‘Botham’s Up’ for Father’s Day

Hickinbotham of Dromana
194 Nepean Highway Dromana

(Visited September ’17)

We had still NOT been to a winery. In the 11 months following our Sea Change, we hadn’t as much as suggested it, researched it, let alone GONE to one.

Then, Father’s Day was approaching. And this coincided with an online post I had read, that mentioned kid-friendly wineries on the Peninsula.

What?! Our time had come.

And so it was. Hickinbotham was the first one I called off of the kid-friendly list, and they were more than happy to have us for their 11am set lunch on Father’s Day. Hubbie didn’t know where we were going, and even though it wasn’t the nicest of Dad’s days, as we arrived amidst the cold, wind and occasional rain…

… He still smiled at the surroundings. He was really pleased.

I had done well (go me 🙂 )

We were in fact, the first ones to arrive that Sunday. We were seated immediately, and had a good look around the restaurant, taking it all in.

Though restaurant wasn’t quite the word. Sure, the tables were set up nicely, paper table-clothed and all. There was a long bar in the middle of the room, and behind that what appeared to be a tasting area, a large shed/warehouse-type room, with barrels evident from where we sat.

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Wooden tones were everywhere. But this wasn’t a renovated, wooden-accented place. No, this wood had been there for years.

And years and years.

Because that’s what this place was, authentic. You could tell that you had stepped back in time, not too far, but far enough to understand that a winery had been there in place for a long time, way before people started coming in to dine. It was old, vintage, and polished.

There were two other seating areas I could see… one immediately to the front of us, that was completely covered, and another off to the side, which too was sheltered, yet opened up into the greenery outside.

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Shotgun outdoor area on a sunny day. Just putting it out there.

Since it was 11am, and a tad before our usual eating time of 1pm, we decided to just opt for the 2 course menu, rather than do the 3 courses.

First up, some drinks please.

A glass of 2016 Pinot Gris for me; and a pint (ALL the men there were soon getting pints) of Hix Pilsener, Silver medal Royal Sydney Show 2014

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Can I just say it was super exciting to be drinking beverages from the local wine/beer-makers there themselves. We were giddy, and although we had ordered our mains, the alcohol went to our heads and suddenly we were hungry!

Baby girl had received some crackers and dips as part of her kids package that day

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And we all kind of dipped into that one (thanks Pinot Gris)

By this stage the place was filling up. There were Dads galore, and the waitresses were wishing everyone a Happy Father’s Day on arrival.

The fireplace had been lit, and was getting stoked, but the fire just wasn’t taking, so the group of people seated beside us took it upon themselves to re-stoke it.

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It was a beautiful old fireplace, and the warmth that emanated from it was very much required that day.

Soon, the food!

I had ordered the succulent baked chicken breast, kipflers with bacon and thyme, garden greens, chicken jus

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Hubbie had ordered the 250gm grass fed scotch fillet, dauphine fat chips, baby sprouts with Portobello, béarnaise

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And Baby girl had the pleasure of her all-time fave dish… pasta

Spiral pasta with bolognaise sauce

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(Oh woe is me. Back to the time where baby girl actually had sauce with her pasta).

Baby girl happily lapped up her pasta while she watched other children playing with toys on youtube. Of course.

Hubbie was pleased with his steak and how it was cooked, but questioned whether it was in fact, 250gm… otherwise he enjoyed it, yet he left behind a fat chip for me to enjoy… oh my. It was thick and creamy, and all I can say is dauphine chips are the BOMB. They were that GOOD.

Crisp potato puff… mmmmm.

And I loved my meal. It was comforting and warm, the chicken was most certainly succulent, and the jus? Amazing. I dragged my vegies and chicken ALL through the jus, trying my best to soak up every last drop. Yum.

We were very content, but what is a special occasion without dessert? We had spent a good deal of the past month hibernating, accepting and allowing the cold to pass, and also hoping that once that most-coldest of cold seasons was over, baby girl would also be more mature, and happily sit with us as we dined out throughout the Peninsula, ALL through Spring and Summer.

She is well-acquainted with the phone though, so…. say what you like. We were ALL happy then.

We ordered coffees too, and then it all started to arrive:

I had a cap, while Hubbie had a STRONG, heart-shaped latte:

Baby girl had a babycino accompany her kids dessert, which consisted of vanilla ice cream, chocolate cake, marshmallows and snakes

Hubbie ordered the Passionfruit tart, burnt meringue, coulis, clotted cream

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And I had Jo’s stunning chocolate mousse cake, pistachio crunch, two types of raspberry

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Firstly, can I say, when I hear the words ‘chocolate mousse’ my head almost swivels Exorcist-style. True story. I enjoyed the light, yet decadent mousse component, and the base was most definitely crunchy… not sure if the combination worked completely, I understood the textures being in contrast to one another… but sometimes you just need some cream alongside your chocolate-whatever. I appreciated it nonetheless. I had to bypass my 3 raspberries sitting a-pretty on top, ever since that fateful day when I ate a whole punnet of raspberries one night, and then felt a bit awkward and uncomfortable, went to the loo, and promptly threw up the whole thing. I then proceeded to feeling better instantly, and the incident was so bizarre I actually question whether it in fact happened or I just dreamt it all…

But I think, I have developed some kind of aversion to raspberries, or whatever thing it is inside them that irritates my stomach. I would have risked the 3 if we hadn’t had any other plans that day… but we did have plans, and I wasn’t going to ignore history/a bad dream and risk running to the bathroom.

Hubbie thought his passionfruit tart was ok… I think he is not a tart-y, or burnt meringue kinda guy, just saying. He is also an incredibly fussy guy. Just saying.

Baby girl enjoyed mixing every component of her dessert together until it developed into a gooey creamy mess, but funnily enough did not like the marshmallows then (she LOVES marshmallows) and until I tried one, I realised why – they were incredibly cold, either from the ice cream proximity, or what I believe, sitting in a fridge for a while? I otherwise thought it the perfect dessert for a child, just a colourful combination of bright and simple sweet things that children love.

We were now very full, with the added assistance of our caffeine hits, and decided it was time to pay.

Outside the rain had ceased, and now the sun glared down from in-between the clouds. Hubbie and baby girl ran around the yard, mucking about… and then it was time to go.

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Food: 8/10. I loved my chicken, and other components were amazing too. I would love to go there when there is not a set menu, to see how they go preparing and cooking food ‘on the fly.’

Coffee: 7.5/10. It was pleasant, not too strong, and smooth.

Ambience: Incredibly cosy. Honestly, I felt a bit like I was at my uncle’s old house down Warburton way. The abundant wood and fireplace gave it a real homely feel, and seeing the greenery and trees throughout the windows linked us to the outside, making it feel quite idyllic, and very appropriate, for a winery.

People: Being such a family day, there were families of all kinds EVERYWHERE. Young families, old families, families with extended family, smaller intimate families, and many kids too, which was further testament to the review I had read online.

Staff: They were incredibly attentive, polite and friendly, really fine service.

