Gelato Messina, Miranda

Are you ready for an obscene amount of gelato photos in one post?

The whole saga began when I first heard about friends driving out specifically for a gelato run (people do that?), and then later someone else asked me what my favourite gelato place was (none at the time), what I thought of Gelato Messina because they thought it was all hype (I’d never visited a Messina at the time) and recommended another gelato place in Sydney (still yet to visit). Gelato is apparently a pretty big deal to many, so I guess there’s only one way for me to find out and form my own opinion. Yes, Vickie finally visited Gelato Messina to see what the fuss was all about. This is what Gelato Messina at Miranda is all about!

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Note 1: I don’t have a sweet tooth so very little sweetness would satisfy me and any more quickly overwhelm and sicken.
Note 2: I generally avoid caffeine after a certain hour and usually only have gelato after dinner, so I may never try many of the coffee or chocolate flavours. Boo.
Note 3: I am cuckoo for coconut, so expect just a little bias. smile
Note 4: Blank comment means it tastes fairly standard (and that’s not a complaint).
Note 5: This post will be continually updated as I revisit the place. Oh, spoiler. I revisit the place.

Post Last Updated: 25 Jan 2016

Gelato Messina Standard Flavours (Gelato)

There is a plethora of standard gelato flavours available, and the first time I went there I just didn’t know where to begin. At Messina Miranda, the first and third display cabinets from the left are the standard gelato flavours that are available year-round.

Gelato Messina: Gelato (standard)

Gelato Messina Miranda Standard Gelato

Flavour Comments Date
Apple Pie This flavour has my usual complaint of the apple pie crust crumbs being too large a lump, but it wasn’t soggy and that I appreciated. I love apple pies themselves but wasn’t particularly fond of this flavour. 25 Oct 2015
Banana Split I liked the banana-ness on the first few tastes, but after a while, it seemed to have dissipated and I could only taste caramel, peanuts and chocolate. 25 Oct 2015
Bounty Coconut milk gelato with desiccated coconut and choc chip. I thought this tasted too chocolatey and not coconutty enough, but I’ve never had Bounty the chocolate, so I wouldn’t know how it compares. 2 Dec 2015
Choc Mint This flavour tastes like mint leaves. It leaves a slightly bitter aftertaste, which I much prefer than the sugary fake mint flavour of some other choc mint ice cream. Every time Richard orders this, the staff would ask if he’s tried it because it’s just different from the typical choc mint. 31 Jul 2015
star Coconut Lychee Loved the very Asian coconut and lychee flavour combination. 14 Aug 2015
Hazelnut 31 Jul 2015
Macadamia Crunch Macadamia gelato with crunchy sweet white chocolate bits inside. 23 Aug 2015
Pannacotta w Fig Jam & Amaretti Biscuit Had a big scoop of this and a big wad of super sweet sticky fig jam hit and overwhelm me. I wish this was more pannacotta than fig jam, but if super sweet stickiness is your thing, this flavour would be your thing. 31 Jul 2015
star Pear & Rhubarb Lovely fruity flavour! 14 Aug 2015
Salted Caramel and White Chocolate Chip A bestseller according to the Messina website, and I can see why. It’s creamy, sweet and slightly salty. It’s the complete diet. 25 Jan 2016
Vanilla 2 Dec 2015
Yoghurt & Berry Tastes more or less like its name. There’s meant to be both raspberries and blueberries in the coulee, but every time I’ve seen it there’s only red swirls in it. 19 Sep 2015

Gelato Messina Standard Flavours (Sorbet)

Sorbet, also available year-round, are on the furthest right. I could favourite all the flavours in this section!

