My once in a lifetime trip to the Flute Bakery

Flute Bakery cakes and bread
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I don’t get very many days off. And even less so when the day isn’t an official public holiday when everything is closed. There’s a place that has been on my bucket list for a long time but in the three years I have been in Canberra, I have never been able to make it at a time when it isn’t closed (pretty much any time it is convenient).

The Flute Bakery in Fyshwick is touted as arguably the best bakery in Canberra. It’s open 8am-3pm weekdays and have no EFTPOS facilities. And it’s in the middle of an industrial/car workshop area making it hard to find a place to park. Bloody hell. Are they trying to scare people away or what? But to no avail because when I woke up this morning (having planned the trip weeks before) it was all I wanted to do.

The bakery wasn’t as hard to find as I thought it would be but the signage is modest, neutral and French-looking (not very eye-catching, really). The road is a busy one; parking on the street is near impossible (even for a master reverse parallel parker like me) and by no means should you use the customer parking for the Good Guys/pet store even though it is directly across the road (ahem).

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The alfresco area at the front of the bakery looks like it would be a lovely place to enjoy a morning coffee and treat in the sun. Inside, it is simple in French bakery way. I’m surprise to find a line of about six people ahead of me. Remember, this is 11am on a Monday!

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I looked around. Everyone was about 30 years older than me and I was not surprised. Unless you are a retiree or in a another role that doesn’t require you to be at work from 9-5, then it’s unlikely you’ve had the pleasure of coming here. I’m still confused as to why they don’t open weekends (almost as confused as to why Silo doesn’t open Sundays) but when I see how busy it is, it dawns on me. If this is a Monday, how would this place handle a Saturday or Sunday morning? It probably couldn’t.

After joining the line, I look at the¬†cake counter and panic. There’s barely anything left! This is not good. So from the end of the line, I do that awkward thing where you lean over to see the cakes more clearly while ridiculously still holding one leg in place to keep your mark in the queue. I almost fell over three times.

Flute Bakery

Flute Bakery

The line was moving but cakes were disappearing at a remarkably rapid rate. I was on edge so when the nice man finally asked if he could help anyone, I almost pushed a retiree to the ground to get to him.

The people serving were really lovely and once I got to the front of the queue (and by then I just picked from the scraps they had left) they packed everything quickly and I was out in a few minutes. I left the bakery $30 poorer but heavier with cakes, macarons, a pie and a loaf of multi-grain sourdough (despite complaining to the boyfriend over the weekend about how over sourdough I was).

I rushed home with my loot and quickly put everything on nice clean plates so I could photograph them. Oh comon, we all know this is what happens. These things don’t fall out of their packets looking like this.

First victim is the chicken and leek pie (as it’s approaching lunch time) and it is delicious. The pastry is flakey and buttery; filling creamy and thick. And you know what? Massive chunks of real chicken inside. This is a real pleasure to eat – no tomato sauce required!

Chicken and leek pie from Flute Bakery

Chicken and leek pie from Flute Bakery

The Madagascan vanilla and hazelnut salted caramel macarons were some of the best I have ever had (yes, even ones in France!); formed perfectly with gorgeous creamy fillings. The salted caramel could have done with more salt but otherwise was very good.

 

Macarons

Macarons

At this point, I’d had enough. Despite increasingly (to my chagrin) becoming more of a sweet tooth, I have a surprisingly low sugar tolerance. That is, I can’t have very many sweet things at once; it’s just too much for me.

Later tonight, I decided to try the Raspberry Charlotte cake and the Ingot/Inglot (? I can’t quite remember what it was called).

The Raspberry Charlotte cake is right up my alley. Flawlessly tempered thin white chocolate encases decadent white chocolate mousse, chocolate cake and a deliciously tart raspberry filling. Gorgeous.

Raspberry Charlotte cake

Raspberry Charlotte cake

The Inglot is a vanilla and chocolate mousse cake on a super crispy base. Not too sweet, this cake literally melts in your mouth but the texture of the base and crunchy balls sends this off into another dimension. What a pleasure.

The vanilla and chocolate mousse Inglot

The vanilla and chocolate mousse Inglot

If you haven’t been to Flute Bakery, I would highly recommend it (yes, even if you have to take a day off) because it really is phenomenal and absolutely worth it. Go with a friend so you can get twice as many cakes and get a fuller range of tastes.

