48 hours in Auckland, a foodie guide

In November I was lucky enough to head across the ditch to Auckland for the weekend. My sister was there for a work conference and convinced me (very easily) to come over and spend the weekend with her. Then her husband decided to also come and then my bestie, Zoe, also decided to she muse well pop over to, so in the end we had quite the party! Thanks to Brendan for staying home and being with Archer, seriously such a good dad and husband.

As most of my travel adventures go the weekend mostly revolved around food. We managed to fit in A LOT of food, in a short amount of time, so I have rounded up my favourites below.

 

Pasture

Pasture was Zoe and my first stop. It was an amazing start to our time in Auckland. Pasture does two sittings each night – with only six people at each! We went to the later seating and were treated to 14 courses of beautiful New Zealand produce. Each course is lovingly prepared by the Chef and sous Chef right in front of you, you can ask questions and chat to them. It is just such a unique, well thought out experience. And best of all you leave the night with a loaf of their homemade sourdough.

 

 

Mudbrick

Visiting Waiheke Island was a must on our list. So Saturday morning we jumped on the ferry to head to Mudbrick Restaurant. On Waiheke Island there are vineyards everywhere you look, my kind of place. We treated ourselves to a five course degustation at Mudbrick with matching wines. The food was good but the wine was really, really good.I was instantly kicking myself for only having carry on luggage.

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If you weren’t looking for this bar you would probably walk straight past it. There are only a few seats at the bar. We stopped for a cocktail before dinner and the staff were lovely, and took a lot of time and effort to ensure everyone got a drink they would love.

 

Mi-La’s place

A cute little coffee stop as we shopped on Ponsonby Road (has lots of cute little boutiques), the cakes here looked delicious but we were too full from breakfast to fit one in.

Mexico

There is lots of mexican restaurants in Auckland. Mexico is a chain store but the food was pretty delicious and it was an easy stop for when we wanted something quick and light for dinner after our lunch at Mudbrick.

Island gelato Company

We spotted this place when we were on our way to the ferry and seeing the line knew we had to stop back. This was later confirmed by our taxi driver who told us the owener Ana had been the runner up on the 2012 Masterchef. We definitely weren’t disappointed for returning, beautiful, creamy gelato in a variety of flavours!

 

The Shucker Brothers

This was probably my favourite meal of the trip. I recommend a glass of New Zealand Chardonnay a dozen beautiful fresh oysters, shucked in front of you at the bar and then the best fish and chips I have ever had, seriously, the fish tasted so fresh and the chips were seasoned to perfection, oh my gosh I want it now.

 

Giapo 

Giapo is not just ice cream it is an experience.  The ice cream creations they make are out of this world, selfie frames, ice cream finger puppets and chocolate octopus legs. They also really encourage you to try lots of different flavours so that you get an ice cream you will really enjoy. I stuck to two simple two scoops and they were scrumptious so don’t worry that its all just for social media, the ice cream is really good.

Burger, burger

A good burger is always on my list when visiting a new city and ‘Burger, burger’ did not disappoint. They also provide lots of options for people with dietary requirements.

 

Chuffed

We finished our 48 hour foodie adventure with breakfast at Chuffed. I couldnt go past the poached pear pikelets, holy moly they are sweet, but worth every bite. A perfectly sweet note to end our weekend on.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions, I am always happy to talk food! Oh and here is a photo to show we did some exercise too – highly recommend the very quick walk up Mt Eden for beautiful views of the city.

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Kynefin, Hall

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Location: 2-4 Victoria Street, Hall

Parking: Ample free parking is available

Opening hours: Checkout their website for current opening hours

Menu: The menu is available here. I have had the porridge, the creamy mushroom, lentils and kale on toast and a taste of the chilli beans on toast. I really enjoyed all the meals, though would say the probably skip the porridge and go for one of the more exciting dishes as they are really yummy and different to what you can get from other cafes in Canberra.

Atmosphere: laid back and friendly.

