Sabor in the Hunter Lovedale

So it turns out that the dessert cafe Sabor has two locations: one that the locals know about (and now you), which is away from all the hustle and bustle of the vineyards and one located within a winery in the gorgeous Pokolbin area. Both venues have beautiful cakes and chocolates to tempt the young and old.

As you step in you can smell the sweetness in the air. We walked past the chocolate truffles and locally made cookies to be met with two large glass cabinets filled with eye catching desserts. ‘You can only choose one’ I thought to myself as much as I wanted one of everything and chocolates to go. I was tempted with the tasting plate which seemed to be the indecisive person’s easy way out as it had a range of five minature desserts.

Please forgive the bad photos, I took two quick photos and then had to make some very big decisions.Caramel and hazelnut cone milk chocolate and praline mousse, centered with a caramel creme, sitting on a chocolate sponge and a crushed hazelnut halo (around $14.00 dine in). After much deliberation, I had chosen the caramel hazelnut cone. It looked very glamorous and upon reading the description I thought it would be fairly light. There wasn’t much complexity to the flavours, it was like a light chocolate mousse with a nutty after taste if you got some nuts in the bite.

Red velvet and summer berry cheesecake a moist red velvet cake set upon a croquant base, doused in raspberry coulis then buried in a summer berry cheesecake, encased with a raspberry glitter glaze topped with a blueberries and blueberry crumble ($14.00 dine in). This dessert was visually stunning and even though it wasn’t mine, I instagrammed it but not without at least taking a bite to taste. I was surprised to see a cake encased in cheesecake which definitely took this to the next level. I thought the way that the glitter glistened in the light was beautiful.
Carmel cheesecake a baked cheesecake in a sweet pastry case topped with a generous swirl of caramel and sprinkled with chocolate flakes ($11.00). Karma would have it that I teased my friend for getting such a simple looking dessert and I preferred his over mine. We were disappointed that there wasn’t caramel throughout the cheesecake and just on top but the cream cheese made this dessert not as sweet as the others.On a day with beautiful weather and nothing but picturesque surroundings on one side, this would be the perfect place to catch up with friends or indulge for a special occasion.Venue: Sabor in the Hunter Lovedale

Address: 319 Wilderness Road, Lovedale / Rothbury

Phone: 1300 958 850

Opening hours:
Saturday 10am – 4.30pm
Sunday 10am – 4.30pm (unless sold out)

Websitehttps://saborinthehunter.com.au/
Sabor in the Hunter Dessert Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Oliver Brown – Manuka

It seems like chocolate cafes are popping up faster than frozen yoghurt stalls (remember them? Where did they all go?) and the latest ones to open their franchising doors in Canberra are Oliver Brown now in three locations: Civic, Dickson and Manuka.

This is more a post so I remember the opening hours and not winging it like I did the other night when we drove here and weren’t sure if they’d still be open. Being a cold night most people opted for hot chocolates (starting from $5.50) which were apparently very tasty but I was swayed by their gelato thick shake ($8.00); I’m always on the look out for something resembling the thickness of the squishee from The Simpsons. I chose salted caramel as my gelato flavour and although it was thick, it didn’t have much of a salt flavour to enhance the caramel. I think they don’t store their gelato well and it is left with a sticky skin on the outside, when you see it you’ll know what I’m talking about. I think I’ll just stick with the hot chocolates.
Baked churros for two freshly baked upon order, sprinkled with cinnamon and icing sugar served with premium Belgium chocolate ($12.50). These take a little longer than the beverages but worth the wait because they are hot and slightly crispy. I wish whoever was serving us that night didn’t have such a heavy hand with the cinnamon though.

There is a lot of seating inside and out, you have to order and pay at the counter but the staff are super friendly and will bring your order to your table.Just remember they are opened 7 days and close at 11pm!

Venue: Oliver Brown (Manuka)

Address: 6a/1-18 Flinders Way, Manuka, ACT 2680

Phone: (02) 6181 8493

Opening hours: Monday – Friday 7am to 11pm

Saturday – Sunday 8am to 11pm

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Chocolate overload

It has been weird to see so many chocolate dessert places open up all around Canberra; Max Brenner in Belconnen, Koko Black and Oliver Brown in Civic, San Churro in Woden and not to mention all the countless cafes around Canberra serving a late night hot chocolate. Despite all these locations, it was about time that a dessert/chocolate store opened up in one of the biggest eating areas of Canberra – Dickson.

