Friday, July 31, 2009

Café Buongiorno

There are six outlets of Café Buongiorno in Adelaide. Your reviewer attended the one in Hawthorn opposite the Mitcham Shopping Centre. The hot chocolate was $3.80. It came in a tall glass with a handle complete with pink and white marshmallows. The froth and chocolate sprinkle were good and the taste was rich and warming.

Café Foyerism

It is always fun to create a new term and claim to be an expert in it. Your reviewer, Merkel Marmaduke has done a bit of research by sitting in various Cafes drinking hot chocolate and has noticed a trend of large buildings having foyers with Cafés. See reviews Un Caffe Bar, The Bean Bar and Stax on Flinders.

Merkel Marmaduke claims the phrase "Café Foyerism" as his own after checking for any instances of this phrase on the net. Interestingly Foyerism and Foyuerism (A form of voyeurism conducted in foyers) get a mention.

The Merkel Marmaduke thesis is that Café Foyerism grew out of a number of other trends.

  • The outsourcing of the work canteen,
  • The need for less ground floor customer contact space for large organisations like banks because of ATMs and the internet, and
  • The development of the arcade food hall where chairs and tables were shared by a number of food vendors.
There has always been a strong demand for cafes in ground floor locations. The foyer café seems a sensible use of sometimes quite grand looking foyers. The contractual squabbles must be interesting because the space is shared but Merkel thinks it works as a concept.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Stax on Flinders

Another one of these coffee shops in building foyers is Stax. It is in the Santos building foyer at 60 Flinders St. It looks more like a foyer than the previous review but is also more luxurious with lots of space and a variety of comfortable chairs.

I ordered the Medium Hot Chocolate. It came in generous ceramic mug. It had delicious froth and a semicircle of chocolate on top. No marshmallows or chocolates. The cost was $3.80. I could have paid $3.40 or $4.40 for different size cups. This was not a bad chocolate, but it was a little too milky and could have been richer.


I am advised by someone who knows, that the stuff on top of a hot chocolate is “Crema”. I have been calling it froth throughout this blog. I would probably seem more knowledgeable about such things if I start talking about “Crema” but I think I will stick with froth.

According to the following link, there is a lot of science that goes into the making of froth. It makes one appreciate the effort that goes into making a good hot chocolate.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Un Caffe Bar

Un Caffe Bar at 11 Waymouth Street, is located in the foyer of a large City building with four other Cafes. It seems to have been an interesting trend over the last few years to put small Cafés in the open space of building foyers. When going into a modern building instead of nodding to the security guard as you enter you have to dodge the waiting staff.

The Hot Choclate at Un Caffe was delicious. It was a rich dark chocolate flavour much like the Belgium chocolate from Chocolate World. It came in a dainty ceramic cup with a good white froth and a stripe of chocolate powder. There were no marshmallows or extra chocolates. At $4.00 for a small cup this is not for those watching their pennies but be assured this is a good tasting hot chocolate.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Bean Bar

There are a number of Bean Bars around Adelaide. I tried the one on Gouger Street near the Central Market on a Saturday afternoon. I chose the regular sized "snow top" hot chocolate as it was explained to me this had white chocolate on top. I was offered a paper cup because it was near closing time. I would have preferred the normal glass but felt that it would be uncooperative to insist.

The froth of the chocolate did indeed taste of white chocolate and was quite nice. The cup for $3.80 was reasonably generous. Unfortunately the rest of the chocolate did not have much if any cocoa in it and tasted like simply milk and sugar. This was not to your reviewer's taste.

I returned to another Bean Bar in Flinders St, Adelaide later in the week. There was not much seating space but there are seats on the pavement and some in the adjoining credit union foyer.

I chose the mint flavoured hot chocolate. This hot chocolate was a better experience than the "snow top". It was a rich chocolate flavour with a mint flavour that was not overpowering. Lady Marmaduke dislikes the mint and chocolate combined but I think it works well. The presentation was not the best as I ordered take away and paper cups do not impress Merkel Marmaduke. The cost was $3.90.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Chocolate Bean

The Chocolate Bean on Union St Adelaide is a specialist chocolate shop with an array of different hot chocolates. Their menu is online. There is also an array of wonderful looking desserts and fairly plain savoury dishes which will not steal the limelight from the chocolate. The shop allows dining on two floors. The ground floor is a little ramshackle but the first floor is neat and cosy.

The hot chocolates come in 3 sizes for $3.50, $4.50 and $5.50. I had a medium sized hot chocolate with orange and that was served in a generous mug. It came with a bubbly froth with a dollop of cream in the middle and chocolate sprinkling on top. It was milky and not particular rich but I was glad of this given the large mug. The orange flavour was a delight although it got a bit sweet toward the bottom of the mug.