Or just do what I did and buy them like they are going out of fashion. After all, this could have been a once in a lifetime visit.

My meals of March

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I’ve been trying to curb my expensive eating habits this year but that doesn’t meant I haven’t been having some amazing meals (with great company of course!).

Here are my top three for March:

Crepes at the Breizh Cafe in Ainslie

Crepes at the Breizh Cafe in Ainslie.

Thanks to the Food Avenue¬†for introducing me to the Breizh Cafe – I’d obviously been hiding under a rock all these years. Great crepes and pastries. No one ever believes me but I took an apple turnover home, left it on my kitchen table thinking it was safe and my cat ate it when I went out. And cats are fussy. That’s how good it was. Damn cat.

The grilled beef flank with blood plum, killer and goats cheese at the Boat House by the Lake.

The grilled beef flank with blood plum, killer and goats cheese at the Boat House by the Lake.

Those of you who ever remotely know me, know how much a bang on about the Boat House but I’m not the only one. This place has got critical acclaim from almost every great Canberra blogger I know. I’m still puzzled by why they don’t have a Hat or aren’t on the CT top 20 but who cares when you make food this good?

The smoothie bowl from Local Press on the Kingston Foreshore.

The smoothie bowl from Local Press on the Kingston Foreshore.

Local Press has some of the prettiest and most photographable dishes around. Despite their change in table service (I’m still working out whether it’s for better or worse), their food is always consistently amazing. Come here if you want a reliably tasty and healthy meal.

Tell me about your top three meals of March!

A Singaporean breakfast…

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When I first visited my brother in Singapore in October last year, I fell in love with the local breakfast dish of half-boiled eggs, kaya toast and kopi/coffee.

Kaya is coconut jam spread made of sugar, coconut milk, eggs and pandan. The delicacy originated through the Hainanese and is also popular in Malaysia.

I tried my first at a very unassuming little café , mostly frequented by commuters walking past for their daily take away, that was nearby to where my brother was staying on Orchard Road (yes, the little brat was living the high life).

It was intimidating at first. My brother had told me what to order but then rushed off to work so I was left to my own devices. I ordered my eggs, kaya toast and kopi (coffee) and watched others as they added a dash of dark soy and white pepper before stirring vigorously and slurping it up. When I got mine, it was an awkward game of ‘monkey see, monkey do’. Adding my dark soy. Too much. Oops. White pepper. Ah-choo! Stirred and the result was delicious. The egg was similar to 63 degree eggs that that I’ve had at high end restaurants and the kaya toast was sweet and coconutty with loads of butter (read: visible heart clogger).

The kaya toast, half-boiled eggs and kopi (coffee) at a little cafe on Orchard Rd.

The kaya toast, half-boiled eggs and kopi (coffee) at a little cafe on Orchard Rd.

My brother and I crossing the road to Killaney Kopi – a place well known for it’s kaya toast.

The kaya toast from Killiney Kopitiam...lots of visible and delicious kaya and butter.

The kaya toast from Killiney Kopitiam…lots of visible and delicious kaya and butter.

Milk teas to go with our kaya toast.

Milk teas to go with our kaya toast. Love the cute little carriers that are used all over Singapore!

As soon as I got back to Australia, had to find a way to replicate the dish. Luckily, I had brought back a jar of the aromatic kaya spread¬†from Killiney Kopitiam (where the woman advised that I shouldn’t buy it more than 24 hours before flying as the jam had no preservatives and was made almost entirely with eggs).

The kaya spread from Killiney Kopitiam.

The kaya spread from Killiney Kopitiam.

There were a few recipes for half-boiled eggs online but I found the best way is just by trial and error and adjusting the method as you go to create the best result. At the heart of the method is that you are not really cooking the egg, you are really just warming it slowly until the whites are just opaque and the yolk is runny but warm.

