Pasta I can eat more than 3 times

Third Place
286a Epping Road Wollert

We’d driven past the café/restaurant a few times, with the intention to go in and grab a coffee, but the opportunity truly presented itself one night during Hubbie’s leave period, when we wanted to go out to dinner but didn’t want to venture too far. We needed a local, and so urbanspoon-ing I went.

When I crossed the path of Third Place online, I realised we had to go, and their motto only cemented our decision, as it rings so true. ‘For everyone there’s Home, Work and a Third Place…’

Was this going to be ours? We needed a good local.

I called ahead and booked for dinner at 6pm, but upon arriving on that Thursday night, realised it probably wasn’t that necessary, as there was ample room and only one other group of people. It filled up a bit more during our dinner, however for a small group, on a weeknight, I think you’d get away with no phone-ahead booking. For us with a pram though, I don’t favour the thought of unpacking car and pram, only to be told ‘sorry’ at the door for not thinking ahead. So I’ll continue with my reservations.

Again, we found ourselves in a bluestone building, but this one was decorated by little blue fairy lights, probably so you could see it from the Main Road. Cute, and appropriate for Winter I guess. Inside the décor was interesting. You would expect to find perhaps a more historical style, suited to the age of the building, but it had a bit of a modern edge to it. This is in no way inappropriate, as I’ve seen plenty of television programs where untouched historical buildings have a completely renovated and modern style within its walls – only thing is it appeared far from finished. The lightbulbs hung from red wires over the tables, and the walls seemed unfinished, as well as the ceiling. There was a beautiful fireplace near us, but it was a modern one, with a pink wall around it. I don’t want to comment too much as I don’t know if they’re still in the process of doing up the venue, but I think it’s safe to say there needs to be a bit more sprucing up. Doing so would benefit the other pluses of the place.

The service was fantastic. Our waiter was very attentive, and brought the specials board over to us before we ordered, explaining all the dishes, and he almost sold me on the snapper if I hadn’t already seen prawns on the menu. I asked for a jug of hot water to warm up baby girl’s ‘pouch’ food, and it was a tiny bit slow on the deliverance – it’s the smallest of things but big to me, because when we go out to eat, it’s: feed baby girl, then I get fed. The longer she is delayed, the more chance my meal is sitting there, untouched and going cold as I finish feeding her. My meal did sit there for a while, as I’m now getting very accustomed to, but the meal was still warm, so I was a happy camper.

The food, the food! I was excited about the options: as the menu is not overly extensive (away from the pizzas that is) I was under the impression that what they do, they do well. The website states that the food is inspired by the Head Chef’s home town in Italy, with an emphasis on fresh home style cooking. We were pleasantly surprised when before our meals came one of the chefs (I assume) came to each of the tables and offered some complimentary pizza dough balls – an Italian word was pronounced but not understanding it I sure as hell can’t remember it, but he said there was some cheese and other herbs with it as well. It was warm, soft, very light and fluffy, and sooooo good. Bonus points on free food, as usual.

I had ordered the:

Scialatielli – pasta sautéed with fresh prawns, zucchini and cherry tomatoes

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Hubbie ordered the special, which was:

Scotch Fillet with salad

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And we also ordered rosemary potatoes on the side.

I loved my pasta. It was so yummy. The prawns were almost creamy, the pasta itself was al dente and fresh, and the saute it was all in was so good, I continued to dip the rosemary potatoes – also really tasty – into the saute long after the pasta and prawns were gone.

I loved my pasta so much, I really wished there had been more. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough for me – there were only a few prawns, and if the meal had been only a little bigger, I would have been more satisfied. Delicious, but little light on the serve. I do realise the dish I ordered came from the ‘Primi Piatti’ section of the menu (meaning first dish, therefore assuming there would be a subsequent dish…) but like I said, a little more would have been ideal. And for $25, I guess I was expecting more. Still, super delish, and would definitely order it again, but with a side, again.

Hubbie said he would have enjoyed his scotch more, if it had been cooked to his liking. He requested medium for the meat, and it was definitely more on the rare side. He will still eat it if it’s not exactly as requested, but when the centre of the meat is bordering on raw, I can understand why he would feel unhappy about not getting what he asked for. It was a shame, because everything else was so good. He still ate most of it, and the salad too.