Gelato Messina: Sorbet (dairy free)

Gelato Messina Miranda Standard Sorbet

Flavour Comments Date
Blood Orange Quite sour, which I love. Excellent as a palate cleanser. 9 Oct 2015
Chocolate Sorbet Taste dark chocolatey and not overly sweet, and not thick like an ice cream or gelato. A lighter chocolate option. 14 Aug 2015
Coffee and Hazelnut Praline The sweet crunchy hazelnut praline goes very well in the coffee sorbet. There’s enough hazelnut taste in it. 23 Aug 2015
Lemon Sorbet Super refreshing, palate-cleansing, tarty lemony goodness. 11 Sep 2015
Mandarin 25 Sep 2015
star Pandan & Coconut Pandan and coconut are always a reliable flavour combination. 31 Jul 2015
star Passionfruit Comes with all the crunchy passionfruit seeds. Enjoyed the tartness. 14 Aug 2015
Raspberry 19 Sep 2015
star Salted Coconut & Mango A bit of mango puree on a coconut base with just a hint of salt. Love this. 23 Aug 2015
Strawberry 25 Sep 2015

Gelato Messina Special Flavours

Special flavours are on the left hand side of the second left section. There are always 5 special flavours available and every weekday, a new one displaces an old. Unlike their standard gelato and sorbet, the specials would often have a million things going on. My general comments about these million things going on are:

  1. Many are too cakey / doughy / obscure for my taste; I’ve learnt to avoid anything with “brownie”, “bread”, “biscuit”, “cookie”, “crumbs”, “cake”, “pie”, “doughnut” in the description. Yeeeaah. I don’t bother with a lot of the specials any more.
  2. Even on days where the “brownie”, “bread”, etc weren’t too cakey / doughy, they could sometimes be in too big a chunk that gets awkward to chew. They probably look better for promo pictures, though.
  3. Nuts in the gelato are not guaranteed to not be soggy.
  4. Anything with “praline” in it so far has been reliably crunchy.
  5. Taste test is a must before committing to the full scoop! But even then, your sample might not have grabbed that doughy crumb or soggy bit of nuts.
  6. There always seems to be one peanut butter flavour on the board?

And now, the ever growing Special flavours comment table!

Gelato Messina: Specials

Flavour Comments Date
Rococo Chocolate, honey and coconut gelato with crunchy, sticky nougat. I taste-tested this and thought I liked it, but the big scoop got more sickly sweet by the minute. 25 Jan 2016
Old Gregg Baileys gelato with butterscotch sauce folded through. Taste test of Richard’s scoop and it’s very alcoholic! 1 Dec 2015
Pablo Pistachio Light pistachio gelato smothered in white chocolate mousse and raspberry puree. I didn’t pick up a lot of the white chocolate taste (or my scoop just didn’t have a lot of the mousse in it), but I still liked the pistachio and raspberry flavour combination.
Pretz N’ Popped Pretzel milk gelato with peanut popcorn praline. Ah, it’s the peanut popcorn praline, which I remember having in one of the old specials (Cracker Jack). Still crunchy, and I still liked the peanut flavour.
Big Cheese-Off Pistachio & ricotta gelato, scented w/ orange blossom water & candied almonds folded through. The staff told me it’s quite cheesy; Richard thought it’s cheesy enough; I mostly tasted the pistachio. Occasionally the lovely orange blossom water came through as well. My only complaint is the candied whole almonds got quite soggy being embedded in the gelato. 9 Oct 2015
Cracker Jacks Caramel peanut butter popcorn gelato with peanut popcorn praline. The praline was sweet and crunchy and the peanut tastes great with the popcorn. Enjoyed this.
star Tongue Thai’d Peanut and coconut gelato with cashew dacquoise and lime curd. Loved this! Very nice peanut taste. Richard’s comment on taste test of my scoop: “Taste like Thai!” 25 Sep 2015
Passionfruit Cheesecake I got this as a full scoop after taking a taste test, but regretted my decision. I couldn’t taste any of the cheesecake but a watered down passionfruit gelato. The crunchy biscuit base chunks were so big they were distracting. 19 Sep 2015
star Pina Coco-Lada Bounty gelato with pineapple cake and mango puree. Love this one! It had more coconut than the super sweet Bounty gelato on its own, and the pineapple and mango taste went super well with it all. It was thankfully not as cakey as the Danny Two Times I had in the same cup. 11 Sep 2015
Danny Two Times Yoghurt, orange and poppy seed gelato with orange cake. I loved this as the taste test and proceeded to get a scoop, but my scoop ended up being almost all orange cake, and barely the yoghurt, orange and poppy seed gelato I first tasted. Richard also had a full scoop, and both were so cakey they didn’t melt at all. Not a fan of this.
star Burnt Caramel and Ginger It wasn’t too sweet despite the burnt caramel name; love the ginger taste in this. Wish this was a base flavour available at other times! And this doesn’t even have coconut in it! 23 Aug 2015
VJ’s Coconut Caramel coconut gelato with ginger lemongrass jam. Taste test only. Has more ginger lemongrass taste than coconut. I was very close to getting this as a proper scoop if I hadn’t felt like something more coconutty. 14 Aug 2015
Romanikerer Peanut butter cheesecake gelato with peanut butter brownie. Very rich, to the point that I somewhat regret choosing to have a whole scoop of this. 31 Jul 2015
star Standard flavour Note to self: try this again
star Special flavour I wish they would redo the flavour in the future
all I got fooled by the taste test! *shakes fist*

