Bread Nerds- complete with map!

——-25/07/2012——-

If you build it, they will come.

Even if it’s off the beaten track. Well actually it is a new road out in Hume so new it isn’t even on the google maps yet, so you could understand the frustration of how to find it. That bagel place sell bagels at the Kingston markets and my friend sent me a flyer that they had opened a cafe called Bread nerds. Once you hear about somewhere new, it seems to pop up everywhere! Later that week I read the Canberra times article and saw yummy pictures from Corridor Kitchen’s blog.

Fancy looking coffee machine but Timmy said it was just average coffee.

A cute small space with so many different options of bread, bagels and baked goods.

Also a variety of hot food.

‘Everything is made on premises’ I was assured after asking where their sausage rolls were from. Despite a long list of pie and sausage roll flavours, including butter chicken, chicken mornay, beef and chilli and pork and fennel, they only had “plain” of each that morning.

I asked the assistant which was better, the sausage roll or the pie and she told me that she was a vegetarian for 6 years and the sausage rolls changed that. It was really nice meaty sausage roll ($4.00) and you could tell it was home made with hidden vegetables inside the mixture. I didn’t even need sauce!

Cinnamon and sultana bagel and cheese bagel- the bagel had a nice crunch to the outside whilst still be soft and fluffy in the middle. I haven’t had many encounters with bagels but my friend said that she could make better.

It was around 9am when we ordered the strawberry and rhubarb danish ($3.90) and when I took my first bite, the custard was still slightly warm, the pastry was soooooo good being really crunchy and flaky. One of the best pastries I’ve had in a while- amazing!

Coffee eclair– a strong coffee cream flavour, despite the messy imperfect glaze, the choux pastry was very fresh and tasty.

Past the food van in a big red building, Unit #4. I hope you find it!

Despite the odd location and hours, I look forward to many more visits out to Bread nerds to try all their interesting pie flavours and delicious baked goods.

Venue: Bread Nerds Artisan Bakers

Address: 4/92 Sawmill cct, Hume, ACT 2620

Phone: (02) 62602062

Opening Times: Monday – Friday 7:00 – 15:00

Bread Nerds on Urbanspoon

$10 Lunch specials @ Blu Ginger

——-24/07/2012——-

Don’t underestimate the power of advertisement. I had been hearing that Blu Ginger was doing $10 lunch specials in the radio to celebrate their 12th Anniversary. One day (even though I had a packed lunch) something snapped and I suddenly had an irrational need for naan, so I grabbed a friend and off we went.

There were a variety of $10.00 specials, some banquets and a little bit more expensive express lunches. 

We both chose the same, a ‘Just for me curry expresswith desi chicken as the chicken curry of the day (I was under the impression you could choose the chicken curry otherwise I would have had butter chicken) served with a fresh salad, rice, papadums, garlic naan and complimentary sweet corn pumpkin soup ($10.00).

Turns out the complimentary soup was really tomato soup, it was still very tasty served nice and hot with really crispy croutons.

Don’t be fooled by the photo, the bowl was only this big (using cutlery for scale).

The desi chicken is a home style chicken curry made with chef’s own recipe. It was a lovely curry with a nice spicy chilli kick to it, I could eat it with lots of rice and naan and my chilli tolerance is pretty low.

Four pieces of nice hot garlic naan each.

With the promise of being served within 10minutes of seating, we were in and out just under an hour which is pretty good considering that includes my slow eating habits. Every time I go, the staff have always been really friendly.

Hurry this $10.00 lunch special is only on for the month of July.

Venue: Blu Ginger

Address: 5 Genge St, Civic, Canberra 

Phone: (02) 62472228

Websitehttp://www.bluginger.com.au/

Blu Ginger on Urbanspoon

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas (in July!)

——-20/07/2012——-

My friend was nice enough to organise a Christmas in July with a Turducken and all the trimmings at his house this year. We don’t get cold Christmases in Canberra, but logically July is the best time to eat lots of hearty food, a big roast and be merry with friends and alcohol. He offered my help in the kitchen before hand (how nice of him ), but lucky for him I wanted before and after pictures of the beast that is the Turducken

Proving that Christmas decorations are useful more than once a year.

The supplier recommended that an average 4.5kg turducken will feed 17-22 people, we weren’t going to believe that for a second, even for 12 people I was iffy if it a 4kg sized Turducken was going to fill all of us. 

