Tuesday, 6 October 2015


Fish Tacos

Smalltown in Avalon ticks my three main boxes at the moment; good food, good coffee and room for the pram. The staff here are also friendly, although not the most attentive.....please just come and take my toddlers order, sadly I'm not even joking, my two year old ran from the lounge-room to the kitchen this morning asking her father for a babycinno. She cracks us up...and once again I digress.

Smalltown serves Single Origin Roasters coffee which fits in to my 'crowd pleaser' category, meaning it is an enjoyable drink, but there aren't any flavour characteristics that excite me. That said, I did want the flavour hit again so I enjoyed a decaf for my second coffee beverage. Before children you could hear me say 'decaf, what's the point?' but as a breastfeeding mum I'm on caffeine rations, so I'm on the hunt for a delicious decaf, although I shudder at the thought of the solvents that are used throughout the process.

For lunch I couldn't go past the fish tacos. A squeeze of lime freshened up the deep fried parcels and the mayo was absolutely delicious with just the right amount of heat (for me at the moment), although my husband probably would have been asking for some chili sauce to spice it up.

Lara was very content with thick cut chips, which she decided she was having when we got out of the car on the other side of the road and the delicious aroma wafted under our noses like a scene out of a cartoon. She seriously smelt the air and exclaimed "chips", priceless. Naturally I had to bite the ends off to cool them down for her, so I can vouch that they were delicious. However, the house made chipotle aioli had gone a miss which was disappointing.

Hot chips that smelt good from across the street.
I've been to Smalltown a few times now, and every time has been an enjoyable experience. It is becoming a favourite...good job it isn't within walking distance to home.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Gardening and Sunshine

Spring is well and truly here, my completely unexpected morning sunburn is proof of it, and it's time that I pulled my finger out and got our veggie garden feeding us again. I'm not going to lie, making the time to plant seeds with two babies is challenging. I've probably missed the boat for planting tomato seeds, but I'm giving them a go any way....now the challenge will be to water them every day so they don't dry out, whilst avoiding the battle with Lara's "I help". Fingers crossed we will get some delicious fruit before Christmas.

I planted lots of seeds; various kinds of tomato seeds, basil seeds to companion plant with the tomatoes, and cucumber so we have all the ingredients for a delicious salad-the cut and come again lettuce in the garden has been providing us well for some time now. There are also chilli seeds that I saved from a previous crop and am seriously crossing my fingers will germinate, and some pumpkin seeds that I saved from a delicious 'farm bought' organic pumpkin...but I may have processed them all wrong, time will tell.

Tomato, basil, cucumber, chilli and pumpkin seeds.

Half way through processing the seed trays I got tired of squatting at the edge of the veggie garden and wished I had a gardening table to work on. Then I remembered that we had an old work bench just sitting out the front doing nothing, so with a bit of help from Mark I carried it up the back steps and wheeled it into position. Perfect, and yet another 'why didn't I do that sooner?' moment. Fingers crossed it also keeps the ants away (job to put on list, pour boiling water over ants).

Veggie garden in October with new work bench in position.

I also planted some seeds directly in the veggie garden as the packet instructions suggested. However, I'm not expecting great things from this, because some pesky little critter(s) stole my last planting of bean seeds. Living in the Northern Beaches of Sydney is absolutely lovely, but we do have a lot of wildlife to cohabitat with, so it is anyones' guess if birds, possums or bandicoots stole the last lot of seeds, oh, and there is a new culprit to consider; brush turkeys. Yes, two landed on our roof on Friday when we were out gardening, the boys (dogs) went off at them like you wouldn't believe so hopefully they will find somewhere else to hangout....I suspect their home got cut down that morning at the construction site across the road. Still, I don't want them visiting my chickens or helping themselves to our food. That said, I deliberately left some sacrificial bean seeds out in the main part of the garden, so hopefully they will act as a decoy to any creatures considering the veggie garden.

Cucumber and zucchini seeds planted with a trellis waiting for them to grow up.

Of course there are a lot of creatures that we do want to attract to the garden, and I've been rather upset by the lack of bees lately. I've been planting more flowers and waiting and waiting for the bees to come, and finally I saw two native bees and a bush honey bee in the garden, so that made my day. Years ago there would be groups of bees enjoying my veggie garden, so the bee issue that everyone is talking about is becoming terribly apparent....the discussion with my husband about having a beehive continues, for now the bees will just have to visit and enjoy the flowering sage.

