The Commons Street Feast

Friday night was the opening night of The Commons Street Feast and where were you Canberra? Perhaps you were busy with Christmas parties or perhaps the other half of you was oblivious to the fact that these awesome food trucks have set up a home in Canberra for the next 7 days. Either way, I was taken by surprise about how quiet the event was, especially on opening night.

We arrived 30 minutes before our butler service started so we could scout the area, checking out all the food vendors. This is essential to see what’s on offer and knowing what to promise your stomach later on. I was surprised to see the set up was so spread out. A lot of the vendors had barricades to zig zag a long line in anticipation of large crowds, there is a large funky pyramid in the middle (with different artworks on each side) pumping out music to the crowd and lots of picnic tables set up all over.

The Butlers

TimmyC is not a fan of lining up (in fact, who is?) and it is hard to time food well when you have dispersed to take on different lines. So I had preemptively booked a butler for my party of three in anticipation of the usual large crowds that flock to foodie events like this.We met our friendly butler Ben who was to look after us for the next two hours. The butler service had reserved tables under the shade of trees just right of the entrance but I explained to Ben that that would be no good for photos, especially with the sun setting soon. We found ourselves on a table next to the pyramid, in the centre of all that is happening and Ben asked if we wanted to walk around and browse the area and he could recommend things, but we explained that we had scouted the area and we knew what we wanted already, so let’s begin.

We had ordered dishes from three different vendors on his tablet (if it was a little busier it would have been quicker to order from one vendor at a time), we tapped our card and paid right there on the spot on his device and off he went. While we casually sat there and took in the atmosphere, Ben raced back with dishes from one vendor at a time in quick succession. For people who just wanted to sit, eat and take photos, this butler service was really working out for us!

Handy little contraption took our orders, printed receipts and allowed us to pay there at our table.

Our butler was super friendly and enthusiastic the entire time and when I asked him questions about vendors that only a food blogger would, he would race off and find the answer for me. At first I thought maybe 1 hour of the butler service would have been enough, but I’m a slow eater so I was definitely not rushed with 2 hours. Ben mentioned a lot of tables who have booked one hour didn’t get to try as much as they wanted.

Bao Stop

The first thing I wanted to eat was the Peking Duck fries that I wanted to pair eventually with TimmyC’s Mary’s burger. With the butler service this was able to happen, if two people were to line up in each line, you might have ended up with cold fries and a hot burger.

Peking Duck fries ($15.00). This was loaded with sauce and duck on top of crispy shoe string fries. I really enjoyed the pairing of the hoisin sauce to the chips and even when all the duck was eaten, I still liked eating the chips with shallots (maybe it’s the Asian in me).

Thai in a Box

Chicken pad thai ($13.00). This was definitely not my choice but my Mum said she wanted noodles that this was the only choice on site. She found it too sweet and didn’t finish it although it was served very hot and fast.

Mary’s

This was an exciting highlight for me when I read the vendors who were coming. Not knowing what to try first, we just chose the classic cheeseburger.Mary’s cheeseburger ($14.00). Mary’s had the longest lines but our butler came back pretty quickly with our order. I really enjoyed their soft buns, delicious beef patty and cheese but TimmyC found their patty a little small and that they were a little heavy handed with their sauces. I agreed but I still really liked it. TimmyC also mentioned that it reminded him of Grease Monkey. I wonder what their fried chicken tastes like…

Smokin’ Grill

After being intoxicated by the smell from their smokers, I sent Ben off to get me beef short ribs with slaw and corn chips ($20.00). He came with a with a blackened, pepper encrusted tender beef rib served with undressed slaw that cut through the pepper and meatiness of the rib. The meat was really nice but I thought that it was a little steep for the tiny serve that we got.

The Grace caravan

Mumsy was freezing by this point when the sun had set and it was unusually cold for this time of year. I sent Ben off on a mission to find her some hot tea, even if it was just to hold and gather some warmth. He found an assortment of teas from Grace caravan and Mumsy chose a lemongrass and ginger tea ($4.00) and while he was there he may as well grab that caramel slice that she had been eyeing off for $5.