Price: $161. This consisted of mine and Hubbie’s 2 course set menus – both at $60 a head. Baby girl’s set 3 course meal was $29.50. Throw in some home-grown alcoholic drinks, coffees, and voila. Price is justified. Or is it? I think baby girl’s set price was on the upside… and if you break down each of our main and dessert meals to $30 each, I think it is STILL too high. But it is a winery, and so, you reach out into your handbag and pull out the dough (or in my case, the Eftpos card).

Advice: Maybe on weekends it would be best to call ahead in case they are busy, however there was an ample amount of seating in many areas, and they were all covered, so risking it shouldn’t do too much damage either.

In a nutshell: Although it was pricey, and Hubbie didn’t rave about his main meal, he absolutely loved the winery, and the beer. I too love the entire place. Being not too far from our house, with Spring on our doorstep (any day now Melbourne weather), we will definitely come back again. We’ve already planned to sit somewhere outside, in the afternoon sunshine, sipping on some lovely local produce and gazing at the views and water up ahead, while baby girl just RUNS with glee.

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So just pick up your glass and…

…Botham’s up.

Hickinbotham Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Superfood Store

Store Fifteen
15 Main Street Mornington

(Visited April ’17)

Breakfast. I mean, it’s a lazy and rich man’s prerogative to have someone else make him breakfast, right? Perhaps the simplest of the three main meals, if you can have someone, more so, pay someone to provide you with this most fantastic of luxuries, well then, you are doing well.

Or maybe that was the case 10-15 years ago. Nowadays, it seems like most new Mums, students, hipsters in inner city-Melbourne, suits and even pensioners are getting in on the café-culture bandwagon and paying for the privilege to have their aerated muesli, gluten-free toast, or organically produced eggs, tomatoes and spinach leaves in a breakfast burrito, bought to them on an artisan piece of table-wear.

I for one, think it’s FANTASTIC. Not just the table-wear, but the breakfast too. I was perusing the local haunts in my fair town over on the Zomato site, when I came upon the most spectacular looking bowl of ‘something’ that I have ever feasted my breakfast-hungry-to-go-out eyes on.

I vowed then and there, that at the next opportune time, I would go there and eat the bowl. Of food that is.

Which is how I came to be at Store Fifteen, the beach end of Main street in Mornington, one sunny and still Autumn’s day in April. I had dropped off baby girl at kinder, and was unashamedly going to indulge in some much necessary and selfish (though not guilt-free) ME time.

I find it a bit nerve-wracking eating on my own. It is a freeing experience, one I think all people should try – but I always end up feeling all introvert-like rather than the confident “look at me people, I am my own best company!” version of myself I should be when I do this. It becomes sooo apparent I have no friends, when really the case is –  I have no friends… in Mornington. Sea changing has its advantages, and not-so ones when wanting to dine out with company, still so soon after a huge demographic shift.

I was a bit unsure of what to do, standing there awkwardly for a while, reading the menu in front of the coffee machine, while trying to work out where to order, where I should sit, and what I was going to eat.

Oh, and of course, I was trying to find the delicious bowl within the menu’s contents.

I could have easily sat outside in the glorious sun, if most spots hadn’t been taken. There are crate-like seats which you can plonk yourself onto, with quite low tables beside them, as well as a higher long table running beside the outer entrance looking in on the coffee making area, with adjacent stools. Inside there were more tiny tables and chairs, and I had to admit defeat and position myself on the smallest of those, but with the advantage of looking out into the glorious day.

I had ordered up at the counter right near the coffee machine, before settling into my position gazing inward out. It’s amazing what a difference a couple of blocks can do. Sure, the menu was very different – there was no run-of-the-mill eggs on toast here – and the distinct menu, as well as the industrial yet organic interior, certainly attracted a different type of customer. Wealthier and well-dressed folk came in here, even the gym-type junkie with the full face of make-up – yep, that type. The counter and coffee-making area held the right position of the first half of the store, with a long thin table placed up against the opposite wall, and then small tables dotted throughout. I was actually sitting on a sack style-stool of some sort, that was the kind of furnishings within – it made you feel like you had just pulled up whatever to sit on at the local man’s barnyard.

It wasn’t before long after my deep musings on the folk here began, that I received the first order of the day:

Chai Latte – Love Chai: An earthy and warming blend of aromatic spices, turmeric, organic tea, and Australian bush honey

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Now, this was a proper chai latte. Not the type you receive in other cafes, where the only preparation was adding milk to sachet of powder. No, this had spices and all manner of herby green looking stuff sticking out and threatening to spill over the sieve as I poured the liquid through to strain it. It was magnificent. But it was what was to be expected from a boutique café such as this.

I had gone the chai latte route instead of my usual cap, only because I was feeling sickly, and going to be coming face-to-face with David Boreanaz the next day… so you know. Had to look my best for Angel, and not be croaking like some demon.

And not too long after that, the main event, the star, the whole reason for my going there at all…

The Acai Bowl

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Just observe that work of art in all its glory. This consisted of an Acai berry blend smoothie base (contains soy) topped with house made superfood granola (contains nuts), fresh berries, coconut chips, goji berries, and activated buckinis. Buckinis you say? Well we were close to the beach. Buckinis/bikinis/schmuckinis. Yeah I don’t know what a buckini is either, other than to speculate that they must do well in Summer-time. The bowl tasted great, and there was huge crunch-effect, so if there on a date, or having to go to an interview later on, maybe skip that one for the occasion. It was also really, really cold. The berry blend, which was the most vibrant of purple/red hues, had a temperature like it had been in a freezer. It might as well have been, that’s how cold it was. It took me a few spoonfuls, and then after never having had a brain-freeze in my life (I’ve avoided it well) one early spoon dipped into the icy red blend had such an effect in my mouth, freezing my top teeth and nearly making me wince in pain, that I was forced to resort my spoons to teeny, tiny amounts, more nut and goji than blend, giving the whole thing time to defrost.

Still, I loved it.

It took me ages to eat – both because it is a decent bowl, and because my sensitive teeth. It looked something like this when I was done:

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So I guess you can say I was happy with my choice.

I finished up, and since I had already conveniently paid at the start, headed on out into the sunshine, and into the Mornington town life. Super-food ready.

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Food: 9/10. With only trying one meal, yet seeing all the other food being delivered out, and the amazing display up near the counter of slices, raw juices and lunch options, this place is the real deal, and one to be reckoned with in the raw/vegan/health food movement. Expect the words raw, vegan and organic, A LOT on the menu, and even one such meal, the recent Kimchi Pancake, had me scratching my head and going “What?” Still, I‘d love to try it.

Coffee: N/A on this visit, but going by the Chai Latte, I can’t bloody wait to give their beans a try. Their range of juices, smoothies and health shots sound incredible to this caffeinated girl too.

Update! Coffee is smooth. Slightly strong. Very, very nice.

Can I give a score when it wasn’t tried on my first visit there (my foodie review prerequisite)? What the hell…

9/10. 🙂

Ambience: Really chilled and mellow. It was breakfast time after all. There was easy-going music in the background that not even a pair of two cute (and rowdy) kids could shake the demeanour of, but I have a feeling this laid-back vibe prevails throughout the day.

Staff: There was no over-the-top friendliness here – not to say that anyone was mean, but you know, they are in the business. The business of making sure the cardamom pods in your chai latte are about to burst from plumpness, you know? No time for chit-chat-chai.

