news and tidbits

A funny yarn about “Food and Politics in Canberra”

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Anyone who pretends food and politics have nothing to do with each other, please pay more attention!

I was a bit offended by sloppy Joe’s fictitious claim today that there’s “only a few restaurants in Canberra” to choose from. But no-one has more right to be offended by sloppy Joe than Clive palmer after Joe claimed Clive is having several dinners each night! That’s below the belt Joe!

Joe said “But it doesn’t surprise me, in Canberra you bump into each other at restaurants. I mean, there are only a few restaurants in Canberra.”

And in a jibe at Mr Palmer he said: “Well, obviously Clive might have more than one meal a night so it’s quite possible you’ll bump into him in a restaurant.”

The article goes on: “But the taunts soon were turning on Mr Hockey, with Bill Shorten going food mad over the mere mention of a banana split just before lunchtime today.

While addressing reporters about Mr Palmer’s rendezvous, the Opposition Leader picked out repeated cliches from the political cookbook. While he didn’t know what the meeting was about last night, Mr Shorten was sure about a few things.

“What I do know is that Malcolm Turnbull was eating Peking duck last night, Joe Hockey’s left looking like a goose this morning and we’ve got a lame-duck Treasurer,” he said.

Mr Shorten was certainly interested in the “late night meal”, despite insisting he had no idea what was on the “menu”.

When asked whether there was anything wrong with Secretary Parkinson dining with Mr Turnbull and Mr Palmer, he said the issue wasn’t about him being a public servant.

“The issue is that clearly Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey have wheeled Malcolm Turnbull out of the freezer where they keep him.”

Clive and Malcolm


Queen Victoria Markets Melbourne (@VicMarkets)

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will have to update this post later with some more links and tips… but for now…This morning I had a brief visit to the wonderful Queen Victoria markets in Melbourne. I’ve been many times before but it was still a delightful way to start a day.

During my brief sojourn through the sights, smells, tastes and sounds of what is arguably Australia’s most interesting food market I took a few pictures but nothing can match the experience itself . Don’t get me wrong I still love shopping at Jabal Kippax and Belconnen Markets, and Flemington in Sydney is impressive too, but Melbourne has something to be very proud of here. There is too much food to even try and sample in one day, let alone a week or two.

One of the first things which impresses about the QVM is the compact variety and diversity of food. This is a pretty lousy photo but it (sort of) shows a French, German and Polish deli-style outlet within a few feet of each other. This mix of smell aand sights (and tastes) is wonderful.


I’ll let the rest of the pictures speak for themselves now and add some more comments and links at a future date. Should just mention that sample box below only cost $12, so you can eat well without spending too much! 🙂









I should also mention the market was full of happy and friendly people. The family running the deli above were happy for me to chat with them and take photos and were very proud of the quality and variety of their delicacies. The guy below didn’t mind having his photo taken as he walked and hollarred about the discount meat available at his butcher’s window.



The donut van above seemed quieter than I remembered it during my last visit when I took this photo. I though for a few minutes that maybe I wasn’t the only one on a diet at the markets today. But I saw it again later and the line stretched for a few metres down the path!

During my trip I saw a few of these bike racks around the Melbourne CBD. I’d be interested to find out how successful they’ve been and wonder if they would work in Canberra?



Here’s some old and beautiful public art. Melbourne is full of it!


p.s. If you want to visit these markets and want a tip about somewhere to stay, I’ll suggest the Jasper Hotel on Elizabeth Street. I’ve stayed there a few times. If you book through wotif you can occasionally pick up a room for about $100. And, best of all, its only about 50m away from the markets and within easy walking distance of many Melbourne attractions as well as numerous tramlines that can take you all over the city with ease.

Want a cheap dinner in Civic? Sorted (Mondays and Tuesdays anyways)

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If you’re looking for a cheap meal on a Monday evening or a Tuesday evening in Civic or just can’t be bothered cooking at home before or after some shopping on the way home from the office, here’s a couple of options:

1) Monday nights: $4 Burgers at the Uni Pub. Pretty hard to beat. Particularly if you live the life I lived while I was studying engineering at uni… i.e. spending most Monday nights at the Uni Pub (different uni though 🙂

uni pub 4 dollar burgers

Anyways, I tried one of their burgers a while back (check it out here) and it was quite ok. Beer was cold too!

uni pub

2) Tuesday nights: $7.90 Chicken Schnitty (with chips & salad) OR Battered Fish & Chips (with salad) at the City Labor Club. They might charge you a bit extra for sauce but you’ll walk away full and satisfied. They also have a Movie Meal Deal with Dendy that includes a main meal and a movie ticket at the nearby cinema for only $15. Bargain!

