Space Explorer

I wasn’t able to make it to a breakfast at Space recently, so instead a fellow blogger kindly offered to write her experience. So here it is, Tales of a Confectionist’s first GUEST BLOGGER: the wonderful Serina from Ms Frugal Ears.  How exciting! Her photos are crystal clear, she writes well and she wrote this much faster than I ever would have. Hahahaha, maybe we can make this a regular thing.

Thank you Serina for sharing your experience and making us want to run to Space and check it out for ourselves!


 

I’m heading off to Space. For breakfast. Only I’m not heading to outer space, but rather to a car park. In Woden.

Space, a new café/restaurant by Rick de Marco of Ricardo’s fame, opened three weeks ago in the Skypark car park. Yes, in a carpark. A pretty modern and funky NEW carpark in Woden with 940 spaces and plans for a lightshow. It is an unusual place for a café, but not so unusual for someone used to working hard and taking risks.

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Rick opened Ricardos in Jamison Centre ten years ago when he was only 18. I remember Jamison Centre back then; I used to regularly forage at the Sunday morning Trash n’ Treasure market that the Rotary Club of Belconnen runs. Before the Jamison Centre refurbishment the area was a bit of a dive. I remember seeing Ricardos when it first opened and wondering if it would stay in business in such a drab environment.

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But Ricardos Jamison has flourished, so much so that on weekends you have to queue along the red carpet before one of the staff will grant you a pass in. It feels more like being an at exclusive nightclub than the family friendly and fun café that it is. Not that staff behave like brusque bouncers – everyone is utterly courteous and service is brisk. It is just extremely popular.

The new business is not simply a new Ricardos. “I consciously chose to give Space a new name, a new brand,” explained Rick de Marco. “I opened Ricardos when I was only 18. This is like an adult version of Ricardos. I want to be able to experiment with new dishes, rather than having people wonder why things weren’t exactly the same as Ricardos Jamison Centre.” Rick also expressed passion for heading the revitalization of Woden to mimic what he was part of at Jamison Centre.

Before you ask – yes Space still does amazing cakes including Rick’s signature Golden Gaytime and macarons. But the feel is slicker, more modern, with subtle references to the ‘car space’ theme throughout. And Rick is even more courageous with his food creations.

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My visit was hosted by Rick as part of a social media event to showcase some of Space’s signature all-day breakfast dishes. Space does make some standard style bacon & egg type dishes, and these are also popular – according to head chef Russell, although Space has only just opened it typically cooks around 1,200 eggs on a weekend.

We began with vegetable fritters ($18.90) This is kind of like traditional corn fritters your mum probably made only more upmarket and served on beetroot humus and corn cous cous with salad and poached eggs. Remove the cous cous and the dish is gluten free – chef Russell makes them with a flour made from chickpeas, amaranth, quinoa and arrowroot. He also said that during the week this is by far the most popular breakfast item.

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I wanted to try more of the hot smoked salmon breakfast (hot smoked salmon, smashed avocado, coconut roesti, poached eggs and puffed grains, $18.90), but it disappeared quickly amongst our group. There was a substantial salmon serving and if ordered as a breakfast you would not leave feeling unsatisfied. I liked the gentle tea-smoked flavour, which was distinctive yet not overdone.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI noticed owner Rick de Marco plating something up himself. “Does he interfere often?” I playfully asked. “We take a collaborative and cooperative approach,” answered head chef Russell tactfully. Rick is clearly a perfectionist, evidenced when he presented a plate of the most beautiful bircher muesli I have ever seen. Adorned by fresh fruit and flowers, the bircher muesli ($15.90) was surrounded by circles of yoghurt and blood orange curd and decorated with passionfruit caviar (perfect pearls made through a chemical emulsion process). And yes it tastes good as well, augmented with freshly grated apple.

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Then came the two spectacular dishes that have a creative wow factor that will likely put Space on the galaxy map. Space benedict ($18.90) incorporates the Golden Gaytime theme that Ricardos has become famous for as a dessert – but here it is a deep-fried savoury pulled pork croquette, served on a bed of beetroot coloured hollandaise sauce with avocado, poached eggs and pork crackling brioche crumble. I loved the crumble texture, liked the concept of the croquette but it is not my preferred choice for breakfast as it is a bit oily. Russell said that Space plans to make it with smoked trout in the future, which I think will be nicer.

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My favourite dish was, quite unexpectedly, waffles ($18.90). I am almost over waffles after consuming way too many while in Taiwan – usually they were overly adorned with fake cream and fake maple syrup and looked much nicer than they tasted. But these were savoury waffles made with polenta and cheese and served with a side of mushrooms sourced specially from a grower in Yass, with a liberal sprinkle of popcorn. And served with goats cheese, poached eggs, corn puree and salsa verde. Yet there is more – as they are served, the waiter (in our case Rick himself) poured diffused truffle oil over the top, which wafts out in a (safe) cloud of dry ice. Spectacular and fragrant.

