Happiness Is… #6

Purpley-flowered trees. Discovering nature on your doorstep.

It’s now become the norm that when I arrive back at home with baby girl after our late morning/midday shop, even though the car drive is no more than 5 minutes, she’s asleep when I turn off the ignition.

Today was no different. I did the usual: taking in the shopping while keeping a watchful eye on her, as well as one car door open to maintain the breeze in the developing heat.

After I was done I came back to stare at her sleeping in the car. I just couldn’t do it, I couldn’t pick her up and bring her in. I knew she would wake up if I brought her inside, and so I decided that standing there for about 30 minutes would give her the somewhat decent nap she needed.

It was while standing there that I realised the scent in the air: without thinking about it all too much my mind went ‘lavender.’ I looked around, knowing full well that there is no lavender of any sort bordering our property, then noticed the tree in the middle of our nature strip out front. It had purple flowers.

I had never really noticed it before. Yes Spring has been around for a while now, but these minute flowers were indistinct, and I just know that they’d taken some time to develop. That with my tunnel vision, says a bit.

I went up to them and smelled them. The scent wasn’t overwhelming, but there was a similarity to lavender. I was excited. I also noticed that the tree was harbouring little fruit-like seeds too.

I thought we had a regular green tree out front, when in fact it’s a purple, nice-smelling tree. Not quite lavender, but it’s good enough for me.

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Mortality at 5

Finite Creatures

I’ve always wanted to do one of these Daily Post prompts, but no one idea suggested there has ever spoken to me like this one. I may be a couple days late, but I don’t really care. I like the topic. Well, I don’t like it, but it speaks to me.

Hubbie and I were talking about this very thing the other day: death.

It’s not something unfamiliar in our house, especially with the fairly recent loss of a loved one.

I was telling Hubbie about one of my earlier memories. I was about 4 or 5, and had just gone to bed, with my lamp light shining softly beside me. My parents were still up and about, doing those night time things that parents do, that I now do at the end of the day: cleaning, tidying up, preparing for tomorrow. Amidst all this, I started to cry, really heavily.

My Dad came in. And when he asked me what was wrong, I said “I don’t want to die.”

I don’t remember what prompted this sudden outburst of sadness, of desperation to cling to life forever. I was crying, sad that one day I was gonna die, sad that one day my parents were gonna die. I don’t know if I’d just seen something in a movie, whether my parents had been to a funeral that day, or what. What I remember quite clearly though, despite the many years between then and now, was the sinking, agonising feeling, the realisation that one day it would all be over. My Dad tried to comfort me, and eventually I fell asleep, feeling helpless.

Imagining life without your loved ones is heartbreaking. Imagining life, where you’re not in it… is mind-boggling. Death is something we don’t understand, and many people don’t want to. Yet it’s something we will all experience, as we witness loved ones leave, and then eventually, we will be the star that ends our own show.

My take on it has always been the same. Glass half-full gal here now, but I’ve always believed there is another side. Life after death, where our soul continues, our body having been left behind on earth. In earth. You can say it’s a coping mechanism, you can say I have no proof, you can say it’s a load of bull.

And you may be right. But it’s what I believe. And it helps me to turn off my lamp light at night.

7 Reasons why my Daughter is a Cat

1. She LOVES milk and cheese. She guzzles her milk and you should see the way she feeds herself pieces of cheese – like it’s nobody’s business

2. She squeezes herself into tight spots she can’t get out of. Like yesterday, when she tried to reach the powerpoint against the wall in between the TV unit and desk in our spare room – when she couldn’t move any further she looked back at me with a ‘help!/what the hell have I done?’ expression

3. She falls asleep immediately in warm places during the day

4. When I go on the laptop, she tries her damndest to get on my lap, clawing at the keypad ferociously once she’s there (currently the ‘comma’ key is loose). I’m sure she would walk on them too, if I let her

5. She’s stealthy quiet when she’s doing something she’s not meant to – like pulling out 75 tissues from the tissue box, or rearranging my Angel/Sex and the City DVD collection

6. She frequently lunges into my lap, just ‘cause

7. And the main determining factor… She is a Leo.

I am able to make these cat calls, because I too, am a Leo. And I like cats, a lot. Not like those Astrology waste-spacing Leos who don’t like cats. I mean really, that’s like the Pope not being into God.

Grey Friends

I’ve surprised myself by recent ponderings that all relationships are black and white: they’re not. For someone so ‘there are many greys in life’ to think that friendship was only defined by one, or the other, as discussed in my post Which Group? I realise that I didn’t think of the matter too clearly when I put fingers to keypad. I acted on rash impulse, or in response to a coffee burst, I don’t know.

