A Rosemary bush and maple roasted carrots

Saignon; a picturesque medieval village perched high on top of a hill in the South of France; my home for three weeks from October through to November of this year. Picture a house in Provence and this one will be the mirror image with its light blue shutters adorning all windows, rows of lavender as you navigate up the driveway, rustic wrought iron furniture where I took a glass of wine to read a book and sweeping views over an autumnal landscape fit for a painting. Framing the house there was a collection of rosemary bushes. And as I came and went from the house each day; the wind was always filled with a strong tinge of rosemary.

Every day there was a market on in some quaint village around the local area. Needing no excuse to go and explore, each one had a different feel to it and its wares were always slightly different. Yes, there were the endless tablecloths, ruffled scarves, bouquets of dried lavender but unlike back home where it’s same old same old, I had this constant buzz and desire to be in the thick of it. The wow factor however lay in their displays of fresh produce. Never before had I seen mushrooms so yellow or artichokes so green. Strawberries were plump red bursting with sweetness and if that didn’t take your fancy there were also gooseberries, currants and loganberries to be savoured. The fresh food before me  had me in a trance and I craved to cook up a storm.

Dinner on the first night was mine to cook. Armed with some bunches of baby orange carrots and some just cut rosemary, I cooked a roast beef that didn’t last too long once out of the oven. The baby carrots were roasted with maple syrup to enhance their sweet flavour and the baby potatoes were crunchy with the right amount of fluff inside. Just how I love them.

I think back now to those three weeks and it all seems like a beautiful dream but if there was one thing that I came home with was the re-ignited passion to cook. To cook seasonally, to eat fresh and to do it all from the heart.


Published in: on November 24, 2011 at 2:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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Tuesday buzzz

Tuesday’s crave: a Chocolate milkshake

Milk, chocolate flavouring, sometimes ice-cream all shaken together. Some are thick, some are runny, most are frothy. Love the ones served in the tall metal glasses – so American diner. Pretty simple to concoct yet so often, many places get it wrong and don’t measure up to my standards.

I’ve always been a chocolate milkshake girl. I occasionally strayed to caramel when I was growing up but I was NEVER a strawberry or banana fan as I couldn’t stomach the sickly sweet fake taste. And vanilla is just too plain jane.

When I was pregnant it was a Wendys flake shake that satisfied the craving. Sweeter than I remembered, it always hit the spot with the chunky flake pieces floating through and still so thick that you have to swap between a straw and spoon to finish it off!

So where was I on Tuesday getting my chocolate milkshake fix?

Buzzzbar on King Street in Newtown. Their milkshake ticks all the boxes. Good size, thick enough without crossing over to a thick shake, creamy, flavoursome and not too sweet, frothy and cold, ice cold. And for $5.50 – it’s a bit of a bargain for a whole lot of buzz.

Buzzzbar @ 349 King Street, Newtown 2042

Published in: on September 14, 2011 at 7:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Destination: 2050

No, this is not a post of me yearning to be 70 years old in 2050 but the mere postcode of where the ELG family live; otherwise known as Camperdown. When asked the question of where I live and I say Camperdown, the usual response is “ohhh near RPA hospital…” or “oh, near Sydney Uni..?” Both replies are correct but since residing in the 2050 area for the last 14 months, I now know it is much more than the suburb of both a major hospital and university. Situated in the thriving inner west of Sydney, surrounded by Annandale and Leichhardt on one end, Glebe as you stretch closer to the city and Newtown as you head past the hospital to colourful King Street, it is a suburb that I have come to love with its fabulous places to eat and other haunts to go! So, I feel it necessary to update you on the top 5 hotspots of postcode 2050:

1. Franks 

When Mr ELG and I moved into Camperdown, a friend of mine said that Franks was the local place to go to for pizza. A cheap and cheerful number and she recalled that the price of a large pizza was around the $12 mark. She was not wrong there. A family size pizza is $15. In an old fire station house on Parramatta Road, Franks serves up pizza and pasta to go and I almost always order “Franks Special”. Most nights, people pack the place from 6pm and the weekend lunch slots are equally as busy with family lunches packing the tables. Service is quick and the pizza is hot; a terrific combination most can’t go past and I certainly don’t!

