Cafe 2617, Belconnen

2 Aug

Belconnen Town Centre’s Urban Roast has undergone a revamp: the ownership hasn’t changed and the cafe is still bright and roomy, but there’s a new, streamlined menu and the shouting to the kitchen and back has thankfully stopped. The outfit seems calmer and more organised. The lunch menu has completely gone – replaced with blackboard menus which change every three or four days to allow the kitchen to take advantage of what’s fresh and seasonal and be more creative. And, of course, the name has changed.

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Grease, The Q

31 Jul

Grease – the classic 70s broadway hit and film – arrived in Queanbeyan on Wednesday night, bringing clever costume designs, the well-known songs and the blatant sexism.

Say what?

I’ve had a long, fraught relationship with the musical as I’ve revisited it over the years. On the one hand, I love it. The songs are (mostly) fantastic. The music is great. The cast and costumes are great. The choreography is great. And, from a young age, the message was apparent that Sandy was actually pretty annoying and just was too hard on Danny; she was so much more likeable when she just relaxed, took up smoking, and made her voice a breathy one (and I couldn’t wait for that end of school party once I finished year 12, either). In my pre-teens it occurred to me that a whole lot of the behaviour between the characters in the movie was actually incredibly cringeworthy, or – more accurately – cruel. In my early teens (okay I’ve seen it heaps of times) a whole lot more sexual references finally clicked for me and, in the middle of singing along to songs, I found myself largely horrified about the messages being promoted.

The horror and the discomfort hasn’t changed. And Grease hasn’t changed, either – it’s still hugely popular and a theatrical feast which is exactly why I was drawn back to it. So, while I could write weeks of blog posts analysing the politically incorrect, sexist and otherwise questionable messages, this is a review blog and thus: here’s the review.

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Grease Monkey, Braddon

20 Jul

Grease Monkey opened a little while back and my interest was piqued when people started declaring them the best burgers ever. Better than Brodburger? Well, maybe not. But equally as good.

That still makes them more than worth the trip to Braddon to try them out!

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Frugii Dessert Laboratory

7 Jul

This is not a paid post but this is a post with an inherent bias. It’s because I simply love Frugii. I’ve been a Frugii fanatic for a long while – enjoying a breakfast ice cream cone on Saturday mornings at the EPIC Farmers Markets or an afternoon ice cream cup at the Old Bus Depot Markets. There’s nothing that Mr Frugii aka John can do wrong. Tomato sorbet? You got it. Pavlova ice cream? Yep. Wheat beer ice cream? Easy done.

Gingerbread? Sour cream? Licorice? Musk? Christmas pudding? Gin and tonic? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and YES. (I’ve tried them all.) And John was doing all of these flavours well before he opened the Frugii Dessert Laboratory in the Ori building on Lonsdale Street earlier this year.

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Swan Valley and surrounds: endless experiences*

6 Jul

* I attended this experience as a guest.

It’s a Tuesday night during a sitting week and we’re at Parliament House. But not for work – Swan Valley has come all the way from WA to Canberra to showcase what their region has to offer.

Swan Valley was named by the RSPCA as Australia’s first humane food region: this means throughout the cafes and restaurants you can expect meats to be free-range and eggs to be cage-free. Animal welfare is paramount. Swan Valley is also home to around 150 wineries in the region, so there’s plenty to like!

I find it quite novel that so many producers in a region as far away as Western Australia find the time and effort to come all the way to freezing Canberra – it’s really quite wonderful to have Swan Valley come to us! The whole point, of course, is to convince us of the value of the region so much so that we give them a visit in return. I’m happy to report that there are enough stand-outs for me to genuinely consider a visit – something I wouldn’t have done otherwise.

The highlights:

Wild Swan Distilling Company is a microbrewery doing gin and vodka. And not just any vodka, but cold brew coffee vodka and pavlova vodka. I don’t even like coffee and I find the cold brew absolutely genius.

Ti produce tell me their strawberries aren’t quite at their peak yet, but of course they wanted to bring a batch. I’m not sure what their peak looks like: these are among the brightest, sweetest and juiciest I’ve tasted. Within an hour they’ve handed out every single strawberry they’ve brought.

Feral Brewing is a big player in the small brewers scene. I’ve long enjoyed their beers at some of Canberra’s beer festivals and Plonk stocks a great range. It turns out they’re from Swan Valley!

Mike Price of Sittella Winery and Restaurant is one of the key ambassadors for Swan Valley. Having trained in Michelin star restaurants throughout France, his food philosophy involves the least amount of human interference possible. On this cold winter night his roasted carrot shots hit the spot.

Have you been to Swan Valley? Would you go?

Date: Tuesday, 23 June 2015

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Truffle Festival: Majura Valley Experience

21 Jun

* I enjoyed the Majura Valley Experience as a guest

My relationship with truffles has been fraught. I’ve had dishes where I can really taste what is supposed to be a flavoursome delicacy, and dishes where I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t notice if it had been added or not. It’s been cheese with truffles and Frugii’s divine truffle ice cream which has really helped me understand the flavour and what I should be looking for, but I’ve still come away confused about whether my palate just isn’t truffle friendly. The Majura Valley Experience – a day of three different truffle experiences – promises to change all that.

We arrive at French Black Truffles off the new Majura Road at 10am for a truffle hunt. The sun is shining brightly but, as every Canberran knows, clear skies just means it’s going to be stupidly cold. In the shade of Canberra’s tallest mountain, Mt Majura, the cold is biting. As the last of the cars arrives, we head into a small shed where the magic happens.

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Hidden treasures in Dunlop Grasslands

12 Jun

Blogging has introduced me to some of Canberra’s very best, and that includes people like bushwalking legend John Evans. John has an extremely popular website where he documents every single walk he takes with plenty of detail and maps. John’s simple goal is to inspire people to resist sedentary life, head outside and enjoy some fresh air, and appreciate our surroundings. I look on in awe at his commitment to providing as much information to make that possible for people.

John and I have been on a few walks together – Mt Coree and Urambi Hills. As well as being knowledgeable, John is a gentleman and has a great sense of humour. When he offered to show me a part of Belconnen with which I wasn’t yet familiar, I jumped at the chance.

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