For dessert we decided WTF and shared a Pannacotta – baby girl was still good and I knew when Hubbie goes back to work our dinner nights would be over, so we had to make the most of it.

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I’ll be honest, I haven’t tried heaps of panna cotta, but I assumed it was going to be more of a custard-y texture? Yes, it is custard, but this one was creamy, and I could see what appeared was traces of vanilla bean through it. Ice cream on the side, and some little fruit. It was easy to eat, and would be so even if on a really full stomach, as the dessert wasn’t sickly sweet. It left a lovely taste in my mouth, even though we were there going ‘is it meant to be like this?’ Hubbie wasn’t convinced, yet ate all of his portion. We scraped the plate clean, leaving our waiter jokingly asking us “What did you have?”

All up our meals and drinks were just under $90 – which is what we used to pay going into the inner-city suburbs for a meal on a Saturday night. Closer to a $100 when I used to get a glass of red. So a bit more on the pricey side, even the dessert, $14, is a decent price if you’re having the pannacotta just to yourself. So pricing is on the up-side, but the produce seems fresh and as I already said, the service was great.

Food: 8/10. Fresh, home cooked, all that good stuff… my meal was great, and I would love to try their other pastas too. Servings on the smaller size though.

Coffee: Yikes! We ordered none! Will need to do a Review part 2 on that one…

Ambience: Lovely and warm. Really digging the whole fireplace thing, hoping all restaurants start doing it. Once it’s more renovated, I think it will do heaps for the place.

Staff: Very friendly, accommodating. I’m encountering some exceptional wait staff of late. +++

People: We had a few couples, a group, and an older group. Pretty much locals I’d say, a mixed crowd.

Price: On the up-side. You’re paying for the produce, but that freaking pasta (it’s still on my tastebuds) is worth it… I just really wish they up the serves too.

Advice: Get a few plates. Have some nibblies, and then do the meal with sides thing, or as they suggest, do your antipasto, first plate, second plate, dessert… the food is great, you won’t regret it. But your wallet, might. These are the Northern Suburbs after all, not inner-city Melbourne.

In a nutshell: I would love to come back, try more pasta, some coffee… however Hubbie tends to get scarred when his meat is not cooked well. Not only is he a fusspot (he’d say rightly so when you’re forking out cash) but he’s a butcher, and he almost always gets meat when we order out. Poor restaurants everywhere. I’ve lost count of how many times our dinner conversations have turned to how rare/well done his meat WASN’T meant to be, and the number of times chefs have served up meat, the menu saying it’s one thing, Hubbie saying “no it isn’t…” yes, that actually happens.

He’s sorry to say it but he’s not keen to try it again. Because of the locality and food I will use my strongest powers of persuasion and get him to give it one more go… if only for that damn pasta.

So, not a Third Place. Not for us, not yet. But we are yet to try their coffee…

The Third Place Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Forgiveness

I’ve been toying with the idea of forgiveness.

Interestingly, this solution, for this very old, old, old problem of mine, came to me while watching an episode of The Bold and the Beautiful. I know a lot of people may snigger and deem it so low-brow to be getting advice from a soap opera… but hey, at least I’m getting it from the most popular soap opera in the world.

In it, (SPOILER ALERT!!!!) Oliver is trying to convince his new girlfriend Ally, to try to let go of her hurtful past and forgive the woman (Taylor) who while drinking and then driving accidentally killed her mother (Darla) on the side of the road, who was at the time helping the daughter (Phoebe) of the woman who killed her.
And now Ally’s Dad (Thorne), so many years later, wants to be with the woman who killed her Mum.

Of course, only in a soap opera. However as I go through life, I seriously realise that the shit that happens on the real stage is far more fantastical than any soap opera can conjure up.

Ally hasn’t been able to forgive Taylor for Darla’s death, and even says she hates the woman; she ruined her life.

In the episode in question, Oliver is trying to help Ally see that if she forgives, she’s not doing it for Taylor, because she still has to live with what she did for the rest of her life – but she is doing it for herself, to have peace, and to move on.

In particular, when he remarked that her holding on to her anger has only increased the negativity in her life, I couldn’t help but see the immediate parallels between the two on the tv in front of me, and a conversation Hubbie and I had a couple of nights ago.

