Friday, February 05, 2016

Gelato Messina, Syndey

Update Review, January 2016 Visit

As you know, I used to love Gelato Messina, and I've reviewed it several times before.  Go start with those reviews if you haven't read them before ...

On this visit though, I dunno, I just wasn't into any of the flavors.
Small Choc Mint.
"Real fresh mint gelato with chocolate chip."

So, I did the thing I always say not to do.  I got this flavor without tasting it first.  That isn't to say that I didn't taste flavors, I tried at least 5 or 6, and just didn't like any. I felt bad, so I finally just picked this, assuming that a mint chocolate chip was a safe bet.

And, it was fine, although not very minty.  I guess it was creamy, and it did have nice chunks of chocolate, but, maybe I'm just over gelato?  I didn't enjoy it much at all, and I didn't enjoy the 5 or so other flavors I tried before settling on this either.

I did like Ojan's Milk Chocolate with Choc Peanut Fudge though ... that really is the best flavor.  I need to just stick with it.

Other flavors I tried:

  • Banana Split: "Banana and caramel gelato with chocolate chips, crushed peanuts and whipped cream."  Tasting notes: I somehow didn't taste any of the signature components ... no chocolate chips, no peanuts, and definitely no whipped cream.  I did taste banana.  I guess a sample just wasn't big enough to do this one justice?
  • Pannacotta with Fig Jam and Amaretti Biscuit: "Pannacotta gelato base".  Tasting notes: The fig was really strong in this, I didn't taste 'pannacotta', not that I know what that would taste like anyway.  Fig was really all I really detected.
  • Nutcase: "Peanut and coconut gelato with candied cashews, roasted coconut and sesame seeds."  Tasting notes: This had too much going on.  Lots of bits in it, all competing with each other, rather than complimenting.
  • Return of the Mac: "Macadamia and milk chocolate gelato annihilated with white chocolate and macadamia cookies." Tasting notes: This was Levi's pick, and I had a bite.  It was totally crazy, annihilated was the right word, it was loaded up with huge chunks of cookies.  Not bad.   Crazypants.
  • Wagon Wheel: "Shortcrust gelato with marshmallows, raspberry puree and choc chips." Tasting notes: I accidentally tried this one, when I meant to ask for another flavor.  I know I don't really like Wagon Wheels anyway, and this was just too fruity for me with generous raspberry puree.
  • Pavlova: "Vanilla gelato with raspberry and passionfruit puree and baked meringue". Tasting notes: This was way, way too sweet.  The passionfruit was overwhelming.  Bits of baked, crunchy meringue inside was strange.

Update Review, May 2015 Visit

No visit to Sydney is complete without at least one stop at Messina for gelato.  On my recent visit, it wasn't summer any longer, but, we still couldn't resist the temptation of delicious gelato.

Wait, do you not know about Messina?  In that case, I suggest you go read the review from my Jan/Feb 2015 visit below, and then return here, since I'm skipping all the general details this time around.
Specials Board.
On this visit, one of the specials on the week was "Messina's Momofukup".  OMG.  This sounded like basically the best thing ever: "Cereal Milk gelato smashed with Momofuku crack pie".  For the unfamiliar, this is referring to the two famous creations from Momofuku Milk Bar in New York: the cereal milk and the crack pie.

Cereal milk is basically the sweet milk left after you eat a bowl of sweet cereal, and they have made it into soft serve ice cream at the Milk Bar.  Its crazy sweet, but amazing.  But even more amazing is the Crack Pie, honestly, the most addicting pie I've ever tasted.  Very aptly named.  Both insanely delicious on their own, and I could only imagine how amazing this combination could be.

I smartly asked to sample it rather than just diving in to getting a scoop, and I'm glad I did.  It turned out to just be too sweet.  I expected sweet, but, this was just too much.  I guess some things are better individually!

[ No Photo ]
Chocolate Peanut Butter

It didn't really matter that the Momofukup wasn't a winner, as Ojan had eyes only for the Chocolate Peanut Butter.  I did want to try something new, but, I liked it previously myself, so I went along with his decision, and opted to just share with him.