Here is my recipe for half-boiled eggs and kaya toast:

What you need for the half-boiled eggs

500 ml boiled water in a small saucepan

two large eggs

Dark soy

white pepper

What you need to do

  1. Take the eggs out of the fridge and run them under warm water for a few minutes to prevent cracking when the eggs hit the boiling water.
  2. Take the water to rapid boiling point in a small saucepan and turn off the heat. Gently lower the eggs one by one into the boiling water and then tip the saucepan slightly and place a folded tea towel underneath so that the water is deeper on one side and the eggs are about 70% covered. Put the lid on and leave for 8 minutes.
  3. Take lid off and carefully drain the water. Run some cold water over the eggs so they are more comfortable to touch. Using a spoon crack a line into the centre of each egg. Open carefully and empty the contents into a bowl being carefully not to break the yolk.
  4. Serve with a dash of dark soy to taste and a sprinkle of white pepper.
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It should be like an egg soup consistency.

 

What you need for the kaya toast

White sliced bread (or for the white bread-phobes, anything you prefer)

Kaya spread (from Singapore or Asian grocer)

Butter

Method

  1. Toast bread under a grill or in a toaster.
  2. Spread a generous amount of kaya on each side of bread and sandwich together with thin slices of butter. Alternatively, spread some butter on toast before the kaya.
  3. Cut crusts off if desired and serve.
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I used sourdough rye.

 

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Stylin’

So do you have a kaya toast or half-boiled eggs recipe? Would love to hear how you make them – comment below!

 

The District

The District
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There’s a bar in¬†Crace? Yes. Yes, there is. And boy is it a welcome new addition to the far¬†north that is relatively lacking in trendy places to eat and drink.

The District opened only a few weeks ago in the newish suburb of¬†Crace¬†and is owned by Gerard¬†Sanfrancesco¬†who is a partner in King¬†O’Malleys¬†and also has interests in Chicken Gourmet.

The District bar interior

The trendy interior of the District.

The bar is on the smaller side than I had expected but there is certainly ample outdoor space and plenty of potential for buzzy outdoor seating on sunny weekends and when the warmer weather rolls around.

The décor is trendy with an industrial look Рa style that seems to be sweeping Canberra but it really works. I noticed straight away (as I always do) the industrial light fittings with vintage Eddison bulbs and the old bricks at the bar that round off this popular look.

The old Canberra bricks at the bar.

The old Canberra bricks at the bar.

The menu is casual pub-style with your usual favourites including pastas, salads, pizza and steak and there are also daily blackboard specials on the wall. Some of the mains (close to $30) are a bit on the expensive side for casual bar dining but there are plenty of very affordable options too. The deal here as with most bars is to order at the counter and take a number Рnice and easy, and great if you are going with friends and all playing separately.

The District

The District menu.

After some deliberation, we decided to order an¬†entree of a trio of dips with garlic pizza bread ($14)¬†to start. The menu didn’t specify what the three dips were but on sight and taste, it looked to me like¬†beetroot, hummus and roast capsicum. The bread was warm and soft and the servings of dip were¬†generous. My¬†favourite¬†was probably the ‘roast capsicum’ which was deliciously sweet and slightly smoky.

Trio of dips with garlic pizza bread.

Trio of dips with garlic pizza bread.

Our mains arrived not long after. I ordered the lemon pepper calamari ($19) and my two friends ordered the chicken schnitzel with gravy ($15) and the chicken tenderloins with honey mustard sauce ($16) Рall came with fries and salad.

Firstly, the servings were very generous. For once in my life, I felt like I had¬†more calamari on my plate than anything else (let’s face it, most places would probably fill the plate with fries). My large pieces of¬†calamari were¬†well-battered and tender without a sign of chewiness¬†whatsover. The chips were chunky and crispy¬†but probably needed a bit more seasoning (although my chips always need more seasoning). No matter as the pink salt grinder on our table quickly rectified this.

Lemon pepper calamari.

Lemon pepper calamari.

Of course, after taking photos of my friends dishes, I had to have a taste too. The chicken tenderloins lived up to its name and were indeed tender and moist. The mustard sauce was zesty and sweet.

Chicken tenderloins with honey mustard sauce.

Chicken tenderloins with honey mustard sauce.

The chicken schnitzel was equally as good with moist chicken breast covered in a very fine and thin crumb. I have to mention the gravy that came with the schnitzel. In the best possible way and in all due respect, it really tasted like KFC gravy. I couldn’t get enough of it! Don’t lie, you all love a bit of tasty KFC gravy! Clearly these guys have the secret recipe.

Chicken schnitzel with gravy.

Chicken schnitzel with gravy.

