Canberra part deux

Canberra part deux

Continuing on from my last post about the nation’s capital, we stayed in the New Acton precinct which gave us a good chance to explore the surrounds on foot. Behind our hotel was the snazzy Hotel Hotel… hotel. Definitely worth a gander if you plan on staying in Canberra.

02 hotel hotel

We ate brunch at Mocan and Green Grout, where there is always a wait for a table. The coffee however is amazing. As I mentioned in the last post, we went to the Handmade Markets where I bought some matching coffee cups and some cold smoked garlic. The latter with the most intoxicating smell. I have some plans for the garlic with some fluffy scrambled eggs and potentially truffle.

We ended up in the city’s centre on the Sunday, and went to Akiba for some late lunching. I had read some reviews of them having some amazing dumplings and just couldn’t resist the allure of warm parcels of goodness on such a cold winter’s day. The beef rib dumplings were delicious and tender and melt in your mouth – everything they should be.

01 dumplings 1

On our final day we had a late breakfast at The Cupping Room, which was one of the few things open on a public holiday. After putting our name down we got some take away coffees and stood out in the sun. Once finally seated, we opted for a sweet and savoury dish, French toast and the bacon and egg roll which were both delicious. The citrus on the French toast would have ordinarily put me off, but it wasn’t too tart which made it perfection.

04 cupping room

All in all it was an excellent stay and Canberra was a great choice for a short road trip. I’d definitely recommend Canberra as a place for great coffee and amazing food! Also. GO NOW while it’s truffle season! The best season of them all.

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Eating my way through the capital city

Eating my way through the capital city

For the Queen’s birthday long weekend, we decided to do a road trip down to Canberra which is an approximately 3 hour drive. Let me just say that the Australian capital city has changed quite a bit from what I remember. There are loads of jobs in C-town which I guess means the foodie scene has been flourishing. We stayed in the New Acton area, which was pretty much hipster central. We made Japanese pancakes (AMAZING) before setting off on the drive down.

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We got to Canberra late in the afternoon, driving to Joe’s Bar for a late tapas lunch. No regrets. We got three dishes to share (admittedly 2 fried dishes #noregrets). I started off with a floral G+T, too pretty to drink.

02 drink

We got the burrata con tartufo, an oozy mozzarella made from fresh cows milk and cream, finished off with fresh local truffles. Did I mention it was truffle season? Oh and some arancini and calamari as well. Jokes aside, the calamari was pretty amazing. It was the most tender calamari I’ve had. You didn’t even need cutlery to slice it up, it was that soft. The calamari was paired with a black squid ink aioli, which despite it’s scary hue, was quite salty and went nicely with the seafood.

03 food
Arancini di Riso on the left, and Burrata con Tartufo on the right.
04 squid
Calamari Fritti with black squid ink aioli hidden underneath.

We stayed at the newly renovated QT hotel, which was previously the Rydges hotel. The verdict? It wasn’t amazing, but it wasn’t horrible either. Each QT hotel has their own theme, and in Canberra it’s no surprise that the theme is politics.

There are multiple prior Aussie prime ministers hidden within the wallpaper in the lobby and streaming political tweets all over the walls. Overall it was a good stay, however we found the mini bar fridge didn’t work well. It was faster to chill a bottle of champagne on the balcony in the sub-zero temperatures!

05 lobby

06 balcony.jpg
A stunning view at sunset.

Dinner that night was at the Capitol Bar and Grill at the hotel, famed for their enormous tomahawk steaks. Naturally we chose to have some truffle mac and cheese on the side. Amazing. I love truffle season. M&C didn’t look too attractive, but believe me, it was the most delicious thing ever on a winter’s night.

07 capitol

The handmade markets happened to be on during the weekend we were visiting. We stopped by at EPIC, the Exhibition Park In Canberra. It was like a slightly less crowded version of the Finders Markets that they hold in the other capital cities. We ate a few things, bought a few things, and had a pretty good day.