Let the 4.5hours of cooking begin! A 4kg Turducken with apricot and hazelnut stuffing ($100).

Going from snacks to getting ready for dinner.

A cross-section photo of the layered roast. I could tell what was duck meat but wasn’t quite sure where the turkey ended and the chicken began. The stuffing was really nice but I was surprised we didn’t choose the apple and bacon rasher stuffing albeit we didn’t really need to throw another animal in the mix. The 4kg roast fed all of us (admittedly not everyone there was keen on trying it-here’s looking at you Mrs. Gordo) with a little bit to spare.

A lovely variety of sides, vegetables and salads- a delicious golden brown potato and sweet potato bake with bacon(!), pan roasted vegetables, roast potato with garlic, lemon and thyme, roast pumpkin, fetta, pumpkin and almond salad and a rocket and parmesan salad.

I had to try one of everything and hoped it all fit on one plate (eventually everything was drizzled with gravy). Everything was really nice and I ate it all but when I got home I thought to myself, did I eat any duck? I might not have tried all the layers of the Turducken, proving once again that great company comes before good food. We were all having such a fabulous time that I forgot about eating all of the most important guest of the evening.

Desserts~

Sticky date pudding- The perfect cold weather dessert, drizzled in a delectable caramel sauce. If I didn’t eat so much pastry and chips before hand I would have had a bigger slice!

Blueberry cheesecake – I was so impressed by the non cracked, high walled biscuit crumb baked cheesecake using fresh blueberries that I began salivating over it before dinner. Made more impressive by that fact that a guy made it all by himself. Sorry ladies, he is taken.  The cheesecake was very very smooth with the perfect amount of base. I am torn whether to ask for a recipe or just get him to make it over and over again. 

Vanilla slice- presentation wise, this didn’t compare to the other desserts, but it was full of vanilla beans and who doesn’t enjoy velvety smooth warm custard with pastry.

I was impressed that we were able to oven rotate between so many things- the turducken, bread rolls, pastries, nibbles, vegetables and potato bake and that everything came out on time.

Our turducken was already made and prepared with a variety of stuffings available from Jordo’s Chop Shop. Ordering was made very simple by the fact that if you spend over $75 delivery is free! I want to try the POLAMBEF next!

Turducken supplierhttp://www.jordoschopshop.com/

From their website:

Jordo’s Chop Shop is the official home of the turducken in Canberra!

What All Is This Nonsense? A turducken is a mystical Christmas turkey (available year round) that is stuffed with a duck, the duck is then stuffed with a chicken and the chicken is stuffed with your choice of either our most popular apple and bacon rasher stuffing, our apricot and hazelnut stuffing or our new gluten-free traditional sage and onion stuffing. 

Note: We only use free-range birds to make our turduckens. The whole turducken is boneless with the exception of the turkey’s legs and wings that remain bone-in for aesthetic purposes. Available all year round (not just Christmas week).

Now also available: POLAMBEF! pork, lamb and beef roll, the new frontier in roasting madness.

——-10/06/2012——-

I didn’t take the sign too seriously when it claimed to have the best pies in Merimbula, but the cheese and bacon pie was so good we came back the next morning to have them for breakfast! I also ate the curry pie and it was better than most.  

Venue: Bakehouse Merimbula

Address: Alice St , Merimbula, NSW 2548 

The bakehouse on Urbanspoon

Grapevine Pizza Restaurant

——-09/06/2012——-

The Grapevine Pizza Restaurant came highly recommended by some friends that we bumped into during the Jazz Festival in Merimbula. Coincidentally enough when we went in for lunch, we bumped into the same friends who just finished eating. At least they put their recommendation where their mouth is.

Ned Kellytender beef, sliced capsicum, onions sprinkled with mozzarella cheese (small $17.90) the pizza had generous topping portions with a tasty crust. I didn’t think it was anything special but it did fill the spot and I left feeling satisfied. Maybe I didn’t order the right topping flavour?

Trying new drinks and odd looking Coke can sizes.

It may be considered expensive for a pizza considering all the franchised pizza restaurants are so competitive with their prices, but the Grapevine Pizza restaurant is a locally owned restaurant who makes their own bases (gluten free bases are bought).

