Mayfair Espresso Lunch Date

I love when new Cafes or restaurants pop up in Canberra. I’m always excited to try them out and see what the fuss is about. It’s even more exciting when you are one of the first of your friends to find and try these new places!

Mayfair Espresso is one of those new cafes that is not yet well known. It has just opened up in the corporate central of Canberra at the bottom of the brand new apartment complex, Mayfair.

Continue reading

Aubergine Restaurant

Aubergine is a quiet little restaurant tucked away at the Griffith shops in Canberra. It has a small outdoor garden area and many tables for two inside facing alongside the floor to ceiling windows.

Before December 2015, we had only been here once as a couple because it is a very popular fine dining restaurant (therefore expensive), and we have been attempting to try all of the fine dining restaurants in Canberra (without blowing the budget!) We decided to return to Aubergine for our anniversary so we could celebrate in style and with some delicious food and wine.

Continue reading

Winter Weekend in the Hunter Valley

I while back (well June long weekend last year) I was invited along to a friends hen’s weekend in the Hunter Valley. I only just remembered that I never published this post – so here is what I wrote almost a year ago to the day!

My friend picked me up from my place at 9.30ish and we took off on our way towards Sydney. The drive between Canberra and Sydney is always incredibly boring, but we had plenty to catch up on so it went by quickly. We drove onto the M7/M2 and through to the Hunter Valley Region.

It seems that the best way out to the Hunter is by car. I believe there are buses and possibly trains, but the quickest and easiest way would be to drive.

It’s so pretty out this way – there are so many vineyards and wineries along the way. I think it took about 4.5 hours for us to drive up, which is pretty good considering I live in South Canberra.

image

The view from our cabin balcony

Accommodation

For the 10 of us staying, there were two 2-bed cabins booked at Cyprus Lakes Resort. These cabins were two storey, had a medium size kitchen, a lounge and dining area, and a big deck out the back. There was a fantastic view from the balconies too!

Sunset view from our Balcony

Sunset view from our Balcony

The top storey had the two bedrooms, with each room having it’s own bathroom. There was also a fold out sofa bed in the loungeroom.

To access the cabins, a 6 digit code it sent to your mobile number. During your stay, you must use this code to access your room. Not sure what you would do if you forgot your code and you had left your phone inside with the code in it….

Cheese and wine in the Hunter Valley Wine region Australia

An afternoon of cheese and wine

In the cabin I stayed in, the sink in the bathroom of the main room had not been cleaned properly. Actually, it looked like someone hadn’t cleaned it at all. It was very obvious too, so I don’t know how someone could have missed it. Everything else was clean and tidy though, with the towels rolled up on the bed looking every bit professional.

I found the doona on the bed not warm enough for me. But there was an extra blanket available,

We used the heater the second night and it definitely kept us warm. Just remember to turn it off when you leave otherwise you will be charged excess use fees!

Overall, I really liked these cabins, and I think I would stay here again.

Dinner at The Cellar Restaurant

This is a cosy restaurant with plenty of room for group dinners. There is a fireplace in the middle and fern trees around the window sides of the restaurant. I thought it had a lovely atmosphere. We were seated next to the fire and they let us know they could turn the fire down if it became too hot for anyone. Always nice to know that a customers comfort is important as well as the service and food.

The Menu

The Menu

There was a large menu of choices. We were told that if we ordered a main that we would need to order a side as well. Pretty much everyone at the table ordered a type of steak or whole fish. We shared about 7 sides between the 10 of us.

image

Beans & Blanched Almonds, Roast Beetroot, and Sauteed Mushroooms for our sides

I chose the Sirlion steak cooked medium rare with the mushroom sauce. I loved the sauce and that it came in a giant ramikan jug. There was also a giant wedge of lemon served on the plate. I’ve never seen a piece of steak served with lemon on the side before, so I’m guessing it was for presentation reasons. This makes sense because the presentation was lackluster.

Steak and Veggies for Dinner at Polkobin, Hunter Valley

Steak and Veggies for Dinner

We didn’t stay for dessert, but we did look at the menu. There appeared to be no chocolate dessert. There were desserts with bits of chocolate in it or white chocolate, but no full chocolate dessert like a cake or mousse. I found that a bit weird and a little disappointing.

