Perspective

19 degrees in Winter… “Ahh nice, bring it on Spring.”

19 degrees in Summer… “What the?! What is this stupid excuse of a season?”

 

Waking up healthy… “Eh, another day.”

Waking up sick… “I can’t wait to feel good again.”

 

Dealing with a whinging baby… “Stop crying! You are so annoying, I can’t handle it!”

A childless woman wanting a baby, watching a whinging baby… “What I would give to hold one of my own…”

 

Going into work… “I hate work.”

Not having a job to go to… “My work wasn’t too bad.”

 

Feeling overwhelmed by food after a banquet sitting… “I couldn’t eat another thing!”

A starving child in a third-world country feeling overwhelmed by the lack of food… “If only I could find a crumb.”

 

These are trivialities, first world-problems, serious problems, and for us privileged, most are perspective.

Getting consumed by the nonsense of everyday life is both easy yet unnecessary, and can be overcome when you ask yourself “Is there worse out there? How bad is this scenario?”

There are many, many serious problems and issues out in the world. But how much easier would it be to deal with those things when we removed the silly nonsense from everyday life, enjoyed more of what’s around us, and appreciated what we have?

Showing gratitude for simple things every day, is a very easy way to turn your perspective around, and bring more joy, more happiness, more abundance, and generally more of what you want, into your life EVERY DAY. I know this, because earlier this year I started my own online gratitude journey… inspired by a car crash.

If you would like to check it out, or find some inspiration for your own journey, or you just want to see how I can possibly be grateful that I went back to work after time off (my most recent post), you can click here.

If you are reading this, that means you have survived every single bad thing that has ever happened in your life. Wow, are you a superhero?!

Remember, SMILE. It’s all good 🙂

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Bacon, Brioche & Co.

Milkbar & Co.
1/42 Lochiel Avenue Mount Martha

It was the morning after deciding to randomly stay over in the Peninsula. Our accommodation in Martha was great, however, when you come unprepared, it means you might suddenly get freezing cold at 5am because you’re up in the hills, and you sleep half-naked because you didn’t bring anything other than your swimwear underneath your dress.

So needless to say, we were a tad tired that Monday morning. We ventured down to the little strip of shops we had run off to the previous night to buy much-needed supplies, to a quaint and funky place called Milkbar & co.

I had been drawn to the place ever since I’d seen the handwritten poster up against their outside wall.

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For those of you who can’t read sun-glare writing (who can?) it says “I hate when people say you don’t need alcohol to have fun. Well you don’t need running shoes to run but it helps.”

This made me LOL inside. It made perfect sense that we should eat there.

However we immediately encountered massive pole-bum attitude from the young waitress who tended to us. She was too cool for school. Literally. Like she had just finished holidays and was jealous she wasn’t out there beach-bumming it like all her friends. She was very sour, we had to call her over several times, and she made it out like we were doing her an injustice by calling her over. She was only moderately-tempered later when I paid at the end of our meal inside the café, and maybe that was because her boss was nearby. I don’t know. I usually save my report on staff ‘til the end of my review, but her disdain for everything was so apparent that mention must be made first.

We sat outside, and placed our orders. A very kind local was sitting alone near us, and heard us telling baby girl to behave. Baby girl, was not. This lady mentioned that we could get colouring pencils from the staff, seeing as she usually does that with her own cheeky brood when they are there with her. That day, she was enjoying some temporary peace. (How I was jelly). Upon her kind suggestion we got some from another passing waiter (not Grinch-girl).

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They kept her kind of busy.

Hubbie’s cappuccino came first. It looked awesome after 5 interrupted hours of sleep.

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And I ordered a freshly squeezed orange juice, which was uplifting and refreshing. Hubbie loved it as much as I did, as he kept stealing sips.

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Then our meals:

My Brioche French Toast, with organic maple syrup and streaky bacon

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And Hubbie and Baby girl got the same meals – Fruit toast with butter and jam2016-01-11 09.49.38

My meal was really nice, however I seriously wasn’t expecting that much bacon. I need to say that I am not necessarily a bacon girl, but I will eat the ‘clean’ pieces if it comes in a meal of mine. If you’re a bacon lover, you would LOVE this meal. Even though the pieces were ‘clean,’ and I was impressed by that, still consuming the lot (I hate wastage) it made me slightly ill later, only because I’m not used to so much of it.

The fruit toast was thick and soft, with very chunky fruit pieces inside. Again, if you are a fruit toast lover, this is fab. The chunky fruit pieces were a bit too chunky for baby girl, however it’s something I know I would have enjoyed. It was a generous fruit toast in my book, and very sweet.

Later I had my cappuccino and enjoyed it for a few lovely and lonesome minutes while Hubbie walked a squirmy baby girl up and down the footpath.

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Their coffee is Dukes, and at first the flavour was quite strong, but like Dukes usually is, it softened and gave way to a gentle smooth flavour by the time I was taking my last sip.

I paid Grinch-girl inside where she suddenly had found the mechanism to turn her face into a somewhat upward turn, and we left for Mornington Beach.

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Food: 7.5/10. It was generous, and done well.

Coffee: 8/10. Dukes: strong, then smooth.

Ambience: Chilled beach-vibe, what with the surf hidden behind the tall trees just across the road. It had a very local feel sitting in amongst all the other convenience stores and eateries there.

Staff: Hmmm. So should I reiterate? Our waitress was ill-mannered. Other wait staff there seemed ok. The management needs to either be careful of who it hires, or put their staff into an aggressive waiter boot camp, where snobbish, rude, arrogant and unhelpful traits are stamped out. You can’t serve people like that, you just can’t.

People: I could heard a lot of ‘local’ talk, and you would, as I said, being on a small strip within Mount Martha. Families, ladies catching up, and older people too. We also saw a well-known underground figure walking his dog… All sorts.

Price: In the $40s for our lot. Within reason.

Advice: Try not to get served by anyone that looks like they have just bitten into a lemon. There are colouring pencils there for the kids, so if you’re not given any and you just can’t handle the whining anymore, call over a ‘lovely’ waiter to pass some over thank you very much. Listen to the menu descriptions too. Bacon on brioche means “lots of!” bacon. Fruit toast means “lots of!” fruit chunks. Take note.

