Canberra

Meet a #Canberra Foodie – Paul Drake

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It’s been a while since I added to the list of awesome Canberra Foodies who have graced this website over the past 12 months. It was a great adventure meeting them all last year so I’m determined to start again and hope to share at least one interview a month.

Today’s entertaining interview is with a rare man who as well as being an amazing husband ((I’m told) and musician, also publicly and proudly embraces a very long-standing passion for food and wine. Sorry ladies he’s already taken! I first met Paul through his lovely better half but unlike her his professional passions lie away from public communications. Paul Drake is the part-owner and Manager of the hidden Gem Plumb on Tennant (which I checked out for lunch last year in this earlier post). I’m not the only one who thinks this place is a hidden gem – check out Tara’s review here.

Paul Drake Plumb on Tennant

So Paul, who are you? I’m a long time Canberra boy who arrived here as a ten pound pom in 1967. My passion has always been food really, and good wine, but I’m a trained carpenter/ builder and can do most things hospitality related. I never really wanted to be anywhere but Canberra but I guess the clincher was when I met my wife Angie and we decided to make our lives here together. We now have two teenage boys and a spotty dog and my first foray into business was finding my business partner Rob and buying our first cafe Plumb on Tennant in Fyshwick back in 2011. Owning a cafe has been an interesting experience. I can’t say that we’ve done everything perfect but we put love and passion into what we do. It’s hard work and I can say that we’ve only just begun in cafe world, with many more ventures ahead of us I’m sure.

Age?  48, but don’t feel a day over 47!

Where do you live?  Fadden

How long have you been blogging?  I don’t. Well perhaps if I did blog, more people would know about our cafe. <That’s OK Paul, we’ll try and let them know!>

Other hobbies?  I love ironing (my wife is editing this for me) I play bass in a band Kartel – probably my other serious passion, we have fun and play a few gigs every month or so.

Here is evidence of Paul’s musical talent!

Paul Drake guitar

Apple or Android?  Apple

Car/bus/bike?  Love to ride my bicycle but I’m petrified of magpies. It’s grown more irrational every year.

<You’re not alone on that front!>

magpie cyclist fear

Favourite TV show?   There are many – Peaky Blinders is prob my fav right now.

Favourite devices?  I’m old fashioned, still on an iPad but it’s the first ever edition so it’s kind of retro now (are they still trendy?)

Can we take a peek at your home screen?

Paul Drake screenshot

Most-used app?  the afl game score app, and Iview

Favourite social media?   Facebook <Paul runs a small business so he is extremely busy, without much time for social media, but you can find Plumb on Tennant on Facebook here>

What’s the first thing online you check each morning?  Facebook

What do you worry about at night?  There is a lot at the moment – have been working on getting mum secured in a new aged care facility so she can be properly looked after and will Hawks win the grand final.

Most exciting recent news?   We went on our first cruise at Christmas!

Paul Drake cruise ship

Ideal career? Something involving early retirement and travelling a lot

Here is a picture of Paul as he is about to dine at la jules vern restaurant in Paris

Paul Drake preferred picture

Recent book you recommend?  The adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow

Recent online video you laughed at?  ALS ice bucket challenge by Les Claypool  http://youtu.be/Tjd_hLtaQxA

Favourite food 🙂   Bacon bits (from Pizza Hut of old are the best), grated cheese and thousand island dressing.

Do yourself a favour and try out Plumb on Tennant for breakfast or lunch (or brunch) next time you’re in Fyshwick – you won’t be disappointed!

Paul Drake smaller version of IMG_0983

You can find Plumb on Tennant via their website of via Urban Pantry.

 

National Multicultural Festival BINGO

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The National Multicultural Festival is the BIGGEST annual celebration in Canberra. Foodies, families and visitors all love it (except perhaps when there’s a pram jam in the middle of Garema Place on the Saturday afternoon – you have been warned!)