The Verdict

TL;DR: Do I think Gelato Messina is all hype? Nope! Especially not if the staff at Miranda have been so consistently helpful and friendly, even when the place is super swamped on the weekends after a film. This is really bad for my waistline!

Gelato Messina Miranda

Address Westfield Miranda ground floor
600 Kingsway, Miranda NSW 2228, Australia
Speciality / Cuisine Gelato
Price (2015/2016) Scoops: $4.80 (1 scoop) / $6.80 (2 scoops) / $8.80 (3 scoops)
Tubs: $12.80 (0.5L) / $22.80 (1L) / $29 (1.5L)
Other Notes Cash only

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Aqua S, Regent Place, Town Hall

Everyone and their dog have been to Aqua S and made a big fuss on social media, so when the good friend told me there’s one near our dinner place, I thought it’s appropriate time for me to get with the times! We got to the Town Hall parlour just before 6:30 pm, and Ellis was surprised there wasn’t a queue. “It’s normally up to here,” he pointed way outside the shop. Eh, what can I say? I tend to be pretty lucky like that.

We went in and saw the small menu of 5 flavours — or 3 really, as two of those were combinations: Sea Salt, Milo, Fruit Punch, Sea Salt with Milo and Sea Salt with Fruit Punch.

Aqua S Town Hall, June 2015: Menu
Aqua S Town Hall, June 2015: Menu

Or… 2. As soon as I took the picture of the digital menu and got to the counter, a staff had papered out the two with Fruit Punch. So much for being lucky. tongue Sea Salt with Milo it is.

Aqua S Town Hall, June 2015: Sea Salt with Milo (Cone)
Aqua S Town Hall, June 2015: Sea Salt with Milo (Cone)
Aqua S Town Hall, June 2015: Sea Salt with Milo (Small Cup)
Aqua S Town Hall, June 2015: Sea Salt with Milo (Cup S)

The topping options available were fairy floss, sweet popcorn, popping candy (pop rocks) and grilled marshmallow, at an extra for $1.50. They felt a little too obscure for me tonight, so I only had the ice cream in a small cup ($3.80), while Ellis grabbed the cone version ($3.80). I watched as the staff served various customers; I liked how they carefully filled the inside of the waffle cones.

The soft serve itself was cold and sweet with a nice contrast of the hint of saltiness. I liked the bright blue Sea Salt, which is convenient as I understood it’s their standard flavour. Milo was okay; I would have opted for Fruit Punch instead if it was available.

I think the appeal of Aqua S is their ever changing flavours and unusual toppings. From this one visit tonight with half the flavours off the menu and my lack of interest in the pricey toppings offered, I don’t quite see myself becoming a regular. Big thumbs up to their marketing department, though!

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Devine Gelato, Cairns

Gelato time! We came to Devine Gelato on three nights and managed to try all but a couple of flavours, as documented in this post with an embarrassing amount of gelato photos from the same place! They also have another shop (main shop?) just a two-minute walk away on Aplin Street, but it was the one on the Esplanade that we visited on all nights.

The cold treat is served in the typical choice of a waffle cone or a cup: one scoop is $4.80; two scoops $5.80; three scoops $6.80. Ali had a one-scoop cone on the night he joined us while Richard had the two-scoop cup, so I had no choice but to have three scoops on all nights in order to produce a more comprehensive write-up. Oh, the sacrifices I make for this blog!

