Melbourne: Australia’s Chocolate Capital

7 Apr

30 March – 7 April 2011

If I hadn’t been born in the world’s chocolate capital, I probably would have been born in Melbourne. My second trip to Australia started with a Google search for chocolate tours… and I found plenty. But who wants to follow a group of chocoholics? I just got the addresses of as many stop points as possible, and visited them, one at a time. De-li-cious. And remember: this was just before Easter… the best season for my addiction.

Some brands I had encountered before (Haigh’s, San Churro) but most were new to me, and my nose found some that were not on the chocolate tour list (Theobroma). I was even surprised to find an Aldi after erring aimlessly (my strategy to discover a city) on my first day – guess what I bought there. Yes, emergency chocolate 🙂 Some were never found: Déva in the Galleria had been replaced, same with Chocolate Box at the Central Bus Station. They were missed – not really: it took some dedication to check off all the chocolate shops from my to-do list!

What a beautiful city! I mean, Sydney is more interesting in many many ways but if you don’t want to walk too much, Melbourne is for you: everything is within a few blocks and they even have a free tram that goes around the CBD. On Sundays, you can get a one-day pass for AUD3.20 and my friend Graham – the tramoholics – made sure that each cent was well spent. Graham, Brian and I hopped from one tram to the other, making friends, and discovering suburbs that no tourism office would want us to see. We saw the sea, the veteran memorial, and almost the airport – that was a loooong and funny trip that ended in the middle of nowhere, with no plane in sight! In retaliation, I dragged them to a few chocolate places, and everybody was happy. Well no, I was very sad to see them leave after barely three days, but they had been touring Australia for a month and were heading home.

The only way to drown that sadness was to head to Chocolateria San Churro and order a milkshake with a hint of hazelnut. It is served in a long glass that gives the impression that you won’t be able to finish it; silly thought! I discovered CSC on Bondi Beach in Sydney where I had a few treats for dessert while waiting for the bus. They have a great philosophy – chocolate shall be your salvation – so I was glad to find another branch in Melbourne. We went one evening with the boys and shared a decadent platter: three churros and some strawberries to dip in melted milk or dark chocolate; chocolate-covered pretzels and almonds; a cup of chocolate ice cream; and some truffles. Heaven on a plate. Brian had a tiramisu cake and Graham had an amazing hot chocolate: it’s a Spanish chain but with Aztec recipes – too yummy for words.

I had another decadent (but o so beautiful) plate at Koko Black on my last day: vanilla ice cream to be melted in hot chocolate with a delicate chocolate cake and a shortbread square (not sure why it was there but it was good enough to clean the palate between the chocolate courses – hihihi!).

If you want a special experience with hot chocolate, head to the Lindt shop: a little jug of milk, a smaller jug of melted chocolate (you can choose between dark and milk) and do your own chemistry. Not sure why there was more milk than chocolate… haha. There were a couple of people around so I didn’t dare to lick the chocolate jug unfortunately.

My (bad) surprise was that all those shops close very early. On my first night, I was considering attacking the emergency supply already because after my Thai dinner, all the spots I had recon’ed during the day were closed. Drama! Until my feet found a magic spot: Ganâche Chocolate. Relief and taste bud fireworks.

When I wasn’t having chocolate pastries (Laurent Boulangerie Patisserie), chocolate ice cream (NZ Natural), hot chocolates (Indulge, Caffé Mediterraneum, Café C&B, Hopetoun Tea Room, Brunetti’s, Unspoken Travels of Oscar Ryan [yes, it’s a real place!]) or hunting for evening treats to appreciate while watching Australian television (like Chokolait, Haigh’s, Theobroma Chocolate Lounge, etc.), I was enjoying  Asian food (twice Thai, twice Sushi, Indian) and a bit of Italian cuisine (Pellegrini’s – simple, authentic, Spaghetti Tree – better than expected, and a slice of pizza at the Swanston Walk Café Bar). I also discovered Pie Face: great for a snack at lunch, and both Brian and Graham agreed. They have a selection of meat pies (with funny faces) and sausage rolls to eat on the go… or on the sidewalk. That’s also where we got a lamington and sent a picture to our dear Ozzie friend Barbara in Ireland, who made them for her children on Australia Day. When I was in Sydney, I didn’t know it was an Ozzie delicacy not to be missed, so I corrected it, made sure to share one with our common friends.

Do not ask about photos. I still haven’t bought a camera, and as usual depend on my friends. Talk to Graham.

Verdict after sampling a range of chocolate treats: some chocolates were quite average, most were very good but Swiss chocolate is still better than all of them! And if you think I write too much about food, it is because during that trip it is really all I did! I had a great time with my friends discovering the city, and even going to the Melbourne Flower Show, but there isn’t as much to do as in Sydney. Walking along the (dirty!) river, getting “lost” in the side streets full of surprises, hopping on the free tram, enjoying the day pass, visiting the casino and its beautiful fountain, but really just filling the time between meals, while having the best time with my friends.

I went food crazy in Sydney because I hadn’t realized how “deprived” I was in Vila. This time I was more measured in my food consumption… but still brought plenty of chocolate bars Tim Tam boxes back home! I also brought back a better mood because I was feeling down and lonely before my trip. Nothing like a couple of great friends to remind you that some people appreciate your silliness! There are many friendly people in Vanuatu but no one I can talk laugh talk with for a whole day, so imagine three days!

The only issue is that this was my second trip to Australia, and I still haven’t met any kangaroo or koala. I’ll have to go back then!

Melbourne: Trams and Chocolate

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3 Responses to “Melbourne: Australia’s Chocolate Capital”

  1. Graham Fletcher 15 J0000002Australia/Sydney 2011 at 4:25 am #

    Janique, these reports are fantastic.

    • janiqueracine 15 J0000002Australia/Sydney 2011 at 10:37 am #

      Thanks for the comment, and taking the time to read my ramblings.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Melbourne in Photos « Travelling Tastebuds - 15 J0000003Australia/Sydney 2011

    […] English friends Brian and Graham, and finally got my hands on the photos they took when we met in Melbourne in April 2011. Lucky […]

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