In a nutshell: Despite the fact that our waitress left little of her service to be desired, this would be a cafe we could happily go back to. The food was great, coffee too, the beachside proximity was desirable, and it was a nice lovely strip to stop for brekkie. Plus, we’re kind of in love with the Peninsula. So fortunately for this establishment, we’ll be back.

But Grinch… me (and co.) will be watching you…

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Milkbar & Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Main Hotel

Bay Hotel
62 Main Street Mornington

Not even a week after returning from Port Douglas, we were down at Frankston beach, rapt with all the kid and family-friendly features and surroundings – grass, shady trees, big change rooms for children, accessible (but heavily fought for!) parking, nearby café and ice cream – that after we were done there for the day, we kind of drove further into the Mornington Peninsula just to get baby girl to fall asleep in the car… and we ended up staying in Mount Martha overnight. As you do.

It was spontaneous, exciting and so different. We hadn’t packed, we didn’t have nappies for baby girl, and all I had on me was my bikinis with my very tropical-fringed dress draped over me. We were definitely not prepared. After organising overnight accommodation, we bought a few key items, and headed on down to Main Street in Mornington, where we have been so many times before, to get some tucker into us.

We decided on The Bay Hotel after a bit of to-and-fro up the street, only because we were looking for something a bit kid-friendly, both space and food wise, because she had slept very little in the car and we didn’t want to piss her off even more.

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It’s a grand old building, visually striking, and used to be a bank back in the day before being transformed to the restaurant and bar that it is today. There was seating outside but much more within its doors, with some casual lounges on the right by the window to perhaps sip on a coffee and window-watch people stroll by, with the majority of the seating on the left of the venue, beside the long-stretching bar. High ceilings, echoey spaces, and dark wood gave this venue even more of an esteemed aura, making me a tad nervous with baby girl’s intermittent outcries. Add to that the few people actually sitting inside, none of them making noise, and it didn’t feel like the best place to bring along a toddler.

However the staff didn’t make us feel like that. The waiter who served us in between spending the majority of his time behind the bar, and our main waitress, both made us all feel welcome, getting us a high chair, giving baby girl pencils and paper to colour in with, and just being very kind and gracious about her ‘noise.’ They were awesome. And of course, there was a kids menu, so they expected kids to come in and yell, right?

We ordered as quick as we could.

We needed something to peck on first, so we got the

Duo of dips, cumin oil and flatbread

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The flatbread was warm and eagerly devoured by baby girl. In fact we could have just let her eat that, but we had gone and ordered a proper main for her as well which in hindsight we could have gone without going by the flatbread portion. The dips were both great, and though I completely forget which was which, I know I liked them both, whereas Hubbie only liked the green one.

We had ordered drinks too – I had a Pinocchio Pinot Grigio, and Hubbie ‘double parked’ as the waitress coined, with a Johnnie Red and also a Crown

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Baby girl was kept busy with this picture of a cat (colouring in by Mum and Dad)

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After, our meals came.

My Paella – prawns, chicken, chorizo, mussels, saffron, olives and smoked paprika

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Hubbie’s 400g T-bone with chips and salad

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And baby girl’s Kids parmigiana and chips

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While we also had a side of steamed vegetables, for anyone that cared for them

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(Note: the uglier my food photos, the harder the meal was with baby girl. Just a late disclaimer).

Baby girl’s meal was huge! She pecked at most of the chips and we found bits of tomato in her salad too which she loved, but she didn’t have a lot of the chicken, which we tried to finish ourselves despite our huge plates. Nothing against the chicken, but she isn’t a huge fan of meat. Too much chewing required. Sigh, children nowadays. It was a massive kids meal, well worth the $12, and probably better suited to older children than toddlers like herself.

Hubbie enjoyed his T-bone steak, saying it was cooked to his liking, had a great char-grilled favour, and in total was a generous, comforting meal. He was a happy chappy.

My Paella was nice, however there was no overriding smoky flavour, or other discernible flavours as suggested in the meal title. It was a nice dish, but there was nothing noteworthy about it. As a paella, it was fairly bland. However, being hungry, and the fact I had seafood and rice in front of me, I ate as much as my stomach allowed.

Baby girl had been going a bit crazy during our meal time, and we had had to take turns watching her (walking outside with her while she waved at all the passers-by) while the other party ate alone inside. Seriously, this is why parents do not eat out with toddlers. My food posts may cease altogether if we continue at this rate. For some unknown reason, we still thought it appropriate despite her unsettledness, to order short blacks for us, and a babycino for her.

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She was happy with the marshmallows that accompanied her babycino. We both skulled our coffees, however mine was very much on the strong side, a bit too much for my liking. Still, coffee: I drank.

I up and paid and we left. Sorry folks, hope we weren’t too much of a racket. Bloody Melbourne folk.

Food: 7/10.

Coffee: 6.5/10. Based on my short black, too strong for me.

Ambience: A bit too quiet and refined for my liking, with baby girl I mean. Chilled out Triple J-like tunes playing in the background made it out to be more of a place you catch up with friends, than one you take your toddler out to dinner with.

Staff: Really friendly, smiley and helpful, and I’m grateful for this because I’m sure they thought we were a bit annoying. (I say ‘we,’ but I mean ‘baby girl,’ because I’m trying to be overprotective and defensive of her you see 😉 )

People: Couples, an older mother and daughter duo, and another family, but this family had older kids with ipads, with the Mother looking over to me every now and then with the look ‘why have you taken her out with you?’ while I stared back with ‘Have you forgotten how it’s like to have toddlers you nasty piece of *^&%!’

Price: $122.10 all up. That was one starter, 3 mains, 1 side, 3 alcoholic drinks, and 2 and a half coffees (they charged for the babycino…. Grrr, Argh). The price was actually reasonable considering what we ordered. I just wished some of it had been to a higher standard.