Devine Gelato, Cairns: 14 Flavours
Devine Gelato, Cairns: 14 Flavours

The 14 flavours available when we visited, in alphabetical order, were: After Dinner Mint, Boysenberry, Coconut, Lemon Sorbet, Lime Sorbet, Lindt Chocolate, Mandarin Sorbet, Mango Sorbet, Orange Chocolate Cookie, Passion Cream, Pistachio, Strawberry, Vanilla, and White Chocolate.

We had them like this:

Flavours Comments

Pistachio, Passion Cream

Devine Gelato, Cairns There wasn’t a hazelnut flavour available so Richard grabbed the next closest thing, the Pistachio. The flavour was quite subtle.

Orange Chocolate Cookie, After Dinner Mint, Boysenberry

Devine Gelato, Cairns After Dinner Mint and Orange Chocolate Cookie both had delicious crunchy chocolate bits inside. Get this combination if you are after a sweet milk chocolatey 2-scoop!

Lindt Chocolate, Coconut, Mandarin Sorbet

Devine Gelato, Cairns I didn’t think the original Lindt Excellence in its chocolate form was very special, so I also didn’t find the Lindt Chocolate flavour to be too different from other chocolate flavours. I really enjoyed Mandarin Sorbet, though, and am biased towards Coconut because I like coconut products.

Mandarin Sorbet, Lemon Sorbet

Devine Gelato, Cairns All their sorbet flavours are still gelato so they have the creamier texture. Lemon Sorbet tasted a little less creamy probably because of its tartness, which I still quite liked. Lime Sorbet was similar to Lemon Sorbet in texture and tartness, but in lime.

Devine Gelato, Cairns I expected Mango Sorbet to be like generic mango ice cream, but it was again more subtle in flavour and I liked the chunks of frozen mango pieces in it. Meanwhile, I only grabbed Strawberry because it’s one of the last few flavours I hadn’t tried, but it turned out to be surprisingly creamy! I think it would go quite well with Boysenberry and Passion Cream.

Mango Sorbet, Lime Sorbet, Strawberry

We would have come back on the last night and I would have tried the last two flavours, but we’ve both put on too much weight since the beginning of the trip. Sorry, White Chocolate and Vanilla, I’m sure you were both wonderful flavours — given how Strawberry surprised me, Vanilla might actually not be boring! I guess I won’t find out until the next time I visit Cairns.

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Mother’s Day 2015

I don’t get to celebrate Mother’s Day with my own mum because I live overseas, but this year I get to do that with R mum, who prepared chicken casserole for dinner and apricot almond slice for dessert! I know, I know. It’s totally wrong of us to let her cook dinner on Mother’s Day, but she is the better cook. How about I don’t skip dessert tonight and have a big slice? It doesn’t work this way? tongue

She told me to take a picture of the casserole straight out of the oven as well, but when I turned back, somehow she was already in the middle of dishing up. Oh well!

The Purple Patisserie, Gymea

To celebrate Mother’s Day, Richard did buy little cakes for her from the Purple Patisserie. This was going to be a full standalone food blog post, but the staff got upset when I started to take photos in the shop for fear of competition, so I should respect them and not upload the one I had (since been deleted from my camera).

Once the staff realised that we were maybe not competition, she was helpful in offering suggestions of which of their sweet treats to get. A good half dozen of their small cakes were gluten free, some even dairy free, and there were also sausage rolls and quiche available. No cakes, but here, have a photo of their shopfront that I took a while back instead.

The Purple Patisserie, Gymea
The Purple Patisserie, Gymea (taken in Nov 2014 – the building in the background is mostly built now)

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Hakiki Turkish Ice Cream, Newtown

We still had a bit of time before our comedy show tonight and I was predictably still hungry after the dinner. We randomly strolled down Enmore Road in the light rain looking for nothing in particular, and stumbled upon a little place called Hakiki Turkish Ice Cream.

“Turkish ice cream?” We asked each other.
“Probably just ice cream made with goat milk,” Richard said.

And that’s when we decided we should probably find out what the deal was about even though I’m not normally a dessert person, and I’m certainly far too superior for sugary treats.