Sadly, it lost its magic on me.  The gelato was fine, but it didn't melt in quite the creamy way I remembered.  Maybe that is just because it wasn't a warm day?  But the bigger issue, is that it seemed just like chocolate, I didn't really pick up any peanut butter.  The magic of chocolate peanut butter flavor is, well, the combination.

Original Review, Dec/Jan 2015 Visits

On my first visit to Sydney, a friend introduced me to Gelato Messina.  It was, at the time, the best ice cream-like treat I had ever had.  I can’t even count how many times I returned over the course of that stay, or the next visit, or the next.  For some reason however, on my recent trip, it took me a full 2 weeks into the trip before I made it to Messina.  The weather just wasn’t as warm as I was expecting, and there were too many other things that kept coming up.  I don’t know.  I have no excuse.  I regret it, and won't make this mistake again in the future.

Anyway, Messina.  Gelato.  Great gelato.  They have several locations around Sydney, including the crazy busy one I used to queue up at in Darlinghurst, and now, they even have a shop in the food court area of the Star Casino, right near my office.  Score.

Every day they offer about 40 flavors, and each weekday they come up with a new special, available for one week only.  Those flavors tend to be far more crazy than the standard offerings.  The staff are always far more patient than seems possible, and offer to let you try as many flavors as you need to make up your mind.
Milk Chocolate with Chocolate Peanut Fudge, Single. $4.
This was Ojan’s pick, not mine, since I rarely go for chocolate ice cream.  But wow, it was good.  The peanut butter was rich and totally amazing, smooth and creamy.  The gelato itself was light and creamy.  The consistency was magical.  It melted perfectly.  Wowzer.  One bite of this, and I instantly remembered why I love Messina.

When we visited a few days later, and neither of us ordered this flavor, we both regretted it, and vowed to just get it again next time.
Gianduia Bianca, Tiny.  $3.
"White chocolate & hazelnut gelato with hazelnut praline"

I opted for the gianduia bianca in a moment of pure indecision.  For some reason, I wasn't loving any of the flavors I tried that day.  And I tried many.  I like praline, so, I went for it, even though, I don't normally like hazelnut.  Whoops.  I panicked, after feeling bad for trying so many flavors and not loving any (I had tried 4 or 5 at this point!).  The staff member was ridiculously friendly and told me to try as many as I liked, but I felt bad and just made a decision.  A rather poor one.

Anyway, it as very sweet, as both the base, and the praline, were very sweet.  It had chunks of hazelnut and very generous chunks of the praline.  Certainly well crafted, and I appreciated how much candy they put in it, but it needed something to balance out the sweet.  Luckily for me, Ojan ordered the regular gianduia, which was rich was chocoaltey, so I stole a little of his to mellow mine out.  It was better this way, but I wouldn't get this flavor again.
Unknown.
I found this photo from one of my earlier visits.  I don't recall what kind it was ...

My full sampling notes from flavors tried on this trip:

Classics
  • Apple Pie: "Real apple gelato with our own house made apple pie throughout".  I wanted to love this since I love pie and ice cream, but somehow it was just not interesting, although I admit, it was loaded up with pie for sure.
  • Caramelised White Chocolate: This was just very sweet.  It didn't taste caramely, nor white chocolatey.  One of my least favorites.  Perhaps good in combination with something else.
  • Gianduia: "Chocolate & hazelnut", Rich and chocolatey, but not as good as chocolate peanut butter fudge.  If you want a chocolate one, just go for that!
  • Salted Caramel and White Chocolate: "Salted caramel gelato with white chocolate chip." This is their best seller.  It was ... yup, salted caramel.  Sweet and salty.  I think I've moved on past the novelty of salted caramel however, so this was rather lost on me, but everyone else loves it.
Gelato
  • Pandan & Coconut Sorbet: I actually really liked this, as I was really into asian flavors, like coconut and pandan, while in Sydney, but I'm not really one for sorbets.  Bring on the dairy!
Weekly Specials
  • P NUTTY: "Peanut butter gelato with peanut butter cookies and peanut custard."  This was actually pretty good, as I love peanut butter, but it was a bit much.  Probably great paired with a chocolate or vanilla base as a second scoop.
  • FO SHIZZLE: "Caramel custard gelato with candied hazelnuts, raspberry puree and chocolate chips."  This was also pretty good, as someone who likes lots of mix-ins, I appreciated all the assorted "stuff" in it.
Gelato Messina Darlinghurst on Urbanspoon
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Thursday, February 04, 2016