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We were served soft cooked poached eggs, but Russell assured us you can order them well done or prepared a different way if you like.

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If you are hungry, I recommend the boysenberry hotcakes, with blood orange curd, freeze dried raspberry and white chocolate crumble with coconut mascarpone ($17.90).  These were pretty, and also pretty filling.  I would have struggled to finish an entire plate.  Or perhaps I would have been greedy and managed the task – the hotcakes were thick yet inviting and moreish.

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Venue: Space

Address: Ground floor, Skypark, Furzer Street, Woden

Phone: (02) 6281 6668

Opening hours:

Mon-Fri: 7:30 am-5:30 pm
Sat: 8:00 am-4:00 pm

Guest blogger details: Serina blogs about mindful frugality and low-cost recipes at www.msfrugalears.com and about Taiwanese food and Chinese postpartum confinement at www.taiwanxifu.com.  She is an avid tea drinker and loves brunching with friends. She participated in a breakfast tasting at Space at the invitation of the owner, Rick de Marco.

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A simple breakfast at Fox and Bow

I was meeting a friend for a catch up breakfast at Fox and Bow; the sun wasn’t really shining but the cafe was lovely enough to provide blankets. My meal choice might have seemed odd but we were later heading to a market where I thought I’d be eating most of the time so I tried to go with a lighter brunch option.

 

The ginger short bread smiley face is a really cute addition to any hot beverage.El macho pineapple, pear, lemon, cinnamon, vanilla and nopal cactus ($7.90). Sour dough toast served with butter and Lynwood strawberry jam from Collector ($6.00) plus a side of bacon ($4.00?). For something so simple, I was surprised how delicious it was and I would happily order it again. The bread was super tasty, the jam was perfect and they served it with Pepe Saya butter which is incredible. I added bacon for a savoury finish.
Old mate Stephanie Alexander’s ricotta gnocchi recipe, slow cooked lamb shoulder and mushroom ragout ($16.90). I could not believe how soft these pieces of gnocchi were, although I felt that the ragout needed a bit more salt as it was on the bland side.
It is always lovely coming here, the service is friendly, the menu names make me giggle and the food is delicious.

EQ Cafe and Lounge

TimmyC and I were taking advantage of our weekday break and headed towards EQ Cafe and Lounge in Deakin for brunch before the near by workers came and swarmed the place. I was really surprised how big it was and how it extended to another area as the ‘EQ bake house’.Lots of space inside and out; a really nice atmosphere.Eggs Benedict two soft poached eggs on toast with hollandaise sauce and bacon ($18.00). TimmyC said he really enjoyed his eggs benedict even though it wasn’t the best he has ever had.Coffee TimmyC said he has never had a bad coffee here and they are pretty consistent.House-made potato rosti stack with herb roasted mushroom, gruyere cheese, hollandaise topped with crispy poached egg ($18.00). I don’t know why but I’m a sucker for crispy potato so I ordered this for my brunch. I must admit, I don’t think I read much beyond ‘rosti’ so I was surprised it was served on mushrooms and topped with an unusual crispy poached egg. I really enjoyed the big juicy mushrooms but I found I had to add some salt to the dish as a whole because there wasn’t a salty aspect; a stronger sharper cheese might have helped.Two huge juicy mushrooms made this dish rather quite filling.Melted cheese, oozing egg yolk and dripping hollandaise, it looked like a very sexy breakfast.EQ juice orange, apple and passionfruit. I really enjoyed this juice combination and it is apparently a popular juice choice.I couldn’t help but grab something from the EQ bakehouse  as a takeaway.Do you want a juice to go? EQ Bakehouse has you covered!So many options!I really liked the creme brulee tart ($6.00) even when the top wasn’t hard.Home-made sausage rolls ($5.00). I was drawn to the size of their sausage rolls but I have to say that didn’t enjoy this sausage roll at all. The smell was rather potent of lamb(?) and it just had a really odd taste that I couldn’t put my finger on. Has anyone else tried it?I could not believe how attentive and fast the service was, it really impressed me. I also really liked how they have a sit down and enjoy type of menu at the cafe and an ‘on the go’ type of food from the bakehouse side and both sides had loads of variety. Now I know I have another option to get not OTT (in price and sugar) cakes and tarts in the south side.Venue: EQ Cafe and Lounge

Address: Equinox Business Park ,70 Kent Street, Deakin, 2600

Phone: (02) 6161 1666

Opening hours:

Monday – Thursday 7:00am – 4.30pm
Friday 7:00am – till late
Saturday 7:00am – 2pm

 

Vanilla slice from Erindale Cakery Bakery 

We were hungry and looking for a sweet snack when we found ourselves at the Erindale shops and I remembered that a few months ago when RiotACT were looking for the ‘best vanilla slice in Canberra’, Erindale Cakery Bakery was mentioned. I looked at their cabinets and they were filled with old school ‘Australian’ bakery treats; everything from meringues to caramel tarts to lamingtons (oh how I miss lamingtons!) and of course vanilla slices. I loved the variety of sweets and treats they had and a bonus was that everything was reasonably priced.

