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By Rosemarie John and Joseph Ellis

We wandered in on crisp Canberra morning and was immediately greeted with the aroma of brewing coffee. It was about 7.30am but Morning Dew was already busy with suburban folk and tradies popping in for a quick breakfast grab.

We ordered the Benny Dew and a croissant with scrambled eggs. Benny Dew is the cafe’s unique take on eggs benedict if you’re wondering. Two poached eggs sit on top of asparagus, bacon, creamed spinach, and a Japanese croquet while freshly made hollandaise sauce glazed the eggs and crumbs of feta and drizzles of balsamic glaze brought it all together so perfectly.

The croissant was bigger than your usual fair and was bursting with soft buttery scrambled eggs. The eggs had great consistency and we added a sprinkling of pepper to taste.

As we sipped on our warm drinks and discussed the plan for the day ahead, we noticed the high ceiling of the cafe. It creates that feeling of loftiness which is always a good thing. The option to be seated outside is also plentiful but this time, we chose to sit inside as the winds from the rolling hills were a bit too playful that morning.

If you’re a coffee freak, then Ona Coffee is no stranger to you! That’s what you’ll find at Morning Dew along with options for tea, shakes and smoothies.

On our second visit we had their bacon and egg roll. The Three Mills brioche bun encasing all the goodness of bacon, eggs, house-made garlic aioli, and tomato relish is another great option if you’re looking for something a bit more simpler.

Canberra is filled with wonderful cafe options and Morning Dew is now in our top ten list.

Morning Dew us located at Shop 5, Denman Village Shops, 1 Felstead Vista, Denman Prospect, Canberra.

The is a post from travelandbeyond.org Read the original post : Morning Dew a Denman Prospect favourite

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By Rosemarie John

An unpretentious shopfront with seating areas visible through two large windows on either side of the entrance, Amirtham in Woden was our recent find.

Sans a large social media presence, this small Sri Lankan restaurant is helmed by two lovely ladies who make mostly everything to order.

Together with friends, we tried their lamb biryani, chicken kotu, masala dosa, plain dosa, medhu vada, and dhal vada. The stand out dishes for us were the vadas, dosa and their delicious coconut chutney. If anything, go just to try the chutney – it’s fabulous!

What we liked about these deep-fried dumplings so to speak was that both the medu and dhal vada wasn’t oozing in oil. It was crisp, light and fluffy.

Also, unlike typical Indian or Sri Lankan restaurants across Canberra who’s rating scale of “mild”, “medium” and “hot” are never as described, the level of heat at Amirtham in Woden is true to its meaning.

Hot is hot! So, don’t go there thinking you’ll apply the typical scale and order hot when what you actually want is medium. This made us realise how much we settle for when it comes to the various heat/spice levels across other South Asian restaurants. It was refreshing to find Amirtham being authentic this way.

While seated at the restaurant, it was apparent that Amirtham is well known for their takeaway orders. There were at least four food pick-ups while we were there.

Next time around, we’re trying their appams and ghee dosa.

The is a post from travelandbeyond.org Read the original post : Discovering Amirtham in Woden

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By Rosemarie John

They had me at pork belly… moist, juicy perfectly cut squares sat on my plate with a celeriac remoulade in the middle and a dark muscavado lime dressing drizzle circulating it all.

I was at Alter Ego, a chic new restaurant on the corner of Bunda and Genge streets. A farewell work lunch to be precise was the reason I was there, but couldn’t help take a photo of my food when it arrived. It’s hard to suppress the blogger in me when plating presentations scream out for attention.

Not having my usual partner in crime or friends in tow, my order was fairly simple. One oyster to whet my palate and a half-serve of pork belly.

Therein lies my biggest lunch mistake… the regrettable half-serve.

As my knife sliced through the soft, buttery morsel of pork belly, I knew instantly it was going to be perfect. To me, pork belly is essentially “better bacon” and I tried to console myself that I was out with colleagues and a half-serve would do the job.

