Category Archives: LFW Your Canberra

Jewels of Sapphire Coast!

Having spent the June long weekend at Merimbula we taste-tested a few eateries while we were there. Merimbula is an interesting spot; with an almost perfect temperate climate, and with both coastal beaches and inland lakes, it attracts visitors from New South Wales and Victoria as well as the Canberra region. To that end there’s a plethora of restaurants and cafés to choose from, and that doesn’t include the big clubs and pubs. The following places not only have great food, but are also willing to accommodate dietary requests when they can. One thing that did surprise me about the cafés and restaurants is that they all seem to close rather early, often well before 10pm. So check opening hours before you book.

Waterfront Cafe Merimbula

Burgers at Waterfront Cafe – image by LFW

Waterfront Café: This is a bit of an icon in Merimbula and is usually packed to the rafters, so you need to get there early if you can. Serving up great breakfasts, and a range of lunches including salads, fish, burgers, and pasta; with friendly staff who actually know what’s on the menu and what’s in it. There’s also a good wine selection, and our once-upon-a-time barista family member scored the coffee 9/10—believe me, that’s good for her! Waterfront Café is open for breakfast (until 11.15am) and lunch (11.30 – 3pm) seven days a week.

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Thai fish cakes with spicy dipping sauce

Thai Noodle House: We stumbled across this place by accident. Leaving the Sapphire Club after a late’ish gig we just wanted something close and this was it … plus we love Thai food. First comment, the decision between choosing Tom Yum or Thai fish cakes for entrée—ended up with the fish cakes (the best Thai fish cakes I’ve tasted outside Thailand) and Satay chicken. We then ordered a main each, plus rice, which on reflection was a bit over the top as the meals are very generous—we could have easily got by with two mains and rice for the three of us. Service is good, but they do close at 9.30pm.

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Seafood Bird’s Nest at Dragon Lake

Dragon Lake Restaurant (at Crown Apartments): This restaurant is located right in the centre of the town at the Crown Apartments. It serves the usual Chinese food but also does a few that you won’t come across anywhere else—such as Seafood Bird’s Nest, a Chinese banquet dish often served at weddings and celebrations. Chock full of fresh seafood, the nest is usually made of noodles or taro (a modern version is fried potato), and fried until crispy and crunchy. Certainly worth a try!  At long weekends and during holiday time the restaurant gets very busy and bookings are recommended. Open for lunch and dinner until 8.30pm.

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Simple but yummy fish ‘n’ chips

Hungry’s Café: You might think this is a bit out of whack, but when you’re at the coast you have to have fish and chips! This café is tiny and can get busy (and full) very quickly. I must admit we hesitated a bit as, well, it’s just a fish and chip shop where you can, if you’re lucky, manage to get a table. No fancy add-ons here, no tablecloths, no silverware, no wine glasses—no wine … but the fish and chips are awesome! As well as fish and chips they also serve up wraps, burgers, and often ring the changes with the occasional spicy curry, yummy pies, schnitzels, and heart-warming soups. But again, an early close at 8.30pm.

You can get more info on where to eat, what to do, and where to stay at www.sapphirecoast.com.au

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All that Jazz at MJF!

The iconic Merimbula Jazz Festival kicks off next Friday 8 June and some great bands and performers from Canberra are on the program. Here’s a taste of who you can find when you’re down there.

Love a bit of Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, or Tommy Dorsey? You can reminisce about the Swing Era and get your toes tapping to the following Canberra Big Bands.

ConneXion Big Band—directed by Sally Greenaway and with some of Canberra’s top musos and vocalists, ConneXion’s repertoire goes from the 40s and Glenn  Miller through to the 80s and James Bond. You can find ConneXion at the Auditorium Club Sapphire at 5pm 9 June.

traXion Big Band—together for over 10 years traXion plays a range of swing from Count Basie to modern and movie themes. traXion are at the Auditorium at 9pm 9 June, and the RSL at 4pm on 10 June.

In Full Swing—formed in 1991, In Full Swing starts in the big band era of the 30s and 40s through to contemporary funk, rock, and smooth jazz. In Full Swing will be swinging at the RSL at 6pm 9 June, and again at 5pm on Sunday 10 June.

