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.
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!
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!>
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?
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!
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
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!
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 🙂
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
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!
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.
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.
Where do you live? Downer
How long have you been blogging? 3 years
Other hobbies? Reading and cooking
Apple or Android? Apple
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?
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
Did you know there’s a world-famous foodie in Canberra with an amazingly popular blog and about 13,000 followers on twitter? Don’t feel embarrassed because until I started this blog a few months ago neither did I! What really shocked me though was that I knew her. Anna Johnston is the friendly face that many people in Canberra who attend big events at the Australian National Press Club know and love as their awesome Events Manager. I’ve recently had the good fortune to get to know Anna even better after I started subscribing to her blog AND after having the pleasure of her company at a few Canberra Human Brochure events over recent weeks.
For those of you who may not know Anna (where have you been?) here are a few of her social media details. I strongly advise that you follow them all. As well as being a very entertaining writer she has a real eye for great photos and tells a great yarn!
Hey Anna, who are you? Events Architect – Yogi – Beer Connoisseur – Coffee Tester – Chef – Boozy Foodie – Blogger
My chefing career started at the National Convention Centre where I trained as an apprentice & fell in love with function work. The thrill of running multiple events at the same time & working in big teams to bring everything in on time is, without a doubt a total buzz!
Working with a huge team of burley Chefs who managed to describe most mouth-watering, taste tantalising and exquisite dishes prefixed by a four-letter word or two was a little challenging, but loads of fun & an experience I’ll treasure forever, I think my time in the kitchens kicked the Princess right out of me & taught me all about food.
After a decade in the kitchen & a bit more study, I packed away my cheffies & followed the sweet lure of Hotel & Event Management. Cooking professionally was a great experience & it certainly opened the door to lots of fun working holidays abroad but I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it was to dress like a girl again, my love affair with hospitality & function work cranked up to the next level.
Now, as the Events Manager at the National Press Club of Australia, if I’m not spending time with clients designing their dream wedding, live broadcast or gala event, you’ll find me hanging out ‘behind the scenes’ creating stories for my website – http://www.shenannagans.com
Where do you live? I am a Kambah-ran… #SouthSidePride
How long have you been blogging? This time around I’ve been blogging for 4 months, but on my old site The Hospitality Guru, a site that was very much food centric, about 3 years. With shenANNAgans I decided to move away from the strong focus on food and share more of my passions in the events arena. It is my brag book, my journal, my (occasional) ranting space and my creative corner of the interwebs.
Other hobbies? Bikram Yoga
Apple or Android? Apple
Car/bus/bike? Car – I own a mini, super fun and zippy.
Favourite TV show? Mood pending – How I met your Mother, Sons of Anarchy, Chicago Fire, Pretty Little Liars, Smash, Suits, Gilmore Girls, Sex in the City…. The list goes on. Currently I’m watching Vampire Diaries.
Favourite devices? IPhone & MacBook Air
Can we take a peek at your home screen?
Favourite social media? Facebook & Instagram
What’s the first thing online you check each morning? I have this weird ritual, in this order I check my Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Email & then watch my fav YouTubers to kick off my day.
What do you worry about at night? I often think about what I’m going to wear or eat, or who I might meet tomorrow, or great blog post ideas. For the most part I’m not really big on worrying, I figure the problem will still be there tomorrow, so might as well get a good nights rest and deal with any issues with fresh eyes.
Most exciting recent news? So much awesome-ness happening in my world at the moment! Work wise, we won Best Event/Conference Venue at the ClubsACT Awards, and we are up for Best Wedding Venue at the Restaurant & Catering Awards on Monday.
I am one of the lucky locals to participate in the Human Brochure, I’ve been named as a ‘Champion’ for the St Vincent de Paul Community Sleep Out, and I’ve booked an amazing month long holiday abroad over the Christmas / New Year period. Life’s Good!
