food

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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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 🙂

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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

Lunchtime Specials at Plumb on Tennant in Fyshwick

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

plumb on tennant menu

I enjoyed a delicious $10 grilled scotch fillet burger with a side of $3 fries!

plumb on tennant plate

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.

plumb on tennant burger

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!

Plumb on Tennant on Urbanspoon

Meet a #Canberra Foodie: Andrew Barr (@ABarrMLA)

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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.

Andrew Barr

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!

Age?  41

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

Car/bus/bike?  Walking!

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?

Andrew Barr screen shot

Most-used app?  Music

Favourite social media?  Facebook

What’s the first thing online you check each morning?  Email and social

I hear you’re a bit of a local wine connoisseur. Which are your favourite Canberra wines?  Helm Riesling, Eden Road Canberra Shiraz, Ravensworth Shiraz Viognier and Mount Majura Riesling.

When you can find time to sample them, which are your favourite Canberra restaurants? Monster, Morks, Taze

I have to ask you a question about music where the answer is NOT The Rolling Stones! What are favourite albums of 2014 (so far)?  Turn Blue – The Black Keys and Built on Glass – Chet Faker

Recent book you recommend?  Barracuda – Christos Tsioklas

Favourite film of 2014 (so far)?  The Grand Budapest Hotel

Favourite food? 🙂 avocado

You can follow Andrew Barr on Twitter and on Facebook and also subscribe to email updates and news at his website

 

Here are some culinary highlights from our Deputy Chief Minister’s twitter feed:

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!

Lunchtime special barramundi at the City Hellenic Club

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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:

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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.

barra at hellenic club

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!

 

 

Meet a #Canberra Foodie – Michele Walton (@MicheleWalton3)

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Michele

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.

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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?

Michele screen shot

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.

Michele Walton
Blog: fineeating.wordpress.com
Category (e.g. food/eating (especially social eating/dining out) + health/weight management, dining reviews, travel eating, some cooking and recipes):
Twitter: @MicheleWalton3
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fine-Eating/309920002505679?ref=hl
Instagram: http://instagram.com/fineeating/
Pinterest: www.pintrest.com/michelewalton
Email: michelewalton@yahoo.com
Other blogs (a bit related): michelesindia.wordpress.com, lovetravelwithfriends.wordpress.com

Lunchtime Laksa at Cafe Bamboo Braddon

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

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.

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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.

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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! 

Cafe Bamboo on Urbanspoon

 

Meet a Canberra Foodie – Natalie (@CapFoodJournal)

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Natalie is an accomplished food blogger who recently moved to Canberra from Perth. Although I’ve been following her on Twitter, Facebook and reading her blog for months, I recently got to know her a little bit better through the Canberra foodie scene, in which she is an active contributor. With a Middle Eastern background, Natalie grew up immersed in the cultural love of food and socialising. Having travelled around the Middle East, Europe and the Americas, she says she is grateful to have enjoyed a range of traditional cuisines in their cultural settings.

Natalie Banana-Cake-w-PFJ1

Who are you Natalie? I grew up on the south coast of NSW and moved to Perth in my teens. While in Perth, I developed an interest in food and wine, mainly those which were local to the area. I started a blog, Perth Food Journal, to document my foodie experiences but recently converted that content to Capital Food Journal, seeing as though I relocated to Canberra in August 2013. I’m now endeavouring to learn all about Canberra produce and the producers.

Age? 27

Where do you live? Downer

How long have you been blogging? 3 years

Other hobbies? Reading and cooking

Apple or Android? Apple

Car/bus/bike? Car

Favourite TV show? At the moment it’s Suburgatory but just found out it’s been axed

Favourite devices? I am in love with my ipad mini. It’s the perfect little device.

Can we take a peek at your home screen?

Natalie home screen image

Most-used app? My gmail app.

Favourite social media? I’m newly addicted to Instagram. I’ve only just started and love how easy it is to create content.

What’s the first thing online you check each morning? My emails.

What do you worry about at night? Nothing. I’m able to easily ‘switch off’.

Most exciting recent news? Hmm… I have a few exciting things currently underway …including being a delegate to the 2014 Eat Drink Blog Conference!

Ideal career? Book editor or publisher.

Recent book you recommend? Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Recent online video you laughed at? It’s not a video but these pics had me giggling like crazy – http://aplus.com/a/dog-texting-messages

Favourite food? Ice cream. Nothing compares…

Natalie’s blog is Capital Food Journey

You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook and she also has a varied collection of food articles in the various media links on her blog.

Here’s a link to one of her recent blog posts which I particularly enjoyed! Natalie and another Canberra Foodie Rachi enjoyed an amazing mushroom burger at the Cupping Room in Civic.

mushroom burger

Treehouse Lunch Specials

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The Treehouse on Northbourne Avenue (near London Circuit in the Sydney Building) is better known as a bar than one of Canberra’s hidden affordable eats. The food here is also a good example of why I prefer to say “affordable eats” rather than “cheap eats”. Although the price of their lunch specials is “cheap” the quality is far better than one would expect for a $9 meal.

Here’s the menu for the lunch specials, which only run Wednesday to Friday.

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There are other specials that run during different days and times of the week.

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On my first trip I did ask for the braised osso bucco as recommended by my friend Eileen (@TheFoodAvenue) however I had arrived a bit late in the lunch period and they had sold out. Instead I ordered the char-grilled calamari, and I was not disappointed!

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You probably noticed a near-empty beer glass in the picture above? boy was I thirsty that day 🙂 Yes, along with the $9 lunch special there is a $3 drink special and it includes some very tasty craft beers. Can you tell from the picture below which one I chose?

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The $9 lunch and $3 beer are pretty hard to beat in value. The service is great and at only $12 there is still change left over from $15 for a nice coffee after your meal as well. This place is great!

