California cafe

TimmyC has had a deep love for waffles ever since he came back from his America trip, so when I heard that there was a ‘takeaway diner’ in Mawson I took him there immediately. California Cafe has joined the many other cafes that have popped in recent years which has made Mawson a hive of activity and a location full of choice. Not as many cafes are open on a Sunday but luckily the diner was. TimmyC is a bit of a snob when it comes to waffles, he dislikes pre-made rock hard ones (but who doesn’t) and would prefer them to have deep wells so all the syrup and ice cream catch in the pockets.

There were waffles and pancakes on the breakfast menu served with bacon, banana and maple syrup, so TimmyC was set; although it was early I felt like a cheeseburger from this diner. We went to order at the counter and TimmyC’s first question was “do you make the waffles in-house?”, the waitress answered no, “do you make the pancakes from batter?” which I thought was a stupid question until it was also met with a ‘no’; he opted for an eggs benedict instead.The cake cabinet should have been my first clue not to eat here, can you see the huge chunks of carrot in the carrot cake?While we were waiting for our food, the woman next to us had ordered the waffles and she was super excited when three thick store-bought waffles topped with bacon and banana was placed in front of her. I had noticed that she shared some with her Mum and even then they only finished half a waffle each which meant there was plenty still left on the plate after they left.Caramel thick shake ($7.00). We watched them make this and it had tonnes of ice-cream in it and there was just enough topping without making me feel sick. YUM!Coffee (lge ($4.00). TimmyC said it was okay coffee. They also serve a ‘jumbo’ size here.Eggs benedict eggs with bacon on a sour dough roll with hollandaise sauce ($14.90). The hollandaise was nice enough but still tasted like it was bottled sauce and I’m a bit confused as to why there were unseasoned chips on the plate. A very underwhelming breakfast when I promised TimmyC waffles from a diner. I don’t see exactly what the kitchen is cooking when the sauce is from a jar, the waffles and pancakes are store-bought and the chips are from frozen packets.The plates that they serve on are massive.Cheeseburger with fries ($8.90). I was really disappointed with my burger, it was an okay patty drowned in tomato sauce and mustard topped with a plastic (at least melted) slice of cheese. Don’t get me wrong, I love plastic cheese but I couldn’t taste much of anything other than mustard and tomato sauce. The chips were hot and seasoned with something that I couldn’t pick, it reminded me of mamee noodle snacks. The thick shake helped with washing the acidity of the sauces from my mouth.

I couldn’t taste anything other than sauce.  The diner was getting busy with lots of staff from neighbouring business coming in for takeaway so some people obviously enjoy the food here but with so much better choices in the area, I won’t be coming back.

Venue: California Cafe

Address: 4 Southlands Shopping Centre, Mawson ACT 2607

Opening hours:

Monday – Friday 7:30am – 8:00pm

Saturday – Sunday (and public holidays) 8:00am – 3:00pm
The California Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Ricardo’s re-run

I was having a complete brain fart moment over the weekend.

I guess you could categorize me as a foodie and after my experience of being one of the 101 humans, you’d think I would know how to show off Canberra but I felt the pressure build when my Mum informed me that she was coming down to visit with some family friends for a day trip and I should choose somewhere for lunch.

Her specifications were not too fancy, not Brodburger (my sister and I always drag her there) and it had to be in a convenient location as we drove around taking them to Canberra’s landmarks and iconic buildings. I also didn’t want to take them to an Asian restaurant, after all they are from Hong Kong and Sydney, I don’t think Canberra could ever compare on price and quality. My brain froze, it just couldn’t cope with choosing somewhere and I delayed making a decision until the morning of their arrival, a dangerous move considering I wanted no waiting time or a reservation. That morning, my sister and her cute little family decided to also tag along which meant adding a pram into consideration, then a light bulb went off and I knew exactly where to go.

Not only does Ricardo’s in Jamison cook up fabulous lunch options and breakfast (I’m not the keenest on their cakes though *gasp* shock horror) but prams and children almost seem mandatory. They are ridiculously family friendly and when I rang that morning to book a table for 7 adults and a pram, they were happy to oblige.