Blamey Street Big Band—directed by Canberra vocalist and classical pianist Leisa Keen, Blamey Street plays music from all eras with a particular fondness for the 1930s. Former musical directors include Ian McLean and Derrick Brassington, and vocalists Tony Haley, Rachel Thorne and Annette Sloan. Blamey Street will be at the RSL at 2pm on 9 June, and the Auditorium at 1pm on 10 June.

traXion Big Band. Image courtesy traXion

If you’re into the more intimate music of small combos, duos or trios, check out In2Deep with vocalist Rachel Thorne and pianist/composer Mike Dooley. Covering jazz standards and original swing and soul composed by Dooley, this brilliant duo received a standing ovation at MJF last year. In2Deep will also launch their new album, A Good Man is Hard to Find, at MJF. You can find this one good man (and woman) at the Auditorium at 8pm on Saturday 9 June, and the Sapphire Room at 2pm Sunday 10 June which also includes their CD launch.

In2Deep. Courtesy In2Deep

And now for something completely different … if you want to hear a full choir perform jazz and swing, get over to the Auditorium at 7pm on Saturday, or the Sapphire Room at 3pm Sunday and have a listen to Rhythm Syndicate. This group has been performing around the Canberra region for almost 30 years, and at Merimbula for 14 years. If you can’t catch their Sapphire Club gigs, they will also performing some gospel—with a twist—at the Ecumenical Jazz Service at St Joseph’s Catholic Church at 11.30am on Sunday.

Rhythm Syndicate at the High Court Canberra with soprano Louise Page

Merimbula Jazz Festival is now in its 38th year and gets bigger every year! The Festival also includes the Jazz Dance on Thursday 7 June, the Jazz Hatters Party (formerly the picnic) on Monday 11 June, the Street Parade on Saturday morning, and the Jazz Quest for young (under 25) upcoming musicians at the Lakeview Hotel on Saturday evening.

For more information and full Festival program visit their website or Facebook page.

Find Merimbula accommodation here.

In Full Swing at Merimbula. Courtesy In Full Swing

Pies and Pinots in the Southern Highlands!

What’s better than a home-made pie to warm you up in winter? A trip to the Southern Highlands Pie Time –that’s what! Pie Time 2018 is a celebration of pies throughout the Southern Highlands and includes pie themed activities, tours, events, festivals, and competitions during the month of June.

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Competition time. Image http://www.pietime.com.au

One of the great highlights of the month is the Pie Competition from 13 – 15 June, and this year, for the first time will include bakers from the Canberra region.  ACT bakers include Shane Hughes from SomeBakers in Fyshwick, who as well as pies also does great scrolls and the tastiest sausage rolls! Wayne Sewell from Uncle Juan’s Bakehouse will be competing with vegetarian, pork and fennel, and Thai chicken pies as well as their standard beef, lamb, and sausage rolls. Uncle Juan’s is based in Bowral but is a regular at the Capital Region Farmers Market on Saturday morning. Local Highlands’ pie makers include Polly’s Pies, Robertson Pie Shop, Stones Patisserie, and Gumnut Patisserie. You can also indulge in cooking classes from the experts!

Thai chick and green curry pie

Thai chicken and green curry pie

And if the pies alone aren’t enough to tempt you, you can mix your pies with Pinot! A number of cool climate wineries are on board with some fantastic cellar door offers. Cherry Tree Hill Wines, at Sutton Forest, have partnered with Southern Rise Bakery and are offering a mouth-watering Beef and Burgundy Pie matched with a glass of Pinot Noir for only $15. Or you can take a Kombi or Jeep for a Pinot and Pie Discovery Tour to Artemis Wines for pie and pinot, then on to Gumnut Patisserie for dessert, and finish with a trip to Eden Brewery for a tasting session … all for only $130. To book contact Kombi Capers.

