Eat here: Gellibrand Cafe, Melbourne (brunch/cafe)

Gellibrand Cafe
16 Gellibrand Cres, Reservoir
https://web.facebook.com/gellibrandcafe/?fref=nf&_rdr

They’ve been open less than a month, and I managed 2 visits in less than 24 hours – I think I’ve found my new local! Tucked away in a little suburban pocket of Reservoir, it’s not the kind of place that’s going to get crazy foot traffic, so they’re going to have to rely pretty heavily on good word of mouth. That shouldn’t be too much of a problem…

The space itself is beautiful – it’s modern and minimalist looking, but the little touches like the Globo posters behind the counter give it a bit of a throwback to the past and makes it feel more homely.

Our first visit was last Saturday afternoon; they close at 4pm, but we thought we’d try to sneak in a quick coffee/tea date around 3pm on our way out. It’s incredibly how many places get narky when you roll in an hour before closing on a Saturday afternoon, so we braced ourselves for an icy reception. Which was completely unnecessary; we were welcomed with smiles and open arms. Massive points there, because another similar cafe in the area is quite the opposite when you arrive within 90 minutes of closing time.

We asked for tea, coffee and donuts, and while we sat waiting for them, we picked up on seriously happy vibes. The staff were laughing and joking around with each other, they were happy to chat with us instead of ignoring us, and it felt more and more like hanging out at a friend’s or extended family member’ place rather than a shiny new cafe.

Oh, and they stock Doughboys Doughnuts, which makes me very happy, because I love them!! Husband loved his coffee, my tea was hot and brewed just right, and the doughnuts were magic. Salted caramel that was properly salty and sugary, and a gorgeous little key lime number filled with lime curd and a toasted meringue hat. Perfect afternoon tea. Also, as the clock ticked closer to 4pm, more big points for not starting to turn off light and clean around our feet – sorry our timing was crap, guys, but thank you for not making us feel like a total inconvenience!! We decided then and there that we’d return for breakfast the next morning.

And so we did. Sunday morning rolled around, and we turned back up to Gellibrand again. A pretty simple menu with plenty of options to keep everyone happy, husband went straight for the smashed avo with chilli on toast, with a poached egg and bacon on the side. He’s fussy with anything that claims to have chilli in it (his tolerance levels are bordering on unnatural), so he was a pretty happy camper when his avocado came out with actual pieces of chilli mashed through it. He was even happier when he opened his egg up and found it all molten lava yolk (he’s has some sub-par over poached eggs lately). He also commended the amount of bacon.

I was hovering over the porridge, until I caught a glimpse of the specials board. There is something oddly satisfying about being able to order pancakes and ice cream for breakfast, for a few reasons:
1. When you’re a kid and you want pancakes and ice cream for breakfast, your parents laugh at you and give you cereal and fruit instead. As an adult, if you want ice cream for breakfast, you can.
2. When you’re a highly disordered eater, any time you can override the mechanism that tells you to order eggs and vegetables for breakfast and not to finish the toast, that’s a big win.

And it was a bloody good decision – they were proper, home made pancakes, not the perfect round cookie-cutter ones. They were full of blueberries, plenty of salted caramel toasted almonds, more blueberries and top, and that ice cream was the perfect side. I don’t often order pancakes because they’re such a special treat meal to me, and I don’t want to waste a special treat breaky on crappy pancakes, but these were exactly what I felt like – hope they make their way back onto the specials board again!

I’m feeling really fortunate to be living out in the northern suburbs these days; back when I was a kid, Preston and Reservoir weren’t the nicest areas. Now, as the suburbs next in line for gentrification after Northcote and Thornbury, they’re starting to become prime locations. I just hope that the new places opening up keep the friendly neighbourhood attitudes and a few little throwbacks to the past, like Gellibrand have. See you again soon, guys 🙂

 

Gellibrand Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Eat here: Horse on Heels, Melbourne (waffles)

Horse on Heels
50 Rose St, Fitzroy
http://www.horseonheels.com.au/

The idea was simple: be the waffle specialists. Because cupcakes are done, donuts are getting old, and Melbourne needs a new sweet. Why not waffles? When JV suggested this for our weekend lady date, she had me at “it’s all about waffles.” When I looked at their website and saw they were the team behind The Waffle Club at the Queen Vic Market, I was even more excited, because I really love their waffles!

You’re looking for the plain brick building next to the Rose Street Artists’ Market, with no signage or  identifying markers other than the mini blackboard A-frame on the floor out front. I was there a bit early, and took a seat with a pot of tea while I waited – thank you to the lovely server who brought out a piece of freshly made waffle to nibble on with my tea! It’s a beautiful place to sit and drink you tea or coffee in, too; I couldn’t work out what it reminded me of with the natural light and wooden finished, until JV mentioned it reminded her a lot of Kitty Burns.