There were no marshmallows or chocolates served with the drink. The Mug came with a square saucer which was a stylish addition.

This was a pleasurable visit and I will return to try some other flavours.
Chocolate Bean on Urbanspoon

Opportunities Missed

After the Marmaduke family returned from it's trip through Victoria, Merkel discovers that Andrew Hansen of the "Chasers' war on Everything" is a Hot Chocolate fan and that he recommends a place in Ballarat which is on the way from Melbourne to Adelaide.
One certain cafe in Ballarat left its mark on hot-chocolate aficionado, Andrew Hansen, who gave a five-star commendation for what he believed was "the best hot chocolate I have ever had. It was brilliant.
Opportunity number two that was missed was a chain of seven shops in Victoria that offer 20 varieties of Italian Hot Chocolate.
The Chocolate Room -- seven in Victoria, two in Queensland, and others about to open in Cairns and Sydney -- offers handmade Belgian chocolates, desserts, fondues and 20 varieties of Italian hot chocolate.
The Marmadukes will have to return to Victoria soon.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Adelaide Coffee Bar

The Adelaide Coffee Bar is a pleasant Café in the Adelaide CBD. From its décor, it is obviously a place of coffee connoisseurs but also not too bad for Hot Chocolate devotees. The Hot Chocolate could be served in Medium ($3.20) or Large ($4.00) and you could also purchase an Italian hot chocolate for $4.50. Alas, your reviewer did not see the Italian option until it was too late. Nevertheless he was not disappointed by the standard cup.

The medium cup was generous. The Hot Chocolate came with the best decorated froth your reviewer has seen so far. White froth on top of brown froth meant there was a light brown circle around the perimeter of the cup and a generous chocolate sprinkle was applied in a neat semicircle. No marshmallows. The taste was rich and creamy to the bottom.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Hot Belgian Chocolate

Chocolate World, at Shop 28 Adelaide Arcade, specialises in Belgian chocolates but also sells takeaway hot chocolate. The shop is small and does not have any seating for drinking your chocolate but there are a number of places to sit and savour your chocolate in the surrounding arcades.

It is clear from the outset that this chocolate is going to be different. It comes with a brown froth and a sprinkle of dark chocolate on top. You pay only $3.50 for a cup of very rich chocolate, the sort you would not want to have with a big meal. It comes in a paper cup and you get no extras like chocolates or marshmallow. This is a special drink for not much money.

Sky High Café, Mount Dandenong Vic.

The Marmaduke family trip to the top of Mount Dandenong was a pleasant one even though the day was cold and wet at times. The Sky High Café sits on top of the mountain with a great view of Melbourne.

The Café made a good hot chocolate. It came in a generous mug, had a froth with a good sprinkling of chocolate on top with a straight line design and came with two white marshmallows. The chocolate was creamy throughout and did not have a bitter sediment. It was perfect for a wet day. The cost was $4.00 but beware that to get to the Café you have to pay an entrance fee of $5 per car to get into the park. Other attractions in the park included a number of gardens, a maze and a large granite globe that was suspended in water and could be rotated.
Sky High Mount Dandenong on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Chasers War on Starbucks

I may have been a bit hard on Starbuck in my latest review but I am not the only one. Apparently there are 160 Starbucks outlets in Manhattan. The Chasers War on Everything team take this to the next level and explore what would happen if they opened a Starbucks inside a Starbucks. See the result in this YouTube video.

Starbucks, Swanson St, Melbourne

This hot chocolate was a bit of an ordeal. I bought a tall cup for $4.15. Yes it had froth but the cream and marshmallow was dunked on top of it which rather spoilt the look. Hot Chocolate in a paper cup just does not work for me. There were free dark chocolate thins which were good. The hot chocolate was bitter and not particularly creamy and not particularly appetising. I did not finish it which was a first for me. The presentation was a disaster and the taste was pretty horrible. Thankfully the show around the corner in the Regent Theatre was great.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Urban Spoon

If you want further details about the restaurants reviewed in this blog you can click on "Urban Spoon" link. This is a spoon icon that appears at the bottom of a posting. You can view more reviews, menus, opening times and more. Urban Spoon will create links on its web site to Merkel Marmaduke's hot chocolate reviews. See my postings on the Duthy Street Deli and the Highway Inn for examples.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Garden Café, Elizabeth St, Melbourne

On the way back from the Queen Victoria Markets we stopped at this Café. The prices were $3.20 for a Cup and $3.70 for a Mug. This was Coffex branded coffee (and probably chocolate). It has a good froth and a nice chocolate sprinkle. Not much art about it. The chocolate was a bit sweet. A bit watery in the middle and there was a sediment at the bottom.