Happy as Larry

I was starting to wonder if our butler was judging the amount of food that we were eating but that didn’t really stop us from ordering more. I was impressed with Happy as Larry’s split level set up carrying one massing looking wood fired oven and had to try one.Margherita San Marzano tomatoes, basil, fior di latte, extra virgin olive oil ($16.00). The pizza smelt really good but this was so hard to eat because everything other than the crust had no stable structural integrity. As soon as you went to pick up a slice, the topping would slide right off. Definitely not a first date food. I really enjoyed their ingredients, maybe if they had slightly thicker bases it wouldn’t be so sloppy.

De Wafel

De Traditional speculoos + whipped cream ($9.50). TimmyC could not help himself and had to order waffles while we were there. They had an ever so slight crunch to the exterior while being fairly soft and pancakey in the centre. I really liked the combination of toppings and will definitely be trying  crumbled speculoos at home.

Messina

Now this was the big reason why TimmyC wanted to go to The Commons. Messina has cleverly done a novelty take on an International Soup Kitchen with cute homage to Campbell’s canned soup packing to match. What was also very smart of them was everything was pre-made and frozen. All the server had to do was pop the lid and give you a spoon. I imagine lines for this place to be long in the coming days but it should be a quick run through as you’re given your can and spoon.Faux Pho salted coconut sorbet, kaffir lime marshmallow, lychee meringue, chilli cashew crunch ($9.00). At first I was confused if they had forgotten to add anything other than the coconut sorbet in my can as that was all I could taste, but if you delve deep in the depths of the can, on the very bottom was all the other goodies. I loved the heat from the crunch which was off set by the cooling coconut and I loved the kaffir lime mixed through it all. I chose this because I loved all these flavours (again perhaps it is the Asian from within) but I don’t know if I came across any lychee meringue in my spoonfuls.

American chow down peanut butter gelato, cream cheese gelato, oreo cookie crumbs, pretzel crunch ($9.00). TimmyC’s stronger affinity to sweetness meant he enjoyed this tin a lot more than I did, I found it a little OTT. They definitely had American flavours in there, it tasted very peanut buttery and chocolatey with crunchy textures.

Other stalls

It may come as a surprise to you that I didn’t get around to eating from all the vendors, but here are some photos of the other places. You might have also noticed that there are stalls missing (Fritto + co, Urban pasta etc) but apparently there will be around  7 food trucks that will be swapping over from around Wednesday. Ribbies barbecue weren’t able to open on the first night but were hoping to be ready for the weekend.

Yalla Yalla!

Vutu

Pact beer – Canberra represent!

Capital Brewing co. – Canberra represent!Pialligo Estate – Canberra represent!Sakura on wheelz

MeetThe One – Canberra represent!

Rolling schnitzel

Kransky Brothers – Canberra represent!

A special mention to these guys, they let me try some of their kransky it is sooooooooo good and reasonably priced. I’m going to get this next time.

Mantooth’s place

Keep your eye out on their events calendar, there are plenty of things to do like random karaoke, table tennis and Christmas carols. Also check out my previous post to see the opening hours and what you need to know.

Advertisements

Oliver Brown – Manuka

It seems like chocolate cafes are popping up faster than frozen yoghurt stalls (remember them? Where did they all go?) and the latest ones to open their franchising doors in Canberra are Oliver Brown now in three locations: Civic, Dickson and Manuka.

This is more a post so I remember the opening hours and not winging it like I did the other night when we drove here and weren’t sure if they’d still be open. Being a cold night most people opted for hot chocolates (starting from $5.50) which were apparently very tasty but I was swayed by their gelato thick shake ($8.00); I’m always on the look out for something resembling the thickness of the squishee from The Simpsons. I chose salted caramel as my gelato flavour and although it was thick, it didn’t have much of a salt flavour to enhance the caramel. I think they don’t store their gelato well and it is left with a sticky skin on the outside, when you see it you’ll know what I’m talking about. I think I’ll just stick with the hot chocolates.
Baked churros for two freshly baked upon order, sprinkled with cinnamon and icing sugar served with premium Belgium chocolate ($12.50). These take a little longer than the beverages but worth the wait because they are hot and slightly crispy. I wish whoever was serving us that night didn’t have such a heavy hand with the cinnamon though.

There is a lot of seating inside and out, you have to order and pay at the counter but the staff are super friendly and will bring your order to your table.Just remember they are opened 7 days and close at 11pm!

