Thursday, 27 March 2014

The General Food Store

Thinking of spending the day exploring Emerald Lake Park? Then why not revive yourself at The General Food Store in Emerald. This teensy but busy café was awarded three stars in the 2014 The Age Good Food Under $30 Guide.

The General Food Store has a small menu that changes monthly to make the most of seasonal ingredients. Amusing names for dishes such as ‘Grab a Granny’ and ‘Fire in the Hole’, add a fun element to this hip café in the hills. Items on the February menu include the ‘Arabesque - poached eggs, grilled halloumi, beetroot relish, hazelnut dukkah, baby spinach, toasted sourdough ($16.50)’ and ‘The Mighty Quinn – salad of quinoa, toasted pumpkin seed and almond, Persian fetta, currants, salted zucchini, coriander, parsley, caper and lemon dressing ($15.00)’. Also if you are a coeliac, they have house made gluten free bread available at no extra charge.

I chose the ‘Persian Princess – fresh waffles, pistachio ice cream, strawberry and pomegranate sauce, fresh strawberries, rose syrup ($16.00)’. What a brilliant dish! Everything went well together and I loved the rose syrup on the strawberries. The bitterness of the pomegranate balanced the sweetness of the other elements, making it feel slightly less gluttonous...

Persian Princess

My dining companion went with the ‘Go Downtown - corned beef sandwich, summer pickles, mustard aioli, Annie Baxter cheese, rocket, black pepper, fresh sourdough ($14.00)’. The sandwich was lovely and fresh with melt in the mouth corned beef. It was really delectable.
Go Downtown

I’ve been here a number of times for a latte ($3.50) and their Coffee Supreme coffee is usually wonderful but today my latte wasn’t quite as good. Maybe there was a different barista working today... The service can be a little slow. Considering that it is such a small space, they should be a lot more efficient.

They also have a range of house-made sweet offerings like Lumberjack cake ($4.00) and vegan carrot cake ($4.50). You can also check out their muffin ($3.50) flavour of the day on Twitter and Facebook.

Address: 377 Belgrave-Gembrook Road, Emerald, VIC

Phone: 03 5968 3580




Trading Hours: Mon – Sat: 7.30am – 4.00pm
              Sun: 8.00am – 4.00pm
The General Food Store on Urbanspoon

Friday, 21 March 2014

Top Paddock

This place is busy with a capital B. On the weekend, people swarm around Top Paddock eagerly prepared to wait in order to gain access to this vast but stylish café. Luckily, we arrived just before the crowds started to encroach on the premises. Bookings can be made on weekdays for tables of four or more.
The bright interior is broken up into personalised spaces with the large windows making the most of the urban greenery outside. I loved the gorgeous flower arrangement on our table. I’ve been noticing Sedums a lot in modern arrangements around town lately and they really are quite striking.
Top Paddock’s menu includes dishes such as ‘Fresh Qld. soft-shell mud crab roll with fennel & dill salad & lime mayonnaise in a brioche bun ($21.00)’ and ‘Roasted kippfler potato & leek omelette with padron peppers & tallegio on toast ($17.00)’. Upon reading the menu, I was instantly drawn to the ‘Pan fried local Snapper with a chilli-fried egg, avocado, tomato, lime & a corn tortilla ($19.50)’. I just had to order it... It was magnificent! Two fillets of succulent snapper surrounded by yummy goodies. They certainly weren’t stingy with the avocado; it was even hiding under my tortilla! The chilli-fried egg was a welcome change from the commonplace poached egg.

My dining companion picked the ‘Grilled broccolini & sugar snaps with avocado, toasted almonds, poached eggs & Heidi raclette on toast ($17.00)’. Another delightful meal! The brocollini was crisp without being raw and the other ingredients complemented one another perfectly.

Grilled Broccolini
Regarding caffeine related issues, my latte ($3.80) made with Five Senses coffee was very lovely.
While the service was efficient, it was a little bit sterile with a lack of warmth and smiles. Attack of the ‘hipster robots’ I fear... I generally prefer to hang out with ‘happy hipsters’. Overall though, extremely scrummy food that is perhaps worth the wait...
Address: 658 Church St, Richmond, VIC

Phone: 03 9429 4332

Trading Hours: Mon - Fri: 7.00am - 4.00pm
                      Sat - Sun: 8.00am - 4.00pm
Top Paddock on Urbanspoon

Monday, 17 March 2014

Madame Mango

The heart of Camberwell can be rather hectic. Awhile ago we were in Camberwell and felt like a relaxed lunch so we made our way to the quieter end of Burke Road. Instead of fighting for car spaces near the junction, we easily parked the car and strolled over to Madame Mango which is situated on the corner of Burke Road and Broadway. We were warmly welcomed into the cafe and seated at a table in the front window. The service really was cheerful and charming here, something that can be severely lacking at efficient hipster cafés...