Venue: Grapevine Pizza Restaurant

Address: 2/2 Market Street, Merimbula NSW, Australia

Phone: (02) 6495 1119

Website: http://www.merimbulagrapevinepizza.com/

Smiles all round at the Cranky cafe

——-09/06/2012——-

A few years ago I went to the Handmade markets and found some interesting jams and the best lemon curd I’ve eaten by Cranky pants. Since then I’ve been to the Handmade markets in search of Cranky pants only to discover that they don’t go there anymore  and they have now opened a cafe in Merimbula NSW called the Cranky Cafe. When we planned our trip to the South Coast, I made sure I was going to drop by.

From their website:

We make all our own cakes, slices, biscuits and desserts. Nothing is bought in it is all made from scratch on site. Our food style is a mix of old style cafe/bistro with contemporary influence and modern fusion styles.

Our layout is relaxed and informal with plenty of outside seating to take advantage of the wonderful Sapphire Coast weather. We are a dog friendly cafe with drinking water for pooches outside.”  

A lot of tempting cakes but I was too full. The key lime pie caught my eye though, I definitely want to come back and try these,.

Jackpot! What I was here for, a variety of delicious jams, sauces and pickles

My favourites include-

Smoky caramelised onions: it is great on pizzas and steaks.

Zingy strawberry jam: seems like a regular jam at first then has a mildly hot gingery aftertaste.

Lemon curd: I’ve directly compared them to other locally made produce and you can taste the difference. Fabulous with fresh warm scones.

A quick in and out visit to stock up on my favourite items but the staff were really friendly and helpful. It isn’t really near anything but a beach but definitely worth a visit.

Venue: Cranky cafe

Address: corner of Ocean Drive and Marine Parade in the Merimbula precinct called Fish Pen

Phone: (02) 64952736

Websitehttp://store.crankypants.biz/

Cranky Cafe on Urbanspoon

Vicolo Merimbula

——-08/06/2012——-

We headed down to the south coast for the long weekend and because we arrived late we were going to just order dessert but when I found out that Vicolo weren’t open for lunch, we had to make room in our stomachs and order dinner too.

The bar was well stocked with fresh herbs, fruits and alcohol. We got a gin and tonic and a fruity mocktail and we weren’t disappointed.

When I checked Urbanspoon for a good place to eat in Merimbula, Vicolo had a 100% like rate, not a bad place to start. I heard suggestions to get the pork belly and who doesn’t love pork belly.

Twice cooked pork belly with rosemary honey jus with chat potatoes, red cabbage and onion chilli jam ($29.00) There was a lot of stuff going on on this plate and I couldn’t finish all the vegetables. I was disappointed to find that the skin wasn’t crispy and it was a bit chewy. I would like to think that this was just a ‘bad batch’.

Crab meat, squid, garlic, chilli, white wine and fresh herb linguine ($28.00) It was a huge portion and probably not the most well plated but it was good and we finished every last bit. 

Share plate taste of all desserts ($20.00) Beautifully presented and we didn’t know where to start, so we just started sampling from left to right.

Sorbet– individually scooped and portioned when it was frozen so when it was served, the sorbet really cold and refreshing. The flavours were really good and acted as a good palette cleanser. 

Individual tiramisu– this had a reeeeeeally strong coffee taste, almost overwhelming.

Vanilla bean panna cotta with a fruit salad– a perfect wobbly panna cotta with a tasty fruit salad, possibly my favourite dessert on the platter.

Chocolate tart with berry compote– This was a RICH dark chocolate tart. I had to take little bites with panna cotta in between.

With very friendly staff and all the locals eating here, it is a sure sign that this restaurant is doing very well and will prosper in this small coastal town. There were many things I wanted to try on the menu and I hope to come back and get the opportunity to do so.

Venue: Vicolo

Address: Shop 6, 11 Merimbula Drive, Merimbula NSW 2548

Phone: (02) 6495 2662

Websitehttp://www.vicolomerimbula.com.au/

Vicolo Merimbula on Urbanspoon

A sweet spot for Bharat International

——-07/06/2012——-

I know Indians can make a damn good curry and I know that they definitely can dance but who knew they make really good  desserts  too! My friend introduced me to Bharat International spice and sweet centre a few years ago and now when I go in the manager recognises my face. 

