LONELY PLANET FOOD THE WORLD"S BEST EXPERIENCES LONELY PLANET"S GLOBAL CHOCOLATE TOUR NEW FOR CHOCOLATE LOVERS website RATE: 5/5
I remember my conversation long time ago with the girl at work when we were making afternoon coffees at the kitchen. I noted: "People are such animals when it comes to food..." The girl replied carelessly: "The animals never had chocolate" We laughed. I still remember this conversation. I am not a top fan of chocolates but I appreciate its finest brands and top quality products that are available in majority now on the market. The choice is so diverse and the variety is extremely interesting. You can still have your simple milk, dark and white but the additions are now go into: sea salt, orange, strawberries, coffee and so much more.
In its series "The World's Best Experiences" Lonely Planet released a new book called "Global Chocolate Tour. For Chocolate Lovers". It is not only for those of who travel. Nowadays you can virtually travel all around the globe and visit best places and museums. But of course, I hear what you will say: "taste buds..."
The book is focusing on six continents and takes us on the exciting journey as the introduction says, "from the camel milk in Dubai to the honeycomb in Australia..." The world of chocolate presented to us is eclectic and complicated. One coffee table book of course could not cover it all considering the variety of chocolate places in France and Switzerland but the book included the favorites of Lonely Planet. The book chapters include "The Beans" where we find out about the flavours, origins, process of preparing and variety; the chapter devoted to types of chocolates before the travel to continents starts and we stop on Africa and Middle East that focuses on top cocoa growers. We travel country to country from Ghana to UAE passing Israel, South Africa on the way. Each page has a paragraph devoted to "what to do nearby" when you are in region. This part of the book finishes with 10 distinctive Hot Cocoas from all over the world. "The Americas" part of the book centers on Top 8 chocolate ice creams. It takes us through Argentina's most favorable chocolate places to Canada's chocolate museum, chocolate makers, companies that produce chocolate truffles. We pop in to Cuba, Ecuador, Mexican, Peru, USA most famous confections and NY top chocolate-themed restaurants, This part of the book finishes with the top chocolate festivals around the world while the part Asia of the book starts for unfold in front of our eyes... Asia's central points are Top 3 Chocolate Cities... and here is goes in alphabetic order from India's chocolate factories to Japans' chocolate bars, from Malaysians labs to Philippines chocolate gardens. from Taiwan's delights to the ending of Top 10 Chocolate Treats in Asia. "Europe" part follows with its top 5 chocolate cities and the journey that starts in Austria takes us on its sweet tour Belgium and Eastern Europe to France's bonbons, Germany's best black forest cakes, Netherlands experiences, London's chocolate ecstasy tours, cocoa houses, This part of the book finishes with 10 Intriguing Chocolate Flavours Pairing. The book directs us them to Oceania with Top 3 Chocolate Destinations. The one that is most famous and we know in Melbourne, Australia is Koko Black. I wish I could go there now but no chance till the lockdown is over.
The book is accompanied with so many gorgeous photos, each story about the chocolate place contains its history, culture, mouthwatering experiences, people behind the businesses with their passion and much more.
As to my personal discovery and surprise I fond out about some hidden gems in Melbourne myself which I intend to visit soon.
The book is a hard cover with 250 pages and 150 stories told. It is one more delicious creations by Lonely Planet that you will enjoy!
Warning: the book browsing will sure make you very hungry to say the least... craving for some chocolates? There is only one pity about this book: I wish it was made out of my favorite chocolates with orange peels.
OLINDA TEA HOUSE NEW website review: Johanna Smith / Natasha Marchev photography: Andrew J Liu
Olinda Tea House
WHAT WE LEARN FROM THE WEBSITE As the website of Olinda Tea House states, "nestled in the heart of stunning Dandenong Ranges just fifty kilometers from Melbourne CBD, Olinda Tea House is a place like no other. With unrivalled ambiance, it is one perfect location to host your next special event. Whether it's your wedding, engagement, anniversary or birthday party, this remarkable, hidden well in the gorgeous mountains venue will leave your event much talked about.| You are here to "relax in a modern, harmonically designed as part of the beautiful surroundings, environmentally sustainable building and enjoy the peace and tranquillity that nature has to offer. Olinda Tea House is a truly spectacular spot that is sure to impress and inspire you and your friends, family, business partners and guests!.." Olinda Tea House operates as a contemporary Asian fusion restaurant, serving lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. HISTORY OF OLINDA TEA HOUSE Olinda Tea House, first opened its doors on 27th June 2011. The Lin Family who built and ran the original Tea House have since moved to their next chapter in life, after selling the establishment to the Qian Family who are the current operators of the setting since April 2017.