labor club specials board  city labor club movie deal

Schnitty Post from a quality jernalism blog

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You can probably ascertain from my previous posts here, here and here that I have a soft spot for a good schnitzel.

hot schnitzy

Recently via twitter I saw, read and enjoyed a blog about schnitties on a “jernalism” website so much that I wanted to share it with a few other Canberra schnitty connoisseurs as well as keep it somewhere handy for future reference next time someone in the mainstream media starts sprouting on about their so-called schnitzel expertise…

So here it is: 10 mistakes you make when writing a list about 10 mistakes other people make

I particularly enjoyed this line: “a schnitty served with a healthy covering of thick, rich gravy is one of life’s ultimate pleasures and if you think that’s wrong you really need to reassess yourself you miserable, soulless philistine”.

Apart from the schnitzel and parmy specials at the City Labor Club which I have previously reviewed, there was also this helpful list of Canberra schnitty options from a recent article in the Canberra times.

While you’re here, if you’re a really big schnitty fan, cop a load of this next time you’re in Melbourne. But read the rules carefully and whatever you do, don’t throw up!

AND… if you thought eating 1kg of schnitty in a single sitting was brave… this fine Melbourne establishment challenges you to eat 1.5kg 🙂

The CSIRO Diet road test

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In case you don’t follow me on twitter you may have missed my exciting news (that after being sick in bed for most of last week) I have been inspired by @garydlum to take better care of my temple. Recently I also picked up some wonderful free books from @eatnik including this gem from 2005…

CSIRO diet

I started the CSIRO well-being diet on Monday 28 April. I currently have a 108cm waist, I lug around 30% body fat (which is probably much more than I need, even to survive a protracted zombie holocaust) and I weigh 102kg. I understand that weight alone is not a good measure of progress, especially as I have a large frame. Although not particularly tall (6ft) I have weighed up to 110kg in the past when I was a bit lonely and did a lot of body-building. But my best fighting weight is around 87kg (after a year in the military at aged 18.5… a long time ago!).

I reckon I should be around 90kg so that’s what I’ll aim for, at least initially. So my plan is to lose around 1kg per week for the next 12 weeks. I understand exercise and extra water will help and will try my best to find time for more of that as well. Anyway, wish me luck!

The first step is to try and stick to the meal plan, that replaces lots of unhealthy food (burgers, fried food, pizzas, too much pasta, etc.) with healthy options … like this chilli tuna salad sandwich on day 1!

chilli tuna sandwich

My better half is also helping immensely, just to remind me I’m the luckiest man in the world.

Day 2 update: I haven’t died of starvation yet, despite the audible tummy rumbles during the day. I don’t think I’ll bother measuring my stats or progress until at least the weekend. There’s no point stressing over it each day, once a week will be enough! 🙂

Anyway, feel free to comment/criticise/laugh, etc. Peer pressure helps right? 🙂

Day 7 update: This morning I weighed, measured and stared at myself again, as I will each weekend for the next few months. The good news is I have lost a whole kilo, despite not doing any substantial exercise whatsoever (apart from the usual daily stroll with the dogs each morning). If I can continue to lose a kilo each week I will reach my goal weight of 90kg on schedule in 12 weeks. Can’t complain about that. What is perplexing though is that the electronic scale still says I have 30% body fat. I guessing it does that because it rounds it up or down a percent and I need to lose a bit more fat. Also, it turns out I was measuring my waist incorrectly. Better half says I should be doing it where I bend to the side. So turns out my waist is 104cm. But I can’t really compare that to the 108cm from last week which I measured a bit lower on my abdomen. Good news is a couple of more ribs are showing and my stomach is clearly starting to shrink a bit as I keep to the food plan. So far so good!

To celebrate our mutual progress we enjoyed hamburgers for dinner tonight! here are some pictures and captions:

I set the table with an abundance of healthy options for the family to add between their burger buns, in addition to the meat patties:
healthy burger feast

My partner made enough healthy lean meat patties to ensure I was tempted to eat two – but I resisted, for about an hour, eventually eating a second one without a bun or cheese etc. I cooked them to perfection. Insides were still juicy, though not raw!
finely cooked burger patties thick and juicy

My fine burger, assembled with love, and wholegrain bread buns, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, capsicum, mushroom, beef and (light!) cheese 🙂
a fine burger made with love at home

This is what happens if you let a six year old decide what to put in their burger and assemble it unsupervised. Her “lettuce and butter burger” was intentionally designed to allow room for dessert and post-dinner snacks. Naughty!
6 year olds butter and lettuce burger

I think its all the cooking shows she watches with her mum and dad, but the 2 year old now enjoys many creatively “deconstructed” meals, including burgers.
Ms 2 deconstructed burger

Don Dunstan, Aussie politician and foodie

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Don Dunstan was a South Australian politician well ahead of his time.

