Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A (Chocolate) Walk to Remember

Belated Happy Birthday to my new dad! I wish I could have been there to celebrate with the whole family. But may God continue to bless him and his ministry!

One birthday I helped celebrate was Robyn's (churchmate) birthday last July 23. It was unusual because we took part in one of the tours around Melbourne named 'Chocolate and Other Desserts Walk'. We had a light lunch at a mall in Melbourne City named QV. Tastebuds going into overdrive with anticipation, we took a stroll along the city's main street - Swanston, crossed the Princess Bridge and we reached our destination, the Southgate complex near the muddy-looking Yarra River.

Our tour guide turned out to be a bubbly dark-haired woman who gave us green dots to put on our clothes. Not all of us were Robyn's friends, there were also those who just signed up for the tour. The first stop was Charmaine's Ice Cream where we got our choice of three mini-scoops: I chose two unusual flavors - chocolate chilli, pudding and my favorite, cookies and cream.

Then we headed off to Suga which is also in Southgate. They were making ribbon candies the traditional way and we got to see how they shaped and molded the the candy while it was still hot. (By the way, Aussies call candies lollies, even sweets that aren't lollipops). At one point the candy looked like rope and they seemed to be stretching and restretching it until it was a golden colour. Then they put in the added flavour. While all this was going on, we were each given a taste of the different lollies from the rainbow coloured range. They even sell some unusual chocolate treats named Koala and Kangaroo Droppings!

While still sucking on a candy, we crossed the Yarra River and headed to Haigh's Chocolate in the Block Arcade. Haigh's has been around since 1915 while the Block Arcade features beautiful mosaic floors. The display window showed cute little snowmen (pictured) and we were in chocolate heaven with all the different tastings, I had to put aside some of the sweets because I just couldn't take it anymore.

Next on the list was the Pancake Parlour where we had pancakes with rich syrup and vanilla ice cream. Mercifully, we also had pitchers of water to wash out all the gooey sweetness. Some people were already giving up and couldn't finish their pancakes.

The final stop of the tour was the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Collins Street. We went behind the scenes to one of the kitchens. It was such a contrast seeing the elegant lounge and guest areas and the drab looking, strictly serviceable kitchen halls. We saw a big tree of strawberries held in their places with toothpicks. The young chefs showed us how to dip strawberries properly in chocolate (pictured). They also showed us some unusual tricks of the trade like bubble wrap to achieve a polka dot effect, brushing chocolate lines on plastic and then curling it and even using hardware tools. I wish we could have stayed a bit longer in this area because it was all very interesting.

Then there was afternoon tea waiting for us at Hyatt's restaurant. Plenty of tea and coffee and of course, little chocolate treats. All in all we had a lot of fun and there were contented smiles all around. The animated chatter flowed freely. Can't wait until Robyn's next birthday.

Afterwards Charry (my flatmate) and I rushed to get home so we could go to a Japanese restaurant to celebrate another churchmate's birthday. It was the first time Charry ate Japanese food and she loved the clean taste of it. All in all it was a gastronomically full day.

Thanks to my good friend Georgina for supplying the pictures!