Advice: Maybe eat outside if you’re coming with kids – the outdoors will cloud their cries of discontent/amusement/toddler talk.

In a nutshell: It was a lovely place, and though some things we felt needed improvement, the staff more than enough made up for it. The fact that it’s on the Main Street and within a place we love to frequent (watch this space…) we would probably come back in the near future.

Who doesn’t want to be by the Bay?

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😉

Bay Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

‘Bel’ Prawns

Bel Cibo
30 Macrossan Street Port Douglas

Since this restaurant had been booked out on night one of our Port Douglas getaway, Hubbie had booked us a table the following day for that Sunday night. It was not only conveniently placed near our accommodation, but it had elevated views of Macrossan street with a distinctly poshy vibe. We had been walking by the restaurant for two days now, looking into the kitchen and watching the all-white uniformed chefs do their thing. Soon they would be cooking for us.

On our arrival to Bel Cibo that night we were promptly seated and menus were brought to us immediately. And so it continued: the service was always there, with wait staff constantly checking in on us, whether it was to top up our drinks, get our food, or see if everything was ok. This was great, and the only reason I was peeved was that it made it a tad difficult for me to discreetly take photos. Not a bad thing to say: ‘we were waited on too much!’

Once again fans were in abundance overhead, however tonight this was in stark comparison to that of Rattle ‘n’ Hum the night before. With the overhead views of Macrossan Street, the sounds of International accents coming from both customers and wait staff all around, and the paper-covered linen tables that immediately characterised what kind of restaurant it was, I knew this was going to be a fine-dining experience. Add to that the humidity, and the increasing bird calls coming from one particular end of the main street from an enormous tree, and it felt like we were on an exclusive jungle safari somewhere in Africa.

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Baby girl was brought pencils straight away which she doodled with on the paper tablecloth, keeping her slightly occupied.

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Since we had arrived pre-7pm, our meals came quite quickly after that.

Our drinks of French Martini and a Crown

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My Seared King Prawns with crushed chat potatoes / broccolini / dill / lemon and garlic sauce

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Hubbie’s Roast Chicken Fillets with tomato / parmesan polenta / garlic field mushrooms / salsa verde

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To share, some Broccolini with garlic /lemon / evo oil / pistachio

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And baby girl’s Chicken strips and chips

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I really loved my meal. The prawns were cooked beautifully, with the light lemon-y sauce surrounding it complimenting it well. The addition of potatoes and broccolini were definitely needed for this carb-loving girl, and even though I was content on completion of my meal, it was still one of those meals at those posh places, where the quality of the food is high and tasty, yet the quantity of what you get on your plate is not in abundance. Nevertheless I really enjoyed my (approximately 5) prawns, they had a bit of a seafood taste too which Hubbie didn’t like, but all the better I thought, more for me 😉 They were very flavoursome and I enjoyed every bite, wishing there was more. The presentation was also of a high calibre.

Hubbie thought his meal components were perfectly matched and on the ball – chicken, polenta, mushrooms and salsa. He loved his meal too and enjoyed every bite.

We were however a bit undecided as to what to think about his chicken, and in particular baby girl’s chicken strips. It was brown and stringy, not white the way chicken usually looks. Hubbie first thought they had given her a cheaper cut of chicken from an ‘unfavoured’ side of the chicken – this pissed us off because hey, just because she’s a child and she has a cheaper meal doesn’t mean she should get a cheaper cut… then he considered the fact that perhaps it was in fact organic, unbleached chicken, since most chickens are apparently bleached white to get their pristine colour. After telling me that, I was so glad I was eating prawns. The fact that his chicken too was also on the brown side, told us that perhaps all their chicken was like that. But if it were organic, surely it couldn’t be stringy too? When I tried hers, I realised why she wasn’t keen on eating it at all. It was only that confusing factor that left us wondering why everything bar the chicken was of such high quality.

The broccolini was a nice side addition, and the combination of garlic, lemon and pistachios made it quite tasty and moorish.

As soon as we had eaten it was time to go: baby girl was keen to run around, and it was now ice cream time (there was definitely room in our stomachs for that).

Food: 8/10. Even with the undecided chicken verdict. Those prawns were the best I had in Port Douglas.

Coffee: N/A.

Ambience: A refined dining experience, and although there were many families around, these were the families with grown-up kids who had plenty of $$$ to splash. This was on the quieter, rather than rambunctious side.

People: As above, ‘developed’ families, couples, and there was at least one another family with a baby, I remember it well because the baby looked 2 days old and the woman’s partner just walked into the restaurant leaving her to carry 2 day-old baby in one arm and lug a pram up the stairs on her own with the other. Other than the latter, most people seemed a bit head-up-their-ass unable to smile, so just be aware that the people that usually smile at you, will be looking at your child instead with a ‘duh’ expression, their kids’ faces speaking boredom with ‘I hate this family holiday.’

Woe is you.

Staff: They were friendly, very professional, and attentive.

Price: $119.50 for the lot, which makes perfect sense for our dinner of 3 alcoholic drinks, (did I mention my French Martini was YUM!) 2 mains, a kids meal and a side, at that type of restaurant.

Advice: Book like you should with all restaurants at Port Douglas, unless of course dining pre-7pm. Sitting as close to the street gives you a great view, but then again all the outdoor covered dining area allows for fantastic views. And have the prawns.

In a nutshell: A fantastic restaurant that I believe was worth the money, given the quality of produce we encountered that night. It’s worth the fuss, and the booking ahead. Just be aware that it is a finer dining experience so some portions may need to be supplemented with sides. Finer dining can sometimes mean more boring, less adaptable clientele too. However, if you’re looking for some ‘great food,’ you’ll find it at this fine establishment.

Bel Cibo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Happiness Is… # 12

Coffee.

(I’m seriously baffled, mind-boggled, and stupefied that it’s taken me 11 previous attempts in this series before acknowledging this life-saving, world-changing, cure of all evils, magically attributed powers brown liquid)

I’m walking over with some colleagues to get the usual morning coffee. Conversation turns to “what would you buy with the $60 million on offer in next week’s Tatts draw?”