Venue: Oliver Brown (Manuka)

Address: 6a/1-18 Flinders Way, Manuka, ACT 2680

Phone: (02) 6181 8493

Opening hours: Monday – Friday 7am to 11pm

Saturday – Sunday 8am to 11pm

Click to add a blog post for Oliver Brown on Zomato

Frugii Dessert Laboratory

Today was a foodie’s dream as the highly anticipated Frugii Dessert Laboratory had finally opened their doors. I had watched throughout the day as my news feed and Instagram account was covered in photos of a gorgeous cake cabinet filled with interesting looking desserts and I day dreamed about what I would get when I got there.2015/01/img_8615.jpgI had arranged with my friends to meet at the Hamlet at 6:30pm, we did the adult thing and got dinner first which was our first mistake. After eating my dinner at a record-breaking pace of 30 minutes (which is a huge deal for me) we whisked off to Frugii after hearing rumours that cakes were quickly disappearing.

The more experienced foodies such as Michelle from HerCanberra had dessert first and then later on went to the Hamlet for dinner. She’s a smart girl, but even just after 6pm when she went there were only two types of cakes left.

Rumours were true but one cake is definitely better than zero2015/01/img_8627.jpgThere we were at the back of the line which then quickly turned into the middle of the line as other people joined the queue. I looked at the cake cabinet and there were only three slices left of one type of cake, I felt a little nervous as there was several people in front of us including another fellow food blogger ‘In the Taratory‘. Another cake was taken, now with two people in front of me I held my breath praying that they wanted ice-cream and not cake… Phew! They bee lined straight towards the ice cream.

We’re getting closer to the counter!2015/01/img_8604.jpgI greeted John with a very big smile, ‘one piece of cake please’ I said proudly when I realise the people in front didn’t want cake. Despite being busy John didn’t mind chatting to us while we were being served and he was making us coffee on his gorgeous machine, he and Ed are always so friendly and I’m glad to see they were still like that even after a long busy day which was not over yet.

The very lovely couple John and Ed hard at work keeping up with the demand of their delectable product. I love your new hairstyle btw John!2015/01/img_8611.jpgA strong latte ($3.00 based on mathematics). This was deliberately made strong by request which meant the coffee was slightly bitter but it was very smooth TimmyC described.2015/01/img_8626.jpgFrugii cake pumpkin and olive oil sponge with a strawberry and raspberry jelly, champagne mousse topped off with a white chocolate glaze ($6.00). I couldn’ taste all the complexity of the cake in one mouthful. When broken up in its separate components I could taste the flavours (although I wouldn’t have been able to pick pumpkin and olive oil) but altogether the dominant flavours were the jelly and mousse with a subtle white chocolate after taste. I wish the jelly wasn’t so stiff as it made the cake a little harder to cut downwards with a spoon.

The dessert I really wanted to try was the choux pastry with the lemon lime and bitters.2015/01/img_8608.jpgSmall tub of ice cream ($5.00). We had asked for chocolate and vanilla and it was serendipitous that John accidentally gave us chocolate and pistachio. Pistachio was absolutely delightful and I’m going to add it to my list of ‘favourites’. My friend also got a small tub which consisted of the very popular salted butter caramel and cookies and cream. I’m not the biggest fan of cookies and cream with its usual chunky texture with stale cookies but this had no chunks of cookies but a beautiful blended cookie flavour, yum!2015/01/img_8614.jpgBig tub of ice cream ($10.00). My friend tried lemon myrtle and we all agreed it was nice. This tub could seriously fit a lot of ice cream.

My friend had eaten a fair chunk of his ice cream before I remembered to take a photo.2015/01/img_8617-0.jpgThere is limited seating but it is a very cute design and use of space.2015/01/img_8619.jpgThere is not distinct sign at the front of the Ori building but that didn’t matter, apparently everyone eventually found their way inside. If you don’t know where he is, you have to look for this funky black building on Lonsdale Street. I hear it is cash only at this point(?).2015/01/img_8621.jpgIt’s amazing, Frugii only opened their doors at midday and before 8pm they had gone from 8 types of cakes/dessert down to one and then quickly none.