Ideal career? Right now, I am working in it, I am involved in some pretty spectacular events, it is seriously the coolest job. Just last week I met both John Howard and Bob Hawke, I’ve assisted in planning massive gigs like the Bill Gates Press Club Address, had a cup of tea with Ita Buttrose, I get to eat some of the most amazing foods, try wines from all over the globe and work with the best team. Not only am I spoilt with all that, I get to meet great people like you. <She is sooo nice! 🙂 >
Recent book you recommend? Haven’t read a book in yonks, but one that has stuck in my mind, Born to Run. It’s about a small group of the world’s top ultra-runners (and the awe-inspiring author) who make the treacherous journey into the canyons to try to learn about the secrets of the mysterious tribe of Mexican Indians, the Tarahumara, and then take them over a course 50 miles long.
Recent online video you laughed at? Dear Kitten – Adorable and funny too.
Favourite Food? Whhhaaaatttt??? How the heck do I answer that question…. I love food!
A stand out meal this week was the La Ionica chicken breast with cauliflower puree, seared Hervey Bay scallops, sugar cured speck and fermented black garlic. Followed by a Saffron Brulee, citrus segments, Aperol (A blood orange Aperitif) sorbet. Spectacular! The Chefs at the Press Club are some of the most talented and clever cooks I have ever met, every meal served is a culinary masterpiece, I am utterly spoilt, they often make an extra plate for me so I know exactly what I am selling. Brilliant right?!
She’s cool and she’s one of many wonderful Canberra foodies. Follow her now 🙂
Also, Anna forgot to mention an important upcoming event at the national Press Club, BUT I WON’T … attention foodies!
National Press Club Annual Wine and Food Spectacular!
Meet the makers, sample the wares and order direct!
Friday 11 July 2014 5.30pm – 9.00pm
Our famous Wine and Food Spectacular returns on FRIDAY JULY 11, 2014! 20 plus stalls of fabulous beverages and fine foods for you to sample, and you can order direct! Meet the merchants, sample their wares and order some for home.
Just $15.00 for members and $25.00 for your guests.
I actually heard Nancy talking to Genevieve Jacobs on the local radio before I met her. She was being interviewed as part of the @666Canberra “Walter Burley Griff-phone” series and was being asked all sorts of foodie-related questions by the ABC presenter.
Nancy runs the well-regarded Foodlovers Shop at the Belconnen Fresh Food Markets. Her shop specialises in specialty gourmet food products that taste as good as they look. Nancy and her team hand make over five hundred gourmet food products. Their self-labelled range includes savoury sauces, mustards, dressings, chutneys and relishes and sweet dessert sauces, jams, jellies and marmalades.
Being based in the Belconnen Fresh Food Market allows them to source fresh ingredients from local suppliers. Nancy and her team purchase, chop, cook and bottle all our products on site. In addition to FoodLovers products, they also stock a huge range of gourmet food products from many of our favourite Australian foodie icons – Maggie Beer, Peter Watson, Charmaine Solomon just to name a few.
So it was fitting that we had our interview in one of the Belconnen Market’s own restaurants: Tee’s Trading House, which serves great authentic Asian food with a smile. I enjoyed a great-tasting Laksa while Nancy had some delicious chicken noodle soup.
Recently Nancy added to her stockline after a personal request for Mustard Apricots from none other than Maggie Beer! Now there’s an endorsement that any foodie can admire!
And if you can’t quite make out what Maggie Beer is using, here’s a photo of Nancy with one of her many proud creations.
So Nancy, who are you? I am who I am. My name is Nancy Harrison – to my two daughters, I am Mum. To my friends I am Fancy Nance, and to others I am the woman that makes food like their grandmothers used to! I have been a teacher of kindergarten children, a youth group leader, an avid Unionist. I have been a public servant (a procurement and contracting specialist no less!). Most recently I was known as the Coffee Lady when I established and ran Coffee’s On Coffee Cart outside the Discount Pharmacy in Macquarie and at Kings Swim School in Macgregor.
I currently own FoodLovers at Belconnen Fresh Food Markets and spend most of my days in front of the stove cooking up jams, pickles and chutneys, sauces and dressings in the old-fashioned way and without any additives – just the way Nanna used to make them. There are about 500 different products that we make, which also includes the baking of Anzac biscuits, Melting Moments, fruit loaves, almond bread and meringues.