People: The prime real estate of the Peninsula. I was pleased to see that I wasn’t the only one dining alone. Quite a few loners came in for their take-away drinks, many drank/ate opposite the counter, and then there were the custom friends with kids meeting, an uptight couple here and there, and your rich but super-nice gentleman type who came by to sip his espresso on a nearby stool, before tipping his hat to the playful youngster nearby and then going off to God-knows where to talk property and stocks with his investor friends… you know… the usual kind…

Price: $21:00 for the lot. Considering I walked away feeling like a superwoman after all of those supercharged superfoods, it was a bargain. Well worth the money spent.

Advice: If your teeth detest icy things, or it’s Winter, perhaps skip the Acai bowl. In Summer though, go for it. Sitting on a crate out front is the gold-medal position, what with the breeze blowing over the sea-spray from down the road.

In a nutshell: A place I would definitely go back to, and one that I hope to make a regular one, a reliable go-to in years to come. I’m glad there is a café catering to this niche market, because not only does it attract those who may have certain food allergies, but it brings forth the health-conscious, organically minded consumer, the one who wants to feel good, and try something different in the process.

It’s worth 15 visits for sure. Actually, 16… it’s my lucky number 😉

Store Fifteen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

An Enchanting Time

The crazy Christmas lead-up in early December saw me say “no, I want MORE mayhem!” as I headed over to my second bloggers meet-up at The Enchanted Adventure Garden.

Only ‘crazy’ was not what I felt as we wound up higher and higher up Arthurs Seat road, watching the Eagle chairlifts hover over us temporarily as they made their casual descent/ascent…
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and ‘crazy’ was not what I felt as we first passed Bowens Point

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And then Franklins Lookout

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Murrays Lookout

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and then finally, Chapmans Point

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It was serene, with a small dose of beautifully scary as I viewed the perilous drop from the cliff face. No, my memories of last travelling on that stunning Arthur’s Seat Rd hill, were from about 7 or so years ago before baby girl came along, when Hubbie and I, having not even considered the words ‘Sea change’ then, were heading to our beautifully intimate Arthurs Seat hill accommodation for the night, and as I observed that it was pitch black and almost scary how there were no lights around, he turned to me devilishly and gave me his best ‘Michael-Jackson-as-possessed-zombie-in-Thriller’ face look, to which I screamed and started to cry.

So no. These views were NOT scary compared to that strong memory.

And crazy was suddenly so far from mind, so removed from my being, that the Christmas rush was only a faint memory as we parked and observed the car park and surrounds…

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And I realised, we are not in Kansas anymore baby girl. But that’s what happens when you come to the Mornington Peninsula now, is it?

Us bloggers were greeted to a lovely morning tea and a brief introduction to all that the Adventure Ground is, and does.

Immaculate gardens, picnic area galore, mazes, Adrenalin-junkie fun, kids paradise, relaxing walks, and even a sweet-tooth’s dream! Why, is there anything Enchanted didn’t cover?

I was soon to find out. Off I went with baby girl with my map of the grounds, my critical eye out and ready for my review…

Statues – tick. √

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Finely trimmed hedges – tick. √

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Brightly coloured flowers – tick. √

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Ok, so this was all well and good for the adult eye, but I needed to keep my daughter happy, and looking at trees was something she had not grown to appreciate as yet.

We followed a path and soon found ourselves in the Turf Maze, a fantastic and relaxing premise based on a practice by Monks in the Middle Ages, used as a meditative tool as they would walk around and around in repetitive circles in silence, aided only by their feet and their thoughts. I got baby girl started on one end as I started taking photos of… the trees.

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I LOVED that tree. Just l♥ved. I developed some serious tree envy as I took several dozen photos of it, and baby girl skipped through a few maze lines, and then was suddenly at the exit of the maze.

Right-o. I don’t ‘quite’ see her meditating in that space, but at least it kept her somewhat busy.

I had promised her a playground (with absolutely no idea whether they had one or not – massive parenting risk), and so that is what we were looking for when we came across this sign.

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It seemed the only fun active activity we could do together, in lieu of getting my 4 year old to tree surf by my side, which I was not going to do solo (again, parenting-risk doing it ALONE). Zip-lining was out too.

W observed the tree surfers in the trees up ahead of us, blending in quite nicely I might add, and immediately decided I would come back there with my adventurous, scare the living daylights out of me Thriller-seeking Hubbie.

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Finding the tube slides was fairly easy, as it is actually hard to ignore five 100-metre long slides that steep down from the hill decline.

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There are tube slides for littlies, from 4 and up, so baby girl could have very well gone on it by herself, since the smaller weight actually makes them travel down slower… but no. I decided to take her with me on the adult ride…

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and then plummet down super fast while I thought “oh shit we’re going to flip.”

We didn’t. In fact we went up twice, and on our second trip down the tube turned backwards, so that I really was freaking then “we’re going to flip! We’re going to flip!”

WE DIDN’T. It was the best fun, but the fact of having to haul a huge tube up a steep hill, carrying a fairly heavy handbag, in heat, and while wearing inappropriately heeled shoes, well, it kind of influenced me to cap the tube slides at TWO.

Baby girl was left thoroughly captivated. And yet still, as we headed off down some other paths to explore, she had not forgotten about that damn playground I had promised.

She looked here and there

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She did the usual whine and moan and unsatisfied toddler routine. Damn me. Why had I gone and said something I had no clue about?

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(Baby girl going all 14 year-old hormonal on me)

I stopped to view some interesting sculpture art along my tree-lined walk.

Art and sculptures from Aboriginal, Australian and European artists collided and worked magically together in this most wondrous of gardens.

And then we got to another maze, the Blue Gum Gallery, and I followed a fast baby girl around it, as she laughed at how incompetently slow I was.

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This cheered her up somewhat, and since by this stage we were close to the café from where we had started our walk, it was soon time to go, and clearly I had come across no such playground from the depths of my imagination. I shut down another protest from her with an insane idea, but it worked.

“Do you want lollies?”

And just like that, a 4 year-old’s face lit up.

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We went inside, paid $5 for a cup, and filled it to the brim with all kinds of devilishly sickly sweet goodies. She ate them slowly in the car, stopping every so often to mumble “mmm, yummy…”

Parenting done right. 😉

The deets!

The Enchanted Adventure Garden

55 Purves Road Arthur’s Seat

General Park Entry for Adults: $30; Child/Seniors $20

this includes:

Mazes, Giant Garden Brainteasers, captivating Gardens to picnic at and view in all of their pristine natural glory;

Tube slides – of which there are 6 to choose from: 3 Big Twisters, 2 Straight Giants, and 1 Kids Only slide. Kids need to be 4 to ride on the Kids slide on their own, any smaller and they must ride with an adult.

Canopy Walk – a suspended path that brings you in amongst the trees, that runs through the park, ideal for small children, older people and people with prams.

a 3D indoor spooky maze – pop on your 3D glasses and watch things pop out at you! Ideal for teens and older kids.

Plus MANY more fun things to discover as you meander around.

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Both kids and adults alike can experience the Tree Surfing on offer. The little nippers course is for kids aged 4-12, though kids aged 4 and 5 need an adult to accompany them on the course.