Flowering sage; a tasty bee treat.

By far the best thing about the veggie garden is watching my family eat from it, and this is getting even better with Lara's developing enthusiasm for picking and eating strawberries. The half eaten strawberries you can see are Lara's solution to my suggestion of only eating the strawberries when they are pink and leaving them on the plant to ripen. She took a bite out of the pink bit straight from the pot, and left the green part of the fruit on the plant to ripen. Waiting sucks. This kid has got some amazing logic. She makes me laugh every day.

When the toddler critter gets to the strawberries.

Something tells me I won't be eating many of these.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

I Blinked

Lara one day old. Photo Sheridan Nilsson.

Lara two years old and a caring little soul.

I blinked and all of a sudden my baby turned two. During the weeks leading up to this milestone her vocabulary exploded, along with her demands to 'go outside, dig worms', and "babycinno me" said with the most adorable Italian accent that came out of no where. Lara also became even more caring for others and showed this by giving toys to her sister, and at one point taking over feeding her dinner. We are still working on the whole sharing thing though.

Lara's 1st birthday, feels like three months ago, not twelve.

Everyday with my babies is amazing. We may not tick all the boxes everyday, some days we don't do puzzles, but we always have big cuddles, read books and say "I love you" and that's what counts. I'm still learning to focus on the small positives that are achieved each day rather than guilting myself over the things I haven't done, and no doubt this is something most mums do. Now I just need to work out how to slow life down before my babies are whisked off to school.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

The Way To My Heart

.....is through my stomach.

I stumbled upon this draft post full of images that was never written-probably because my family took me to lunch at Jonah's on my thirtieth birthday and I had an eighteen day old baby. Regardless, I have great memories of the day and thought this would be hard to beat, yet almost two years later I'm counting down the days to our next delectable degustation menu-and hopefully with a two year old and six month old I will manage to make time to write about the experience as well. Watch this space.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Cottage Point Inn

The other day (or months ago probably) I was out with a friend for lunch and we started talking about how great degustation menus are (and how you are lucky to make the time to do them when you have kids). It got me reminiscing about Mark's birthday lunch, which was all the way back in April. Seriously, I blink at the moment and a month flies by. For Mark's 30th he got spoilt and taken to Cottage Point Inn for lunch, and since I'm his wife I got the privilege of accompanying him. Score....even though I couldn't enjoy the matching wines with degustation menu since Olivia was only three weeks old. However, the rest of the table did, so I had an occasional sip, and I think it is fair to say that we all thought the pairings were great.

Mark and Olivia

After reading the menu we were anticipating a delicious lunch, but every course was better than we had imagined. We started off with warm ratatouile salad that was flavoured with lemon thyme, which satisfied my citrus obsession nicely.

The second course of gently grilled scallops, fresh figs roasted in rosemary butter, toasted macadamia milk and charred gem lettuce read like there was going to be too much going on in the dish, but it was perfectly balanced...not to mention that I was stoked to be making up for all the scallops I missed out on when I was pregnant with Olivia.    

Second course was cobia, a fish I hadn't consumed before and thoroughly enjoyed. It had a nice firm flesh which I described as eating a fish steak, and it had leek which made me a happy diner.

Lightly charred cobia, hazelnut, anchoiade hollandaise,
 persimmon, baby leeks and chard.

Third course was smoked pork belly brushed with black garlic, toasted walnut and pork skin crumb, pink grapefruit. This was my first introduction to black garlic and I loved the slightly new yet familiar flavour, and I couldn't get enough of the walnut and pork skin crumb....despite my unexplainable dislike for pork skin. Yes, I know crackling is the best thing in the world, but it has to be a freaking amazing execution of pork skin for me to even entertain the idea of putting it in my mouth, it is a textural thing for me and it is very rarely done in a way that I enjoy it, although I love the flavour, so this crumb was beyond perfect.

Grilled Wagyu rump cap, shaved foie gras,
marinated brown mushroom, roast onion and lemon puree.

Next was grilled Wagyu rump cap, shaved foie gras (which melted in my mouth), marinated brown mushroom, roast onion and lemon puree. This dish did create a discussion about the animal cruelty involved with making foie gras, however, it was saved until after the delicious treat had melted in our mouths. I was surprised to find out that the animal cruelty involved in the production of this delicacy isn't as common knowledge as I had assumed it was. Am I against the practise of making foie gras? Indefinitely YES. Is it bloody delicious? YES! Would I eat it again? The activist in me would like to say no, but let's be honest (like I know how to be anything but), my tastebuds would totally win that argument.