As someone who has studied the history of political campaigning in Australia, Dunstan’s campaigning efforts in the 1960s were seminal, having laid the foundation for the highly professional ‘It’s Time’ campaign which swept Gough Whitlam to office in 1972.

In 1976 Don Dunstan also published a self-titled cook book.


The Adelaide Advertiser published a review of the cookbook in 2006. It’s online here and reproduced below:

Cooking: Home-grown – Don Dunstan’s legacy

Thirty years after South Australian renaissance man and premier Don Dunstan published his cookbook, the recipes remain as modern as ever.

COURAGE, innovation and change were the hallmarks of one of South Australia’s most remarkable premiers, Don Dunstan, who served in the post for a short time in 1967 and again from 1970 to 1979. He not only steered many forward-thinking changes to our state’s laws and legislation but also challenged our perspective on food, cooking, restaurants, theatre, the arts and even fashion. Who could forget his parade of short-sleeved safari suits, long socks and pink shorts?

In the middle of his most productive time, 30 years ago this year, Don Dunstan found the energy and inspiration to write a cookbook. Don Dunstan’s Cookbook defined the ’70s in terms of kitchen arts, he later described it as “a period piece”, yet its text and recipes remain relevant and sometimes innovative.

It was developed around his home and garden. He had a fowl pen as the foundation of his garden, and chicken features heavily. He describes chicken as “the best basis of Australian cuisine” – more true today than ever.


Culturally diverse even then, many of the recipes are drawn from and influenced by Mr Dunstan’s travels. Indian and Malay cooking each take up a chapter, with healthy smatterings of French, Italian, Greek and Swedish and other flavours in between.

Desserts were omitted from the original 1976 edition, but were introduced in a 1998 edition, focusing on fruits from the garden. These four recipes, taken from his cookbook and reproduced faithfully, are not out of place in 2006.

The scrambled eggs are a delicious brunch idea and a strikingly similar version can be found today at Citrus restaurant in Hutt St. Blend with 300ml cream and a noggin of brandy. Put in glasses and chill.

Don Dunstan’s Cookbook was first published by Rigby in 1976, and a second edition by Calypso Press. It is out of print. The recipes are published here with metric measurements. The chicken with chickpeas is an easy, hearty winter stew. It matches wonderfully with the simple but flavoursome bean recipe. Mr Dunstan was quite passionate about beans and begged us not to boil them out of existence.

Last, there’s the rhubarb fool, and Mr Dunstan certainly was no fool to allow the aromatic, sweet, sour flavour of home-grown rhubarb dominate. In the “Joy Of Cooking” chapter, Mr Dunstan explains: “I find a continuous satisfaction in growing, preparing, serving and eating food, and want to share it with you.”

Chicken with chickpeas

1 large roasting chicken (2kg)
2 tbsp corn oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp turmeric
250g chickpeas, soaked overnight
Juice 1 or more lemons
2-4 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt and black pepper or pinch of cayenne

Cut the chicken into joints. Heat the oil in a saucepan or deep, flame-proof casserole (large enough to hold chicken). Fry the onion in the oil until soft and golden. Sprinkle with turmeric and mix well. Add the chicken and saute gently, turning it until it is a dark, yellow colour all over. Add a pint (about 600ml) of water, the soaked and drained chickpeas, lemon juice and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer gently covered for an hour or longer, until the chicken is very tender, the chickpeas soft, yellow and lemony, and the liquid very much reduced. Adjust seasoning and serve.

Green beans

1 onion, finely chopped
Young green beans, amount to suit, topped
and tailed
2 tbsp chicken stock

Chop an onion finely and soften in butter over a low flame.

Add your tender young beans just topped and tailed, and toss them in the covered pan until they are glistening. Cook over a low flame, giving an occasional toss for 3 minutes. Then add a small amount – almost two tablespoons – of chicken stock. Simmer, then cover, until the beans are tender.

Parsee eggs

Eggs (to suit number of serves)
Small knob of ginger, peeled Ghee
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped
1 tsp turmeric powder
Red chilli, finely chopped (to taste)
Powdered cumin, to sprinkle
Fresh tomato wedges, to garnish
Extra coriander leaves, to garnish

Another flavoursome variant on scrambled eggs goes this way.