Drinks at Harrigans

This place is your typical Irish pub. We found a spot to sit and talk inside near the sports bar area, but were soon told that the chairs had to be moved away as there was a DJ playing soon. I have to say, whoever that DJ was – was absolutely terrible! There was terrible mixing (if any at all), beat matching did not exist, and the same songs were played twice within 30 minutes of each other. They were all typical songs that you hear a resident pub DJ play. It was kinda fun, but seriously, this person should not be allowed to DJ in public when they haven’t even got the basics!

Also, if you plan to get the courtesy bus from Harrigan’s – DON’T. We asked if the bus was going soon and the bus driver said in 10 minutes he would leave. After sitting on the bus for 20 minutes, he came in, turned off the lights and the bus and closed the doors. Maybe he forgot about us? We waited another 10 minutes before deciding to ask what was going on. The bus driver decided he wasn’t allowed to leave until the bus was full. Um… why didn’t you just say that to begin with? We could have caught a taxi home 30 minutes earlier. I was pretty annoyed about that…

(Ps I was sober for this whole experience)

Wine Tour

The company that we booked our bus through was James’ Wine Tours. I could not think of a better way to do this. James is lovely and informative and organizes a great tour. He gives you a run down for the day and then you can modify the schedule if there’s a specific winery you do not want to visit or really want to see. He has multiple buses that can be used, and can seat up to 12 people in each bus. He also has a smaller car for private tours.

The tour also involves stopping for lunch. Whilst I can’t remember the name of the restuarant, it was a cosy and warm atmosphere.There were a few gluten free options available. I chose the chicken and it was a delicious meal to have inbetween the wine tours (although I wasn’t drinking or tasting any wine that day).

Lunch stop for Hunter Valley Wine Tour - Gluten Free Grilled Chicken and Mash

Gluten Free Grilled Chicken and Mash

There were horse drawn carriages outside as well… I’m not sure if this was something the establishment offered or organised as well, but I would think that it would be a fabulous experience to take a hrse drawn carriage through a wine region.

Horse Drawn Carriages in the Hunter Valley

Horse Drawn Carriages in the Hunter Valley

The wineries we went to were:

  • First Creek – I purchased a bottle of Rose.
  • Domaine de Binet – I purchased a Semillon Savingion Blanc & a Tempranillo (Red wine similar to a Shiraz)
  • Hanging Tree Wines – I purchased a Sparkling Moscato

They were all very nice wineries, and I would definitely go back. Even in winter the Hunter Valley was beautiful. I would recommend that everyone visit the Hunter Valley and do a wine tour at least once in their lifetime!

Wines purchased in the Hunter Valley in Winter 2014

Some of the wines I purchased

Have you been on a wine tour in the Hunter Valley? Where would you recommend to go on a wine tour? Share your experiences in the comments!

Sunday Afternoon Tea at Adore Tea

I love Adore Tea. It is nestled in the pretty Gold Creek Village and is a favourite among many Canberrans. They offer a variety of sweet and savoury treats and meals, but most importantly, a huge selection of tea to try. Their tea menu is quite expansive and sometimes it is difficult trying to pick a tea.

I have been to Adore Tea many times before, both for the regular Saturday High Tea and for a lunchtime or afternoon catchup with friends.

It was a warm autumn afternoon that we decided to do a belated combined birthday celebration for myself and a friend. It was only a small gathering of seven ladies, but we quite enjoyed the company.

There was afternoon entertainment with a Jazz and Blues singer singing some classic songs. We were seated right next to this singer so it was a tad loud. One of my friends certainly did not enjoy this Amy-Winehouse-inspired singer, especially with the speaker right in her ears.

Nonetheless, we browsed the menu to try and find the treats we desired. We had enough difficulty picking out food, let alone trying to pick a tea from over 250 teas!

Three of us decided in the Potato and Chamomile Soup. Unfortunately, after ordering, we were told we would have to fight it out amongst ourselfs as there was only one soup left. It was decided that I should have the soup. I also ordered a Trio of Dips (gluten free of course). My sister ordered the Belgium Waffles and one friend ordered the Scones with Jam and Cream.

I had a White Peach tea and my sister ordered the Creme Brûlée Tea. One friend ordered a variety of the green tea, and unfortunately I cannot remember what tea the other people ordered. All I know is that each person had a different type of tea. There really are so many types of teas it would be difficult to try every single one!

