A Melbourne Cafe Care Package

John (a resident Chicagoan) and I have been exchanging care packages for a few years now. Receiving a big ol’ parcel from the other side of the world that’s brimming with (mostly edible) goodies is very good for the soul, and I highly recommend you find someone with which to take part in such trade. In previous correspondence, I’ve sent the likes of Arnott’s Tim Tams, Mint Slice and Shapes, Milo, Cadbury chocolate and Allen’s lollies. In return – Lucky Charms, Reese’s everything and Ghirardelli Squares abound. The Ghirardelli Squares, especially; I think John has found that these serve as a far more interesting alternative to packing peanuts. I’m very much inclined to support this notion.

This particular care package, however, has been quite a while in the making. For this one, I wanted to get a little more local than the same old ‘Aussie stuff’. I freakin’ love Melbourne, and that’s what I wanted to show off in this parcel. It’s no surprise that the care package very naturally took on a ‘Melbourne cafe’ theme. Cafes are the cogs of this city. An influx of Italian migrants after World War II sparked a passionate, inner-city coffee culture – and coincided rather nicely with the proliferation of the modern-day espresso machine. We’ve been working on a seriously good thing for decades. Heck – we’re one of the few places in the world to give Starbucks the boot.

And so, this little gift is my ode to the Melbourne cafe. John – enjoy! 

Little Wanderings - Melbourne Cafe Care Package 5

Market Lane | Seasonal Espresso, 250g

Obviously, I had to provide the means for a good cup of Melbourne grade coffee. I’ve been a little infatuated with Market Lane coffee lately; over the past few weeks I’ve found myself sipping at both the Therry St and Prahran Market cafes. The coffee is smooth and delicious. I feel myself in the midst of my first true allegiance to a particular coffee roaster. Their cups brandish a simple philosophy: “We love to make coffee for the city that loves to drink it.” For you, John – I’ve included a bag of Market Lane’s Seasonal Espresso beans (Uh, yeah. You’re gonna need to buy yourself a coffee bean grinder. Merry Christmas!). As I meticulously bubble-wrapped every item in this parcel, the aroma of these beans almost drove me mad. I mean, listen to this – ‘Notes of ripe cherry, orange and chocolate fudge.’ Seriously. 

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 T2 | Melbourne Breakfast, Teabags 25pk

‘A deep and warming tea with a hint of sweetness, reminiscent of Melbourne. Full bodied with a touch of vanilla. An essential tea.’ Yes, Melbourne is a city of coffee drinkers – but we’re pretty damn solid on the tea front too. T2’s Melbourne Breakfast was the obvious choice here. I’m not sure if it’s just my Melbourne bias here, but this is one of my favourite T2 teas (there are over 200!). T2 popped up on Brunswick Street in Melbourne’s Fitzroy back in 1996, and is now a bit of a giant in the boutique tea world. The first U.S. store even opened in New York just a couple of months ago. So whether Melbourne or New York is next on your (extensive) travel list, John, definitely drop in to T2. So much to smell, sip and savour! 

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MörkMörk Original Dark 70%, 250g

This. Really, this is where John’s little Melbourne cafe care package sprouted from. The duo behind Mörk – one part Melbourne specialty coffee scene, one part Swedish chocolatier – combine to create the best powdered hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted. The pair take their hot chocolate seriously, using only the finest and purest ingredients: ‘cocoa powder, 100% cacao liquor from Sur del Lago in Venezuela and sweetened only with unrefined coconut blossom sugar’. It’s pretty sensational. Nothing like the sickly sweet stuff that’s usually the norm on cafe menus. My usual Mörk dealers are the lovely folks at Twenty & Six Espresso, though I picked up this sexy cardboard canister at the very cool Melbournalia on Bourke Street. 

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KeepCup | ‘Brew’ Glass Coffee Cup, Medium (12oz/340ml)

With all of these wonderful Melbourne beverages, it seemed pertinent to provide something from which to drink them. KeepCup is a pretty nifty little Melbourne invention, kickstarting a revolution of the reusable coffee cup. For one, they’re stylish; this positive aesthetic has played a huge part in KeepCup’s success and people’s desire to, you know, actually keep using them. And then there’s the design: they’re made to seamlessly fit in with standard volumes at cafes, plus fit right under the brew head of an espresso machine. Barista-friendly! The new ‘Brew’ series with a glass cup design is absolutely gorgeous, and I knew as soon as I saw it that John would be receiving one. I’m so jealous of this KeepCup, in fact, that I’ve decided I must absolutely buy one for myself. 