Delightfully crispy yet succulently tender resonated with each bite: why oh why did I do this to myself? I can’t up my order now! How would that look? The only course of action was to eat as slowly as I could and to savour each bite with an extra 30 seconds chew.

To be honest, that didn’t work. Even my colleague sitting opposite from me wished she had ordered the pork belly.

It had been approximately seven months one week and three days since my last pork belly. And at that juncture of my life, I wasted the moment on a ridiculous half-serve decision.

Have you been to Alter Ego yet? What did you try?

The is a post from travelandbeyond.org Read the original post : An afternoon at Alter Ego Canberra

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By Rosemarie John

If you’ve been up super early these past few mornings, you would have caught the balloons either inflating or already taken to the skies. For those of you who slept in, check out these lovely shots of the Canberra Balloon Spectacular 2019 from Bhaumik Bumia.

An auditor by day (and sometimes by night), Bhaumik loves spending time with his daughters playing in the backyard, watching cricket, catching a Bollywood film with his wife. He also enjoys photographing Canberra’s gorgeous sunsets in his spare time.

The Canberra Balloon Spectacular takes place from 9-17 March from the Lawns of Old Parliament House. What do you love most about watching this annual spectacle?

The is a post from travelandbeyond.org Read the original post : Canberra Balloon Spectacular 2019

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By Rosemarie John and Joseph Ellis

We finally made it to Kita last Friday. Such a lovely setting with comfortable sofa seating. Looks like it’s a favorite coffee spot for the coppers too, but we didn’t try any black java that night.

Instead, we had the below spread… Our top two dishes were from the dessert range. The curry of the week was a Beef Rendang and while we were so tempted to try it, we didn’t. We had already planned our menu before arriving and didn’t want to divert from it.

For the entire period we were there, there were at least about twenty police officers coming in and out to get some coffee. It got us really curious at first, then we just resorted to the idea that perhaps these officers really like Campos coffee. But if you read their about page, it will explain their AFP connection.

  • Jahe juice
  • Soto Ayam
  • Vegetarian Nasi Goreng
  • Gadoh Gadoh
  • Pisang Goreng with Coconut ice cream
  • Martabak Manis
  • Pandan Waffles

We ordered three mains. Between the Gado Gado and Nasi Goreng, the Nasi Goreng was quite lovely. We had tried the vegetarian version but next time we might go chicken. While their Soto Ayam was a bit bland it would sure make a nice soupy meal for a cold winters night.

For dessert, we ordered all three items on their menu. Our friends had unanimously agreed that the Pandan Waffles and Pisang Goreng were the best dishes of the night.

Accompanying the Pisang Goreng was a delightful coconut ice cream that had us shouting for more!

They have a number of unique dinner and breakfast dishes on the menu, and it would be hard to make an opinion about their mains without returning for at least a second time.

All in all, it’s really nice to have a place to go to for Indonesian fusion food with friends after 11 o’clock at night.

Kita is located at 59 Boolimba Cres, Narrabundah ACT 2604. Visit their website to view their menu.

The is a post from travelandbeyond.org Read the original post : Kita Canberra’s only after hours cafe

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By Rosemarie John

Canggu, once a sleepy fishing village, is now one of Bali’s most desirable holiday destinations. This quick guide to Canggu will help build ideas for your next island getaway!

Nestled between beautiful green paddy fields, black sand beaches and all the excitement of nearby Seminyak and Legian, Canggu offers the best of both worlds, a laidback ambience in a still vibrant setting. In recent years, yogis, surfers and young bohemians have all flocked to this little town, transforming it into a cultural and spiritual hub for travellers from all over the world.

