What would you say if you were offered a puff pastry filled with a lemon and blueberry cupcake, some barbecue sauce, fresh garlic, mustard, jalapeños, white chocolate, dark chocolate, rum essence, sugar and corn chips? You know what I say? Yummy!
About a month ago I was searching for cafes in Wellington that served sweet vegan treats. I was missing my sugar rush and there’s only so many raw fruit and nut balls you can stomach before you need to widen your search. Thankfully my sugary reprieve came in the form of Sweet Release, a small comic book/star wars/doctor who/all things geeky themed cafe nestled in The Village on Willis Street.
After tweeting about my first visit, the cafe’s wonderful owner; Kristine Bartley, did a little research (*cough* stalking *cough*) and wound up checking out my blog. Luckily for me she liked certain posts so much that she invited both me and my friend to brunch the following week – a very kind move on her behalf as Sweet Release doesn’t even serve brunch usually!
After a few more visits (including an over indulgent lunch which almost saw me slip into a food coma whilst at work) we were invited back for a one-on-one baking session with Kris. Luckily for me we stuck to some fairly simple puff pastries – although I admit the pressure was on when Kris told us that a bunch of 12 year old students had mastered the art of cutting and twisting the pastry and so it should be no sweat for us.
It was then decided that it would be funny to try and gross me out with the weirdest mix of foods that would normally never get banded together – which turned out to be the list of both sweet and savory ingredients that I mentioned at the start of this post. Maybe it blended better than we thought, or maybe I’m just really weird and have broken taste buds but the final verdict was that it was bloody delicious! I struggled to understand why no one else there wanted to give it a try though! There’s something about merging essence of rum with mustard and garlic whilst topped with white chocolate and a healthy dollop of ice cream that just really get my juices flowing.
Okay, okay. Enough silliness. Wanna know something truly awesome about Sweet Release and why I rate them so highly?
The first AMAZING factoid about Sweet Release is that they offer free baking classes to anyone with an illness. Kristine’s story stems from a tough, life-threatening battle with Graves Disease and through a somewhat unlikely turnaround in her health condition which she proudly attributes to switching to a vegan diet. Now, thanks to Kristine’s generous initiative – others who are suffering from chronic illnesses can have their chance to learn how to bake, which is not only therapeutic but can act as a solid gateway for anyone wishing to transition into a sustainable vegan diet and hopefully in turn also reap the health benefits that come with it.
As if that wasn’t enough, the second AMAZING factoid about Sweet Release is that once a year they take on a part-time member of staff for six weeks, via an organisation called Active which runs as a support network for young disabled adults. Programs such as this are invaluable and offer disabled individuals the chance to learn through on-the-job training and to experience what it is like to be part of a team environment. I was so humbled to hear about Kristine’s commitment to such causes, despite her ever increasingly busy schedule, and it’s comforting to know that their are such kind souls out there who know the importance of inclusion for all. We need more Kristine’s!
Oh shit, I almost forgot to mention – the treats at Sweet Release are second to none. Don’t even get my started on their exceptional range of milkshakes… UGH… SO GOOD!
I’m not one for doing food reviews, as you all know, but if you ever find yourself in Wellington and want to try something new (non-vegans, don’t be scared… give it a go!) then head on over to Sweet Release on Willis Street and tell Kris that ‘Batman says hello’.
Sweet Release Facebook page —-> Click Here
Sweet Release Twitter —> Click Here
Follow Kris on Twitter —> Click Here