I’m back to this blog from a short work/family-focussed hiatus. I recently changed jobs and now work in Barton most days (as opposed to the centre of Canberra City, commonly referred to as Civic). This move means that I’m more likely to have lunch around the parliamentary triangle, but after focussing on Civic for most of last year that’s probably a good thing!
Although within walking distance of Kingston and Manuka, the many office blocks in and around Barton have historically relied on a smaller variety of lunchtime food options than workplaces in larger centres such as Civic, Belconnen, Woden and Tuggeranong, with their shopping centres and numerous community clubs.
That seems to have all changed recently with the invasion of hipper eateries like Brodburger and Double Drummer, which, along with new contractors and chefs in many of the local pubs, clubs and cafes, have re-energised the local food scene.
Even old and reliable food outlets like the famous Lachlan Café have been, through this newer competition, preparing and selling tastier, healthier and better value food. Food competition has been good for the workers in Barton.
My two most recent excursions to Lachlan Café have left me impressed and changed my previously created impression that this was more like a bistro diner than a café in a cosmopolitan urban centre.
A few weeks ago I enjoyed a very healthy baked fish with roasted vegetables. $11.80 for the fish and vegetables and $3.80 for a large 500ml can of drink was good value.
Earlier this week I went back and liked the look of the chicken stir fry. For some reason I felt like having some veggies with it instead of rice – no problem! I also bought a diet ginger beer and the delicious and reasonably healthy lunch below set me back $14.
Lachlan Café is located on Brisbane Avenue near the corner of National Circuit and is a good option if your looking for fast and affordable food in the parliamentary triangle. Two #Canberra Beanies.
Had the pleasure of attending the Canberra YWCA Frugal Feast Recipe Book Launch at the ANU Food Co-Op this evening. In attendance were some of the amazing women who keep the wheels of this important womens advocacy group turning, as well as a couple if special guests: ACT Minister Shane Rattenbury and Canberra Times Food Editor Natasha Rudra.
The crowd was also entertained with melodies from lovely Cheeky Violets.
This book and other special YWCA events from 17-24 Nov will raise money & food for their annual Christmas appeal. Contact the YECA for more info of to make a contribution.
*I’m doing this on an iPhone so will return later to add links 🙂
Some of you may be aware I was lucky enough to have been recently chosen amongst 101 Canberra bloggers and social media geeks to participate in the #Humanbrochure campaign run by the #VisitCanberra crew at Tourism ACT.
Here’s a recent picture of some of the “Human” gang during a wander around New Acton with various mobile recording devices.
In 2014 #Humanbrochure evolved from the award-winning 2013 exercise to focus more on locals sharing their experiences and knowledge of Canberra region with their friends, colleagues and other personal networks. The various activities culminated in a weekend in which each local “human” (i.e. moi) hosted a guest family from out of town at a local place or institution. There was a kind of lottery for the final places with each host and guest offered an experience based on their family/kids/ages etc. We ended up with a personal tour of the National Dinosaur Museum on a Friday night, when it was not normally open to the public.
This was a great option for us (my guest was my sister Dominique from Sydney and two of her children) as we’re long-time family members and our kids are all aspiring palaeontologists. I like dinosaurs too 🙂
I’m a firm believer in “a picture tells a thousand words”. Most of the photos below were taken by my nine year old daughter using a digital SLR and my iPhone as well as some taken by my sister.
If you haven’t been to the National Dinosaur Museum before you will be very impressed by their out-door display, which includes a couple of examples that you can get up close and personal with!
Inside the museum there are plenty of exhibits and attractions for kids and adults alike. You won’t have to try too hard to take some memorable photos of your kids or friends.