Accommodation

Whether you are looking for a cheap and cheerful backpacker’s hostel with a beach view, or a 5-star fully serviced private villa, you will be able to find your perfect lodging somewhere in Canggu. Here are a couple of options:

Kosone Hostel

This funky hostel is one of Canggu’s newest, (opening in December this year) it offers all the best of modern hostel accommodation for a very affordable price. Clean, well appointed rooms, both private and dorms (mixed or female only dorms are available), a restaurant, a pool area with a water slide, Jacuzzi and bar, as well as a large social hub. In addition, the rooftop terrace has great views of the ocean and the surrounding rice-fields. The hostel is just a few minutes walk from the beach and has all the excitement of downtown Canggu.

Chalina Estate

This is definitely at the more expensive end of the spectrum, but it does have six massive bedrooms, so you can get the price down considerably by coming along with friends or family – the perfect location for an event. This is a custom designed estate that boasts manicured lawns, a media room, luxurious swimming pool and 5-star facilities throughout. The villa staff are on hand for your every need whilst you lap up tropical luxury.

What to do?

Surfing

Surfing is at the heart of Canggu’s popularity, tourists congregated here to experience some of the best surf breaks in Bali. No matter if you are an experienced surfer or a complete newbie, you have no excuse not to get in the water. Canggu’s beaches are lined with surf clubs offering lessons for beginners and upwards. There are also a number of surf camps and tour operators that will take you to the more experienced, remote breaks throughout Bali.

Spa

There is no better way to unwind at the end of a long, hot day (or recover, the morning after a long hard night, depending on how you roll) than being on the receiving end of a traditional Balinese massage. A couple of favourites are the Maria Curau Spa and Goldust Beauty Lounge. The former of these has a peaceful view over the rice-fields and uses only vegan and cruelty free products (allowing you to feel beautiful both inside and out) whilst the latter has become Insta-famous for its 24k Gold Facial, which will leave you, at least temporarily, looking like you have just had an encounter with Goldfinger!

Where to go?

Whilst out and about in Canggu, you will find plenty of bars, shops, restaurants and healthy cafes to keep you entertained, but there are a couple of places that you just can’t miss out on.

Deus Ex Machina

The Deus Ex brand has become rather famous and their Canggu home is kind of a one-stop-shop for pretty much any need you could have really. Part cafe, part surf and bike shop, part restaurant, part hangout, part bar – oh they also have a half-pipe out the back for any skaters out there! This is great place to come for a Sunday session, but is legendary as the home of ‘Tacos and Tattuesdays’ – a night of tasty tacos and quick 20 minute tattoos!

Old Man’s

Another staple of the Canggu scene, Old Man’s is a relaxed beach club just off Batu Bolong Beach. Their outdoor picnic area is a great place to hangout during the day, eating burgers and drinking beer, whilst staring out to sea. As evening comes around switch over to cocktails, and capitalise on the daily happy hour, before watching another beautiful Bali sunset. After dark, things get a little rowdier as the dance floor gets going, often accompanied by live music and/or a DJ.

On the last Saturday of each month, Old Man’s becomes the venue for Canggu’s biggest market. Specialising in vintage and designer clothing, accessories, beach and surf gear, this is the perfect place to pick up a few souvenirs as well as a bite or two of delicious street food.

Get to know the culture

Exploring the streets and dipping into shops and cafes is great way to gain an understanding of anywhere you visit and Canggu is certainly full of opportunities to do just that. But Balinese culture is so complex, that to get any kind of appreciation for it, you will have to go a little deeper. Now, you could book a spiritual retreat in Ubud or do a tour of all the island’s temples (well, maybe not all, seriously, there’s a lot of temples), but if you don’t have the time, or simply don’t want to travel too far from home, there are a couple of experiences that can be had in Canggu.

Tanah Lot

Hinduism plays an intrinsic role in the lives of almost all the Balinese, and if you want to understand anything about the people, you have to visit a temple. Fortunately, for anyone based in Canggu, Tanah Lot, one of the most important and visually striking of Bali’s temples, is right on the doorstep.