I’ve written about life, death, marriage, and having a baby as being one of those major life-determining factors that tell you which of your family and friends REALLY care, and which don’t give a shit.

But, I think I was too quick to judge, and I was wrong. Before having my own child, did I really enthuse that much with parents-to-be about their own happiness? Before experiencing death within our family unit, did I really understand the earth-shattering changes and life-questions that instantly arrive at your doorstep?

No, to both. But what’s surprising is I’m not ashamed to admit it. A bit guilty, yes. But not ashamed. And that’s because, I didn’t know.

I can’t blame myself for not knowing back then, so therefore I can’t blame others for not knowing, just because I do now. Yes, there is a general moral decency out there, an expectance that people act in certain ways in response to certain events. But, it’s just not the same, until you know.

And you know what, that’s fine. It’s good to keep things in check, to not sweat the small stuff and let the trivialities of life overwhelm you. But if that’s someone’s life, and they’re complaining their boss is giving them a hard time at work, while their friend is worried about a family member’s illness, well, let them complain. We don’t all have to be worried about the serious stuff. If you’re fortunate enough to not have that many serious problems, embrace it. The day will come, for them, for you, for everyone. It’s a fairly pessimistic view I know, and one I don’t like getting too deep into, but it’s thoughts like this that keep me grateful, and grounded. Everyone has their own problems, and they shouldn’t have to feel guilty that their issues are not as important as another person’s. It’s their life, after all.

But it’s more than that. There are many relationships I’ve had, where people have gone out of my life, or become fairly non-existent in it, to suddenly making a surprise comeback and arriving back with a vengeance. Just because someone wasn’t around before, doesn’t mean they won’t reappear later. And just because someone is, now, likewise it doesn’t guarantee they’ll be right at your side forever.

I think we need to stay open to possibilities, fluid to change. Friendships change, relationships change, and I have to say some of my most meaningful relationships, have undergone a lot of change. Change is actually good for us, and we want our relationships to be evolving to our different life purposes and ever-changing needs.

Keep an open mind. Don’t write old friends off. Like you would a job you want to move on from, at the very least leave things on a good note. You never know when you may want to revisit.

Jam and Love

Jam and Cream
1 Orr Street Rosanna/Heidelberg Heights (depending on what guide you’re using)

It’s the place of little girls’ tea party fantasies, where little boys have chocolate smudged around their lips without the fear of chastising, and where people like me can experience the joy of scrumptious scones in the best setting of all: Nana’s house.

Seeing as I never had the opportunity to meet my grandparents, perhaps this place fulfils that little girl desire in me, to be spoiled. Being the youngest though, you can have no fear that I missed out on any of that.

Or maybe I just like high tea.

High tea is what first led me to this quaint little place.

My first venture there was with my best friend to ‘suss it out:’ I had an idea, a plan, and that idea eventuated into my second outing there, with a very intimate group of my closest family and friends, in my last months of pregnancy. It wasn’t a ‘baby shower’ as such, more a get together to create some beautiful memories with my closest people amidst what had been a very dark year, prior to the biggest event of my life, thus far. I had been looking for a decent place in my neck of the woods that catered for high tea, and Jam and Cream came up in my search results.

On that grey Winters day in July, we were in the pink caravan at the rear of the premises, with intermittent rain keeping the ground wet and umbrellas a necessity. Despite the weather, it was one of the most beautiful, memorable and meaningful days of my life, a day I still look back on fondly. I had vowed I would come back with Hubbie, and try more of what had made the day such a joy: the scones.

I had been dreaming of those scones since, and during Hubbie’s week off from work I knew just where I wanted to go.

It was seriously like it was meant to be. The Friday started off as very cloudy, however as the lunchtime hour approached, so too did the clouds start to wane… to make way for the beautiful, glorious, Spring sun.

It became all too clear to me on our drive over: this was the weather making up for my last visit there; this was the weather saying ‘here you go, experience Jam and Cream the way you’re meant to.’

Upon arrival I actually saw three groups of people leave in the time it took for us to get our bags and baby girl out of the car. Even so, inside it was packed, and in the yard section which travels from the side of the café to the back surrounding the pink caravan, almost all the tables were taken. We took a spot outside, and managed to get a high chair for baby girl too.

It was an exciting day. Not only was I here, creating more beautiful memories of this wondrous place, over 1 year on from the last time I’d been, but it was going to be baby girl’s first foray into the world of babycinos.

(!!!)

I have been looking forward to her entering the café culture for a LONG time.