You see, there’s a person, or persons, that have been the thorn (LOL, above) in my side for a good while. Out of respect for all involved, I won’t name names, other than to say that the situation is made difficult because these people are so infuriatingly difficult to get along with, and I can’t get them out of my life. I have a million negative expressions for them, but the kindest words would include:
arrogant
self-centred
narcissistic
selfish
rude
insensitive
narrow-minded

Recently, these people did something very inconsiderate to me. As things go, they are probably unaware of what they did. You might say I have no reason to get mad then. But they are the types that if I, or anyone else, did what they did to me, to them, well, let’s just say our Prime Minister would be discussing it in a special 7:30pm bulletin tonight with a full audience of the public voting ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to the arguments and points of contention being put forward.

They are very one-sided, and explain everything away so it suits them.

I’ve had so much anger and frustration, pain and sadness building up and boiling over in me for the past few days now, that it’s been sickening. I’m consumed with angry thoughts, full of scenarios of me telling them where to go and where I vent ALL of my feelings to them, feelings that have been simmering and building now for years.

It’s happened in the worst week. I’m meant to be busy finalising preparations for baby girl’s Christening – instead I’m busy imagining scenarios of them, upsetting me AGAIN, where the end result is some massive and long overdue confrontation.

I’ve been trying to work out how to get control of my thoughts, and my reaction to it so I can live in peace. So many quotes out there advise that ‘it’s all in your head,’ and ‘you are the master of your thoughts.’ That’s all fair and good, and usually something that I would swear by; in real life however, when something has been stewing in you for ages, and an untold and furious story is waiting to be unleashed from inside of you, it’s fairly hard to take the latter statements to heart and live by them.

When I heard Oliver mention ‘forgiveness,’ something inside me softened. I can’t say how it happened, but it was almost as if I was so desperate for a solution that the answer, and indeed it seems the only answer, made me reach out and grasp it with vehemence.

Could I forgive them? Could I really forgive them, or would I just be convincing myself that I should forgive them, as so many hurts have been involved that it would take years and much concerted effort on their part to mend things, where I could really start to forgive. And that was the thing. On TV, Taylor was crying to Ally and telling her how sorry she was, how sorry she’s always been for what happened that night. My situation, though no where near as dramatic thank goodness, was different, but still very difficult. I was dealing with people who have a chip on their shoulder, believing the world owes them and everyone should bow at their feet. These are people unwilling, I think also unable to change. They have been their impossibly difficult selves for so long, I don’t think they would know how.

However, the thought of forgiveness, and moving on, appealed to me. It’s a hard one – would I be admitting that what they have done to me was ok? That all the hurtful moments I’ve endured with them was acceptable? That they weren’t accountable for the hundreds upon hundreds of slights and mean-spirited words/actions/intentions that have come from their direction? No. Like Oliver said, I was doing it for me. I was doing it so I could move on.

Hubbie had bought flowers home for me last night, because he had wanted to cheer me up – seeing me so upset had made him realise how much of a happy person I was.

That was the other clincher. I was a different person when they upset me. I wasn’t me, and I didn’t like the person I was in their company. Now, sometimes, I may not be able to avoid them all together… but like all those freaking clever people say time and time again, I had to change my reaction to them, rather than change them. Because I couldn’t. Not when they couldn’t change themselves.

What happened to Oliver and Ally and Taylor in the end? Well, at the end of the episode, Oliver had convinced Ally to speak to Taylor – and after she confronted her with more ‘why’s, she came to understand that Taylor had actually helped her Dad heal… and they hugged. With tears.

My ending may be a bit different. I can’t do what all those clever-thinkers tell me to. I’m going to play a very impassive role when around them – kind of blind, ignorant to them and the way they are. I will do that, because I don’t want to amplify the situation… because I’m better than that. But if they push my button –

I’M GOING TO BITE.

Coffee rules and Fireplaces are Nice at Carome

Two Beans and a Farm
10 Hathfelde Boulevard Mernda

This was our second outing to the Carome Homestead, as the first one had us there to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary months earlier. It was our first dinner outing with baby girl, and even though I wanted to stay close to home ‘just in case,’ I wanted something nice, something different, something special that wasn’t an overbooked rambunctious restaurant with every tom, dick and harry from down the street walking in.

Two Beans and a Farm was the perfect fit.