If you have seen any photographs of Bali then you will almost certainly have seen Tanah Lot – it’s the temple set out to sea, on a rocky outcrop, usually with an incredible sunset behind it. The temple is believed to be about 500 years old and is dedicated to the worship of the sea god Dewa Baruna. Unfortunately, it is not possible to climb up to the temple itself, the site is both too holy and too fragile, but the grounds surrounding it are very pleasant with plenty of viewing areas and you can get a blessing from one of the priests.

The site as whole gets very busy at sunset, so you if want to snag the best viewing spot, then make sure to get there early – find a nice clifftop bar, sit back with a couple of cold Bintangs and enjoy the scenery.

If you are there during the rainy season (and, preferably, low-tide) and feeling a little adventurous then try taking a 15 minute walk down the beach to one of Bali’s prettiest, secret waterfalls, Melasti. The water plunges straight off the cliffs and into the Indian Ocean, making for some supremely Instagram worthy shots, especially when seen at sunset. Just be careful getting there and back as the cliff paths can be a bit tricky.

Take a cooking class

You can’t really get to know a place, or its people, without knowing a bit about its cuisine. If you want to get beyond the ubiquitous nasi goreng then why not book a lesson in Balinese cooking? There are several places that run such courses, the Santai has some great reviews, but there are plenty of others that may be better suited to either your schedule or budget. Most of them follow the same basic pattern, an early morning trip to one of the traditional food markets to pick up ingredients and then a couple of hours in the kitchen with local chefs learning how to cook authentic Balinese dishes. The best is saved till last, when you get to feast on the amazing food you have just prepared.

This guide to Canggu guest post was contributed by Balli Villas.

With extensive experience in servicing Australian clients, Bali Villas know exactly what families are looking for in terms of location, style and pricing. Each of their family friendly villas situated on the beautiful island of Bali have been hand-picked by their ‘family expert’ – someone with children who knows exactly what families are looking for. 

Contact Bali Villas for a short consultation, and they will be able to find you the perfect villa. Bali Villas aims to take the stress out of planning your holiday, so you can concentrate on creating lasting memories with your family.

The is a post from travelandbeyond.org Read the original post : A quick guide to Canggu

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By Rosemarie John and Joseph Ellis

Every town has at least one pub, but with food a cut above your usual taproom fair, The Yass Hotel is a must visit to grab a bite and a cocktail or two.

Previously closed for renovations, their cyan walls, original period tiles, pendant lighting and dark wood seating make for an inviting atmosphere. We choose a table in the light-filled front room and order our starters – three plates to share with impromptu mocktails and cocktails from the bar.

We are intrigued by our drinks as only two of them have official names. ‘Liquid Blue’ is made up of Bacardi, blue curacao, parfait amour and lemon juice; while ‘Illusion’ is made up of vodka, midori, cointreau, pineapple and lemon juice.

Both of them paired well with Baby Squid, a delectable plate of tender salt and white pepper calamari with lime, coriander and chilli salsa that sat on a bed of tomato and rocket salad.

Colourful aperitifs and beautifully platted food are just one aspect of hotel. The other reason to visit is how accommodating the establishment is: “While our menu, designed by Executive Chef Shawn, isn’t completely gluten free, we are happy to prepare gluten free or vegan meals if patrons give us enough notice,” said Yass Hotel manager James.

Another thirst quencher arrives and this time it’s a magenta coloured mocktail that was both sweet and tart at the same time. James tells us that he often makes this concoction of grenadine, squash and juice for groups of women who just want to have a few drinks with the gals without the alcohol.

We sip on our liquid refreshments as we indulge in Chicken Quesadilla and Hand Cut Chips. The quesadillas of grilled chicken, wahaca cheese, sweet corn, coriander, guacamole and sour cream is our favourite starter so far. It’s packed full of flavour and also presented beautifully on a serving wooden board.