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A few days later I got a chance for a second shot with a group of friends from #Humanbrochure. Eileen had invited a bunch of us to try Treehouse for a “#Canberra Foodie First Friday affordable lunch” that we are trying to hold on a regular basis to showcase and share some of the city’s hidden gastronomic gems. Luckily each foodie ordered a different dish and we were able to take a close look at them, including the Sourdough Bread with olives and dipping oil. Naturally I ordered the Osso Bucco (as did someone else) and neither of us were disappointed. It was an outstanding meal. My only complaint was that I wanted more of it. However it’s a very healthy and reasonable portion for $9 so I didn’t! 🙂

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The good news is that although there aren’t many tables at Treehouse it was possible to book a ‘space’ upstairs for a small group where they will move some small tables and stools together. 6-8 people is about the limit though. But with great food, drink and the right company it’s always possible to have a great time. And when you have lunch with other foodies you know you will spend at least some of that time taking photos and discussing food!

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Treehouse gets three #Canberra Beanies !

Treehouse on Urbanspoon

Why I write? A Blog Hop on CBRfoodie

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ramen combo with kimchi

I’ve been invited by Dr Gary Lum from yummylummy.com to join in a writer’s blog hop, along with another Canberra food blogger Michele Walton from Fineeating. The blog hop is a chance to gain a little insight into the motivations of bloggers and an opportunity for the blogger to reflect when answering the questions.

What I am working on?

Probably too much. Between work and family commitments I don’t get a lot of blogging time and I do wish I had more time for blogging! As well as the food blog CBRfoodie which I started earlier this year, I am in the early stages of putting together a blog about political campaigning, which is closer to what I actually do for a living. Down the track I hope to be able to do a bit of both without upsetting my partner or children!

How does my writing differ from others in its genre?

Probably not by much, although every blogger I have met recently has a different approach. I think good writing is essential in any form of communication, but food blogging also relies on a sense of aesthetics as well. The good bloggers (or those that take it a bit more seriously or have been doing it for longer) seem to have a more elaborate approach. Their equipment is usually a bit more serious (DSLR, WordPress, Instagram and tricky apps for quickly manipulating and posting images). I like to take a positive approach to the writing as well. I usually don’t post negative comments and devised a rating system whereby even the lowest rating was still basically a recommendation to try the restaurant, but I use “Canberra Beanies” instead of Chef’s hats or Michelin stars.

Why do I write?

I write primarily for the creative outlet it provides. I also enjoy searching for and eating affordable food. Last year I decided to resuscitate an abandoned research/writing project on political campaigning via a blog, however it quickly became apparent that blogging is not as straight-forward as it might initially seem. I realised I would need to teach myself some basic WordPress skills and that it would take some time before I felt my technical inability would not hamper the writing and blogging process. Having worked in the city for a few years I was aware that there was a lack of information about affordable food and thought a “cheap eats” style list for Canberra would be an achievable blogging project to develop the skills for a more elaborate blog. That said, the food blog has been more fun than I expected and has developed into a hobby all of its own. If you’d like to read a more intelligent and considered explanation about the motivations and challenges of food blogging, here is an awesome article from Zoe at Progressive Dinner Party. It has some very interesting and helpful links for new bloggers.

How does my writing process work?

Realising I needed a critical mass of content before I started the WordPress blog, I made an effort to start Tweeting and posting on Facebook to build a supply of content a couple of months earlier in November 2013. My initial approach to the micro-blogging was very simple: I’d get hungry. I’d look inside my wallet, to find a few notes and coins. I’d buy food and usually take a couple of iPhone shots with the camera. I eat and pay for my meal. If I have a few minutes to spare I often tweet something that day and if I remember post it on Facebook that night or next day. Once or twice a week I blog about the lunch and try and promote the blog again through twitter. As I progressed however I remained more comfortable with Twitter, which is where I still share most of my tips and conversations. I’ve developed a comprehensive twitter-based list of Canberra foodies. I’ve also developed a couple of aspects to the blog which I hadn’t anticipated: a comprehensive list of Canberra food blogs and a series of interviews with other foodies. The list of blogs has been a great source of ideas and conversations, particularly with visitors to Canberra who want to know about food experiences from local foodies. I think the interviews have been popular because they represent a very human aspect of the blogging and foodie experience and have been a great way to meet more experienced food bloggers and learn from them.

Now I get to pass on the blog hop baton to two other bloggers who I will briefly introduce:

Tara Cheyne is one of the proudest advocates for Canberra I have met in recent years. Her well-regarded blog ”In the Taratory” started as a creative record of her adventures discovering Canberra’s hidden tourist gems but has evolved over a few short years into a reliable source of information for locals and tourists alike. Tara is also a community activist and is Secretary of the Belconnen Community Council and also on the Board of the Belconnen Arts Centre. If you want to know ANYTHING about Belconnen she’s one of the best sources you can find! Make sure you follow her on Twitter! I love this photo of Tara stomping on grapes at one of Canberra’s many regional wineries.

tara

James Tew moved to Canberra late last year through his work in the Navy. In his spare time (or what little he has) he blogs at “ three daughters” and also runs @TweetCanberra which he has turned into a fantastic news source and blog about events and people across our city. James also ran the highly successful SMR2014 (Social Media Revolution) Seminar a few months ago and has single-handedly raised the bar for social media networking in Canberra, bringing together professionals, amateurs and aspiring newcomers into the exciting and evolving world of social media in the most well-connected city in Australia. The photo below was taken by me when James and I decided to treat our daughters to a day of toffee apples and cider (non-alcoholic of course!) at an apple-festival near Canberra!

james tew

Thanks to Gary for inviting me to be part of the blog hop and thanks to Tara and James for agreeing to participate and accept the batons!