Another month, and yet another festival at The Rocks. This time it was a festival for the alcoholic in all of us – a wine and food festival. Unfortunately, the alcoholic in me is not a wine-fan (as much as I like to whine), so my journey into this festival was appropriately brief.

In fact, the only thing that brought me to this festival was – as those who know me would have already guessed – Messina with their three wine-inspired offerings. Now, while my last experience of Messina was a good one (at the Night Noodle Markets), my last experience of Messina at the Rocks was much less so…

So how did Messina do this time? Well I tried all three of their desserts just so that you all know which to go for!

First up was their sorbet option – the Absolutely Flabulous:


A flute of champagne sorbet, mandarin gel, mandarin sponge, chocolate and popping candy crunch and mandarin foam (Using Logan Vintage ‘M’ Cuvee)

Now, full disclaimer: the above image has been photoshopped. What was photoshopped you ask? Well, when I got this dessert, the chocolate layer had spilled all over the glass, such that you had these chocolate speckles all over it. This, of course, ruined the otherwise quite well presented dessert – the use of a glass to allow all the layers to be seen provided a great visual effect, which I thought made it quite instagram-worthy.

Presentation-aside, the Absolutely Flabulous is a pre-made, frozen dessert, with only the mandarin gel and frozen mandarin topping added on order (and maybe the sorbet too? I didn’t quite catch them adding it), which is possibly why the chocolate layer had spilled over in the one I got.

Taste-wise, I liked the strong mandarin taste throughout the dessert, though I failed to taste the popping candy crunch (was it perhaps lost in the foam?). I did fine the addition of mandarin foam a bit strange, as I’m not sure anyone enjoys eating foam, but consistency aside, it had a nice mandarin flavour which I enjoyed. The sorbet was definitely champagne-y, though as I’m not a champagne-fan, I’ll refrain from judging it.

Overall, I felt this was a decent dessert: good if you want something for instagram (assuming yours doesn’t come out with chocolate speckles all over the place), but not sure I’d recommend it at its festival-priced $10.

Next up was Messina’s gelato option – the Rosè Gonzales:


A thin layer of rosè gel sandwiched between pistachio gelato and vanilla olive oil sponge, finished with a rosè glaze and topped with chocolate shards (Using Logan ‘Hannah’ Rosè)

In my opinion, the Rosè Gonzales was definitely Messina’s weakest offering. I felt it tasted somewhat bland (with the exception of the rosè gel that an appropriately rosè-y taste), and visually, it wasn’t that special (it depends on its bright red colour to create visual appeal).

Also, as this was a pre-made, frozen dessert, the sponge had a strange, hard, rubbery consistency which I didn’t like.

To be fair, this was clearly a dessert for those with a palate more refined then my own. It relies on more subtle flavours rather than the sweetness I tend to prefer. So while I did not particularly like it, the friendly girl I ordered from said that this was actually her favourite of the three – so to each his/her own I guess!

Finally, I finished trip with the best of the three – their soft serve option,  the Shirazzamatazz:


A shiraz grape juice soft serve sundae topped with chocolate mousse, blackberry jellies, hazelnut praline and chocolate cookie crumb (Using freshly squished shiraz grape juice from the Logan vineyard)

If you only get one Messina dessert from Vino Paradiso (though with the timing of this review, probably a bit late to be saying that!), it shiraz hell be this one!

Admittedly, this is probably the least adventurous of the three, but perhaps that’s what made it the best. I loved how the hazelnut praline gave the sundae the crunch it needed, while the chocolate mousse worked well with the shiraz grape juice soft serve. Given that this is a wine-inspired dessert, the “grape juice” tasted more like wine, and so while I would’ve preferred a sweeter grape juice flavour, I can’t really fault it on that point.

Presentation-wise, this sundae was certainly less refined that its Absolutely Flabulous sibling, but for some reason I still thought it was the best of the three. I liked how the purple soft serve contrasted with the chocolate mousse, and how the hazelnut praline contrasted with the blackberry jellies. Also, this is the only dessert that was fully constructed after ordering!

So in summary:

Do:

  • Get the Shirazzamatazz – it was definitely the best of the three.

Maybe:

  • Get the Absolutely Flabulous (only if you like photos).

Don’t:

  • Get Rosè Gonzales – too subtle for my liking.
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