The tree surfing has various degrees of difficulty for both amateur and professional, mild and reckless adult thrill-seekers alike! Includes bridges, zip lines, obstacles and tree platforms, prices for both Nippers and Grand Tree Surfing courses start from $50 for Adults, and $40 for Children/Seniors, with a 2 hour limit per activity.

But if you need your adrenalin rush and lack the time, need not fear! The Tree Zip Line may be just what you need, and those competitively charged, you can even Zip alongside a friend and see who gets to their destination first! Prices are $40 for Adults, $30 for Children/Seniors.

Active wear highly recommended for these ACTIVE activities, and closed-toes shoes a MUST!

I must reiterate again, despite baby girl’s temperamental attitude towards a lack of playground, there ARE kid-friendly activities and things to do, and they abound. However on that day there were several tree-top renovations happening up above, getting all geared up for the crazy holiday season, and so a couple of areas of the Gardens appeared incomplete. The above is an indicator of what is up on offer, but isn’t a complete list, as there is also a Children’s Maze, something we didn’t see on that day but I think would be perfect for a curious baby girl.

Tips:

Need I say again, closed-toed shoes?

Make your life easy and don’t wear heels.

More advice? Carry light. When I hauled that tube up the hill twice, in my heeled shoes carrying my heavy handbag, I developed lower back pain two nights later and immediately knew where it had come from.

For God’s sake don’t be like me, wear appropriate footwear, pack light, and carry the tube as unforcefully as you can. Or bring Hubbie along and he can do it.

And if all else fails, remember…

LOLLY SHOP.

(Mwa ha ha!)

At first glance perhaps pricey on entry, but when you see all the beauty and fun, relaxation and learning that these Gardens have to offer, you will see that it is well worth the price.

Our visit there was rushed, so I cannot wait to go back and explore some more.

And for something different, an alternative and highly entertaining present would be the Tree Surfing and Zip Lines as a fabulous and inventive gift idea.

So, what are you waiting for… Upwards! ↑↑↑

Lantasia Lights

I thought it was a one-off event, back when I saw the lit-up advertising in the Summer of ’16 – ’17. There were huge bright characters and animals, but being so soon after our Sea Change move, the thought of exploring when I needed to explore rather the dozen (or 50) boxes we had still packed up in our home, was too much to bear (and we still have boxes!)

However this year, this Summer, was different. More than 1 year after moving here, when I saw the familiar lights and pretty hanging things being showcased around online and in local advertising, I knew I had to take baby girl to go and see them.

Hell, I wanted to go and see them.

Armed with my trusty Mornington Peninsula ‘Penny Saver’ book, Hubbie, baby girl and I made our way over to Fingal to see the Fantasia Light Walk display at Boneo Maze and Mini Golf.

We started our tour of the grounds via the boardwalk, that led us through native flora, fauna and light installations –

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Which then led us to a Hedge Maze early on, which we weaved our way through. Surprisingly cool, a great place to hide out in on a hot Summer’s night! We headed through it easily, though with a couple of twists and turns you could find yourself looping the same path on repeat if not careful! Keep kids close, just in case. Just a small maze, nonetheless.

Back onto the boardwalk, which led us through wetlands around us, and MORE light installations.

 

 

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A little House of Mirrors (or should I say, horrors) greeted us at one point, made more horrific when after viewing our reflections in the mirror, I noticed some ghost-like black and white photographs staring at us from the wall, and got baby girl the hell out of there before she could even think about starting on nightmares.

Annndddd…. another nightmare.

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At a fork in the boardwalk, one path led us down a Bird Hide through which you could view birds in their natural habitat via a window-ed cottage… but the other path is the one that led us to something more exciting.

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A large games area, which the beautiful boardwalk framed as it wove around the parkland, was the perfect focal point of the grounds, especially for kids. There was a vintage carousel

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Giant games, including Chess, Checkers, Connect 4 and Hookey.

And lights were on display amidst the trees and gardens, shining brightly as night fell.

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So much to see and do, for both kids and adults alike. And set in amongst such beautiful settings, calming nature, stunning scenery, and bright lanterns and light installations.

In fact, there was soooo much to see and do, that we didn’t get to see and do. A major feature of the park is the Mini Golf, so much so that you get a score card on the back of your map of the grounds upon entry.

Also at additional cost, is the Adventure Zone, open on school holidays and weekends, that include things like climbing walls and pedal boats.

We were only there for a short time, since I had squeezed the whole visit in. The Lantasia Light Walk at Boneo Maze ends soon, on Jan 27, and I really wanted to check it out before then, seeing as I had missed it the year before.

In turn our visit was rushed, yet really you should be spending a good several hours here, 4 at least to get your money’s worth.

And speaking of money, the Lantasia entry prices are on the ‘up’ side, as I would say in my Food Reviews… $20 for adults, and $18 for children. Just as well Hubbie got in for free with our Penny Saver voucher!

A café resides in the first half of the grounds, allowing you to enjoy yourself for a bit amidst exploring for those 4 hours or so, where you can indulge in some fine fare and drinks (licensed too, so take your glass of bubbly to the lawn and chill!)

My only gripe out of the whole evening, was that there are only one lot of toilets up in the café. Seeing as baby girl had to go tot the toilet twice, both times while we were half-way to the Games area, it was really annoying to have to turn back and walk ALL THE WAY BACK to the café, instead of keeping forward and finding, I don’t know, at least one outdoor toilet or something, somewhere, anywhere, near the Games area. It would have been so much more convenient.

The deets!

Boneo Maze and Mini Golf

695 Limestone Road Fingal

Prices:

Lantasia Light Walk runs from 7pm every night, and finishes up on Jan 27th – so get in quick!

Lantasia entry for adults is $20; children are $18

General Boneo Maze entry prices:

Adults $18; Senior/student/concession $16; Children (3-17) $15; kids under 3, Free!

Your general entry allows you unlimited Mini Golf (something I will be learning for next time!) access to games, mazes, wetlands, boardwalks, the carousel, and special workshops.

The ‘Adventure Zone’ is an extra $5 per activity/person, or $15 for unlimited wristband (go the wristband, who wants to limit themselves to ONE activity?!)

Tips?

Make sure your littlies have had their bathroom break before embarking on any walks or games, especially as you head away from the café.

And give yourself a good few hours to really enjoy and explore the grounds.

Final say…

Although rushed we still had fun, and further testament to this was baby girl asking me the next day to take her back to the merry-go-round. 🙂 When your kid doesn’t forget, neither do you. I will need to take her back, but there’ll be no twisting of my arm to do it either… that’ll be the job for the Mini Golf…

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Mediterranean in Mornington

Manhattan in Mornington
55 Barkly Street Mornington

(Visited October ’16)

Lucky Duck. This was our first restaurant birthday celebration in our Sea change location, and it was going to be for Hubbie’s birthday, just a few weeks after moving in.

We had booked ahead, and arrived to a small table awaiting us just opposite their front door.

Opulent, classy, yet warm and inviting. That is the upper-class yet traditional Italian vibe I got as we sat down. There was seating on the ground level, and I could see the stairs beside me spiralling up onto another higher seating level. Elvis watched us from one wall. Waiters and waitresses were in professional uniform. It was a perfect place to celebrate something special.

