Eat here: Gontran Cherrier, Melbourne (pastry)

Gontran Cherrier
140-144 Smith St, Collingwood
http://www.gontrancherrier.com.au/

Around 7 months ago, renowned French patisserie king Gontran Cherrier brought his buttery operation to Melbourne. The bloggers and foodies flocked in droves; I personally couldn’t justify waiting in a line for half an hour to get an over-priced croissant. I finally visited for the first time a few weeks ago, and upon tucking into a golden delicious almond croissant, I finally understood what the fuss was about.

Eager to try more of the beauties in the display window, we made our way back last weekend for breaky. Rolling in for a late breakfast (for us) just before 10am on a Sunday morning, it was pleasantly quiet, with only a few tables occupied – muuuuuch better than the initial rush when they opened!

We ordered a few bits and pieces; husband chose the a quiche Lorraine studded with bacon and Gruyère cheese; I didn’t take a photos of it, but for $8.00, it was a little on the small side. Which was a shame because it was one of the nicest quiches either of us have ever tasted! We also went with a Croque Monsieur – again, not the cheapest toastie at $12.00, but, again, probably the best toasted ham and cheese sandwich I’ve ever had. Buttery and golden, crispy crusts and super soft bread, and that ham and cheese were magic.

I also spied a beautiful long piece of bread spread with Lescure butter and covered in some very pretty, colourful tomatoes. I added that to the order on a whim, not really expecting the husband to be too into it, but turned out he loved it, too. There’s something incredible about a simple bread, butter and tomato dish, when they’re all of the freshest and highest quality.

Those three dishes and a coffee for the husband set us back around $40 – not bad for a Melbourne breakfast, ridiculously over-priced for most other cities, but no regrets here; good food is worth paying more for, in our opinion.

 

We also couldn’t go past a sweet, and took a chocolate croissant home with us to tuck into with some tea and coffee. Nowhere near enough chocolate, but my goodness that pastry is something else. We’ve had the almond croissants there, too (we have a tendency to order an almond croissant whenever possible), and that was pretty spectacular.

We were a little sad that there weren’t any almond croissants left by the time we were leaving… the chocolate one wasn’t a bad back up option, though. Now that the crowds have died down, it’s probably time to head back a bit more often – it’s the perfect spot for a Sunday morning breakfast or coffee session; maybe not every weekend, but definitely those weekend you feel like being a little bit fancy and treating yourself 🙂


Gontran Cherrier Boulangerie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Bream Creek Farmers Market, Tasmania

Bream Creek Farmers Market
Held at the Break Creek Showgrounds, 138 Marion Bay Road, Tasmania
https://breamcreekfarmersmarket.com.au/

If you’re lucky enough to be around Hobart on the first Sunday of the month, you’ll be wanting to hire a car and take a drive, with the Bream Creek Farmers Market somewhere on the itinerary. We discovered it completely by accident when we visited last month, on our drive from Hobart to Port Arthur; I saw a sign for a farmers market, so we turned and followed the arrow and ended up at Bream Creek!

It’s a gorgeous little market, with some of Tasmania’s best produce coming out to play every month. Even more impressive is the fact that it’s run entirely by a volunteer committee with a passion for supporting the local community.

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After a year of successful market (they started back in December 2012), they gained enough popularity and notoriety to produce a cookbook, full of incredible recipes from the growers and locals, which I noticed being sold everywhere in Hobart and Port Arthur- they were even selling copies at the gift shop at the Port Arthur Historic Site!

They also have a wonderful concept of the “community stall,” best explained in their own words:

We are aware that some producers may not have enough stock to require an entire stall at each and every market, so we welcome you to make use of the BCFM Community Stall .  You might have a few bags of lemons or some freshly picked veggies – so bring them along!

All you have to do is bag or bunch your produce, clearly label with a price and pop into the Community Stall on the morning of the Market… Spend the morning shopping, socialising, listening to our great live music, relaxing on the beanbags and having a coffee and some lunch, then pop back into the Community Stall to collect your money and any leftover produce.  So easy!

 

It was pretty hard restraining ourselves, knowing that we only had limited luggage space coming home… Husband took some hot sauce home, and I got a nice big jar or apricot and walnut jam (actually the best jam ever) from Crooked Enterprises), and that most magnificent almond croissant you can see below (which was devoured with tea, coffee, and live music in the background)… soft and fluffy and perfect enough to rival any Melbourne hipster bakery. So happy we stumbled on this little market – it was picture perfect in the most stunning setting, with such a great atmosphere and seriously good food!