I wish John and Ed the very best and they will definitely be seeing me more often!2015/01/img_8625.jpg

Venue: Frugii Dessert Laboratory

Address30 Lonsdale St Braddon, ACT

Phone: 0438 366 368

Websitewww.frugii.com/

Opening hours: Wednesday – Sunday 12pm – 11pm

Frugii Dessert Laboratory on Urbanspoon

The Forage

To keep me happy and distracted, TimmyC took me to The Forage out in Hangar #47 that was on today between 3 – 8pm . He is so sweet to me.IMG_7169.JPGNothing perks me up more than a market and a variety of food. I haven’t been out to The Forage since they have moved out to the Hangar but now there is a lot more space to move around, 2000 car parks and access to ATMs. I think it is an improvement to being squished in the New Acton area.

Pop up barber shop, how cute!IMG_7170.JPG

 Mr. PapaIMG_7145.JPG

Chanchito Peruvian pork belly sandwich with sweet potato ($12.00). We added extra sauces to all that tasty pork belly which was all melty in our mouths. I thought it was funny when the gorgeous server looked at TimmyC and I when passing our food and said “Hey I was in your house!“, hahahaha. This never disappoints me.IMG_7155.JPGChicken wings ‘Alitas’ ($10.00). These were really tender and the sauce complimented the lovely smokey flavour really well.IMG_7149.JPGInca Kola. Carlos was sweet enough to treat us to a couple of Inca Kolas which washed everything down really nicely.IMG_7147.JPG

NookieIMG_7141.JPG

Iced Chocolate ($7.00). It was a little bit of an extortion price (like everything else) for something that was mainly ice but it did the trick of being refreshing without being overly sweet which is what I really wanted.IMG_7177.JPG

Maple and Bacon glazed doughnut ($4.00). This sounds OTT and crazy but it was really nice. The maple sweetness was evident but not too sweet and the doughnut had a really nice texture without being oily.IMG_7159.JPG

Gelato Joe’s

Two scoops mango and strawberry ($7.50). I was hesitant to try their gelato as their store left me really disappointed before they shut down, they had really gritty textures to their product. This time the texture of the gelato was much smoother but the flavour themselves were slightly disappointing, I think Frugii has ruined me for life. I tasted mango, strawberry, salted caramel with macadamia and Cassata Siciliana.

IMG_7174.JPG

IMG_7176.JPG

Street Bites

This guy’s shirt made me giggle. I appreciated the display food because you then know what you’re expecting.IMG_7167.JPG

Fried calamari tempura calamari with shallots, chilli and Asian rock salt ($10.00). The calamari pieces were crispy and the thicker pieces weren’t too tough and chewy. It had good flavours of salt, shallots and chilli but eating the whole thing without sharing would have been too oily.IMG_7161.JPG

Strawberries ‘n’ cream vanilla soft serve combined with frozen strawberry yoghurt topped with fresh strawberries and whipped cream, coulis and mint ($9.00). After being disappointed with Gelato Joe’s, TimmyC was hoping to finish on a high and was wanting a second dessert so he went back to Street Bites to get this. The flavours were the perfect marriage, I don’t recall tasting any mint in it though, maybe they forgot about it. The strawberries were very sweet and all of it was gobbled up before it melted.

They also had other indulgences sweets like chocolate sundae, sticky date pudding and banana split.

Honourable mentions

I wish I had a chance to try these other places, maybe next time but their stuff looked amazing,

IMG_7143.JPG

IMG_7172.JPGThere was also New York Minute, Dinner rush and a pork place that I didn’t take a photo of but I wanted to try.

I like their new location and I look forward to many more delicious adventures out at The Forage.IMG_7178.JPG

 

Cow and the Moon

Our friends had been telling us for years to go to Cow and the Moon but whenever we dined in Newtown, we get excessively full and can’t fit any more in.  So this time, we decided to have gelato as our ‘meal’ so we could definitely fit it in. Since Cow and the Moon won best gelato in the world, yes the WORLD(!) with their flavour Mandorla affogato, everyone else also had the same idea on this gorgeous (border lining hot) Spring day.

