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What’s better than a gorgeous piece of artwork and an mindblowingly delicious piece of food ?

A combination of the two ?

Did I hear anyone say fondant cake ?

Despite its orgasmic appearance, I would be the first one to admit that fondant cakes are not exactly to my taste. Sugar icing that’s thick and not so sweet is something that, perhaps if given the chance, I would steer clear of !

Having said that, browsing for cakes for my birthday this year, I found the most amazing fondant cake bakery online in the form of Victoria’s Cakes.

 


Hazelnut cake base with strawberries & a chocolate mud cake – $160 + $10 (for a layer of fresh fruit) + $40 delivery (pick up available)

May I just say that this bakery absolutely put my world upside down in changing my opinion on fondant cakes – and it is such a pity that it is operates solely online!

Victoria was absolutely amazing in terms of catering to my request, and was lovely enough to bake a spare green fondant mud cake (no photos, unfortunately!) at no extra charge, as she was worried the main cake would not be enough to serve all the guests (70 – 80 pax, and believe me, the main cake would have been more than enough!)

Not only was the cake sweet on the eye, but it was tantalising on the palate – fresh, moist, and a true star for any event !

Cake flavours ranged from chocolate to vanilla, lemon to honey, and coconut to hazelnut – and considering fondant cakes of this calibre would usually cost from $300 – $700, the price-quality rapport is definitely up there !

And as for the theme of my party ?

…I can leave you to guess that ;)

Victoria’s Cakes
Sutherland Shire
http://www.victoriascakes.com.au

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It’s been a nasty 10 months, and I hang my head in shame for neglecting my beloved food blog for so long. Spent the last six and a half months in Paris & travelling Europe, dining on good bread, fine wine, and ….reindeer !

More about that later, though …
Because the call of food photography and dessert has coaxed me out of my lazy shell to blog about what may possibly be the best thing since sliced bread – Oliver Brown !!

In my humble opinion, dessert ice cream is quite possibly the greatest invention known to mankind. So you can only imagine my excitement when my darling friend told me about a cheaper Max Brenner-esque place, with delicious waffles and tasty ice cream!


Hot Chocolate (dark) – $ ? 

As an avid non-drinker of hot chocolate, steering clear of dark chocolate as well, it is a testament to how delicious a dark hot chocolate is if ….I can stand drinking it. Either that, or it’s very sweet.
And I have a sweet tooth … sooooooo..:)

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Belgian Waffles for 2 – $14
Waffles, banana slices, strawberries & whipped cream with melted chocolate 

After visiting Belgium and feasting on Belgian waffles for three days’ straight, you can imagine my reluctance to try Australian-Belgian waffles again…

Unfortunately, Belgian waffles are renowned for a reason, and despite this café’s claim to be a Belgian chocolate café, one does well to remember that chocolate ≠ waffles.

But that’s okay !! Crusty, crunchy warm waffle (a bit on the dry side) drizzled with delicious hot chocolate, fresh bananas and strawberries …with a side of whipped cream (eek)!

Nevertheless, it was still good enough to seduce me into coming back just under 2 weeks later, and boy am I glad I did !

.

On my second visit, the first beauty we saw was this :

A friend’s dessert – $ ?? (to be updated)
Vanilla, strawberry and mint ice cream, with Oreos, fruit loops & a wafer stick 

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And although this dessert is a sight for sore eyes (and I can only imagine how delicious), the real kicker is below ..:

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Ice cream fondue for 2 – $18
Strawberry, vanilla and mint ice cream; marshmallows; bananas; strawberries; and two dipping pots of dark and milk chocolate

Orgasmic! The very first time I saw ice cream fondue was at Häagen-Dazs on the Champs-Elysées ..and from that point in time, I vowed I’d find somewhere in Australia to try it. And whaddya know !!
I don’t know about you, but all the other fondues I’ve had just aren’t as …amazing as this one. The fondue stays warm with a small candle burning merrily away underneath, but I must say I do prefer the milk. :)
You use one of those long-stemmed utensils with a spoon on one end and a fork on the other (anyone know the name ??) to dip your ice cream in the chocolate fondue ….which hardens within seconds Ice-Magic-style :).