That, along with the fact that we were there for lunch and dessert and coffee, had me rubbing my hands together in anticipatory delight.*

For lunch, I had the Basil Scones

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and Hubbie had the Homemade Pie – beef, bacon and cheese

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I loved my scones. Firstly, adding to the ‘made at Nannas house’ feel captured by the café, is the fact that the menu states that all scones are made fresh and to allow a 20 minute wait for your order to arrive. This is most definitely true, as when you get the scones and slice through, the heat emanating from the middle, and the powdery softness of the dough, is indicative only of baked goodness recently out of the oven – it is so satisfying. I sure as hell will wait for that. Even baby girl liked the bits I gave her.

Hubbie enjoyed his pie, and even I thought it was good, the mouthful I tried (and I’m not a massive pie girl). I thought it was a tad small, but he also had a savoury scone on the side, which I have to add he wasn’t too happy with, he thought it was a tad uncooked. I told him he was talking complete nonsense, but realised he must have been telling the truth when we happened upon scones from another place a couple days later, and he said how much he liked those compared to Jams. So I have to take his point into account.

For dessert we shared the ‘Beryl’ Scones – with cherry ripe and coconut

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Yum and yum. There was a piece of cherry ripe in the scone, and it was covered in lovely coconut-y goodness. Accompanied by a nice big mug of cappuccino, that kept me rambling and rambling and rambling which to Hubbie probably felt like forever, and then of course baby girl got this:

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I was nearly crying from excitement. As fate would have it, baby girl was not, and although she took several spoonfuls of froth topped with chocolate powder, not even half-way through she seemed to have had more than enough and we stopped there. It’s ok, these things take time.

Sitting there in the beautiful sunshine, relaxing in the yard, eating scones and drinking coffee… ahh, this is the life.

Both the café and the yard are decorated with Grandmotherly, old-fashioned paraphernalia: tea mementos, cakes and cute items for the kitchen and themed parties adorn the inside of the café, while small tables sit outside, some with umbrellas to get some much-needed shade on hotter days. Even the serving-ware matches – floral dishes accompany your scones, and the mugs are huge and funky retro-themed, reflective of the odd stuff you might see in homes of Nanas and Papas.

When I went in to pay at the end of our visit, I realised that their indoor café space seemed to have doubled since the last time I’d been; although the eating area remains in the same place, they seemed to have acquired the shop space next to them, and used it to display all their extra miscellaneous cake/decorations/accessories, as well as housing their main counter. This was confirmed for me when I asked the girl putting my order through, and she said when their neighbouring shop had gone up for sale, they had purchased it. It’s definitely a great decision for both owners and diners, as it allows for much more eating space in their original café area, separating that from the cake counter and the other itty-bitty items that they had crammed together before. Even so, the packed look does do them a favour when they’re emulating Grandma’s house.

Food: 10/10. Their main food avenue is their scones, and they are done so, so well. Fresh, inventive, so many different flavours and varieties in both savoury and sweet options – honestly, what more could you want?

Coffee: 7/10. Loved the big mug, gave me such a caffeine hit, compared to other places that only offer the standard ‘cup’ size for coffees.

Ambience: Really relaxed and chilled outside, especially on such a stunning day. You can’t be stressed at Grandma’s house though, she has everything under control!

Staff: Really helpful, especially our waitress that day. Taking our order would have been both entertaining and frustrating for her. “I’ll have these scones… no wait, what about these?… Which sweet scones are good?… and can our sweet scones come after the savoury ones… and can the coffees come with the sweet scones?… and can the babycino come with them too?… and can we have a high chair?…. and can we have a big mug of boiling water?”

LOL. I did have to remind her about the water when it didn’t come immediately, but I kind of bombarded her with a million requests so I didn’t blame her. On my previous visits there the staff have been nice and helpful too, including one of the ladies there who I’ve encountered on each visit. She must be involved as owner/manager: she’s a tough woman, but don’t be fooled – it’s that generation, remember?

People: Kind of a mix. We had a teenage couple near us who baby girl kept smiling widely at, duos of females were abound, women with kids (ok so maybe more women) and an older couple. There was a group of kids in the pink caravan for someone’s birthday, and inside again there were mostly women, but people in there seemed older. If you have kids that still like to run, sit outside. It’s definitely a place that you don’t stay at for long, and I feel like we were the only exception, as almost all the people in the yard left long before we did. You come in with your friend/s, have a cuppa and some scones in between shopping/visiting friends/taking a walk and then you go. It’s a lovely in-between place, but it’s also an amazing place to while away the afternoon. It’s Nanna’s. Grab a paper and you’re set.

Price: Tallied up to $41.40. I thought that was really good, considering we had lunch, shared a dessert and had coffee. The babycino was free I think, and it is my firm belief that they should always be since all babies are getting are chocolate-sprinkled froth. From memory the scones are about $14 for a serve of two which I think is fair and totally worth the price for the quality of what you’re getting.