I was very happy with my first visit to the District. I must admit, I thought it was going to be a bit ordinary when I first heard about it but it certainly proved me wrong. The District could really be the start of something here in the far north and with tasty casual dining, friendly service and a trendy atmosphere, I can see this one being a local suburban gem.

The District is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, and breakfast on Saturday and Sunday.

Is the District your local too? What’s been your experience so far?

Local Press

Local Press
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I’m a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to Local Press. People had been and gone and discovered what a great place it is well before I even set foot in there. And now I know what all the fuss is about.

Cute vintage light bulbs at Local Press.

Cute vintage light bulbs at Local Press.

Situated in the rapidly nouveau Kingston Foreshore area, Local Press is in good company. Marketed as a ‘wholefoods-based cafe’¬†and seeming to¬†lean towards ‘clean eating’, the most notable draw is that the food is really quite delicious. I tend to avoid healthy eating when it come to having¬†breakfast out because, I have to admit, I’m a bacon and eggs girl and hey, isn‚Äôt that what we have breakfast out for?

The cute hipster decor at Local Press.

The hipster decor at Local Press.

So while I was a little hesitant about whether I would actually like anything on the menu, the cool, hipster feel of the caf√© captured me. It’s just the style¬†I like – cute, with lots of recycled wood pieces and vintage light bulbs. Coupled with this was the fact that the boys that worked there looked like they could have easily thrown¬†down their clipboards and broken into¬†a Backstreet Boys song. Yes, these guys with their chill 90s fashion (which only they could pull off) were reminiscent of members of a boy band.

The menu is short and sweet. It’s apparent¬†straight away that the meals on here certainly aren‚Äôt your average breakfast options.

On my very first visit with the Food Avenue, we shared a green pea pancake with  poached eggs, guacomole, crushed feta, mint and chives, dressed with house-made pomegranate-balsamic reduction ($16).

The green pea pancake.

The green pea pancake.

I couldn’t taste much¬†pea in the pancake but it was certainly green and very fluffy. The feta was lovely and salty and the balsamic reduction added a welcome¬†sweetness to the dish.

We’d also ordered some green juices ($7) in non other than recycled jam jars. They looked great with the Local Press sticker on the side and tasted wonderful¬†to boot. The green juice for the day was apple, kale, celery and cucumber and was a refreshing start to what was a very early morning. And the best part about the juices? You get to take the jars home! You can even ask for a lid and take the drink away. Ingenious.

 

The apple, kale, celery and cucumber green juice.

The apple, kale, celery and cucumber green juice.

On my most recent visit with another friend, I tried the green¬†brekky¬†plate that I¬†have heard so much about. The green¬†brekky¬†plate had¬†za’atar (a Middle Eastern spice mix) coated boiled eggs with kale,¬†quinoa, avocado, asparagus (which I quickly gifted to my friend due to my intolerance), goats cheese and an added side of salmon (approx $20). The¬†za’atar¬†herbs¬†really brought the boiled eggs to life. For something so super healthy, it certainly did not lack at all in taste and I found myself scraping up every grain of quinoa and goats cheese left.

The green brekky plate.

The green brekky plate.

And what about the all important caffeine? They do a great soy coffee here and gorgeous pots of tea with very unique little tea cosies.

I have a feeling this place is going to become a regular for me. The food is tasty and wholesome and the service here is great – attentive, friendly and accommodating. Who knew the Backstreet Boys would do so well as wait staff?

Did you love Local Press as much as I did?

Ramas Fijian-Indian Restaurant

Three delicious curries at Ramas
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After hearing about this unassuming little Fijian-Indian restaurant from countless people, I thought it was about time I give it a try.

Some people turn their noses up at local suburban restaurants but I think it’s these little-known establishments that end up being some of the biggest winners.

Ramas is your typical suburban restaurant. Simple if not amusingly dated decor with friendly personable staff that would go out of their way to accommodate you.

We arrived without a booking (entirely our fault) but the owner Minnie bent over backwards to accommodate us outside with the heater on and then inside later as soon as a table became available.

I keep being told to ‚Äėtry the goat‚Äô at Ramas. Personally, I‚Äôve totally embraced the idea of goat but I am conscious that in Australia, it‚Äôs still considered a bit of a weird meat. I hate lamb and most people know that and but goat doesn‚Äôt taste lamb-y at all. It‚Äôs not lamb-y or beefy just meaty.