Now back to the real reason why I was there: vanilla slice! There were two types, one with good ol’ passionfruit icing and the other was the ‘French’ version which is the one that I bought ($4.40??). I really liked how the pastry was easy to cut through with a fork and kept its integrity as I slow it ate it, bite by bite. I didn’t think it was overly sweet which was nice and I really liked the pastry. The custard could have tasted a little better but it was still okay and it had a great creamy thick texture.

I will sure to be back and buy more old school treats which takes me back to my primary school days.When was the last time you had a bite of a vanilla slice where it didn’t crumble/break/squirt out the sides? Never? Same here but check out my first forkful of the French vanilla slice from Erindale Cakery Bakery.When was the last time you had a delicious bakery treat and where was it from?

Venue: Erindale Cakery Bakery

Address: Erindale Shopping Centre, 68 Comrie St, Wanniassa ACT 2093

Phone: (02) 6231 2510

Opening hours:

Monday -Friday 7:00am – 20:00pm

Saturday – Sunday 7:00am – 18:00pm

The Fish Can re-post

* I just saw a more recent photo of their menu board and prices went up a little but all individual baos are still under $5.00

I’m re-writing this post with a bit more detail after I rushed to blog the original post within the hour that The Fish Can finally opened their doors.
The Fish Can has only been opened for two weeks but have had many positive reviews from people in Canberra who have been craving a good bao at a decent price. The first thing you need to know is the menu so here it is:I love how there are a combination of things including sweet and savoury and everything is under 5 bucks! They had another menu on the other side which is more of a ‘fish and chip’ side but today I’m concentrating on the more important issue: BAOS! But here it is just in case you were curious.  *photo from a friend who doesn’t want to be named.

The thing you need to know before you start to wonder why I only tried three baos is that this is what I saw when I got to Westside that day (see photo below). My heart sank and I headed to Miss Van’s to drown my sorrows in a bowl of pho (and I also may or may not have had a banh mi). While I was slurping away, I looked up from my bowl and noticed that The Fish Can had just opened their doors (so to speak) and I almost immediately dropped my chop sticks. So this was my second lunch and yes I am now a Hobbit.
Porkster braised free-range Murray Valley gilt belly, served with crushed Szechuan peanuts, house relish and cilantro (left $4.10). I was a bit disappointed at the size of the filling to bun ratio but I’m hoping that it was because it one of the first few baos served and they improve with some feed back. The pork itself was tender but it needs some sort of sauce so it isn’t just some dry ingredients in a bun. I would love to see a sliced pork belly with kewpie mayo and some lettuce (like Ippudo).

Not so Crab tempura soft-shell crab, lemon, cabbage slaw, Szechuan aioli and crushed peanuts (right $4.60). More filling, more exciting and more colourful. This was definitely my preference out of the two, the crab was crispy and so was the slaw, there was a nice aioli in there and there was flavour in every bite.
A close up of the ‘porkster’: delicious layers of fat and meat but I didn’t like the pickle so I picked it off. The thick short cut means that you don’t get some meat with every bite and there isn’t much else in the bun, it needs a little extra something…Lots of contrasting crunchy textures with the soft bao.Mars bao handmade bao with Mars bar core ($2.90). I didn’t expect a closed bao but if you think about it, a melted chocolate bar had to stay contained somehow. It might not look appetising but it definitely hit the sweet spot. You could taste the caramel, chocolate and nougat despite it being all melted, I just wish the bao itself had a tad bit more sweetness to it. My first preference was the sweet bao fries but they weren’t available that day, they will definitely be popular with the Asian crowd having been served with condensed milk.My friend tried the Chican bao all natural fried chicken breast, Szechuan aioli, crushed peanuts and cilantro ($4.10). He really really enjoyed it and went back a few days after and ordered more. The chicken looked really moist and the fillings were more generous, I wish I ordered this one too. Next time! Look at that juicy chicken patty. *drool*The savoury baos themselves were soft but could have been served a little warmer than they were, but then again it could have been a ‘we just opened and sorting out the kinks’ situation. In any case I am still super keen to head back, eventually try one of everything and get my hands on some sweet bao fries! The people serving inside were super friendly and the wait wasn’t long at all.

Are you ready to get your bao on?

Venue: The Fish Can (Next to The One)

Address: Westside Acton Park, 3 Barrine Drive, Acton, ACT 2601

Opening hours: **updated apparently they are not opened Thursday any more?**

Friday – Saturday 11:30am- 9:00pm

Sunday 11:30am – 4:00pm
The Fish Can Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Locale

Michelle from HerCanberra Food & Drink and I met up after my big Europe trip and before she left for her big America trip; we were overdue for a massive catch up. She asked where I wanted to eat and out of the blue I suggested we try Locale in Deakin. Being a Tuesday night for only two people, I figured we could get away without booking but that wasn’t the case as the place was packed and the remaining tables were reserved. We could have sat inside at the bar for just over an hour or outside without a time limit (or heating), but knowing that I was a slow eater, it was logical that we chose the outdoor seating and they gave us a blanket to keep warm.