We soon ordered some drinks – for myself the Di Giorgio’s Cab Sav from Coonawarra – an old fave from a certain questionable restaurant that will not be named in this review for fear of unfairly negatively influencing this review in a bad light – and a beer for Hubbie, along with some Chefs Dips – tuna, pesto and beetroot with house-made bread

I enjoyed all the dips, and interestingly the tuna was good as well, which I didn’t think I would like. The waiter took great care to explain to us which dip was which, which showed the much-appreciated attention to detail.

Baby girl received her ‘no delay’ order soon after the dips arrived: Chicken tenderloins and chips.

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I was really impressed with the quality of chicken. I am always happy when they offer a softer piece of chicken meat for the kids meals, as I think it says a lot about food care and consideration, especially for our most fussiest of eaters.

By this stage the restaurant was quickly filling up, and suddenly I was grateful that we hadn’t just fluked it and walked on in because it was a Wednesday night – because for a Wednesday, this place was packed! It certainly seemed like the place to be in Mornington.

After much talking, drinking, and pecking at baby girl’s yummy chicken and chips, our meals finally arrived.

Birthday boy had ordered the Pancetta Di Maiale – Twice cooked pork belly resting on sweet potato mash served with an apple crackle salad

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While I had ordered the Mare e Monti – Linguini pasta, fresh prawns, scallops, calamari, pan seared Moreton Bay bug, chilli infused virgin olive oil, baby spinach, cherry tomatoes

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Hubbie really enjoyed his meal. Like, so much so, that he has continued to order it on repeat visits to the restaurant, a clear good sign of a winner dish. Crunchy crackling with super-soft falling-away-at-the-fork pork underneath it, make him a very Happy Birthday Boy.

I enjoyed mine too, however it wasn’t as perfect as I would have expected a restaurant of that calibre to produce… I loved the Moreton bay bug, that was delicious and fresh. However at the same time, I found the scallops too undercooked for my liking, so I couldn’t eat those unfortunately. The rest of the seafood infused with the extremely spicy chilli olive oil was delicious, but also, that was part of its undoing when it came to enjoying the meal, because it became too much by the end of it, so much so that I actually felt a bit sickly from the overuse of oil and chilli. If the seasoning and oil had been scaled back a little, I think I would have preferred it a lot more.

I let my stomach settle and took baby girl to the change room, to come back and get some coffee and dessert. I mean, what the hell. It was a birthday celebration after all. We decided to share the Profiteroles because we were really stuffed with food, and get some coffees, a latte, cap, and a babycino.

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We got two big profiteroles which were light and creamy, so that was easily enjoyed. My cap was smooth, not so strong, but that I didn’t mind as it was past 9pm. We received some cute bikkies on the side which I’ve noticed a lot of Italian places tend to offer with coffee, and I do like this tradition… so does baby girl, taking it upon herself to eat ours as well as her own. We were happy, we were full, and we were full of birthday festivity… and when baby girl shoved her hand into the lolly jar beside the counter, we knew it was time to go.

Food: 7.5/10.

I have to explain, the food, the presentation, and the quality of all we received was of the highest standards, but after repeat visits here, I’ve come to realize that all the food I receive here is extra oily and especially-seasoned, something my stomach complains about after every visit. It is the rich Italian style of cooking, something I can’t really fault, even though my tummy does…

It’s an Italian thing.

Coffee: 7/10. Smooth.

Ambience: Classy yet comforting. Warm polished wood undertones are displayed throughout with that coastal mediterranean-style that makes you feel like you’re holidaying away in a little secluded and exclusive town in Boot-country.

Staff: The friendly but professional Italian-speaking types, if you get my drift. I’ve seen them sooo many times before, and if you’ve eaten at the expensive side of Lygon street, you’ll know what I mean. They did their job well, and our lovely main waitress was kind enough to wave at baby girl every time she walked by, because baby girl just couldn’t stop trying to get her attention!

People: Those with $$$ come out to play here, and the menu prices are indicative of that. Lots of families, young and old, and big groups of people… like I said earlier, this is the place to be when you have something to celebrate.

Price: $151. On the ‘up’ side, for 3 mains, an appetiser, a dessert, 3 alcoholic drinks, and 3 coffees. But the quality of the food and the service were also on the ‘up’ side, despite my extra-rich linguine…

Advice: Definitely book! Everyone goes here! If your stomach tends to get affected by very strong and heavy flavours, best you avoid the linguine… or most things for that matter…

In a nutshell: Despite my meal on this occasion, we have come here on several many other occasions. Their menu is diverse and interesting, and the ambience is spot on, making you want to keep coming back. The service is especially caring and attentive, as it should be. I was also impressed with the baby change room, it was new and impeccably clean. I am really excited about this find, and I think the rest of the Peninsula is too… I think they should have stayed true to their style though, and instead of their existing name, gone with ‘Florence in Mornington’ or something along those lines… it would be truer to their restaurant character. Anywho…

Potat-oe, Potat-o….

Tomat-oe, Tomat-o…

Messina, Manhattan…

Manhattan in Mornington Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

My own worst enemy

There is someone close to me. This person, I love very dearly.

And yet this person, frustrates me with their immaturity. Because when life doesn’t go to plan, they sulk.

It’s a tad annoying. I mean, Life… ups and downs, right?

This person, as wonderful as they are, gets really down and out about themselves and everything when things aren’t happening to them. Other people may be moving house, buying a car, going on a holiday, or even just going out to brunch every weekend, and this person, just can’t take the joy of it, because something positive isn’t also consequently happening to them.

This person, who I shall name X (to reduce the incidence of constantly repeating ‘this person,’ and also avoid accidentally giving away the gender) was in a fairly stagnant and stationary period for a while. They had gone through a wonderful time before that, where ALL the attention was on them. But then came upon that ‘desert phase,’ you know the one –  where the wind blows the tumbleweeds around them, and they watch idly while others are on horses playing cowboys and Indians and going to bars to drink or shoot people, or meet Clint Eastwood or even John Wayne. Yep, even John Wayne.

And they are standing there idly. It’s a stage that happens to us ALL.

It was a bit difficult to watch. I really wanted to put my two cents in and offer some words of comfort. We had been in that very same phase before moving house. We were standing there at parties, all the while people were all excited and super-interesting in their life plans and goals, and meanwhile –

  • we had bought a new car which had just been hit
  • we wanted to Sea change and had no idea if we could do it (or afford it)
  • toddler stages were FUN! (super-sarcastic here)
  • and I was still, for the 4th year in a row, top-secret on my writing projects. So when people asked me/us “what’s new?”

We were all tight-lipped with that face-planted smile of “nothing much.”

Life goes up, Life goes down. Sometimes, things don’t go to plan. Sometimes, you are embarrassed with events that have occurred. Other times, it is boring as batshit.

A lot of the time, in any of the above circumstances, you don’t want to say a thing, because you are frustrated.

But we are adults here. We don’t sulk.

So on one night, when I offered up this piece of enlightening advice to X “I know, I’ve been there, everything is happening to everyone except you,” I got the most sullen of stares.

I felt like gently saying “Grow up.”