We’re talking the usuals:

money to family and friends

charity

holidays

houses and investment

shopping (my addition)

But then we throw in some exciting extras:

Getting a ‘good accountant’ so that we don’t have to pay tax on our fortune (my addition again)

Setting up a shelter in the CBD to help the homeless and get them back on their feet

Buying a football club

Walking into random bars at night and shouting “drinks are on me!”

And this is all happening BEFORE we’ve had a taste of our caffeinated beverages. That’s just how damn good coffee is. It gives you a burst of energy, in its anticipatory excitement of having it, before you’ve even had it.

Thank you person who discovered coffee beans. 🙂

Now I will proceed to list the many things I would do with my $60 million winnings:

Give a considerable amount to my immediate family and friends, so that they could live debt free and enjoy some luxury. Excluding the people considered in my recent posts Round and Round and Things that shit me… well there are consequences for being a dickhead isn’t there? Oh what the hell, I’ll throw a couple thou their way so they can buy some expensive shoes.

Buy some lion cubs, and set them up in a huge jungle-like enclosure so that they wouldn’t feel confined like the lions in zoo-type scenarios usually feel roaming along the fencing line, and I’d visit them on a regular basis so that they would know me and protect me against the arseholes of this world.

Set up my family overseas who are doing it really tough. Make it so that they don’t have the hardships and struggles that many living in difficult economic times over there are having.

Go shopping. I have this intense feeling of wonder, of how it would feel to go into your favourite clothes shop, and buy every single item that’s desirable to you, even if it’s just a “hmmm, maybe” item, and not ask about any of the prices. Just pay at the end. And comment to the salesperson on payment “that’s cheaper than what I thought it would be.”

Set up a shelter for unwanted animals. They can receive treatment for any ills, and just laze about for the rest of their days, living in happiness and comfort, with an abundance of food and love and attention and walks, yet the shelter would also serve as a rescue house where the public can come in and save an animal for free. Unlike other shelters, these animals would not be put down due to excessive overpopulation. These animals will live as long as they are possibly able to, because they would be in a huge mofo of a shelter.

Buy a holiday house on the beach, in Mornington Peninsula, Victoria; Opatija, Croatia; Positano, Italy.

Set up a shelter in Melbourne CBD for homeless people. The shelter would provide food and shelter, while also providing training for basic tasks like cooking, to more advanced career skills to help them get back into the employment field and get them back on their feet, and any other necessary life rehabilitation. It would provide this assistance until they were employed and able to support themselves, living from their own means and off the streets. Follow-up visits would ensure these people are checked up on and kept on track with their life goals.

Give money to cancer research. Employ the best scientists and tell them to kick cancers butt out of this galaxy and beyond.

Buy a really, really, really nice house.

Employ a full-time cleaner for life.

Get my Nissan 370z (I don’t need no porche).

Buy A LOT of cats.

Organise investments with my full-time for life ‘good accountant.’

Okay buy a porche.

Set up the underprivileged villages in African countries with clean drinking water, organise education and training, and help these children and their families make something of their life, far from the poverty they currently experience.

Walk down the streets, randomly handing out $100 notes with the catch phrase “Hi! I’ve been looking for you! Here’s my overdue payment” and then walk off.

Get a professional coffee machine (barista style) installed in my really nice house.

Go into bars and yell “drinks are on me!” and make friends for life. (Note: do this in my three holiday house locations).

Hire a bodyguard for life.

And with all my free time not working, I would drink coffee, do yoga, indulge in red wine, holiday, and just write write write!

Ahh. What a life.

(And all that from the anticipation of coffee!)

*Try it, it’s a fun game, and leave your comments below!*

A gem’s in the cupboard

Larder
57a Vincent Street Daylesford

We had ventured past the bustling eatery the day before. With people looking out at us seated by the window, sipping coffees and eating delicious-looking meals, it was the kind of place that you wanted to be in, and be a part of. There was an instant attracting vibe.

So when we happened past Larder once again on our way out of Daylesford/Hepburn Springs on Day 3 of our getaway, looking for a place to munch before we took to the road, although everything looked great, we were hesitant. Inside it looked tightly packed, and I didn’t know if it would be too crowded for the three of us, one of us being a recently turned over-confident, super-animated and vocal girl (and I’m not talking about me). I waited outside while Hubbie ventured in to suss out the sitchy.

We had been soooo undecided ‘til that point. Where to eat, how baby girl would be in the surrounds… we were tired, the car was packed, it was too cold. Blah blah blah. I looked through the window and saw Hubbie motion for us to come in. Here it goes, I thought.

As soon as we were brought to our tables and seated, I immediately started to feel at ease. A female waitress, or more a manager-type as she seemed to be working the room and looking after the barristers and orders up front, tended to us, as did our male waiter, who took all of our orders. HE. WAS. AWESOME. With all the whinge whinge whinge and hesitation that had been going on between us outside (and that WASN’T from baby girl) it was amazing how the energy from the female manager (we’ll call her), and our male waiter, flipped our hesitant vibe to a 180 pumped ‘this is going to be incredible’ one. Honestly, the service was impeccable from the moment we walked in. And maybe that was because we had been so ‘blah,’ that we felt the difference so majorly. Our waiter joked with us and enthusiastically took our orders, even saying I was a deer in headlights after I couldn’t work out what he was spelling out to me, until he said “toybox?” and we just laughed. He hadn’t wanted baby girl getting hyped up before our approval. Over the toybox came, with an assortment of little toys and books. Awesome idea. There was a bit of water running down some of them (some kid threw their drink in?) but it was still, great. Kept baby girl occupied for a bit.

With assistance from our waiter, Hubbie got this interesting looking beer while I soaked in the surrounds.

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And wow, what surrounds they were. I loved it. The atmosphere was cosy, with that Brunswick-hipster vibe, but without the pretentiousness you get with some, replaced with a genuine warmth and friendliness. I loved the décor. It was an urban eclectic mix, with the coffee/register section up front boarded up by a multi-coloured picket fence, and individual lightbulbs ran down from the ceiling and hung fairly low over each individual table.