We circle back to the murky colour of the ‘Illusion’: “Don’t be fooled by its murky colour, it’s a crowd favourite and often ordered in jugs”, added James.

The Yass Hotel has cocktail happy hour every Thursday from 5 to 7 pm and diners can find these aperitifs available: “While our cocktails are not on the menu full-time, patrons can request for them on other days if the bar isn’t busy.”

Time for mains. Our table of five order from both the ‘Mains’ and ‘Yass Favourites’ sections of the menu.

Hotel manager James recommends the Wagyu Beef Burger with American cheese, pickles, smoky BBQ sauce and Carolina mustard aioli. It did not disappoint.  The pattie was moist and juicy and hit the spot! It also came with a side of hand cut chips with rosemary salt.

We also tried the gluten free house made Gnocchi with baby spinach, button mushrooms, feta and garlic butter. Our tip when ordering this dish, is to share this meal especially  if you have already had some starters to begin with.

The Fish and Chips, Chicken Schnitzel and Prawn and Chorizo Linguine were also delicious and very generous in portions. From our photographs, you will notice that The Yass Hotel has some serious frying skills too! The fish and chicken were crumbed and fried to perfection, with the perfect colour to boot.

Chef Kyle, the man behind our freshly baked desserts tells us that the Self Saucing Chocolate Pudding is his father’s recipe and while this dish will remain on the menu, some of the other desserts might change in the near future.

For now, we dived into our sweet treats. Steam escaped as we cut through each piping hot dish – they were also very beautiful to look at. Like we mentioned before, this is not your typical pub food presentation, detailed thought has gone into its revamp. It surely made our experience all that more wonderful.

The Yass Hotel is located on 111 Comur Street, Yass NSW 2582.

Travel and Beyond were guests of The Yass Hotel. All opinions are our own.

The is a post from travelandbeyond.org Read the original post : The Yass Hotel turns up its pub food game

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By Rosemarie John

Dutch pancakes amidst tulips and flowering trees was a wonderful way to spend a day out in the lovely warm sun and cool breeze of springtime. Soaking in the beauty of Tulip Top Gardens, a 20-minute drive north of Canberra, was just what we needed after a hard work week.

Well, depending on where exactly you live in Canberra, the time it takes you to reach this private 10-acre garden may vary, but it’s worth the drive nonetheless.

Being early risers, we were at the gates by 8.45 am and were the first few to enter the grounds as they played instrumental hymns. It was such an inspirational start to our day as we strolled the garden admiring it’s beauty almost all to ourselves.

Open only 30-days in a year, this serene setting boasts over half a million bulbs and flowers that are hand planted. It’s a family owned establishment since 1997 and sits hidden away from the Federal Highway.

If not for the large sign that tells you they exists, this  place is almost like a secret garden… and if you’re imagination is anything like mine, you might just see the crazy White Rabbit in his waistcoat scooting through the estate!

The weeping willow tree situated on the right-hand side as your walk down the sloped entrance is magnificient. I stopped rihgt in my tracks to just gaze at it’s pendulous branches, dancing in the morning wind.

Pack your picnic blanket, food and a good book and let your mind, body and soul relax as you breathe in the botanical perfume that nature so kindly lends during this season.

Don’t forget to grab some Dutch Pancakes too! Read more about this marvelous spot before you head over. Last entry to the garden each day is at 4.15 pm.

Tulip Top Gardens is located at 20 Old Federal Highway, NSW.

The is a post from travelandbeyond.org Read the original post : Tulip Top Gardens and the colours of spring

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By Rosemarie John and Joseph Ellis

Come for the vineyard but stay for starry sky, rolling hills and ‘paddock to plate’ experiences at the revitalised Lake George Winery. With a brand-new restaurant menu and vintage wines on offer, we were excited to be one of the first few to experience the inception of something brilliant.

Located on the shores of Lake George and a 45-minute drive away from Canberra, the 113-hectare property sees new owners Sarah and Anthony McDougall building on the vineyard’s legacy and adding their own special touch to this iconic Canberra region institution.