Advice: For a special event or get together, do what I did and book the pink caravan. It’s in high demand though, so you’ll need to book weeks in advance. It may even be worth booking for a normal Saturday or Sunday venture, especially if you have more than 2 people in your party. It was busy when we went on a Friday for lunch, but then again it was the school holidays.

In a nutshell: I am in love with this place (if it isn’t totally obvious). I can’t wait to go back again and again, with only my close friends. As I said to Hubbie “this is the only place I won’t ‘check-in’ on Facebook.”

Hubbie: “Why?”

Me: “I don’t want everyone coming here.”

* Anticipatory delight: the state of being in excited anticipation, that is, anticipating an event, the lead-up to it providing a frenzied atmosphere of happiness in waiting for it to occur. Examples: every Friday, the onset of Summer, first day of Holidays.

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It’s a weighty issue

I may not be very popular after this post – much like the rich man who cries poor – but, as I try so hard and so often NOT to say in blog-land, FUCK IT.

So, people who read this blog often, and all of my family and friends, will be very aware that I am now a mother. Almost 14 months on, and she is the best thing, the most amazing blessing, that has ever happened to Hubbie and I.

I’m very grateful, for a lot of things post-pregnancy. I’m grateful that we are starting to see her pull herself up, we’re grateful in hearing her babble and try to talk, I’m grateful that we’re becoming more social and heading out more… and I’m also grateful that my body has returned to its pre-pregnancy size. In fact, it did so pretty soon after having her.

That’s just the way my body is. I’m not going to act all proud, because I didn’t do anything for it. It did it, itself.

And that’s the thing. I’m so bloody sick of people, looking at me, and commenting on my body. Often it comes from a genuinely surprised/complimentary place “how did you have a baby?” or “it looks like you never had one!”

I don’t know how to respond to these remarks, though kind, other than to smile and laugh. What do I say? Sometimes I say thanks, other times I mumble something, or direct it back to the person and say that they too look amazing after having kids – which is not a lie, I won’t say it unless I mean it.

But then there are this other lot, who comment on me being so skinny, to the point that they’re not being complimentary, not a bit, not a little, nothing at all – but instead their words come off jealous, biting, and snide.

They look you up and down and all they say is “you’re too skinny.”

Or as you walk to the lunch buffet they comment with a smirk “oh, you’re eating?”

And then when they say their goodbyes they tell you to “eat more” with a laugh.

These are people within my family.

Are you fucking for real????

(Deep breath, for my rebuttal).

Not that I have to explain, ANYTHING to ANYBODY, but:
– I am about the same size I was before pregnancy. No one was shitty about my weight then. Why are people all up in a huff now that I’ve had a baby? Am I meant to have handlebars and be overweight to be acceptable?
– I eat whatever I like. Some days I am truly rushed, but make no mistake I make up for it, every chance I get, especially on weekends.
– I like to wear fitted clothes, and I always have. This seems to be an affront to these vindictive people now. I wore baggy, trackie, homely clothes for about a year, and I remember the first time I put on make-up and got really dressed up which was about 7 weeks after baby girl was born, I felt re-born. Like a new woman.
I wore those baggy clothes for so long, there are some I’ve actually now thrown out. I want to move on, and go back to the way I always used to dress, because that’s me. I like to dress up, make myself up, as it makes me feel good. I do it for me, not for anybody else, and I shouldn’t have to feel bad or apologise for wanting to make myself look good and consequently feel good.
– Is it considered morally right to stare at a person you think is too fat and say to them “gee, you are too fat” “stop eating” and “what are you doing to yourself?” People wouldn’t dream of actually saying that to an overweight person, so why is it deemed ok if the person is skinny? No person’s body should be judged, even if that judgment is veiled in a pretend compliment ( ”she won’t get upset, I’m saying she’s skinny”)

I am absolutely sick to my core of these judgments. It’s really annoying, as it is hurtful. No one should be subjected to remarks like these, least of all women, who are already to susceptible to media and societal pressure to look a certain way, especially women who have had children. Your body goes through so many physical and other-worldly changes, that to then scrutinise that woman’s body after she’s put on weight for carrying a baby, to then losing it (or trying to) and feeling so many different emotions and feelings and thoughts of “how do I look?” “am I good enough?” “will my husband still find me attractive?” – women’s own private thoughts about themselves are well enough without the added inspection of people who think it is their duty to inform others if they’re adequately sized. The number of times I asked my husband what he thought of my body post-pregnancy I cannot even begin to count. I know I’m skinny. That’s my body type, I’ve always been that way. I never wanted to look unwell, or sick, which is why I’d ask “am I too skinny?” I was breastfeeding for over a year, and that equals your baby depleting your stores in many, many different ways. Hubbie would always say “no,” and he continues to. I know I already know the answer, but it’s annoying people who think it’s their right to pass judgment, that unfortunately, make me question myself.

