Work lunch #12 – Warm, filling, organic Japanese in Melbourne’s CBD

   I’ve been trying to bring lunch into work more often but when it’s catch up time with fellow blogger Consider the Sauce I know I’m in for a treat.

Kenny suggests this organic little place down Little Collins street and as we get closer to it I cannot believe I haven’t been here yet, it’s so close to the office!

We arrived just a little before 12pm and it was just as well as we beat the lunch time rush and got a table inside. It got so warm with the sun shining through the window – perfect winter day.

  We ordered:
– Organic salmon and miso soup $8 This was one of the 3 soups of the day so Kenny ordered that and it came with a slice of bread
– Half curry + salad combo $9.50 “You also can choose this option as the half size curry and salad combo. If you want to go healthier, this would be the best choice of you!!” This was what it said on their menu and I chose the Toyko style curry of chicken and tomato paired with tofu salad to keep it on the light side. The half size of rice and chicken was so filling that I can’t imagine finishing a full serving – and I eat a lot! Great value for money and I love how you can mix and match! (You can choose from the teriyaki chicken salad, tofu salad or creamy potato salad)
– Tokyo Bento $12 Rice balls, meatball, potato salad w/ Japanese mayo, traditional carrots, and eggplant & tofu w/ sweet miso. The meatball had great flavor.

Ambience:
A cute little cafe with tables inside and out. Casual and comfortable

Service:
Fast. Efficient. Somehow when we had started eating our meals, one of the staff came from the back and said they’d forgotten to add something to the Tokyo Bento so he took Kenny’s plate and came back with a meatball. We hadn’t even noticed anything was missing but were thankful for them acknowledging their mistake.

The Details:
Even though you may see a line outside Brimcc’s door, it actually moves quite quickly! Perfect for those in a rush for lunch. Open for lunch and dinner, check out the menu on their website so you know what to order when you get in.

BrimCC – Japanese Organic Cafe
601 Little Collins street

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A date with foodie bloggers and Cacao Green

The Urban Ma ham and melted cheese

Cacao Green, Chadstone Shopping Centre

With the latest Cacao Green frozen yoghurt (froyo!) chapter opening a couple of weeks ago, myself and some fellow bloggers were invited to taste the wonderful array of waffle and froyo goodness at Chadstone Shopping Centre. Cacao Green specializes in providing all natural, organic yoghurt and supports fair trade and sustainable ingredients and is the sister company of Red Mango who have been operating since 2002 in several countries around the world.

We were presented with a banquet of frozen yoghurt-filled cups dressed with various delicious toppings like lychee popping pearls and chewy marshmallows (YUM!), savoury and sweet waffles, fresh fruit smoothies, parfaits and coffee to finish it off. I couldn’t pick a favourite from the froyo flavours as they were all so good and very well complimented with the extra toppings chosen. My favourite parfait however was the mixed berry parfait and the classic strawberry and choc waffles really hit the spot.  While all the food and desserts were nicely presented and delicious, greater attention could have been paid to the coffee art on my soy latte, especially since they serve quality St Ali beans. If you’re not much of a sweet tooth, Cacao Green also offer savoury waffles and are even open for breakfast – I enjoyed the ham and cheese waffle, you can’t go wrong with anything melted cheese!

All in all, it was a great way to spend an afternoon. It was so lovely finally put a face to the name of some foodie bloggers I’ve seen online. We sure knew how to eat, chat and take photos , so much so that we didn’t realise all the shops around us were closing for the day.

Have you tried Cacao Green? If so, what were your faves? If not, they can be found at several locations in the CBD and eastern suburbs.

Cacao Green on Urbanspoon

The Urban Ma and Little PiggyThe Urban eats sweet wafflesThe Urban MaThe Urban Ma kiwi and watermelonThe Urban Ma strawberriesThe Urban Ma parfaits at Cacao GreenThe Urban Ma pigs out!The Urban Ma treat yourself wellThe Urban Ma with foodie bloggersThe Urban Ma with NuffnangThe Urban Ma coffee
Melted cheese and ham waffle, getting ready for the froyo adventure with blogger Jenny from Confessions of a Little Piggy, banana and almond waffle, spinach, kiwifruit and watermelon fruit smoothies, mango and raspberry & mixed berry parfaits, our froyo feast!.

A big thank you to Valissa from Nuffnang and the crew at Cacao Green Chadstone for organising this event and bringing us together. 