The menu has a large range of interesting dishes that should cover everybody’s tastes. Items on the menu include Quinoa and Apricot Pudding ($12.60), Russian Flat Cakes ($15.00), and a Roast Beef Open Sandwich ($18.60). The specials were enticing, especially the Pumpkin Croquettes Salad ($11.40) - three homemade pumpkin croquettes with salad. However, I opted for the Poached Italia ($15.70) - homemade polenta and pumpkin bread, pesto, cream cheese, and sundried tomatoes beside poached eggs. It was nice to have something a bit inventive. Anyone can make eggs on toast at home (well, nearly everyone...), so it’s good to see cafés being more imaginative with their menus. The eggs were poached perfectly and the polenta and pumpkin bread was quite flavoursome.
Poached Italia

My dining companion chose the Benedictine Eggs ($16.40) - rich hollandaise sauce on poached eggs, bacon, and spinach with a side of grilled cherry tomatoes. This meal was very well received.  
 Benedictine Eggs

My latte ($3.50) was not too bad but next time I might have some tea instead as they have a vast selection of T2 teas ($4.00) including Turkish Apple and Choc Chip Chai.

Madame Mango is a great place if you are seeking a leisurely lunch served by lovely people, rather than hipster robots...

Address: 768 Burke Rd, Camberwell, VIC

Phone: 03 9813 4070
Madame Mango on Urbanspoon


Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Gelato Messina

Whilst N2 Extreme Gelato is intriguing, I really do love Gelato Messina. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer flavour and good customer service over gimmicks...

Like N2 Extreme Gelato, Gelato Messina is also located in Fitzroy but over on Smith Street. It is a much classier gelataria with friendly staff that are eager to help. Gelato Messina uses real ingredients, with everything made on-site. With over forty tempting flavours to choose from, it can be difficult to make a final decision. Luckily, you can try some flavours first. The gelato comes in either a cup or a cone. One scoop is $4, two is $6, and three is $7.



I decided to try something from the Specials Board. I went with the Nonno Carlo ($4.00) - strawberry sorbet with whipped cream and brioche. This was so delicious and I could have easily had another scoop... or two. I hope they make it part of their permanent menu.

Nonno Carlo
My friend chose the Salted Caramel and White Chocolate ($4.00) gelato. It was smooth with nice little surprises of white chocolate slivers. It could have been sickly but it was just delightful.

Salted Caramel and White Chocolate
They make Gelato Cakes too which you can also order online. The Juliette ($48.00) sounds very yummy – ‘a wild strawberry sorbet centre with vanilla semi-freddo and strawberry gelato, all on a base of marsala and strawberry syrup soaked sponge. Finished with piped meringue and raspberries’.

Gelato Cakes (From left: Bombe Alaska, Juliette, Tiramisu 'Smash')

I have a feeling that every time I am in the area I will be compelled to slip into Gelato Messina and try some more of their flavours... even in the winter!

Address: 237 Smith St, Fitzroy, VIC

Phone: 03 9017 5470

Trading Hours: Sun – Thurs: 12.00pm to 11.00pm
                 Fri – Sat: 12.00pm to 11.30pm

Gelato Messina Fitzroy on Urbanspoon

Monday, 3 March 2014

N2 Extreme Gelato

Fancy a Spank-apple Tart? Maybe a Chocolate Orgy? Don’t mind if I do... These are just some of the quirky names you will find on N2 Extreme Gelato’s menu.

If you want your very own Heston Blumenthal style experience right here in Melbourne, why not head down to N2 Extreme Gelato in Fitzroy. This Sydney-based gelataria uses liquid nitrogen to make its gelato which results in a much smoother and fresher gelato. The gelato is made to order so there is some waiting time. But you can sit on some of their Astroturfed furniture while you wait...


The menu changes weekly and prices range from $6 to $8. Vegans were also catered for today with the 3 Balls in 1 – coconut sorbet with honeydew chunks and sago ($6.00). N2 Extreme Gelato specifies on their blackboard that one ‘scoop’ is all you need. We decided to share one as we had just had a big lunch. The Brokeback Moment – vanilla gelato with crushed honeycomb, choc-top, honeycomb syringe and a caramel syringe ($8.00) sounded very indulgent but we decided on The Spank-apple Tart - milk gelato with pineapple jam and a shortbread centre ($6.00).

Spank-apple Tart

This was lovely and fruity and wasn’t too rich. I loved the crumbled shortbread in the middle as it added a different textural element.

N2 Extreme Gelato’s interesting flavour combinations and production theatrics are really something you should try at least once...

Address: 329 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, VIC

Trading Hours: Daily – 1.00pm -11.00pm

N2 Extreme Gelato on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Miss Sage Sugar's Fashion Edit - March 2014

The first day of Autumn... my favourite season of the year. Although the leaves may not have turned yet, I chose this month’s dress because the flowers are a lovely autumnal colour. The green accents also allow me to indulge my love of green accessories and St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner...

Delilah Dress
Kimora Tote

Emerald Green Cascade Statement Earrings

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