The more you try at NMF the more you will enjoy it and remember what an amazing festival it is. You can travel the world’s cuisines in the comfort of your own home town, not to mention the unrivalled variety of beers and other drinks from around the world.

OK – you want to download the bingo card? here it is:

Download the pdf for nmf bingo

Print, share and use the #NMF2015 bingo card to enjoy this unique festival even more. Play against your friends or play against the rest of Canberra. Thanks to the generosity of Patrick Pentony and his team at Choku Bai Jo – we’re able to offer the amazing first prize of $100 worth of fruit/vegetables/groceries from the Choku Bai Jo stores in Nth Lyneham or Curtin.

Mandalay Bus (Braddon)

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Three #Canberra Beanies  smaller-beanie  smaller-beanie  smaller-beanie

The Mandalay food bus (actually a cleverly fitted out food truck in an old bus chassis) is a long-standing Canberra institution. I’ve been there and enjoyed the foods too many times to count and every foodie in Canberra has a story to tell about it, either from a recent trip or from decades ago when it first became popular.

I will come back to this post and add some stories and newsclips about how loved and admired the bus is amongst decades of clientele.

In the last couple of years the bus has experienced a classic inner-city hipster revival as food vans and trucks experience a world=wide renaissance. The bus was recently resuscitated by a group of young local chefs working with the son of the original owner.

Although the hours vary you can usually find the lights on and a small crowd milling in the adjoining carpark.

My recent experience was of a friendly and cool atmosphere with amazingly delicious food.

It wasn’t very big, but this $9 satay chicken kimchee roti from tasted like nothing else I’d had. It packed a big flavour punch and I was tempted to buy a few more… maybe another time.

mandalay

The Mandalay Bus opens most Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and the menu varies regularly – giving regulars plenty of reasons to come back for more! Three Canberra Beanies.

The Mandalay Bus on Urbanspoon

Lachlan Café lunch specials (Barton)

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Two #Canberra Beanies smaller-beanie  smaller-beanie

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.

Lachlan Cafe grilled fish w roast vegies

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 Cafe chicken stri fry with veg

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.

YWCA Frugal Feast Stories & Sandwiches

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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 🙂

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National Dinosaur Museum tour

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teeth

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.

new acton wander

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.

entrance sign   dino enclosure

entrance jaws

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 🙂

guests

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!

sml-dino-mouth  jamie-head-swallow

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.

sml-egg

puzzled

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.

frog

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 🙂

frog photo

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.

Elias distracted

fossils

distracted again

kneeling elias

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.

distracted by dom

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.

big puzzles

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

Oldest rock in the world (above) and the oldest poo in the world (below).

old-poo

megalodon

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.

jaw art1 jaw art2 jaw art3

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.

800px-Megalodon_scale1

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!

jemma scarr scary roar

My kids were awes-struck at some of the newer displays they haven’t seen before and which have only recently been added.

big-displays

Nothing to be afraid of though. She’s got this well under control.

i-got-this

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.

hands

eggs  eggs

tooth-and-claw  tooth and claw

learning

learning2  Ancient rocks and crystals containing prehistoric insects!

feathers

Unsurprisingly, many dinosaurs were small and feathered… and probably tasted like chicken.

learning3

sloth

skulls

Poor old number six has seen better days!

skull

tiny  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.

kids and pizza

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!

burbury-view

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).

gift bag

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).

windmills

The kids will love you for the fun and learning experience.

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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.

 

Lunch specials at Francisco’s Mexican Cantina in Manuka

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Three #Canberra Beanies smaller-beanie smaller-beanie smaller-beanie

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.

buritto bowl 1

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).

buritto bowl 2

But I persevered and began to feel the early stages of a food coma after returning to work 🙂

buritto bowl 3

I will definitely return to try other variations as well as other items from the specials board.

francescos menu board

Francisco’s can also be found on twitter @FranciscosMex, Facebook and via their website.

They also serve a mean cup of coffee.

francescos 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!

Francisco's Mexican Cantina on Urbanspoon