Winter Weekend fun! – Markets and festivals


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Slow Food Farmers Market – Abbotsford Convent, 1 St Heliers st, Abbotsford

Every fourth Saturday of the month

The sun was shining so we embraced the crisp winter morning and went for a wander through the Slow Food farmers market. It was bustling with families, dogs and plastic-free shoppers lapping up the fresh fruit, meat and veg for sale. Baby D made some friends with Zac and a little lab x named Forest who was rescued from the dogs’ home. I got excited to see truffles and also brussel sprouts because for some reason I never knew they grew like that (see pics above)! I had also never tried a cauliflower or cardoon fritter before and boy were+- they good! Will try to make some this week and see how I go.

We got our dose of vitamin D whilst eating pies and croissants from the Convent bakery and also enjoyed a berry lamington from the MoVida Bakery stall. There’s something special about being up early in the morning and catching that first wave of freshness in the air, and it’s even more special when you’re spending it with good company and good food.

Williamstown Toddler, Tweens and Teens Festival 2013

Face painting, a talent quest, farm animals, basketball games and book signings were just some of the things happening down in Ferguson street, Williamstown for the Toddler, Tweens and Teens Festival. It was great to see lots of kids outside all rugged up and enjoying a day outdoors with their parents and friends! There were a few activity stalls and dance schools MDX and The Dream Academy were there too. Baby D loved the little petting farm in the middle with a piglet and the cutest little lamb 🙂

When we first got there I thought “Is this all?” There were a handful of stalls and one main stage. But walking around and seeing all the excited little faces and huge, happy smiles I was brought back down and remembered it’s the simple things. It’s the simple things that can excite a little toddler and baby and it’s a simple smile or hand reaching out in awe that can make us parents feel so fulfilled. Seeing Baby D’s eyes widen at the sight of the ducks quacking and piglet snorting was so cute! And slowly the more I looked around the more I appreciated how special these festivals can be as they create lifelong memories that our kids will cherish. So get up, get dressed, and get out there and enjoy the wonderful world around you! <3

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Gasworks Farmers Market


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Gasworks Farmers Market, 21 Graham St, Albert Park – Every 3rd Saturday of the month

It was a fine Saturday morning for a trip to Albert Park with the family – I should have also brought Lando so he could check out all the cute dogs running around!

With around 70 stalls of fresh, local produce, we were spoilt for choice and as soon as we walked through the tall brick entrance I could smell veggies galore! The better half and I had a breakfast sausage hot off the bbq dressed with aoli and some home made relish. Baby enjoyed the sounds of “Old McDonald had a farm” provided by Little Feet entertainment. I was so glad that we got out of bed early enough to enjoy the Saturday sunshine before it turn to rain a couple of hours later.

There were free taste testings and a stop at the Gateaux de Bordeaux stall is what got me hooked on the small, sweet, French pastry called canele or cannele.  Being dubbed as the new macaroon a few years back, I can’t believe I had never tried this treat from Bordeaux until now! It is a delightful little pastry that has a crunchy caramelized outside and a soft custard inside. Move over cupcakes – I am currently crushing on caneles (is that the plural for canele?!). I am now wishing I had bought a box of them instead of just one which the hubby and I devoured right away. I wonder where else I can get my hands on these beauties!

The organic blueberries and bagel stalls both sold out of their stock before we got there so next time I’ll make sure we wake up even earlier. With the produce I bought from the market, I baked some kale chips (see here) and a Filipino dish called Sinigang. I guess you could describe it as the Filipino’s version of Thai’s tom yum soup – it’s a soupy, sour dish that has a bit of kick to it!

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Made in Melbourne May edit!

Made in Melbourne edit samples

L’ASCARI soy candles, Skin Naturale’s new range of all natural hand and body cream in Coconut Bliss, The Kandle Club candles in Baby Powder, Chanel No. 5 and Gardenia, Skin Naturale’s sample pots: Vanilla Chai, Mediterranean Dream and Coconut Bliss.

Because I missed out on a couple of blog posts last week due to a house full of sick boys and moving back home from a 5 week stint in the heart of Melbourne, I thought I’d do a special post for you all – Made in Melbourne! It’s also a double-post Monday so keep an eye out for a second post from Yours Truly today. Happy Monday everyone! <3

Made in Melbourne May edit!