THE GARDENS OF THE TEA HOUSE Bohemian Rhapsody Weekly and Marquis Fashion Magazines were lucky enough to get invited to visit Olinda Tea House. Our original invite included the afternoon tea to report on with the article, photos and the video, but then it turned out to be half of the day's magical delights and amazing discoveries journey that we did not expect. It was our pleasure to meet and interview the Olinda Tea House executive chef Wanxian Qin and the very kind-hearted, humble and generous owner, Mr. Tony Qian, the proprietor of the Olinda Tea House. During the interview Tony Qian mentioned that since reopening the Tea House they held more than 200 weddings. What we see was only a small corner of the whole arcarage property which has 17 acres that also grows flowers such as hydrangea, roses and many other varieties that are sold to the distributors and would truly capture the beauty of its enchanting paradise. The customers and diners of the Tea House would delight into its flower beauty especially during the spring season while having their menu served. As our visit fell on winter time we could witness the flocks of colorful rosellas who visited the garden feeding spots chasing each other like fast moving rainbow lines. Yes, the site has lots of native birds as well as alpacas and pony for kids to play with and feed. The property's vast veranda opens the picturesque view to the lovely fern tree forests of Olinda. There are few gazebos built outside, a new feature offered by the new landscape designer of the venue. It has natural creek with charming and well maintained miniature waterfalls, sculptures, stones, water plants and flowers surrounded by bamboo and decorated with romantic bridges and secret paths around the property that creates that unique atmosphere of the bewitching Asian manicured gardens that we usually see in the most graceful places in China and many other Asian countries! The energy flows freely through the property, it flies peacefully without disturbance letting the soul to rest on the magic of pure air, singing birds, music of the water and the talking flowers in perfect unison. The whole place felt so in balance from the exterior, outside point of view as well as interior and we slowly and so organically moved inside the warm (in all its meanings) building...
INSIDE OLINDA TEA HOUSE As we mentioned above the people who run the venue simply enchanted us with their openness, welcoming and generosity. More to that as there is one special detail that we noticed about the place: the crew that runs it works like one beehive, like one unit together; they are all very friendly and well trained. It is that case when you feel at home, next to the hands warming fireplace in the company of a good old and well known team. The interior is contemporary yet cozy made of wood and glass. The building has won a number of architecture awards and prizes. The inside felt even better than the outside if only we could compare the two... it was more like: one beautifully bonused the other. The restaurant hall was full by 1200 pm and it was Wednesday! We could only assume what it feels like on the weekends imagine the cues standing and waiting for the seats outside the veranda! (So please just a friendly recommendation: please book your table in advance and just book it to avoid the unexpected waiting to be seated. It is way too popular and not the place to miss... just follow us further in this review to find out why..) We said all together in one voice: what a lovely place to be! and how we love our work though busy but so interesting and helping us to discover so much on our way... While we were about to say more, coffee was served... and food to arrive right after... COFFEES, FOOD AND MORE As it was mentioned earlier, little we knew what to expect from Olinda Tea House... The signature High Tea was planned for us by the Marketing & Events Manager, Rosemary O'Reilly but the whole journey turned out to be just one exceptional delight! Mr. Tony Qian and The Olinda Tea House executive chef, Wanxian Qin kindly treated us with the entrees, mains as well as the sweet surprises were the top class to say the least. These dishes were literally made in heaven (considering Olinda to be in the high mountains), many dishes are Asian authentic and modern fusion. It was our first time to try the food at this place under the new management since its reopening after the renovation in 2017. We all have tried lots of Asian dishes before in Australia and while travelling overseas in the past including Hongkong, Singapore, Thailand, China and Philippines! Johanna for example is a grat food lover and has savoured an array of original dishes created by great chefs and home cooked heirloom recipes. Olinda Tea House for her was high quality food, well presented, served and decorated with style and good taste, though simple and flavoursome. Let the game begin! Tea/Coffee. We were first served with their in-house signature tea and coffee: green tea, long black and cappuccino. Loved the aroma of the coffee and tea that were all very refreshing and soothing. Dishes Plum Flavoured Cherry Tomatoes. Oh, dear God! This delicate beauty couldn’t be simpler and refreshing enough! A spooful of sweetness of the cherry tomatoes just melting in your mouth. Shall we please get more?! It was decorated with the touch of a real artist who painted his favorite masterpiece, it