08 markets
Cinnamon donut ice cream and a cute wall shelf stall.

I have a part 2 Canberra post lined up as we ate at so many great food places, but for now, thanks Canberra, you’re alright.

09 sunset

Brunching at the Balmoral Boathouse

Brunching at the Balmoral Boathouse

Sydney has been spoiled as of late, so one sun-drenched Saturday H and I decided we’d venture over to Balmoral for a drive. Having heard much about the Balmoral Boathouse (from the same creators of the restaurant at Palm Beach), I thought it’d be a lovely spot to enjoy the sunshine.

Balmoral Boathouse

We found a parking spot a fair trek away from the restaurant, but we didn’t mind as it was such a lovely day. The Boathouse was tucked away at the far end of the Esplanade. From the outside, it looks quaint and relaxing, but as soon as you step inside you soon discover that looks can be very deceiving. It was a bit challenging to find a spot to sit. It seemed most of Sydney had the same idea. We ordered our food first before finding a side table with a couple of stools.

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A couple of beers and ciders made the wait a little more enjoyable. I won’t lie to you, food did take a while to arrive. I wasn’t complaining as the view from the pier was just spectacular. It was fun to just relax and people watch for a while.

Balmoral Boathouse

H ordered the beer battered fish fillets with fries. They came out so golden and crunchy with a good serve of house-made tartare sauce. The crunch factor was a definite winner . The fish was moist and fresh.

Balmoral Boathouse

I couldn’t resist the prawn roll, which was served on skewers and accompanied by a lightly toasted brioche roll. One half was topped with cilantro and avocado, and the other with a light coleslaw-esque salad. A squeeze of lemon later, the flavours were absolutely perfect together.

Balmoral Boathouse

I loved the rustic interiors. They had tables of pretty plants and flowers. And if you know me, I’m such a sucker for greenery and gorgeous blooms. The desserts were hard to resist, displayed prominently at the front counter. There was a repurposed ladder shelf that served as the kitchen’s pantry  nearby. Everything seemed  so effortless and shabby chic. It did wonders to bring together the whole experience – sights, sounds, tastes – with such uniformity.

Balmoral Boathouse

Balmoral Boathouse

Balmoral Boathouse

We got over the crowds by the end of our meal, so H and I ordered dessert to go. We spotted a nice shady place to sit near the beach, so we ordered a tiramisu to go and ventured outside. There were quite a few people  enjoying the sunshine. It was really one of those amazing, laid-back Sydney days.

Balmoral Boathouse

Balmoral Boathouse

The tiramisu was topped with vanilla ice cream and was presented in a cute mason jar. It had the perfect balance of saltiness and bitterness, and treaded the line more towards a light mocha flavour.

Balmoral beach

Balmoral beach

Besides the crowds, it was the perfect Sydney day out. I’m not sure if I’d return on a sunny weekend. Potentially a weekday with wishful thinking that 100 jillion other Sydney-siders don’t have the same idea.

BALMORAL BOATHOUSE
2 The Esplanade
Balmoral Beach NSW 2088
(02) 9974 5440

Oh, dam

Oh, dam

Last month, for my birthday my mum insisted that my family get together for a picnic. They chose Warragamba Dam for the venue. The last time I remember coming here was back when I was in primary school, which is a very long time ago. I remember they let us walk onto the dam itself. I hear they stopped doing that after 9/11. It was still a lovely picturesque day.

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Sorry for the boring post. It really was quite lovely to just watch the ducks swimming across the water. They even had a super fancy pants educational centre with an interactive projection and activity centre for the kids. Anyway. A more exciting post soon. I promise. XxIMG_8843

Just like a heatwave

Just like a heatwave

I’ve been going through a Japanese food sorta phase. I guess the warmer weather lends itself to light and fresh food. I’m lucky enough to work in the city where it is abundant. I went to Takeru the other day and got a sake bento box filled with grilled salmon, potato croquette, tempura prawn, steamed veg, salad, pickles, miso soup, rice AND agadashi tofu. So much food for the low, low price of $12.90. All washed down with the green tea latte of course.