We don’t always have things happening to us.

We don’t always have the attention on us.

We aren’t always the star of the show.

Up and down, up and down.

And now to Me. The last few months I’ve been stressed for a manner of things. I’ve come to grow accepting of many of these annoying issues, or find ways around my stress, but it has been trying. When many facets of your life bring you down at once, it is hard to practice at positivity…

I was trying really hard to get into a regular exercise routine. I was seeing all these perfect bodies on facebook, these Mums who have gone from pregnancy flab to post baby FABULOUS, and looking all trim and taut with their sculpted tummies, while I just felt like a pile of shit. Lack of time to exercise properly, with a girl that constantly demands attention of me, made me feel worse about the situation. I can only manage what I can, and even that isn’t too much.

I was falling very behind in my writings. I started to question how beneficial my blogs were, when the main reason for starting these, creating an online Writing presence… well it didn’t mean squat when I had completely stalled on my creative endeavour to get published with my young adult book which I hadn’t added to in months and months! I was taking on and writing more than I could keep up with, and I started to wonder whether any of these writing tasks, I just had to give up on.

You know it’s a bleak day when you consider giving up a passion of yours. When you ask yourself “what is the point?”

And then there were the comparisons. Here I was, all this time, quietly plugging away at my passion, and then boom! This person has their work published! boom! And this person gets recognised with a new blog (and I didn’t even know they were inclined to write)… boom! more literary success from yet another person!

And then there I was, grinning… in stupefied shock.

What about me?

Don’t get me wrong, I am all about abundance. I am ABUNDANCE-CITY. I know there is enough love, and success, and happiness and all that wonderful jazz, for everyone in this entire world. I truly believe that. And yet, when I heard all these people, both who I had known wrote, and others who I had no idea were even interested in the task, were experiencing success both on small and large scales, a little part of me went

“When will it be my turn?”

It was really hard to swallow.

And now, the clincher… where I expose more than I ever planned to. Because I’m super secretive about some things, where with others I blab for the world to see.

Because I’m a contradiction that way. But I feel like I need to write this down, for some unknown, possibly therapeutic reason, and then I may never repeat it again…

Because I just found out that Wills and Kate are expecting their third child… and I was downright devastated.

And I don’t think I need to clarify why.

And in all of these cases, I have found it really hard. Really hard to just move on. Really hard to just be accepting of the hardships that life throws at us. Really hard to stay positive.

Really hard to NOT SULK. Because I have. On a zillion occasions. Including right now in fact.

I may not do it outwardly, but boy oh boy have I sulked. And pouted my lips. Asked “why?” a million times. And now I just might cry again, and I think, that’s ok.

Because I realised that I am my own worst enemy. Here I was, judging X for being all sulky and cranky-pants over life not going to plan, and once I started to get the same, I reverted to the same old behaviours.

X and I might as well be the same person. Maybe we are all the same people.

I have no answers, I have no solutions. Sure I should stay positive, or keep on moving on, as I always say. I should toughen up, yet also I think unless you are in something, you don’t really know how crap or annoying it feels to be in it.

And as for X? Xs ‘down time’ has since passed, and they are currently in the midst of a great, great high…

I guess X is proof of things going up and down. I should hold out, and Hope my luck turns soon too.

 

Heavenly Surroundings

God’s Kitchen
53 Barkly Street Mornington

(Visited April ’16)

We called ahead on night 2 of our Mount Martha stay to find out which restaurant would be best suited for us to dine at with baby girl. We booked with the kitchen of the Gods, after hearing they were kid-friendly. Loud, we were advised, with the commencement of the nearby band by a certain time, but definitely friendly.

Loud, did you say? Loud enough to drown out any of her complaints? We almost high-tailed it over to the bar/restaurant, a grasshopper’s jump away from the Main street.

Luckily we had booked. The round, dome-shaped conservatory-type room we were led to wasn’t huge, with other tables already full and our table with high-chair waiting. God’s Kitchen is based around a heritage-listed church from back in the 1800s, the church itself used as the space for live music by local musicians, with diners able to eat casually at the garden bar, the conservatory type room with the Bohemian-looking chandelier, or at the front courtyard. It was already loud as we arrived, so we felt immediately at ease.

I soon ordered a glass of Stonier Pinot Noir from the Peninsula itself, while Hubbie ordered a sweet beer, off tap.

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We had to call for service because we were forgotten amongst the rush of it all, but because the waitress was so nice about it she was immediately forgiven.

We got some Prawn and Ginger Gyoza with Ponzu to share, and even though I couldn’t taste much of the ginger they were still really good.

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Baby girl’s meal came before ours as requested, and even though crap photo in the dark quality doesn’t show much of it (what you get from dim lighting and simple camera phone), she really did LOVE her Pasta. We were amazed that even though she wore a pale pink top, it remained untouched with sauce stains the entire time… until the last 2 minutes of her meal of course.

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She happily slurped it up.

Soon our mains arrived: my Pumpkin and Chickpeas Curry alongside rice and warm flatbread

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And Hubbie’s Grass-fed Rib Eye steak from Gippsland, atop mash and greens

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Mine was definitely a comforting dish, and was pleasing, however it just felt like a carb-fest. I would have appreciated some tzatziki or yoghurt to offset all the warm flavours and heavy textures. I’m a carb girl, through and through. But it was just a bit imbalanced on the plate.

Hubbie enjoyed his steak, saying it was cooked to his liking, and the accompanying sides were just right. He also enjoyed pecking at my carbs when I was done getting overfull!

Baby girl was doing well, meaning to say we had discovered the best way to occupy her was to set up a constant stream of Wiggles on youtube via our phones, and this kept her happily entertained… which is why we were able to have this: Churros – chocolate-filled Spanish doughnuts

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These were doughy, and also, amazing. I’m not an expert on the churro, though they’re so good I should aim to be, but I had just imagined them to be crispier, whereas these were softer… maybe having the filling leads to the softer texture, whereas a traditional plain churro is crispier? Someone inform me. Otherwise, crispy/soft, they were really yum. Moorish, and really easy to eat.

It had been a great night, in comforting yet loud surrounds, right up our alley with baby girl, and we had even gotten some interesting info from our main waitress who had a distinct accent. We told her we were planning a Sea change, and she told us she had done the same from overseas but to a neighbouring suburb that she loved. It was comforting to hear and discover, and more than a coincidence we thought, that we should be served be her 🙂

Food: 7/10. Decent. Nothing to particularly rave about, but it matches the bar atmosphere.

Coffee: N/A.

Ambience: Really loud with the live music blasting from the adjoining church! Having a vocal baby girl, we loved it.

Staff: Really friendly. Both our accented waitress and another shyer waitress were terrific with us, we couldn’t have been happier with the kind and genuine service.

People: In our space there were many families, young and old dining out, whereas as you left this room to go outside through the church area, it became a typical pub scene, with heaps of teens hanging out rocking to the music. I was surprised that such a diverse group of people occupy the same space, yet somehow, it works.

Price: $120: consisting of 3 alcoholic drinks, an entrée, child’s meal, 2 mains and a dessert. Perhaps a bit much for what we received, but we’re on the PENINSULA now you see. Still slightly overpriced. My wine was $12 on its own.