Having recently spent some time (5 weeks) in our beautiful city I’ve been fortunate enough to find some amazing products handmade right here in Melbourne. With our fresh new floors looking polished but smelling of varnish fumes, I have been happily putting my recently acquired candles to good use – L’Ascari and The Kandle Club! With the winter weather settling in I have also been loving the all natural, all organic and vegan Skin Naturale brand and their new brand spanking new range of hand and body creams! So here is my Made in Melbourne May edit:

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L’ASCARI Artisan Soy Candles & Lifestyle Products

lascari.com.au

I first saw these candles at a boutique on Little Bourke street called Wilkins & Kent – they sell furniture and homewares. I was immediately drawn to the unique packaging and design, and fell in love with the frangipani scent – such a beautiful and delicate fragrance.  These artisan soy candles are hand-made by Melbourne based couple Luca Chiaravalle and Belinda Chiaravalle containing pure soy wax containing no petroleum, toxic materials, herbicides or pesticides. Each candle displays a photo of their Italian hometown – such a nostalgic touch! L’ASCARI candles can be purchased from a few stockists so be sure to check their website for more information. They also have some cool looking “ManCandles” and I think I’m going to have to purchase the Espresso one for my better half…and another frangipani candle…and also the French pear room diffuser! Mmmmm bliss!

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Skin Naturale – Natural and Organic Skincare Company

Website. Facebook. Twitter

Recently I was fortunate enough to meet the creator and founder of Skin Naturale, Lynn Ross, and scored myself some sample pots of their latest skin care range. I loved the smell so much I immediately had to have the Coconut Oil bottle! What I really love about Skin Naturale’s products is that they are made with all natural ingredients that have been tried and tested…not on animals! As I have such sensitive skin it is hard for me to find deliciously scented moisturizers that don’t cause my skin to break out or become irritated and having used the Coconut Oil moisturizer for around 3 weeks now, my skin is feeling so soft and smooth. Finally a locally made, natural moisturizer that leaves me feeling and smelling so amazingly good! Next up on my shopping list…Vanilla Chai! Upon placing my next order I asked Skin Naturale a few questions to get to know their brand:

Tell me about Skin Naturale and what makes this brand so different?

Skin Naturale has two different brands – Earth&Body which is now on the market and BrownSkinSecrets which will be released shortly.

The Earth&Body range includes hand and body creams that is nothing like anything on the market. It is made from fruit, nut and vegetable extracts (natural and organically derived ingredients) suitable for the most sensitive of skin.  We not only wanted to create a ‘well being’ product free from harsh chemicals, mineral oils, parabens, sulfates, polyethylene glycol (PEG’s), artificial colours and fragrances; but also wanted to provide people with an experience – In a café?  Vanilla Chai; On the beach? Coconut Bliss or Sailing the Mediterranean? Mediterranean Dream – take your pick!!

So this skincare range is packed full of the best ingredients for our skin?

Yes definitely! With years of research into natural ingredients and working with a cosmetic chemist I wanted to apply the natural secrets of what I discovered into a creating something for the hand and body that was made from the purest form of ingredients. The creams are high in anti oxidants, vitamins, minerals and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and is easily absorbed into the skin to soothe, nourish, protect and improve skin tone and texture.

Sounds like such great quality products! Where can we buy your skincare range?

We are so excited that the range has also been effective on babies and people with eczema; and that our products have been embraced by our customers in a short period of time, which we are very grateful for. 

Skin Naturale products are available for purchase online at our website www.earthnbody.com and are also available at ‘Nature Finds You’ Beauty Salon www.naturefindsyou.com.au at no. 2 Queens St, Melbourne, Australia.  We are also in current negotiations with stockists to make our products more readily available for our customers.

Check out Skin Naturale’s Facebook page here for updates on their latest products, research and skincare info.

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 The Kandle Club – Natural Soy Wax candles

Facebook

Thanks to your votes I won these cute candles from a Mother’s Day Facebook competition and my mum loved them! She loves the Chanel No. 5 perfume so when the lovely Karen informed me that I could pick two scents I chose Chanel No. 5 and Gardenia. They came in the mail via express post right on time for Mother’s Day with a special little extra – a set of tealight candles in the scent ‘Baby Powder’! Thank you Kandle Club for brightening up my first Mother’s Day and mum’s first Grandmother’s Day with your Melbourne made goodies!  If you would like to purchase some pretty little jars of natural soy wax candles then head to the Kandle Club’s Facebook page here!

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What are some of your favorite made in Melbourne finds?

P.S My blog is a contender for the Top 25 Foodie Mums of 2013 and voting closes tomorrow June 4! If you like reading my posts vote here by clicking on the heart icon. Thanks 🙂 -xx-

A cheeky day in South Melbourne

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Cheeky Cinos (photo from www.cheekycinos.com.au), pumpkin soup, catchup, exterior of Cheeky Cinos, lovely wares at the South Melbourne market.

Cheeky Cinos, happy mums!

What a beautiful Friday to end the week! Sunny, crisp and perfect for a stroll down the streets of South Melbourne and my first ever visit to the cafe that mums rave about, Cheeky Cinos on Cecil street. This is a parent’s haven where you can actually enjoy eating with both hands, have a straight-forward conversation with your friend, and sit still not having to push a pram back and forth in an effort to lengthen your baby’s nap time while you hurriedly scoff down your food before he wakes up (sound familiar?!)

It was 12.30pm and the place was roaring with busyness! I ordered a coffee and biscotti and it came out in what looked like a soup mug – nice and huge! 🙂 There were prams neatly parked in a row and plenty of highchairs if needed. The play area was amazing! Even as an adult I wanted to climb in there and explore in bare feet!

Although Baby D attends many play dates and Mother’s group outings, I have never yet left him completely on his own so being a little apprehensive we tested out the waters. The state-of-the-art developmental play area was so welcoming and Daniel made himself quite at home rather quickly though he did keep turning around to see if I was still there. After a few minutes I decided that he would be ok on his own so I bought him 15mins of surpervised play time ($5). He totally LOVED it! He watched all the other kids wobbling around and he happily tummy crawled his way around the padded maze of learning equipment. I was so excited to see him all independent and happily playing without me but also a little sad that he is growing up so quickly. No wonder everyone tells me to enjoy every moment – they really do grow up fast!

We must definitely visit Cheeky Cinos again so daddy can see Baby D in action and also to visit South Melbourne market again as there are so many pretty things to look at and lots of inspiration for home decorating. We ended this fabulous Friday in South Melbourne visiting a few more boutiques and pop-up shops in the area and filled our tummies with Wat Da Pho goodness! It was so good that I didn’t get the chance to take photos of what we ordered so more of an excuse to go back again next time!

In the evening we enjoyed some quiet time for reflection and to give thanks for all our blessings at St Francis.

What did you get up to last Friday?

P.S There are only a few more voting days left so if you like reading my blog posts, please show your support and vote here. xo

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Sugar Free Banana Bread

I ate way too many sweets this weekend, topping it off today with my favourite creme brulee cupcake from Cupcake Central in Highpoint. So when deciding what to bake for the week ahead I wanted to try out a sugar free recipe so here goes my first attempt at a sugar free banana loaf courtesy of Babbling Bandit‘s blog! Thanks for the recipe!

Sugar Free Banana Bread Recipe:

Ingredients

125 grams butter
1 cup rice malt syrup
1 egg beaten lightly
3 small-medium ripe bananas
A sprinkle of cinnamon
1.5 cups of wholemeal self raising flour
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Sugar alternative

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

2. Melt butter and rice malt syrup in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Melted butter and rice malt syrup

3. Mash bananas in a large bowl. Add flour and spice.

mashed banana and dry ingredients

3. Combine cooled butter and rice malt syrup with egg then add to banana, flour and spice. Stir until combined.

combine all ingredients

4. Pour batter into lined loaf tin and bake for 50 minutes or until cooked.

I still need to buy a loaf tin so I just ended up using a square cake pan.

in the oven

And the finished product!! Not bad at all for my first try!

Cooked banana bread

The banana bread/cake was so tasty and moist. One thing I would change though, is the cooking time – I must have a higher setting oven because the above pics were taken at only 40 minutes of cooking time and you can see how brown it is already! Next time I cook this recipe I will try baking it for around 30-35 minutes to see how I go. The square tin is also probably a lot more shallow than if I had put the banana mixture in a loaf tin so when you try it for yourself just keep an eye it and use a skewer to check that its cooked. I might also try adding some almonds or walnuts next time just to change it up a bit 🙂

Such a great easy recipe for a Sunday night and now I have banana bread fresh and ready to pack as a snack for the coming week!

Happy Monday everyone!