2. Deus ex Machina

Part motorbike shop, part restaurant; this phrase from their site sums them up beautifully “Motorcyles for the postmodern world – silk purses out of sows’ ears.” This place also situated on Parramatta Road but closer to the city screams blood, sweat and tears. Oh and great food thrown in for good measure! Deus is iconic in Camperdown and you will likely find Mr ELG, BIT (baby in tow) and I there on a weekend for their spot-on breakfasts. They do a mean eggs hollandaise with Tasmanian salmon, baby spinach and asparagus. And when I wake with a sweet tooth to satisfy, I order the strawberry and lemon pancakes. Out the back there is the shop selling motorbikes (classics and new), clothes, leather jackets and accessories and if your bike needs a tune-up, there’s also a workshop attached. So don your leathers and get to Deus for a bit of grit, noise and bloody good coffee.

3. Butch

Discovering this place with BIT en route to Mothers group one morning, I bought a quick coffee and returned hours later to feast upon one of their homemade pies after spotting it earlier on. If you have read past posts, you will know about my love of pies and this one went above and beyond. Butch is a bit of a hole in the wall, at the bottom of a terrace, on a narrow street in Camperdown and when the winter chill is about, their cafe is one of the only locals that have a cosy fire burning to warm the hands while their food warms your soul.

4. Chef and the Cook

Ever the foodie on the hunt for the right tools to master my trade, this place hits the mark in every regard. I’m sure many a cook would have been in their kitchens at one point wishing for a utensil that somehow was not in their drawer or repertoire whether it be kitchen string to tie a chicken’s legs together before a roast, a piping bag to ice a cupcake, a peeler that leaves your fingers in tact afterwards or a balloon whisk to get enough air through egg whites. I have always thought to buy kitchen string instead of using the string Mr ELG bought at bunnings that’s blue and dreading a Bridget Jones blue soup kitchen moment and last week I finally purchased some along with some flat scales to accurately measure my ingredients. Just recently Chef and the Cook have also started stocking food for sale and have a wonderful Herbies spice selection amongst other jams, couverture chocolate, coloured sea salt and oils galore. So when you can’t be asked to fight the crowds at Peters of Kensington and need the perfect wooden spoon, head to Chef and the Cook for a great selection of tools and industry advice.

5. Camperdown Cellars

At the end of my street is a wonderful thing; Camperdown Cellars. Now there are bottle shops and then there are bottle shops. Not pretentious with their exhausting range of alcohol, top shelf reds and whites, aged whiskys, Penfold Grange and the best cider ever – I think the owners there must look at me with BIT and think; well frankly I can only imagine what they think! OK let’s get back to talking about the cider. One word; Rekorderlig. Mr ELG first tried this drop at a quaint Balmain pub and came home raving about it as if it was the best thing since sliced bread and well I agree with him as it most certainly is! Refined, crisp and clean; the taste of this cider is heavenly and at $8 a bottle is somewhat on the pricier end but well worth it. Served over ice on any afternoon; it is just a little bit of heaven. With flavours in pear, apple, strawberry-lime and a winter version, I recommend heading to the cellars just for this or to satisfy my other two cravings…there is always Pastabilities and tubs of Ben & Jerry’s in their freezers too. So you now know where to find me at 5pm too on any given day when I have no idea what to cook for dinner and I don’t want to go to Coles.

Now, I know I said top 5 but the new mum in me can’t help but add one more and rave about the bright red and green toystore at the end of my street (opposite the Cellars and across the road from Chef and the Cook)  – Kidstuff. A treasure trove of toys for kids of all ages; it stocks all the big brands as well as the obscure and unique. Whether your child is at rattle stage, building blocks, painting, gaming or just plain playing, you never walk out of this store empty handed. And one of the best things is that they do free wrapping with rainbow ribbons.

So type 2050 into your GPS or catch a bus down Parramatta Road and come visit, come play and always go where your heart desires.