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Behind us was a mini-larder area up on the wall, with a smorgasbord of local produce like teas, including some other little pots and things to buy. The room had a mix of small private tables and communal tables, with one communal table in the far corner of the room raised higher up so people were sitting on bar stools. One of the middle communal tables had barrel-like light fixtures hung above them, and just in general, the structure and levelling of the room, along with the amount of detail so intricate in every corner, made it so interesting to feast your eyes upon, and it was only a small room at that. It was popping. I loved it.

I was really digging this place. The staff were amazing, the atmos was perfect, and I could just sit and absorb my surroundings all day. If I could just pick it up and take it home and have it be my local, I totally would.

Having said all that, even with our excitement at realising that hey, this is going to be our best restaurant experience yet, on our way out of Daylesford, and we hadn’t even had the food yet (but Hubbie had heard our waiter tell some diners that all their food was fresh) it didn’t mean that it WAS going to be a perfect experience. Because of baby girl. Our beautiful, darling baby girl, was just playing up, and wasn’t being helpful at all. It was driving me slightly insane. When our meals came we were relieved that finally there was food in front of her, but if anything she decided to play up even more. I was going to explode. We managed to somehow feed her, and ourselves, on the following:

Baby girl’s Ham and Cheese on Toast

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My Baked Semolina Gnocchi, wrapped in prosciutto with tomato sugo, pecorino, crispy garlic and sage

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Hubbie’s The Roast Beef Sandwich, with house roasted ‘Kyneton Beef’ rump, shredded lettuce with minted chevre, and tomato chutney

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Baby girl, though she ate it sooo slowly because upsetting Mum was much more fun, seemed to enjoy her toastie, but hey she loves all bread. Hubbie and I taste-tasted the end bits and it was really yum, the ham seemed of good quality.

Hubbie enjoyed his steak sandwich, and I didn’t hear much from his hungry munching until it was his turn to feed baby girl and I got a chance to eat.

Although I ate mine rushed, I loved the gnocchi in the sugo. It was so good, and it definitely tasted fresh. Here was the sauce that Boathouse had missed the day before! The large gnocchi pieces were swimming in the delicious sugo, and I lapped it up, with the bits of garlic and sage that were there too. So enjoyable, yes yes yes.

It was getting hard with her at one stage, and she just kept on whining. Whining, whinging, yelling. OMG. Seriously. And you know what happened next? The manager came up kindly, asked baby girl what was wrong, and then handed her a little notepad that was kept up the front counter, and one of her pens to doodle on.

OMG.

She was so kind, and not at all upset with her, or us, even though baby girl’s cries were ruining the lovely atmosphere. We said thank you, and through our frustration started to calm down a bit, as baby girl started doodling, while she kept eating, bit by bit.

It was only then, when baby girl was kept busy by pen and notepad, that we realised how noisy her cries had made the place. It was suddenly so peaceful. My God. Our ears were happy again, and so were the other diners too.

She had calmed down again, so we decided to push our luck and rather than get a takeaway, order some drink-in coffees. For baby girl too, though I told her she didn’t deserve it.

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Once again, Hubbie didn’t need a sugar in his latte. As he says “that’s proof of a really good coffee.”
I added one to mine because I just had to, but together we agreed that it was a really great bean. Smooth, yet strong. Baby girl’s babycino kept her busy only for so long, and then we had to leave. Our selfish time was over, and it was time to bid adieu and say farewell to Daylesford and Hepburn Springs (and with that experience we were sure they were all too pleased to see the back of us, though no one said it :))

Food: 9/10. When we heard fresh, and knowing that so many of those places source locally, well I just get so happy and super-excited. Presentation was great too.

Coffee: 9/10.

Ambience: Perfect. Relaxed, inspired and eclectic, urban edge. I’d love to go there with my laptop and write a whole book. I could do it easily as well, with the quality of their food and coffee urging me on.

Staff: 10/10. I don’t normally rate the staff, but the amount of sincerity, humour, genuine willingness to help and please, patience and fun that they showed us, they deserve a 10/10 rating. Hubbie had said the manager had welcomed him with ease when he had asked for an availability, and our male waiter, he was a hoot. What a great combination we had. We loved them.

People: We had a family come to sit beside us (where I could point out the well-behaved girl to baby girl and tell her to be more like that!) couples and small groups of people around us, even a lone diner, an elderly man sitting near us who seemed to be getting much amusement from baby girl’s antics. Glad to entertain peeps. A big mix of locals who have discovered this gem of a place.

Price: $77, but that included a tin of tea from the Slow Tea Company. It really would have come in at about $60, and for 2 and a half main meals and 2 and a half coffees, for the quality of everything we received, that was impressive. Much better value for money than the Boathouse, and the staff at the Lake can learn a bit about service from the Larder folk too.

Advice: We went for lunch on a Wednesday and were fortunate to get in just as a couple of guys were leaving. For busy times and weekends, maybe you might need to book, but I actually don’t know if they take them. I’d say yes, judging from the notepad manager gave baby girl. 🙂 No other advice, just go and enjoy this place, and if you’re a local to that area, well what are you waiting for/you bloody lucky son of a beep!

In a nutshell: None of this ‘yeah, if back in the area, we will probably go back’ half-hearted crap that I admit I kinda do at times with other reviews. When we go back, WE ARE GOING THERE FOR BREAKFAST. AND LUNCH. It is happening. We need to try ALL the larder in their cupboards, not just some 😉 I love the food, I love the coffee, I love the staff. I love it. Just go there already, just do it.

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Don’t tell me, this is Paradise

I saw this place from across the road on Day 2 of our Hepburn Springs/Daylesford getaway. I think in particular it was the words, ’13 room bookstore’ printed somewhere near the building that got my reading juices bubbling. Hubbie, baby girl and I headed in.

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I tell you, within minutes, I just turned this corner to my left and all of a sudden found myself staring at a section of books devoted to writing. Like seriously. I couldn’t believe my luck at having stumbled upon this, accidentally and with no purpose to, and when Hubbie came and found me 5 minutes later I was like “I have to buy these two.”