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Sweet cherry pie with ice-cream

On the other hand you can truly indulge yourself with a 2018 Pie and Pinot Dinner hosted by Eschalot Restaurant with seven courses (that’s right—seven courses!) of various pies, matched with pinots from Cuttaway Hill Wines, and Tractorless Vineyard. This amazing degustation is only $150 and is on 2 June. Bookings are essential. Tractorless Vineyard is also hosting a Pie Bonfire on 9 June with a lighting of the fire at 5pm. You can join in the family fun by pre-ordering your degustation pie pack of four mini pies and four pinots for only $20, or a tasty burger for only $10.

beef and burg pie

Beef and Burgundy pie

If pies and pinots don’t take your fancy there are heaps of other family events to check out including:

Pie Fest at the Bong Bong Picnic Racecourse—showcasing market stalls, pie cooking demonstrations, children’s activities, family fun and loads more. On 23 and 24 June.

Dine with a Pie—for the entire month of June right across the Southern Highlands at hotels, cafés, restaurants, and cellar doors.

Pie Tours—right through June showcasing the region’s best pie outlets, at various locations with various forms of transport such as Kombis, army jeeps and troop carriers, Trikes, mini buses, taxis, limousines, and even push bikes.

Cooking Classes—explore the world of savoury and sweet pies with guest cooks Lisa and Norma McGill on Saturday 16 June. Heatherbrae’s Pies will also hold classes—check the Pie Time website for more information.

Paddock to Plate—visit the farm that makes the pies and indulge in a paddock to plate experience.

Pie & Beers—Southern Highlands Brewing and Taphouse grow their own hops at Sutton Forest and have developed crafted beers which are now available at the Taphouse in Moss Vale with some great offers during Pie Time. For every litre of Godfather Porter sold during June they will donate $1 to Cure Cancer Australia. Eden Brewery located in Mittagong has teamed up with awarded winning pie makers, Gumnut Patisserie, to create the Eden Pie consisting of their Eden Black Beer and Gumnut beef and pastry available on the menu throughout Pie Time.

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Pie Time Pies. Image from http://www.pietime.com.au

For more information on all Pie Time events during June visit www.pietime.com.au

Zilpah tart goes Corporate

She’s known for her bright, colourful prints created digitally from photos she takes in Canberra and surrounds. So what’s the deal behind the corporate range in solid blacks, navy blues and royal blues just launched by local fashion designer Yumi Morrissey?

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Zilpah tart’s new corporate line in black, navy, and royal blue.

“A friend asked me to make her favourite Zilpah tart print dress in plain navy for work,” says Yumi. “She loves the style, shape and ease-of-wear of the Balloons dress she bought from me but works in a conservative office and thought a solid colour would be more appropriate. She discussed it with other female friends who agreed so I seized the opportunity to design a new corporate range for professional women.” And the range began attracting attention the moment it popped up on Zilpah tart’s website and social media platforms.

Yumi is staying true to her aesthetic—dresses that look fabulous; are flattering to the female silhouette and are comfortable. She’s also using the quality polyester jersey fabric so popular in her other collections because it doesn’t crease or crinkle or need ironing. It washes easily, dries quickly and is fabulous for those who travel.

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Heidi in royal blue

This isn’t the first time Yumi has made the smart move of responding direct to customer suggestions. She took a limited number of orders for the black diamond dress she made to wear to FASHFEST 2017, when launching her spring/summer Garden Paradise collection on the catwalk. When she ran out of that fabric, she sourced a sparkly forest green fabric in Sydney. “The runs were limited but customers thought they were perfect for Christmas and the party season,” says Yumi.

The initial line-up of Zilpah tart’s new corporate range features four styles, each named after one of the women who encouraged Yumi to ‘go for it’—Ash, Heidi, Penne and Sarah. “They also modelled the dresses for me in the photo shoot, which was really fun,” says Yumi. “I chose the four styles because they’re best sellers for Zilpah tart, and all four are made specifically for work, but they can easily take you to after-work drinks or events or special occasions.”

Each style is available in black, navy and royal blue. Yumi has designed two V-neck lines, shapes she knows her customers like, and has included two variations for the bottom of the dresses; a full skirt and a more A-line shape.

She plans to monitor sales of the new corporate range and add additional styles over time. She’ll also change the colours to reflect the change of seasons.

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Yumi in Zilpah tart black diamond dress at Fashfest 2017. Photo by Doug Hall Studio Vitae

The corporate range is sold through the Gungahlin Collective and Zilpah tart’s website. Yumi is also hoping to also sell it out of the Design A Space, Manchester Lane, Melbourne, where she already stocks many of her colourful prints. “Let’s face it, Melbourne loves a bit of black,” she says, “and with my colourful patterns, I’ll be looking to sell in Sydney and Queensland starting this year.”

