A Year of Desserts in Review – 2011
Of all the foods, desserts are arguably the one food that unites across the boundaries of religion and culture. It is no wonder then that cosmopolitan Melbourne has seen an influx of new specialty sweet boutiques and greater attention being paid to the sweet end of a restaurant meal. It has been just over 6 months since MoMo & Coco launched our journal-blog — the first of its kind in Melbourne, if not Australia, that focuses on desserts and sweet irresistibles sampled from restaurants, cafes, specialty sweet boutiques and afternoon teas. We are particularly proud to have been often the first or one of the first bloggers, and in some cases, even before print media, to review new sweet ventures. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our readers — whether Facebook, Twitter or email subscribers, and general commentators — for their kind support. We would also extend a thank you to all dining venues in and beyond Melbourne for unknowingly hosting our dining experiences. Below are a few thoughts on the future of desserts and dining in Melbourne.
MoMo & Coco’s pick of Melbourne gems that opened in 2011
Click on the hyperlinked names or images to peruse the respective reviews.
- Desserts at Merricote, especially the “Dutch Mess”
- Desserts at Noir, especially the “salted Toffee Cheesecake”
- Globe-trotting afternoon tea in the New York-glam Waiting Room
Other Melbourne dining venues that MoMo & Coco reviewed in 2011:
Unfortunately, as MoMo & Coco do not carry our camera everywhere we go, as there are occasions when photography is not appropriate, and because desserts are not always involved, MoMo & Coco cannot showcase in this journal-blog every single dining-out experience that we have undertaken. Hence we select only the more memorable ones to share with you. Apart from venues visited in December 2011 (to be published in January 2012), don’t forget the following new-ish restaurants (with a scattering of old favourites) that we have blogged about since launching this journal-blog:
- Restaurant dining – Maze, Persimmon, Heirloom, The Aylesbury, San Telmo, My Mexican Cousin, Chin Chin, Easy Tiger, Newmarket Hotel, Union Dining, St Katherine’s
- Cafes – Hardware Societe, Ponyfish Island, Lindt Chocolat Cafe, Seven Seeds, Dead Man Espresso, St Ali
- Specialty sweet boutiques – L’atelier de Monsieur Truffe, Burch & Purchese, Let Them Eat Cake, Cafe de Beaumarchais, Marciano’s Cakes, Babycakes, Sugadeaux, Cupcake Central, Cacao, Macaron de Paris, A La Folie, Little Feat, Helados Jauja, Cafe Rosamond
- Afternoon teas / high teas – Plaza Ballroom, Sofitel, Myer Mural Hall, NGV, Southpaw, Sebel Heritage Yarra Valley, and a handful of selected London establishments
What MoMo & Coco would like to see disappear in 2012:
- No-bookings policy — because during peace time, one should not queue for food as for war rations.
- Timed-booking policy — because dining-out should be an immersive leisurely experience, there are enough deadlines and time pressures in one’s life already.
- Bistro chairs and industrial decor — dear architects, it’s overdone visual plagiarism.
- Bad service — because Melbourne’s hospitality industry currently has an atrocious understanding of what hospitality entails (eg. as here, here, here, here and here).
- $45++ mains — because where we have paid these prices overseas at some very high-end restaurants in the US, UK, Europe and East Asia, conversation-friendly ambience and personalised service matched the gastronomic immersion or experimentalism. This trifecta is overwhelmingly absent in Melbourne.
- Silly labels — because “tapas” refers to Spanish food, not every single “small plate;” because known to almost every culture except the Anglo one, “share plates” are not “innovative;” because “organic,” “natural,” “Australian-made,” and “food provenance” are empty buzzwords that ultimately exhibit a sentiment of parochial protectionism.
- “Celebrity” chefs— because if you are not in your kitchen with your staff, the credit should go to your staff instead of you.
- Ignorant professional restaurant critics — do some travel please, or qualify your review. Do not denigrate the food of other cultures (eg. as here).
- Disrespectful bloggers — because especially when photographing food already stretches the rules of dining etiquette, it’s particularly obnoxious when those less discreet bloggers who use massive SLRS and intrusive camera flash, photograph you and/or your food while you are eating. Argh!
What MoMo & Coco would like to see more of in 2012:
- The return of fine dining — because Australia should grow up; because restaurants should be where one can talk, not just eat; because Melbourne is really lacking for restaurants where one can really dress up for special occasions (MoMo & Coco are talking about glamourous cocktail dresses and dinner suits…only).
The return of fine dining a la carte restaurants — because the majority of fine dining venues in Melbourne only offer degustation or set menus. What if we want to order more than one dessert??
The use of non-white plates — because white plates, white napkins, white walls = hospital. Colourful plates, decorated plates, molded plates etc = inspired.
Hospitable service — because a small number of venues have shown that it is not difficult to achieve (eg. as here
, and here
The introduction of dessert bars — because one has insatiable appetites for desserts at all hours of the day/night; because the soon-to-exit Maze had a temporary one; because New York, London, Singapore, Shanghai have them already and permanently.
Thoughtfully executed afternoon teas — because although there are now many afternoon tea venues in Melbourne, far too many offer tea bags and generic sweets at exorbitant costs and with little ambience. Tea sommeliers would be welcome too.
- The continued evolution of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) cuisine — because Melbourne can do better than the Latin American food trend of 2011 that expressed itself in a proliferation of mostly carelessly-considered venues. MoMo & Coco would love to be introduced to the cuisines of Russia and Eastern Europe. We would also like to see a brave soul tackle especially regional Chinese cuisine with audacity, to recognise that Chinese cuisine is as extensive as its history and as diverse as the minorities that comprise that country, that there is more to Chinese food than yum cha, dumplings, kung po chicken and the other barely passable, mostly Cantonese-leaning offerings in Melbourne. Furthermore, we would love to see greater understanding of the sometimes subtle, culinary differences between each Asian country, and to experience African cuisine at a higher level than that available in Victoria’s ethnic enclaves. Oh, and don’t overcharge by justification of innovation or novelty.
Greater attention spent to desserts by non-BRIC restaurants — because counter-parallel to the BRIC food trend, many long-standing (and new) Italian and French restaurants have adopted a pared-back approach, at the expense of their desserts.
- The amalgamation of food trucks into a hawker centre — can you imagine how wonderful it would be to have all the world’s street food in one permanent location…in Melbourne?
Experimenting with Australiana — because MoMo & Coco would love to see a restaurant focusing on the quintessential ingredients and flavours of indigenous Australia. We don’t refer to stereotypical cringe-worthy, Crocodile Dundee kangaroo or crocodile meat though. For example, one of the most memorable desserts sampled to date was a Maze creation that paid tribute to Australia and Asia in one dessert (see here
On a final note, for the sweet tooths, here’s a wish list… for Christmas, Al-Hijra, Hanukkah, Chinese New Year and any other upcoming festivities.
- Tickets to any of the inaugural sugar-dedicated events at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival March 2012 (we asked, they delivered, yippeee!, click pic below).
- Phillipa Silbley (2011), PS Desserts, RRP $49.95
- Adriano Zumbo (2011), Zumbo, RRP $49.95.
We hope that you will continue to join us on our sweet irresistible adventures in 2012.
Dessert Correspondents, MoMo & Coco