But no more, mother fuckers. Keep your stupid thoughts to yourself. Because your head is too big and your nose is too pointy.

Up in Lights

I just had a weird thing happen. I just saw the title of my yet-unpublished-bound-to-happen book as part of a title of a television series.

It was, without saying too much, only kind of, yet exactly the same as my title, though there is another section to my book title that wasn’t there, as simultaneously there was something in the TV series title that is not in mine.

Still. I just kind of stared, letting the image of the name burn into me, recognising that the name is there, out there, in television land, in this other medium, in a media form as such… it exists.

Just not as mine. Not attributed to me. Not yet.

The sweets aren’t too Fara-way on Lygon

Brunetti
380 Lygon Street Carlton

It’s an institution. Even in its pre-renovated days back in Faraday Street, despite the assumption of space it was always cramped. Brunetti has now moved to its new home within Lygon Court but still, despite the high ceilings and long passageway it now inhabits, with separate dining areas and eating experiences, the place is packed.

It will always be packed, Brunettis. That’s the other thing; to those who really know it, it’s Brunettis – as any self-respecting Aussie knows, an establishment only becomes truly endearing after you change it to its plural. Thus, Brunettis is the place that many, many people have been going to for years now, and it’s much adored by all. Venue change and all, I think it’s only gotten better.

It was packed when we went for Tuesday lunch during the school holiday period in October. Though it started off with ample space, by the time we’d finished our mains and had moved onto cake and coffee, the place was, as Hubbie would say “jamming.”

We’ve been to Brunettis heaps of times before, as it coincidentally and fortunately was off our favourite restaurant strip of this great city. We’d go out to eat, and finish by stopping by to salivate at the cakes and take some home for later. It would be a Saturday night, there’d be a line of people outside just waiting for a free table to open up, with the mass crowd inside the restaurant waiting to be served coffee and cake reminiscent of something you’d see in a mosh pit. I think even back then there was a section devoted to savouries, well within the venue away from the sugar-seeking crowds, but having never gone to Brunettis for something salty I couldn’t say for sure. It’s definitely there now.

I must admit, although the idea of so many petite and beautiful looking sculptures of pastry and sugar was always so appealing, it was never a really truly ‘wow’ experience for me. Sure I still wanted to come back and experience more of the cakes in the display, and to this day I still want to buy one of those $40 cakes to take home and eat over a week, but there were never any heavenly explosions in my mouth. I was really keen to give it a good go and be proven that these mouth-watering delights do exist. We hadn’t been to Brunettis in ages, and hadn’t experienced it in its new home, so when the opportunity arose Hubbie
and I went with baby girl and MIL into town, to check out the new digs.

They’ve really gone all fancy-schmancy. I loved it. We were having our mains right near a black and white photo of what looked like Sophia Loren standing over a multi-tiered wedding cake. If anyone can confirm this is Sophia, please let me know (I can’t find the image anywhere on google). The theme in the new venue is that of modern Italian opulence, with some great old reminders of yester-year like those awesome B&Ws. They have their cake display up one end of the shop, followed by the coffee-making team in a hub, much like it was before, followed by another sweet pastry section, then the savouries, with all the dining areas opposite, including a sectioned-off private dining area for the posher crowd in the far corner of the restaurant.

For lunch we shared the following:

Sopressa Roll, Ragu Arancini and Porcini Pizza

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I’m not a huge salami fan, but this roll was really yummy and fresh, so good. There was salami, peppers, artichokes, and it really felt like an antipasto party in my mouth. The Arancini was cheesy and saucy, and the Porcini Pizza was interesting with its choice of mushrooms, but still great. We easily cleaned it up between the three of us.

Because we were sitting under Sophia near the savoury section, we then decided to move closer to the sweet stuff and change locations, and fortunately Hubbie found a great table right between the coffees and cakes on the other side of the room.