There have been so many times when I have had dinner in Dickson but wanted to go somewhere else for dessert, but not much has been on offer since Rubee’s left the scene. This location of an Oliver Brown* just might be the smartest thing they have done in the area.

*it wasn’t opened when I walked past it last week but it didn’t look like we had to wait much longerIMG_9492

This could be dangerous

I usually weave in a quintessential Haigh’s visit every time I’m in Sydney or Melbourne because it is novelty to us Canberrans (like how Krispy Kremes were back in its heyday) but now things could start to get dangerous as I received this email today.

 

2014 Christmas Collection

From our door to yours: online store now open!

Bigger and better than ever, our fresh new-look website is easy to navigate and features truly delicious chocolate imagery. And what’s more, you can now purchase online and have your favourite chocolates delivered to your door.

Chocolate D’Or – Robyn Rowe’s chocolates

I didn’t expect to head to Robyn Rowe’s straight after our brunch at Poachers pantry but then again I didn’t expect to eat two breakfasts that morning either. It is literally down the road from Poachers pantry, so it would be silly not to go to Chocolate D’Or!

Robyn serving happy customers who have driven quite a long way to visit her.IMG_4313.JPGA window into their operations and behind the scenes area.IMG_4312.JPGI wonder if the staff get paid in money or chocolate… I would choose a little from column A and a little from column B!IMG_4326.JPGThey have a nice patio to sit and enjoy their hand-made chocolates.IMG_4311.JPGMore seating out in the sun, if only it came out to play.IMG_4310.JPGDespite being full, each couple ordered an assiette to share which consists of a hot chocolate (milk or dark), three chocolate truffles, a chocolate cup filled with ice cream and complete with a chocolate spoon ($18.00). It would be hard to choose only three truffles from their large range of flavours that they had but I told myself that one day I’ll get around to trying every flavour eventually.IMG_4333.JPGSea salted caramel, butterscotch schnapps truffle and a caramel raspberry. Chocolates are made weekly to ensure freshness as they don’t have a long shelf life in comparison to store bought chocolate. I found that this batch of sea salted caramel (which had always been our favourite) to be too salty and sharply drowned out the sweetness of the caramel rather than enhance it. The butterscotch schnapps didn’t impress me that much either but the raspberry caramel- wow! One of my new favourites!

A close up of the goodies on the plate.IMG_4337.JPGWe chose a dark hot chocolate because it was just as tasty as the milk (and TimmyC never usually goes for dark!), you have to stir quickly in order to avoid lumps.IMG_4332.JPGI ❤ their caramel raspberry truffle.IMG_4340.JPGI had also come out here to grab a gift for a dear friend, selections for his truffle box included: lime coconut zing, French vanilla, caramel raspberry and orange créme truffle ($2.00 per truffle).IMG_4321.JPGHmmm, what to choose?IMG_4320.JPGA cute place to grab an afternoon tea as well as grab a lovely gift for someone. After trying their cocoa nibs and chocolate callets, I couldn’t help but buy a block of chocolate for home. Do I dare state that I liked it more than Haighs plain chocolate? I’m a big fan of Callebaut.

According to their website, they have chocolate flavours which include Sea Salted Caramel, Belgian Style Café Truffles, Star Anise Truffles, Orange Créme Truffle, Banana Flambé, Minty, Chilli Chocolate, Caramel Raspberry Framboise, Aramatoquie Poire, (Pear), Open Sesame, Lime Coconut Zing and Caramel Speculaas. Ooooh caramel speculaas! My next flavour to try.

 

Venue: Chocolate D’Or

Address1153 Murrumbateman Rd Nanima, NSW

Phone: (02) 6227 0550

Website: robynrowechocolates.com.au

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Versace high tea re-run

A new year begins and I find myself sitting at the glamorous Versace Hotel at Main Beach QLD a year later. I don’t plan to make this an annual event, it was just a happy coincidence.

Couture High Tea (basic high tea with no alcohol) $48.00 pp. It was ok, better than your average high tea.It is mostly just novelty to sit on Versace chairs near the beautiful lobby, eat with Versace cutlery on Versace plates. The selection of sweets are definitely better than last year. $30 for valet parking if you just want to roll up and not worry about parking. See my previous experience here.

20140101-163712.jpgTop tier~

A selection of sweets including macarons, meringues, mysterious waffle cones, cake pops, mango (?) tart and a chocolate and passionfruit cake.20140101-163728.jpg

Middle tier~

Plain scones and fruit scones, double cream, savoury quiche, a jelly cream dessert, a variety of olives and a very indulgent salted caramel tart.