Advice: Book ahead, because we’ve learnt that everything on the Peninsula gets booked out: all the locals head out on the weekend, and if you’re from out-of-town you need to compete with them to get seated!

In a nutshell: I enjoyed this restaurant due to the casual atmosphere and live music, it definitely is a fun place to be on the weekend. I’d love to try those churros again, and have some brekkie outside in the courtyard on a warm sunny day. There is no 5-star food here, but it does the job. Being the location of a former church makes it all the more picturesque. Still, it’s a heavenly location.

Gods Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ooh, baby baby it’s a wild (pizza) world

DOC Pizza & Mozzarella Bar Delicatessen
22 Main Street Mornington

(Visited April ’16)

It was a cold Saturday night on the Peninsula, and we had escaped there yet again for the Anzac Day Long Weekend. After walking up and down the Main street in Mornington, we decided on DOC. We had been there on a rainy afternoon YEARS ago, pre-baby days, and thought we would have a go at it again.

Back then there was like, 3 other people in the store on that rainy afternoon. That night in April, there was about 300.

Or so it felt like. The communal tables inside the Pizza & Mozzarella bar were crammed, and every other table either inside or outside had people hanging off it too. I don’t know how, but we ended up somehow on a free table outside, and though I was initially scared of the cold, the heaters above our heads were so strong that I had to take off my jacket, and my mobile on the table was kept extremely warm all night. (Warning, due to low-lighting, crappy photos follow).

Soon after sitting down, another party, a family of 3, sat at the other end of our medium-sized table. We didn’t mind, but I just prayed they wouldn’t be put off by any of baby girl’s antics. Soon enough though, she would be plenty busy.

Our waiter arrived with menus, and immediately I could read the type. He was aloof, but not try-hard, with an obvious accent, and I knew it was only a matter of time…

As we ordered I asked about the wine, and by placing my trust in his expertise he suggested I get a red ‘something,’ while Hubbie got a Menabrea

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And then he opened up. He let baby girl keep the torn paper menu she had used up already, even bringing her over a cup of pencils without asking. She proceeded to draw on the torn menu at the table with us, as well as on the floor next to us.

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We eventually received our shared meal. We thought it would be enough, but alas, we were starving. When our waiter told us it would be sufficient to share, I should have told him we’re of European descent, as he was:

Our Pizza San Daniele – San Marzano tomato, D.O.P Buffalo mozzarella, D.O.P San Daniele Prosciutto

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And the Mista – mixed leaf salad with balsamic

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I don’t know why we chose just the San Daniele. It was great, don’t get me wrong. I think the simple ingredients made me think everyone, especially baby girl would enjoy it. Also, but in one of my all time fave movies Only You, doesn’t Marisa Tomei’s character end up going to a Daniele-type Italian village as she chases after her supposed soul mate Damon Bradley? It stuck in my head. And you just don’t know with some pizza places, you order a pizza and it can barely fit on the table.

Despite how light and thin the crust was, and how tasty the evenly proportioned ingredients were on the base, within a few slices we flagged our waiter and said “get us a cap too.”

Pizza Capricciosa Nuova arrived soon after. With San Marzano tomato, mozzarella, leg ham, mushroom, artichoke and olive

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I didn’t know ‘til I’d had a few bites of that one that there was a different taste I had been unaware of. Not unpleasant, just different. The artichoke! It was interesting and definitely not unwanted, certainly a capricciosa that I will remember for future. Nuova indeed. Again the base was thin and all the ingredients were so tasty and fresh, and easily between the 3 of us we smashed both pizzas.

Even the salad was really fresh and appealing, easily consumed and not needing to be forced down like other boring salads. The balsamic really brought it together.

We were having a really great time by this stage. Hubbie had proceeded onto a Peroni continuing in the Italian spirit, my red was still swimming in my head, its bouquet immediately apparent as I had taken the first sip. Baby girl was happy, our waiter was singing as he swum from one table to the next, telling us that this was nothing and that the restaurant would peak in Summer time. How could many more people fit in the joint? He also gave baby girl plenty of attention, even going to the lengths to pick up her pencils from the floor when they fell. We hadn’t moved to the Peninsula yet, and already this place was our locale.

It was certainly an experience when I went to look for a change room for baby girl. We had ordered desserts, and suddenly, nature called. I asked a nearby waiter if there was a change room, and he pointed me in the direction. I was looking in the disabled room, and checking all corners of the ladies loos, but still nope, no change table of any kind. I went back out, holding baby girl’s hand and lugging my massive Van Chi, and spotted our waiter in the main dining room. I asked him for his help, and he was sure they had one too. He personally came with me through all the toilets, checking to see if indeed there wasn’t any as I’d suggested. He barged into the ladies, us following, and after scanning the room pointed to the bench space near the basins up front.

“Just change her there.”

I cast a doubtful look. “But people come in here, and then wash their hands…” I felt bad. I knew where he was heading, but someone could really get pissed off if I spread my nappy changing crap out and proceeded to change a nappy where women washed their hands after using the loo. People LOVE hanging shit on Mums (pardon the pun).

He shrugged. “Who cares? She’s a baby,” with a wave of his hand as if to say ‘whatever.’

I thanked him. His no-care attitude and support gave me the courage I needed. I got her stuff ready on the bench, waiting until two women who had just come into the bathroom left so I could be at peace. Then in lightning time, I changed her. No one came in. Relieved and very thankful for the waiter’s help (and encouragement), I went back to Hubbie who had started on dessert. He just couldn’t wait.

He had the Nutella calzonoino with vanilla bean ice cream, while I had the sour cherry (I’m pretty sure it was) pannacotta

Mine definitely had the sour flavour, yet I still loved the lightness and creamy texture it possessed. Hubbie’s calzone was filling yet tasty, he adored it. Really he did. But there’s Nutella, so there you go.

And baby girl loved both very much.

Our meal there finished after two lots of people had both come and gone at the end of our table. We were very full. We left happily, with lots of thoughts of when and where we would be moving there.

Now usually my review would end there. My reviews are based on my first blogging experience  – since starting my Food Reviews – at a restaurant… but seeing as we coffee-d there two mornings after, and received distinctly different service from that Saturday night, I have to note it down.

The Main Street had been closed due to the Anzac Day parade, and we happened to arrive there right after it opened post 11am, after we had checked out of our Mount Martha accommodation.

Now I will forewarn this by saying that I believe the staff at DOC that day were understaffed and not expecting the quantity of people who came into their venue once the parade had finished. They were stressed, when crowds of people started lining up for a table.

Stressed is one thing; rude is another.

The man who served us that day was not the same as our lovely waiter from two nights earlier. Once we had been seated by another stressed waiter, this rude one came along.

Woe was us.

He also had an accent (a prerequisite for a job there I think) and took our coffee orders before I went off to check out the display case of cakes at the front. I came back to be told by a very angry Hubbie that while I was gone, baby girl yelled out in a frustrated fashion (as she sometimes does) and when Hubbie looked over apologetically at the waiter, he gave Hubbie a greasie.

He totally gave him a nasty look.