It wasn’t totally evident then, as we had arrived about 6pm and it was already dark, but driving through the homestead grounds to get to the restaurant car park, it already felt like we were far away somewhere… and yet it was only Mernda, a short drive down the main road. It felt odd that a place as unique as this could be within our immediate area, and even as we walked to the front entrance of the bluestone building, pushing the pram on the gravel footpath, helped along by the low, dim lights in the chilly darkness, I vowed we would be back during the day to fully appreciate the temporarily pitch black scenery.

On our second journey there we could see that even in the broad daylight there was something evidently distinctive about this place: it was so removed, the restaurant in the middle of the large grounds, accessible via long drive – I actually turned to Hubbie and told him I felt like we were ‘away,’ as we had toyed with the idea of daytripping that week. This place made me feel like I was someplace else, and that was good enough.

It isn’t just the far-removed homestead that makes Two Beans feel so unique. The restaurant, with its old-world charm and comforting fireplaces, does something for the venue as well. It appears that the original rooms have been kept and renovated/transformed into the many eating areas, which only adds to the ambience of having a meal away from other diners, as you may likely only see them in an adjacent room. There are stunning fireplaces within, and can I just say, you need to come here in Winter. It’s the place to go when it’s freezing out, and just be warned, you may not want to leave.

The first time we arrived, we had booked ahead, it then being a Saturday night and a special occasion; this time however, being an ‘ordinary’ Sunday (or so we thought) we decided to wing it, only to be advised at the door that we should book. Oops. Fortunately for us, we were able to be squeezed in, and once again, found ourselves beside one of the glorious fireplaces. Towards the end of our meal, a lovely waitress asked if the room was warm enough, or whether she should put the fire out, and we politely yet strongly advised against doing such a thing. 😉

Our meals, did I say? That’s right. So I ordered a fresh orange juice on arrival, Hubbie got a latte, and then for the brekkie:

I got the Huevos a la Mexicana – chilli scrambled eggs with caramelised onion, sweet corn and chipotle mole

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while Hubbie got The Homestead Big Brekkie – scrambled eggs, bacon, roasted mushrooms, tomato & homemade baked beans on sourdough toast

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I was already advised that the chilli scrambled eggs weren’t too chilli, which was fine by me. If you’re a heat-seeker hoping to break down in a sweat and gulp some ice cold water down in ferocious spirit, well you won’t. Instead you’ll have a pleasant taste in your mouth, further accompanied by some bite at the back of your throat. Manageable bite, subtle enough for the tamest of adventurous foodies.

My ‘bite-y’ eggs were smooth, almost creamy, the corn giving some great texture, and it wasn’t overly ‘egg-y’ if you know what I mean. Although it seemed a big meal, I ate the whole thing quite easily. Again, could be the whole ‘Mum’ thing with me eating so much more in the last year, but it didn’t leave me with the overly-full feeling usually associated with decent sized breakfasts, and I think this can be attributed to the fact that it was a fairly healthy breakfast. Chilli eggs were atop rocket and sourdough, and their web site advertises the fact that they use homegrown produce, evident from the outbuildings situated alongside the restaurant.

Hubbie enjoyed his meal. I tasted some of his eggs, the beans and mushrooms, and they were good. He commented on how much egg he had on his plate when it arrived (he’s one of those not keen on the ‘egg-y’ flavour) but I noticed he ate most of it. He’s fairly fussy, my Hubbie, but he complimented the bread, the beans, and the meal in general, saying it was far superior to another breakfast we’d had in Mernda recently: “this s*&ts all over – .“

My coffee was great: strong, but so smooth, and the chocolate-y flavour on top of the froth was a beautiful compliment to the strength of the coffee. Hubbie loved his latte, complimenting it many, many times. We were impressed, and I almost asked them what kind of beans they use, until I realised that just because we are coffee snobs, doesn’t mean I have to let them know about it.

Food: 9/10. Spanish/French inspired, homely, fresh and inspiring. The cuisine adds to the other-wordly vibe, and they do it well.

Coffee: 9.5/10. Probably one of the best we’ve had.

Ambience: Warm and inviting, comforting. Being in different eating areas you feel separated from other diners, even if they are only 2 metres away on the other side of the fireplace. It’s a getaway restaurant, with real class, real ease.

Staff: Very accommodating and professional. All restaurants should cater like this.

People: With the general requirement it seems to book ahead, you don’t get just walk-in’s… how should I say… people are prepared? No. Look, the people are nice. I’ve seen couples, families, groups, friends, and just generally nice people.