While sales of the corporate range continue, Yumi has been busy. She’s just come back from a fabric buying trip and is now busy designing her autumn/winter 2018 collection, which will feature coats made from black wool (with her bright prints as lining for added interest), dresses out of wool jersey and skirts out of a cotton satin.

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V-neck styles in navy blue

The new corporate range starts at $160, with four part-payments available through Afterpay on www.zilpahtart.com.au

Lighten up your Life!—Enlighten Festival 2018

Canberra’s 16 night spectacular, Enlighten Festival, is now in its seventh year and the 2018 upcoming event will be bigger and better than ever!

Presented by Singapore Airlines, Enlighten 2018 kicks off on Friday 2 March at the National Library of Australia with a Switch On by one very lucky member of the public chosen through an ActewAGL competition. Switch On will be the first chance to see the capital’s major and iconic architectural attractions, including the National Gallery of Australia, National Portrait Gallery, Museum of Australian Democracy, Questacon, and Australian Parliament House, transformed into a myriad of colour, shapes and images projected onto the buildings.

Enlighten Parliament House

Enlighten Parliament House

This is the second year ActewAGL has partnered with Enlighten, and the first year the event has spread out from the parliamentary triangle to include events at the Australian National University (ANU) and Braddon. ANU events will include food, drink, entertainment, and spectacular light displays where you can fly through projections of the solar system, and join a walking trail passing all the main displays.

The bustling Braddon Noodle Markets offer an EPICurean journey through Asia with dumplings, Pad Thai, sambals, and noodles, plus gourmet desserts. This is a delight on the senses with free entry, and dog-friendly cafés.

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Asian delight at the Noodle Markets

But wait … there’s more! Enlighten 2018 also includes music with Symphony in the Park on 11 March, where you can kick back in Commonwealth Park and watch the sun go down to music from the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, and Killer Queen—get ready to rock Stage 88 with We are the Champions!

Canberra Day on 12 March will offer live bands and heaps of fun for the kids throughout the day, or you can float across the lake with the Canberra Balloon Spectacular when more than 30 hot air balloons will take to the skies between 10 – 18 March, and Enlighten Festival will close on 17 March with the iconic SKYFIRE lighting up the shores of Lake Burley Griffin with fireworks and fun at 8.30pm.

Enlighten Balloons

Balloon Spectacular

The official Enlighten Festival Switch On takes place at 8pm on 2 March on the steps of the National Library, but you can shake your tail feather to Sounds of the Sixties with some 60s music, plus a kids’ disco, and art and crafts from 6.30pm.

Steamed Dumplings at the Noodle Market

Canberra Enlighten Festival will run from 2 – 18 March through the parliamentary triangle, city centre, and ANU. For more information visit www.enlightencanberra.com

Baked on Mort!

I brunched on a bragel the other day. ‘Bragel?’ you ask. ‘Whatever is a bragel?’ Well a bragel is an invention of a new French patisserie in Braddon called Baked.  It’s a cross between a bagel and a brioche.

Chef Clement Chauvin, who owns Baked (and Les Bistronomes) with partner Abel Bariller, was determined to create something less dense that a bagel … something with just a wee bit more butter (OK, perhaps a fair bit more). Something that’s full of flavour and fun. He succeeded with Baked’s very own bragel. Better still, Clement has done what many a baker hasn’t managed to do and that’s master a gluten free version with a texture to dream of—soft and chewy.

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Baked hasn’t been open long but has already attracted a bevy of fans. It took over the space where the paleo café Tallow and Thyme lived for a while. Now, against the raw brick walls inside, are mega murals by local Canberra artist Christopher Toth and a very French bakery feel. It’s warm and inviting.

Baked opens at 7am for those who are up and at ‘em early with all-day breakfast on the menu. French crepes anyone? Choose from a range, including crepes with house made jam, Nutella or lemon curd and raspberry.

