High Society, Armadale

Last weekend, I was invited to High Society in Armadale for a blogger review, a popular cafe that is located on High St, in the bridal district of Armadale. The cafe is easily accessible by tram 6 and there's plenty of parking on the side streets. The cafe went through new ownership late last year, but is still a popular brunch spot in the area.

The decor at High Society is simple and minimalistic, spacious and bright with the white walls and natural light coming in from the front. Apart from seating inside the cafe, there's a courtyard out the back, as well as in front of the cafe, lined with a white picket fence and white wooden chairs and tables. The staff were friendly though as we sat outside, at times it took awhile to get their attention, and our food came in about fifteen minutes.

Zero95, Doncaster East

Zero95 is a woodfire pizza eatery in Doncaster East, in the small shopping strip along Doncaster Road before Blackburn Road. The restaurant prides itself on creating an authentic and unique pizza experience, and I have to say it's probably some of the best pizza that I've had in Melbourne!

The restaurant has plenty of seating, though as it is so popular, definitely book a table to avoid not getting a seat. The front counter and woodfire pizza oven/station make up most of one side, and the rest of the restaurant has simple decor with brick walls and a few decorations hung up. It's always a lively atmosphere at Zero95 with the large groups of friends and family gatherings, but never too noisy that you can't hear the people next to you.

Punjabi Curry Cafe, Collingwood

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to Punjabi Curry Cafe in Collingwood to review the restaurant. Located in Johnstone St in Collingwood, the restaurant is a short walk from Smith St and easily accessible by tram 86. Punjabi Curry Cafe specialises in Northern Indian food, and prides itself on high level quality service and food.

The restaurant has minimal decoration; Indian artwork hangs on the walls, and the whole place is basked in a dim lighting. Upbeat Indian music started playing about halfway through our meal, and combined with the chatter from all the patrons made for a cosy atmosphere. The staff were attentive and friendly, and gave us good suggestions when we were deciding what to order.

Holla Coffee Roasters, Richmond

Holla Coffee Roasters is one of many cafes around the Richmond/Abbotsford area, on Victoria St just before Church St. The cafe is easily accessible by trams 12, 109, 78 or 79, and a short walk from North Richmond Station. The cafe prides itself on roasting its own speciality coffee and serving up ethical, free-range and trending modern Australian foods.

The cafe is very spacious and the first thing you notice when you walk in is how green it is. Plants and greenery fill up most of the space in the cafe, giving it an almost greenhouse like feel. Upbeat music plays in the background, and the atmosphere is lively. Staff were friendly and attentive, though there was about a 20 minute wait for food even though it wasn't very busy, and unfortunately the cafe does not allow for split bills.

Chicken or the Egg, Canterbury

Chicken or the Egg is a relatively new cafe that has opened in Canterbury on the popular shopping strip of Maling Road, a five minute walk to Canterbury Station on the Belgrave/Lilydale lines and five minute drive from the heart of Camberwell. We had actually come from the Sunday Market, wanting to find something close by that we didn't have to wait too long for a table for.

The cafe feels very open and spacious, and there's plenty of seating both inside and out. The white walls and simple decor, together with the old looking wooden tables, give the whole place a homely and comfortable atmosphere, that was quite busy with people the whole time we were there on a Sunday afternoon. The staff were friendly and attentive, though there was about a 25 minute wait for our food. Breakfast and lunch are both served all day, and there's a good range of sweet and savoury options as well as a cabinet at the front of sweet goodies.

Miss Marple's Tea Room, Sassafras

Miss Marples is a cute little tea room in the town of Sassafras, located in the Dandenong Ranges about an hour drive from Melbourne CBD. The tea room is most well known for its scones, and is a popular destination for day trips or a nice lunch spot after doing the 1000 steps nearby (about a ten minute drive).

The restaurant is funished in a Tudor style, and the name Miss Marple is actually based off a famous character from Agatha Christie's novels. Miss Marple memorabilia and teapots line the walls of the restaurant, which has a very homely feel, with its floral tablecloths and simple lighting on every wooden pillar. The staff were friendly and attentive, and our food came in about 15 minutes. We went at 12pm on a Sunday and luckily only had to wait about 5 minutes for a table for three, however a friend who went on the same day about an hour later had to put their name down for about a half an hour wait.