For breakfast, JV went with the Popcorn Chicken ($20.00) – a black charcoal coconut waffle topped with popcorn chicken, caramelised popcorn, pickled kale and chimichurri aioli sauce. It was a massive serve and great value for money, and she said it was amazing.

I like a sweet breakfast, and was a bit up in the air over what I wanted, but ended up going with the Autumn Fruits ($17.00) – a Belgian Liege waffle topped with coconut chia pudding, acai smoothie, granola, goji berries and fruit. I asked for it without banana, but unfortunately they didn’t remember that the acai smoothie was basically purple mashed banana, so I skipped that and a bit of the waffle that was soaked in it, which sucked 😦 the rest of it was amazing, though, but a little on the smaller side compared to the Popcorn Chicken. Totally kicked myself for not going with my first instinct and ordering the coconut pandan waffle with kaya jam and extras. Next time…

The menu is fantastic, and it was hard to decide on just one or two dishes – pulled beef, grilled pork belly, avo and pomegranate, meatsmith sausage with smoky baked beans… it’s extensive. Teamed up with the beautiful space and fantastic service, I’m ready to go back and try that coconut pandan waffle!

 

Horse On Heels Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: Honey Badger, Hobart (dessert)

Honey Badger
7 Salamanca Square, Hobart, Tasmania
http://honeybadgercafe.com

Home, sweet home…
I always returning home to be so bittersweet, whether it’s a few weeks away or just a few days. This little break was exactly what I needed, and I absolutely loved spending time in Hobart 🙂 hopefully you guys will enjoy seeing a bit more of this beautiful part of the world with the upcoming blog posts on it, but given that it is Friday (or FriYay), I thought I’d get back into it with a sweet little post and recommendation for anyone who finds themselves in Hobart and looking for a little treat this weekend.

Our first night in Hobart inevitably saw us end up around Salamanca Place, which is where we noticed an A-frame with the words “dessert bar” on them. That was a no brainier. It had been a long day, I needed a cup of tea and desser is never a bad idea when you’re on vacation!

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Enter Honey Badger; gorgeous, hipster, and very welcoming, it wouldn’t have been at all out of place in one of Melbourne’s hot spots. The menu is a sugar fiend’s dream, with things like panookies (skillet cookies) and waffles, with a pretty great tea and coffee menu to go with it all. Husband really enjoyed his coffee, but we both REALLY loved my matcha latte – it was magic! Husband is now into matcha lattes now, happy days for me!

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We also got a serve of the Kyoto Holiday waffles, that came with green tea custard, sweet red bean paste, pistachios, cream and green tea ice cream. Absolutely completely delicious… It was really hard to narrow down the menu to this one, and I have no regrets! I’d highly recommend it!

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And the best part is that they’re open until late, so if you have a hankering for a big chocolate brownie and a matcha latte at 9.30pm, you’re well and truly covered! Happy weekend, friends 🙂

Honey Badger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tea time: Rustica, Melbourne – and overcoming disordered eating

Rustica Sourdough Bakery
402 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
http://rusticasourdough.com.au/

I was sitting at Rustica last Sunday with a pot of tea and my husband’s coffee and a Milo cronut in front of me, thinking about how much things have changed over the past year.

While I’m pretty open about my depression & anxiety issues, the disordered eating side of the dice isn’t something I speak about much. I think maybe because of my background (I studied exercise science at uni, worked as a personal trainer for a decade and was a half decent martial artist who represented her state in competition) I feel like I should have been stronger or more immune to it. Like I should have known better than to buy into the self hatred and dysmorphia and media-induced insecurities. Fool; if anything, I think it just made me even more susceptible. I guess it’s those same reasons that have me referring to it as “disordered eating” rather than a straight up “eating disorder;” there are other big reasons for this as well, but nothing I can go into without pissing certain people off..

Anyway, without getting into it all too much, because honestly, it’s not particularly easy to talk about just yet, one of the things I’ve struggled with the most is exercise. If I don’t work out every day to balance out what I eat, that’s failure. If I’m going out for dinner after work (a very rare occurance these days), I need to be up early to fit in a good hour workout before work. If we’re doing weekend brunch, there’s no time to sleep in – even a 10am brunch date means a 7.30am alarm to get in a good workout first. Needless to say, it’s exhausting. Part of the recovery plan was to cut myself a bit of slack around the workouts and not see them as punishment for eating… That’s been WAY harder than it should be!

