Make Your Own Chocolate @ Mornington Peninsula Chocolaterie & Ice-Creamery, Flinders

 

Tucked by the sea on the Mornington Peninsula, the tiny town of Flinders (population: 905) is a two-hour drive south of Melbourne. Charming and idyllic, there are virtually no tall buildings here, and the main street is a wide expanse lined with beautifully manicured lawns and quaint shopfronts, some (like the post office and general store) of which date back to the 19th century, when the town was founded.

That is not to say that there isn’t anything to do in Flinders – it’s quite the opposite. I was pleasantly surprised to find that despite being away from the city centre, there is lots to do in town for visitors, from art galleries and golf courses, to nature trails, beaches and scuba diving sites.

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If you’re a chocolate or ice cream lover, then more reason to visit as Flinders is also home to the Mornington Peninsula Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery. Opened in December 2018 by husband and wife team Ian and Leanne Neeland (who are also behind the highly popular Yarra Valley and Great Ocean Road Chocolateries), the shop was a packed with customers during our visit on a Saturday, as staff bustled about handing out free samples and introducing the best flavours. The store offers a whopping 180 different chocolate varieties!

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Aside from ready-packed boxes you can get as souvenirs, the chocolaterie also offers handcrafted artisan chocolates, which form a colourful tapestry on display – each looking prettier than the last! The team behind these mini masterpieces are European chocolatiers, and you can watch them in action at the store and get an insight into the art of chocolate making.

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Better yet, try your hand at making chocolates, by joining one of the chocolaterie’s private Chocolate Discovery Classes. While you won’t be a master chocolatier anytime soon (that takes years of hard work and diligence!) it’s a great way to learn more about the art, and also take some of the chocolates you ‘make’ home.

Our session started off with tastings, and there were a variety of flavours to sample from. I like super dark chocolates, so the single origin cocoas were right up my alley, but I also liked the floral with its sweet, flowery scent, the spicy notes of the Buderim ginger, as well as the tangy hint from the Violet Forest Berries.

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More truffles for sampling!

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Our chocolatier, a pretty French lady (whose name slips my mind – I think it was Anne) guided us to create two chocolate items – chocolate bars (which we could fill up with our favourite toppings), as well as a chocolate lollipop to decorate. It felt like play-cooking at times! For the bar, after we made the ‘base’, we had to pour the chocolate over to seal up the toppings, which was easier said than done as we had to be quick with our hands, or the chocolate would spill over.

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I have the artistic capability of a five-year old. I think some five-year olds can probably make something better than this lol. Nevertheless, we had lots of fun and we left with plenty of chocolate (and some extra, to boot).

MORNINGTON PENINSULA CHOCOLATERIE & ICE CREAMERY 

45 Cook St, Flinders VIC 3929, Australia

Opening hours: 9AM – 5PM (daily)

mpchoc.com.au

 

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Review: Pontoon @ St Kilda Beach, Melbourne – Best Eggplant Fries Ever!?

Melbourne is widely touted to be one of the world’s most livable cities – and for good reason. Not only does the city play home to a vibrant arts and culture scene, it also has gorgeous nature and sandy beaches just a stone’s throw away from the city centre.

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One of these beautiful spots – also Melbourne’s most popular beach – is St Kilda. A short tram ride away from the CBD, the beach’s deep blue waters are popular with surfers and swimmers, and the beachfront is lined with trendy eateries and chic restaurants. There is, of course, the beach’s iconic pier, and if you’re lucky, you might spot some of the local wildlife like penguins wading around the water at sunset.

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It was late afternoon by the time my friend Stephen and I got to the beach, and many of the shops were closed after lunch service. We ended up at Pontoon, which has an all-day kitchen. Like its namesake (pontoon is a type of small boat), the restaurant boasts a chill ambience with a nautical theme – wooden tables that look like the decks on a boat, hues of blue and yellow, and an outdoor patio where diners can enjoy their food and drink in the sun. Apparently the building where Pontoon is located, which also includes fine dining resto Stokehouse and casual kiosk Paperfish out front, was razed in a fire in 2014 – so the version we’re seeing today is a refreshed design.