Price: A little on the up side, however we’re always willing to pay when the quality (and ahem, coffee) is to this standard. Both our meals, coffees and my juice tallied to around $44.

Advice: Book ahead, no matter what time/day it is. I fear this place becoming all too known to the public around it, and if that becomes the case, you won’t just have to book, but you’ll be placed on a waiting list. True story. Pleasant places like this that have that far-away feel, holiday vibe, are unfortunately hard to find in these parts…

In a nutshell: As the Terminator says… you know.

Two Beans And A Farm on Urbanspoon

Happiness Is… #2

Happiness Is… Hubbie. Knowing how to diffuse the bomb that is me.

Last week I was in a huge rush to get out of the house in the morning. I was juggling feeding baby girl while eating brekkie myself, all the while as Hubbie sat very relaxed at the end of the kitchen table, scrolling through youtube and calling out to me each time something wasn’t going right: “this clip isn’t loading,” “how do I stop this now?” “why is this happening, I didn’t click anything.”

Which meant of course I had to get up, multiple times, and assist him.

I grew very, very angry. Not just with the interruptions, but he was just so happy, sitting there, not helping me, that I grew enraged. I knew I could have just said “can you please help me? I wanna get out of the house before lunchtime.” But that would be too easy. So I stewed instead.

Once we were done I practically threw baby girl at him with the statement (note, not question) “hold her.”

And then I started to wash the dishes. Furiously. I threw things around the sink, let things clang and bang, until Hubbie asked “what’s wrong?”

With a deep breath, I told him that:

I was mad that I hadn’t asked him to help me feed baby girl (this was my gentle lead in)
I was mad that he knew I was rushing and hadn’t offered to help
I was mad that he had just left a wet coaster on the kitchen bench, and commented how it might be a month until he put it back clean, unless I of course cleaned it up for him
I was mad that he had left the toaster out from yesterday’s lunch, when I hadn’t needed it.

I was just freaking mad.

I then rushed up the stairs to get changed.

I was brushing my teeth, standing over the sink, absolutely seething. I was almost boiling over, I was that shitty. Hubbie came up from behind me and in an over-exaggerated fashion started to rub my back. Without looking up I kept brushing my teeth, ignoring him, but his action had somewhat lessened my bad mood. He was making fun of me in his way, and that was better than him getting mad at me for exploding at him. It’s hard enough to be so upset, without that person then turning the tables and telling you that they’re upset you gave them an ear-bashing.

He left the room, and came back when I was washing my face. He said tentatively “are you going to bash me?”

And that was the ticker. It set me right off. From being so damn mad, I could have rivalled a volcanic explosion, to suddenly erupting into uncontrollable giggles – I couldn’t believe it. I had been so tense, that something had to come out. I needed some emotional release – and laughter courtesy of my one and only it was.

I continued laughing into my towel as I dried my face, and being in the other room I knew Hubbie couldn’t tell if I was crying or laughing, as he then asked. Just the thought of unleashing on him was so far removed from reality, so ridiculous, that it was all I needed.

He is all I need. With baby girl, of course.

I told him through tears of laughter that I didn’t want to be mad at him, but just “freaking clean up after yourself, and help me.”

And then all was good, just like that. And we left the house soon after.

It goes both ways though. Hubbie once told me, how amazed he was that someone you could be so unbelievably angry and mad with, could make you happy and smile only hours after a huge argument.

There’s no magic potion to marriage, no secrets to wedded bliss. All it requires is both parties to want to reconcile, no matter what happens.

Even when he’s shitty, I’d rather he be shitty in my company, than shitty alone. But that I don’t have to worry about all too much, because he’s a very happy person, and he makes me, very happy.

Happiness. 🙂

(Note: Domestic violence is no laughing matter, and if you are in a relationship where you are being abused or you are the abuser, you should seek help. The above story is so funny because it is something that could never happen in our relationship, both ways. If you’re reading this and you’re not laughing, then you should seriously consider treatment for an abusive relationship… or you may just think the story utterly boring, either way).

Happiness is… #1

Also, one of many:)

Our baby girl. I say to her “I love you,” and lean my head towards her; she leans in too, meeting me halfway in mutual understanding, and we gently bump heads.

I could almost go into her room now and wake her up for a cuddle just remembering our head bumps. But I’m not a stupid Mum that was born yesterday, so I’ll let her sleep.

;p