Beat your eggs and add cream and stir it in well. Chop some fresh ginger, and fry it in ghee. Add a chopped onion and fry until soft. Now add 2 tbsp of fresh coriander leaves chopped, and a tsp of turmeric. Stir them and add the eggs; continue stirring. As the eggs commence to set, add some finely chopped fresh red hot chilli, or if you haven’t these, sprinkle in a scant half tsp of hot chilli powder. Continue stirring, and when the eggs have set, serve. Sprinkle the top with powdered cumin seed, and garnish with fresh tomato wedges and sprigs of coriander.

Rhubarb fool

1 bunch rhubarb
1 cup sugar
300ml cream
A slug of brandy
String and chop a bunch of rhubarb.

Put in a saucepan with a cup of sugar and enough water not quite to cover, and simmer until soft.


Here’s some info for Vegans

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Although I’m happy to eat vegetarian and vegan food most of the time (there are a lot of awesome Lebanese, Indian and Vietnamese dishes I love in this category for starters) I am basically an omnivore. However that doesn’t stop people asking me for tips and lists of Veggie options for themselves or their friends visiting Canberra.

I’ve always said there’s no point re-inventing the wheel and will happily point to existing resources to save my own time and effort.

Here is the best list I have recently found of Vegan (and vegetarian) eating options in Canberra. Enjoy:

There is also a Canberra-based food blog called Vegetarannean run by the awesome Charlotte Harper and it’s on twitter as well @Vegeterranean.

<Updated May 2014> Also my friend Sonja has a blog with useful info about vegan meals in the parliamentary triangle here: Sonja can be followed on twitter as well @SonjaBarfoed .

<updated July 2014> I also just found a very good online list of Vegan joints in Canberra here:

The Politics of Food

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The Politics of Food

@CBRFoodie got a special mention in a recent @canberratimes Food & Wine Supplement! thanks to the lovely editor @NatashaRudraCT … and thanks to @rachiperera for spotting it and posting it on twitter 🙂

A list of #Canberra food blogs

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After a brief chat with a few other Canberra food bloggers I thought it would be worthwhile complimenting my Twitter list of #Canberra Foodies (i.e. people in Canberra who share food stories on twitter – I’ve identified over 234! see the list here) with a reasonably current Canberra Food Bloggers list.

When I started tweeting from @CBRFoodie last year I noticed (after a little bit of research and googling) there seemed to be hundreds of Canberra-based food blogs, but most seemed to have died a quick death. I’m guessing this is because a lot of people try and then abandon the idea of blogging when they realise it can be time-consuming, has technical challenges and it involves occasionally interacting with some very strongly opinionated people. (So perhaps a background in politics may help? 🙂

Anyway – back to the topic at hand. Here’s a short list (only 75 at last count!) of my current favourite Canberra-based food bloggers (in alphabetical order). As you can see I’ve discovered most of these via Twitter or Facebook. More recently I also discovered two relevant facebook groups (which are appropriately moderated to keep the content relevant): Canberra Bloggers Collective and Canberra Food Bloggers. Both are closed groups just for bloggers and both are moderated to keep posts on topic. Even more recently a friend Anna (@eatnik) pointed me in the direction of another ten or so additions to the list which I had missed!

If you know of anyone not on this list please let me know and I’ll update it. After a few iterations I was advised that it would be more sensible to try and keep the list in alphabetical order, so it is alphabetised on the basis of the blog name.

Absolutely Jas @absolutelyjas

Adventures in Winterland by Sharon Trauki @Sharon_inez

A Kitchen Cat Natash (aka A Kitchen Cat) was a contestant on the 2014 Master Chef TV series! here’s a link to the story in the Canberra Times including the cheeky tweet from Rachi Perera which revealed the news 🙂

Andrew and Emelia’s Food Adventures @EVimalasiri

Anything But Toast

The Baking Bureaucrat

Bake Bike Blog @bakebikeblog

You Berra believe it @LindaSoo

Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things @bizzylizzycooks

Blithe Moments @LisaRobey

Brazen’s (mostly) gluten free adventures!

