I’d never been to the Torrens shops before, but my friend booked us in for their first high tea and I will certainly be back. We were greeted with a glass of sparkling on arrival, and then the food began to flow. One of the highlights of this high tea was the fresh serving of each savoury piece, rather than all being lumped together to go stale/cold on a tray. Classy. First up were two mini sausage rolls, pork and lamb, served with a tomato relish. The pastry was crisp and buttery, and both had great flavour. This was followed up by the ‘Caesar salad in a pastry shell’ (refreshing) and finger sandwiches, which were perfectly fresh (no stale bread here!). The savoury highlight was a haloumi, preserved lemon and mint pastry roll – I could have eaten fifty of them! So good. There was a nice break between servings, and then came dessert. The tiered tray held 3 different goodies – scones with jam and cream already applied, mini raspberry and Oreo cheesecakes and mini chocolate brownies. Small portions turned out to be essential, as both mini desserts were super tasty and rich! The scones were also lovely, and went nicely with the tea, coffee or hot chocolates we picked. For $40, this is certainly one of the best value, high quality (although casual) high teas in town.
Smogue, 2/24 Torrens Pl, Torrens ACT
Those who know me know I’m partial to a G&T, so when I heard icecream genius Mr Frugii was doing a G&T sorbet, I put it on my Canberra foodie ‘must-try’ list. That was more than 12 months ago, and I FINALLY managed to visit when it was on offer! Unlike the usual Frugii fare, this sorbet is more like a jelly version and comes in a tube kind of like an icypole for grown ups. Firstly, let me say, the flavour is excellent. Made with local The Canberra Distillery Gin, the rich juniper flavour leaves you in no doubt this is a G&T. Secondly, the texture is an absolute delight. Because it’s hand-held, it does melt a little quicker than the usual icecream or sorbet, but the slightly jelly-like smoothness keeps the sorbet together to be eaten from the tube. The portion is smaller than a standard flavour serve, but given the alcohol content, maybe that’s a good thing! I also found that by the end it was a little tricky to get out of the tube, but other than that, it exceeded my (high) expectations. Go team Frugii! Champagne sorbet is my next boozy bucket-list flavour goal!
Frugii Dessert Laboratory, 30 Lonsdale Street, Braddon ACT, http://www.frugii.com/
Ok, so technically it’s autumn (bummer), but luckily I have a solution to this tragic summer-ending season. It’s called #icecreamthurs – let’s eat icecream every Thursday until it’s summer again! Back in January I visited Fridays After Five at Aldinga in Adelaide’s south, and fell completely in love with Sunshine Iceblocks, one of the stallholders. Selling iceblocks, gelato and shaved ice (perfect on a 40 degree day), they use only fresh, seasonal, local ingredients, and boy does it show. I ordered a Nectarine and Orange iceblock ($4.50) and opened it up with joy – the pieces of nectarine with the skin still on were clearly visible in the iceblock. Yay! Given the heat I was worried it would melt too quickly, but it actually lasted really well, allowing me to fully enjoy the beautiful flavour. First, nectarine and orange are meant to be together. There’s sweetness, there’s citrus, there’s a bit of tartness from the skin – the overall taste is pretty much perfect, without being sugary or too sweet. Dad tried the dark Belgian chocolate gelato, which was equally delicious (although more melty) in its own way – rich, decadent and not bitter, I basically cannot wait until my next visit to try more (raspberry lemonade is top of the list for next time!).