Now that I’ve established my insecurities superiority… Hakiki on Enmore Road specialises in Turkish treats such as baklava and Turkish delights (which is as far as my knowledge in Turkish treats goes), and apparently only opened not even 2 weeks ago. We saw some very unusual ice cream flavours out of the total 14 on display. The more interesting ones include: Baklava, Grape Molasses and Tahini, Maras, Melon and Feta, Turkish Coffee, and Turkish Delight.

Hakiki Turkish Ice Cream, Newtown: Ice Cream Flavours
Hakiki Turkish Ice Cream, Newtown: 14 Flavours!

Yep. I just marked 43% of the flavours as “interesting”. There’s no way we would walk out of there without trying at least some of those tonight.

The staff told us their handmade Turkish ice cream (also known as dondurma) is made with goat milk (heh), cow milk, sugar and salep — the orchid root that gives the ice cream its stretchiness. Neither Richard and I could believe we’ve lived so many years without ever hearing about its existence. After sampling a few, we decided to get hazelnut (safe bet), tahini, Turkish coffee, and Maras out of the list. Richard got 2 scoops for $6, while I got 3 big scoops for $8!

Hakiki Turkish Ice Cream, Newtown
Hakiki Turkish Ice Cream, Newtown: Handmade Dondurma

And the ice cream did stretch, more for some flavours and less for the others; I had to twirl it around the spatula to eat it! It also doesn’t melt. My favourite flavour was the very subtle Maras (probably because I don’t have a sweet tooth), which is the base for the rest of the flavours as the staff told us. Richard really enjoyed his tahini ice cream as well and joked that he should request that flavour at other ice cream shops from now on.

Hakiki Turkish Ice Cream, Newtown: Turkish Coffee
Hakiki Turkish Ice Cream, Newtown: Turkish Coffee ($3)

After the ice cream, Richard grabbed a Turkish coffee ($3; no sugar). I’ve never tried it before so I had a small sip of the unfiltered drink. Mmm, gritty. Gritty but good.

Hakiki Turkish Ice Cream, Newtown: 2-Scoop Cup
Hakiki Turkish Ice Cream, Newtown: 2-Scoop Cup

There is still a slight novelty factor, but Hakiki is easily an instant favourite, and I will definitely return for more! I hope that when they become immensely popular, the staff would still stay super warm and friendly like they were tonight. smile

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Din Tai Fung, Westfield Miranda

Everyone’s favourite Taiwanese dumpling place Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) opened yet another branch in Sydney. We previously visited one in Hong Kong, and later at Central Park after discovering for the first time that the franchise existed in Australia (yeah, we know). We’d been talking about trying this new Westfield Miranda branch, and tonight was finally the night. It’s dumpling time!

Guarded by their giant dumpling head mascot, the entrance to the two-level restaurant is on level 2 of the Westfield mall. Even though most of the shops around it were already closed, at 6 pm this Saturday night, quite a few tables were already occupied by couples, families and groups, and the place only got busier as the night progressed. We sat upstairs and after going through the same full menu as the one we got from Central Park, handed the waiter our paper order form.

Din Tai Fung Miranda: Dan Dan Noodles
Din Tai Fung Miranda: Dan Dan Noodles ($11.80)

The food didn’t take very long, and first up was our Dan Dan Noodles ($11.80). Traditional Sichuan dan dan noodles are meant to be numbingly spicy; while the texture of the one we got tonight was great, all we could taste from the noodles was peanut sauce, which I didn’t even realise was a common ingredient for certain variations of the dish. Richard quipped that this is the “Shire version” for you (and it’s okay for him to say that because he’s from there tongue ); whatever this is, it had to be one of the more disappointing soup base I’ve tried yet.

Din Tai Fung Miranda: Prawns with Pineapple
Din Tai Fung Miranda: Prawns with Pineapple ($22.80)

Prawns with Pineapple ($22.80) was very mayonnaise-y and therefore delicious because anything covered in mayonnaise is delicious, but it could really use far less of the sauce. I also didn’t quite taste the pineapple in it.