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After that, we started to really explore.

Set in an old Georgian building on the main strip in Daylesford, Paradise Bookshop has 13+ rooms with every single genre, theme and medium you can think of. New and second hand books collide in this majestic treat, and fireplaces are stoked so that you can stay somewhat warm in the musty old building. Temperature isn’t a factor though. These books and all the varieties, will keep you hot in excited combustion.

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There was even a section devoted to children, including a little toybox that baby girl picked a paddle-stick toy-like thing from, and happily brought it with her all over the building as we went through all nooks and crannies, until we found out at the counter that no, it was not for sale. Great idea to keep the kiddies busy though.

There was a music section with second-hand music sheets and books which kept Hubbie involved for a while, while I discovered there were all kinds of subjects to be explored: philosophy, biography, Australiana, along with old vintage Women’s Day magazines and very old, old DVD sets (did anyone know there was a Sex and The City collection in blue? So retro!) Comic book lovers would love the Comic collection room, and if I were more of a nerd I may have even invested in a copy to hope it paid me dividends in the future. I’m sure you’ve heard of those stories.

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All in all we probably spent about half an hour there and only left because baby girl needed a nappy change. The man up the counter was lovely, and I was left reeling at the volume of books still to be discovered.

Luckily for me, one of the second-hand music books Hubbie had been reading had been on his mind the rest of the day, so we returned to Paradise Bookstore on our way out of Daylesford town the following day so he could purchase it. I was sooo excited by this fact, despite Hubbie jokingly stating that he was allowed back in with baby girl while I was designated to waiting in the car. Boo. Prankster. Still, as we walked back in, me beaming like Charlie in the Willy Wonka factory, Hubbie’s words revolving in my head and my resolve to not ‘actively look for books,’ I somehow again, just walked straight, and saw before me, the cooking section.

For months now, since my love affair with Lebanese food began after watching that Food Safari show on the cuisine, subsequently followed by that amazing experience at Bayte, I have been looking for a Lebanese cookbook. I haven’t been going out specifically to find one, but everytime I near the book section of a major chain, or go by a QBD or Dymocks, I tell baby girl “Mummy has to look for something honey,” and push the trolley by the cooking section, idling to see if any Lebanese keywords pop out at me. Only commercial and recently released titles stare back at me, no retailer wide and diverse enough to stock a cookbook as specific yet still very current and popular as the one which I’m after.

You know where this is headed right?

As soon as I saw the section, and my memory went “Lebanese!” I saw this staring back at me on the middle shelf.

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Yep. So I bought it. This Paradise bookstore and I are a match made in heaven. It kept giving me what I wanted, and I barely had to crane my head around to find it.

A book lovers/readers/writers paradise: that can be sure. I told Hubbie as we exited that if we lived nearby, I would be buying a book a week from there.

Do yourself a favour and head on down there. Rug up and give yourself some hours to spare, you won’t be disappointed.

Paradise Bookshop is located at 46 Vincent Street Daylesford.

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(I also told Hubbie if I could I would buy shares in the place… I mean who wouldn’t want a building full of books with images of cats in every corner? Hrmph).

Cosy Curry

The Cosy Corner
3 Tenth Street Hepburn Springs

It took us a while before we actually managed to decide on a restaurant to dinner at on the second night of our Hepburn Springs/Daylesford getaway. We first drove to Daylesford, walked in to one restaurant, and I just had this feeling that it wasn’t the right spot for us. Without revealing its name, it looked very romantic and private, and there was only one other couple there. But despite its cosy feel, looking at the menu, I could see no appropriate options for baby girl. When no one came to greet us, we took that as a sign and left.

After driving around Hepburn for a while, we discovered the fairy lights strung outside another comfy-looking eatery: The Cosy Corner. Finally, somewhere to eat. We felt good, because it was near the General Store that we’d stopped at earlier that day when I’d run in to get some takeaway meals for lunch, and come back to the car with delicious pies, that ended up being really yummy. And I’m not a massive pie girl. With those good vibes still running, (despite Hubbie being shitty at me that I couldn’t make a dinner decision) when we finally walked in and discovered, looking at the board menu beside us, that Tuesday night was curry night, we did ALMOST walk out. Nothing against curry, we love spice, we love flavour. But what was baby girl going to eat?

Again, conundrum. Bloody hell. I said to Hubbie “we should have eaten at the first place,” and of course he smirked because I was balancing the scales like a Gemini.

We were seated in kinda an awkward position, near the front door, and baby girl’s high chair was near the pathway to the entrance, so I had to pull her closer to my side. Another decider to help us out the door. I expressed to the waitress my honest concern that there was nothing for baby girl, and she pointed out some non-curry options that she could eat. Arancini, great. That would have to do.

The Cosy Corner is set up simply, with a few rooms containing smaller and larger tables. The décor wasn’t a standout and the tables were covered with paper, so this was no fine-dining expensive table-clothed restaurant. But good food does not necessarily equal bigger $$$ and flashy surrounds. As the night wore on, I was impressed with the number of people who came through the doors. These were locals, and they weren’t accidentally stumbling upon the curry on offer – this was intentional dining.

We sipped our beer and wine, and entertained baby girl the best we could, until all our meals came.

Baby girl’s Vegetable and Cheese Arancini with side salad

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My Chicken Korma

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Hubbie’s Rogan Josh

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Both mine and Hubbie’s meals came with rice, raita, warm flatbread, papadum and a side of salad. They were large and inviting meals, and because we never really attend curry nights or anything like that, we happily enjoyed the Indian flavours and accompaniments. The curry was flavoursome and spicy, even my mild korma, and the chicken pieces were tender.

The warm flatbread was divine, and we ended up giving a fair amount of our portions to baby girl since she was unimpressed with the cheesy arancini and started refusing after a few mouthfuls. After I tried some for myself, I could see why. The cheese that was in the arancini was overwhelming, reminding me much like the Jarlsberg swiss cheese my Mum used to buy me for school lunches. On its own it’s ok, but it has a strong, almost sweet flavour, and I could only see very little veg in there. Despite being crumbed, the flavour of the cheese was still too strong. We ordered an additional side plate of flatbread which came soon after and which Baby girl scoffed. It was a carb-fest, but at least she had eaten.