After a perfectly balanced rich red meat course along came dessert, well the first dessert anyway. Blueberry parfait, natural yoghurt sorbet, salted caramel pistachio crumb was as pretty on the eye as it was in the mouth. A few simple flavours perfectly married together with creamy and crumbly textures was perfect, and the little surprise in the middle added to the theatre of the day...did I mention we were at Cottage Point Inn, which provides perfect viewing of Cowan Creek and all the beauty that nature has to offer.

Blueberry parfait, natural yoghurt sorbet,
 salted caramel pistachio crumb.

The second dessert of coffee roasted chocolate mousse, textures of chocolate, mint ice cream
more than satisfied my chocolate obsession. The combination of chocolate and mint ice cream meant that you could have been mistaken for thinking that this dessert was made especially for the birthday boy. Not to mention the smooth coffee flavours that also coming through.

Coffee roasted chocolate mousse,
 textures of chocolate, mint ice cream.

Chocolate sticks served with coffee.

After this delightful afternoon everyone was stuffed. Except me, I could have easily done it all again, but I am eating enough to fuel two humans. The venue was perfect, the staff were friendly and the food was delicious. When can we go back?

Do you fancy enjoying a degustation lunch at Cottage Point Inn? I highly recommend contacting Off The Map boat charters to get you there....and yes, I am paid (in love) for that recommendation.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Papi Chulo

An impromptu date night (a few months ago now) at Papi Chulo was exactly what Mark and I needed. Admittedly it was a date night with a pretty new born baby that couldn't leave her mummy's side for very long, but getting dressed up and going out for a relatively quiet meal was bliss. Not to mention the amazing roasted cauliflower ($17), that try-as-we-might we haven't been able to replicate yet. Mark has mastered a delicious romesco sauce, but we are still working on getting the right level of smokiness along with the texture. I think we might be heading back there soon based on this dish alone-it is that good that I have contemplated braving Manly by myself at lunch time with two babies in tow.

Roasted cauliflower, romesco, parmesan cheese and brown butter crumbs. 

I've always had a great appetite (and luckily a reasonably good metabolism), and when I'm breastfeeding my babies I down so much food that friends and waitresses do their best to hide their looks of shock, but I don't blame them for being surprised, I can eat enough for a small village. So Mark and I decided to get  the BBQ platter that serves two to four people ($86), my favourite was the spicy smoked lamb ribs, though I did a great job at helping Mark finish everything off. I'm not so good with spices at the moment though, and I would have appreciated some more coleslaw to balance out the meal.

Smoked lamb ribs, Wagyu brisket, pulled pork, pork belly 

We did manage to break the bank since we thought we were going for a winter feast menu (husband not reading properly) but we had a thoroughly enjoyable evening watching the rain trickle down the windows outside. We can't wait to get the chance to go back. Northern Beaches dining win.

Friday, 11 September 2015


Winning Nutella milkshake.
Oh dear, it has been some time since we went on a lunch date to Nook. The photos have been sitting in a draft blog post just waiting for me to write about this experience. Mum life with two babies under two is a game of swings and roundabouts, a very fun game, but sometimes, like when they are both teething at the same time, want constant cuddles and bury you in some amazingly disgusting nappies, you just have to rest when they sleep, and accept the fact that your brain is a big pile of mush, but everything will be OK again in a week or two.

So, my thoughts about Nook. Would I go back to Nook? Possibly; the food was tasty, there was room for our double decker pram and the location is relatively central for a family lunch-break date in the city which is a huge plus. However, my first coffee was cold and as a breastfeeding Mum I'm on coffee rashions, so I did ask for another, whilst apologising profusely and explaining such rasions. I was more than happy with my second coffee which was hot, and delicious. Our lunch got lost in the cue somewhere meaning my family of workers had to rush back to the office, so we didn't get to enjoy our meal as much as we would have liked to. Was it uncanny that once my food finally arrived there was a really long hair in it? I would like to think so. Honestly, I was half way through my meal by the time I found it and didn't want to complain again. Perhaps next time we will just get a Nutella milkshake to go, since that was amazing-just ask Lara.

Poached eggs and haloumi stack-who says its breakfast only food?