“Our vision includes plans to continue to follow organic principles in the vineyard and winery, offer locally sourced produce and support local businesses, provide accommodation as well as experiences along the crest of the Cullerin Range,” said Sarah.

Lake George Winery produces varieties such as Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Viognier, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir that have achieved a James Halliday 5-star rating. They also produce Rosé, a perfect blush coloured wine with a sweet and dry finish. It would go great with surf and turf we thought.

Our visit to the winery was also to sample segments of the new menu and by pairing our meals with wine we thought would make a good match.

So, into the kitchen we went. Helmed by Chef Matt Morrissey, who talks to us about the upcoming new spring and summer menu: “We place a strong emphasis on the produce grown on the estate as well as local produce like lamb and beef from the surrounding regions.”

“When we create a dish for the menu, we’re not only thinking about the ingredients and how they would work together but also how well it will pair with the selection of wines we have on offer. We also use wine in the cooking process and soon we will be selling our house-made red wine barbeque sauce and fig and Rosé jam.”

Sophisticated casual dining is what the team at Lake George Winery are looking to offer their patrons. Situated 700m above sea level with a north easterly aspect, the winery’s many viticultural advantages set the scene for a dining experience that could fill the heart, body, and soul with peace. Food is the fuel for life, and dining with wine is the modus operandi to light it up.

Our first dish arrives, it’s one from their brunch menu—Field Mushrooms. The aroma of herb butter whets our appetite and we begin with a gentle poke into the perfectly poached egg sitting on a stacked tower of toasted sourdough, grilled mushrooms, greens, beetroot hummus and balsamic glaze.

We take one bite—everything perfectly sitting on our fork, not forgetting the velvety golden yolk dribbling down the mushroom—and immediately think the Rosé is known to go well with breakfast styled food. But wait, we find that the Pinot Gris paired well too.

The Gris takes on a fragrant bouquet aroma with a spread of fruity scents from citrus to stone fruit. The citrus acidity against the creaminess of the dish starts to make an appearance halfway through the palate continuing onto the finish and aftertaste. What a wonderful start!

Time for the entrée. Garlic Roasted Prawns—three words that resonate with seafood lovers. Served with avocado and tomato salsa, lime gel and micro salad, it was made in perfect unison with a nice glass of Rosé. With delicate aromas of raspberry, cherry and rose hip supported by a refreshing palate of red currant, strawberry and spice, this mouth-watering wine was crisp and had a dry finish.

Up next was House Smoked Duck Breast served with roquette, fetta and pine nut salad, roasted baby beetroot and a balsamic glaze. The Pinot Noir and Shiraz went exceptionally well with the sliced duck that sat in the middle of a circular arrangement of fresh emerald arugula.

With the Pinot Noir, the prominent taste of raspberries, rhubarb and blackberry fruit was clearly persistent achieved through the balanced acid and fine earthy tannins. The deep burgundy coloured Shiraz, on the other hand, offered a lovely peppery taste that mimicked the flavours of the salad in some ways. Simply delicious!

We’ve already tasted four wines and thee dishes. Boy, were we in for a treat! Talking to us more about the winery’s take on food and wine, Sarah adds: “Our chefs pride themselves on celebrating and working closely with local artisan suppliers in order to offer a menu which match the taste and textures of our cool climate wines.”

The mains arrive. Pairing wines with salmon can be tricky as it all depends on the method of preparation, but we found that Lake George Winery’s 2018 Rosé and their Crispy Skin Salmon were made for each other. The rich steak-like texture and flakiness of crispy salmon with cauliflower puree, greens and lemon buerre blanc allowed the wine to really shine through.

The peachy-pinkish Rosé is an acquired taste as we’ve been told many times—apart from the fact that it’s the most Instagramable wine to date, it’s also a lovely light and refreshing drink that’s a great accompaniment for afternoons spent at the beach with a basket of seafood, if you ask us!