Of course, I try to source as much as I can locally. Most of our quinces, cumquats, lemons and Seville oranges are grown on local trees and are picked especially for us while they are in season. I would like to expand this a little, but need to be careful about provenance etc. It is getting really difficult to find fruit and vege commercially (eg frozen, dried or tinned) that is grown in Australia. The only way I know how to ascertain if it is grown in Australia is to go and pick it myself, and I don’t really have the time to do that!
I am trying to find a balance so that we bake some gluten free products too. Most of what is in the bottles is gluten free – it is not thickened and I don’t use anything that may have allergens lurking. I spend some of my week playing with recipes so that I can develop special diet foods that are readily available. We are very tuned into allergies because I am allergic (and anaphylactic) to many foods including seafood, pork, eggplant and mango…
Age? I am in my 50th year.
Where do you live? Currently in Page (for 8 years) but am about to move to a new unit in Macquarie.
Have you ever blogged about food? Ha! I have never BLOGGED. I wouldn’t know how to! <Nancy does however do many amazing cooking demonstrations and is full of helpful advice for her customers!>
Other hobbies? My job is my hobby. I just love cooking and being around food. I love making others happy by providing them with good, nutritious, wholesome goodness! I love helping people create imaginative and interesting things to eat from what they have available to them..
I am a volunteer for TEDx Canberra this year, which keeps me out of trouble – I am the Food Experience Manager, which means I organise the food for the day for the 650+ attendees. It’s a challenge, but good fun at the same time!
Apple or Android? Android – only because I didn’t know what a good thing Apple was all those years ago when I should have stuck with them!
Car/bus/bike? I own a car, but am hoping we will bike much more when we move.
Favourite TV show? t stay awake long after I am home usually. However, I have become a bit obsessed with Game of Thrones (a friend loaned me the DVDs), Miss Fisher and I really love anything Australian.
Favourite devices? Devices??? What does that mean? <Yes, she does have a great sense of humour> In the kitchen, I couldn’t do without my jut-jut (stick blender) – been the best investment I have ever made! I also have an amazing food processor which juices citrus in a snap! I love it!
Can we take a peek at your home screen? My home computer screen save is a beautiful photo I took in the Bunya Mountains in Queensland – a huge blue and black butterfly landed just in front of me and I couldn’t help but take a photo of it!
Most-used app? Probably Facebook. Basecamp? Not sure.
Favourite social media? Facebook – it’s the only one I really know how to use to any effect!
What’s the first thing online you check each morning? My emails – usually have links to Facebook and Basecamp.
What do you worry about at night? If I am awake – I worry about the lack of sleep! Lately its been about the house and all the stuff that goes with that – mortgage and insurance etc. Sometimes it’s FoodLovers and how we can get more people to visit – there’s been a marked drop-off since the budget was announced.
Most exciting recent news? Have you heard – I am buying a house! I guess there was also the talk with Genevieve Jacobs on 666 Canberra the other morning. I am going to my school reunion on the long weekend as well. It’s in Bundaberg. Haven’t been ‘home’ for more than 30 years, so it will definitely be interesting.
Ideal career? I am living my ideal career – I have done lots of things in my life, but what I am doing now is just wonderful!
Recent book you recommend? I have a huge personal library (which is going to be culled during the moving process). I bought lots of children’s books over the years that I was training and teaching in Canberra primary schools…most of them are Australian authors who have much to offer adults as well. My favourite author is John Marsden – he wrote the Tomorrow When the War Began trilogy in seven parts! My kinda bloke really!
Recent online video you laughed at? A TEDTalk from Texas – a builder who designs homes from scrap was describing how he uses hens eggs and nuts as decoration for his houses – how using what everyone else has in their foyer in a bathroom or a toilet is much more interesting…very funny talk!
I listened to Sting speak on line at TED in March 2014 – I think it may have been in Vancouver. He was saying how when he forgot his roots – back in the ship-building town he grew up in – he couldn’t write anymore. Once he returned to his roots, he found he could write again and has written some amazing songs since then – Dead Man’s Boots…I will never hear SOS (Message in a Bottle) and not think of his TEDTalk!
Favourite food? Like I said to Genevieve the other day – there is nothing like baked beans on toast for me – it takes me back to my childhood I think.