Marmaduke Family in Melbourne

The Marmaduke Family had a good time in Melbourne. The first place I sampled the hot chocolate was La Porchetta in Walpole Street, Kew. The hot chocolate was served in a generous cup. It has a good froth and a general sprinkle of chocolate on top. No marshmallows or other extras. I would call this a standard chocolate but it was good, creamy and smooth and not too sweet.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Caves Café, Naracoorte

I went all the way to Naracoorte to sample the Caves Café hot chocolate. It is a good thing they have some great caves in the area to make the trip worthwhile. The chocolate was a standard chocolate. Perhaps a bit sweeter than usual. I burnt my tongue but that may have been because I was over eager. For $4.50 I got a generous mug with a good froth and chocolate sprinkle.

The Victoria Fossil Cave tour was excellent and well worth the trip. This was some consolation for the chocolate being fairly ordinary.

Marmaduke Family Trip

The Marmaduke Family set out for adventure from its home in Adelaide to visit Melbourne via Naracoorte, Portland and Mount Eccles and then home again via Warracknabeal. The junior Merkels were particularly interested in seeing a football match at the MCG and visiting some caves. Your reviewer of course was keen to try some new hot chocolates. The reviews that follow track some of these adventures.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Comforting Cosy Caffe Como

Caffe Como on Flinders St is a little lunch place I have been to a number of times. It is usually not particularly busy and has plenty of seating, friendly staff and comfortable surroundings. I usually partake of their baguettes or toasted focaccias. The hot chocolate is served in a generous ceramic cup with good froth and a sprinkle of chocolate. No marshmallows but the taste is rich, creamy and comforting.

Duthy Street Deli

The Duthy Street Deli on Duthy Street, Unley, is the closest place to the Marmaduke residence to get a hot chocolate. Frequently your reviewer attends there with members of his family and samples from their range of delicious Turkish breads. This lunch Café is a converted delicatessen and is full of character enhanced by the artwork for sale on the walls.

The hot chocolate comes in a tall glass with a handle. It was served with a delicious dark chocolate thin and had a good froth with a semi-circle of chocolate on top. My last hot chocolate there seemed a little weak to start with until I realised there was a significant amount of sediment at the bottom and all it needed was good stir to give my chocolate a nice rich taste. It was reasonably priced at $3.70.

Duthy Street Deli on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Merkel Marmaduke Table of Hot Chocolate Reviews

Now that Merkel Marmaduke has a few reviews (and hot chocolates) under his belt the database of reviews is accumulating. On the right side of this blog, dear readers will see a title of "Table of Reviews". Below this are two links to tables that summarise all the hot chocolate reviews. For those who have Microsoft Excel the first will be most useful as it has links back to the reviews on this site. The second is in the common CSV format which can be read in a number of ways but does not have the link feature.

The tables summarise what is in the reviews. Those with links appear on this site. Those without are still to be published.

Merkel has a presentation and taste scoring system displayed on these tables. Presentation and taste is given a score between 1 and 10. 10 is Merkel Marmaduke's dream hot chocolate and 1 is his nightmare. Presentation includes the quality of the cup, the froth the look and added extras. Taste is purely up to the whim and judgement of Merkel.

Muffin Break

Upstairs in the Marion Shopping Centre there is Muffin Break shop. Muffin Break is a chain of stores specialising in muffins but doing light meals and coffees as well. I ventured there while on a shopping expedition with the Marmaduke family.

My hot chocolate was bought with a shortbread biscuit which unfortunately was a bit heavy for my liking. The hot chocolate was served in a good sized ceramic cup with a couple of white marshmallows and a good froth. Chocolate was sprinkled in straight line pattern. The chocolate itself was insipid and watery. It scored well on presentation but poorly on taste.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Chocolate Tourism

I stumbled across the term "Chocolate Tourism". It is wonderful that this is alive and well in Adelaide, South Australia. I can see that chocolate attracts tourists with appetites and tastes like mine. A number of links below bear this out.

The Highway

The Highway, Anzac Highway has an excellent restaurant with young staff who are eager to please. My dear Lady Marmaduke and I have had a couple of meals there now and been impressed with the food and service. The hot chocolate was not a disappointment either. It was served in a ceramic cup and had a good froth and stripe of chocolate. The drink was accompanied by pink and white marshmallows and had a creamy rich taste.

I would also point out that you can get a hot chocolate in the Pokie (Poker Machine) Lounge from a dispensing machine. I had cause to be waiting there one evening and tried the hot chocolate. This is at no cost as long as the staff members have some expectation you might invest funds in their poker machines, so I hesitate to complain. It came in a ceramic cup with a free prepacked biscuit. It had a thin froth and was just too watery for my taste. I suggest interested readers pay the money and get the hot chocolate from the restaurant.