Mango lassi ($3.00) One of the better tasting lassis that I have had and it isn’t too runny. I always get one just in case my mouth can’t hack the curry that I’ve just ordered. It’s  hard to buy lassi when I have just started making a lot of my own (it is so easy!), I’ll have to share the recipe with you guys soon.

Samosas ($2.50) It might be considered a little dry to some but the delicious tamarind sauce sure makes up for it!

Kadi with rice ($6.95) You can really taste all the different spices in this dish but I prefer choley as a vegetarian option.

Butter chicken and rice ($7.50) Not the best butter chicken (I’ve had the best in Canberra!) but still a great steal at $7.50.

Choley Bhature (2 puffed bread with chick pea curry) $6.95 served 11:30am – 3:00pm. I have eaten a lot of different breads in my time- naan, roti, paratha, chapati but never have I seen “puffed bread”, these babies come out looking like footballs eventually deflating down to a flat bread, it can be a little oily but it tastes so good! The curry is also really good, all the chilli component is more in the condiments under the bread.

It’s not called a sweets centre for nothing. Usually at an Indian restaurant you would see gulab jamun or your typical vanilla ice-cream with some topping but never did I imagine that there are such a variety in Indian desserts. A lot of them are very sweet, are either made from milk products or cheese and from what my friend tells me about the laborious process  of making these sweets, it is much easier to buy them!

I haven’t tried everything, but I am a big fan of burfi– not too sweet but I still take little bites. Jalebi– bright orange and fried dripping with sticky syrup and it is very sweet, I usually take a bite every few hours so I don’t come off my sugar high. Rasmalai– a mildy sweet cheese dessert in a very aromatic milky sauce and who doesn’t love a gulab jamun!

Burfi– almond and cashew and chocolate oh my!

Rasmalai

And of course they have the famous gulab jamun, beautifully warmed too.

I find the staff very friendly and patient as I stare up at the lit sign for a long time trying to decide what I want. To me it seems very authentic to see all these options you wouldn’t usually get in an Indian restaurant in terms of curries and desserts. They have a very casual dining area but when you’re here for a quick cheap lunch it is decent enough.

They stock so many spices, oils, rice and religious items, you are bound to find what you’re looking for at Bharat International, so while you are waiting for your food you can conveniently go shopping.

Venue: Bharat International spice and sweet centre

Address: 1/17-23 Oatley Court Belconnen ACT 2617

Phone: (02) 6251 0455

Opening hours: Open 7 days

Monday: 10:30am – 3:00pm

TuesdaySunday 10:30am – 8:00pm

Bharat International on Urbanspoon

Hey, I’m looking to treat my parents to a really nice dinner that ideally won’t be to expensive – Would you recommend anywhere in particular? Thanks!

Hi Ana-hearts,

I guess it depends on what your idea of expensive is, does it have to be dinner, will you go anywhere for food and do you have the Entertainment book?

Fine dining wise-

Courgette are currently having a $75pp for four courses dinner deal or a $55pp for three courses for lunch.

Lake George winery has a beautiful open dining room overlooking the lake but I haven’t eaten there before, but you can wine taste while you’re out there.

Lark Hill great wines and have somewhat recently opened a restaurant, I haven’t eaten there before, but you can wine taste while you’re out there but it’s only available for lunch though.

The Flint at the Vines, I haven’t been out there before but if it was anything like the Flint @ New Acton it is definitely worth going to and it’s also on the Entertainment book card

Grazing – great food, probably easier to drive to during the day and if it’s good weather you can wander through their veggie patch. Also on the Entertainment book card

Pod food- Have fixed prices for their menu two courses for $55 or three courses for $68. Also on the Entertainment book card.

Versatile- bookings only, I’ve tried several times to get in, I should stop trying booking the day of. They have 1 Course: $35, 2 Courses $50 and 3 Courses $60 


more Ala-carte with no set prices on their courses-

Ellacure- I recently went here for my birthday, it gets very busy but their food was really good.

La Cantina– one of my most favourite restaurants in Canberra, erring towards the side of a wee bit $$ but really great pasta (well the one that I had at least) and mains with a really warming atmosphere.

There are a ton of other restaurants I could recommend but they might be considered more of a ‘good for value’ or not really for a special occasion. Let me know on what you decide and if you still need help there are still many more restaurants I can rattle off. ^_^

Brunch @ Urban Pantry

——-03/06/2012——-

Some friends and I decided to meet up for a lovely Sunday brunch. We had been to Urban pantry before (also for brunch) and thoroughly enjoyed their great menu and awesome coffee, so logically that’s where we wanted to go again. 