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If you’re into drinks, Pontoon offers a wide selection of wines, beers and cocktails. I believe this was a Negroni of some sort – not a big fan of alcohol tbh gasp.

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Stephen’s order of Lamb sausage with fennel compote, charred capsicum sauce and herb salad. Huge and juicy, with a slight char on the outside – what more can one ask for?

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We were there on Steak Wednesday, so I got the 300gm Porterhouse with Chimichurri sauce (20AUD). Good, affordable steak is hard to find in Malaysia, and its even harder to find a place that does it rare just right (they’re either raw or overcooked), so I was glad to be able to enjoy this in Melbourne!

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Perfect degree of doneness, and the chimichurri’s salty, garlicky flavours really helped to accentuate the taste of the meat.

 

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The highlight of the meal was the Chips De Berenjena – eggplant chips and pomegranate molasses served with aioli dip – which Stephen ordered as a snack. I ended up filching most of it. Eggplant chips are easy to make but notoriously difficult to perfect, as they absorb oil and get soggy, but the ones served here were top notch. Crisp on the outside thanks to the light batter, whilst still being moist and soft on the inside. Possibly the best eggplant chips that I’ve ever tasted anywhere!

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Pontoon is located next to Paper Fish, facing the beach front at St Kilda’s Beach.

PONTOON 

30 Jacka Blvd, St Kilda VIC 3182, Australia

Opening hours: 12 PM – 11PM (Mons – Thurs), 12 PM – 12AM (Fri – Sun)

Reservations can be made on pontoonstkildabeach.com.au

Food Review: “Vibe Dining” and Contemporary Chinese at FUHU @ Resorts World Genting

Partygoers in Malaysia (and Singapore) will be familiar with Zouk – one of the biggest names in the Asian clubbing scene. In recent years, the brand has been moving towards more lifestyle-oriented offerings – which is why at Zouk Genting, they have a number of other outlets (besides the main club), such as the games lounge Redtail by Zouk, hiphop club Empire, and Redtail Karaoke.

1. FUHU Restaurant & Bar entrance

The latest to join the Zouk Genting family is FUHU. Meaning “Lucky Tiger” in Mandarin, the new ‘vibe dining’ experience entails contemporary Chinese cuisine created by Hong Kong “Demon Chef” Alvin Leung, whose unique yet nostalgic creations fuses East and West; reimagining Asian flavours with a modern spin on classic fare. Its also the perfect place for pre-drinks and after-party drinks with friends, all in a fun and lively atmosphere.

THE DECOR / INTERIOR

2. FUHU Restaurant & Bar walkway

Entering through the apothecary-themed entrance, diners venture in through an Instagrammable passageway, complete with mirrors on one side of the wall that reflect lights on the other. The effect is rather ethereal, as you make your way into a mysterious ‘garden’ of sensory delights.

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3. FUHU Restaurant & Bar Interior

Emerging, be awed by the cool and trendy chinoiserie interiors, which play on elements found in traditional Chinese apothecaries juxtaposed against a garden of wonder brought to life by artful lighting and pop art graffiti. The restaurant covers 750 square metres of space, and seats up to 150 diners.

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Celebrated graffiti artist, Kenji Chai brings to life the tale of Lady Meng and the Tiger in a floor-to-ceiling mural, while elements of traditional Chinese culture such as rosewood chairs and Ming-dynasty blue and white porcelain motifs transport guests into the story. The centerpiece is the bar area, which features a life-sized sakura ‘tree’ glowing in the dark.

THE FOOD

Portrait - Chef Alvin Leung 2

If you’ve always wanted to try food by a Michelin-starred chef, here’s your chance. The menu at FUHU was created in collaboration with Chef Alvin Leung. One of the biggest names in the Asian culinary arts scene, Leung is an unconventional figure known for his ‘X-Treme Chinese Cuisine’ and molecular gastronomy, and has three Michelin stars for his restaurant, Bo Innovation, in Hong Kong. The menu at Fuhu, however, will be a departure from his usual style of cooking, and instead pays homage to the unique Chinese dishes from where Leung was born and raised, namely London and Toronto. As such, diners can enjoy smaller plates for sharing, or full-blown Chinese meals complete with rice and dishes.

