Maple & Clove, Canberra 01-2016

I remember they promoted wholefoods and all things good for you. I also vaguely remember the last (and only other) time I was there over 1.5 years ago they sold quite a few products on the benches which were now gone.

I ended up at Maple & Clove more by coincidence, with the final nights in Canberra being spent at the lovely 5* Hotel Realm whilst the apartment was being cleaned. It's a nice area with the patrons tending to be business people and the standard mothers with prams.

Choc almond smoothie (almond milk, dates, banana, activated almonds, coffee & cocoa) $9 kicked things off. The dates didn't make the drink overly sweet and there was a nice blend of flavours and grainy texture. I do wonder if activating nuts makes a discernible difference to either taste or health benefits.

- Maple Whole Waffle (wholemeal spelt, zucchini & sweet corn waffles served with smoked King salmon, confit tomato & slow cooked egg) $20 - an interesting waffle that was certainly different to usual. It had a strong corn flavour which I always enjoy;
- Sweet potato hashbrown (with gypsy ham, scrambled egg, dukkah, rocket & mint) $18 - I can't resist a good hashing of potatoes. This one was fine but nothing that particularly excited me.

It's a small menu and I do prefer other cafes in Canberra so this was more a meal of convenience than anything else.

The meals seemed a little small compared to the standard (or maybe I'm just greedy). Wholefoods are always more expensive I suppose but the quality is meant to be better? Maybe I'm just reminded of Wholefoods in NYC and London which was always a nice place to wander through and dream of spending that much on groceries...

Maple  Clove Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

The Cupping Room, Canberra 01-2016

After living in Canberra for 2 years I could finally realise the quality of some of the local products. There are the truffles, the wine, the bacon and (even though I don't think it) the coffee. The owner of ONA (and thus Cupping Room) was awarded the best barista in the world. Quite an accolade especially when you think about all the coffee wank in Melbourne. Not only this, I had heard the same guy submitted his coffee bean to some kind of international judging panel and won that too. The world's best barista using the world's best beans? That's going to be pretty hard to beat.

Even though I'm sure the super barista himself rather (if ever) served mortals his coffee, I'd always been told the coffee at Cupping Room was by far the best in town. Considering it was also the same place that created my ever favourite cherry chocolate coconut king shake, it was an appropriate final brunch before leaving town (forever...)

- Smashed avocado, two poached eggs, tomato & olive salsa, whipped goats cheese & rye sourdough toast  with Pialligo Estate bacon $25 - I don't like reading the words "smashed avocado" anymore however when it comes with Australia's best bacon it becomes a necessary evil. I didn't get a chance to get back to Pialligo Estate to pickup some dry cured and smoked bacon so had to make do with this. And it was extraordinary - salty, strong, crisp and made of dreams. The eggs were well cooked, avocado and cheese combined well and tomato & basil completed the meal with sourdough. Outstanding;
- Cured salmon, a soft boiled egg, wasabi pickled daikon, pear & ginger gel, enori, radish, green tea aioli & rye sourdough toast $20 - there's a LOT of salmon on the dish and only a small amount of bread. It was a beautifully presented dish and equally satisfying.

My favourite shake hasn't made a return as it was part of the previous year's summer menu, so many again in a few months time. In the meantime there's the pistachio & chamomile which is nearly as incredible. I like pistachios, especially as gelato, so that was an easy choice. The chamomile flowers added an extra flavour and texture element which was unexpected and great similar to a sweet chewy popcorn. I'd tried the dark chocolate and honeycomb version a couple of months earlier also which was ok but only a poor cousin to the cherry version.

The menu is full of things I'd want to try - what is compressed watermelon? Octopus and squid ink salad, roasted pork belly or the mythical huevos bollo roll with Pialligo Estate bacon...

It was a fitting farewell to a city that has surpassed my culinary expectations.

(I also decided to upload a picture of a chickpea salad with kataifi egg and flatbread from the meal a couple of months earlier just because it looks nice.)

The Cupping Room Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Salamanca Bakehouse, Hobart 01-2016

After the initial scallop pie at Smith's in Salamanca Market ( and then earlier that morning at Jackman & McRoss (, I couldn't decide whether to remain happily full or go the full hog and try the final scallop pie on my list.

I walked through Salamanca Place and past the Bakehouse back and forth deciding. In the end I decided to reign down my greed and in the name of food research just do it.