The Tempranillo made from the noble Spanish grape with is deep dense colour and flavours of fresh black fruits was the one for our Chargrilled Pork Cutlet! A few sips in and our palate was rich with spicy, earthy fruit. Pork is known to work well with numerous red wines but that evening at the winery, we found the sweetness of the caramelised onion mash, chunky apple, roasted baby carrots and apple jus married up excellently with the tartness of the Tempranillo—which brought out the flavour of the dish a little bit more.

Sarah and Anthony bring a wealth of knowledge from managing their Summerhill Road vineyard in Bywong. Yes, you guessed right, you get a double wine whammy with the choice of indulging in some Summerhill Road signature wines at Lake George!

As all dinner ‘musts’ we had dessert and it was a heavenly Mango and Coconut Pannacotta with pistachio crumb, passionfruit coulis and toasted coconut. It wasn’t overly sweet as we had expected it to be and it didn’t feel sinful, if that helps the conscious diner. But what you have to do is pair it with the Summerhill 2016 Wild White—a late harvest Sauvignon Blanc offering a sweet tropical flavour with hints of stone fruit and honey. Oh, there was also a delightful cheese board too!

This year’s Lake George vintage wines, including their popular Rosé will be officially launched on 23 September 2018 in time for the bud burst.

With spring tattooing it’s colours onto the land and its bounty overflowing like a bottle of bubbling joy, we suggest you make your way down to Tulip Top for a spring fest and finish off with brunch or dinner at Lake George Winery for a culinary journey that celebrates the Canberra region.

Lake George Winery is located at Federal Hwy, Lake George NSW 2581. Visit their official website for more information.

Travel and Beyond were guests of Lake George Winery. All opinions are our own.

The is a post from travelandbeyond.org Read the original post : Lake George Winery ushers a new verve to the Canberra region

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By Rosemarie John and Joseph Ellis

Housed in the Melbourne Building on Northbourne Avenue, Momoda is a Chinese eating house and bar that offers a unique take on fusion flavours. Intrigued by their unconventional dishes and cocktails on offer we ventured in.

Intricate wood carvings from Guangzhou and oil paper umbrellas dot the entrance.  A feature wall of hanging bright red lanterns ushered us in. We were hypnotized and chose to sit by it. The red beams of light emanating from the globes set the tone. It is, a casual dining place, somewhere to put your elbows on the table and get armpit deep in the experience that is Momoda.

So how does a double cheese burger dumpling sound? Have we peaked your interest yet? We could have started our lunch with a small plate of dumplings but instead we chose to embark on a madcap journey through a chef’s imagination by working our way down the list of items on the menu.

Made up of small and share plates, Momoda’s menu is cheeky and delightful. To tease the palate, we began our peregrination with something light. An order each of Hakka edamame beans and lotus chips with a Chongqing spicy salt prune mayo was placed first. Perfect bar snacks if you ask us. It paired well with our cocktail and mocktails.

On recommendation, we savoured the Penang Curry cocktail—a must try. Made up of vodka, aperol, Malibu, fresh curry leaves and tamarind, it left our palates feeling fresh and invigorated—the curry leaves, while not visible in the drink, provided a mild pungent bite to each sip.

Co-owner Irean Tan said: “Curry leaves are now pantry staples for many cooks, but our bartenders are also finding uses for the aromatic seasoning in deliciously complex cocktails. We want our diners to embark on a unique journey with us and we think our Penang Curry cocktail does just that.”

The dumplings arrive—there’s finely cut gherkin on the dumplings with a bright atomic tangerine coloured sauce smeared on the base of the plate. We pop a whole dumpling into our mouths and an immediate explosion of finely minced beef and sharp cheddar took our minds for a whirlwind. Disguised as a dumpling, these miniature double cheese burger delights brought a smile to our faces.