Warm, nourishing and hearty are the words that spring to mind. After almost walking out, we were glad we had stayed for a taste of India. I think the place is a bit of a local outing, as we heard the waitresses call out to some locals leaving “see you next week.” That’s always a good sign.

Despite the lovely locals there, waving to baby girl as they entered/exited, she was up to her old tricks, and after she knocked over her chair and gave the restaurant’s diners a real fright, we knew it was time to go. We paid and left, without coffee.

Food: 7/10

Coffee: N/A on this visit

Ambience: Relax, you’re at your local. Go casual.

Staff: Attentive and helpful, and very sweet to baby girl, with our waitress giving her a chocolate mint that she proceeded to eat in the car on the way back (I didn’t know she could tear through plastic with her teeth already!)

People: Locals, more on the older side.

Price: Bang smack $80. That was our two meals, baby girl’s substantial meal, the additional side of flat bread and two alcoholic beverages. Very very slightly above average for that style of restaurant.

Advice: Tuesday is curry night! So beware if this is not up your alley, or you’re attending with fussy children. We loved the curry, the space was just that little bit cramped for baby girl which in turn made it hard for us. Stick to the curry on a Tuesday, I think that’s what’s done best on that night.

In a nutshell: A lovely local that we’d like to check out on a night that’s not a Tuesday, next time we’re in town, when baby girl is older and not knocking over chairs and stuff.

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Boathouse Baked Eggs

Boathouse
2 Leggatt Street Daylesford

I saw the all-day breakfast menu conveniently placed at the front desk when I had checked in at Dayget on Day 1 of our Hepburn Springs/Daylesford getaway, so understandably I immediately approached Hubbie with “we’re breakfast-ing at the Boathouse tomorrow morning.”

Located on the cusp of Lake Daylesford, the location is amazing. The Boathouse is perched on the entry to the parkland and circular track surrounding the lake, with tall trees enclosing the perimeter of the lake. It was looming, but very pretty. Unfortunately the weather was not. It was kind of to be expected, I mean, it was June, in Victoria. It was grey and drizzly as we walked by the wet playground and passed the dedicated gardeners pruning out in the front yard of the restaurant, to escape to the warm comforts inside.

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We were led out to the main room at the back of the restaurant, with windows all around showcasing the huge trees opposite the lake. The room and décor… wow. I was impressed. Huge barrel-like light fixtures hung from overhead, exposed beams were on display on the ceiling, and the tables and chairs were modern with a great pattern on the material in the booths that ran along the side walls. It had a great lakeside/sailing vibe.

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We couldn’t wait for our coffees, so we ordered them first.

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My cappuccino, with an upside down apple design me thinks.

We both agreed, that they were great, nice and smooth. Hubbie didn’t even add a sugar to his latte, a clear indicator of the taste of the coffee bean. He was impressed.

However on arrival of our coffees, the waitress, though she seemed nice, didn’t stick around to get our breakfast orders. Maybe she was busy, maybe she wasn’t. Either way, people are hungry when they come in the morning, and they shouldn’t be left waiting too long. Even more so when they have a hungry toddler with them.

Another waitress soon came and took our orders. It became apparent very early on that she was nothing like the pleasing and warm waitress we’d had the previous night at Rubens. She was ok. Just not so happy.

Baby girl’s meal arrived earlier, and we grazed on her crusts as we hungrily awaited ours. She had Stella’s Sourdough Toast with butter, and in the rush to get her eating and keep her from running rampant around the place, I completely forgot to take a photo until half the plate was gone and there were little pieces of toddler-eating-sized bread scattered on the now half-empty plate, so I decided best not to take one. But, it was just two thick pieces of toasted bread, buttered, nothing you photo-food buffs will lose sleep over.

When our meals finally came, they looked yummo:

Farmers Skillet

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Swiss Skillet

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They both looked splendid. And they tasted as good as they looked too. Hubbie’s Farmers Skillet had chorizo, potato and herbs all combined together by cheese and egg, and though he enjoyed it he was missing out on his most important side, tomato sauce. I had to agree with him, that with his, as with mine, there should have been some tomato sauce, something wet and runny. The taste was still amazing, and Hubbie was happy after he got his little side dish, and I still ate my Swiss Skillet happily. Consisting also of potato, with the additions of swiss, feta, mint, and egg, there was a strong salty flavour from the cheese, which the potatoes and egg then balanced out. I enjoyed mine, but couldn’t help taking a leaf from Hubbie’s book, as I kept thinking back to the baked eggs I had back at Little Henri’s. They were saucy goodness. You know a dish is worth going back to when you keep thinking of it, again and again.

We had our meals, finished our coffees and quickly left. We had wonderful surroundings though it was a very grey day, but baby girl had decided our Hepburn/Daylesford getaway was the place she was going to turn up the cheek factor… so off we went to run amuck in another establishment.

Food: 8/10, even without any saucy additions. The rest of the menu looked really interesting, and I nearly swooned when I saw a lady buttering scones on a nearby table.

Coffee: 8.5/10. Smooth, pleasing.

Ambience: Casual and laid back dining by the water. On the quiet side being brekkie time, which made us a tad anxious with baby girl. Refined air brought on by the locals and the staff, though on second thought I revoke the word ‘refined’ for the staff and exchange it with ‘indifferent.’

Staff: See above. Lacking in warmth, which is a shame as a little bit of extra love makes a restaurant that much more revered when the service is brought to you with a smile. One of the waitress’ did smile upon our exit… because baby girl was blowing kisses at her. When you’re paying, you kind of expect them to be the first to blow kisses, if we’re gonna be blowing kisses, right? 😉

People: A few locals on that Tuesday morning. 3 women catching up over gossip, a Mother and her son, an older couple, 2 young girls, and a group of older crew were our other diners that morning. A real mix and meeting ground for all sorts, everyone loves to be by the water.