Eat here: Heart Bread Antique, Tokyo, Japan (bakery)

Heart Bread Antique
3-4-17 Ginza | OPTICA 1F, Chuo 104-0061, Tokyo
http://www.heart-bread.com/shop

I came across this place in Ginza after arriving at Cha Ginza, only to find out that their tea house actually opened an hour after their retail store. While I was wandering the streets killing time, I realised my stomach was audibly grumbling, and resolved to stop at the next cafe I found; a few meters later, I looked over my right shoulder to see a giant glass door with what looked to be giant donuts stuck to it..

I still can’t say with absolute certainty what exactly Heart Bread Antique are purveyors of. Absolutely mammoth wheels of pastry, approximately the size of a small tyre (or almost the height of an iPhone and with a circumference of a standard dinner plate) were lined up and collected at surprising rate by customers flying in and out the door.

A quick walk around uncovered a small rack of “minis” – curiosity got the better of me, so I grabbed one to fuel myself with until the tea house was ready for me…

… Wow. Basically, a croissanty, puff pastry donut, layer upon layer of crunchy golden goodness, with chocolate chips and walnuts tucked in there. I still don’t really know what it was, technically, but it was DELICIOUS!! And the crazy amount of people filing in and out of the little store purely to pick up the giant versions as they passed through the otherwise quiet street made it pretty clear this place was popular with the locals, too.

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If you’re in the neighbourhood, definitely worth a visit! And if anyone gets into one of those mega ones, tell me what it’s like!

Eat here: Tartine Bakery, San Francisco

Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero St, San Francisco
http://www.tartinebakery.com/

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There actually weren’t a heap of food places I had on my “to eat” list in San Francisco, but Tartine was number 1. As a sugar fiend, I’d heard all about it; it topped just about every “sweets to eat in America” list I’d seen online, it appeared in the guide books, on travel TV shows, and peppered my social media feeds.

We rolled up not too long after opening time on a very overcast and rainy weekend morning, hoping that we wouldn’t be in for much of a fight for seating – we half swam there it was raining so hard!! Anyway, much like Melbourne, the rain doesn’t put anyone off a good coffee and pastry at their favourite café; the place was packed to the rafters! I guess we got lucky – as we walked in, a small table for two vacated, and I dove on it! Once we were settled, I left husband to hold the fort while I joined the line. It was long, like out the door long, but it actually moved pretty quickly!

One of the things I noticed that really impressed me were the number of people placing large orders (I’m talking a few cakes, loaves of bread, cases of croissants) being told they’d be ready in an hour or so – “no worries, I’ve got a few other things to do, I’ll be back!” No frustration at the wait, apparently the food was good enough to warrant it!

As I edged closer to the counter, I was still a little undecided about what I wanted to try, but it seemed every second person at least was walking away with a croissant, so I took a frangipane almond cream croissant (USD$5.00), tea for me, coffee for husband.

I was pretty stoked to see that I had options of both soy AND almond milk rather than the coffee and lactose laden full cream stuff everywhere else offered, so the tea was great! Husband’s coffee came out in a “cup” the size of a small fish bowl, which had him buzzing all afternoon, but he said it was amazing – if it wasn’t, I don’t think he’d have finished it all! The croissant was worth the wait, the walk in the rain and the sardine-tin seating situation. It was perfect – golden and buttery, light and flaky, and the almond frangipane business was incredible… best croissant I’ve ever had, easily!

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If you’re in San Francisco, it’s worth the trip out to the Mission District – aim for earlier in the morning near opening time when you have the best chance of getting a seat and your pick of the fresh pastries. It’s a gorgeous café, I loved the wooden floorboards and furniture, and the staff were actually super friendly considering how under the pump they were. I’d also recommend taking something home with you – wish I’d thought of that when I’d ordered, the line was wayyyy too long (out the door and onto the sidewalk) by the time we’d finished!

 

Tartine Bakery on Urbanspoon

Eat here: The Vertue of the Coffee Drink, Melbourne (brunch).. and a visit to CJ Hendry’s 50 Foods In 50 Days

The Vertue of the Coffee Drink
8 Raffa Place Carlton, Melbourne
http://vertuecoffee.com.au/

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So, rumour had it this place could do a decent muffuletta, a sandwich particularly close to my heart; it was the first thing I ate in New Orleans, at Central Grocery. Theirs are reputed to be the biggest and best not only in New Orleans, but the entire universe. Never heard of them? You’re not alone; neither had I until I started researching this trip. You’re also going to hear a bit more about them tomorrow and see what their muffuletta looks like.. But first things first. The Vertue.