Anyway, this particular Sunday, the challenge was placed before me; go out for breakfast, THEN have a cup of tea & a nibble a few hours later, without getting up early to workout and also without a meltdown/freak out. Challenge accepted. Infinitely easier with the husband by my side.

You saw the breakfast portion of the morning last week, at Sir Charles, which was absolutely spectacular. Because we were in my favourite part of Melbourne, we took a nice, long walk around the streets of Brunswick & Collingwood so I could check out my favourite vintage shops, stock up on tea at Aunt Maggie’s. Then, a visit to Rustica. My suggestion because I love this place & still hadn’t taken the husband there to try a cronut!

The breads and pastries are actually picture perfect (as demonstrated by the never ending iPhone-wielding crowds by the front door), and taste every bit as good as they look. We noticed one last Milo cronut sitting in the display case and snapped that up, much to the disappointment of the couple behind us (sorry… not sorry, it was amazing), along with a pot of tea and a coffee.  Tea, coffee and cronut all magnificent – that cronut in particular! So big and rich and creamy, you’d most likely be a little unwell if you have a dodgy stomach like me and still ate the lot, so it was good to share! It’s also a beautiful space to spend a bit of time in if you want to just chill out alone and maybe read or write, or draw in a sketch book, day dream, or reflect on where you’re at in life at the moment… Plenty of natural light, a great spot for people watching, smells amazing because it’s a bakery, that comforting Fitzroy vibe (just the right mix of hipster and boho and real), friendly staff who give you your space to do your thing, and amazing cronuts. Have you got a good egg in your life that has your back no matter what? Take them out for a cronut this week to say thank you  : )

Eat. Travel. Blog. The 2015 highlights :)

Holy wow, 2015 is over… I never believed mum when I’d hear her say “the older you get, the quicker it goes!” I hate to admit it, but she’s kinda right… It simultaneously feels like it was only a few weeks ago/it was all a big dream that we were on our way to America for our mega-trip, but it was this time last year we were half way through it all!

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It’s been a pretty big year for me. Among other things, this year has seen me:
– turn thirty  >_<
– travel to America, Canada, Mexico and Japan
– get closer to some friends and finally shed some toxic ones
– start a new job
– finally acknowledge my depression/anxiety/disordered eating and get help for it all
– acquire a few new tattoos
– complete my first 5km fun run, and a consequential 8km run
– thoroughly enjoy Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club
– discover that I’m lactose and fructose intolerant
– start getting back to who I used to be

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It’s been big. It’s been fun. It’s been challenging. It’s been heart breaking and joy bringing and all the rest of it. Because that’s what life is. The other thing 2015 gave me was the opportunity to write. I love blogging; I love being able to do what I love, whenever I want. And the fact that there are so many of you out there interested enough in what I have to say to read along means more than you can possibly imagine! From the bottom of my heart, thank you all so much for reading along from time to time; I’ve been writing and recording since I was old enough to put pen to paper, and I’ll continue to do so for as long as I can still hold a pen in my hand 🙂

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I thought that I’d follow suit with so many other bloggers and take a little walk down memory lane at some of my most popular posts over the last year…

It seems that my readers enjoy my food review posts the most, with these Melbourne eats getting the most views:
1. Yu-U
2. Kustom Burgers
3. Supernormal
4. Cheshire
5. Mamor
6. Bad Boys
7. Leyalina
8. Addict Food & Coffee
9. Mankoushe
10. Good Ovening

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For the record, my favourite Melbourne eats of the year are a little different; my favourites were, in no particular order:
1. Lievita
2. Sookie La La
3. Rockwell & Sons
4. Gypsy & Pig
5. 1090
6. The Gem
7. Shortstop Donuts
8. Addict Food & Coffee
9. Tipo 00
10. Two Little Pigs

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This year’s most popular international eats looked like this:
1. Bangkok’s ice cream truck
2. Nong Ploy, Koh Samui
3. The Halal Guys, New York City
4. Eataly, Chicago
5. Momofuku, Toronto
6. Ben’s Chili Bowl, Washington DC
7. Eggslut & Tumbras, Los Angeles
8. Shake Shack / In-N-Out
9. Central Grocery, New Orleans
10. Kanga, Toronto

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Again, my favourites looked a little different:
1. The Joint, New Orleans
2. Four & Twenty Blackbirds, New York City
3. Tartine Bakery, San Francisco
4. The Great Burger, Tokyo
5. Tsukiji Fish Market sushi, Tokyo
6. Yummy Yummy, San Francisco
7. Momofuku, Toronto
8. The Halal Guys, New York City
9. Au Cheval, Chicago
10. Cafe du Monde, New Orleans