The $7.50 had good thick scallops, similar to Smith's. The inside was very creamy curry but the pastry was a little soft unfortunately.

For the convenience I'd be happy to have the pie here especially considering the place is open 24/7?? On a Saturday, Smith's is so close that I'd go there inside. For a slightly more sophisticated pie with vegetables and good pastry I'd consider the detour to J&M. But let's face it, I'd eat any of them that was available.

Salamanca Bakehouse Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Salamanca Market & Smith's Specialty Pies, Hobart 01-2016

One of the things I anticipated most about the trip to Hobart was the market, specifically the Saturday Salamanca Market. I'm always a fan of the local markets, to see and smell the cooking foods, the noises and bustle of people (hopefully not too many) and to look at the local produce available. I'm less inclined by trinkets and wares but I suppose you need something for everybody.

There were some nice truffle products, a stand that sold fresh wasabi paste (they wouldn't sell the actual root to the public unfortunately), but I most was looking forward to the Tasmanian scallop pie. This would be my first, and Smith's seemed a great start.

I thought a $7 pie was a little much, but scallops aren't cheap, they are the local delicacy, and now it's probably partially a tourist thing also. After eating them elsewhere, I realised this was actually cheaper than the others (given it's a food van I'm not surprised).

The pie contains 3 thick scallops, really meaty and impressive and a mild curry sauce with (what I think is) a light sprinkle of curry powder on top of the pie to engrave the name. It was a fine start especially straight after breakfast at Pigeon Hole.

Right at the end of the market, a mother and her two young children sold ginger beer. Extra zingy and gingery was the way to go and washed things down nicely.

Mako Fresh Fish, Hobart 01-2016

Walking from the harbour up towards the other restaurant front along Elizabeth Street, you'll come across Mako Fresh Fish. Apparently it's quite well known for its fresh seafood and the Chinese tourists seem to like it. Not sure about the second part, but the first seems to be true.

There are two counters within the same store - a fresh seafood spot and a cooking area where fish and chips etc. can be purchased. Given it was around 4pm and I just needed something to tide me over until dinner, it was mainly a snack I was after. Of the fresh counter, the oysters seemed best.

When reading menus online, Hobart restaurants charge about $35-40 for a dozen oysters, even natural. By contrast, the same ones are around $14 at Mako. I sat down, paid $1 for a lemon (which was unnecessary in hindsight) and enjoyed the large, creamy, moderate strength delicacies at the central table. I also bought an arancini ball with cooked salmon inside. They were kind enough to microwave it for me but unfortunately the outside was hot but inside still cold. I won't make that mistake again.

It'd be a great spot for a full lunch (or dinner) - oysters from the counter, fish and chips (which is a bit pricey) from the cooked area.

Pigeon Hole Cafe, Hobart 01-2016

In Hobart there is Pigeon Hole Cafe and Pigeon Whole Bakers. It is a little confusing but I suppose the silver lining (if there is one for the more confused persons out there) is that both are well rated and so ending up at either is probably ok. They are in quite different locations (perhaps 20mins walk) so it's not the biggest deal if you are supposed to meet someone at the other.

Because I was looking for a full brunch, Pigeon Hole seemed to be more appropriate and better rated for this. It was an early morning exercise walking across town to get there, but meant it was an easy and scenic descent straight to the parks and to Salamanca Market.

The menu is actually very small. Considering the cafe is too this is probably not a bad thing. Funnily enough Pigeon Hole serve Pigeon Whole bread. I wonder if they are linked somehow...

Chai tea was served with soy milk. There were visible spices in the pot but even after steeping the flavours weren't very strong. It tasted quite similar to black tea with milk in the end.

- Pigeon Hole slow baked beans, raclette & sourdough $13 - a warming dish of beans, cheese and bread. The dish could have used some kind of vegetable or other element to contrast;
- Soft baked eggs with jamon, smoked paprika, greens, grana & toast $12.9 - a good mix of ingredients with softer than usual baked eggs. The greens were quite distinctive in flavour. I couldn't really tell much paprika.

On both dishes the bread was actually very nice. Very nice crust, good centres and enriched with butter. I may not visit Pigeon Hole next visit (as there isn't really anything else on the menu I particularly want to try) but I'll have to make a bread journey to Pigeon Whole Bakers. For a cafe experience, I'm keen to try Machine Laundry Cafe which is in Salamanca Plaza and a much busier piece of real estate.