The Highway / HWY on Urbanspoon

The Lunch Club

The Lunch Club at Unley Shopping Centre does a good standard hot chocolate. For $3.30 a cup or $4.20 a mug you get a rich standard hot chocolate. It is presented in a glass cup with handle with a good froth and a sprinkling of chocolate but not marshmallows. I also tried a vienna hot chocolate but this had a little too much cream for my liking.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Marshmallows and Hot Chocolate

I thought I should investigate the history of why Marshmallows are associated with hot chocolate. I found a yahoo site which discussed why marshmallows are put in hot chocolate.

Some of the better answers were:

Ami: Why do you put pickles on burgers?

BrandonM: Well actually because since hot cocoa is hot and marshmallows are soft, and puffy. When you bite into a marshmallow it kinda relaxes your toungue and makes the hotness of the hot cocoa relaxing rather than painful.

MartiG: it makes it more frothy

I liked the more metaphysical answers:

Tamari: I always thought that it was because it looks like a few patches of snow in mud, like when spring starts and winter ends.

In Spite of Me: Because if you don't you'll upset the balance of the universe.

Cherry Blossum: Because marshmallows prefer to die in hot chocolate.

My favourite was:

EverythingsPeachy: Because sometimes having something with absolutely no nutritional value is fun!

But I am still no closer to finding any real history on the subject.

A Flutter at Butterflies

Butterflies on Pirie St, Adelaide is a very elegant establishment. It is a café with a French theme. Very pretty and lacy and it seems that most of the clientele are female however that did not stop me from trying their Hot Chocolate. The French have a tradition of hot chocolate and croissants at breakfast so I had hopes they could do something special even if it was lunchtime.

Hot chocolate from Butterflies is served either in a ceramic cup or tall mug. The mug was fairly dainty rather than generous. I chose to have my hot chocolate with their meal deal so I have neglected to work out what the separate price was. In addition to the normal froth and sprinkle of chocolate Butterfies adds a squirt of chocolate sauce in a simple pattern. The hot chocolate has hazelnut or vanilla flavour added which gives it a refreshing sweetness. No marshmallows were served with this hot chocolate but the flavour was sweet enough as it is. I liked the originality of the flavour although it was too sweet to be my regular hot chocolate.

This venue seems to have closed and is now on the list of disappearing hot chocolate venues.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hot Chocolate can be Healthy

I found this youtube video of a chocolatier making some hot chocolate. He makes the claim that hot chocolate can be healthy. I would not want to doubt him!

Which Powdered Hot Chocolate?

I found a sachet of Nestle Double Blend Hot Chocolate in my pantry. I thought I would try it out. I was sceptical because it was a water based mixture and I hate watery hot chocolate. I followed the advice on the packet to "surrender to the instructions" and "indulge in this smooth hot chocolate". Full marks for adding advertising spin to those usually prosaic instructions. There was a good quantity of powder in this sachet (20g). I added hot water and a bit of milk to it and it made quite a frothy chocolate which I thought was an interesting achievement in food engineering. I am not sure whether it was the Maltodextrin, Anti-Caking agent or Phenylalanine on the ingredients list that created that froth.

The result was not too bad. Better than dispensing machine chocolate but not as good as the Café chocolates I have had. In comparison with my normal Cadbury's chocolate made with milk, I found it had a plausible dark chocolate flavour but I still preferred the natural creaminess of the Cadbury's. It was not too rich and did not have chocolate sediment at the bottom.

I worry a bit about those chemicals. The ingredients for the Cadbury chocolate all look a lot more recognisable (Sugar, Cocoa, Mineral Salt, Flavour – which of course could be anything).

Viva Espresso

Viva Espresso is a small coffee shop on Pirie St in the Adelaide central business district. Its specialty is cones of chips (aka frittes or french fries) which I have sampled on a number of occasions. They also have a small selection of sandwiches and other meals. The coffee shop has a coffee bean roasting machine in the corner which gives the shop a nice ambiance and aroma.

The Hot Chocolate is presented well. It comes with a pink marshmallow and a white marshmallow in a smallish ceramic cup. The froth is good with a chocolate stripe over the froth. The chocolate is rich but not bitter. The cost was only $3.20 but mugs of hot chocolate were also available. I would be happy to have this standard hot chocolate every lunchtime.

The pink and white marshmallows seem to be somewhat of a standard in Adelaide coffee shops. I have a sweet tooth but I find it sufficient to dunk only the white marshmallow. The pink one is for the girls and my partner usually obliges by relieving me of this confectionery.