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Recipes weren’t as popular as reviews, but the most viewed recipes were:
** Pork, macadamia, cranberry & sage sausage rolls – even though this wasn’t a 2015, it had over 350 more views than the next most popular recipe this year!! Amazing!
1. Red beans & rice
2. Poached egg & polenta
3. Tea infused porridge
4. Peanut butter granola
5. Zucchini choc chip cake
6. Quick 6 ingredient cookies
7. Coconut matcha porridge
8. Spring onion zucchini omelette
9. Cornbread pudding
10. Roy Choi’s ketchup fried rice

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And just for the record, the recipes I enjoyed most this year were:
1. 6 ingredient fried rice
2. Microwave matcha pudding cakes
3. Cranberry gingerbread granola
4. Coconut pandan oat & matcha chia parfait
5. Cornbread pudding
6. Crispy salted sage, hazelnut and cacao nib cookies
7. Olive oil chocolate zucchini cake
8. Fluffy protein pancakes
9. Chocolate pretzels
10. Tea infused porridge

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Your favourite travel related posts?
1. Dong Xuan Night Market, Hanoi, Vietnam
2. 10 Books Every Traveller Must Read
3. Through my eyes: Nutella crepes in Phuket, Thailand
4. Through my eyes: Santa Monica & Venice Beach, Los Angeles
5. Victorian mini-breaks: How to spend a weekend in Beechworth part 1
6. The New Orleans School of Cooking
7. USAdventure days 26-33- New York
8. TBT: Crawling through the Cu Chi Tunnels in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
9. Pure freedom: cruising Isla Mujeres
10. iPhoto essay: The Californian Redwoods, Warburton

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And my favourite travel experiences this year (other than those 10)?
1. “Finding myself” in St Louis Cemetery #1, New Orleans
2. Inside the hospital of Alcatraz
3. Through my eyes: Jomyo-in Temple, Tokyo
4. Through my eyesL crossing the Brooklyn Bridge at sundown
5. Through my eyesL New Orleans, 10 years post-Katrina
6. Urban paradise: Milton Lee Olive Park, Chicago
7. Toronto Islands, Canada
8. Through my eyes: The streets of Kagurazaka, Japan
9. Greystone Mansion & Park, Los Angeles
10. Flashback Friday: A night at the Temple of Edfu, Egypt

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And last but not least, because I do my very best to keep it as real as possible on here, the most viewed personal musing posts this year have been:
1. Sometimes you DO get to choose your family
2. I believe the time has come for me to re-introduce myself
3. The importance of pizza and a strong father-daughter relationship
4. Welcome to my book nook
5. You’re not alone
6. Wanderlust 108: Melbourne 2015
7. Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be? [Escape part 2]
8. S2, Ep2: Eat. Travel. Blog. It’s been a big weekend
9. Ways to keep your love & friendships strong: Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club
10. There is NOTHING wrong with being real

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From the bottom of my heart guys, thank you so much for reading this year 🙂 Writing is my biggest love and passion in life. It’s what I’ve always done, truly, since I was as young as I can remember. I write primarily for me, but having other people read and appreciate my work is absolutely the biggest, kindest compliment I have ever been paid. So, whether you’ve been reading most days or just read one or two posts this year, thank you so so much 🙂

Hope everyone has a wonderful New Year’s Eve saying farewell the year that has been, saying thank you for the lessons learnt, and getting ready to take on 2016 with reckless abandon xoxo

Burgers & gelati! Eat here: The Beer & Burger Bar and Pidapipó, Melbourne

Summer in Melbourne. The perfect time of year to pull up a seat outside with a few friends and enjoy some good food. Burgers and gelati in particular scream Melbourne summer to me, and we’re blessed with some amazing options 🙂 These are two I tried for the first time this summer, and would definitely recommend adding them to your list, too…

 

The Beer and Burger Bar
112 Swan St, Richmond
http://tbbl.com.au/

I’d heard plenty about this place, but had never managed to make it in – Richmond isn’t the easiest area to get in and out of at peak times, so I generally avoid it. But, a few weeks ago I had a new tattoo added to my collection at Good Luck Tattoo in Richmond, and I decided that after a couple of hours under the needle, a nice, big burger was in order. A few minutes walk later, and I was finally ready to try this popular burg. I went with the cheeseburger – brioche bun with a beef pattie, cheese, tomato sauce, Dijon mustard, gherkins and aioli. Plus bacon. Obviously.