Martabak Cafe, Sydney

On my recent visit to Sydney, a co-worker wanted to take us on an adventure to get martabak, at the aptly named Martabak Cafe.  Martabak is a Indonesian food, and although both savory and sweet versions exist, we were there to try only the sweet ones.  In particular, he really wanted us all to have the durian one, but, given my previous experience with durian, I wasn't particularly excited about.  But, I'm always up for trying new cuisine, particularly dessert.

The experience certainly was an adventure, but, I assure you, I will not be returning.  We did not enjoy this, and not just because of the durian.
Counter.
Although there is seating, all orders are taken at the register.

The sweet martabak is sold in half or full size (5 or 10 pieces), with an "original" or pandan flavor pancake, and with fillings of peanut, chocolate, cheese, and durian (or any combination thereof).  The menu also had plenty of savory items, and some drinks, but, we were there just for the sweets.

Service was ... not particularly good.  We had to repeat our fairly simple order of 3 items multiple times.  The card reader was broken, with no signage warning us that they were cash only (which, I'd understand if it had just happened, but our host told us that the card reader has never worked when he has visited).  Once we ordered and paid, we took a seat.  The food was delivered to the table, one item at a time (including drinks, so, we each got our drinks several minutes apart).
Es Teh Thailand. $4.95.
"Brewed tea leaf with ice & milk."

The thai iced tea was good, standard thai tea with plenty of sweetened condensed milk.  It was the tastiest part of our adventure.
Durian, Pandan, Half. $11.95.
The first item to arrive was the durian martabak.  We went for pandan flavored, because, well, pandan is a bit novel to us, and green is more fun?  Pandan is a $1 surcharge for any martabak.

I took my first bite, ready to find it repulsive.  It wasn't THAT bad.  At first.  I took a second bite, and then that funk hit.  Ugh, it was horrible.  Sorry, but durian is just not for me.

One co-worker, who had never had durian before, said it tasted like onion, which I kind of understand.

I couldn't get past the durian flavor (and smell) enough to evaluate much more about this.  4/5 of us hated it and didn't take more than a bite or two, but our host eagerly finished the whole thing.
Chocolate Peanut, Pandan, Half. $9.95.
Next we moved on to a more promising option: chocolate peanut.  We again opted for pandan.

I wasn't into the pancake part.  It was spongy and really oily.  I also expected a crispy exterior, and this wasn't very crispy.  Meh.
Chocolate Peanut: Inside.
But, you can't go wrong with chocolate and peanuts, right?

Well, first, the "chocolate" was a bit of a surprise.  The chocolate was ... chocolate sprinkles.  I expected chocolate sauce.  Or ganache.  Or, something more spread-like.  Instead, it was just a layer of chocolate sprinkles, unmelted.  I doubt there was any cocoa content in here.

The peanut was bits of peanut.

So, oily cake I didn't like, non-chocolate filling, and bits of peanut.  Really no redeeming qualities here.
Chocolate Peanut Cheese, Original, Half. $10.50.
Moving on, we picked a chocolate-peanut-cheese, just to try something totally different, with a mix of sweet and salty.  It was on the menu, so, it clearly must be a thing.

It again had the same chocolate sprinkles and ground peanuts, plus, shredded cheese.  Like the chocolate sprinkles, the cheese didn't melt.

I actually did like the flavor combination of sweet and cheese, as I like my sweet and salty, but the pancake again was awful, this time "original" flavored. It was even more oily.  So oily, and not in a good way.

Ojan took one bite of this one and immediately declared "I can not take a second bite of this".  And I assure you, he didn't.
Martabak Cafe Australia Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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