Clockwise starting from top left.
Specials board~ Cauliflower, parmesan and potato soup ($15.90). A warming soup with all my favourite things. I’m not the biggest fan of focaccia and wasn’t going to eat the bread but it was reeeeeally nice all smothered in butter.
Fish and chips ($19.90). I rolled my eyes when TimmyC told me he was going to order this but then a waitress went past with a plate in her hand, we both then agreed he was to order fish and chips.
Hotcakes with passionfruit curd and maple syrup ($16.90).
Mushroom Bruschetta Harrisa spiced roast field mushroom with creamed fetta, beetroot, rouqette and za’atar on grilled focaccia ($16.90). I’ve never seen my Mum eat beetroot before so I was surprised she ordered this. She really enjoyed it and in true Asian Mum fashion gave half her meal away to everyone and they also agreed it was really nice.
We all chose different things because the menu was diverse and something suited all of us. Everyone had a lovely time, the food was fantastic and my guests were really surprised how busy the place was, even after 2:30pm people were still streaming in.
I look forward to Ricardo De Marco expanding to Woden later on this year, it is going to be quite different I hear.

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Ricardo’s Cafe

I knew the Jamison shops way before it was ever refurbished, before they had an Aldi or FSW and even before the Commonwealth bank closed (I’m now awaiting for the Asian grocery store to open). It figures that after I move away from Aranda, Jamison now becomes a bustling hot spot for the locals wanting a coffee, something from the supermarket or a delicious breakfast/lunch from Ricardo’s cafe. I had been here before but I wasn’t to overly impressed with their sweets, they look a lot prettier than they taste.

I was here during a lunch birthday celebration for a dear friend of mine and I wasn’t planning on blogging but when we all started ordering fabulous (looking) desserts and dishes, my camera instinctively came out. image

It was a struggle and a half try to get to our table that we had already booked in advance, there were people EVERYWHERE. People young and old, hipsters and pensioners, all gathered to eat where apparently prams and strollers are mandatory. Needless to say, it was very busy.

Portuguese tart ($5.00?). Seeing how busy it was, I thought I’d start by getting something I could eat straight away without waiting. It was okay but TimmyC thought it was the bee’s knees.

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Red skin macaron ($2.50). Despite looking all wonky shaped, the taste was pretty accurate.

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Choux pastry swan – very clever design and execution, I had bought one of these before but wasn’t too overly impressed.

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Pancakes souffle pancakes, bananas, bacon infused maple syrup and vanilla bean mascarpone cheese ($14.90). When I go out for breakfast/brunch I’m always on the look out for unique items on the menu, don’t get me wrong, I love my bacon and eggs/pancakes/banana bread/granola but I’m looking for something that plays on the creative side from the kitchen on a good ol’ breakfast classic and this is it (although this is not my dish, I made sure I had access to it). I avoided the bananas and couldn’t really taste the ‘bacon’ element in the syrup but that didn’t matter because the souffle pancakes topped with vanilla bean mascarpone cheese was soooo good!

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OMG! It’s so fluffy!

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Smoked salmon fritters corn and zucchini fritters stacked with smoked salmon and avocado, cherry tomatoes and sour cream ($17.90). These were fantastic, I always have a fear that fritters would be dry and limp but they were well made and topped perfectly with salmon and sour cream.

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Pork belly salad part of the specials board. Oh I wish I saw the specials board before I ordered, but someone on the table did. YUM!

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Wagyu truffle sliders white truffle Wagyu beef, red wine, caramelised onions, truffle aioli, gruyere cheese and parmesan truffle fries ($18.90). The bun seemed a bit brioche-y but that didn’t matter when everything tasted so good. By the time I got to the third slider, because of my slow eating habits and talking to everyone, was very cold but if you’re not a slow eater, this won’t be a problem for you. I was really surprised that the fries actually tasted like parmesan truffle fries! Two thumbs up for this!

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Macarons – not exactly uniform in size but across the board the flavours were very good (not the best in Canberra but pretty good for ‘made in house’ at a cafe).

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I can see why Ricardo’s is so busy –  lots of good menu options; there is some method to their chaotic madness and the wait for food wasn’t too long and nothing was crazily over priced (well maybe that Portuguese tart). I would come here again but I would like to try more of their menu despite having found multiple things that I would love to eat again.

Venue: Ricardo’s cafe

Address: Jamison Plaza Bowman Street Macquarie, ACT 2614

Phone: (02) 6251 2666

Websitehttp://ricardoscafe.com/

Ricardo’S Cafe on Urbanspoon

Breizh cafe re-run

—– 19th Dec 2013 —–

Pretty much straight away after I pressed publish on my blog about the first time I went to Breizh cafe, we jumped in the car and went to get crepes that TimmyC was craving for after seeing my photos. We happened to arrive just after the breakfast menu ended but they said if we ordered fast enough they would let us order from it. After I paid, I asked if breakfast finished at 11am and lunch started at 12pm, what would they serve in between, they said that they usually just sell coffee and cakes from the cabinet.