Price: Our total was $50.50. I think, even with baby girl’s $7-ish meal price, that this was a bit on the steep side for breakfast. We’re talking two meals, one kids meal and two coffees. Still enjoyed it though.

Advice: Try to make it there on a sunny day and sit by the window if opportunity allows. The views are so peaceful. Follow that with a nice walk around the lake and you have yourself a beautiful afternoon. Even if you go on a not-so-nice day, you’ll revel in being in the warmth and beautiful surroundings and away from the cold.
Second tip: If you call out for the ducks out front, they will come for you. Watch out.

In a nutshell: I would go back, and I would hope the staff had improved their attitudes by then. Fortunately for them, the menu options, surroundings and location will keep locals and tourists coming back again and again.

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Donutella-uva bomb: the experience

It was everywhere. On social media, everyone seemed to be trying this donutella. I saw one ‘friend’ mention she’d gotten it from a local milkbar. Then I saw a few more things pop up on my news feed, an article in the local paper wrote about it, and even discovered that the news had featured it!

Apparently, Mick’s Place in Thomastown had been selling this thing for ages, and only recently had it exploded on social media, making people travel great distances from all over the state, line up in front of the store, even attracting interest from celebrities, no less! It was everywhere. It still is.

Mick’s Place, from Thomastown. I had to check this fact, several times, and even after sending Hubbie to buy us some of these acclaimed doughnuts, was wondering what he would find there. I mean, this was the milkbar that my roots were steeped in. I walked past it a zillion times with my friends in my teenage years. It was the meeting place and middle ground for me and one of my friends whenever we went on one of our scouts, I mean walks 😉 At home we would confer over the phone and say “ok, let’s leave now!” and both hijack it there to see who would be the first to arrive. (By the way I won, my house was that bit closer, though she would probably disagree with you – ahhh friends 🙂 )

Lots of memories here. And even though these were new owners, this was the same location, the same milkbar, though the name was different and there was a new paint job out front and there were now tables and chairs for those sitting down with a coffee to watch the cars drive past.

If this were true, and the doughnuts were that good… wow. Mick’s Place putting Thomastown on the map? Everyone flocking to our old turf, everyone raving about the doughnuts sold there? That was something this former Thomo girl would be immensely proud of.

It was perfect timing too. I had been on a bit of a doughnut mission before commencing my Winter leave, and after my work buddie discovered that the place we were both hanging to explore, Big Lou’s on Brunswick street, also famous for their doughnuts, were temporarily closed and in the process of moving (that was such a sad discovery) I didn’t know where I would get my doughnut fix from.

Until Mick happened. I don’t even like Nutella that much. But I had to try these.

5000 a day. That’s reportedly how many units they have been selling up to, of doughnuts. A day. That’s insane. Hubbie was headed out one afternoon and I said “get us some donutellas on your way back.”

Hours later I got this message from him:

The shop is full. It’s like a bank on pension day.

He later told me that the line had spiralled around the shop. Everyone was there, solely for the donutellas. He said he felt sorry for anyone stopping to buy smokes, or milk. You wouldn’t want to wait past all the doughnut-ravaging people.

Despite the queue, it went quickly, and he jumped it because he was paying cash and the rest were using the sole EFTPOS machine they have there. One woman came behind him in line and said “Are there still doughnuts? Are they still selling or have they run out?” She then went to the front to pick up her phone order for doughnuts. Yes. They take phone orders. Another person walked by holding several boxes, and Hubbie asked “are they really worth it?” to vehement nodding and “oh yes, so yummy!”

He couldn’t bloody believe it. Neither did I. I made him re-tell several parts of his story bit by bit. “And this is the milkbar I used to hang out at? Corner Vic Drive and Carrington?” I was still in disbelief.

“Yes.”

He said it was crazy like the ‘Flaming Moe’s’ fad from that popular Simpsons episode. Everyone was going there, everyone wanted one, and it was making the people mad. A little place, turned into a sensation, just because of a simple variation on a regular food item. Nothing extraordinary. Just Nutella on a doughnut.

Hubbie wasn’t even asked how many he wanted. He was given a box of 6 for $18. $3 a doughnut. For a considerably sized doughnut too, I might add.

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This was more a bombolone, a type of doughnut without your typical hole in the middle, replaced instead with the Nutella in the middle of the dough with a bit on top. The dough was deliciously soft and fluffy, like a cloud if you could eat them, so very tasty and moorish, and with the addition of Nutella in the middle – oh my goodness, as I’m constantly saying to baby girl. And like I said, I don’t even like Nutella that much. This was awesome. I had read somewhere that Mick had conferred with the baker of the doughnuts until they had created the perfect combination of dough and Nutella, coinciding with the creation that flocks of people were now travelling to experience.

The doughnut is a generous size, and you will feel full afterwards. Sweet tooths will love the Nutella, and even if you’re not crazed over the hazelnut chocolate spread like me, I think you will like it. Even Hubbie said it was nothing amazing, and then after the taste lingered in his mouth said “no, it’s good. It is good,” with a smile creeping up onto his face. They’ve gotten the combination perfecto.

Right now it is a craze, but I hope that Mick’s Place ride this wave as long as they can and utilise the opportunity, turning it into an ongoing thing, rather than a momentary sensation. The doughnuts are worth it, worth the travel and worth the queue, and happily, they fixed my temporary craving for doughnuts.

You get swept up in the donutella-mania really easily. We stopped by the milkbar once over this last weekend, and I’ll be headed in tomorrow to drop in with baby girl. There was a 6 per person limit when I went in. I’m considering ordering a massive stash for baby girl’s upcoming birthday, but we’ll see.

My temporary craving has been replaced by a long-term addiction – this donutella is serious stuff. So beware. Not only will eating a dountella make you want more of this soft and fluffy Nutella doughy-goodness, but you will be sucked into the craze, and it’s a train that’s not stopping anytime soon.

Mick’s Place can be found at 91 Victoria Drive Thomastown. (Corner of Carrington Boulevard for my fellow homies 😉 )