was our team's favourite and highly recommended for the starter of your meal. San Choi Bao (Lettuce Wrap with Chicken and Vegetables). A pure delight to have on any table at any occasion! Tasty cooked chicken mixed with vegetables in the freshness of the lettuce leaf with the condiments inside complements the dish. Special treat: savory crisps around the plate that we all had a joy to taste. Crispy Fried Chicken with Dried Chilli and Peanuts. This dish is one of the Olinda Tea House signature dishes. The dish presentation makes it the MUST to order: served on a plate decorated with the flower well. It is a true photographer's paradise! For those of us, hot chilli lovers and those who are adventurous enough - this dish is for you. The crispy fried chicken was perfectly cooked and complemented well with peanuts. Pan Fried Roasted Honey Soy Eye Fillet cube with abalone mushroom and asparagus. This special dish was our favourite indeed! It was simple but very tasty and so deliciously aromatic. It goes well with the steamed rice. Signature Lamb fillet with cumin, chilli and onion. Another one of Olinda Tea House's signature dishes and it was one of the meat lovers' favourites. Simply delicious! Steamed Egg with fresh Shrimps and Flying Fish Roes. Just nothing but a "wow" factor! It is the star among the dishes you order and the gem to embellish the whole table. The steamed egg garnished with the delicate freshness of shrimps and flying fish roes. The dish to share and perhaps to order more! But where is the place to fit it all? We continued our trip into the food thrills... Sea Salt Baked Tiger Prawns. The Sea Salt Baked tiger prawns was also another super star of the dishes we had. It was well presented in the form of the edible tower and cooked to perfection. It is supposed to be eaten with the shell as it is cooked that way. It was one diverting and superb delicacy: soft on the inside and crispy on the outside though simply ideal in its flawless excellence! Stir Fried Scallops with Seasonal Greens. The stir fried scallops was also one of our favourites! The sauce was absolutely magnificent in its deliciousness! ...and we slowly moved eating our way through to the last but not least super treat! We say: here comes the dessert! The Oriental High Tea... comes with the extraordinary wood stand that looks absolutely phenomenal in its elegance, choices of offer and craft. The choices vary from vegetarian spring rolls, sandwiches, hamburgers and cheese puffs, a decadent set selection of petit fours with Asian inspired flavoured for the savory part as well as Olinda Tea House signature assorted scones served with freshly whipped cream and house made raspberry jam. There is a choice of the afternoon tea selection to have a sip on or a glass of Chandon Brut as an alternative which is on the menu.
WHAT WE LEARNT The Olinda Tea House was one truly unforeseen revelation to our media crew! The menu was enticing, rich and every dish was well-executed and stylishly presented. Eating that food made with so much love felt more like an incredible experience reminding us of the most unpretentious, veritable Asian meals with the modern and trendy touches.
OUR THANK YOU NOTE We are happy to express our gratitude to the personnel of Olinda Tea House who assisted and served us with the warmest welcome and in the most dignified way during our interview. The people working at Olinda Tea House are very attentive to each and every customer; the service is excellent. The mouth watering menu is there to make everyone with the most demanding taste happy and satisfied. Our special thanks go to Tony Qian, the owner and the proprietor of the establishment for the amplitude of his generosity. Chef Wanxian Qian deserves a special appraisal not only for being very down to earth human soul but also extremely passionate about food and its art; he served us all these delectable dishes made with striking visual painting-like effects. We definitely come back and bring all our tribes to the new experiences to this wonderful place!
GIN MAKING CLASSES website review by Katherine Kelly
Bass & Flinders Gin Masterclass Venue: Garage Wine Store and Bar 42-44 Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea
Last week I learned about the intricacies of Gin-making from distiller Holly Klintworth from Bass & Flinders Distillery, a family-run artisanal Distillery, located at Dromana on the Mornington Peninsula. Where possible, it uses local produce and Shiraz grapes in their spirit production. Holly, with a wine marketing background, commenced distilling three years ago. This was a steep learning curve for Holly who had no chemistry or maths background. In addition to their nine gin varieties, Bass & Flinders distil liqueurs such as Limoncello, Vodka and a French inspired Brandy known as Ochre.
The Gin Masterclass consisted of a history of Gin. We learned that it originated in the Netherlands in the 13th century and was originally known as Genever. It served as a medicinal drink and was used prior to battles to calm soldiers’ nerves. Hence the term “Dutch courage”. By the 17th Century, Gin had become popular in England at the time when Mary II and William III of Orange ascended the Throne. It continued to be a popular drink throughout the centuries. Over recent years Gin has risen rapidly in popularity; in 2012, there were just thirty Gin distillers in Australia, now there are over 350!