Before you worry about the expense of visiting this awesome institution I’ll let you in on a little secret that keeps us and our five kids very happy. Families can join “Friends of the Dinosaurs” for only $70 per year, which includes two adults and all their school-aged children. If you have a houseful of aspiring palaeontologists like we do that is great value. You’ll be able to visit THE BEST collection of dinosaur exhibits in Australia as many times as you like. You’ll also get great discounts for your friends and for kids parties and visits to sister institutions around Australia. We’ve been members for several years now and sometimes go more than once a month and always at least four times a year (which for a family of seven visiting four times a year works out at $2.50 per visit… hard to beat for any dinosaur museum or park anywhere in the world past or present). So here’s the form so you can join and encourage your kids to learn about science!
“Hang on – where is this awesome place?!” I hear you ask… you can find a map, google links, opening hours, prices and links to book and pay online here.
They are also on Facebook and it’s worth liking and following their page if you’re interested in occasional specials and auctions of second-hand exhibits and other dinosaur paraphernalia.
Palaeontologist Jess (who was an awesome tour guide btw) : “So who can tell me what sort of animal this is?”
Ms 5: “A crocodile!” Jess: “no”
Ms 6: “A lizard!” Jess: “no, not a lizard”
Ms 7: “Alligator?” Jess: “no, not an alligator”
Ms 9: “Its a giant frog!” Jess: “Correct!
Wow, I was impressed by this giant frog as well as the fact my nine year old daughter knew more about it than I did! Took a photo, but it didn’t turn out as good as Dom’s 🙂
Throughout this short visit I quickly learnt how much kids love this stuff and how much I wish I had paid attention during my previous visits with them. When Jess asked “Can anyone tell me when the dinosaurs lived?” My nine year old daughter casually put her hand up and answered “during the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods”!!! I actually quickly worked out I had no hope of keeping up so just tried to tag along, enjoy the opportunity to take a few photos … and hoped none of the kids asked me any hard questions.
But the penny eventually dropped and I realised my sister was taking too many photos of me. I guessed she was hoping to get one of me picking my nose for Facebook. There was only one thing I could do to let her know two could play at this game.
One of the activities that kids never seem to tire of at this place is the puzzles they can put together in a room designed for kids activities. It’s pretty cool and we had to drag them away after a while.
In fact I think it’s fair to say there’s too much to see and do in a single trip to the National Dinosaur Museum. You have to make a few trips to really appreciate it. I’ve been a regular for a few years now and am yet to find it repetitive or uninteresting.
Oldest rock in the world (above) and the oldest poo in the world (below).
Megalodon never fails to impress. There is a life-size Megalodon jaw with a hand-painted backdrop behind it to give it a life-like appearance. We had the good fortune to meet the incredibly talented artist painting this and many other murals around the museum at a previous visit.
In case you’re not sure how much bigger Megalodon is compared to carcharodon carcharias (a Great White Shark). Here’s a picture I swiped from the interwebs.
And in case you don’t find that scary, here’s a picture of one of the many awesomely scary “humans” (the irrepressible Jemma Scarr) I had the pleasure of meeting during a recent #Humanbrochure “experience” at the National Dinosaur Museum. Notice the Megalodon jaw display still hadn’t been given the big colour backdrop when this photo was taken!
My kids were awes-struck at some of the newer displays they haven’t seen before and which have only recently been added.
Nothing to be afraid of though. She’s got this well under control.
The hands-on nature of the tour gave the kids a real appreciation of what they were learning and an insight into how dinosaurs lived.
Unsurprisingly, many dinosaurs were small and feathered… and probably tasted like chicken.
Poor old number six has seen better days!
Tiny the Mastodon
Our awesome hosts also served up some pizza and drinks for the kids during a meal break. This is definitely not part of the normal tour but it’s nice to be treated like a special guest occasionally! If you do visit and get hungry the local area has some terrific options for food and drinks, two of our regular favourites are Café Injoy and the George Harcourt Inn.
There’s a lot more to see and do if you make the trip. There’s a little bit more about the history of the museum here.
Last but not least, thanks to the Burbury Hotel in Barton for making my sister and her kids very welcome. They were shocked and pleasantly surprised to discover the hotel had borrowed two small plastic dinosaurs to decorate the hotel room and prepare them for their visit to the National Dinosaur Museum.
