I have a great deal to blog about this week having completed a whirlwind 3-day tour of Melbourne which involved an obscene amount of eating. Truly obscene. My body is in shock for having gone back to my usual breakfast of Dick Smith muesli and blueberries this morning. My belly wants French toast!
While I’m hard pressed to pick the best place The Bestie and I visited or dined at during our stay, I simply had to start my series of blog posts with our excursion to the Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio in South Yarra as it was the one place that reduced me (a self-confessed cake nutter) into a giddy, incoherent ball of nervous excitement. Comparing me to a 12-year old girl at a Justin Bieber concert would have been fair and sadly accurate.
I wasn’t terribly enthralled by Masterchef (Senior or Junior) this season but I was nonetheless glued to the screen at any mention of dessert. So when Darren Purchese appeared and wowed us with his caramelised white chocolate mousse, banana, vanilla and passionfruit creation, I could only sigh. How can I get my mits on a dessert like that? Apparently by visiting the Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio! Many thanks to Tom (Capital Gourmand) and Ashley (I’m So Hungree) for the heads-up :)
So after spending a morning at Prahran Market for a spot of breakfast and shopping, The Bestie and I hightailed it over to Chapel Street, wielding my iPhone like some navigational device from Star Trek. Who’d have thought I’d be so happy about seeing a blue arrow move closer towards a red pinhead? Once we arrived at the studio and entered, my eyes were immediately drawn towards the gorgeous, colour-rich cakes lining a long glass cabinet in all their delicious splendor. If this was the Miss Universe of desserts, then I was surely beholding the finalists!
Before I could announce the second runner-up, a friendly lady came out from the rear kitchen area to say hello and/or find out what the commotion was about. Dare I say, she probably is used to the studio becoming a foodie’s tourist attraction and kindly explained how things worked. For those lucky Melburnites planning a dream wedding or 53rd birthday party, Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio has an ‘Inspiration Wall’ lined with shelves of small jars filled with various flavours and aromas to help clients put together a one-of-a-kind cake.
Don’t despair (or roll your eyes) if you are not a cake/dessert person. There’s also a huge range of luscious take-home products such as chocolate bars (mind-snapping flavours), dessert toppings (try green tea ‘clay’ and crunch crumbles), salted caramel, jams and other fine gift ideas. There’s even a freezer full of tempting ice creams and pops. Currently you can place an order for a stunning Christmas hamper brim full of B&P goodies. Hint, hint.
I really didn’t know where to look sometimes; every corner or wall of the shop presented a veritable feast for the eyes and temptation for the stomach. I eventually snuck a peek back towards the kitchen to see what amazing projects the chefs may have been working on and there was the man himself: Darren Purchese. He said Hello. I said Hello back. He went back to work and I felt like a socially inept 12-year old kid, clutching a jar of salted caramel and grinning insanely.
Having selected a number of products to take home with me (including some freeze dried fruit powders), The Bestie and I got on with the difficult task of choosing which cakes would come back to the hotel with us for a bit of in-room dining. As with Miss Universe, how do you tell the other cakes that they didn’t make the grade when they are really as beautiful as each other? I guess you have to go with what captivates you the most.
I ended up crowning Banana, Caramel, Rum as the overall winner due to having the famed white caramelised mousse in it, closely followed by runner-ups Wild Strawberry, Peach, White Choc and Mango, Pineapple, Dark Chocolate. All three cakes we tried were marvelous although I found the Wild Strawberry, Peach, White Choc the easiest to devour as it had a lot of refreshing fruit in it (peach schnapps infused watermelon anyone?). There was a lot of flavours and textures packed into these individual cakes but everything worked well and there were certainly no boring bits. It’s worth taking small nibbles at each component before blending them all together in one big, delightful mouthful.
A visit to Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio is highly recommended for cake addicts visiting Melbourne. A tram out to Chapel Street is easy to catch and the Prarhan/South Yarra area is hard to beat for retail therapy. Get all your shopping out of the way then pop into B&P to grab a treat or two before heading home. The staff was most friendly and helpful and there was certainly something super cool about seeing a chef in his element :)
Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio
647 Chapel Street, South Yarra
Tel. 03 9827 7060