Tracing an evolution of dessert dreams in Melbourne suburbia.
Where is your “soul-home”?
Melbourne was our home for over two and a half decades, and it remains our “soul-home” to this day. No matter how far we fly away, how further afield we sample desserts across the world, how quickly the minutes, months and years pass by, every time we return to visit our family, the city reminds us of why Melbourne was the birthplace of this dessert blog. It is a city that either conceives and catalyzes dessert trends, or channels and reconfigures dessert trends into something entirely different. It is also, most thankfully, a city where gimmicky dessert trends gasp for survival (quite unlike cities such as NYC where substance over style does not necessarily triumph). Perhaps, we concede, we may be somewhat biased, but each time we return, it becomes so very much harder to say goodbye to Melbourne, even if only temporarily until our next return.
On our recent return to Melbourne, we visited three patisseries snuggled in the sleepy corners of suburbia. The first patisserie is perhaps Melbourne’s most famous patisserie. Just under a decade ago, it was a small shopfront, one of many in a street famous for its red-and-white checkered tablecloths and boisterous Italian men yelling “ciao bella, come eat.” Indeed, it was our first encounter with the immense world of desserts whilst we were studying at Melbourne University a block or two away. Today, the red-and-white tartan has sadly, largely disappeared, giving way to an eclectic melting pot of restaurants, and Brunetti itself has become a thoroughly expansive venture, glittering with multiple dessert counters. From a gelato bar, to traditional Italian pastries, to European-style cakes (bite-sized and birthday-sized), Brunetti will stand the test of time, and as our first love, it will always have a special place in our hearts.
The second patisserie that we ventured to on our return to Melbourne, was the aptly-named Linger Cafe. Located within a church itself, sunlight glinted through arched stained glass windows, and onto rows of cakes reflective of the dessert trend for which 2019 will be remembered: “trompe l’oeil desserts.” The cakes at Melbourne’s Linger Cafe certainly wouldn’t look out of place at one of the many new dessert cafes popping up in Paris and New York dedicated to recreating life into edible form. Here, we found cakes sculpted with life-like precision – cherries and apples with glossy skin, peaches and pears of ombre shades, and oranges with twigs of leaf, all with an inner texture akin to a soft cheese-cake, and all infused with whisper-soft, delicate tones of the fruit that they resembled. We even sighted a most exquisite little white bunny, made somehow fluffy with a powdery coating.
The third patisserie was situated on a quasi-highway linking the outer-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Inspired by the scintillating imaginations of “Alice in Wonderland,” and imbued with more lucid flavours than the cakes at Linger Patisserie, the sweet offerings from the Hatter & The Hatter embraced another dessert trend. So-called “mirror-glazed” cakes are not a new pastry technique – indeed, such cakes are readily sighted at any French-style patisserie, today and ten years ago. In 2019, however, this old-school cake-making technique has been revitalized into an ever shinier, more lustrous dimension, resulting in the creation of the most vividly-coloured pearls in the shimmering dessert oyster that is Melbourne.
Dessert adventure checklist
- ☑ Dessert destinations:
- Brunetti, 380 Lygon Street, Carlton, Melbourne, Vic 3053;
- Linger Patisserie, 101 Bowen Street, Camberwell, Melbourne, Vic 3124;
- The Hatter & The Hare, 1/21 Scoresby Road, Bayswater, Melbourne, Vic 3153
- ☑ Budget: $-$$.
- ☑ Sweet irresistible: Specialty sweet boutique.
- ☑ Must-eat: Cakes</span.
- ☑ The short and sweet story: Tracing the evolution of dessert dreams in Melbourne suburbia.