Melbourne cafes

Melbourne is definitely foodie’s paradise, and for someone who comes from the world’s leading coffee consumption country, the plethora of out of this world cafes and roasteries is mind boggling. When coming to Australia, I chose Melbourne as my base from the get-go, and a year after I am glad I did. During the 12 months I spent in the coffee capital the world, I did go through quite a few delicious spots and dishes. Here are a few of my favourites.

Cafes
There’s plenty of great breakfast and brunch spots in most of the neighbourhoods, and I preferred to explore and venture to new spots instead of going to the same ones several times (though some were just too good to leave just for one visit).

Proper iced coffee.
Proper iced coffee.
Hipster interior design in Patch.
Hipster interior design in Patch.

Patch, Bendigo street, Richmond
One of the best feeds in Melbourne. All options are more or less paleo and gluten free, with a lot of variety. Go for the pancakes or the Caveman, a plate with a bit of everything. They make paleo bread in house, which is completely perfect in texture but in my opinion could definitely use some herbs or even salt.

Paleo waffles. Nom.
Paleo waffles at Patch. Nom.

 

Admiral Cheng Ho, Johnston Street, Abbotsford & Monk Bodhi Dharma, Balaclava
Two lovely vego cafes who have true passion for coffee. You can choose from 5 different beans for your coffee of choice, and enjoy a delicious and healthy breakfast or lunch while at it. Lunch specials on the black board, menu staples include amazing mushroom dish and a delicious acai bowl with superfoods like lucuma and maca.

Umami mushrooms, Admiral Cheng-Ho.
Umami mushrooms, Admiral Cheng-Ho.

 

Little Big Sugar Salt, Victoria Street, Richmond
In the heart of Little Vietnam, this quirky cafe is hustling and bustling with hipsters getting their fix from this cafe with the best menu ever. And by menu I mean the actual menu paper, with jokes, classified ads and even a recipe for their divine pancakes. Try at home? It’s good for glu-tards, cow-tards and fructose-free-ks.

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Code Black Coffee, Brunswick
This coffee roastery has another branch in North Melbourne, but I went only to the Brunswick one. They have a nice twist on the classic cafe staple, smashed avo, served with kale pesto and pistachio chia dukkah. Throw a poached egg and some goat’s feta in the mix and wash it down with freshly roasted and ground coffee, and you’ve experienced the ultimate Melbourne brekkie experience.

Mother of all breakfasts, Code Black Coffee.
Mother of all smashed avos, Code Black Coffee.

 

Industry Beans, Rose Street, Fitzroy
Another in-house roastery coffee shop, another industrial interior and guaranteed wait on weekends. Smaller and larger plates, either to share or devour on your own. More lunchy options besides your stable bircher, chia pudding and eggs. Delicious teas, too!

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Bonus: Hot chocolate at Hash, Hardware Lane, CBD
This drink is an experience, and probably the most delicious hot chocolate you’ve had. 80% Mörk hot chocolate (made in Melbourne) in a glass jug, to be poured over a mug full of fairy floss aka cotton candy. Watch the chocolate melt the fairy floss and make the concoction sweet and deeeeeelicious.

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Melting fairy floss with chocolate, Hash.
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Australia’s “Health” Food Scene; Naturally Good

So-called health foods are an ever rising term that is used to describe basically anything that is made from somewhat natural ingredients, with perhaps a Certified Organic label, and usually a host of free-from claims such as “dairy free wheat free fructose free” and many others. With the rising trend of gluten free diet, even some milk cartons now tout they don’t contain gluten (if they did, we should be worried). Sometimes it can be rather confusing trying to figure out what is good for you and what not so much, and I suppose it is better to eat an all natural bar rather than a mars bar, even though it contains 3 different sugars in addition to the sugars from the dried fruit it includes.

I’ve frequented countless health food stores since coming to Australia. This weekend I visited the largest natural and organic products trade show in the Southern hemisphere, Naturally Good Expo, to see what’s up in the field in Down Under, and if they’d come up with something new and interesting. What I found out was that Aussies, too, like their coconut water and all things “paleo”. I don’t think a snack bar that is based on dried fruit is what they ate in the paleolithic area, but who am I to judge. If you sell it as paleo, it sells. Talking about snack bars, I encountered a company who uses indigenous Australian wild herbs in their snack bars. Yes, the base is the usual date and almonds, but at least they are trying to make something new. Kudos for that! Another interesting exhibitor was a company making cricket flour, which I think should become a big thing in the next few years. The crickets don’t even taste that bad, to be honest.

Kakadu plum and other indigenous Aussie coolness in a palatable form.
Kakadu plum and other indigenous Aussie coolness in a palatable form.