And of course, this was so delicious, I just had to go back less than a week later.   


Ice cream fondue for 2 – $18
Vanilla, chocolate, and mint ice cream with strawberries and bananas (no marshmallows!!); with milk & dark chocolate fondue

Helpful hint: don’t leave the ice cream next to the burning candle if you’re going to eat another dessert first. …unless you like ice cream soup.

 

Belgian waffle for One & ice cream – $9.50

And of course, who can resist another waffle if there’s a side of ice cream ? :)

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Oliver Brown Chocolate Café (visited 20/04/11, 01/05/11, 06/05/11)
Top Ryde City Shopping Centre
Level Street, Shop F1, Cnr Devlin St & Blaxland Rd
Ryde NSW 2112
Ph: (02) 9809 7007

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Word on the street is that there’s a new tea store trying to muscle in on the monopoly that is Easyway. If you’ve been down George St any time over the past few weeks, you’ve probably noticed Chatime – the latest tea store to hit Sydney.

Their selection of teas are interesting – amongst them Yakult Lemon Juice, Ichiban Roasted Tea, Lemon Yoghurt Smoothie and Brown Rice Green Tea ……….but do they really beat Easyway?

 

Since Chatime had a Buy 1 Get 1 free promotion until the 13th November, I was naturally tempted to try their new range of drinks.
Grace had bought a Hawaii Fruit Tea (M – $4.20) the day before, and it had tasted suspiciously like breakfast juice in tea form …but hey! New things might always surprise you :)

 

Grapefruit Green Tea (R) and aloe vera – $4.70 &
Chatime Roasted Milk Tea (R) with pearls – $4.70

First up on the list of drinks to try was the recommended grapefruit green tea and the interesting sounding Chatime roasted milk tea.
The prices are a little dearer than Easyway, which is often justified with the random inclusion of toppings in some of the drinks (not in this case, though).

I asked the staff if the grapefruit green tea would be sour, to which I was told it would be bitter =[. Had a slight bitter aftertaste, and the aloe vera texture was a little mushy (Easyway’s is definitely better), but if you like grapefruit it’s definitely worth a try.

Chatime roasted milk tea, which is supposed to be green tea based, just tasted like watery coffee. Like, SUPER watery coffee. -_-  The pearls were very chewy though, which is good I suppose, if you like chewy pearls.

Verdict? Grapefruit > Roasted milk

Despite not being blown away by these 2 drinks, Helen & I decided to give Chatime another try with:

Brown Rice Green Tea (R) with pearls – $4.20 &
Tokachi Red Bean Milk Tea (R) included with pearls and red bean – $4.50

Was not really a fan of the brown rice green tea. Tasted like the hot green tea they give you in Japanese shops – the ones that taste like sesame tea instead (which apparently isn’t sesame or green tea at all, but rather the brown rice..so I guess the name is rather accurate). In Helen’s words, is it “infused with smoke” ? =\

The tokachi red bean milk tea came with a serving of pearls and red beans. Red beans were really nice – not overly sweet (Easyway’s milk tea is a thousand times sweeter – although you can adjust the sweetness), and rather small. The milk tea had a red tea aftertaste that could potentially be amazing if you love milk tea.

Verdict? Tokachi red bean > brown rice green tea

Unfortunately, despite trying four different drinks, we still hadn’t found the WOW factor of Chatime ….so one more time.

Longan & Red Date Juice (L) – $4.20

One thing I can say about Chatime is that the descriptions for their drinks are pretty accurate. Although a refreshing drink, there was a definite longan aftertaste that could very easily be overwhelming if you don’t like longans that much. There was a strong date flavour as well (which was only accentuated further by the small sweet date pieces floating around in the drink).

Figured that I haven’t really liked anything from their energetic healthy juice range .. =[ (which this drink came from)

Fairy Vanilla Milk Tea (L) and pearls – $5.20

The WOW factor.
This was definitelyyyy my favourite drink so far! Not much to say other than it’s a vanilla milk tea, and if you like vanilla, you’ll looove this!