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Gânache Chocolate | Cafe Latte Pralines

What would a steaming hot cuppa be without a little something to nibble on? I stretched my mind far and wide trying to think of the perfect little sweet treat to include in this parcel – when suddenly it came to me. I’d seen these beautiful Gânache pralines photographed on blogger Iron Chef Shellie‘s Instagram account months back. What could be more perfect than handmade chocolates (cafe latte flavour, no less!) stamped with our iconic W-Class trams? 

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Make Me Iconic | Iconic Mini Tram

And lastly, a little extra dose of the W-Class tram for good measure. It’s the most Melbourne way to get to all of those excellent Melbourne cafes, after all.

I’ve received word that this care package made it safely to its destination on Christmas Eve. May these tasty tidbits from Melbourne keep you warm this Chicago winter, John! Those who follow me on Instagram will know that John, the scoundrel that he is, has already gone and one-upped me in the parcel exchange. Guess it’s time to start plotting again!

Hutchy Kitchen: NeverEnding Slice

I’ve mentioned before how my grandma has quite a talent in preparing suitably for an oncoming Hutchy horde. Being a rather large lot, and one that delights particularly in the joy of eating, this mostly means one thing: food. A very, very large amount of food. We converge en masse upon my grandparents’ house a couple of times a year – and aside from calculating and cooking dinners like an absolute catering pro, Granny does a damn fine job of making sure we’re very well looked after in the so-called ‘look after yourself’ lunch (if you haven’t managed to snag any delicious, delicious dinner leftovers) and snack department. You’re likely to find the freezer chock-full with homemade soups, sausage rolls, spaghetti Bolognese, zucchini slice and cakes galore. There is usually also enough Zooper Doopers to feed an army.

There’s one thing, however, that especially embodies Granny’s seemingly ever-stocked kitchen. That thing is NeverEnding Slice.

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Granny has been making this slice for years. We didn’t always call it NeverEnding Slice, but I can’t quite remember what we called it before. And yet there is definitely a point I can recall – I think sometime, perhaps, in my early teens – when this slice was re-dubbed and it suddenly took on a kind of legendary status in our family. According to my own memory, I think myself as the one who coined the clever name. I loved (still love, obviously) the slice, and remember one day announcing to my grandma that it almost felt as though this baked good had magical replenishing powers. This was a time when the family home was relatively close to my grandparents’ house, and so we visited quite regularly. And that circular slice container atop the freezer always seemed to be full, no matter how much we ate. (A lot.)

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There’s definitely the possibility that my claim to the naming of NeverEnding Slice is a sham, but that’s how I remember it. I guess it was a family effort in the end: the name caught on because we all realised and agreed that this humble little slice was something special. I’ve tried to make NeverEnding Slice a few times in the past, but it never turned out quite like Granny’s. The texture was always off. This time, however, I’ve done my best (and nagged Granny with a lot of silly questions) to obtain her exact method. And I’m so happy to finally get it right! Now, I suppose a little bit of the magic is revealed: it’s dead easy. NeverEnding Slice has four ingredients, only needs to be hand-mixed and is in the oven in minutes. And then out again in just fifteen more. I think my early failures occurred in attempt to somehow complicate things – but honestly, the simplest way is the best way here. 

May the NeverEnding Slice add a little magic to your own kitchen! x

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NeverEnding Slice
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
INGREDIENTS
Slice
  1. 125g butter, melted
  2. 1 cup self-raising flour
  3. 1/2 cup white sugar
  4. 1 tbsp cocoa powder
Icing
  1. 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
  2. 1 heaped tbsp cocoa powder
  3. 1 tbsp / 14g butter, melted
DIRECTIONS
Slice
  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a small baking pan. Grandma uses a metal baking pan; I don't have an appropriately sized metal pan, but find that my 6x9-inch ceramic baking dish does the trick!
  2. 2. Whisk together dry ingredients in a bowl.
  3. 3. Using a wooden spoon, stir in melted butter. Mix until incorporated.
  4. 4. Press the slice mix into your greased pan, forming an even layer.
  5. 5. Bake in oven for 15 minutes.
Icing
  1. 1. Prepare to ice while slice is still hot and in the pan.
  2. 2. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Gradually add and mix in dashes of boiling water until a smooth, spreadable consistency is achieved.
  3. 3. Spread icing evenly over slice. Top with sprinkles.
  4. 4. Allow slice to cool further in pan before cutting (also whilst still in pan). Store slice pieces in an airtight container. Enjoy!
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Bacon, Sea Salt and Violets: Vosges Haut-Chocolat