Between being indecisive and wanting to try everything, Michelle suggested we get a starter to share, two pastas that we really liked the sound of, one pizza because everyone was ordering pizza and we wanted to see how good it was (plus we could always take away what we don’t finish) and then share one dessert if we could fit it in. My eyes lit up, it sounds like a lot of food for two people but I finished everything on my half while Michelle took her half of the pizza home.Starters~

Arancini porcini mushroom, taleggio, truffle oil ($18.00). The outside was extremely crunchy while the inside was a soft but not mushy risotto. It is a bit pricey for three arancini balls but it is really delicious.Check out the sexy cheesy interior.Pasta handmade with love~

Pappardelle alla bolognese ribbon egg pasta, slow braised veal and pork bolognese ($28.00). This was a beautiful rich bolognese with perfectly looking pasta. It is exactly everything I am looking for in pasta although I like my meat to ratio a little more even, TimmyC would love this though.Ravioli di granchio crabmeat filled ravioli, leeks, asparagus, enoki mushroom, bisque ($32.00). I get really excited when I read crab meat on a menu but I’m usually met me disappointment as I can usually feel the texture of the crab meat but not really taste it, but this dish was packed with crab/seafood flavour. I was surprised to see the generous serve of ravioli (even when paying $32.00) and I would happily order this again. As much as I love a good bolognese, I think I liked this pasta more because I love these seafood rich flavours.Wood fired pizza~ 

Specials board pork sausage, caramelised onion, gorgonzola, tomatoes, balsamic reduction ($24.00).  I really liked their pizza bases and the toppings on this pizza went perfectly with each other. The meaty sausage was complimented by the sweet caramelised onion and the gorgonzola gave it sharp salty notes. I think next time I’ll order something with cured meats for that extra hit of salt.Dessert~

Tortino al cioccolato Perugia chocolate warm pudding, salted peanut gelato, caramel sauce ($14.00). Chocolate lovers rejoice, we have found the dessert for you! I found the pudding intensely rich but when paired with the gelato it was perfectly balanced. I was unsure why there was a caramel sauce as it didn’t really need much more but maybe it is for the intense dessert die hards.  
We took one small bite at a time but we eventually finished it.
As the night went on, it got even busier inside than before. It easy to talk outside, while inside can get a bit noisy and a tight squeeze to get past tables.
There was outdoor seating with heating but I assumed those people booked unlike us.While we were eating dinner, countless people were getting take away pizzas. I love how their boxed is perforated for easy tearing into plates and therefore means even less to clean up!Despite sitting outside and away from everyone else, we were never forgotten. The service was really friendly and attentive. I would definitely come back again in a heartbeat and any know many people who would love to eat here with me.

Venue: Locale

Address: Shop 5, Deakin Shops, Deakin, ACT 2600

Phone: (02) 6162 2888

Websitewww.localepizzeria.com.au/

Opening hours: Everyday, 5pm–late

Eat Local markets

I had hours of late night shopping a head of me but that didn’t stop me from ducking over to the Botanic Gardens to check out their inaugural Eat Local market, where they encourage people to buy local and eat local by offering chemical and GMO free produce from the Riverina, Tumut and the Canberra region. As I drove through the front gates, I was directed to the car park on the left hand side which was a short stroll to the markets. I parked and figured I didn’t have to pay for parking because it was sort of after hours (after 5pm) and I could only stay for a short while.I was there just in time to see Costa Georgiadis officially cut the ‘ribbon’ to the inaugural Eat Local market with help from some children.I was limited to what I could purchase because I wasn’t really home over the weekend and I only had a small cooler bag as I was heading to the mall afterwards but I still went to every stall to see what they had to offer. I have been to a lot of food markets in my time and I could only recognise two market stalls which means that it’s not the same vendors that you see at the rest of the Canberra markets. This market also had the advantage of being on a weekday for all those who want to do their food shopping early, keeping their weekends free.

The markets were on the small side but they had a vast variety of stall holders from apples, flowers, seafood, fresh vegetables, frozen blueberries, honey, eggs, pies, cheese and sauces; really everything you would need to make a lovely home-made meal.  I would definitely go back and try things from different vendors and stay a while longer. I really wanted to try the locally made halloumi but they had sold out before I got there. 😦The only hot food available at the market was the Floresco cafe and Cooper’s handmade pies which made a huge variety of flavours; I chose cold items to heat and eat later.

Waygu beef and beer pie local Yalandra Wagyu beef mince, with sautéed onions in a Jamieson Mountain ale gravy ($8.00). The filling was very dark, rich and delicious.