The buttery brioche bun was perfect for this kind of burger, toasted just enough to help hold it together against all the sauces and juicy pattie. And it was a juicy one – perfectly cooked to medium-rare, still pink inside. The cheese was just right and melted all over, bacon nice and crisp, but not the point of being like cardboard. The trio of Dijon, ketchup and aioli were on point, and to be perfectly honest, there’s really nothing I can complain about with this burger. It was really fantastic, much better than I expected it to be!

The Beer and Burger Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Other burgers worth your calories this summer are:
– 1090
– Beatbox Kitchen
– Burger Boys
– Chew
– Easey’s
– Grand Trailer Park Taverna
– Huxtaburger
– Laurie Dees
– Mr Scruff’s
– Rockwell & Sons

 

Then, after a burger, you need dessert. And it’s gelati weather right now.

Pidapipó
299 Lygon St, Carlton
http://pidapipo.com.au/

I can’t believe I didn’t make it here last summer… To be fair, though, I did spend just over half of summer on the other side of the world, but it’s been a long time coming getting here. Lisa Valmorbida’s proper Italian gelateria came after years of experience in some of Melbourne’s best restaurants, a solid education at Carpigiani Gelati University, and a visit to her family’s home town in Vicenza, Italy, to eat real gelato with her Nonno. What she’s doing at Pidapipó (the name comes from a childhod game her Nonno made up to keep the kids entertained) is amazing, genuine, honest Italian gelati, and it’s phenomenal. I visited during cheese week, where they had their amazing formaggio flavour range available – three unique cheese-flavoured gelati, because Italians love cheese… and gelati!

Available flavours were:
– Parmesan, fig and honey
– Ricotta, cannoli and Nutella swirl
– and the one I knew I had to have, mascarpone, berry and biscuit crumble

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Silky smooth, with just the right amount of mascarpone to remind you that there was in fact cheese in there. The berries and biscuit crumbles added the perfect sweetness and texture, and it showcased 100% the originality Lisa is bringing to the gelati game. This is the stuff Italians dream off, it’s worth lining up for, and it’s something you need to experience this summer.

Pidapipó Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Other ice cream to get your sticky paws into:
– Billy Van Creamy
– Dex2Rose Nitrogen Gelato
– Gelato Messina
– Il Melograno

 

While the sun is still shining, go grab a burger and ice cream, and enjoy the last few days of 2015! Hopefully most of you get the change to do that instead of being back at work this morning like me  >_<

Eat & shop here: Ameyoko Market, Tokyo, Japan

Ameyoko Market and shopping street
Wedged in between JR Okachimachi Station or JR Ueno Station (see below)

*** EDIT: Since writing this post I’ve visited again and written up a guide to the market – click on through to keep reading! ***

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I re-visited Chicago’s Christkindl Christmas Market last week; this week I’m crossing the globe and heading back to Tokyo for a very different kind of market…

The Ameyoko Market is essentially a mammoth maze of streets that are home to 500-odd stalls, selling everything from dried fish to nail polish. It was originally opened as a black market post-war, but it’s visited by what seemed like everyone in the city now.

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Crazy busy with an absolutely electric atmosphere, it was a really fun place to explore. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, despite the fact that most of the streets were full of shoulder-to-shoulder pedestrian traffic. Heaps of delicious food stops on the way through, with a lot of the younger vendors having a bit of fun trying to convince obvious foreigners to stop and enjoy a meal with them in their limited English. As I keep saying, food is the great connector of people all over the world 🙂

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I got lucky and stumbled on a sushi house that had a massive line out the front, which to me screams “GREAT FOOD!”

I joined the line, pointed to the picture that had the bowl of what I guessed was a whole lot of tuna on it, and followed the waitress to a bench seat in a crammed, steamy little “kitchen”…

10 minutes or so later, this bowl of heaven was ceremoniously plonked in front of me. The most incredible, fresh, soft tuna I’ve ever had. Fatty tuna, minced tuna, belly tuna, it was all there, and it was all so melt-in-your-mouth soft you barely had to chew it. All laid on top of a generous serving of rice, it was the perfect lunch to fuel up for the rest of the afternoon exploring. Don’t be scared of the long lines at these markets – long lines = good food!

 

Winding my way around the market, I came across another line an hour later – taiyaki! Custard filled, fish shaped waffles. Yes please!

Again, I joined the line, pointed to the picture, and got my steaming hot custard sea creature. Easy to see what all the fuss is about – these things are unreal! Creamy smooth vanilla custard inside a golden crisp waffle, perfect hand held market food.

 

As for shopping, everything did have marked prices, so bartering didn’t seem to be encouraged or accepted at all. That said, the prices were all pretty reasonable; I certainly had no need to barter for anything I was looking at.

It was pretty easy to get to and find, only a short train ride away from my accommodation in Shinjuku, and well and truly worth a visit!

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