My tea was delicious and I enjoyed every drop of it. The great thing is that the teas come out in these glass-scientific-beaker-looking pots, which are placed over the tea light candles. This keeps the tea nice and warm. The pot has a strainer with the tea in it, and you can take the tea out when you desire, depending on how weak or strong you want your tea.

The food was a little disappointing this time round. The soup tasted bland and clearly lacked seasoning. It was creative of the chef to place the salt, pepper and chamomile tea buds on the side of the plate, but this made it difficult to pinch and sprinkle the seasoning onto the soup. It was only when salt was added that the soup had any particular taste. I was very disappointed with this and would not order it again.

On the other hand, the trio of dips was fantastic. There was hommus, beetroot dip and spicy capsicum. These are my three favourite dips, so I was definitely going to be happy with that selection! But Im fairly certain these were store bought and not freshly made.

My friend who bought the scones said they were quite doughy and almost sticky. The scones were quite large, which would explain the doughy feeling – more jam and cream would be needed to compensate for the size of the scones.

My sister loved her waffles. And with cream and icecream she was definitely going to be happy with that meal!

I suspect that this may have been a bad food day for Adore Tea. As usual, the service was great, and the tea was delicious. I would definitely go back again to try as many more teas as I can as well as try some other food on the menu.

For more info on Adore Tea, check out their website: www.adoretea.com.au

Breakfast Stop in Nowra

I recently travelled to the Kangaroo Valley for a Wedding and it was such a beautiful place to visit. But, as I have experienced from other small towns, there are limited places for gluten intolerant people to eat. The pie shop looked amazing, but unfortunately I could not enjoy this delicious smelling goodness.

My partner and I took the drive into Nowra to find a cafe to dine in. We drove around the town and stumbled across a cafe called Deli on Kinghorne. It looked fairly quiet, but then again this was a Tuesday morning!

We were told to take a seat wherever we pleased and to have a look over the menus. We sat down outside as it was a beautiful warm Autumn day. There did not appear to be many gluten free options, but I assumed that gluten free bread would be available. Once we decided on our meals, my partner went and ordered them at the counter. We both ordered fried eggs and bacon. We also ordered our standard coffees, and of course, my partner ordered a chocolate milkshake.

The coffees quickly came out and the meals soon followed. The waitress wasn’t too friendly and I had to confirm which meal was gluten free. She didn’t know at first and guessed that one meal was gluten free. Thank goodness it was!

I have to say, that this was probably the best gluten free bread I’ve ever tasted! It was light and fluffy, not dense like the gluten free bread I’m used to eating. It was sweet and buttery, almost like a crossaint. The bacon was cooked perfectly and there was more than enough of it! It was a very generous serving for less than $13.00! The eggs were ok: slightly undercooked, but the delicious bread and bacon made up for that.

The main disappointment was the coffee. It didn’t taste burnt, but it just didn’t taste right. It’s possible that the milk was spoiled or going off. Or maybe there was something wrong with the coffee. I’m not quite sure and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it was a bad day? I don’t know. Either way, I was really unimpressed with the coffee.

Despite the coffee disappointment, I would still go back to this cafe for breakfast. It was yummy and filled me up. Great way to start the day!

 

 

 

Chocolate dreams at San Churro

image

I recently went to San Churro for a well over-due catch up with a friend. I had never been to San Churro before, and for some strange reason I had never even heard of it! I don’t know how that is when I love my chocolate. My friend told me that San Churro is waaay better than Max Brenner or Koko Black… so I definitely was keen to test out this theory!

I arrived a bit earlier than my friend and was given a seat inside at the comfy couch up against the window. It was raining outside and I could image this being a nice place to sip on a hot chocolate and read the paper when it’s cold outside. There were a mixture of people inside, from couples to mums with their babies to teens having a fun afternoon catchup. It seemed to have a really nice atmosphere inside.

The staff were attentive too, which always makes a difference to the experience.

When I sat down I was informed that they had run out of milk chocolate for their hot chocolates… I was pretty disappointed because a hot chocolate was exactly what I felt like. But looking at the menu I realised there were plenty of other things to choose from.

After my friend got there we decided on what to have. I wanted a Couveture Caramel Hot Chocolate, but as they didn’t have milk chocolate the waiter asked if I wanted white or dark chocolate instead. I had no idea what would be better, especially as I had never had the drink before, so I asked him what I should get instead. He suggested dark chocolate, so I went with that.

