Ganache Chocolate

Melbourne is famous for its coffee culture. It is difficult to envision walking down a street without the aroma of freshly grinded beans wafting in the air. In the Winter, I love walking past little cafes and inhaling second-hand coffee. That’s right, I don’t drink coffee. Not unless you count Farmer’s Union ice coffee or Dare ice coffee. However, even the least discerning of coffee drinkers would be able to tell you that those aren’t real coffee. Rather, they are loaded with sugar. This is not a problem for me, since I have a rather sweet tooth. Instead of coffee, I adore hot chocolate. I really do!

During my Honours year, I scoured the web for places which sold the best hot chocolate. The first time I visited Ganache Chocolate at South Yarra was a case of sheer serendipity. The day itself had not looked promising, and when it started to pour, I ran for cover into what seemed like a rather narrow shop. What struck me at first was the red brick wall and the presence of a few tables and chairs. Then elation set in as I looked around and absorbed the sights of chocolate, chocolate, and MORE CHOCOLATE!!! Chocolate abounded in the form of bars, pieces, dinosaurs and bunnies. How cute! Clearly this was a sign, I was meant to be here. Never mind that my first seminar was coming up and that I had not yet put together the powerpoint slides. Science would just have to take a number in the presence of awesomeness.

By this stage, I was becoming more excited, and then I spotted the cakes resting behind the glass. Despite their different descriptions, they shared one common feature – incredible, well-defined architecture. Each layer enrobed a new flavour that unobtrusively merged and married with the next one. I tried the Triple Mousse Cake – it was in one word, sensational. Despite having dark, milk, and white chocolate mousse, the cake itself was not overly heavy. The sweetness was well-balanced and will not send dentists bolting. If master chocolatier, Arno Backes, was man of science, I would have nominated him for the Nobel Prize.

I digress. What I really wanted to talk about was the hot chocolate. Ganache Chocolate serves undisputedly the best hot chocolate in Melbourne. Maybe it was the unrelenting weather outside paired with the dulcet tones of velvety, rich, molten cocoa that warmed me to my depths. My neurons were firing with each sip, sugar-charged electrical impulses dancing along the nodes of ranvier. The experience left me smiling for days. For some lab members, this was rather unsettling, but I didn’t care. From that moment on, I compared every hot chocolate with Ganache’s. So far, I have not encountered a better place. I highly recommend Ganache Chocolate to all hot chocolate lovers, I do not think that it will disappoint in the slightest. They also serve coffee, and I hear that their capuccino is equally as wonderful.

A lot of people are concerned with service. From my experience, and I came dressed as a student, service was not an issue. The staff at Ganache Chocolate are welcoming, and not at all pushy. Generally, if staff can afford students the same respect as everyone else, then it is a place worth visiting. I have been back to Ganache several times now, and tried all their cakes. I cannot pick a favourite, that would be too cruel for the rest.

Mr Backes – I salute you!

Ganache Chocolate on Urbanspoon

On how this blog came to be

Sometimes, the lab can get a little too overwhelming, and so I escape… Specifically, I abandon the pipettes and cell culture and go in search for food. Unlike people, food is quintessentially uncomplicated. Food never throws a tantrum, or make ridiculous demands. Of course food wouldn’t be complete without friends, and so I grab my partner in crime. On these jaunts, we walk, bus, tram and train to reach those places that we’ve only read or heard about. We leave behind the world of Pubmed, and waltz into that of Urbanspoon. It is another dimension, another revelation.

We peruse the menu as closely as any materials and methods section in a paper. Then we make our orders, often sharing a dish or two as yardsticks to determine if a place is indeed as good as it was reviewed. In scientific terms, this is called peer assessment. During the waiting period (incubation), we catch up with what is happening around us. I find it incredibly fascinating that we never seem to run out of things to say. It is at the dining table that experiments are trouble-shooted, and new ideas take form. When the waiter lays down our order, there is a moment where my heart freezes as I catch sight of the food. It is a feeling that is very similar to the moment I have just before finding out my grades for the semester. Sometimes the food is wonderful, and sometimes they disappoint.

The excitement when we discover a new eating place is immeasurable. Immediately,our minds begin to whirl as we plan our next adventure. The plate of food is slowly polished off, their flavours and textures become a topic for lunchtime discussions over the next few days. Amidst all these, we realized that we did not have a lab book to document these thoughts, and so I created this blog.

My blog is as much for these food memories as they are to chronicle my time as a PhD student. I hope to look back on them with nostalgia one day. They are my youth.