Messing around at Messina

Now before you say anything, yes I know I am breaking code with this post. It’s not travel. But those of you who know me could probably argue that to get me all the way to Darlinghurst on a cold, rainy night takes about as much planning as a overseas trip.

Plus, this experience seemed far too good not to write about.

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It was his birthday on Tuesday, and as a present I took him to the Gelato Messina Creative Department’s new degustation restaurant. There are eight seats per sitting, and seven courses, all paired with a complementing drink. Sounds good already, right?

Course One
We started with a Feijoa and Lemon Geranium Granita served in an ice bowl and drizzled with olive oil. What? Yum.
Course Two
Tarragon sherbet, lemonade fruit compote and finger lime gel, accompanied with a cold pressed pear and black cardamom juice. Now we’re talking.

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Course Three
Olive oil sorbet, confit fennel and crispy fennel with a black truffle sauce. This was served with a cold pressed roasted beetroot, rhubarb and pine tree oil juice. It was at this point that I started losing my mind. How the hell did they made ice cream taste savory?
Heston Blumenthal, eat your heart out.

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Course Four
Almond gelato, potato and brown butter cream, porcini crisps and caviar, served with an organic Ahinsa Estate Orange Peko Tea. This one felt like an interesting take on the classic steak and mash meal, but about a trillion times better. I think it was by this course that I worked out that the smile plastered across his face wasn’t going anywhere quickly.
*self high-five*

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Course Five
Goats milk yoghurt gelato, persimmon aged for three weeks and soaked in sake, inside a mannitol egg shell (alcohol sugar). Definitely the most theatrical of the courses, we got to smash open our eggs to reveal the most ridiculous #eggporn known to man.Willy Wonka, are you missing your golden goose?

This course was also paired with what we both decided was the best of the drinks. A cold pressed smoked red apple, mandarin zest and bayleaf juice.

Smoking seems to be the bee’s knees these days. Recently we’ve tried smoked avocado, smoked salt and now smoked red apple. It’s no surprise then that he has decided he wants a smoker, and I have decided I definitely want him to get a smoker. Shame he didn’t mention it before his birthday.

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Course Six
Honeycomb gelato made from infused bee’s wax, financier sponge, and crisp bee pollen honeycomb, accompanied by a bubbly house-made ginger beer. Disclaimer: no bees were harmed in the making of this dish. All collected from the same hive, the only thing not used was the actual bee.

It was sweet, just like my date, and this wasn’t even dessert.

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Course Seven
A tonka bean gelato, with vanilla mousse, coffee soil, and chocolate paper, served with a caramelised ameretto infused milk reduction. Yuuuuuuuuummmm. Thank god dark chocolate doesn’t trigger migraines, and I’m fully capable of consuming milk.*

*That was an in-joke, just in case you are confused.

All in all, it was an excellent night. Even though the food was of such high quality, the service was really relaxed and casual and they even invited you to walk around the kitchen in between service. Each course was served with more exciting utensils than the previous, and you got to keep the menu at the end of the night. Being the first night of the new menu, we were lucky enough to be treated to some petit fours at the end of the night – think candied eggplant with blackberry jam, soy sauce and siaoxing pepper, stracciatella cheese with olive oil and smoked salt, and flash frozen goats curd with lemon and licorice gel.

An unforgettable experience, and a high standard set for birthdays. No pressure, though.

Here’s hoping he had the most amazing night.
There is nothing better than seeing him smile.

Love,

E.

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@gelatomessina #messinacreativedepartment #messinadessertbar

 

 

 

 

Roaming Rome

Okay, so either Romans were enormous or I have shrunk since I arrived in Rome. Everything is huge! The buildings, the doors, the gardens, the roads, the fountains. Everything. Oh apart from the cars, which I think they think that because they are so small they can park/leave them anywhere. They park on street corners, across pedestrian crossings (which I still don’t believe are actually pedestrian crossings), and over driveways. As long as you put your hazard lights on it’s all good to park in the middle of the street and run to the ATM. We did see a guy driving around today with his hazard lights flashing…and it was probably on purpose. Most drivers in Rome appear to be hazards. Needless to say the #fingerofshame made it to quite a few photos.