My sister really enjoyed the hotel room and hospitality. If you’re lucky enough to get a 6th floor room the views are quite impressive too!
My sister was also impressed with the pack of goodies I brought for her and her kids from Canberra Handmade (in a Canberra Handmade bag of course).
Finally thanks to the #Humanbrochure crew at #VisitCanberra who made this amazing experience possible for us as well as all the other #humans and guests!
So come and visit! we’re only a short drive down the Hume Highway from Sydney. You’ll know you’re close when you pass this amazing and beautiful sight (a collection of windmills collecting clean energy near Lake George).
The kids will love you for the fun and learning experience.
Where: National Dinosaur Museum
When: 10am – 5pm EVERY DAY except Christmas Day!
Why: a great educational experience for young and old.
How to get there: via google.
Last week I had the pleasure of enjoying the amazingly filling (and quite delicious) $18 Burrito Bowl (just the insides of a Burrito on a plate, without the carbs of the wrap) at Francisco’s Mexican Cantina in Manuka Village Canberra.
You can choose from a variety of filings. I chose beef and bean and loved it. In fact I would probably have been happy with a smaller size which was only $10 (the large plate is very large and filling and could easily feed two people).
But I persevered and began to feel the early stages of a food coma after returning to work 🙂
I will definitely return to try other variations as well as other items from the specials board.
They also serve a mean cup of coffee.
If you like Mexican food and affordable lunch specials, Francisco’s is a great option, particularly amongst the high-priced restaurant in and around Manuka.
Three #Canberra Beanies!
Three #Canberra Beanies
There are so many hidden lunchtime gems across Canberra that it would be physically impossible for one person to try them all in a lifetime. Many places are well-hidden and can only be found by word of mouth , news stories, tips from Canberra’s many foodies, or just plain luck (Urban Spoon is another option too 🙂
One of these hidden gems has a talented team of staff who are happy and comfortable serving everything from affordable and honest lunchtime fare loved by busy tradies, to more elaborately cooked meals for business and celebratory lunches. Plumb on Tennant is located on Tennant Street in Fyshwick. They have a comprehensive lunchtime menu with lots of affordable options:
I enjoyed a delicious $10 grilled scotch fillet burger with a side of $3 fries!
The burger was tender and the toppings were well-balanced. The fries were awesome (clearly hand-cut and perhaps slightly boiled prior to frying, ensuring a crispy exterior and creamy inside – how they should be!) I asked about the bread, which seemed a bit nicer than your average burger fare and was pleasantly surprised to learn they source all their buns from Flute bakery in Fyshwick, which I had previously rated highly for their pies and sweets. It’s always good to see local businesses supporting each other and not cutting corners on locally-sourced ingredients.
This place is recommended if you’re ever in the area and want a quick bite or you can check out their larger menus for other tasty options for breakfast and lunch. I will definitely be back and will probably have a longer chat with the owner, who has worked in the local hospitality business for a long time and clearly has a lot of Canberra foodie stories to share. Three Canberra Beanies!
In a recent post I opined about “what makes a foodie?” and concluded that it is usually someone who has a passion for good food and enjoying life. Foodies can be anyone from students, to food professionals to politicians! One person I have known for a long time through work and who I know to be very passionate about food and wine and entertainment in Canberra is Andrew Barr, who also happens to be the ACT Deputy Chief Minister. As a busy politician Andrew often doesn’t have the time to pursue all his passions and is often served food he hasn’t ordered, but he only ever seems to have good things to say about the food and entertainment scene in and around Canberra.
Here’s a photo of him recently enjoying a guest appearance next to a world-famous Italian Chef at Canberra’s Capital Region Farmer’s Market.
So Andrew, unlike previous foodies you probably don’t need to tell me much about yourself. Because you’re the Deputy Chief Minister I think you may be the first Canberra Foodie I have interviewed who has their own Wikipedia page and Personal Website with a very detailed bio!