I got upgraded as a VIP guest at the expo, so I got to much on some donuts in the lounge while sipping on a gel-like juice with chia seeds (chia still going strong!). Noshu donuts were actually a pleasant clean eat treat: baked, all natural gluten-free and sugar free donuts that are low carb, have 150 kcals each, have a decent texture and also taste pretty delicious. Some might wonder how this equation can possibly equal good taste and texture, but one must not except a Dunkin’ Donuts kind of mouthfeel with these babies. Omnom.

These donuts. Epic.
These donuts. Epic.

Besides the regular date bars and other treats (Aussies love their granolas!), protein powders were well represented. In addition to the regular whey and “vegan” protein (usually combo of pea and rice), the combo of protein and greens is popular. Naturally Good was definitely an interesting expo to visit, and even though it was way smaller than the trade shows I’ve previously visited, it had some interesting lectures and it was easy to talk to people. One highlight of the show was definitely lazertag game at the networking cocktail event. Best networking activity possible, specially for the wellness industry!

 

Restaurant Day Asian Raw Bar

Good people, good food and good vibes
Good people, good food and good vibes

Approx. 24hrs of work, but totally and beyond worth it: this Restaurant Day most likely blew away many of those who are sceptic towards raw foods, but also was something special to those already dedicated to the subject.

Even Raw Dessert Chef Maria Lönnqvist approved!
Even Raw Dessert Chef Maria Lönnqvist approved!

The mouth-watering super-delicious [insert other phrase words here] menu was the following:

Pad Thai Asian noodle salad with crunchy almonds
Spring rolls with almond dipping sauce
Chinese beetroot dumplings with chili plum sauce

Blueberry crumble pie with fresh coconut vanilla sauce
Blueberry chocolate cheesecake

Blueberry cheesecake pictured just before eating by Markus Karjalainen
Blueberry cheesecake pictured just before eating by Markus Karjalainen

 

I think everyone left the place happy and satisfied. We had time to tour around other places after wrapping up our pop-up restaurant. There was a lot of entrepreneurship going on in different parks in Helsinki, and apparently the offerings were very versatile (437 restaurants!). We were treated to a free shot of tequila and pureed cranberry juice served on a block of wood, and we also popped by a paleo cafe, but unfortunately I was too full to try their cookies or sandwich. I don’t know which is more fun: to organize a restaurant or to visit several places and sample different things. If the menu is as good as ours, I think I prefer to be in the kitchen!
 

Nuff said.
Nuff said.

 
This week I’ll stay in Helsinki for Borisraw food courses, where I’ll be assisting. Despite the pouring rain, this is going to be a good week!

Buddha-approved Yum-stuffed Papaya

Last Friday was Buddha’s birthday, and I was lucky to enjoy this public holiday almost completely without work. Since I haven’t posted any recipes lately, I though this sweetie would definitely be worth it – I’m sure even Buddha himself would have approved and appreciated this!

Quinoa and Mango Stuffed Papaya

– 1 ripe mango
– 1 papaya
– (cooked or sprouted) quinoa, amount depending on the size of your papaya
– coconut cream
– vanilla, cinnamon, salt according to taste

This is not quite what you are aiming for, but close
This is not quite what you are aiming for, but close

Cut the end of your papaya off, and scoop the insides out: first the seeds, then flesh (or then cut the fruit half lengthwise, and carve the flesh). Cut your mango into small pieces, and mix it with some of the papaya flesh. Combine fruits with cooked quinoa, and season according to your taste. Fill the carved papaya with the mixture, and pour some coconut cream in.

In case it’s a special occasion, i.e Buddha’s birthday, garnish your Papaya stuff with cocoa nibs, bee pollen or whatever goodies you have in hand and prefer. Another good option is to boil your quinoa in tea, it gives some extra flavor. Other fruit than mango would work too, but I like the mushy, soft textures and intense flavor of mango together with papaya. Pictured is my this morning’s breakfast with watermelon and apple – a bit more crunch, no cool stuffing involved. My papaya creation didn’t make it to picture before it was all gone. Wonder why…

Education of the day: Quinoa is super good in so many ways – complete amino acid profile, whole source of vegan protein, it’s gluten-free and hella versatile to use! If I will start posting more recipes as soon as I land back to the dear Motherland and have loads of free time (10 days, FYI), you are sure to see some quinoa stuff coming up. Try it instead of rice. Way, way better, in all possible ways. Paleo-friendly and possibly suitable for all other cool diets lifestyles you can come up with. Some more education: Buddha died supposedly due to overdosing on magical mushrooms. You gotta take which and how much shrooms to take, man!

Oooooommmm and namaste.