Din Tai Fung Miranda: Spicy Shrimp and Pork Wontons
Din Tai Fung Miranda: Spicy Shrimp and Pork Wontons ($10.80)
Din Tai Fung Miranda: Xiao Long Bao
Din Tai Fung Miranda: Xiao Long Bao ($12.80 for 8 pieces)
Din Tai Fung Miranda: Vegetable and Pork Jiaozi
Din Tai Fung Miranda: Vegetable and Pork Jiao Zi ($10.80)

Spicy Shrimp and Pork Wontons ($10.80), Xiao Long Boa ($12.80 for 8 pieces), and Vegetable & Pork Jiao Zi ($10.80) are pretty much our staple order. They initially sent us the non-spicy version of the wontons, but quickly fixed it after we pointed out the error. This time, the broth was at least detectably spicy, and all the dumplings lived up to my expectations.

Din Tai Fung Miranda: Crispy Fried Chicken with Chilli
Din Tai Fung Miranda: Crispy Fried Chicken with Chilli ($16.80)

After the zero-heat dan dan noodles and slightly spicy wontons, it really was a gamble whether the Crispy Fried Chicken with Chilli ($16.80) would be hot enough. Not for me (but nothing is), but the deep fried chicken was moderately crispy and appropriately savoury. I got my chilli kick out of chewing on a pepper — literally.

Din Tai Fung Miranda: Chocolate Ice Cream
Chocolate Ice Cream
Din Tai Fung Miranda: Black Sesame Bun Inside
Steamed Mini Black Sesame Bun (inside)

Comparing to Central Park, Richard and I both independently agreed that our dinner tonight at the Westfield Miranda branch was the better experience. I would quite happily return, but probably not to order any of the Shire-spicy noodles again. wink

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Henley’s Wholefoods, Alexandria

Henley’s Wholefoods serves paleo-friendly foods. I don’t actively follow the lifestyle, but their core principle with keywords like “choice”, “nutrient-dense” and “sustainable” is right up my alley, so it’s only appropriate that I selected the recently opened branch in Alexandria near my workplace as the venue for the lunch meetup with the Zomato Sydney Community Managers today!

The small cafe on Mitchell Road has a handful of tables parked along the walls inside, and outdoor seating for bigger groups. Unfortunately, because of the rain, we had to settle for the indoor table meant for two with an extra chair popped next to it. I ordered the original Cocowhip ($6) and a long black ($3.5); the community managers got the Grain Waves with Poached Chicken ($16) and Pumpkin Hazelnut Meal Bread ($14) for their lunch. Our food arrived shortly after the order.

Henley's Wholefoods Alexandria: CocoWhip Original
Henley’s Wholefoods Alexandria: CocoWhip – Original ($6)

I love all things coconut! Disappointingly, my gluten- and dairy-free CocoWhip didn’t taste quite as coconutty as I’d hoped, but it definitely didn’t have any added sugar in it. This would probably make quite a nice treat on a hot day — just eat it as soon as it’s served, because mine deflated very quickly while I waited for the others’ food to arrive.

Henley's Wholefoods Alexandria: Grain Waves with Poached Chicken
Henley’s Wholefoods Alexandria: Grain Waves with Poached Chicken ($16)

Grain Waves with Poached Chicken comes in two parts: one dish for the grains (brown rice, quinoa and millet), accompanied by lentils, vegetables and garnishes; and the other for the added protein. I don’t think this is strictly a paleo dish, though, what with its “anti-nutrient” ingredients.

Henley's Wholefoods Alexandria: Pumpkin Hazelnut Meal Bread
Henley’s Wholefoods Alexandria: Pumpkin Hazelnut Meal Bread ($14)

The pumpkin hazelnut meal bread, on the other hand, has every ingredient both the paleo community and I would approve. It doesn’t look like a huge plate, but the nut meal content plus the stack of smoked salmon and zucchini ribbons on top make it a rich and filling dish; a good option for someone who prefers a heavier lunch. If it had a few more slices and the cafe was opened beyond 4 pm, I could see myself ordering it for dinner.

Henley's Wholefoods Alexandria: Our Table
Henley’s Wholefoods Alexandria: My CocoWhip was starting to deflate by the time the others’ food arrived

Henley’s Wholefoods at Alexandria has a selection of vegetarian, vegan and paleo-friendly menu items that allow for mixing-and-matching, great for anyone with those dietary restrictions or pursuits. I thought it was a bit pricey for its smallish serving size, but health comes at a cost, I guess! If I return, I would be quite interested in trying the grass fed beef burger or one of their eggy breakfasts.

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