Where do you live? Dickson
How long have you been blogging? 7 years of social media addiction
Other hobbies? travel, movies, sport, wine, music
Apple or Android? Apple
Favourite TV shows? Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Alpha House, Looking and Betas
Favourite devices? iPad and iPhone
Can we take a peek at your home screen?
Most-used app? Music
Favourite social media? Facebook
What’s the first thing online you check each morning? Email and social
Recent book you recommend? Barracuda – Christos Tsioklas
Favourite film of 2014 (so far)? The Grand Budapest Hotel
Favourite food? 🙂 avocado
Here are some culinary highlights from our Deputy Chief Minister’s twitter feed:
— Andrew Barr (@ABarrMLA) July 26, 2014
— Andrew Barr (@ABarrMLA) February 7, 2014
And here is his recent announcement regarding the new “Westside” pop-up project in West basin, which will feature live entertainment, streetfood and pop-up bars. It’s scheduled to kick off at the same time as Floriade in just over a month!
— Andrew Barr (@ABarrMLA) July 23, 2014
Yesterday I enjoyed a brief lunchtime escape to the City Hellenic Club. Prompted by the recent news that Helena and Vicky from My Kitchen Rules are about to descend on Canberra and turn us all into Tzatziki connoisseurs for a day I thought I should catch up on some Greek cuisine at one of my local community clubs.
I’m a member of the Hellenic Club (actually I’m a member of half a dozen Canberra Community Clubs because I think they’re mostly awesome and we’re lucky to have them in Canberra) so I strolled in without much fanfare. The first striking impression is that there doesn’t seem to be much Greek food on the menu at this club.
You can find the menu online here and I’ve reproduced it below:
Certainly no tzatziki! I’ve had some great Greek-style meals at the Hellenic Club in Woden and I’m guessing the menu here just reflects the demand from the city-based (mainly Anglo-Australian) clientele. I’ll be visiting the club in Woden next week so I might ask the management about this if I get a chance. Yes, I love Greek food enough to be that annoying. In fact there isn’t a Mediterranean cuisine I don’t devour if given the opportunity, probably because mum was such a versatile cook who taught us to appreciate good food from the whole region.
OK, what did grab my eye (and stomach) was the lunch specials! Only $10 for grilled barramundi, served with salad and chips! (and if you look closely at the menu you can see this delicious meal is usually almost twice as expensive.
Both my colleague chose the dish and we both enjoyed it. The service took a little bit longer than we expected but it was lunchtime and the bistro area got crowded pretty quickly. It was certainly good value and I would highly recommend it. I’m sure I’ll go back and try more lunch specials here. Two Canberra Beanies!
I recently met Michele Walton on the local Canberra Foodie circuit. She’s a food professional and unlike me has a great expertise in healthy eating habits. Yet she still manages to sample and enjoy a huge range of food both in Canberra and during her (yes I’m a bit jealous) amazing overseas adventures. A short browse through her food blog Fine Eating makes me wonder how she finds the time and how she maintains such a healthy figure. Well, she explained to me over a lunch we shared at Flavours of India in Woden – “Strategic ordering”, which is basically just ordering what you need and sharing most of your food. It made a lot of sense. I’m now closely studying their on-line menu for my next visit.
So Michele, who are you? A Canberra loving foodie dietitian, with a keen appreciation of Canberra’s fine food opportunities, coming back home, after spending half my life working in a small rural town in southwest NSW. ‘Deni’ is a great community for raising kids, famously known for it’s ute muster and but not so much it’s many dining opportunities.
But enjoying life in Canberra, I’ve quickly worked out that it’s hard to eat out often without gaining weight, if I continue to approach the menu thinking restaurant opportunities for ‘fine’ dining are few and far between. And having spent my working life helping people enjoy the food they love but stay healthy, it just seems natural to start looking for ideas that work, writing about them and sharing them.
Age? 50 (which is kind of like being being in your twenties again, but with more money, more sense and more taste).
Where do you live? In Campbell, where I grew up. I love inner Canberra. It feels so like home to me. And it’s so great to see all the new eateries popping up so close to home.