Goat curry

Goat curry

The only goat dish on the menu is cooked in the thick dark, flavourful sauce. It’s cooked on the bone which was really the only qualm I had with this curry. It was a bit difficult to eat but it was worth it. Plus, I am sure cooking it on the bone probably added to the wonderful depth of flavour it had.

Chicken Bombay

Chicken Bombay

The chicken bombay has a lovely sweet creamy sauce very much like a butter chicken. The sauce was thick and viscous with generous pieces of chicken thigh fillet.

Paneer masala

Paneer masala

The paneer masala was delicious. Large chunks of paneer (an Indian cheese) was covered a creamy tomato based sauce. This was probably my favourite dish of the night but probably more so because I love paneer.

Saffron rice

Saffron rice

The rice we had was a little unusual. Indian rice is usually quite yellow from the saffron used but this rice was almost radioactive looking!

Mango kulfi

Mango kulfi

We finished off the meal (or at least I did) with mango kulfi ice cream which was a great way to round off the palate.

I loved my first experience at Ramas. What they all say about the food and the serviced is absolutely true. The food is delicious and the hospitality shown to you by the owner and staff is second to none. I was so glad to have finally had the opportunity to try this talked about little gem.

I can’t wait to return.

What have you had at Ramas? What’s your favourite dish?

Two minute wrap up of the Human Brochure day of food and wine

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The first stop on our near-12-hour food and wine day was a caffeine stop at the Cupping Room where we learned how ONA coffee is grown, harvested and roasted. We slurped our way through the cupping (or coffee tasting) and munched on some delectable dishes.

 

A cuppacino at the Cupping Room in a blue cup.

A cuppaccino at the Cupping Room

Coffee demo at the Cupping Room with beans and a pulping machine displayed on a table.

Coffee demo at the Cupping Room.

Two bowls with washed coffee and natural coffee ready to be 'cupped'.

So this is what ‘cupping’ is!

Dry ice boiling coffee with raspberry infusion being poured in.

Putting on our lab coats for the ONA signature drink.

The cured trout with beetroot jelly, pickled fennel and cr√®me fra√ģche.

The cured salmon¬†with beetroot jelly, pickled fennel and cr√®me fra√ģche.

Next, we headed up the Barton highway and to well-renowned smokehouse Poacher’s Pantry for a quick tasting of delicious smoked and cured meats paired with Wily Trout wines.

 

The entrance of Poacher's Pantry with two wine barrels in front of a window.

Poacher’s Pantry.

A counter with a row of wine bottles and cold meats.

Sue and her son giving us a food and wine tasting at Poacher’s Pantry.

Some of the delectable smoke and cured meats at Poacher's Pantry.

Some of the delectable smoke and cured meats at Poacher’s Pantry.

The wine consumption continued at Four Winds Vineyard where we tested our olfactory capacity with a scent-sniffing competition and enjoyed a pizza lunch with vineyard views.

A wine demonstration and people holding up phones to take photos.

Our phones hadn’t died yet at Four Winds Vineyards!

A shriveled bunch of grapes on a vine at Four Winds Vineyards.

A shriveled bunch of grapes on a vine at Four Winds Vineyards.

Wine being poured into a glass from a large wine barrel.

The wine is flowing at Four Winds Vineyard.

Testing our noses with a fun sniffing competition at Four Winds Vineyard.

Testing our noses with a fun sniffing competition at Four Winds Vineyard.

El vino did flow again at award-winning Clonakilla winery where the various varieties impressed us all.We also encountered the ABC camera crew (and featured in the 7pm news that night!)!

Tranquil vineyards of Clonakilla.

Tranquil vineyards of Clonakilla.

Several bottles of wine.

Many varieties on offer at Clonakilla winery.

Camerman shooting a man pouring wine.

Even ABC TV turned up to see what the fuss was about!

We finished off with bums and boobies at Polit Bar where we enjoyed drinks, canapés and a very eye-opening burlesque show!

The inside of Polit Bar.

Our last stop: Polit Bar!

The absinthe fairy at Polit Bar.

The absinthe fairy at Polit Bar.

Some chocolate canapes to finish off the evening.

Some chocolate canapes to finish off the evening.

Exhausted.