What I also like about the place is that it’s brimming with waiters, but they’re not so focused on their task of clearing tables/delivering food that they won’t stop and NOT look annoyed when you ask them a question. For example I stopped one waiter to ask him if I could get some extra share plates, and despite the fact he was about to pick up and balance several precarious looking dishes, he warmly told me I was more than welcome to take more. Another waitress happily located a high chair for us, and another waiter who looked like his name would be Giovanni, young boy recently come to Australia from Italy to make a better life for himself, having gotten a job at Brunettis due to ‘family connections’ (I’ve got the plot all lined up), who was walking by clearing tables, very nicely said in his fine Italian accent that he would find us a high chair (we’d since moved tables) and came back after his search to happily provide us with one. Despite the busy-ness, another waitress played “hi” with baby girl (she is waving at everyone at the moment – baby girl not the waitress), and it just made me, us, feel good. I could tell all the wait staff are very on the ball when it comes to clearing things away – get people out, so more people can come in. Despite that, they’re not pushy, or trying to get rid of you, they’re just being efficient and making sure tables are cleared so new customers can sit down without rubbish at their tables. And in between I’m happy to report, they’re absolutely lovely.

After much internal debate and soul-searching, we all decided on three desserts with our coffee. I had the White and Dark Chocolate Mousse (pictured here with my cappuccino)

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Hubbie had the French Custard Tart

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and MIL had a chocolate mousse type cake, but we have no idea what it is, so we’ll just refer to it as the dark brownie-looking one in the photo with a cream bomb on top

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All the desserts were great. I think it was a tie between MILs and mine, as I tasted Hubbie’s and though I love custard, it was good, but that was it. Mine was velvety goodness, and I was so glad I went down the mousse path. I felt the prices were really decent for the inspirational creations on offer, but again I think they can definitely afford the prices when they’re producing all those cakes and savouries in such high volume.

That was the fear I had with Brunettis; because they do so much of a variety of food, both sweet and savoury, I wonder whether they are doing too much, but not doing anything well. That’s my thought whenever I come across an establishment that has too much to offer, but falls short of excellence with any of its products. Hubbie and I were talking about this just the other day, and referring to a local hangout which I won’t divulge the name of, other to say that they offer pizza, pasta, steaks, other mains, a wide variety of breakfast, dessert, and drinks, and each time I’ve been there in the past I have not been wowed, in any, ANY measure, being sorely disappointed on many an occasion. We refuse to go there now, and that’s where my thoughts went when I was observing Brunettis. However, that is NOT, definitely not the case there. The savoury was so delicious, and our cakes so scrumptious, that even though the mousse I had wasn’t that 100% piece of heaven I was searching for, it came close, and I have no doubt with more cake-testing journeys there, I will find it 😉

Food: 8/10. Really fresh, and some of those cakes… OMG. Just look at the case. Go on, look. I dare you not to buy anything, or at least salivate, just a little.

Coffee: 7/10. The coffee was strong, to Hubbie’s liking, and I found it not too bad, though I think I prefer my caps smooth. Still good though.

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Ambience: Cosy yet bustling, modern yet European vibe. It’s a really nice blend of cultures, and how could it not be on Lygon street?

Staff: Warm and friendly, though we had a bit of a ‘what the?’ moment when Hubbie asked the coffee staff for a jug of boiling water for baby girl’s food. We had to leave our food in the jug at their bench, rather than bring the water to our table, I assume for ‘safety’ reasons. That’s all well and good, just inconvenient, and terribly annoying. When I got up to get her food, another waitress said to me “do you want to take the whole thing to the table?” (as in, the boiling water we weren’t initially allowed to take to our table). Otherwise, they were great.

People: A lot of families because of the school holidays, older couples, and friends meeting for coffee/lunch. I’d say on the weekend it would draw a much younger crowd, if my memory of old Saturday night’s does not evade me. 

Price: The savouries were expense. $30 for the three dishes we had, and the pasta menu I perused the $$ were about the same and that was for singular dishes; unless you’re a high-flying businessman, I don’t know if you’d be paying that much on your lunch break, but still, I wanna go back and have it another day, only because our dishes were so fresh, I can’t imagine how beautiful their pasta would taste.
The desserts were more acceptable. Considering the visually stunning creations, quite appropriately priced. Our three desserts and coffees came to about $20, and then I just had to take a few more home in their very nice Brunetti box:

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And five of those beauties came to just under $17. Let’s just say I’m happy that I don’t work near Lygon street, because I’d be spending all my money there and expanding my waistline.

Advice: Go when you think it won’t be busy, and the crowd will be just manageable. During high-peak times, on weekends you’ll have to wait for a table, or stalk someone like you would in a shopping centre car park and wait ‘til they knock the last bit of their coffee back before lunging on their table. There are plenty of seats, however there will never be enough at Brunettis.

In a nutshell: It’s a Lygon Street right-of-passage, and until you’ve gone, you’ll never know how good it is to look at so many cakes and want to try them all at once, shovelled into your mouth. But that would be a culinary injustice to this place, so you’ll just have to do what I’m going to do, and go back, bit by bit, and try EVERY SINGLE CAKE they have there, ONE AT A TIME.