Everyone else had the same idea too.

Coffee was really good the last time we came, so much so that everyone got seconds. It wasn’t great today which was a shame.  My friend got a coffee so bad that she sent it back and the new one only came back mildy better. Timmy’s flat white was weak and fairly milky.

Free range eggs benedict with bacon and hollandaise sauce ($19.80) A delicious sauce with eggs poached to perfection but alas we found the bread really ‘tough’ and hard to chew.

Sour dough bread (no butter) with grilled tomatoes and mushrooms. More hard bread with simple sides.

Ricotta pancakes with bacon & maple ($17.60) This was perfect for me- sweetness of tasty pancakes with the saltiness of delicious bacon. Served nice and hot too. 

Staff were really polite and attentive. They did come to our table several times with coffee orders that weren’t ours, but that is easily forgivable when they are so smiley and nice. 

I really want to come back and try their dinner and I think that’s when I’ll make my Entertainment card worth while.

Venue: Urban pantry

Address: 5 Bougainville St, Griffith ACT 2603

Phone: (02) 6162 3556

Websitehttp://urban-pantry.com.au/

Entertainment card: Yes, it’s on there!

Urban Pantry on Urbanspoon

Ellacure

——-02/06/2012——-

It has been a few years since I’ve been to Ellacure and it hasn’t changed much- I still got lost getting there, it’s still very busy with delicious food and a fantastic menu that is hard to choose just one thing from.

We thought we had it well timed, 2:30pm high tea and an 8:30pm dinner, we didn’t count on being so full after so many scrumptious cakes and pastries. Despite all of us saying how full we were and how we were just going to have one course as opposed to three, after looking at the menu, it didn’t take that much arm twisting to convince us to have three anyway.   

The hustle and bustle of the dining room even after 9pm.

Entrees~

Rosemary and sea salt pizza crust with garlic, pesto and olive spreads ($9.00) A nice variety of spreads but I was surprised to find the garlic one so sweet.

Twice cooked pork belly with apple and mint salsa ($18.00) The salsa was really nice and the pork wasn’t too fatty, the only disappointing thing was that the skin wasn’t really crispy.

Salt and pepper calamari, rocket and parmesan aioli ($17.00) I found the calamari to be small short fragmented pieces but the aioli was nice and it was the perfect parmesan to rocket ratio.

Creative salad(vegan $10.00) We let the chefs have creative control to develop a vegan salad. A nice mixture of pear, nuts, tomato, rocket topped with an oil dressing.

Mains~

Grilled lamb cutlets, parmesan polenta, smoked tomato chutney, rocket and feta ($34.00). My friend really enjoyed her lamb cutlets and she said they were grilled to perfection.

Spaghetti with baby spinach, cherry tomato, olives, capers and chilli (vegan $22.00). The pasta was a little oily but overall still very nice.

Specials~

Slow cooked lamb shanks on top of potato mash and a bed of lentils ($31.00). Really tender shanks but my friends found bits of it too fatty, other than that they cleaned it to the bone.

Beef eye fillet with blue vein cheese sauce on a bed of mashed potato ($36.00). I know mashed potato might not be special to some, but when done right my heart just melts. It was served hot (<which never happens) with a lovely texture.

It takes a lot to please me when I eat a steak at a restaurant, I’ve eaten plenty of $50.00+ steaks being very disappointed. I really enjoyed this dish from the steak to the mash and surprisingly (because I don’t usually eat blue vein cheese), the sauce!

A friend was kind enough to bring a beautiful cake from Patisserie New York

New Orleans Caramel Gooey Chocolate Cake- Southern classic flavours, moist tender chocolate sponge, layered and iced with toffied caramel and finished with caramel chocolate ganache. Delicious, thanks Mellie!

The staff were extremely friendly and attentive despite also being very busy. Great food, the only thing I can suggest is to book to avoid disappointment. I want to come back to try their brunch menu (and eat more of their food in general).

Venue: Ellacure

Address: Corner of Braybrooke and Battye Street, Bruce ACT 2617

Phone: (02) 6251 0990

Websitehttp://ellacure.com.au/

Opening hours: Lunch & Dinner 7 Days. Weekend Brunch from 8

Ellacure Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon