Canberra: A Photo Essay
When you start your day in a shop like The Essential Ingredient, you know it’s going to be a good day… Let me explain. In a stroke of luck, my dear friend Fiona enlisted her friend Deb to show me around their hometown of Canberra yesterday. Deb and I immediately discovered a common love of food and travel… bonded instantly and basically spent the day talking each other’s ear off as we roamed about town. She started by taking me to this amazing shop (and I daresay, she must have worried she would never get me out of there.) It was full of Spanish pottery, German cups and saucers, walls of cookbooks, and even a group of French tourists, which lent an air of credibility to the selection somehow. It was a happy place indeed.One of the things that has struck me over the past few days is how very many influences Australian cooking has – Asian, Italian, Greek, Middle Eastern… and this was apparent in the incredible displays of foodstuffs: Oh how I wished I could take a big bag of these items home with me (would one of each be too greedy? Really, I would share with all of you), but as it is I can barely zip my luggage. So there I was again, nutty girl with a camera, shooting pictures of food for later inspiration. Oh, and I did pick up an Australian cookbook titled The Blue Ducks – written by a pair of former surfer dudes, with gorgeous photography. (Shh, I popped it in Michael’s suitcase when he wasn’t looking…)
Next we stopped by Deb’s favorite pastry shop – the Silo Bakery. Oh my word. The almond croissants! The inspired tarts! She treated me to a fabulous jam filled brioche (what a concept… simply divine), as it seemed a bit early for tarts or sandwiches. We then spent long visit at another local cafe – drinking cappuccinos and meeting up with a group of half a dozen or so of Deb’s girlfriends. How wonderful to meet a such a lovely group of women and compare notes on kids, travels, favorite blogs and a range of other life experiences…
One of the many things I admired about Deb was that she keeps chickens in her back garden… and Deb was nice enough to stop by the house and introduce me to them. I could get into hosting a flock of “chooks” in the back yard. Apparently they eat all the table scraps, and produce a steady supply of fabulous eggs. Not sure Bella, our cat, would agree…or the Fairfax County authorities. And then it was off for a super-quick visit to the National Portrait Gallery. Do I have pictures of any of the portraits? Of course not, as it was not food… though it was a fine collection and fun to watch the school groups taking copious notes. Not surprisingly, I do have pictures of the food served in the cafe. Note to self: Museum cafes have some of the consistently best food in town – and you are supporting the arts by visiting. How gorgeous were these offerings? The lamb, mac and cheese, or pies… So sad that the lighting was such that everything appears a bit orange… For lunch, I went lighter and had a fresh tomato and olive salad with feta cheese…
Finally, it was off for tea at the home of Deb’s friend, Janice. Oh Deb and Janice, how could I possibly thank you? I felt so very welcome during a perfect day in Canberra!
This morning I took Michael to Silo for breakfast (he had the Almond Croissant), then I hired a bike to explore the shores of Lake Burley Griffin before we jetted off for Sydney… Sadly, the sunshine simply wasn’t cooperating, but it was a wonderful bike route around a simply gorgeous Canberra.