As for comparison with Easyway, I suppose it all comes down to whether you have a tolerance for sweet things, and whether or not you’re obsessed with milk tea. While Easyway has a large variety of different drinks, Chatime differs in that they have a few of the populars – e.g. milk tea, green tea – and then a few variations of the same thing.

But speaking of Easyway, did anyone see the episode of the Simpsons where all the shops in some megamart turn into Starbucks?
That’s pretty much the same case with Easyway and George St, with a new Easyway opening up opposite the World Square one and diagonal to the Goulburn St store.

 

Grand Opening

Oooh, competition, considering this new Easyway store opened up in the same time frame as the Chatime store.

…a store which uses masking tape to hold its sign up.

Hahahah.

Anywayyy. If you’re adventurous and really like milk tea, then maybe Chatime’s gazillion different types of milk tea will appeal to you!
If anything, the tea is worth a try at least once – and if you’re not game, you should swing by Easyway Castle Towers for the best Easyway around :D

Chatime (Visited 13/11/09)
Shop 181, 569 George St
Sydney, NSW 2000
(Summit Arcade, opposite World Square)
http://www.chatime.com.au

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French Riviera, Sydney

It is shameful and embarrassing that it has been over a month since I last blogged ! But I’m blogging with eight minutes to spare of not having a single September post :)

Anyways, if any of you know me at all you’ll be well acquainted with my love affair with ice cream.
And if you’re any sort of ice cream junkie, a trip to French Riviera is well in order !

 

Even though some of the flavours are hit or miss (do NOT try the hazelnut one!!), any ice cream lover can’t miss out on a visit to French Riviera!

The array of flavours and the tasty combinations make it a place well worth visiting, and there are a million and one things I could say about their servings of epic proportions.

 

So before we start, we’re given glasses of room-temperature water. It proves a blessing for those who don’t have a sweet tooth ..and boy, do I have a sweet tooth.

 

Rainbow Gastronomic Surprise (2-3 people) – $32
Available in Super [4-5 people @ $37] or Maxi [6+ people @ $45]

If there’s only one reason to go to French Riviera, this is it. Scoops upon scoops of coconut, yoghurt, redcurrant, hazelnut, raspberry and mango ice cream, as well as your regular strawberry and chocolate as well. There are more flavours besides the ones I mentioned – the list is endless!  And ohhh so good =9
Some of the flavours are generally better than others (redcurrant gelato, anyone??), and I’m reaaaally NOT a fan of the chocolate sauce…but each to their own!

 

Maple Syrup Waffles – $9

The Gastronomic Surprise wasn’t quite enough for me so we got waffles :) Which were freaking deliiiicious. The maple syrup comes in a small glass so you can put as much or as  little as you like. 
Not only warm, but they were crunchy and thick – just the way I like them :)

 

Waffle – $3.50

Soo good were they that I had to order another ! LOL, I didn’t know you could order a waffle by itself for $3.50, so you’re not paying an extra $5.50 for 2 scoops of ice cream & whipped cream.
They give it to you plus icing sugar, and I had maple syrup left over from the first one. I’ve also been wanting to try the waffles at Smile Mart on George St! Hrmm…

 

One scoop – $5
vanilla & chocolate sauce

A second visit to French Riviera prompted us to try the different sundaes they have on offer (and coincidentally my companions for the third visit ordered the exact same sundaes)…

Delice – $16
Chocolate, Walnut, coconut, hazelnut, whipped cream & crunchy nuts

 


Banana Split – $26
vanilla ice cream, banana, chocolate sauce, whipped cream & crunchy nuts

 

Gastronomic Surprise – $32

Couldn’t resist getting another one of these, if not just for the novelty :)

 

Fraise Melba – $16
Vanilla, fresh strawberries, strawberry sauce, whipped cream & crunchy nuts

Helen wanted to get chocolate sauce instead of the strawberry sauce, and was it the BIGGEST MISTAKE EVER or what! I am reaaaally not a fan of their chocolate sauce – it just tastes so …fake.