It can be a a bit daunting when you see the line but it didn’t take too long to zoom through to the front (15-20 minutes?).IMG_5289.JPGCow and the Moon has been around for ages but only now is it getting recognition for their delicious gelato.IMG_5291.JPGA window glimpse into the future, we are getting closer!IMG_5290.JPGI love their upcycled tin holding gorgeous poppys.IMG_5292.JPGThey also have other sweets and cakes but I don’t think anyone is here for that.IMG_5294.JPG

IMG_5293.JPGA price list for cups, drinks and take home packs.IMG_5295.JPGYou would not believe what happened next, you couldn’t even make this stuff up, but the last of Mandorla affogato was scooped up by the person who was served just before me. I gave a hopeful look to my server and asked if there was any left but she informed me that there was going to be a 20 minute wait til the next batch was ready. Tim wasn’t willing to wait (or line up again), so I had to go with a quick plan B.

I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time, I was disappointed with the lack of Mandorla affogato but I didn’t want to taste test replacement flavours so I just chose names of gelato flavours that I would think I would like. It was slightly frustrating not having a menu on the wall and having to actively bustle through the crowd to get a glance of the other flavours but we managed to get an interesting array. Other interesting flavours that I did not get to try included: baby beets, which had a gorgeous colour, pomegranate and strawberry and balsamic vinegar.IMG_5296-0.JPGThe flavours I was able to taste were banana and salted caramel; vanilla; sticky date and merango tango. All the gelato flavours were smooth, creamy and sweet but the one that really stood out for me (which I didn’t think I would like) was the banana and salted caramel. I felt that the other flavours were sweet but not identifiable as their stated flavour.IMG_5300.JPGFor those who follow my instagram and read my blog regularly, you know that I went back to try my luck with Mandorla affogato again. The line was much shorter on a week day but still very busy since it was the school holidays. Mum and I were browsing the flavours and I had noticed that the flavour choices had changed. I held my breath when once again, just inches away the empty stainless steel tray where the Mandorla affogato once was, was taken away. Before I could even start to pout, it was replaced with a full tray straight away. Phew! That was close.

I also chose dulce de leche as my other flavour, again it was sweet but not distinguishable. Mandorla affogato really stole the show. The coffee flavours were strong and smooth but was complimented by the sweetness of the caramelised almonds which also brought the texture to another level.IMG_5390.JPGIs it worth the line up? Well no one likes to line up for things but it was really good if you like coffee/almond/caramel flavours. Mum and I personally really enjoyed it. Other people may not have enjoyed their flavours and complained that it was all hyped and not worth waiting for, but what you need to remember is that a particular flavour won the world’s best gelato and it just happened to be made in Newtown, Sydney, you can’t just taste any willy nilly flavour from Cow and the Moon and then disregard the competition results when you didn’t eat the Mandorla affogato *end rant*.

Venue: Cow and the Moon

Address181 Enmore Road Enmore, NSW

Phone: 02 9557 4255

Cow & The Moon Artisan Gelato on Urbanspoon

That Gelato Place re-run

It’s always hard to explain where I went for dessert and I answer with ‘that gelato place‘, it makes me sound obnoxious and vague but that is really what it’s called. Now with different opening hours during Winter, my friend and I were able to squeeze in before they closed after dinner at Ming’s.

They stock a large range of award-winning Pure Gelato gelato. I tasted a few flavours that I thought I would like but upon tasting them I didn’t like their interpretation. I ended up choosing white chocolate and hazelnut while my friend couldn’t help herself but get the waffles with tiramisu gelato.

See my previous post two years ago (wow, that was ages ago!) here.

Waffle with a scoop of tiramisu gelato and chocolate topping. The smell of freshly made waffle started to fill the store and seduced other patrons into getting one also. The waffle wasn’t cooked long enough and it was more like a pancake molded into a shape rather than a crispy waffle.
20140712-202853-73733503.jpg1 scoop of white chocolate and hazelnut gelato. I had tried several flavours and I started to feel bad for trying so many but there wasn’t one where I was like ‘wow I must have more’ so I just chose the one that I liked the most from my samples.20140712-202855-73735004.jpgThese are the new Winter hours.20140712-202852-73732064.jpgIt’s nice to have something like this on the south side.

 

il carnivale do Gelato Messina – twisted hotdog

20140119-175431.jpg

Yeeeah dawgs! A twisted hot dog – milk chocolate gelato hot dog, served in a warm finger bun with essential condiments passionfruit ‘mustard’, raspberry ‘ketchup’ and buttercream ‘mayo’ and coconut ‘onions’. Definitely played tricks on my mind. #gelato #messina #sydney #willywonkastyle #carnivalfun #food @gelatomessina #foodie #foodblog #hotdog