Sausage roll (recently award Silver at the Royal Melbourne Fine Food Awards) Rockgilla beef sausage mince, with locally grown onions, garlic, fresh home-grown parsley and our secret blend of herbs and spices in our flaky pastry ($6.00). The sausage roll filling was very thick and dense which stayed in a sausage shape. I really liked the flavour but I wish there was more of a fluffy texture to the filling rather than a solid roll.
I was heading to dinner so I couldn’t buy a hot pie and eat it at the market, although I was really tempted when I saw the ‘injection’ options.I had also bought some cheese from Boosey Creek cheese, their cumin gouda was unique and I loved the taste but their vintage cheddar won me over and I knew I was going to have some awesome jaffles in my near future.

I’m hoping that the warmer weather will encourage more visitors to the markets which may in turn drive more interest from other growers to attend. It was slowly getting dark just before 6pm, when I asked a stall holder about how they will see things when the sun goes down, they said they were hoping for day light savings to kick in soon to help them out with a bit more light but some stall holders were set with some lighting until then. There are ATM and bathroom facilities within the cafe.

Venue: Eat Local markets

Address: in the Botanical Garden’s top car-park and concourse, Clunies Ross street

Opening times: markets are on every Friday from 2:30pm to 7:00 pm

Double Shot

It was a spur of the moment that we went to Double Shot in Deakin for brunch. At first I was going to go somewhere else in the south side region, but just before we got into the car I asked TimmyC if I changed our brunch area to Deakin would it be that much further away on our way to Fyshwick, when he answered ‘no’ we bee lined straight to the Deakin shops.

I have hardly been in the area, so when we were browsing the shops wondering where the cafe would be, we turned around to see a very very busy cafe with cool outdoor seating. I was dreading the waiting time but we were there already and made the trip out especially, so I was willing to wait. Looking around while waiting for a table, it seemed like babies and dogs are almost mandatory here with most people having one or the other.

There are basically four ‘sections’ to the cafe: out outside.Outside/coveredInside near the counterwhich is near this cake cabinet!Or their extended insideWith such a big capacity and still being very busy was a good sign that the food was worth waiting for.

I usually take note of timing in a venue, we were slightly dismayed by the length of the line to get in but after 15 minutes of waiting we were able to get a seat inside. We were given a menu straight away and ordered within 10 minutes. I was guessing we would get drinks in another 15 and food would take around another 15-20 minutes more considering how busy it was but after 10-15 minutes of ordering we were given drinks and food. I was super impressed!

I thought the upside down planters inside looked really cool. It must take a lot of time and care to water these plants.Make your own juice my go to juice is orange, pineapple and ginger ($7.00) and a flat white in a mug ($4.70). There was a lot of foam build up towards the end of my juice. It was very nice juice but it could have done with a tad more ginger. TimmyC really enjoyed his coffee. Eggs Benedict with bacon free range eggs, choice of bacon, salmon, baby spinach or gypsy ham topped with hollandaise sauce ($18.00). I didn’t start digging into the Benedict as I was busy with my two dishes but after three bites, TimmyC said he really liked his eggs Benedict and then in the breath of his fourth bite he exclaims they are “exceptional”, leading me to dip my fork in across the table. The hollandaise was nice and the eggs were cooked perfectly but I liked my choices of brunch better because they were different to the usual breakfast menus.Poached pear pistachio crumble, chai tea panna cotta, pomegranate and blonde agave nectar ($15.00). The pear was rather big and was poached perfectly. The sweet flavours of the fruit really balanced out the flavours of the subtle chai panna cotta and the coconut. A nice blend of spices and textures.Chicken breast, avocado, smoked cheddar and aioli toastie ($10.00). Simple ingredients but it was an awesome combination. I have a friend who loves chicken sandwiches and I think she would love this one too. I could not believe how delicious this simple toastie was! A close up of the toastie itselfI envisage lots of trips to Double Shot in the future and I know it’s early and a big call but Double Shot might quickly become one of my favourite places to eat if they keep their food standards and service up. I am super keen to try more of their breakfast menu as well as their lunch offerings.

Venue: Double Shot

Address: 7/18 Duff Pl, Deakin ACT 2600

Phone: (02) 6162 2027

Sundays: 10% surcharge on Sundays
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Bowing to the Churros King

After posting about Oliver Brown and their churros, I got to talking to Lisa from blithemoments about churros in Canberra. There was one place that I have been meaning to try their churros and it is the only thing they serve so you would expect it to be good. The Churros King resides as a little cart amongst the Hamlet crew just inside the entrance way on the right. Their menu is simple: churros dipped in either chocolate or caramel sauce, 1 churro ($2.00) or 6 churros ($10.00).

