked for 🙂 Pleased that we now have a good gelato store in the suburbs which hopefully will make parking easier and queues shorter. At least for now until more people find about them and then I won’t have a secret gelato spot to visit anymore hehe Maybe I should’ve kept this to myself and not blog about it!

Il Melograno on Urbanspoon

Simple and Traditional – Mr Collins

Hello to my Dearest Readers 🙂 I am writing this post in the plane as I’m going to back to Hong Kong for a couple of weeks to visit family, friends, shop and most importantly EAT! Follow me on Instagram and you’ll know exactly what I get up to. Anyhow, a couple of weeks ago I was invited to Mr Collins in the Docklands for lunch and was asked to bring a friend as well.

Mr Collins at Collins Square

Mr Collins at Collins Square

Since it was in the city, I decided to ask my colleague Yue to come, it would be a great chance for us to catch up before I headed off and was still quite close to our office. In the past couple of months, I’ve heard of so many new cafes/restaurants popping up in the Docklands, which I think is really nice because a lot of my friends work there and use to complain about the lack of eateries ~

Mr Collins

Mr Collins is located inside an office building (not sure which one) and adjacent with a modern food court. I really liked the seating they had outside the restaurant which had a lot of natural light coming through. The concept here at Mr Collins is to serve homemade style Italian dishes and where possible they make all their pastas and sauces from scratch.

White Wine

We started the luncheon with some white wine and prosecco, who said you can’t drink on a work day lunch even though I did turn quite red 😛 It was then followed by a charcuterie board with a good range of salami, bresaola, various cheeses and brae cheese with pear and honey drizzled over which was my favourite. Great way to start our meal, but I had to pace myself because I knew there was going to be a lot of food coming our way!

Charcuterie board

Charcuterie board

Frank Nesci introduced himself to us and explained that he has been in the hospitality industry since he was 12 years old at his parents restaurant. Before Mr Collins, Frank and his family owned and managed Healthy Habits, Sputino and Fancy Fillings. Many of these outlets can be found in food courts in most shopping centres.

Bruschetta

Bruschetta

I know bruschetta sounds like a very simply dish, but this one at Mr Collins was probably one of the best I’ve had for a long time. I’m not sure if it’s the housemade bread or the fresh tomatoes, the flavours just melded without each other very well.

Mains - Squid ink pasta, gnocchi and ravioli

Main – Squid ink pasta, gnocchi and ravioli

There was then a short wait for the mains, which I understand as there were quite a few of us, and normally we wouldn’t have mind, just Yue and I had a meeting so we had to rush back ~ We all got our own plate of pasta with squid ink garlic prawn pasta, gnocchi in a tomato base sauce and ravioli. the prawn pasta was the most flavoursome and the prawner was cooked well. I found the gnocchi to be a little soft while the ravioli was nice with a soft cheese filling, sorry guys forgot what it was exactly.

Pizza - prosciutto, mozzarella cheese, rocket

Pizza – prosciutto, mozzarella cheese, rocket

The food kept coming, we then had two pizzas to share. The first was the proscuito, rocket and mozzarella cheese, my type of pizza. Really liked the topping and the flavour in the dough, not sure if they use a wood fire oven but it sure had that texture. Yue did find the base of the pizza a little wet, but we think it might be because we were at the end of the table and the last to take the pizza.

Pizza - Mozzerella cheese

Pizza – Mozzerella cheese

The second pizza had a drier base and that was the simple tomato base mozzarella pizza. Like the bruschetta it was simple but very tasty.

Tiramisu

Tiramisu

Would have loved to stayed and chat to everyone, but we had to rush off. Just before we got up, Ashleigh from Harvey PR made my day by bringing over the dessert tiramisu in a tall glass jar. I’m definitely no expert when it comes to tiramisu but I really enjoyed the strong hit of coffee and the creaminess from the mascarpone cheese.

How cool is this loaf of bread?!

How cool is this loaf of bread?!

Overall, I like how Mr Collins focuses on making traditional simple dishes and not overly modernising the dishes. Think Mr Collins is a great addition to the growing number of restaurants in the Docklands providing people more lunch and dinner options. I know they make all their cakes and sweet in house as well, so next time I’m going to have to come back and try some of the cakes 🙂

Mr Collins Cafe on Urbanspoon

Yue and Daisy@Nevertoosweet dined at Mr Collins as guests of Harvey Publicity 

Coming To Melbourne – Gelato World Tour

My Dearest Readers in Melbourne! We’re in for a treat this weekend 😀 Can see you the huge grin on my face! The Gelato World Tour is coming to Melbourne on the 25th October to 27th October in Argyle Place South Carlton. It’s going to be the place where the top artisan Gelato markers across Australia will exhibit their gelato and be judged, the top three finalist will then enter another round of competition in Italy 🙂

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I was invited to attend the Gelato World Tour Press conference last week, the presentation was held at the Melbourne Town Hall. We got to meet some of the judges of this event. This includes Guy Grossi acclaimed Italian chef, Ottorino Pace who has been making gelato for over 50 years and Marco Maria Cerbo the Italian Consul General in Australia.

Guy Grossi

Guy Grossi

It was very interesting to learn more about the history of gelato, the making of and some interesting facts. Did you know that artisan gelato will only last for 3 days? While ice-cream will last for months.  And Carpigiani the company own and run a Gelato University in Italy that run courses and every year 60,000 people graduate there! That’s a lot more people than I expected!

Porcini Mushroom Risotto

Porcini Mushroom Risotto

The press conference was then followed up by a brunch at Guy Grossi’s Merchant Osteria restaurant at the Intercontinental Hotel. The brunch was more like a full Italian banquet with so much food, starting with an antipasti, freshly baked bread and olive oil. Next was a delicious plate of porcini mushroom risotto, it was cooked perfectly al dente and not at all gluggy. Quite impressed because I find it quite hard to cook large batches of risotto.

Slow cooked lamb

Slow cooked lamb

Braised salted cod with potatoes

Braised salted cod with potatoes

We then shared a braised salt cod and slow cooked lamb dish, even though I don’t eat lamb, I was able to eat this dish and quite enjoyed it as it didn’t taste gamey at all. It was also served with some polenta (my fav) and roasted peppers. I really enjoyed all the dishes and definitely want to go back with Mr Bao.

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After all that food, it was definitely time for some GELATO! We got to try Guy Grossi’s strawberry and cream gelato. The strawberry flavour was so intense, texture was smooth and balanced out quite nicely with the vanilla cream gelato. Now I’m absolutely ready for the Gelato World Tour 😀

Anyhow, thought it’ll be a good idea to give you guys some more details:

Gelato World Tour
Date/Time:  
Friday (12.30pm – 9.30pm), Saturday (11.00am – 9.30pm) and Sunday (11.00am – 7pm)7th October (Friday-Sunday)
Address: Argyle Square (The park off Lygon St)
Entry: Free
Gelato: $10 for 2 cup and 3 mini cones
For more information please visit their website 🙂

I’m already planning to go twice and try all the pistachio gelatos they have as that’s one of my favourite flavours! I also want to attend the Gelato Messina Black Forest gelato cake!

Daisy@Nevertoosweet attended the Gelato World Tour Press Conference and brunch at Merchant as guests of Carpigiani 

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