Aside from being a prolific traveler, my Chicagoan friend John is a rather splendid gift giver. He’s made an annual habit of sending me a parcel bursting with delicious treats from the States, and I was lucky enough to have my doorbell ring with the delivery of this year’s instalment just a few weeks ago. Along with my yearly dose of Lucky Charms cereal and Ghirardelli’s chocolate Squares, this parcel offered sweets and chocolate from John’s recent travels through Hungary and a few select chocolate bars from a Chicago-based company I’d not heard of before: Vosges Haut-Chocolat.

The three Vosges chocolate ‘tablets’ John had picked immediately caught my attention, even amongst the landslide of Ghirardelli Squares pouring from the cardboard postage carton (John essentially uses Ghirardelli Squares instead of foam packing peanuts. Not that I’m complaining). Not only was the packaging sleek and beautiful, but the flavours sounded incredible: dark chocolates with exotic ingredients like black Hawaiian sea salt and hickory smoked bacon – and even one of the bars inspired by The Hunger Games!

I love trying sweets and desserts that centre around experimental and playful flavours, so I was super excited to try these Vosges chocolates. On the back of each bar told a little story on the various flavour inspirations, and of Vosges founder Katrina Markoff’s own inspiration in beginning the company with the notion of bringing to life her extensive world travels through chocolate. Now that’s one giant, incredible collision of two of my favourite things in the world! And, now I come to think about it, definitely a suitable name for any future autobiography: ‘Travel and Chocolate: The Terri Coad Story”.

Mo’s Dark Bar – 62% dark chocolate with hickory smoked uncured bacon and Alderwood smoked salt

bacon2Inspired by childhood breakfast plates laden with chocolate-chip pancakes, bacon and syrup – this chocolate bar really is something else. The bacon pieces were wonderfully crispy, and flavoursome in a way that wasn’t overpowering in its inherent, you know, bacon-ness. In fact, it seemed that it was actually the Alderwood smoked salt that really set this chocolate bar off. The ‘savoury’ sensation of the chocolate was incredible as that smoky flavour sat on the tongue for seconds after the dark chocolate dissolved. This bar also comes in 45% milk chocolate, so I’d be interested to taste the change with a much sweeter base!

Black Salt Caramel Bar – 70% dark chocolate with black Hawaiian sea salt and burnt sugar caramel

caramel2Mat and I polished this one off in record speed; it was definitely our favourite. I’m not sure I’ve tasted a caramel quite like it. A ‘burnt sugar caramel’, it was dark and deep and for me evoked the smells and tastes of home baking. The black Hawaiian sea salt (a blend of sea salt and volcanic charcoal) seemed to play more into intensifying that sensation, rather than standing out as a particularly distinguishable flavour on its own. Delightful!

 Effie – 62% dark chocolate with dried strawberries and candied violet flowers

effie2‘Effie’ is one of three of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire inspired chocolate bars released by Vosges. Along with Katniss (44% milk chocolate with apples, uncured hickory smoked bacon and Alderwood smoked sea salt)  and President Snow (72% dark chocolate with blood orange and tellicherry peppercorns caramel), this range conjures each character in most delicious form. I’ll admit that in tasting this I expected it to be similar to Lindt’s Excellence Strawberry Intense block, but I was quite surprised! Whilst Strawberry Intense is really very sweet, the candied violet flowers of Effie balance with the dried strawberries to create something much lighter. It’s fruity and floral and lovely.

I was quite obviously very impressed with my sampling of the Vosges chocolate bar range. The flavour combinations are sensational and the chocolate itself is high quality. There are plenty more flavours that sound amazing, like the Red Fire Bar (55% dark chocolate with Mexican ancho & chipotle chillies and Ceylon cinnamon) and even a Crispy Carrot Bar (45% milk chocolate with crunchy carrot confit and Valencia oranges)! If by your own travels, a friend or family member’s – or even if you have an in-country supplier like me, track down a Vosges boutique or stockist and get your hands on some of this stuff quick smart.

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