Franks @ 137 Parramatta Road, Camperdown NSW 2050

Deus ex Machina @ 102-104 Parramatta Road, Camperdown NSW 2050

Butch @ 130 Church Street, Camperdown NSW 2050

Chef and the Cook @ 28-32 Mallett Street, Camperdown NSW 2050

Camperdown Cellars @ 140 Parramatta Road, Camperdown NSW 2050

Kidstuff @ 101 Parramatta Road, Camperdown NSW 2050

Hats off to this one

2009 and what a steaming hot Italian summer it was shaping out to be. The train was just pulling into Naples and Mr ELG and I had finally located our pensione and off-loaded the luggage. Feeling ravenous and with a few tips up our sleeves from the local who checked us in, we go on the hunt for a true Napoli pizza; arguably where it all started for the flat and round doughy phenomenon. Up a narrow alley where Fiats are squashed nose to nose on the pavement, there’s a hole in the wall and a waft of steamy goodness coming out. Six or so men with red aprons are milling around a kitchen as the day has not yet fully started. They hear our Aussie accents and between us, our pigeon Italian language, some pointing and the locals laughing their heads off, we somehow manage to order two large pizzas of which we know that at least cheese will be present. 10 minutes later and the two of us are perched on some neighbourhood stairs, pizza boxes on our laps, salivating no longer as the pizzas live up to all expectations and an eat moment is banked in my memories. I also recall thinking to myself, nowhere could come close to this at home. There’s pizza and then there’s pizza!

Enter Cappello. Situated on Darling Street, Balmain East – past all of the hype and hoopla of the main part of Darling Street. In a quaint sandstone terrace Cappello do a early and late seating; perfect for those that still want great food even though there’s a highchair in your booking and suitable for those duos who are after a bit of late dinner romance. Offering a small menu where each offering hits the spot, I can never go past the homemade tagliatelle ragu and Mr ELG nearly always orders the gnocchi with lashings of gorgonzola. Straying away from pasta, the pizza Cappello make fresh from their woodfired oven is the closest thing I have tried out of Naples. Thin yet still doughy in the middle, crisp with a variety of mouthwatering toppings. Taking the less is more slant in terms of ingredient combinations, you won’t find ham and pineapple here but more gutsy taste sensations where the biggest decision of the night will be “which one?”

If you make it past the pizza and pasta, the desserts will entice, be desired and and again make the choice hard! Not really much of a chocolate fan, Mr ELG seldom goes past Cappello’s chocolate mousse. As for me, the pavlova with poached pairs sitting in a reduced raspberry sauce sends shivers down my spine now as I hark back to when I went to Cappello last.

So while I’d love to own a lear jet and have a tree in the backyard that grows the green ones so I could just swing by Italy more than just once in a while – the reality is just 10 minutes drive away, I can satisfy my cravings born out of a hole in the wall in a back lane of Naples.

Cappello @ 79 Darling Street, Balmain NSW 2041

Published in: on August 18, 2011 at 7:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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the eat week that was

Adjusting to my LOL (lady of leisure) lifestyle with BIT (baby in tow) addition whilst omitting the breastfeeding, nappy changes, nap time and tummy time; one still needs to eat! And looking back at the week that was there have been quite a few lunchtime highlights and with the weekend just one sleep away, I urge you to go, stop by and feast.

Monday; first stop ~ Piato on Blues Point Road, McMahons Point situated amongst the row of shops with the black and white striped awning. Feasting with Lizzy and BIT and roasting in the gorgeous midday sunshine, we were both famished and admittedly coming off the back of dining at a new but oh-so-nasty-n0-go cafe the weekend before (another post altogether about when you know you will never go back somewhere when you leave feeling like you have been ripped off and taken for granted as a customer) and so in other words, we were eager to eat. By 1pm, most of the sidewalk tables laden with sunshine had been taken bar one which we quickly swooped on and with no time to waste with Lizzy in “lunch hour”, orders were placed.

After a short exchange of gossip and a peep and ooh at a sleeping baby, our lunch was ready and laid before us. I had ordered the Saffron Pappardelle and Lizzy had ordered the Homemade Cannelloni. Immediately I was impressed with the generous serving of saffron-tinged pappardelle ribbons accompanied by bite sized chunks of chicken, olives, chorizo and capsicum. The plate was alive with colour and texture and after a sprinkling of freshly cracked pepper, I began to devour it. Meanwhile, Lizzy’s cannelloni had every essence of “homemade” injected in her lunch. Cheese was oozing and bubbling on top and the cannelloni tubes were trying to burst out from underneath the blanket of mozzarella – visibly filled to the brim with a steaming bolognese sauce. Conversation halted and silence emerged between the two of us as lunch was undoubtedly enjoyed and we made a pact to go back!