Holly explained the Bass & Flinders unique distilling process where single vineyard Shiraz grapes are used along with gin’s essential ingredient Juniper – a bitter and dry tasting cone-shaped fruit which is softened by coriander in the process. Other botanicals such as bush sandalwood, orange peel and bitter almond can be added. Distillation is producing spirit by separating the different types of alcohol - a fine and exacting art.
Participants were able to sample some of the botanicals used in Gin-making and taste four Bass & Flinders Gin products:
This Gin reflects the heritage of the Mornington Peninsula. It contains locally acquired kelp and saltbush. Other botanicals include Strawberry gumleaf and Lemon Myrtle.
Gin Ten is made from the Tasmanian Juniper berry, Cardamom, orange peel, native pepper berry and bitter almond (the kernel of the apricot seed).
Angry Ant Gin
This Gin has a lot of the essences of the outback. The botanicals have been sourced from the Wooleen property in Western Australia 700 Km north of Perth. This property is unique in that owners David Pollock and Frances Jones emptied it of all the livestock and enabled the creation of its original flora, which elicited the return of native animals and birds. The botanicals selected in the creation of this Gin include native lemongrass, native sandalwood nuts, the currant bush; and … Australian ants! Ants produce pheromones which have been used to complement the plant botanicals used in this original and unique gin.
Some years ago, ABC’s Australian Story produced Splendour in the Grass - a couple of episodes on Wooleen.
Just a word about the venue for this Masterclass. Previously a mechanics shop, the Garage Bar is now a wine store and bar. Opened two years ago by a partnership and run by the very hospitable Adam, the Garage bar does a brisk trade in take-away wines, ciders, beers and spirits – not to mention Gin! There is plenty of room to enjoy unique wines by the glass on the way home from work.
photography: Stuart Buchanan
Saori Sauce presenting Japanese Vegan Cooking Class III Sun 9th Feb 2020 website review: Olga Kirk
Japanese Vegan Cooking Class with Saori
Are you vegan or not? It really doesn’t matter it’s good to just learn to cook something new, healthy and tasty! I’m not a vegan but I take care in what I eat: it must be fresh, easy to digest and tasty. I believe that we are what we eat))
The vegan cooking course with Saori has become very popular and is usually booked out. It’s great if you learn how to make it occasionally to surprise your family and friends!
I couldn’t imagine how versatile Tofu can be- silky, firm, cooked etc. The main thing is Saori is sharing the best brands and places to buy them.
We learnt to cook using only plant-based Japanese dishes and even dessert. When you are next to a Japanese expert like Saori you feel like you are somewhere in Japan! Atmosphere and the sweet heart of Saori makes you happy, not only her food and sauces!
Highly recommend for people who care about their health and are looking for new ideas!
Saori first moved to Australia, in 2011 From Hokkaido Japan. Seven years ago she began her Sauce innovations, and started her business, in Melbourne. Having studied health Science in Japan, she became particularly interested in producing seasonings and condiments that were based on traditional Japanese cookery. One of Saori's passions is to produce high quality dishes that she can share with others while leading the way to making delicious and healthy dishes. Another important aspect of classes Saori teaches is that she wants to provide high quality ingredients without too many additives or too much processing. Believing that Japanese cooking is one of the more nutritious types in the world, Saori runs and heads up workshops, that include vegan and vegetarian classes.
The group, I was very fortunate to attend was a lunchtime one. All guests were able to participate in the cooking and procedures for the process of making fresh and very palatable Japanese cuisine. Our presenter Saori was most delightful, and had a vast knowledge of her craft. Making 5 dishes in total the group members were really treated to a wonderful assortment of culinary delights for our consumption.
Dishes included Nasu Dengalku a eggplant dish. A tofu Fritter was another delicacy. A lovely mushroom dish, and a soup with amazing dumplings. For dessert we had Dango Balls which traditionally are not too sweet, as that is how the Japanese like their deserts . It was very tasty.
After we had finished cooking we all sat down together at the table and shared the dishes for a beautiful nourishing and scrumptious meal. Saori was an interesting and informative host and it was moving to hear about her beloved home land. I would highly recommend the classes, for flavoursome, beneficial foods as well as a great atmosphere, not to mention the breathtaking views of Melbourne from the dining room window. Thank you so much for the opportunity to review it. On sale is Saori's own array of sauces, as well as seasonings curries and Soup stock.