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Bottom tier~

A selection of sandwiches and crisp bread with a sun-dried tomato dip.20140101-163744.jpg

Each High Tea set comes with a tea or a coffee. I chose ‘Prince of Wales’ tea to be a bit different from the norm, Russian Caravan was also supposed to be good.

20140101-171717.jpg

I always end on savoury when I can help it, it doesn’t matter if I’m at an all you can eat restaurant, fine dining or high tea. It does get a little sweet towards the end and you might pass out due to a food coma with all the tea so I do suggest leaving a little sandwich or something for the end. Don’t be afraid to ask for more cream/jam/dip, the staff are friendly and are too willing to help.

Notes~

You don’t need to book if there are less than 6 people. 11am – 5pm daily.

 

20140101-163813.jpg

 

from the Bean to Bar to your mouth

People say that they love chocolate, but I believe that the people who truly love chocolate are the people who lovingly prepare the simple cocoa bean to make chocolate – the chocolate makers (not to be mistaken for chocolatiers).

The ‘bean to bar’ movement means that chocolate makers control the chocolate making process from the cocoa bean all the way to the bar, creating a better chocolate that preserves the beans’ distinctive flavours and allows for sourcing beans from sustainable productions which provide better financial stead for the farmers by avoiding the middle men.

For you and I, the mere humble consumers of chocolate, to obtain some we just go to the shops but before it is lovingly wrapped in its packaging, there is a long laborious process involving roasting, cracking, winnowing, stone grinding, conching and tempering (see videos of the process here). That is just the gist of it without taking into account of all the research to source the right co-op who provide good training to their associated farmers so they can produce better sustainable organically grown cocoa beans (for higher wages) and who could forget, getting these beans through customs!

Now because cocoa beans can be sourced from all around the world, they would all differ slightly in the production process depending on the acidity levels and other factors. Coming from a Science background, I can appreciate the finicky process of optimising the roasting temperature and time for each single origin.

The ‘bean to bar’ movement has taken the US by storm and we are only now slowly feeling the ripples here down under with several ‘bean to bar’ movements being established in Australia. I was lucky enough to taste the efforts of such chocolate from the wonderful people at Matale Chocolate based in Melbourne.

I don’t often open two bars of chocolate at one time but for a direct comparison between the two products, a blogger’s gotta do what a bloggers gotta do. image I was really surprised at the colour difference and after tasting them, I was even more impressed with the flavour difference between the two. Who knew that a slight cocoa percentage change and origin of the bean made such a big difference.

I believe that the ‘thin’ bar mould helps with texture and maximises taste, both chocolate bars were very smooth and a delight to the senses. With no ‘rows’ set into the chocolate, I let fate (and strength) determine how much chocolate I get at a time, but this does allow for uneven sharing (stop bogarting the chocolate Timmy image).

72% Cocoa Malekula Plantation Vanuatu (2013 harvest). Most people’s aversion to dark chocolate is the bitter after taste that coats the tongue but I was pleasantly surprised that this is not the case with this bar of chocolate despite its very rich dark colour. It has a very full bodied flavour of cocoa but followed by a ‘light’ after taste, this would make it very easy to finish off a whole bar of dark chocolate (if you couldn’t do that already).

TimmyC’s pick of the bunch and he doesn’t usually eat dark chocolate, I had to tell him to stop munching on it so I could take photos.

68% Cocoa Somia Plantation Madagascar (2013 harvest). Even with the smallest bites (if you can restrain yourself) you can tastes the unexpected fruity undertones along with the intense richness of the dark chocolate which makes this chocolate very unique.

My pick of the bunch because it is so different to anything that I’ve ever tasted.

Being dairy, nut and gluten free and sourcing organically grown beans means that Matale chocolate make it accessible for everyone to enjoy ethically produced quality chocolate made here in Australia. So next time you get a craving for chocolate, go for the good stuff, you and your taste buds deserve it.

Thank you Thibault and Eloi for your amazing product and educating me on the delicious benefits of ethical chocolate. I was given these chocolates as a gift and to provide honest opinions (good or bad) and really highlight the points of the ‘bean to bar’ movement but I wouldn’t hesitate to promote this conscientious brand and I’m looking forward to trying more of their other chocolate range from Canberra stockists.

Venue: Matale Chocolate – Melbourne

Address: 22A Plateau Road, Reservoir, Melbourne Victoria 3073

Websitehttp://www.matalechocolate.com/

Canberra stockists:

Go Vita – Jamison

Mountain Creek Wholefoods – Griffith

Wiffens – Fyshwick markets