However I seemed to get something different. I realised that I received the Hot Ducle de Leche. I think I might have confused the waiter when I was telling him I had never been there before so I was happy for him to make the decision for me (yep, being one of those annoying people…) But what he brought me was pretty tasty. It definitely didn’t have a caramel taste to it, but it is true that it was a ‘sweet satisfaction’. It was thick and creamy and perfect to warm me up on that cold rainy day.

image

I also ordered the Flourless Chocolate Cake. It was presented on a rectangular plate with a dollop of whipped cream and creative chocolate piped across the plate. This chocolate part was all the way to the edges, and although it looked pretty, it was annoying that it kept getting all over my hand when I was trying to ear (I guess I rest my hand on the side of the plate a lot…)

The cake itself was delicious. Very filling. And it wasn’t too dense like many flourless chocolate cakes are. The chocolate ganache on top of the cake was stiff like icing though, showing it obviously had been made a little while ago, but it still tasted delicious. The cream and the nuts on top complimented the cake by bring some nice texture to the dish.

Although the dish is for one, it definitely could be shared. Unless you’re like me… I will just eat the whole thing by myself! Damn, I love chocolate!

Overall I really liked San Churro. It’s just a shame that I can’t eat the churro’s dipped in chocolate, because they look fantastic! If they did gluten free churros I would probably be there a lot more, and I would probably be a little bit rounder in the tummy too 😉

Overall, I would give San Churro a 4/5.

 Vintage Barbie signature

Beach Burrito, Canberra City

image

Last weekend I went to catch up with one of my friends at Beach Burrito in Canberra City. This place has been around for a little while now, but it seems many people in Canberra don’t know about this little place so I thought I would share my experience with you.

Beach Burrito is a Mexican eatery with a fun vibe. It’s clearly aimed at 18-30 year olds with its funky decor and frozen tequila mixes over the bar. Staff are really friendly and it would be a great place to catch up with friends whether it’s just for dinner, or for some well earnt drinks after work.

I have been here once before. The first time it was for drinks. One word – delicious! But as that was some time ago and I can’t remember what drink I had (I swear alcohol had nothing to do with that…) I am going to stick with my review of the food this time around.

We got to Beach Burrito at around 6pm. It was pretty quiet for a Saturday night but I had a feeling the freezing cold had something to do with that. We sat down in one of the booths up the back of the place. My friend was set on the Quesadilla’s and I decided on a Burrito Bowl.

image

The Food

I was a little bit shocked surprised to see that the Burrito Bowl meant the bowl was actually a burrito. I thought I had chosen a gluten free option – i.e. a burrito, but instead of the filling being in a tortilla, the filling would be in a bowl. Well, that’s obviously a blonde moment because the menu does actually state that this is what they offer in a ‘tortilla bowl’.

image

I ate the filling anyway, and just tried to avoid the bowl.

In this Mucho Burrito Bowl, I had pork, chicken and beef. I expected them to be separated slightly so I could taste them individually, but it seemed they were all mixed up together in the bowl. This was disappointing because I wanted to enjoy them separately AND together. Nonetheless it was still delicious. There were also beans, onion, tomato, lettuce, cheese and salsa. It was a delicious combination of everything I wanted in my burrito. This meal is great for someone who can’t decide on what to have – you get the best of many burritos in one!

I have to say the best part of the dish was the guacamole. The guac was chunky and fresh, and it’s absolutely delish! I wish there was more! There is a heap of sour cream with the dish and I would have preferred to swap some of the sour cream for more guacamole because I felt like there was too much leftover at the end.

I finished the entire bowl (and left just the burrito base). I think that the lack of carbs meant that I wasn’t full after dinner, but I was satisfied.

There aren’t too many gluten free options on the menu though. Even though I didn’t actually eat the burrito bowl/base, I still felt sick afterwards. Obviously I got some crumbs of gluten in the meat that I was scooping out with a fork. It’s a shame that there’s not more gluten free options because I really enjoyed the taste of the food and the flavour combinations.

Staff are also helpful and friendly and that always makes a difference between a good and a great meal.

image

The Verdict

I would give it 3.5 stars out of 5. It’s definitely good, but the lack of gluten free burrito/taco/nacho options are a big downer for me (especially because they are my favourite foods). Hopefully in future they could add some gluten free options because if they did, I would certainly be there more often!

 

Bye for now,

Vintage Barbie xo