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After checking into our hostel Yellow, we wrote down everything we wanted to achieve during our time in Rome and it went a little something like this:
– Trevi Fountain
– Pantheon
– Piazza Navona
– Spanish Steps
– Vatican
– Colosseum
– Villa Borghese
– the Catacombs
– the keyhole at Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta
– Castel Sant’Angelo

We’ll see how we go.

While our hostel was close to the station, it was a little walk from the major sites…although we later worked out using the metro would have worked. Anyway, we got our walk in and felt a little less guilty about demolishing a whole pizza each, plus two gelatos that night. I also feel that the best way to see a city is by walking. Some people even go so far as to say you only really find a city once you get lost in it. Poetic, really. When scrolling back through my camera though, I have countless photos of the buildings and little corner stores that you don’t see in guidebooks. In fact, it was the big tourist attractions that sort of disappointed us on our first day.

The Trevi Fountain is under construction at the moment and while you can see a little glimpse of how incredible it would have looked normally, at the moment it is just a huge pile of scaffolding. Similarly the Spanish Steps had so much work happening all around them that it was hard to frame a shot that didn’t have some sort of construction in it. Sorry to disappoint Instafans.

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Around the corner though the Pantheon is incredible and a beautiful fountain in the foreground makes for a beautiful view. I can’t get over how in Rome you just have to turn the corner and you find some monumental church or building in the middle of a square. There is nothing in Australia that quite compares. I wish I could label all my photos but honestly for most of them I have no idea what it was, I just turned a corner and found something special, something amazing, something spectacular.

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One that I can name though is the Sant’Agnese in Agone located in the beautiful Piazza Navona. Not too busy, not too big but absolutely breathtaking. You can sit there for ages just taking in all the detail, and that’s really saying something because I’m known to be a bit of a pocket rocket when it comes to sightseeing. And even better the piazza has three beautiful fountains that help to splash away some sweat (and trust me there is lots of it).

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The next day we headed for the Catacombs, buying a 3 day pass transport card (works for buses, metro, etc) and making sure we calculated how many trips we had to make to make it worthwhile. We got a little lost and ended up in the middle of nowhere but eventually hoped on the right bus which took us out to Catacombe di San Callisto. €8 with a guided tour included, we were relieved to find that the Catacombs are at a natural 15Β° temperature. With 20km of tunnels, we were happy to walk the 400m tour route and managed to see the most interesting archeological discoveries, with over 500,000 people and 7 popes buried there. It was like a library of bodies!

On our way back we stumbled across the Terme di Caracalla, the remenants of Emperor Caracalla’s vast bath complex, and got our first taste of Roman ruins. They were huge and it was hot. I wish there were still baths there so I could have had a swim. But regardless we got free entry because it was a Monday? Is that a thing?

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After our siesta (arguably the most important part of the day) we headed out to Villa Borghese gardens for a bike ride. As stiff competition to New York’s Central Park, the gardens had lakes inundated with turtles that you could row in, police riding horses, beautiful flowers, lovely cafes, a carousel, an old man doing mad roller-skating tricks (you’ll have to wait to see the video), bikes, segways, go-karts and golf buggies. We got bikes for an hour and managed to see most of the park and some beautiful views of Rome. It’s so convenient having sunlight for so many hours a day as it was 7pm by the time we handed the bikes back and we didn’t even realise.

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With a grumble in our tummies we headed for home. Tomorrow is the Vatican and then the Colosseum. How fast this trip is flying…I guess we must be having fun.

N.B. A MUST do when you are in Rome. Giolitti’s gelato. Not easy to find but well worth it. The line was out the door but moved really quickly. I had three scoops for €3.50 – hazelnut, cinnamon and baileys. Oh. My. God.

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