However, I love a good roast with crispy, creamy potatoes.
And for lunch, any time – Chicken Noodle Soup (or if I make it – Vitamin C Soup) – a Vietnamese inspired soup with thick rice noodles, bok choy (and any other green veges I have in the fridge) and a rich chicken stock that has been steeped with ginger, lemongrass and coriander. My almost 10 year old loves it!
and here’s a slightly better photo of the tasty lunch we enjoyed together at Tee’s Trading House 🙂
Anyone who follows social media in our fair city would be aware of the popularity and success of the HerCanberra website. This website is “written by Canberra women, for Canberra women” and it is written extremely well. Although the website has had a couple of guest posts from token males (like this one) it has become another good example of Canberra’s amazingly smart, hard-working, talented and outspoken women and is highly-recommended reading.
HerCanberra features the voices of local writers, the website posts daily about topics of interest to the Capital’s female population. From ‘what’s on’ to reviews of places to eat; social commentary to health and fitness; beauty and nutrition to books and movies; fashion and motherhood to recipes and home style; if it’s part of ‘her’ life you’ll find it on HerCanberra. If you’ve ever wanted to know who’s behind it, well that would be Amanda Whitley. Amanda jokes that she manages HerCanberra in any ‘spare time’ she might have amongst all her other responsibilities and pursuits yet she manages to attend and investigate an amazing array of Canberra events, openings, celebrations and community festivals, sharing her love for our city with her growing readership both here and interstate. I recently met with Amanda at one of her favourite places in Canberra, Manuka. She shared some secrets about what interests her and what keeps her busy life on track.
Amanda Whitley, Who are you? I founded HerCanberra in January 2011 after the premature birth of my youngest daughter led me to leave the public service and start dabbling in the odd blog or two (including being the first site moderator for Mamamia – but I gave that up after refereeing one two many argument over c-sections and childcare). These days, I manage HerCanberra in any ‘spare time’ that’s not spent wrangling two gorgeous little girls, instructing Zumba, or eating. I’ve also done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign!
Amanda Whitley with some of the HerCan team at the 2013 Christmas party – 100 people attended (it was sold out).
How long have you been writing? I’ve been writing HerCanberra since January 2011 and had a personal blog before that as well as contributing to MamaMia. I worked as Mamamia’s first site moderator and met many Canberra women while I was doing that work. The idea for HerCanberra was something I came up knowing there was a real growing market and demand for stories and news that would be of interest to Canberra women.
Apple or Android? We are a dedicated Apple family!
Car/bus/bike? Well, we have two kids so it has to be the car most days to ferry the kids around.
Favourite TV show? MasterChef Australia
Favourite devices? iPhone, MacBook Air (which is my mobile office)
Can we take a peek at your homescreen?
Most-used App? Facebook without a doubt.
Favourite social media? Facebook.
What’s the first thing you check online each morning? Facebook notifications, emails, website, Canberra Times.
What do you worry about at night? All the things I have to do the next day, because there’s only one of me.
Most exciting recent news? I was selected as one of the 100 #Humanbrochure particpants by VisitCanberra and am really looking forward to showcasing our beautiful city to the rest of Australia and the world.
Ideal career? I’m doing it! Websites are the new magazines and I always wanted to work in a good magazine. I published my first magazine when I was ten years old – it was called “Wombat”! 🙂
Recent book you recommend? I love crime novels and really enjoyed A dark and twisted tide by Sharon Bolton.
Recent online video you laughed at? Can’t really think of a video I laughed over…but the ‘DYAC’ blog gets me every time…on the first one, I kinda smile, then by the 10th I’m rolling on the floor. Damn you auto correct!
Favourite food? 86 is my current favourite place to eat in Canberra. I recommend you take your wife their on a date night Elias! Make sure you tell them you’re on a date and ask to be seated at the kitchen bench where you can watch the chefs, cooks and staff work and interact, you will be entertained.
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
Review by GENEVIEVE HARRIS, THE ADVERTISER JUNE 22, 2006 11:30PM
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.
1 onion, finely chopped
Young green beans, amount to suit, topped
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.
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.
1 bunch rhubarb
1 cup sugar
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.