How long have you been blogging? My friend Kaye (transformingkidsministry.com) got me into blogging down the coast last new year and I love it. I started with michelesindia.wordpress.com and branched into lovetravelwithfriends.wordpress.com, but it’s fineeating.wordpress.com that has my heart at the moment. It really got going in April this year. So I’m a real newbie on a steep learning curve.
Other hobbies? Foodie travel in Asia. Especially India. I’m about to go back. It’s my absolute favourite. But I enjoy it even more when I’m taking friends with me. Ten trusting friends came with us last year to Rajasthan, a special 50th birthday trip that was such great fun. And this year there’s eight of us heading to Cambodia and Laos.
Apple or Android? Apple everything
Car/bus/bike? Car, an orange Cruise hatch. (It was all that was in stock, but I’m a bit hooked on the colour now).
Favourite TV show? ‘At the Movies’ at the moment (I did love ‘Rick Stein’s India’ when it was on though… Here’s a sample!
Favourite devices? i anything. They are amazing! The Apple Store is so helpful – I’m always in there to get new tips.
Can we take a peek at your home screen?
Most-used app? Probably the email app. It’s my filing system as well.
Favourite social media? Facebook is great for sharing life with friends especially photos but I’ve just discovered Twitter and it’s amazing. I’m hooked!
What’s the first thing online you check each morning? Online it would be my emails.
What do you worry about at night? Whatever is my current project, will wake me up about 3am (very annoying). I love planning anything with food and friends – trips, parties, dinners, lunches… but there’s never enough time in the day so it seems to take over the night as well.
Most exciting recent news? Just recently another four lovely friends told me they’re coming for a foodie trip to Asia later this year, boldy trusting my recommendations.
Ideal career? I liked the idea of being Quentin Bryce when she was Governor General. Looked like lots of stylish, well resourced travel and hospitality opportunities there. But as that’s no longer an option, a TV host for an Asian Foodie travel show looks great. I’d even settle for Margaret Pomeranz’s job on ‘At the Movies’.
Recent book you recommend? That would have to be The Penguin Food Guide to India. It’s brilliant and my ‘go to’ book at the moment for planning our foodie itinerary for India.
Recent online video you laughed at? Bollywood movie clips! You can’t help but feel good when you watch them. One of the best recently for a smile was: http://youtu.be/qL9JmbRZiGI
Favourite food? Even though I love Asian food travel, visually beautifully presented interesting flavours in modern Australian food is my absolute favourite. It is a treat for all the senses. In Canberra I think Courgette does that best. And I can never say no to great ice-cream.
Category (e.g. food/eating (especially social eating/dining out) + health/weight management, dining reviews, travel eating, some cooking and recipes):
Other blogs (a bit related): michelesindia.wordpress.com, lovetravelwithfriends.wordpress.com
After a hot tip from Laksa connoisseur @rachiperera I enjoyed an AMAZING $15 lunch at Café Bamboo on Lonsdale Street Braddon. I was once a regular at this place a few years ago when I worked in Braddon and am familiar with their popular lunchboxes and noodle soups.
The Laksa was only $12.50 (order and pay at the counter) and there was a wide selection of well-priced drinks from the self-serve fridge. I picked up a tasty aloe vera drink for only $2.50.
The taste and texture of the Laksa was sensational, with a generous topping of crunchy fried onion, plenty of bean curd, seafood and vegetables as well as a combination of noodles. It was the best Laksa I had ever tasted but was great value at 12.50. Café Bamboo is highly recommended and gets three #Canberra Beanies!
I’ve been to Smoque a few times with friends and colleagues and although the food usually tastes great I have found it a bit pricey in the past. That said their lunch specials are always pretty good value and worth a try.
Today I enjoyed the Vegie Burger, which looks and tastes great. For $12.90 it is a great mushroom-based burger that includes plenty of rocket, pumpkin, zucchini and Halloumi cheese (one of my favourites). It comes in a tasty bun with a pickle on the side and I highly recommend it as a healthy variation for burger enthusiasts in civic.