It’s tucked away behind a Shell petrol station around the corner of Lygon and Elgin streets, and it’s a gorgeous space; wooden floorboards, big open space with heaps of natural light, and gorgeous little touches like the little jars of flowers set on the tables and bench tops…

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The next thing that stood out was the level of service; we were greeted as we rounded the corner off the street and into their little restaurant nook space. We were seated, handed menus, poured glasses of water, all with a real smile and a bit of a chat. I’ve said it before, but truly happy and genuine staff make the biggest difference in the highly competitive world of Melbourne’s cafes and restaurants. Top marks to the gentlemen who looked after us while we were there, you guys are awesome!

We went in assuming we’d just get a muffuletta each, but then we spotted the meatball sub on the menu and decided to get one of each and share them so we could try a bit of everything. The meatball sub ($18.00) was a little pile of delicious; pork meatballs in a brioche roll, with napoli sauce, jalapenos, provolone cheese and pancetta, with a side of golden onion rings, apple slaw and crispy sage leaves. Fantastic decision to get this one; the meatballs were perfectly cooked and had a great flavour, really well matched with the buttery brioche and the melted provolone. The onion rings were remarkable, and I loved the creamy slaw with the crispy sage leaves. Would more than happily go back for this again!

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And then, the muffuletta ($16.00). Other than a few variations in the meat/cheese department and the bread (Central Grocery’s came on a round bun rather than rectangular, roughly the size of a car tire and sprinkled with sesame seeds instead of herbs; that said, I actually really enjoyed the herbed bread and thought it complimented to fillings particularly well), it was pretty good! Piled high with salami, smoked ham, capicola, provolone, gouda and olive salad, it was the filling, delicious sandwich that it should be. The only other big difference we noticed was that the olive salad was no where near as oily as the NoLa versions – you’ll see in the photo tomorrow how much the oil soaks through the bread at Central Grocery, which makes it a bit more of a “moist”/not as dry sandwich. Not saying one way is better than the other, they were both good, just different!

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Yeah, it was a little different to the original, but as far as I know it’s also the only one in Melbourne, and a damn good sandwich. It took us right back to New Orleans, the little differences weren’t that big a deal because it still tasted right, and we both agreed we’d go back for more, especially when we feel a little nostalgic about our favourite city.

I wish I could say we were done, but we weren’t. With a few travel brochures and books we’d taken along to lunch, we decided to hunker down for a little longer, grab a coffee and tea, and start researching a new adventure. Also, the dessert window was calling to me. How could it not be?!

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One of those incredibly lovely and very helpful staff I was talking about earlier saw me standing in front of the pastries looking a little unsure, and recommended his favourite – the salted caramel donut. Husband and I also love a good almost croissant, and these looked way too good to pass up, so we got one of those too. Great decision – the croissant was buttery and soft, amazing filling. And the donut. Well. That almost burnt salted caramel was the stuff sugar dreams are made of. This is why you should listen to the guys that work there – they know what’s worth spending your money and calories on!

IMG_8381I’ll be back for more, without a doubt; the food was absolutely on point, the prices were very reasonable for the quality and serving sizes, and the staff just made it. Get off the main drags in Carlton this week and hit up The Vertue of the Coffee Drink instead – even if it’s just for a coffee and a donut!

The Vertue of the Coffee Drink on Urbanspoon
We also took a quick stop through Gertrude Street on the last day of CJ Hendry’s gorgeous 50 Foods in 50 Days exhibition; this extremely talented artist took inspiration from an article about what prison inmates requested for their final meals, and then proceeded to draw 50 foods in 50 days on 50 Hermès plates with just a felt tip pen. Seriously. The attention to detail is beyond incredible – I’d never consider myself as someone with an appreciation for art galleries, but her work really blew me away. If you weren’t able to get to the exhibition, check out her work on Instagram – she actually documented her work day by day as she drew each piece, and it’s AMAZING!

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Batman Market, Melbourne

Batman Market
http://batmanmarket.com.au/

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I’ve been looking forward to this market – it’s had plenty of advertising and word of mouth leading up to opening weekend (October 11th & 12th), so I was pretty excited to find out I had nothing on and was free to eat and shop my way around. The fact that it was opening weekend and a sunny 24 degrees was just the cherry on the cake!

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You can read a bit more about the market on their website, but the basic premise is that the team behind the Batman Market are working to build a new iconic multicultural market for Melbourne to enjoy, representative of the “Australian weekend lifestyle.” They’re hoping in the future that it’ll be a site that can be used to host events for the community, as well as celebrating multiculturalism through food and creative locals selling their wares. Stalls will cover the spectrum from street food style sellers to health food and groceries, as well as homewares, jewellery and second hand pieces.