4. Sticky Lamb Shank

Signature items include the FUHU Roasted Duck, Aromatic Crispy Duck, Boston Lobster Noodles, Szechuan-style Hot & Sour Lobster Soup, The General’s Fried Chicken & Waffle, and Quark Quark Rice Soup. For our media tasting session, a notable highlight was the Sticky Lamb Shank, which was fall-off-the-bone tender with a sweet glaze and accompanied by a creamy, curry sauce.

5. Aromatic Crispy Duck

Aromatic Crispy Duck. The way you eat this is by shredding the meat and placing it into the soft mantou with some of the sweet sauce and vegetables, making for comforting bite-sized morsels.

6. Boston Lobster Noodle

A must-have is the Boston Lobster Noodle, bursting with seafoody goodness and generous chunks of fresh, sweet lobster meat. Noodles were silky, each strand coated in the savoury broth.

11. The Generals Fried Chicken

Another crowd favourite was the General’s Fried Chicken – essentially boneless fried chicken karaage coated in a sweet and spicy sauce. These were insanely addictive, with the crispy skin and tender, juicy meat.

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Duck is a major ingredient at Fuhu. The duck essence porridge distills the meat’s goodness into a clear, lip smacking congee that warms the belly. Great for hangovers!

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For dessert, the humongous Double Sundae combo, featuring a tall piece of French toast topped with various goodies such as durian ice cream, marshmallows and an ice cream cone.

THE DRINKS 

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Alcohol lovers will not be disappointed as FUHU serves some amazingly creative cocktails by resident mixologist Saam Pranill. Taking into account Fuhu’s Chinese origins, Saam also incorporates local ingredients and flavours, and drinks are served in unique vessels picked out from his travels, be it antique teapots or mini wooden buckets.

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A signature drink here is Drunken Tiger, a mix of gin, campari and martini rosso, and get this – Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa (yes, as in the herbal drink used to treat coughs) garnished with orange zest.

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Other must tries include the Tiffined Gin Tonic, featuring artisanal tonic from Greece paired with grapefruit soda and Beefeater, as well as The Reunion, which is served in a  Chinese tea set and consists of bourbon, honey, calamansi lime juice, cinnamon, orange slices, hot water and red dates.

All in all, I loved my experience at Fuhu – the food, the drinks and of course, the cool vibe. Definitely a unique experience you won’t get elsewhere, and that you’d want to visit with friends both before and after the party!

FUHU GENTING

Zouk Genting, Level G, Resorts World Genting, 69000 Genting Highlands, Pahang, Malaysia

Business hours: 6PM – 1AM (daily)

fuhudining.com

Mother’s Day Brunch @ Open Farm Community Singapore

Thinking about where to bring mum out for Mother’s Day? Singapore’s Open Farm Community – an urban community food project that brings together local farmers and chefs on a 35,000 sq ft plot of green land – is having a Mother’s Day Brunch to celebrate and honour the most important woman in our lives.

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The menu features new dishes andpairings by OFC’s new culinary team, head chef Oliver Truesdale-Jutras, sous chef Phoebe Oviedo, and Wine & Operations Manager, Phillippe Chin.

Look forward to hot favourites such as OFC Flatbread and OFC Brioche Burger, and
discover new favourites with Watermelon Wild Honey Salad (above), a refreshing sweet appetizer. There’s also Mama’s Laksa Pappardelle (below) a local favourite executed with a contemporary twist.

Other dishes available on the menu include Braised Canadian Pork Belly, House Beer Battered Baramundi, Citrus Cured Hamachi, and for dessert, Coconut Waffles and Buttermilk Pancakes.

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Pair these delectable dishes with a glass of natural wine from OFC’s extensive natural wine list or enjoy a unique cocktail concoction by Group Bartender, Joe Schofield.

Mums will receive complimentary handcrafted chocolate bonbons on Mother’s Day.

OPEN FARM COMMUNITY 

130E Minden Road
Singapore 248819

openfarmcommunity.com