 

Third visit :)

One scoop – $5
walnut

Usually, when most places say ‘one scoop’, they mean one meagre scoop of ice cream on a waffle cone or perhaps a small plate.  At French Riviera, ‘one scoop’ equates to a single scoop of ice cream …on a base of more compacted scoops of ice cream. I looove places that are generous with their servings :)

 

Delice – $16
Chocolate, Walnut, coconut, hazelnut, whipped ream & crunchy nuts

Kim decided to order alone because the thought of sharing ice cream with someone else (“indirect kissing”, as Lawson puts it) turns her off. But as we should all know by now, a serving for one equates a serving for 2 (or 3, if you have a small appetite), and I think she nearly cried when she saw how big her sundae was :p

 


Fraise Melba – $16
Raspberry, redcurrant, strawberry, fresh strawberries, strawberry sauce, whipped cream & crunchy nuts

Putting a more berry-themed spin on the Fraise Melba saw the replacement of three scoops of vanilla ice cream with a scoop of raspberry, redcurrant, and strawberry. Strawberry tasted like the typical supermarket variety, and raspberry wasn’t really that different from strawberry. :s Redcurrant was deliciiious though ! Probably because it was gelato ..
Upon first serving us, though, they forgot to give us the fresh strawberries !!

NB: strawberry sauce is waaay nicer than the chocolate :)

 

Tahitienne – $26
Mixed Ice-cream, Banana fruit, Rum/Chocolate Sauce, Whipped Cream & Crunchy Nuts

A nutty chocolate twist on the Tahitienne, Hashan chose chocolate & walnut ice cream for his sundae. The rum is a subtle flavour – not strong enough for him, but definitely enough for me – and apparently they use real rum!

Although the regulars (e.g. chocolate and strawberry) aren’t the best ice creams I’ve had, props to French Riviera’s accommodating style in personalising the sundaes to your fancy. You can pretty much choose any sundae on the menu and replace the flavours of ice cream/sauce at no extra charge :) 
The servings are also amazingly generous, although I’m thinking it’s the novelty of the place and the portion size that keeps me coming back for more, rather than the ice cream itself (although you can get pretty weird flavours here too!)

Service is generally pretty good, down to pulling up extra chairs & tables for us, to opening up the second level for our group of nine when there wasn’t enough space downstairs. On my last visit though, they tried to overcharge us with an extra sundae, so it’s probably easier to pay as a group rather than split!

 

French Riviera Ice Cream (visited 03/07/09, 30/07/09 & 29/09/09)
Shop 5
68 Liverpool St
Tel: 9264 2932
http://www.frenchriviera.com.au

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If you have an Asian bun craving, Sydney CBD is definitely the place to be !

From Barby’s to 85 Degrees, Saint Honore to Savoy, buns and cakes are raining down on you everywhere and it would be well worth your while to dash through this bun storm with an open mouth raised to the skies.
(NB: Mentioning 85 Degrees George St is a bit of an exaggeration :( If you want more than cake and drink you have to go to the one in Chatswood !!)

Franchises and sole traders litter the streets of Sydney, and it was only a few years ago when Breadtop suddenly appeared one day and then began popping up everywhere.

 

One of the interesting things about Breadtop is the peek-a-boo kitchen, so if you manage to bypass the temptation that is Miracle Supermarket and Shu Shin Bou (the mochi house in World Square!), you will get a glimpse of the bakers making their breads and pastries in the shop :D so fingers crossed that the food is always fresh and tasty

 

From the East Asian take on ham & cheese croissants and mini danishes and burgers, to the more exotic flavours of seafood hash brown and seaweed pork floss buns, you can always find something super special to tickle your tastebuds

 

Much like this, the new bamboo charcoal bun:

Bamboo Charcoal Bun – $2
Healthy nutritious bun made of bamboo charcoal, topped with a slight butter touch and garlic paste

is anyone game enough to try it out ? Grace says it tastes like a croissant, but it sure as anything doesn’t look like one !
 

 

Also, which Breadtop would be complete without selling bread ?! Think chocolate chip buns, milk bread, and even sourdough bread at an exorbitant price ! I haven’t tried the sourdough (so the bread may very well warrant its price), but the chocolate chip buns are a flavour hit for a cool $3 for a bag of 6.