I had just eaten a combination of roast pork roll with extra crackling and a souvlaki wrap and was looking for something a little sweet. It was the perfect time to try a churro (and someone was actually running the cart that night). TimmyC chose a chocolate dipped one; the only down side is that the sauce is really only on one end, fortunately the churro had a subtle sugar coating so even without the sauce it was still a little sweet. I like the star-shaped churros as opposed to the kit kat like bars from Oliver Brown for the crunchy texture. The batter is squirted straight into the deep fryer, fried until its crispy and then dipped into your choice of sauce. I like the ‘fresh and hot’ aspect but it did mean it was a tad oily. I definitely want to go back and try the caramel sauce.

Not the greatest photo in the world, but know that an impatient hungry boy was holding the churro and I was holding a pork roll in one hand and try to focus the camera with the other

Venue: Churros King

Address: The Hamlet, 16 Lonsdale Street, Braddon, Canberra, 2612

Hamlet opening hours:

Wednesday – Saturday 12:00pm | 9:00pm

Sunday 12:00pm | 3:00pm
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Fillos Souvlaki

Gone is BurraBerkshires free range food van from the Hamlet and up popped Canberra’s newest Greek eatery: Fillo Souvlaki, which opened less than 3 weeks ago. I hadn’t been to the Hamlet in ages (in my mind) and while I was tempted to go to good ol’ faithfuls like Broddogs and Mr. Papa, but I couldn’t help but try something new.

The menu from Fillos Souvlaki, what would you order?Souvlaki pita lamb souvlaki wrapped in traditional pita bread with tomato, lettuce, onion, tzatziki and chips ($12.50). I wanted something easy to eat not knowing if I was going to get a seat or not so I opted for a pita bread wrap that had my favourite things in it: Greek lamb, tzatziki all wrapped together with chips inside. It was a nice mix of ingredients, between the refreshing flavours between the fresh salad and the sauce, it meant that it wasn’t too meat heavy, but I did expected the lamb to be a little more tender and less chewy.I didn’t have to wait long at all for my order, I was trying to instagram a photo but they were just too quick. I don’t know if I’ll have cravings for souvlaki pita like I do for a chanchito or a roast meat roll from the Spit Shack but the addition of a new unique food van is always welcome to increase food choices at the Hamlet.

Venue: Fillos Souvlaki

Address: The Hamlet, 16 Lonsdale Street, Braddon, Canberra, 2612

Opening hours:

Wednesday – Thursday 12:00 pm – 2:30 pm | 5:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Friday – Saturday 12:00 pm – 2:30 pm | 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm

Sunday 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm

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Tuesday eats, Sunday treats

I have had this idea when I first started my blog however many years ago and I have finally gotten around to writing it.

When I stayed with TimmyC’s family for a few years, his Mum thought it was ridiculous that there were so many able bodied people in the house yet she was cooking every night of the week. That’s when the concept of designated cooking was born.

We were all to choose one night of the week and cook dinner for the family. TimmyC and I chose Tuesdays as we were most likely to be home, his Dad chose Sundays, his brother flipped somewhere between Thursdays and Saturdays but we were never home to try his cooking and his Mum filled in the gaps. Fast forward a few years later, TimmyC and I had moved out but we kept with the tradition of Tuesday night dinners, his family would come over for dinner and they would bring dessert and we would go over on Sunday nights and it would be our turn to bring dessert. Hence the name: Tuesday eats, Sunday treats.

We have been cooking Tuesday dinners for over 7 years now and we attempt to mix it up a little, trying new things when we feel adventurous but now if I’m documenting Tuesday and Sundays maybe I’ll up the ante a bit more. It feels like we are on one of those cooking shows where they cook a meal in a time limit, TimmyC and I both work full time so dinner has to be made with less than 1.5hrs prep for 6-8 people (one could argue I could prep things the night before but we just aren’t that organised), two of which are vegetarian. I’m not vegetarian myself but I feel that just ‘omitting the meat’ doesn’t make the best vegetarian meal so I usually go out of my way to make another dish which is vegetarian friendly. When we come home, it looks like an Ajax commercial where we are frantically trying to prepare the meal, clear the dining table and set it for dinner guests.

When we first started cooking together, I remember yelling at TimmyC a lot. His cooking experience was limited and he would do silly things like walk around with a sieve full of icing sugar without anything underneath. Seven years later, we have both found our groove and work cohesively in the kitchen, cleaning up as we go (it’s the easiest way to do it) but I am still ‘head chef’ as TimmyC usually doesn’t know what we cooking until on the night, where as I have thought about the weather, what is in season, what vegetarian option would be equivalent and the most efficient order to do things in.


Tuesday eats

What better way to start than with last night’s Tuesday’s dinner (yes I’m posting this late). I’m still not feeling 100% so I chose the easy option of pasta bake as I had ample pasta, cheese and vegetables. Even at the age of 30 I have to ‘hide’ extra vegetables in my meal so I won’t notice it and this is definitely one meal that you can do that with. I usually make my own sauce but while I was at the shops buying a roast chicken I grabbed some pre-made pasta bake sauces as well *gasp*.