Wednesday; second stop ~ Bonds Corner Fine Food Cafe on Sailors Bay Road, Northbridge situated just past the golf course. The sunshine was out again under cloudless blue skies, but the wind was more fresh on the skin. With most diners already been and gone by 1.45pm and with their soup and lasagna sold out, I ordered crispy skin salmon on a bed of pea and lemon risotto. Taking a moment to sip my hot cappuccino and loving the shaved chocolate flakes resting on top of the foam, the cafe’s position is bathed in sunlight and warmed my back, making winter not that bad! The salmon arrived shortly after and the plate again was alive before me with the skin golden and crisp to bite into and the risotto was creamy with lemon zest bursts and a smattering of peas. For a cafe slightly off the beaten track and away from the hustle and bustle of the plaza, I loved the personal touch and evident passion for food from this cafe and am bound to be back soon.

Tomorrow I leave for the snow with Mr ELG and BIT and in frosty 2 degree weather, I look forward to apres-ski moments of mugs of hot chocolate, toasted marshmallows, buttered popcorn and having bowls of my freshly made batch of chocolate and hazelnut toasted muesli (see prior post for recipe). I look back on this eat-week-that-was with fond memories and am already thinking about when I can get back to these two hot spots to enjoy, eat and devour more!

Piato @ 123 Blues Point Road, McMahons Point NSW 2060

Bonds Corner Fine Food Cafe @ 2/395 Sailors Bay Road, Northbridge NSW 2067

Published in: on June 24, 2011 at 2:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday flash: a brownie moment in between autumn rains

Off the back of the wettest May in years and in between the recent Sydney downpours, last week I found myself in the midst of a short and sweet ray of sunshine having a momentous brownie moment. Bought from a newly discovered cafe Store situated on the edge of Camperdown park, this brownie stared me square in the eye and I swear said “eat me now!”

So without further delay, money was exchanged for a Phoenix Cola and Sweet Infinity brownie and sitting on a park bench under a Moreton Bay fig tree, in a ray of sunshine it was a moment to be remembered.

I wonder what moment today’s Sydney sunshine will bring me….Tell me; what will I eat, what will I fall in love with, where will I go?

Store @ 17 Fowler Street, Camperdown NSW 2050

Published in: on June 3, 2011 at 12:31 am  Comments (1)  
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a buttery danger zone just 15 minutes away

At the moment I am often asked “what’s your day like?” Well to be honest, I have never looked at my watch quite so often as around the clock I am responding to a 6-week baby’s needs as he feeds, poos, wees, sleeps and the cycle starts all over again pretty much every 3 hours. The thing I keep telling Mr ELG however is I make good use out of the window. The window of time may only be 5 minutes (if that!) but I am usually effectively doing something with that time and not just sitting idle with my feet up as I used to be able to when time was a-plenty! Now, it’s more like how many things can I do in 15 minutes?

One thing that has recently eaten up 15 minutes of my time is the short and highly addictive walk to La Banette on Glebe Point Road (university end), Glebe. Situated next door to another love of mine; Clipper, La Banette is a quaint yet hustling and bustling patisserie where one (I’m sure I’m not the only one) always has great difficulty deciding on what to buy, how much to buy and what little morsel can I just eat now? Laden on the shelves on the wall are golden sourdough loaves and crisp olive baguettes; lining the shelves at the front windows are mille feuille, chocolate eclairs, lemon pies and creme caramel tarts (just to name a few). Spread across the counter are freshly baked pastries, shiny with glaze and bursting with apricots, apples, plums and cherries. Stocked in the corner are savoury pies and quiches to go ~ for now or tonight in case you work back and don’t feel like ordering takeaway. Coffee can also be ordered which partners any of La Banette’s little delicacies so so well and I have resigned to the fact that it’s a damn fine way to spend 15 minutes!

Oh and the mini pecan pies are delicious with a capital D!