Ultimate Foodie Tour, Queen Vic Market

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to be invited along to the Ultimate Foodie Tour, hosted by the Queen Vic Market. The tour runs three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with each tour running for 2 hours and consisting of a range of tastings, learning about the history of the market, and picking up on some interesting tidbits here and there regarding the stalls and its produce. Each tour comes with a Vic Market shopping bag as well as a $5 shopping voucher that can be used at the market itself.

Our tour started off in the Meat and Fish Hall, where we got to try oysters from the Seafood and Oyster Spot store. These were really fresh, didn't have too strong a fishy flavour that some people don't like, and were a decent size. At the next store, we got to try turkey sausage, which was juicy, but a little on the salty side, as well as peppered kangaroo meat. This was my first time actually trying kangaroo meat, and I found that it was similar to beef, though a lot more lean and similar to eating game.

At Tribal Tastes, an African store, we got to try candied salmon as well as dried beef biltong. The candied salmon is similar to the texture of jerky; the fresh salmon fillet is marinated first, then smoked before it's dried, and still retains a really strong natural flavour. The candied salmon was served on a sweet potato chip, and was really enjoyable. Biltong, like the candied salmon, is lean pieces of meat that is salted and dried in strips. It tasted similar to beef jerky, just a thicker slice with a hint more moisture to it.

There's nothing better than fresh baguettes and warm foccacia bread, and we got to try both with eggplant and hummus dips from Andrew's Bread Shop and Hellenic Deli in the Dairy Hall. We also got to try saganaki olives, dolmades (a Greek vegetarian appetiser made from vine leaves wrapped into small rolls and stuff with rice and herbs) and pickled octopus. The olives were quite salty, even stuffed with saganaki (fried cheese), and I couldn't really taste much flavour in the dolmades, but it was an interesting experience and something I probably never would've otherwise tried!

We also tried Moroccan mint tea from Gew├╝rzhaus Herb & Spice Merchants, which taste like a fusion of green and peppermint tea, with the mint flavour quite subtle and only appearing in the aftertaste, which I actually prefer, as well as a really cool spice blend called Mukhwas. This is an Indian spice that is actually an after meal snack/digestive aid, and  tastes quite strongly like liquorice for some reason! After this, we moved on to a Polish deli where we had a range of ham sausages, as well as rose and sparkling wine from Swords Wines, an Australian wine company that specialises in boutique wines, craft beers and artisan ciders.

No foodie tour is complete without trying cheeses, and this was no exception. At the Epicurean, we tried out camembert cheese, blue cheese and 20 month old vintage cheddar cheese. I'm not a big fan of blue cheeses as the flavour can be a bit overpowering, but this was really enjoyable, and camembert, similar to brie, was a lighter cheese with a very soft texture.

To finish up, we visited the fruits and vegetables section, and tried out a finger lime, which looks a lot like a lady finger, but when squeezed out of its shell actually looks a lot like caviar! The taste was extremely sour and acidic, but tasted great when we tried it with some fresh sweet strawberries.

Our final stop was the Gelosa Gelateria, where we got to try a bunch of the flavours they had, and pick out a cup of our favourite. There's a good mix of fruity sorbets and sweet flavours, and I ended up getting the choc mint one. I found that the sorbets here were a bit creamier than others I've tried, but with a great fruity flavour still. The choc mint gelato was light and creamy, and had a good balance of chocolate to mint.

Big shout out to our tour guide Sarah, who made the experience so enjoyable! I definitely learnt a lot, both about the market itself and random facts as we went through the different stalls. For example, eating/drinking honey from a 5-10km radius from where you live helps negate the effects of hayfever/the pollen build up in your body?

Massive thanks to Darinka for organising this foodie tour, and I would definitely recommend trying it out. Different seasons means you get to try different things at the market, for example in winter they have pastas and mulled wine, as well as the famous jam doughnuts, so there's always something for everyone.
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