20131226-175441.jpgTimmyC thought his flat white tasted very bitter and it wasn’t very smooth, not a good start to the morning.20131226-175507.jpg

Sweet crepes with home-made salted caramel sauce ($8.00). The breakfast menu has simple crepes and when we enquired about the more OTT crepes on their lunch menu they said that the kitchen hasn’t prepped for that yet. The crepe was simple but tasty with a perfectly made thin crispy crepe adorned with nothing but salted caramel sauce and a bit of icing sugar.

20131226-175518.jpgPork sausage with cassoulet style white beans and toasted baguette ($13.50). The sauce to this cassoulet was so tasty but I couldn’t put my finger on what the flavours were, so I would take another bite and ponder some more and then take another bite until when I put my spoon in there was nothing left so I grabbed my bread and wiped up any remaining sauce. I wasn’t too keen on the white sausage, it just tasted like dull meat and herbs with barely any sear on it.

20131226-175531.jpgYou could see from my plate what I enjoyed most from the dish.

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Kouign Amann ($6.00). I somehow managed to convince Tim not to order another crepe and to get the cake that I talked up so much. The whipped cream was as fabulous as I remembered it to be but the cake however was very different. There wasn’t the toffee crust that built up around the edges of the cake, the top was not hard and sticky and all the ‘bread’ layering in the middle was rather dry and almost stale. This might have been in fact the same cake that had been sitting there since Thursday. I was so disappointed since my previous experience was so magical.

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I was very sad about the kouign amann not being as good, I would hate to think that someone else went out that morning after I posted about it and got the same stale thing as we did. I ended up editing my thumbs up on Urbanspoon to the Breizh cafe after this visit. So far the sweet crepes have not been disappointing.

On a side note, this cafe has a 10% surcharge on Sundays so just be aware if you’re coming for a Sunday brunch.

Bowral get away- Elephant boy cafe

——-24/11/2012——-

Elephant boy is a gorgeous little cafe along the main street with cozy decor. We stopped by for a coffee before heading off to lunch.

It is almost like being in a well read explorer’s living room having a sip of tea.

Green tea ($4.00)

French bowl skinny cappucinio ($4.00)

French bowl soy latte ($4.00)

My friends said that they had amazing coffee and I do like their fancy French bowl option.

Venue: Elephant boy cafe

Address: 329 Bong Bong St, Bowral 

Phone: (02) 4861 1393

Elephant Boy Cafe on Urbanspoon

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

Mini Winery tour- Lerida Estate

——-25/02/2012——-

Next we headed over to Lerida Estate where they have a cafe with gorgeous views overlooking Lake George and beautiful wines that I’ve tried before.

Life is tough for some, between all the driving, pie eating and taking in all the scenic views, we stopped for a break at Cafe Lerida.

Soy Flat White and Chai Latte – both drinks were lovely but that didn’t really matter when we were enjoying the beautiful views of Lake George.

The man at the cellar tasting area was very helpful and funny, he was able to assist everyone even though the serving area was small but very busy. His knowledge of the wines was next to none, but that’s not why I left with several bottles of wine. The taste of the wines sold the wines.

2009 Shiraz Viognier $49.50  

This wine is made from fruit (95% Shiraz 5% Viognier) grown on our vineyard at Lake George. It is cold soaked for 5 days before fermentation (up to 35º) with hand plunging 3 times a day. It is left on skins for a further 10 days then pressed off to French oak barriques to mature for 15 months.” 

2010 Viognier $22.00  

The grapes for this wine were grown at our vineyard at Lake George. The wine has musk/violet aromas, along with apricot and lemon/lime features.  The 10% fermentation in oak barrels provides a subtle vanilla overtone.

The palate is rich and mouth filling, with a soft, light, chalky tannin finish.

2010 Botrytis Pinot Gris (375ml) $29.50

This is a delightfully sweet wine showing the same nutty, dried apricot, raisin, spice, apple and marmalade aromas as previous vintages of this wine. The palate is warm and unctuous. The wine is balanced by a long acid finish.

This is a gorgeous wine! 

Venue: Lerida Estate

Cellar Door & Café Opening Hours:

Standard Hours:

     Cellar Door: 10am – 5pm daily

     Café Lerida: 10am – 5pm Saturday, Sunday and national public holidays 

Café Bookings: 6295 6640 if booking on weekdays or 4848 0231 if booking on weekends