I had to flag the waiter down to take our dessert order, since he wasn’t making any eye contact. He made it out to be a total disservice to have to serve us: he repeated my order of “custard doughnut and salted caramel tart” like I had a learning disability and he thought me incompetent to communicate. After that travesty he angrily walked off and I later heard him condescendingly speaking to a large group of non-Italian people behind us, who were having trouble understanding what “calzone” was. He got lucky with them, as they all laughed at each other and didn’t catch the arrogance in his tone. There was no “restraint exercised” with him (refer to the menu for an explanation). I would not be surprised, in fact I would be expecting that he did not get so lucky with other customers that day.

We got our coffee and our desserts.

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The coffee was smooth, and the desserts were ok. They were delivered by our waiter from the other night but he was so busy he just plonked them down and didn’t realise who we were. Baby girl was going off rude waiter’s vibes and being especially cranky. We were so happy to hear a baby inside the restaurant also crying, I can’t tell you. We left immediately.

Food: 7.5/10. Fresh and simple, done well. Authentic and satisfying. I need to try their cheeses. I mean, it’s in their title ‘mozzarella bar.’ It’s got me drooling at the thought, and will have their food score sky-rocketing I think.

Coffee: 7/10. I’ll be honest, the service kinda spoiled any correct assessment I can make on it. I was too busy being pissed off.

Ambience: It was a really bustling and happy atmosphere the Saturday night that we dined there. They turned all the lights off inside at one stage to sing a type of Happy Birthday song to somebody, and just the way everyone went crazy was awesome. I loved the vibe. It was more chilled outside, whereas inside it was LOUD.

People: All kinds, families, couples, friends, everyone. This is the place to be, that was so apparent. You can take anyone you want, and everyone will fit in. There was a line out the door just to be put on a waiting list, and there are genuinely people spilling out the door and in the venue, either already sitting or waiting for one to pop up.

Staff: As above, as I’ve noted in detail. We had an experience of extreme proportions. We had a great waiter, then a shit one. But I’d like to think they’re all good like the first one, and the shit one has had his bags packed off for him by now.

Price: We paid $106 on our Saturday night. Two pizzas, 3 alcoholic drinks, a salad, and two desserts. Pizzas are $$$. Don’t be shocked. We had a great time so for us it was worth it.

Advice: Consider booking ahead, since this place really gets full early on. As I said ‘it’s the place to be.’ Everyone wants to be at this venue sitting on the corner of Main Street and looking out at the passers by. If you by some chance get a dude who looks like he’s just bitten into a lemon, immediately flag another waiter. Trust me, you don’t want him. He’ll ruin your visit. If the DOC is the body governing the standards of various cheeses and wines, then the DO-whatever needs to send rude guy packing and whip his arse into shape. Just saying.

And if you like to eat, trust me, a pizza on your own is no difficult feat.

In a nutshell: We were really disappointed to have such a negative experience on our immediate second visit there, offered by a staff member who frankly had no business at that business: he’s killing it for them. But not wanting a negative to offset such a positive, we are adamant that we will go back to DOC. for the friendly singing-Italian, the beautiful and fresh food, and the bustling atmosphere, rather than the guy who will most likely be gone by the time we revisit.

I always try to focus on the positives, and unless a venue offers me consistently bad experiences, I will usually go back if there has been a problem that could on the next visit be easily fixed/avoided.

So D-O-C, crack the whip on cranky waiter’s B-U-M, so I can hurry on back and get me some C-H-E-E-S-E.

D.O.C Mornington Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hipsters and salads at the Biscuit place

Biscottini
157-159 Main Street Mornington

(Visited and Written pre-Sea change)

We day-tripped it yet again to Mornington one Sunday in March. We arrived right at lunch time, with initial plans for ‘First, Coffee.’ But seeing the time, we re-evaluated and decided to fill our tummies first.

This wasn’t our first visit to Biscottini, or to the Peninsula, which you would know already if you’ve been reading any of my blogs. Although Biscottini is situated in fairly prime position, right in the middle of the strip of shops on Main Street, allowing you to easily people watch from the outdoor seating, or even the tables inside through their big window, it still has a very laid-back, seaside town kind of feel. We decided to sit outside since it was a pleasant day out, and do some people watching ourselves while trying to blend in.

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(Hipster sunnies, courtesy of Hubbie)

At Biscottini you order inside at the counter, beside the counter showcasing all their little cakes and sandwiches. I stepped up there and ordered, besides our lunch, some drinks to get us started.

Moscato and Beer.

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I was surprised with the plentiful quantity of Moscato I received. Despite it being a light wine, it hit me straight in the head and I giggled my way through lunch, which was this:

Grilled haloumi and prawn salad – leafy salad, chilli, zucchini and semi-dried tomato

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While Hubbie had the Caesar salad with chicken – crisp cos lettuce, croutons, parmesan cheese, anchovies and house-made dressing, topped with soft poached egg and crispy pancetta

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And baby girl had the Fish and Chips

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I enjoyed mine, however it was a bit heavy on the dressing. There was loads of rocket, which I love… if you don’t, better luck next time. Only 3 or 4 prawns, so it could have done with a tad more since they were good. And there was plenty of Spanish onion and fetta cheese alongside the sundried tomato thrown in for good measure.

Both mine and Hubbie’s meals made us feel good for ordering them, but after completion we realised there were a lot of things added to compensate for the supposedly light ‘salad’ component. Hubbie’s Caesar salad was a decent portion, yet he found it too hard for him to eat due to the rich aspects, like the dressing. He enjoyed it though, and then we both enjoyed pecking at baby girl’s meal. She of course loved hers, and we were pleasantly surprised that it was of a decent portion too.

Following all of that it was now time for coffee… but we decided to hit foot to pavement, just for the entertainment of moving on.

Food: 7/10. It’s standard café fare, with decent portions. The menu looks quite good too, and I know from experience it’s ever-changing.

Coffee: Not on this occasion, but having had it there many times before (and since) I’d give it a 7.5/10.

Ambience: Outside it was laidback. Inside there is a TV and a large seating area, so if you prefer not to people watch you can just glance outside through the windows when you wish.

People: This is the place you expect to see a few tourists pop in and mingle in amongst the locals sipping their lattes. We’ve been here many times now, and I can just spot the locals with their dogs a mile away (they love their dogs in Mornington).

Staff: Friendly and busy, usually getting down to business.

Price: Really reasonable. We paid $54 for 3 meals and 2 alcoholic drinks. The meals were of decent size, and I was impressed that baby girl’s considerable serve came in at $8, a real bargain when I remember how great it tasted.

Advice: Also from personal experience, I know they don’t have a change table – tsk tsk tsk. So beware! We didn’t place baby girl in a high chair on this occasion, but the chair she sat in had a decent backing, with no gaping holes for her to fall through. That was great, especially with a 2 year-old toddler going on 12.

In a nutshell: We’ve been here many times before and will undoubtedly find ourselves here many more. The food is reliable so you can be assured to find something you’ll enjoy – however on another visit there I noticed their menu had been spiced up a bit, which was interesting. The place doesn’t have any real pizazz for me, but I still like that we can depend on them, and their positioning on the main strip doesn’t remove them from the customers either.

Maybe if I try their biscuits I’ll be sold further???

Biscottini Cafe 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