 

Freshly stocked cake display

 

Cake display at the end of the day

 

Mango Gateau – $31

This is indeed tasty cake ! It doesn’t come with chocolate Maltesers or a gummy snake mouth, but it does come with strawberries, mango, glaze and generous servings of fluffy cream and sponge.

 

Packaging advertising their pastry and bun offerings

 

Strawberry Tart – $3.40

I love Asian desserts ! For $3.40, I daresay a lot of Asians will find this expensive as tarts go, but compare them to other bakeries! For the freshness of the strawberries, the crisp yet sturdy shortbread base, and the melt-in-your-mouth custard, ’tis a true bargain to be reckoned with.

 

Fruit Tart – $3.40

Possibly one of the gems of Breadtop.

A wide selection of fruits including rockmelon, pear, pineapple, grape, strawberry, orange, honeydew and lychee, Breadtop gives you 2 of almost everything (one ring of pineapple and a melon apiece) so you can share it with your lover and best friend :D and no fighting over the lychees !

I usually find Asian custard quite lumpy and powdery, so to find Breadtop’s thick custard with smooth consistency is like a dream come true :D
The only problem is that not every Breadtop has nice custard – but if you’re not a picky person you can try all their cakes and tarts at every single Breadtop to find the best custard in the world :D

 

Breadtop 包店 (visited 23/06/09)
World Square
Shop 9.22
644 George St, Sydney
Ph: (02) 9264 1383
http://www.breadtop.com.au

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So there’s this relatively new business complex on George St (near Town Hall station) called Regent Place, which houses a variety of new and hip restaurants and the most confusing floor plan they could fit into this little space. I’ve walked past Mid Town Cafe before and being the shallow person I am, the first thing noticeable about this place is the cute decor (chandeliers, pink walls, lots of glass…) and the general friendly atmosphere of the place.

Kind of hard to take discreet photos; this is behind the front desk/coffee bar.

Tables near the front entrance, they also have tables closer to the back with a more moody atmosphere.

I’ve had coffee from this place before which wasn’t spectacular, but we decided to give their meals a try. Midtown offers a lunch special menu (mainly or all Italian food I think) at $9.90 which has a large selection of mains from meat, fish, pasta to salads.

Lunch menu (one of the pages only), I believed they had a large selection of pastas on other pages.

The menu sounded like a pretty good deal as a $9.90 steak or fish at a nice sit-down restaurant in the city is pretty rare to come across.

Risotto Pollo Ai Fungi – $9.90
Risotto with chicken fillet and mushrooms cooked in a creamy white wine sauce

Despite having a not so attractive name the flavours were quite nice. I guess it’s hard to go wrong with chicken and creamy sauce but it was rich though not overbearing. The chicken was quite dry unfortunately, but the main complaint was that the risotto was undercooked and hard, which kind of ruined the whole dish.

Rump Steak with pepper sauce – $9.90

Presentation seemed to be the highlight of Midtown Cafe as all the dishes looked really nice (which extends from having nice decor, I guess). The steak was nice on the outside and the sauce was wonderful, but I can’t say the same for the meat itself. The meat was quite tough and hard to chew (and it was cooked medium-rare) and I don’t think there was enough sauce to give the meat enough flavour.

Perch Del Giorno – $9.90

This dish got no complaints. It looked really nice which a tasty and colourful salad, and the fish was cooked perfectly and full of flavour.

Overall, Mid Town Cafe and Restaurant is a really cute and cosy place to sit down with friends, but the food is only so-so and kind of hit-and-miss. They do also have a delicious looking display of desserts as well, which I need to go back one day and try.

Shop 10.05. (next to KFC)
Regent Place
501 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 9269 0262

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Ice cream is one of those foods that I could eat everyday, and after every meal (ice cream party, anyone?)

After finishing exams on Tuesday night, the contingency plan for a half-hour wait at Sunshine Crepe led to the four of us trooping to Coles in the cold weather and buying two boxes of ice cream (twelve bars all up), where we just sat outside, pigging out.