Brunetti on Urbanspoon

Writing about Yourself

Writers are a bit of a self-indulgent bunch. I came across this realisation, properly, whilst talking to a work colleague. I was talking about the book I’m reading “Before I go to Sleep,” and in the same conversation was telling him that he MUST watch the new movie “Gone, Girl,” that Hubbie and I had watched over the weekend. Freaking trippy it was.

Anyway. It occurred to me. Here is the main character of Sleep book, Christine, who discovers herself to have amnesia to the point that her memory is pretty much wiped clean, bar some odd earlier memories, EVERY SINGLE DAY. In the part that I’m currently up to, she discovered on one such day, that she used to be a writer. Case 1 in point.

In Gone, Girl, both main characters are writers too. Case 2 in point. It got me thinking, and though I can’t recall any to mind I just KNOW I’ve read/heard other stories where writers write about a writer as one of, or their sole, lead character.

Other similar examples spring to mind. Stephen King’s Misery, where a writer has a car accident and is found in the situation to be held hostage by a crazed fan of his works until he rewrites his latest book to the ending of her choice. That is about a writer, albeit a writer’s nightmare.

J.K. Rowling made Harry Potter’s birthday the same as her own. And in a different medium, the cartoonist Matt Groening, named the main characters of The Simpsons after members of his own family: his parents were Homer and Margaret, and his sisters were Lisa and Maggie.

There’s a little bit of a perception that writer’s shy away from the public eye, they don’t crave the attention or perform outlandish acts, dress in bizarre outfits and get drunk at the corner hotel only to take home a prostitute at 2am on a Saturday night and get snapped by paparazzi, like other entertainers out there. That’s not really the norm you see of people in this profession, and yet still, they’re putting their stamp, their mark on their work, in the most subtle and natural way they know how.

Through their characters.

I think it’s bloody fantastic. In fact you can expect to find me in all of the characters of my book.

Daisy on the stairs

Jack & Daisy
152b Cumberland Road Pascoe Vale

It was a grey day, unlike the glimmers of beautiful Spring we’d recently been privy to experiencing. I was running late, and was VERY hungry when I got to Jack & Daisy one Thursday LATE morning in September.

Melbourne weather can really put a dampener on your mood.

I waited outside the café for maybe five minutes, pulling silly faces at baby girl in pram, thinking my friend had not yet arrived, when in fact she was waiting in the back room the whole time. I hadn’t gone to venture inside because of the ‘step.’

You see, when one arrives with a pram, and sees a decent step up into an establishment, one does not feel confident. Back when I had gone into the bustling The Red Corner Store, even that place had been confronting, and that was due to the busy-ness of the Saturday morning rather than its front step, which was so minor compared to this one.

Upon learning of her already being in there (“how the hell did she get her pram in there?”) I backed into the store, and thank God a kind soul of a man sitting near the entrance with his kids held the door open for me as I hoisted baby girl in.

When I saw where the back room was, I had to brace myself: accessible, but only via more stairs. After manoeuvring amongst tables, more prams and high chairs, I pulled the pram up with some difficulty, quietly willing the little girl taking her time on the stairs to move the hell out of my way.

Then another little girl appeared, and I smiled sweetly at her, pretending patience, as the waitress coaxed her away and I wondered where in the hell her Mother was.

By the time I got to my friend and her baby girl, I was kind of puffed. The back room we were in was as expected, at the back of the restaurant, and I think the sole purpose of this room is for Mums and their Bubs, as there were plenty of high chairs about. Two long tables spanned the room, and my friend and I with our prams in one corner, easily took up the whole table with our gamut of baby food, accessories and bags. On the other table behind us there were also two women with their kids.

You can take it in one of two ways: either the room is designed to give Mums and Bubs their own space, and a little privacy away from the rest of the diners; or they’re keeping the demanding and space-clustering customers away, and I don’t mean the ones without kids.

Having said that, the Mums and their Bubs were everywhere. As I mentioned, I was practically climbing over prams and high chairs (and annoying kids that wouldn’t move) to get to the back room. If I didn’t know better I would have thought the café catered specially for this breed I’m now part of. Which is great. Kind of. I can kind of only handle my own, plus only three more, maximum, at any one time. So conflicted thoughts there.