I sautéed some diced carrots, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, red capsicum corn kernels off the cob (basically all the vegetables I had) and garlic. I just wanted to soften the vegetables, cook the pasta, stir the sauce and vegetables through, throw it in a baking dish and top with ample cheese and throw it in the oven. That way all the oven has to do is melt the cheese because everything is already cooked and ready to go.

I would usually make another vegetarian dish but this was easy to substitute the meat for something else. I spooned enough mixture to fill a loaf dish into a bowl and threw in some diced grilled haloumi so there was a salty aspect to the dish and for the rest of the pot of pasta I stirred through some roast chicken pieces (all cooked and ready to go, all I had to do was shred the meat and eat the limbs as a perk of being in the kitchen, another aspect to make this dish ‘easy’).

The more colour the better! I also tossed in handfuls on basil that I had in the fridge, I should really stop buying it unless I have an intended use for it.Bread leaves the table as quickly as it is placed down so I usually have some sort of bread as a side. To contrast against so much carbs and heavy food, I wanted to serve dinner with a side of crispy refreshing salad. I looked up a recipe for apple and celery salad and came across one that had a tangy dressing to go with sweet apples. I also changed the dice of the apple and celery so it was matchsticks rather chunky like the pasta bake.

When we first made this dressing, I thought we would need more of it but it is rather quite strong so it only needs a light coating.I love a good golden brown cheesy top! I also added some sesame seeds for extra calcium.Dinner is served! The pasta bake sauce I used was a bit spicy and really lifted the flavours of vegetables and cheese.
Sunday treats

I get random cravings for sweet things and this week I wanted an apple tea cake with a crumble topping. It might sound really specific but I haven’t had cake like this before but it made it easy and specific to google. I used taste.com‘s recipe and accidentally whipped cold-ish butter with sugar and eggs rather than beating the eggs and sugar first and adding melted butter in. Silly me, I was multi-tasking and also making a chicken stock. It still turned out alright, I would have preferred a more moist cake but maybe it was the way I mis-read the instructions. I think I would make this again and maybe substitute some of the butter for apple sauce for a healthier option (and it might make it more moist?) and also change the crumble recipe for a more crunchy version. The apple tea cake with crumble topping was a little dry for my liking but I served it with TimmyC’s freshly made and still warm custard so you couldn’t tell.

Chris’ patisserie and bakehouse

I like a bit of variety in my shopping so when I went to Weston Creek and drove out of the car park, I had a double take on a shop front when I had a glimpse of ‘patisserie’ in the name. I started messaging locals to see if they had been to Chris’s patisserie and bakehouse which had apparently opened three months ago. My friend who was intrigued went there and bought a large tart ($29.00) to take to a dinner party and she said it was really tasty which prompted me to take TimmyC at the first chance we got.It was a busy morning but we were greeted with smiling faces at the counter. When I asked who ‘Chris’ was, a young polite handsome man smiled and put up his hand, it appears to be a family business where they assured me that all the bread, pastries, tarts, cakes etc were all made in-house.

A large selection of cakes, tarts, slices and biscuits to choose from.They also have pastries and muffins.And a selection of quiches and croissants with fillings.I was a bit hazy with the prices, not everything was labelled and I was too busy choosing something to eat but the thick shake, pie, croissant and large coffee came to $17.00.

Vanilla thick shake. I sat there waiting like patient bear as multiple coffees, table water and toasted sandwiches were served to other customers. All our food had been served and half eaten while my thick shake was no where in sight; just as I was about to enquire about my missing beverage it appears and I stir it around with the straw, it didn’t feel very thick. I had a sip and it tasted like a milkshake and nothing more. It was served at the same time as a child’s milkshake, maybe they had gotten the order wrong and I just got what that kid got. When we were served a vanilla creme brulee which we ordered later, we asked if the drink was really a thick shake, when the answer was yes and I said it felt very runny, the owner quickly ran to the kitchen and returned with a replacement thick shake moments later. The second one was much thicker (still not crazy thick) and had a lovely subtle sweet vanilla flavour.Cheese and bacon pie ($5.00). A meaty pie with a little bit more bacon than your average cheese and bacon pie, but nothing particularly exciting.

Croissant. It has a lovely pastry network inside but it wasn’t buttery and flaky. It felt more like a squishy bread roll.