Would it be embarrassing to admit that my heart beats just that little bit faster whenever the word “ice cream” comes up (must be from all the fattiness clogging up my arteries ..hahaha) – and ’tis the same with Passionflower and their self-proclaimed dessert culture – a place where ice cream and fruit join together in holy matrimony and make sweet, sweet loooove.

Desserts here rally around the $14 mark, which some may think is a little pricey, but if you’ve got your student ID card, you can get 10% off at the George St store (dno about the Capitol one though) ….and if you’re a UNSW Law student ..well, you get discounts just about anywhere -_-”

 

Lasting Luv – $14
A combination of strawberry & mango ice cream, dressed with a mix cocktail of peaches, cherries & strawberries, dazzled with strawberry syrup

do you see the “dazzling” ..haha, the fruit ice cream here is reallyyyy good :) But I think you can still get the same quality of ice cream at Baskin & Robbins, Gelatissimo …or even your local grocery store !

 

Playmate – $14
three scoops of lychee & rose petal ice cream, with hard coconut and lychee jelly, and lychee strawberry syrup

Albert had been raving about lychee & rose petal ice cream for weeks, and so I hadddd to try it. I gave Justin the first bite though ..to my mistake.
As soon as he had a lick, he burst into raucous peals of …laughter? pain? God knows.. :\ hahah and it all stemmed from the flowery taste of the ice cream. If you’ve never tried it, the first thing you can taste is lychee (duh)….but then a subtle rose flavour creeps up and hits you. Justin had a good giggle about this for agessss

 

Final Fantasy – $14
black sesame & coconut ice cream accompanied by cool refreshing pieces of black jelly, drowned in a shot of evaporated milk

The one thing I don’t really like about Passionflower is their jelly. It is always sosososooo hard, like the ones you get at yum cha or buffet. I’ll take soft Aeroplane jelly anyday, thanks !
I do like how they actually give you a shot of condensed milk separate to the ice cream, though, so you can put in as little or as much as you like (or none, if, like me, you’re also not a fan of condensed milk ..although I did put a little on for comparison’s sake, and I musttt say, everything is so much better WITHOUT it!)

 

Durian Milkshake – $6 ?

what looks like an innocent glass of milk is actually a noxious durian shake ! “Tastes like heaven, smells like hell” ..but I would just say that it’s hell all over. >:(

Passionflower may have the classic strawberry, vanilla or chocolate, but it’s renowned as the hotspot for Asian cravings ;) you can get green tea, black sesame, taro, and red bean all at the one placee !
..and the ice cream flavours at Passionflower even go so far as to include durian (yuck!), jackfruit, sticky rice and a new flavour, cherry blossom . I do remember that ages ago, they had wasabi-flavoured ice cream …but it appears to be written off the menu now :( ..I wonder why ….

 

Quick & Fast scoops of ice cream

 

Clockwise from top:
Mango, lychee & rose petal, durian ..and a scoop of sticky rice underneath – $15

 

Clockwise from top:
White chocolate hazelnut, lime sorbet, cookies & cream ..and a scoop of Japanese green tea below – $14

 

Hot waffles – $12.80
Freshly baked made-to-order Belgian waffles with thick chocolate syrup, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a side of strawberries.

I think they ran out of maple syrup, so Philip made do with chocolate syrup. You can also get orange chocolate, apple, banana, chocolate mousse ..the possibilities are endless (or are they).. But because they make it when you order, the waffles are always nice and hot :)

 

A lot of people also don’t know that Passionflower has savoury crepes (think chicken, mushroom, etc) and cheese melts as well – I think around $10 for each one – and they are deliciouslyyy tasty when it’s a cold day (or even when it isn’t) . If the desserts are too sweet, there’s always the choice of coffee, or you can get water – the option of a self-service jug of water at the Capitol store, or asking the waitress/waiter for a few cups at the George St store.

ALSO …if your birthday is coming up, you can get a free dessert on your birthday at Passionflower (with photo I.D.), if you register your birth date here: http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=51405631007&topic=8590

Unfortunately, I only just found out about this, which means I have another 359 days to go before I can claim my free dessert ! :(

 

Passionflower (visited 16/04/09 and 28/05/09)
580 George St
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 9267 0075
http://www.passionflower.com.au

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