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But back to them bragels. Clement poured his heart and soul into creating what he says is ‘the best bun ever’. It took a lot of time, experimenting, failed attempts, but then, voila, the bragel hit the market. He and Abel are so confident in the product they’ve trademarked it. You can have your Bragel Eggs Benny with ham, mushroom, spinach or salmon. The egg and bacon bragel is true comfort food, but Baked doesn’t stop there. Flavours and ingredients change with the season, based on what quality produce is available.

These days you can enjoy a charcoal bragel, which Clement says are hugely popular, with house cured salmon gravlax and dill sour cream, or go for the Hell’s Kitchen, which is enough to really fire you up with its sriracha chili sauce. Or the more relaxed Waldorf (vegetarian) with its winning combo of ingredients—witlof, pear, blue cheese and honey dressing.

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Lunch starts early at 11am and what’s on the menu can easily be converted to vegetarian and gluten free options. If you want something heartier, dig into the Black Angus beef patty bragel, or a version with quality ingredients Italians would love—salami, cheese, tomato and fresh basil. A Thai version is also available and the Braddon Bragel, made with buttermilk chicken, coleslaw and mayo, sounds delish.

If you don’t think bragels are your thing, order a fresh salad, a house made sandwich or slice of quality quiche. And what would a bakery called Baked be without sweet treats? Just in time for Christmas, Baked is offering treats that will make sugar plum fairies dance in your head, including holiday red and green bragels.

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The display cabinet is lined with other treats, as good looking as they are tasty. Rich and sweet Viennoiserie, croissants, tarts and loaves are all up for grabs, as are a colourful selection of melt-in-the-mouth macaroons. The raspberry millefeuille is utterly amazing and a slice of the pecan, choc and banana loaf is perfect with a cup of coffee or tea.

Abel says heaps of other interesting offerings are on the horizon at Baked, including a liquor licence and some fun happenings with beers. Stay tuned.

Baked is open 7 days (except public holidays) from 7am to 3pm. 44/38 Mort Street, Braddon.

All images courtesy Baked.

Riley Tanton—Watch this Space!

Riley Tanton has just graduated from Canberra Grammar, but he has no time to hang out this summer. The 18-year-old is far too busy running his own business and has just launched a new line of affordable, luxury watches named after Aussie islands.

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Riley Tanton – photo by Hollwill Photography

We ran a story on Riley about a year ago, inspired by how this young entrepreneur was so focused, talented and determined, even while busy studying his brains out in high school. Having graduated, Riley has had early acceptance into University of Canberra and a Master of Business Administration is on the horizon. In the meantime, he’s spending every spare second as the Managing Founder of Millennial Watches.

Riley’s new Haven Collection adds four styles to his Original Collection of timeless pieces. The new designs stay true to the company’s ethos of offering unique, quality, unisex watches that look a million bucks but don’t break the bank. And, the new designs are slimmer, sleeker and a luxury level up. They display beauty in all areas of design.

“They’re sophisticated looking despite their price tag of $86.40,” says Riley. “The Flinders really stands out with its polished rose gold case, polished rose gold hands, black face and genuine tan leather strap. The Whitehaven also has polished gold elements, but with a white face and tan leather strap. The black and gold Fraser is bold, and the Ashmore is super classy with black case, grey hands, black face and a black leather strap.”

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Millennial Watches Island Collection

Riley opened Millennial Watches just over a year ago. Never keen to sit on his laurels, he’s also just custom designed a watch for Canberra Grammar, with a production run of 300. He’s also worked on a small range of watches for Nomiko Kids, the new kid’s fashion label that appeared on young models’ at Fashfest. “I’m keen to partner with other organisations who want custom designs”, says Riley.

While also entering the retail world, online sales remain strong, especially in ACT, NSW, Queensland and Victoria, with Riley setting a personal best by selling 180 watches in one week.

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Millennial Watches – His …

The Japanese movement used by Millennial Watches is long lasting. Batteries run strong for around three years, and each watch comes boxed and wrapped around a pillow square to protect them.

Riley is no stranger to business. He became an entrepreneur in Grade 6, selling drinks out of his locker at school. Even though you’d think a young entrepreneur would be keen on pocketing every bit of timely profit, Riley donates $3.50 from every watch bought online to the Garvan Institute for Medical Research.

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… and Hers

Millennial Watches come with a one-year warranty. Free shipping when you order online: http://www.millennialwatches.com.au/