La Banette @ 18 Glebe Point Road, Glebe NSW 2037

Published in: on June 1, 2011 at 8:24 am  Comments (1)  
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Page turners

LOL; no, not laugh out loud but Lady of Leisure. That is my serene title at the moment as I wait patiently for the impending arrival of the birth of my baby. I am at that “anytime now” stage so trying to make the most out of my LOL status; whilst doing an array of activities to keep my mind supple and in a non-vegetable state as I wind down from work and try and sit still for longer than 5 minutes. Mr ELG has this strength; I apparently do not.

Since mum taught me to read at the ripe old age of 2, I have always been one to have many books on the go. Never a one-book-woman, I find that books of many genres have always been able to whisk me away from the mundane. I love the imaginary landscapes, the truth of numerous voices, the colours and themes and the many characters that you discover are your best friends, worst enemies or just passer-bys. And if I were ever to be stuck on a desert island and it was a pre-meditated journey so I could take a bag of books with me; this is the list in no particular order (which is also ever-changing):

  1. The Solitaire Mystery, by Jostein Gaarder
  2. Perfume, by Patrick Suskind
  3. The Millennium trilogy, by Stieg Laarson
  4. One Day, by David Nicholls
  5. Child 44, by Tom Rob Smith
  6. The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
  7. Prospect Park West, by Amy Sohn

Right now, however in my LOL phase, I am re-reading the finer points of Active Birth Skills, by Juju Sundin and Sarah Murdoch to prepare myself for that L word that I am about to face and embrace. In addition, I have Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, by Amy Chua on the go. Through her honest style of writing, I am literally laughing out loud as she writes about the distinctive style of Chinese parenting. This is bringing up memories of my own upbringing and how I am running in the other direction! I discovered my local library last week and have a spy novel on the go too (the secret lives of spies is ever intriguing) and let’s not forget the book club book I was supposed to have finished last month; How it Feels, by Brendan Cowell. Loved him in the TV series “Love My Way” but am finding his style of writing extremely confronting.

However it is the magazine MINDFOOD which takes the cake for the Page Turner award of the moment. Yes, I think I am one of ‘those people’ keeping the print industry alive! The current issue has Rebecca Gibney on the cover and despite my many books that I have yet to finish, I have not been able to put this magazine down since its weekend purchase. I usually flick through a magazine cover to cover and then go back to the articles of interest and feel time slip away. MINDFOOD has found the right balance of food and fashion, editorial and advertising, travel and puzzles, gossip and reality. No longer thinking should I purchase that stripy dress…now thinking about how and where do I subscribe?!!

burnt orange

orange ~ Fanta, Valencia, Hermes, tandoori chicken, Autumn, Julia Gillard’s hair, butternut pumpkin.

burnt orange ~ Uluru.

In a past life, I used to be a tour guide and lead groups of up to 50 American students around the Central parts and the East Coast of Australia. I will never forget my first sunset at “the rock”. A local was passionately telling me that the naked eye alone would not be able to recognise and see all of the many shades of colour change and that I would have to have my finger ready to tap away at my camera and take at least 10 shots per minute to see one of the most beautiful sights. Lo and behold, when I returned home and developed my photos (it was not quite the digital age yet), my 30 or so photos of this impeccable sunset showed a myriad of shades of red, pink, purple and finally, a glowing burnt orange as the dust settled and Mr Moon came out from his hiding place.

As I was driving down Middle Head Road, Mosman yesterday morning on my way to the aptly named Burnt Orange; this vivid memory was a beam in my thoughts. I have heard many things about this cafe/shop but given its location is somewhat off the beaten track, I hadn’t been there until yesterday when the showers had set into Sydney and Balmoral beach was not shaping up to be the best wet-weather destination. Located in an old golf house, with a sweeping verandah wrapping its way around the homestead; I walked through the store to make my way out the back. Within moments, I saw beyond the headlands, a magical view over Sydney Harbour despite the steady drizzle of rain. A couple of tables were already filled with “ladies of leisure” and parents and new babies in tow. One of my companions for the Burnt Orange visit was a soon-to-be-three-year-old-going-on-thirty-year-old who immediately focused on a pink chair and that just had to be “our table”. Mixing kitsch with laid-back, I could only envisage this place on a weekend packed to the rafters with locals and visitors craning for a table and latte. But on a somewhat wet Tuesday morning, Burnt Orange had a relaxed, c’mon-in feel to it and a couple of hours passed by as my girlfriend and I made our way through an assortment of eggs, toast, scones and brownies with no feeling of being rushed to go and free up our table.