Pigeon Hole Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Jackman & McRoss, Hobart 01-2016

After the disappointment of having to sell my Friday MOFO ticket and fly out, I had a good couple of hours to spare before the airport bus came. After looking at my Google map starred locations, I decided the way to end the trip was with a scavenge for scallop pies. I'd only had one so far at the Salamanca Market and considering how little information there is about places in Hobart to get these, had to scrounge to every little piece I could find.

With my backpack and roller hand luggage, I walked through Salamanca, up some stairs, and uphill to the large corner building of Jackman & McRoss. Walking toward the place you can smell the bakery aromas out on the streets. Once inside I had a difficult time controlling myself as to order only things I could realistically take with me. It's a shame I didn't get to order some of their loaves.

The Scallop & Wakame Pie $8.2 had smaller scallops, mild curry, carrot, potato and corn, and encased in very good pastry. The Duck, Cranberry & Walnut sausage roll $5.9 was an excellent mix of less common fillings with a multitude of textures.

I also impulse bought their chai tea mix as well as a takeaway chai with soy. Their version was probably the most complex I've had. Thankfully not too sweet with a fennel/aniseed aftertaste I couldn't quite put my finger on and a hint of chilli spice. Unfortunately when I've tried to brew from their mix, the taste was quite plain and not nearly as exciting. I'll have to keep trying.

They have sit down space but I'm not sure if they serve more than their outstanding bakery fare.

Jackman  McRoss Bakeries Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Daci & Daci Bakers, Hobart 01-2016

It's a real shame I didn't get to sit down and eat at Daci & Daci. I visited on two separate occasions for takeaway and the range and quality were impressive. Honestly the main reason I sought it out was after reading that they have a fantastic rocky road (which is sitting waiting for me in the pantry).

I do think that charging an extra $5 for a sandwich to be eaten in rather than taken away is a little excessive. Maybe that's a good reason to get takeaway and go sit in a very nearby park or down by the harbour.

The first item I had was a sandwich (with smoked free range ham, Tasmanian smoked cheddar, rocket & spiced pear chutney). Because of the takeaway, I had it a day later after the bread had become stale. But nonetheless the serve was large, ingredients and flavours were nice and quite satisfying overall.

The second takeaway adventure was for a pissaladiere (with caramelised onion, roast tomatoes, black olives, feta & basil) and a tart (roast pumpkin, thyme, caramelised onion, goat's cheese & walnut). Both were sensational with the pissaladiere having strong flavours, the tart plenty of textures, and both good pastry.

It's quite a pricey place but the quality is excellent. I'll definitely be back, particularly to try some sweets (like a black cherry and pistachio tart).

Daci  Daci Bakers Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Pel Gelato & Sorbetto, Hobart 01-2016

After an evening of seafood dining at Drunken Admiral, the walk home up Elizabeth Street was briefly interrupted. Dessert? I don't mind a good dessert these days much more than I used to, although it's usually a pretty specific set of things that appeal to me such that I'll order it.

Gelato is one of those, rarely from a restaurant, almost always from an artisan. In Europe, the word artiginale means homemade and interpreted as more likely to be good.

Despite looking like a standard fluoro gelato place, Pel seriously impressed me. My baseline standard of pistachio was at a very high level. The gelato is extremely nutty and strong with much less sweetness than other versions. The servers also fill the cone such that gelato goodness is edible all the way to the bottom.

The other flavours are good and I can't be more specific, but the pistachio is fantastic for a connoisseur. I went back a few days later and this confirmed my memories.

Addict Food & Coffee, Melbourne 12-2015

On Christmas eve I revisited the old haunt of Gertrude Street in search of breakfast. The intent was to try Archie's (closed), then Hammer & Tong (also closed) and so ended up at a less frequented area to the corner shop of Addict.

- Potato hash & mushroom duxelle (with roasted field mushroom, a poached egg & caramelised onion) $18 - I first heard of a mushroom duxelle during the 1st season of Junior Masterchef (cooked during a beef wellington from memory). I succumb to fried potatoes in all forms and so the dish seemed appropriate. The duxelle wasn't too strong a flavour and the hash was quite mild too (possibly a result of being thick and so less fried surface area). It seemed a little small to satisfy me (or maybe I'm used to huge breakfast plates).

Soy chai was served in pot. It smelled spiced but wasn't very strong and didn't detect much ginger.

I'm still keen to try their breakfast for 2 and the Ssamjang glazed roast pork belly.

Addict Food  Coffee Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato