Review: Veloce Espresso, Sydney Airport

In the past year, I’ve spent a lot of time at Sydney Domestic Airport. With near-monthly weekend visits back to Melbourne to spend time with my dad and brother, I sampled a fair few dining establishments including Taphouse, MoVida at the Airport and Brasserie Bread. My most recent jet-setting dining venture was Veloce Espresso in Terminal 2 of Sydney Domestic Airport, before an awkwardly timed 6pm flight.

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Veloce Espresso is found on the right hand side of Terminal 2 as you come down the escalators from the security checkpoint. Walk straight past the hustle and bustle of the food court to Gate 49 – Veloce is like a haven away from the frenetic energy of an airport and with a seat by the window you’re assured of a good view over the runway as you sit back and enjoy a coffee or meal.

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Veloce is best known for its top-quality coffee which has been rated by Bean Hunters as the best coffee available in the airport. They also have a tempting display of grab-and-go snacks and meals available as well – everything from sandwiches to focaccias, wraps, pies and sweet slices and treats.

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Stupidly I decided to buck the trend and order a dish of beef nachos off the hot menu, rather than choosing from the display as so many of the airport workers were doing. I regretted my decision almost as soon as I got the dish – the sour cream wasn’t sour at all and was clearly spooned out of some generic tub. The guacamole had no taste of avocado at all. Some of the nachos were stale. It was a highly disappointing dish, and I wish I had tried something else!

Overall, I rate Veloce Espresso a 5 out of 10 – based entirely on what I tried. The hot menu option was highly disappointing, but I think that I would rate them higher if I was a coffee connoisseur, or if I had opted for one of their cold wraps and a sweet slice. It might still be worth trying the next time you’re waiting for a flight!

Review: Cream Gourmet Deli, Naremburn

I work right on the border of Crows Nest and St Leonards in Sydney – a mini metropolis of office towers housing a mix of design agencies, not for profit organisations, and IT companies. With the fantastic mix of Thai, Japanese, Italian, burgers, cafes, and more in the area, there’s not usually many reasons to go elsewhere for lunch – unless of course, you want something a little quirkier, for which you’ll go to Cream Gourmet Deli in Naremburn, a fifteen minute walk away.

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It’s a cute little cafe in a small stretch of shops, and proves to be very popular with the locals. With a mix of brightly coloured chairs outside and baristas who know how to brew a good cup of joe inside, it’s easy to see why it’s such a hit. My small work team (Marketing) of three other colleagues and I went one day late in December to celebrate the end of a long, productive, and stressful work year.

Frappes and fresh juices, $6.50 each
Frappes and fresh juices, $6.50 each

End of year celebrations called for funky drinks in funky jam jars. I ordered the banana, walnut and maple frappe, which was surprisingly smooth and divinely sweet and savoury at the same time. Others ordered the pineapple, mint and raspberry frappe which came garnished with leaves from a pineapple top. My colleague ordered a mixed juice, which is one of the highlights of Cream Gourmet Deli – they have a variety of juices on the menu and you can ask for a mix – i.e. a carrot, apple, and ginger juice. Mix and match to your heart’s content!

Hippie feast, $18.50 (2 free range organic eggs with herb roasted tomato, garlic mushrooms, kumara hash and wilted spinach)
Hippie feast, $18.50 (2 free range organic eggs with herb roasted tomato, garlic mushrooms, kumara hash and wilted spinach)

Having not had a decent breakfast that day, I decided to compensate by ordering one of Cream’s fantastic all-day breakfast options. While I was highly tempted by their Big Breakfast (with bacon and chorizo!), I opted for the slightly healthier ‘hippie feast’. Now I’m about as far from a hippie as you can imagine (DINK yuppie anyone?), but I just loved this dish – the kumara hash was well salted and extremely flavourful, and the mushrooms were cooked to perfection. The poached eggs that I requested had just the right amount of ooze as you cut into them as well.

Cream Gourmet Deli was quiet when we went for lunch during the week, but I understand they get very busy on weekends as the locals come out. It’s kid and pet friendly, with spots to leave your furry companion as you pop in for a quick coffee or takeaway breakfast.

Overall, I rate Cream Gourmet Deli a 7.5 out of 10 – a solid effort by a hidden gem of a neighborhood cafe. It’s worth stopping by if only for their frappes if you’re ever in the Naremburn/Willoughby area.

Cream Gourmet Deli on Urbanspoon

Unblogged Food: October – December 2013

As 2013 draws to an end, reflection on the year past is top of mind. It’s been a personally difficult year, but in terms of my investment into this all-consuming food blogging hobby, I couldn’t be happier. I’m still enjoying writing about the food experiences that I have (though increasingly sporadically because of increased freelancing work), and it’s been, I think, reflected in the growth of readership of Gourmanda. Here’s to further growth in 2014!

Salumi selection at Ombra Bar, Melbourne
Salumi selection at Ombra Bar, Melbourne

Most of the time when I meet up with friends, it’s for a full meal – brunch, lunch or dinner. It’s very rare for me to simply drop into a wine bar for a drink – which I did recently at Ombra Bar with my friend Beth. A few carafes of wine into our leisurely weekend afternoon catch up, we ordered a small salumi selection off the menu to whet our appetite for a later dinner. The salumi selection at Ombra is exceptional, and their wine selection is excellent as well. With two levels, the narrow bar is cozy and great for either a long leisurely lunch, a few glasses of wine with a friend, or even a hearty dinner with your family.
Ombra Salumi Bar on Urbanspoon

Fried icecream at Homer's Cafe, Eastwood
Fried icecream at Homer’s Cafe, Eastwood

My family has always been quite traditional – growing up, we always dined out at Chinese restaurants as my parents were unfamiliar with any other cuisines and unwilling to try something different. It all got a bit same-ish, but there was always one highlight – fried icecream for dessert. It’s quite possibly the worst thing you could possibly eat (the calories, oh the calories!), but so delectable at the same time. I recently indulged in fried icecream again after a meal in Eastwood, at Homer’s Cafe, one of the few dessert cafes that do more than Asian-style desserts. It was like a trip back into my childhood, with a super crispy shell and deliciously creamy vanilla icecream.
Homers Cafe Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Waffles at My Sweet Memory, Sydney
Waffles at My Sweet Memory, Sydney

I’ve walked past My Sweet Memory many times and lingered as I walked past, attracted by the gorgeous displays of cutesy and kitschy stationery in the store. The combination of dessert and cute stationery in the one store is a strange concept, but very clever at the same time as one could hypothesize that it’s the same demographic that would be attracted to both indulgent desserts and lavish stationery (I’m thinking of women like myself in their twenties and thirties with access to disposable income and a penchant for the finer things in life). The waffles were very chocolatey and indulgent – definitely a dish to share rather than to have by yourself.

My Sweet Memory on Urbanspoon

Breakfast at The Grain Store, Melbourne
Breakfast at The Grain Store, Melbourne

I met up with my good friend Jake for a quick breakfast at The Grain Store in Flinders Lane in Melbourne when I was down for a week for work. On a dark and miserably cold and rainy day, entering the warmth, light and delicious smells of The Grain Store was like entering heaven. The service was prompt and attentive, and the food was quick in arriving. The cheesy croquettes on this dish was the best thing on the plate – crispy on the outside with gooey cheese inside. Fantastic. The other elements were really well done as well, and made for a surprisingly healthy, yet hearty breakfast. With lots of business people entering for a quick takeaway coffee and breakfast, it’s clearly a favourite with the workers in the area, with good reason.
The Grain Store on Urbanspoon

Coffee art at a conference
Coffee art at a conference

I spent a week in Melbourne in early December for work, manning a booth at the World Diabetes Congress. I’ve worked a few conferences in my time and it’s interesting to see how things have changed. Where once companies were lavish in giving away free pens, notepads, stress balls, and other marketing merchandise, the tide has now turned. Free coffees are now the order of the day, with marketing representatives taking the opportunity to speak to conference delegates as they queue up for their hit of caffeine. The best stalls tailor their coffees with stenciled art on top for that extra touch of brand promotion. You can believe I had my fair share of complimentary hot beverages during that week I spent at the conference!

Black sesame dessert at Passionflower, Melbourne
Black sesame dessert at Passionflower, Melbourne

I simply adore Chinese and Japanese style desserts – most of the time, it’s not as sickeningly sweet and thus is much more more-ish. I particularly liked this black sesame based dessert from Passionflower (Bourke St, Melbourne) which included some fantastic glutinous balls coated in black sesame that provided a good textural balance to the softer and creamier icecream in the dish. This was an excellent blend of flavours, textures, and colours. If you prefer fresher desserts, there are also some fruit-based options on the menu, which I’m very keen to try.
Passionflower on Urbanspoon

Breakfast at Ethos Cafe, Fitzroy
Breakfast at Ethos Cafe, Fitzroy

I met up with my friend Adastra at Ethos Cafe in Fitzroy for brunch while in Melbourne. As a relatively new cafe with very few reviews, I went with no preconceived ideas of what to expect other than a sustainable cafe that did everything with the best ethics and morals in mind. What we did find was a warm and cozy cafe with super attentive and friendly service, excellent coffees and tasty food. With the opportunity to also buy suspended coffees for those less fortunate, you can go to Ethos for a good meal and walk away knowing that you’ve given a little bit back that day.
Ethos Cafe on Urbanspoon

Souffle at Restaurant Atelier, Glebe
Souffle at Restaurant Atelier, Glebe

Since my meal at Restaurant Atelier, Chef Darren Templeman had announced the imminent closing of Restaurant Atelier after many years in its Glebe Point Road location. K and I decided that we simply had to go back once more before it closed – and we were being conservative with our decision to go back once because K’s father went back two times for a meal before it closed! While I love absolutely all the dishes that Chef Templeman creates, I have to say that I simply adore his light and fluffy souffles. With rumours of Melbourne being the location of his next restaurant, I will most definitely be one of the first in line!

Quinoa salad at Coco Cubano, Crows Nest
Quinoa salad at Coco Cubano, Crows Nest

In the last week of work before Christmas, the mood in the office was definitely one of casual festive cheer and a decided lack of concentration. There were many long leisurely lunches with a few beers, sitting out in the sun. One of these lunches was at Coco Cubano, where we waited well over twenty minutes before we even got a menu, another twenty minutes before our orders were taken, and half an hour before our meals arrived. If we weren’t in the mood for a long lunch with plenty of drinks, this inefficiency would have definitely thrown a spanner in the works. At least the meal was excellent, with the quinoa salad being a super tasty and healthy option.
Coco Cubano on Urbanspoon

Christmas Chocolates
Christmas Chocolates

Finally to round off this entry, we celebrated Christmas in the office with a few treats and goodies – think panettone, champagne and Christmas chocolates. How gorgeous are these?

With this festive note, let me end this entry by wishing everyone a very Happy New Year. I hope Santa found you last week, and best wishes for 2014!