I was pretty hungry by the time the food came. I haven’t been out to eat brekkie with baby girl in tow for a while, so I hadn’t realised how HARD it was going to be, with her now super-mobile and all. She was in the high chair, and I tried to entertain her by my giving her my mobile phone to chew on, as I tried to eat:

Daisy’s favourite poached free range eggs, smoked salmon, herbed fetta, avocado salsa & toasted multigrain

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Now that’s the description taken from a photo someone posted on urbanspoon, but my meal came a little different. Firstly I had replaced the avocado salsa with mushrooms, because the last time I had avocado I actually thought I was going to vomit all my insides out (true story). I used to love avocado, but alas, avocado does no longer love me. Going by my photo, everything seemed to match the urbanspoon description bar the addition of the relish, which had a tangy sweet flavour to it. And weirdly, I still had green on my plate, so I’m assuming it WAS the avocado that they just forgot to omit. I didn’t try it, because of that whole fear of vomiting my insides. Hmmm. Chef probably should keep to the orders given, wouldn’t you say?

Even though I ate my brekkie over a 45 minute interval (or at least that’s how long it felt), the time taken to eat isn’t a determining factor in my review: what I’m trying to say is, if it’s yum, it’s yum, lukewarm or not. And if it’s weird, well it’s weird… fresh from the kitchen or siting at the table for 45 minutes.

It was like an ‘everything-on-a-plate’ thing. The poached eggs were perfect, and the bread they were on was amazing, but trying to cut it with my knife was almost impossible, despite the crunchy homely-style flavour they possessed. But then there was that green part of the bread I was unsure about that I had to cut out, which I’m just hoping against hope it was some fresh seedy bit that wasn’t toasted in the bread-baking process. I’m not sure. The mushrooms were good, the relish was nice, and the fetta was VERY citrusy – a bit too much for my liking, for cheese. I prefer my cheese creamy. I know that I ordered mushrooms, but even without them, I don’t know how citrusy fetta, avocado salsa and sweet relish goes together. I considered mashing the relish and fetta together, but decided against it because on their own the flavours were SOOO strong.

The smoked salmon was as expected, and perfect with the bread and eggs. Individually everything was good, some things were great; but together, I don’t think it worked.

Coffee came just after my meal. Again I had it a bit too late (the story of my life) but I still enjoyed it. It had a lot of lovely chocolate sprinkling on the froth which I love, and the way freaking cappuccinos should be you tight-arsed barristas elsewhere. My friend’s takeaway coffee came with the number ‘1’ on her cup when she asked for no sugar, and they happily replaced it with another. I know that may be easy to say and kind of expected (uh, pleasing the customer?) but seriously if I told you about my ‘glasshouse’ experience in Docklands when I felt I had to apologise for ordering a weak cappuccino – “is that ok?” – trust me, customer service isn’t HIGH on everyone’s list, as much as it seems a given to the person forking out the $.

Food: 6.5/10. Components were great individually… maybe I should have ordered something of a specific nature, rather than an ‘everything on your plate’ dish that the Daisy’s favourite meal suggests at.

Coffee: 8/10. Choc sprinkles to my liking, thank you.

Ambience: Cosy, relaxed, yet very constant for a grey Spring morning mid-week.

Staff: Attentive and friendly. They were all over us in the back room when we were getting the prams up, and then helping us bring them down over the stairs when we were all done. Which is what you’d expect since they seem to designate Mums in the back room, a back room albeit with stairs… you kind of expect that help, but still it’s very much appreciated when it comes and you don’t have to face the stairs alone.
Hey, here’s an idea… turn the stairs into a ramp. Back room is still accessible, and Mums don’t break into a sweat wondering how in the hell they’ll get in there if no staff are present to help.

Although it took a little while for our menus to arrive, once they were there our lovely waitress was all over it. Sugar wasn’t on our table when the coffee arrived, but fortunately our on-the-mark waitress was and promptly brought some over to me. And it was raw sugar, so I was extra pleased.

People: Mums and Bubs, Mums and Bubs….. um, Mums and Bubs. No, seriously, there was also Mums and Bubs there. And toddlers. Ok enough kidding, when we left I actually noticed there were less Ms & Bs, and quite a few groups of the non-young parent variety (shock horror!), as well as some business-looking folk. The unofficial Mums and Bubs session must have been ending… we were on our way out after all 😉

Price: Mine was $23, I think fair and reasonable for the locality, restaurant reputation and for what I got.

Advice: If you’re a Mum, with a Bub, going with a pram – book ahead, and by God make sure you’re not going into the back room. You don’t need that worry, please, trust me!

Just generally it might be worth booking, seeing as it was fairly busy when I went and it wasn’t even a peak time of day/week.

And get a meal that’s like, just eggs, or just pancakes, or just toast. Don’t get all complicated with your decision.

In a nutshell: I would like to try their other dishes, and try their cappuccino hot next time (my bad not theirs)… but only if it’s a sunny day.

Why you ask? So I don’t have to ‘step’ inside and deal with any stairs.

Jack & Daisy on Urbanspoon