Sunshine Iceblocks, various locations, SA http://sunshineiceblocks.com.au
Eggless is another one of Adelaide’s awesome dessert cafes (Canberra, please take note), and they shake things up with a new menu every month! I can’t even imagine the creativity that the team has to keep this happening year after year. So I dived right in and picked one of the January specials – the Banana, Passionfruit and Anzac Tart ($12). The tart was beautifully presented, with fresh banana piled on top, abig scoop of soy icecream (yes, that’s right, this dessert is vegan so lactose free!), drizzles of passionfruit syrup and a healthy dusting of icing sugar over the lot. Mmm. The tart shell was made of anzac biscuit-flavoured pastry, with that lovely sweetness of golden syrup and oats, and the luscious passionfruit curd inside the shell was blissfully good. The flavours all worked so well together, and of course the textures were balanced too – dense, not-too-crumbly pastry plus creamy curd and soft banana. My friends waxed lyrical about the Mango Float, and the Rose Sago looked beautiful too. The service here was fabulous, with friendly staff and table service. I’d recommend arriving early – by 9pm people were putting their names down on the door!
Eggless, 162 Goodwood Rd, Goodwood SA, no website
Thanks so much for following along this year, I really appreciate each of your comments and likes – stay tuned for more adventures in 2017! Kinokuniya is an awesome bookshop, made even more awesome by the presence of Black Star Pastry’s little dine-in cafe. We waited a while for a table to become free, then ordered a serve of the raspberry and lychee cake, which I hadn’t seen before, to eat-in. The glazed fresh raspberries and lychee on top looked so good dusted in edible rose petals – it was calling to me, what can I say? I had no regrets – this baby is as tasty as it looks. The cake is made up of layers of raspberry marshmellow and vanilla cream, and – surprise! – there’s a rich chocolate biscuit base that anchors the cake literally, and pulls the light, sweet flavours together too. It’s quite a sweet cake, although the raspberries give a nice tartness, and the light, fluffy cream layers are particularly lovely. Mum got the lemon and pistachio zen cake, with lemon curd and pistachio dacquoise, which was also refreshing and scrumptious. You basically can’t go wrong here.
Black Star Pastry, Books Kinokuniya, The Galeries Level 2, 500 George St Sydney, NSW, http://www.blackstarpastry.com.au/
Ok, so this isn’t the first place you think of when you think South America, but my flight to Buenos Aires left from a nearby gate, and a girl’s gotta eat. Just like at icecream stores, here you pay for your order first, and then move over to make your flavour selection. I opted for a traditional strawberry iced doughnut, complete with sprinkles on top. Yes, the doughnut grease oozed through the paper bag a bit as I took it onto the flight. Yes, there are probably more calories in that thing than in the other three meals of my day. But oh man, sometimes a doughnut is actually the best thing. The icing was very sweet, with a not-overly artificial, but not-overly authentic, strawberry flavour, and the sprinkles were a fun addition on top. The doughnut itself was delicious, with a springy dough that was beautifully aerated inside and had that perfect doughnut flavour. I don’t want to overcomplicate this – it was what you would expect from a chain-store doughnut, and it was delicious (and kept me awake on my flight). Job done.
Dunkin Donuts, Aeropuerto Internacional Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez, Av. Armando Cortínez Norte, Santiago
Family friends of mine have recently moved to Canberra, and invited Dad and I over for dinner in their new digs. When we were asked to bring dessert, there was really only one option. Stopping in at Space Kitchen, we picked up The Magical Mushroom giant cake!!! It had the desired ‘wow’ effect, and we got stuck in after dinner, finding it a bit tricky to cut (but really, who cares when it tastes so good?). With a vanilla panacotta stem, a rhubarb mousse and chocolate hazelnut cap, this cake follows the Space/Ricardo’s tradition of ‘soft’ cakes made without traditional batter at all. The rhubarb flavour in the creamy, rich chocolate cap is subtle, and the cake coated in a thin mousse layer of red and dotted with white chocolate disks as the toadstool spots. The pannacotta was also beautifully textured and flavoured, with the vanilla well-balanced so as not to be overpowering. But the highlight was definitely the pistachio grass – beautifully crunchy, it brought together the mix of flavours from the rest of the cake for that perfect mouthful with a bit of everything. A perfect ‘welcome to Canberra’ celebration!
Space Kitchen, Skypark, corner of Furzer and Worgan Streets, Phillip ACT, http://space-kitchen.com.au/