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I visited on opening day, last Saturday, and the atmosphere was fantastic; there were people of all nationalities, all ages, all walks of life. Hipsters, nannas and babies in prams co-existed in happy harmony, absolutely packing the sunny market place. There were seriously good vibes coming out of the place! The stalls I looked at were well set up, with heaps of gorgeous little trinkets for sale – the jewellery stalls in particular caught my eye, there were beautiful handmade pieces, and I’m looking forward to another visit after pay day so I can make some purchases!

The food was the big draw card for me, so with husband’s help, I ate my way through as much as I could. Here’s what we devoured..

 

Nuoc Mama’s
https://www.facebook.com/NuocMamasFoodTruck

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It reallllly upsets me to have to give this place such a bad review, because I so wanted to like it… I realise that opening weekend for an event this big presents teething problems, and you have to anticipate there are going to be some waits while the teams in the trucks find their feet. But this is not a new food truck. They’ve been around for long enough to be able to pull it together, and they didn’t on Saturday.

We ordered a crispy pork belly pancake and proceeded to wait for 45 minutes for a dish that I can cook at home in 10, having learnt in Hoi An. After watching the lady in front of me ask for her money back and walk off pretty frustrated (understandable), I was getting ready to do the same, but was told my pancake was next up. The pancake we finally received was raw in the middle (I’m not a big fan of raw batter) and I found the pork to be pretty bland. Not only that, but when I went back to tell the guys in the truck that my pancake was raw, all I got was a shrug of the shoulders and “oh… sorry…”

Unacceptable; you CANNOT serve RAW food to your customers. You also CANNOT tell them to expect a quick 10 minute wait and keep them waiting for three quarters of an hour. We were disappointed and frustrated beyond belief; if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’d know that I rarely have a bad word to say about people working hard in the food industry because I know what a tough gig it is, but this was ridiculous. Hopefully they can take it and learn and up their game next time!

Nuoc Mama's on Urbanspoon

 

Now that that’s over and done with, let’s get to the good food, of which there was heaps!!

Not sure what this place was, but they did BBQ pork belly on a stick. With some really delicious cumin salt sprinkled on top. It only cost $3.00 per stick, the fat was so nicely rendered and it was just a meat lollypop of loveliness. They had some other great looking stuff, like the soft shell crab and calamari, that was flying out of the place.

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Ayomo Frozen Yogurt – but I was there for the waffles
http://www.ayomo.net/

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This was possibly the best waffle I’ve ever had, no exaggeration. You pick a base, 3 toppings and a drizzle on top – I went with peanut butter base, oat crumble, chocolate pearls, peanuts and hazelnut chocolate drizzle. Best $8.00 I’ve spent in a while. Massive points for the lady and gentleman working, who were still smiling and genuine with each customer despite the hot sun and the long day they’d already had. Oh, and to offset the crap food and service at Nuoc Mama’s, when the lovely lady who took my order here realised she’d lost it, she apologised quickly and pushed my order to the front. From first order to receiving our waffle, we clocked no more than 6 minutes.  Won’t be my last visit to these guys. Make it a priority when you visit.

Ayomo Frozen Yogurt & Juice Bar on Urbanspoon

 

Strawberry iced tea. No idea where this came from because husband went to buy this while I was waiting in line at Nuoc Mama’s; it was soooo good! Ice cold, neither the tea nor the strawberry flavours were overpowering – it somehow magically tasted equally of both. $5.00, do yourself a favour and track this down! Delicious!

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Señor BBQ
http://www.argentineanbbq.com/

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Chorizo choripan. Chorizo sausage in a crunchy roll, smothered in chimichurri. This was pretty delicious. Nothing special, nothing I’d rush back for, but it was very good.

 

Aaaand a little bit more dessert…

Queqedjoe
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Queqedjoe/577441329049302?sk=info

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Indonesian handcrafted mini no-bake cheesecake pots. Yeah. This little cup of love is the mango and salted caramel cheesecake, and it was really, really good. Silky smooth, the caramel was salty but still sweet, and the biscuit crumb base was perfect. Amazing dessert, so unexpected, but I’d definitely be keen to try some more flavours!!

And one I didn’t get a photo of.. or catch the name… which I’m cursing myself for. There’s a bakery, they had chocolate croissants, probably the best chocolate croissant I’ve had, including the one I had in Paris. Whoever you guys are, you are FANTASTIC!!

 

So, worth a visit this weekend? ABSOLUTELY!! Get around the Batman Market; the team behind it are doing really great things and they need the support to make this market as big as it potentially could be! They’re open Saturdays and Sundays, 9am – 3pm, so head down this weekend and enjoy it!