Café Cat @the_cafeCat


Canberra Gastronome @CanGastronome

Canberra Times Food and Wine (Choose your “location=Canberra”) Current and previous Editors: @NatashaRudraCT and @kirstenlawsonCT

Capital Food Journal @capfoodjournal

Capital Gourmand (Tom moved to London last year but his blog is still excellent) @FreeHugsTommy

Cara Phillips @_caraphillips_

CBR Foodie (me! :)) @CBRFoodie

Charinya’s Kitchen @CharinyaR

Dreaming of Almonds (and a nicer world) @Almond_Dreams

Emiko Davies @emikodavies

Feeding the Sonis

Fine Eating

Food Porn journal

Food Wine Travel @ChristineSalins

Freak Biscuit “gluten-free vegequarian”

Exploring the taste of language

Good Food Week @GoodFoodWeek

Green Foodie @greenfoodie

Her Canberra @HerCanberra

In The Taratory @InTheTaratory

The Intolerant Chef (not active on Twitter)

Karin’s Recipes and Random Musings

Kate Freeman Nutrition @KFNutrition

Kiriels Kitchen Medieval and Renaissance cooking

Le Bon Vivant @Rachiperera

Lily and Ouk Eat Food

Love at Every Bite @loveateverybite

Makeitbakeitsnapit @kirsty__young (previously known as ‘In the Kitchen with Kirsty’)

Miss K Licious As Anna (@Eatnik) explained, MissKlicious is Sydney-based but reviews many CBR restaurants and deserves an honourable mention 🙂 she’s on twitter too @missklicious

mnfdblog – maybe about food, maybe not @neildoody

Mouthless Mutters @ezzbez

Mumchic @mum_n_chic

My Canberra Table @girl_who_cooks

My Nutritious Journey @KaseyBateup

Netherleigh @netherleighblog

Nilbarcodefood @nilbarcodefoodNilbarcode

Nutrition In Action @Eucale_Stanes

One Hungry Hen Heidi lives in Cooma, just south of Canberra but spends a lot of time here and blogs and tweets regularly about Canberra food and happenings @onehungryhen

Raving Recipes @ravingrecipes60

shenANNAgans @AnnaJ31

Short and Sweet

Shrinking Single @shrinkingsingle

Sir and M’Lady Dine Out mainly outside of Canberra but they have a Canberra section to their blog and they’re on Instagram

Susan’s Sumptuous Suppers

Tales of a Confectionist


The Bread and Butter Chef

The Canberran @TheCanberran

The Cinnamon Scrolls @cinnamonscribe

The Constance Search For Gluten Free

The Food Avenue @thefoodavenue

The Food Marshall

The Girl Has Sparke @girlhassparke

The Martini Whisperer @martiniwhisper1

The Merrymaker sisters @fithealthymade

The Munch and Crunch

The Patient Cook

The Unicorn Mum

The Wooden Spoons

Travel and beyond @TravelnBeyond

Vegeterannean Editor Charlotte is a well-known journalist, publisher and researcher in Canberra writing circles and active in social media on twitter via @vegeterranean and Editia

Woodkitchen by Lucy

Yummy Lummy @garydlum

Also, I have to mention there are few Canberra people who may not be trying to be food bloggers but who share plenty of food stories and Canberra stories and who follow these sorts of conversations very closely on twitter to the point where I think of them as fellow-Canberra foodies (I’ll explain why in some detail in a future blog).

@RichardTuffin …

@TweetCanberra (aka @JamesTew) …

@PaulJurak …

@martin_o (aka Martin Ollman) …  

@gcnelson (aka Greg Nelson) … gcnelson on vimeo

@Honey_Delight (aka Carmen) …

@jaysullivan2 (aka Comedian Jay Sullivan) has a regular blog which I like reading called Dear Weetbix

Nah, It’s Canberra

I’ve also decided to list recently inactive Canberra food blogs (for two reasons, in case I stumble across them and wonder if they’re on my list or not, and also in case they are reactivated and I want to add them again to the master list).

The Canberra Cook Cath hasn’t blogged since 2013 but she’s on twitter at @CathCanCook

Canberra Vegan (last post December 2013)

Fooodgasm (last Canberra-related review January 2013)

Happy Bites (last post November 2013)

Honey and Soy @honeyandsoy (blog inactive since 2013)

Progressive Dinner Party (the last blog entry to this awesome Canberra food blog seems to have been in May 2012 but the author Zoe is still active on twitter at @crazyBrave )

The Papillon Pantry (last post March 2013)

Laksa at Noodle Cafe in Garema Place

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Enjoyed a delicious spicy $10 Combination Laksa at the Noodle Cafe for late lunch in today.

This place is highly recommended. I recently rediscovered it after a recommendation from Eileen (@TheFoodAvenue).

What’s hard to believe is the friendly and quick service one receives for the $10 lunch specials (complimentary prawn crackers, cup with ice for your drink, table service).

Cans of drink are $2.50.

Despite the fact that I’ve blogged about this place already and awarded it two #Canberra Beanies already, I think I’ll be back on a regular basis and slowly work my way through their specials menu!

noodle cafe laksa

Noodle Cafe on Urbanspoon