Also attracting the eye as I sipped on my delectable chai latte was an array of locally sourced gourmet foods in bottles and bags. Easter eggs and rabbits were on display and I could feel my senses being enveloped with every breath.

Finishing up, we headed downstairs to the homewares part of the store and I have to admit I was in a state of bliss. It was lovely to see the stock was not stock-standard yet unusual and different and I could imagine any piece having a place in my home. Upstairs housed more goodies to entice your wallet opening; cute kids clothes, lazy girly pyjamas, cozy embroidered blankets, colourful and witty cards, coffee table books on everything from French bistro fare to Givenchy shoes and my girlfriend and I did not succeed in leaving the place empty-handed.

For a destination off the beaten track; I will definitely go back soon if not for more perusing through the beautiful store for a “just because” gift or to sip another seriously-good chai latte. Burnt Orange; no longer associated with just a big bloody rock.

Burnt Orange @ 1109 Middle Head Road, Mosman NSW 2088

Published in: on April 6, 2011 at 12:03 am  Comments (1)  
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Clipper Cafe – a bloody brilliant breakfast spot!

Date: Saturday 26 March, 2011. Suburb: Glebe. Destination: Clipper Cafe.

Last Saturday was in one word frenetic. NSW was going to the polls and voting for Barry, Glebe’s weekly Saturday markets were on and there were people everywhere, the skies kept threatening to open up and pour down and Mr ELG and I were starving! Clipper Cafe has been on the must-go list for a while but I had never quite got there until last weekend. Located at the Parramatta Road end of Glebe Point Road, it is masked by kitsch green and white awnings and peering in through the large glass windows, it looks extremely busy with people out and about already sipping their flat whites and OJs and Saturday catch-ups have long commenced. Our group of 4 are quickly seated at the end of a share bench table and within the blink of an eye, menus are in front of us and first round of coffee orders have been taken. I get the sense there’s no mucking around here and service is top of mind. Taking a first glance at the menu, it has all the Saturday-session essentials ~ eggs, avocado, sausages, bacon, smoked salmon, French toast. Personally I order the bircher muesli with pistachio, honey and poached pears. Friends choose eggs in a variety of ways; poached and baked with an assortment of tasty accompaniments. Our order is taken by someone with a great memory and no notepad and the scene is set to simply sit back, relax and get on with the goss.

As everyone is chattering away, I look around at the character of Clipper and clearly see that it has loads of that and much more. Life-size push bikes hang on the wall next to mini penny-farthings, a selection of travel books on Sicily and Guatemala entice the wandering mind and the place has a buzz, an electricity that meets the frenetic nature of outside. A sip of the coffee is satisfying; creamy and crisp in taste and feeling like we have not waited at all, breakfast is already upon us and waiting to be devoured. Each of us have food envy looking at each other’s orders. Everything is still grand.

The bircher has a subtle sweet taste and has been efficiently soaked. The pears are soft and instantly melt in the mouth. The pistachios are crunchy and add the texture required to confirm happiness in my bowl. Mary has the baked eggs which arrive in a mini red Le Creuset dish. Oozing with sauce and sausages and partnered with crunchy buttered bread, all I hear from then on is silence and satisfied slurping with a smile. Mr ELG ordered the smoked salmon and poached eggs, with capers on toast and moments later, it has also been inhaled. Claire has eggs and bacon – a Saturday standard turned superior. As I said; a bloody brilliant breakfast.

Topping it off, the bathroom was clean – always an extra tick in my box and as I wander back to my seat I notice a Ben and Jerry’s fridge full of tubs and I know I have found a great place I will go to again. The food has exceeded expectations, the coffee was ordered more than once just because it was that good, the wait-staff were polite, smiley and on the ball and while there was a sense of urgency, there was no rush and Saturday started as it’s supposed to.

Clipper Cafe @ 16 Glebe Point Road, Glebe NSW 2037

Published in: on March 29, 2011 at 9:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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