Large flat white. TimmyC said it was mediocre coffee.Vanilla creme brulee ($5.90). I felt that I didn’t try enough of their menu so I told TimmyC to go choose another sweet from the cabinet, he got the creme brulee which I thought was odd to have in a bakery (it is served in a ramekin so I presume you can only have it when dining in?). They pre-prepare the base and store it in the cabinet and sugar is caramelized on top before serving. The toffee ‘hat’ broke beautifully under the knock of my spoon which revealed a velvety smooth custard. I didn’t understand that since there was a toffee layer, how there were still some granules underneath the sugar top that didn’t caramelize, it didn’t do anything to the taste it just took away from the smooth custard texture.I didn’t have an overall amazing bakery/patisserie experience here but I’m not convinced it is a bad bakery, maybe I just didn’t choose their specialty items, which the website suggests is their cakes and bread. I don’t know how much their bread costs but I thought the large tarts and cakes had a hefty price tag (tarts $29.00 cakes $50.00) but I’m determined to try one soon, maybe not this week though.Venue: Chris’s patisserie and bakehouse

Address: Unit 1, 27 Brierly Street, Weston ACT 2611

Phone: (02) 62880587

Websitehttp://www.chrispatisserie.com.au/

Opening hours: Monday – Friday 7:00am | 4:00pm

Saturday – Sunday 8:00 | 3:00pm
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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

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Adore tea re-run

I was shocked to find out that one of my friends who loves tea had never been to Adore tea at Gold Creek Village so we made a date with more friends to go there immediately if not sooner. I booked a table inside because of the cold wet weather forecasted, which allowed us a two hour window for our reservation (I didn’t know there was a time limit, we just saw the next scheduled booking for the table). It is advisable to book ahead especially on the weekends as they are very busy and also have lots of varying high teas and parties (we happened to go on Mad Hatter’s tea party day).

We all chose a different tea which made for a very pretty photo, I went with classic chai blended with milk.I thought the colour of my friend’s berry tea was beautiful. Not a drop was wasted.My usual ‘go to’ food regardless of the time of day are their scones or the poffertjes but friend was telling me how nice the apple pie was. I was torn between choices but as soon as she said that she would go halves between the pie and scones, I was sorted.

Apple pie classic style apple pie served with vanilla ice-cream ($10.50). The pastry was very soft and semi sweet and apple pie obviously pairs perfectly with vanilla ice-cream, I just wish for the price that the pie was a little bigger or more filling. A close up of the apple pie.Scones served with cream and tea infused jams (about $9.50). Tea goes so well with scones so it almost seems like a ‘must’ when you come here. I really also enjoy their house-made jams.Chicken focaccia with gluten free bread (around $15.00). I looked over at my friend’s gluten free plate with envy. I usually am the savoury girl type and her plate looked goooood…I ‘adore’ this place, it’s a lovely venue to catch up over sweets and tea with friends and family. They are often very accommodating and the staff are super friendly and knowledgeable. Check in store or online for their various high tea days and live music sessions.

Venue: Adore tea

Address: Shop 6, Federation Square One, O’Hanlon Place, Nicholls, ACT 2913

Phone: (02) 6230 9962

Website: http://adoretea.com.au/

Opening hoursOpen Everyday: 10:00am to 5:30pm

Fridays: 10am to 7pm

Public Holidays: 10am to 4pm

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Pancake trial #3

My lovely American friend invited me over for brunch which entailed bacon, home-made hash browns and very fluffy thick pancakes, she happily gave me the recipe and I needed to try for myself if it was as easy as she said it was. The recipe is supposed to be easy to remember: 1 of everything, although you have to remember it is only one tablespoon of sweetener or your teeth will fall out. 😉

Ingredients

  • 1 cup self raising flour
  • 1-3/4 cup milk (depends on how thick or thin you like your pancakes)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey
  • Butter for cooking

Equipment

  • Fry pan
  • Mixing bowl
  • Measuring cup for easy pouring of the batter
  • Spatula

Method

  1. Throw all the ingredients into a bowl and mix only until all the ingredients have just been incorporated. Apparently it doesn’t even matter if you don’t get all the flour pockets, just don’t over mix it
  2. Let it stand in the bowl for 10 minutes
  3. Grab a measuring cup for easy scooping, I chose my 1/3 cup for smallish pancakes
  4. Heat the pan on medium heat and throw a knob of butter to oil the pan
  5. Once the butter is bubbling, scoop a portion of your pancake batter in and it should spread nicely to create circles. I was able to fit two in a big fry pan, because I only added 3/4 cup of milk, it was thick and stayed put
  6. Flip the pancake once bubbles have formed (should only take a few minutes).
  7. Once flipped, it only needs around another minute to brown the other side.
  8. Remember to adjust heat based on your stove top so the pancakes do not burn

Tips

This mixture made only 5 fluffy pancakes, it is good portions for one or two people and ensures you’re not eating pancakes for the next week.

They reheat well after a 10-15 seconds in the microwave.

You can also add some berries (frozen or fresh), after you’ve poured the batter into the pan

Throw all the ingredients in a bowl, mix, rest for 10 minutes, scoop, cook, flip and eat, it is that easy.
TimmyC has his with maple syrup and ice cream, I prefer mine with Lyle’s Golden syrup.They’re so fluffy!!I think I have found a winner, these pancakes are thick and fluffy, the ingredients list is easy to remember and are basic staple to the kitchen pantry/fridge. I will just have to keep an eye on the cooking so they don’t look so brown around the edges. That is one out of five completed for my New Year’s resolution. It’s already August, eeep!