The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival has rolled around once again. Wicked Sunday was on again, and being a massive fan of all things sweet, how could I not attend.
So Esther, Minh, John and myself met up for lunch first at HuTong Dumpling. I had warned them all that everytime I've been there, it was so crowded so we should get there early. When we arrived, we found that people must like not like eating dumplings on Sunday, because it was nearly empty. That's even better as we got to talk without shouting and faster service.
Minh and Esther smiling at the sight of the Shanghai Fried Noodle. I think fellow blogger Karen summed it up best when she said the noodles were "al dente". Esther and I were both commenting that's exactly what we thought, as the noodles were still firm and not soggy. The dish was very good and we ate it in quick time.
You can't go to HuTong Dumpling Bar and not have the Xiao Long Baos. They were again really good. John had read the instructions on how to eat the baos, slurping the soup out after biting a small hole. However, his chopstick skills aren't honed enough yet, and he broke the dumplings lifting them into his bowl.
The Pan Fried Pork Dumplings with the spectacular pan stickers. These dumplings must also be the best in town, as they aren't excessively oily, have a nice thin skin, the pork tastes like real pork and has texture and doesn't stink.
Finally, the Crispy Duck was crispy on the outside without being dry inside, very good.
After lunch, and ten minutes circling the city for a park spot because we (read Esther) refused to pay for parking, we were at Wicked Sunday. First off, we each armed ourselves with a coffee to keep us going. Then it was a meticulous stroll down the path of temptation.
We started with the Proffertjes. They were very good paired with fresh strawberries. However, I have to *tsk *tsk them for the use of canned cream.
Next we were drawn by the beautiful cake displays of Lollipop Cakes.
We bought two Double Chocolate Cupcakes to share. I'm usually not a fan of chocolate cupcakes as the icing is way too heavy and sickeningly sweet. When John offered me half, I cautiously took it. I watched him eat it first and the sounds of "mmmmm" exuding from him was enough to make me take a bite. Soon Esther, Minh and I were all going "mmmmm" as well. The cupcake was moist and light and the icing was really smooth, fragrant and had that ooomph factor that made it really good. The cupcakes were good value too at $2.50 each. We vowed to come back and buy more to take home, which we did, only to find they had sold out. Moral of the story is to buy it when you can and carry it all day.
Next up, we had some Gundowring Ice Cream. Many shops all claim their ice creams are hand made the finest. Gundowring had the same claim, but their ice cream was truly luscious and we couldn't get enough. The Coconut was all our favourite, and the scoops we were taking were getting bigger and bigger. The Toasted Honey and Walnut was still really good, but compared to the coconut, just seemed like a poor cousin.
When I saw Crabapple Cupcakes, I couldn't help but be curious. I had seen their book and having never tried one, was determined to see what their cupcakes were like. A wave of sudden rain did not stop us from queueing. Their cupcakes certainly looked good.
We decided on a Double Chocolate Cupcake and a Passionfruit Cupcake. We wanted to compare their chocolate cupcake to Lollipops'. Let's start with the Passionfruit cupcake though. It was a vanilla base, which was fairly light but a tad dry. The passionfruit icing had a good heavy passionfruit taste. The Double Chocolate Cupcake was a dense mud cake base, with an even denser frosting. The base was ok, but nowhere near Lollipops version. The frosting wasn't very good, tasting a lot of icing sugar. And Crabapple's cupcakes were $4 each. I know which one I'll be buying in future.
Following the cupcake was the cheese pavillion. We sampled lots of goats cheeses and all ended up buying some fabulous goats cheese from Meredith Dairy. I got the Chevre and the Marinated Goats Cheese in Olive Oil. The flavours and textures were really good, and you get to sample first too.
We were getting really full now, but our eyes weren't full yet. We got Hot Chocolates and Ensaimadas from San Churro. The hot chocolate was so rich that I was starting to feel a bit sick by the end. It was a case of sugar overdose. The ensaimadas were really soft and tasted great with the dark chocolate. But again, I was overdosing on sugar.
We watched some Dessert Demos and marvelled at how many ingredients go into a fine dining restaurant dessert. The Chocolate Pavlova dessert contained a chocolate pavlova, chocolate ash, orange caramel, burnt anglaise and chocolate sauce. I can't imagine making that ever. Guess that's why I go out to restaurants to eat that.
Finally, it was off to the Chocolate area where we once agained sampled even more chocolate despite our sugar rushes. The chocolates looked amazing and John bought some.
Overall, it was a truly "wicked" Sunday where we all ate way too much food and consumed enough sugar, which when converted to energy, could power a small car. I've discovered a couple of great places in Lollipop Cakes and Gundowring Ice Cream which I will be visiting again soon.
Note: Quick question, in the first chocolate photo, it shows a sign saying "These chocolates are best eaten not photographed!!!". What do you think it means? We were debating whether it meant we couldn't take photos. I didn't think so and so snapped a photo. Were they being cheeky, presumptuous, arrogant? What was the purpose of the sign, complete with three exclamation marks?