Takeru sake bento

I hope everyone stayed cool on this crazy 43ºC day in Sydney (and across Australia). Or so they predicted. There are reports that it is pushing a little higher as the day goes on. There are apparently 140 bushfires that happened statewide. Scary thought. I’m glad I don’t live near bushland to worry about pets, or the house or even the thought of having to evacuate. I went a bit nuts with the sweet, cold drinks today.

Cold drinks, iced coffee and green tea latte

I’m getting a handle on the loose ends left behind by the festive season. I’ve jumped on the Snapfish end of year deals for 50% off photobooks and photo prints. I think the discounts are down to 40% last I checked. I can’t wait to get them and go on the hunt for some adorable photo frames. I bought a pewter seashell frame months ago and have been dying to put a lovely beach photo in. I printed off this photo from last years Sculpture by the Sea.

Bondi Beach

Calendars calendars calendars.

Calendars calendars calendars.

There are so many beautiful calendars on the market right now. I’ve really only used mine for decorative purposes, and now that a new year is upon us, I need to make the decision whether to purchase a new one for this year. I’m rarely home these days between work and having a social life. Gasp. So I’m really on the fence about spending around 30 dollars for a decent one.

I’ve religiously purchased the Frankie calendar ($29.95) these past couple of years. I love the full page artwork and the grid was easy enough to scan at a glance. This year I noticed they changed the format to more of a list of dates which doesn’t really suit me, so I had a look around.

Frankie Calendar

I’m a sucker for gorgeous floral prints. I’m in love with this botanical calendar from Kate’s Paperie (on sale $41.97). It makes me feel all wintery-warm and fuzzy inside. However I’m not sure if I’d buy a desk calendar as I have limited real estate on my desk with all my clutter!

Kate's Paperie

Another cute and whimsical design, this 2013 zoo calendar ($26.95) is made of thick card that you assemble yourself into little animal silhouettes. Such a clever idea and would make a lovely new year gift for all ages.

animal zoo

With so many to choose from I’m not sure how I’ll be able to pick just one! What’s your calendar for 2013?

Dinner at Steel Bar and Grill

Dinner at Steel Bar and Grill

The boy and I absolutely love Steel (and its sister restaurant, Pony), so when an amazing Spreets deal came along (read $59 for two main meals and a bottle of wine) we jumped on it. We booked it for a quiet(er) Thursday evening in the hopes of avoiding the throngs out for a Friday night drink. We started off with a glass of Pinot Gris – or rather a bottle…

Wine at Steel Bar and Grill

Obligatory WIWT shot. Kindly excuse the graininess. I love the Risky Business-esque eggs underneath the bathroom sinks. Not to mention the screens in front of each sink that continuously plays a random chick flick. Anyway. I wore a Cue spring print dress with Bloch hot pink patent flats.

We started off with four zucchini flowers stuffed with provolone and random cheeses. It tasted a bit like tuna as well. I’ve been going through a bit of a zucchini flower phase, so it seems. I can’t get enough of them now that they’re in season.

Zucchini flowers at Steel Bar and Grill

We chose the beef eye fillet and thirlmere chicken breast for mains. Both were delectable, tender and juicy and did not disappoint whatsoever. I loved the slivered almonds in the eye fillet combined with the feta. It definitely is a combination I would never have thought of in a million years.

Eye fillet at Steel Bar and Grill

I loved the prosciutto wrapped enoki mushrooms. They reminded me of little octopus (octupii?) with a few extra legs. Besides which they tasted amazing and had a unique texture to match the chicken breast.

Chicken at Steel Bar and Grill

Dessert was ordered, however they had dimmed the lighting by the time it came around, so I wasn’t able to take a decent photo. I dislike using the flash on my phone as it seemingly attracts attention. Haha – and normal photo taking of each meal before it comes does not :p