I figure I should test the waters of the current state of my writing, because unlike investments, it’s not going to appreciate by just festering in a corner over 3 months. So let’s start of with what I had for tea.
I was introduced to Brunetti – one of Melbourne’s most iconic Italian cafes – just this week, 2 days before it opened it’s first branch here in Singapore on the 29th of September. It came as a recommendation, for Italian coffee, pastries, gelato and the whole shebang. And trust me when I say that Brunetti is your one-stop wonderland to almost every Italian treat from biscotti, to millfoglies, hand-made chocolates, paninis, cornettos, espressos, straciatella gelato, and pignolos. Hand your wallet over to someone reliable, because you’re your own worst enemy in the face of at least 10 metres of glass displays with glistening pastries so shiny and vibrant you’ll need shades to gawk.
Brunetti has been around in Melbourne for more than 30 years now, and diehard fans of the outlet at Carlton have been anxiously waiting ever since there was news that it would open its doors here at RWS. But thank goodness it’s Tanglin Mall they’ve decided on instead of Sentosa. I can’t imagine having to go out of my way for a good cup of Italian roast or what could be the closest experience to sitting in an authentic Italian café.
It’s the tiled floor, the mosaic pieces, the black and white photographs of people sipping coffee, the sheer amount of sweets, and the smell of deep, smokey coffee that slows time down, draws you in and teaches you that a cappuccino should last a good, long conversation instead of having it taken-away and chugged down as you’re walking. There’s an otherworldly charm about Brunetti. It whisks you off to another time and place, and if you tried hard enough, maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to hear the staccatos of rapid-fire Italian over the buzz of the cafe. You won’t have to try as hard for Singlish though. Just saying.
As expected, their coffee menu doesn’t disappoint. If you’re hankering for frappes, whipped cream, and all of that saccharine nonsense, well, they just have one type for you. And you really shouldn’t even be considering that when everything else is coffee – the proper kind. I’d heard raves for Brunetti’s Italian hot chocolate. I was torn between sampling their coffee and what I heard was equivalent to thickthickthick, almost pudding-like, intense Hot Chocolate.
So I had the Mocha ($5) as a sort of middle-ground. And it was fantastic. No chocolate syrups here. Just quality, melted-down, smooth chocolate mixed in with luscious steamed milk and a shot of espresso. It’s sweet enough as it is, but what’s coffee without a panellet or two?
Panellets are little Italian cookies or cakes that are mostly made of marzipan, or any other variation of nuts. There is a healthy range that Brunetti offers, but they’re slightly pricey at $1.50 each, so take a good pick.
I can’t quite remember their individual names, but starting from the top and going clockwise, the first one was filled with marzipan with crunches of fine sugar crystals, followed by another with marzipan but with a glazed cherry center, then one with pistachio, and then a ho-hum cookie that I thought could be amaretti (an almond-flavoured cookie) but wasn’t. I vote for the one with marzipan only (the round one at the top).
For coffee connoisseurs, have the Ristretto, or Short Black to sample their coffee. Of course, a Cappucino’s ($4.50) always good too. Don’t forget your panellet!
It’s immensely difficult to keep a check on how much you’re spending. See, by this point in time, we’ve had their coffee and their panellets, and we’d also ordered something called a Horseshoe ($4.50), pastry filled with tiny raisins and candied citrus peel and then shaped into a horseshoe. This had probably sat out the whole day already, so no surprises that it was dry, but grab these first thing in the morning when they’re fresh and you’re good to go.
On top of being a Pasticceria (Italian pastry shop), Brunetti’s a Paninoteca (something like a deli), Gelateria (gelato shop), Panetteria (bakery), and Cioccolateria (chocolate shop) as well. May I reiterate on how I was driven almost mad just wanting to try everything.
Part of sampling their Paninoteca section, we had a Filone Cotto E Carciofoli ($10.90), a baguette stuffed with Bocconcini, ham, artichoke, basil pesto, and mayo. The bread could have been fresher of course, but the ingredients were great, particularly the Bocconcini (tiny balls of mild, slightly soft cheese) and the ham.
It’s hard to leave without passing by the gelato counter again, so we had a medium cup ($5.90) of the Hazelnut and the Mecrock (milk-based gelato with swirls of Ferrero Rocher). And although the Hazelnut was marvelously intense and nutty, for sure, the gelato in Italy still remains unrivaled in texture. It’s no doubt that the gelato at Brunetti are all made with premium ingredients, but they’re not quite light enough. But if you’re a Hazelnut fan, that’s for you. The caramel-coloured ice cream even has whole roasted hazelnuts for crunch.
So that was Sunday tea at Brunetti. But what about the Millefoglies, and the cornettos, and the Operas and Tiramisus, you say? There were what looked like 1001 other fascinating treats to sample, pastas to try, but cut me some slack will ya? I want them too! I do! But oh mama are they pricey! I will, however, definitely return to cover their entire range of offerings before the place is overrun by the curious crowds that are sure to hit within the next month or so.
The hot chocolate. I must have the hot chocolate.
163 Tanglin Road, #01-35 Tanglin Mall, Singapore 237993
Mon-Sun: 9am – 10pm