Next up was the beef short ribs platter. What we loved about this dish was that we could construct it ourselves. With a shallot pancake in one hand, we placed a piece of tender beef strip and a dollop of blood red Chinese mustard dressing with the other hand. Then both hands came into play as we rolled the pancake and held it firmly to our lips. The dressing had the perfect amount of heat to alleviate the dish. It was our favourite small plate dish order so far as we made our way through the menu.

Open till midnight, Momoda hosts Canberrans looking for more than just bar food to tickle their fancy. “What we do here, is an amalgamation of flavours. We also have local and international beers on tap from Zierholz and Asahi beer to homegrown Bentspoke ale,” adds Irean.

We take a look at the menu again. It’s time to order our mains. First on the menu and a dish that immediately peaks our interest is the Sichuan dry-braised tiger prawns. Our second dish to make the list is the turmeric spatchcock and to bring this altogether, we order fried rice.

Meanwhile, our eyes wander to the red lantern wall and we start reminiscing about our trip to Wuxi and Suzhou some time ago. It’s amazing how restaurant décor can instigate memories. When asked about the meaning of Momoda, Irean states: “It means ‘kiss-kiss’, it’s Chinese slang, almost an expression of affection used at the end of text messages, similar to ‘mwah’ in English.”

It was hard not to salivate when our mains arrived. The Sichuan dry-braised tiger prawns were large and covered with cherry tomatoes and amber walnuts. While the prawns retained the flavour of the sea just the way we like it, it paired well with the tangy flavour of the tomatoes and sweetness from the amber walnuts. The charred prawn skin offered a smokiness with each mouthful.

Brussel sprouts and micro herbs doted the plate of our turmeric spatchcock—a welcoming surprise as it wasn’t mentioned on the menu. The knife went through the meat like it was slicing through soft butter. Moist, slightly piquant, and flavours of South East Asian coming through with the use of Bull Head barbeque sauce packed an umami rich punch.

Now the two dishes mentioned can be eaten on its own, but we liked adding some rice to each spoonful intermittently. The fried rice topped with a fried egg and fish roe (which we left off) wasn’t your typical light-coloured rice you’d find in most quintessential Chinese restaurants. This was dark, deep and rich in flavours that the fermented olives, snake beans, shiitake mushrooms and sweet corn produced. It was the most unique take on fried rice we’re ever had!

“Momoda isn’t like Wild Duck, our fine-dining restaurant in Kingston,” says Irean. “We’re offering an eating house atmosphere—you can come in and choose to just order small plates or even just come in for a drink or two! Apart from a social gathering place, we offer that extra something—traditional Chinese street food with an unexpected, modern twist.”

Asian cuisine is known for some beautiful desserts and Momoda’s sweet treats to end our food journey is no exception. It the first set of Asian desserts true to its roots. The cold interior of black sesame ice cream is strikingly contrasted with the warm crispy charcoal bamboo exterior—yes you guessed right, we had fried ice cream! This dessert danced on every section of our tongues, the charcoal was bitter, the ice cream slightly sweet and umami at the same time and then there was the delicious salted condensed milk that brought everything together in a magical way.

If you’ve been to Malaysia and fell in love with the way tea is made in the country, then the milk tea panna cotta will be the way to go. The moment we tasted it, ‘teh-tarik’ came to mind—and the Okinawa black sugar custard, walnut praline and milk crumbs took it to another level.

What’s great about Momoda is that it’s an eating house, so if you just popped by for dessert, you won’t come off as crazy, you’d be welcomed with open arms! Like a cheeky Momoda kiss itself, every mouthful we had at Canberra’s newest establishment was created to taste, to love, to share.

Momoda is located at 39-47 Northbourne Ave, Canberra ACT 2601.

AGFG put Travel and Beyond in contact with Momoda, all opinions are our own.

The is a post from travelandbeyond.org Read the original post : Momoda Chinese eating house and bar

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