Allergies/food preferences: there are a number of vegetarian options and the menu notes that most dishes can be made gluten free.

Pram/baby friendly: the cafe is really spacious so you can easily fit in a pram and not feel like you are taking up lots of room. There is also highchairs. It is the most “baby friendly” cafe I have been too since having Archer, as well as the friendly service and good food is one of the reasons I keep returning.

Service: excellent!

Social media: Find them on Facebook and Instagram

Hiking in Cinque Terre

 

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The  Sentiero Azzuro (also known as the Coastal Trail or the Blue Trail) is the crowning jewel of the Cinque Terre, people flock here to walk the coastal trail and rightly so. It weaves along the coast between the five villages and is breathtakingly beautiful and not overly difficult. For this reason though it is extremely busy. You also need to pay for a pass to hike along the trail about $A15 per person per day.  You buy a pass from the tourist information centres in the towns, the amount of people we saw get to the start of the track and then have to turn around and walk back to the town for a pass was notable.

We only did one section of the coastal trail from Vernazza to Monterosso and I can honestly say the quieter back trails that we did were just as beautiful and maybe more so because there was only ever a handful of people on them with you. Oh, and did I mention they were free!

Basically there are numerous other trails that make their way between the towns, they just don’t follow the coast line. However most of them are quite high up along the cliffs of the Cinque Terre so the views are still absolutely stunning! I have done a quick summary of the other hikes we did but feel free to email me if you want further information!

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Hike from Riomaggiore to Portovere

Starting with my favourite hike! This hike follows the coast from Riomaggiore in the opposite direction to the coastal trail so is a really good substitution. The hike took us approximately 5.5 hours, and had beautiful views and moved through different terrain. If I had my time again I would have left on the hike earlier so we could have had time in Portovere instead of rushing to get the last ferry back.

This hike also incorporates the hike from Riogammore to the Riomaggiore Sanctuary which  takes about 45 minutes but is nearly all up hill but you are rewarded with sweeping views of the Cinque Terre coastline.

‘La Beccara”

The ‘La Becarra’ is the ancient trail that connects Riomaggiore to Manarola. This hike takes about an hour but holy hell your thighs will be killing you. The only thing separating the two towns is a mountain and you basically walk up a set of stairs to the top and then down the other set to the bottom. oUCH!

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Manarola to Corgnilia via Volastra 

This hike takes you up another set up stairs to the very small town of Volastra where you will hike through the terraced vineyards to descend into Corgnilia and then reward yourself with an aperol Spritz.

This is only a handful of the lesser know hikes in the Cinque Terre so take the time to do some reasearch when you get there to find out about other – our AirBNB owner had a wealth of knowledge

While the Cinque Terre can be extremely touristy checking out the different hikes available is one way to having a more authentic experience. I also recommend going for a few days and not just on a day trip. All the big tourist buses pull up at about 10amish and the place is awash with people but when they leave in the afternoon the little towns are much more quiet and beautiful. Also try and avoid travelling during  the high season, we were there at the very start of May and while it was busy we had no problems getting into restaurants, bars etc.

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We stayed four nights in Riomaggiore, the smallest of the five Cinque Terre towns. We LOVED it here and was a great starting point for all the hikes we did – though the train between the towns really makes it quite easy to get to the start of any of the hikes.

We spent a lot of time at the Vertical Bar, really friendly service and a fun atmosphere. You also must visit the ‘A pie de Ma’ Bar and Vini, a beautiful bar set up right near the coast line.

We stayed in this AirBNB which was small but perfect for a couple, reasonably priced and the view from the windows, just breathtaking. If you end up staying here I would love you to use my AirBNB referral link here.

The Front, Lyneham

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I use to live in North Lyneham, many afternoons were spent at Tilly’s or The Front doing uni work until friends would eventually begin to fill in, the uni work quickly forgotten and beers and wine ordered. The Front was always an eclectic spot, homely and welcoming, the food was hit or miss depending on the chef at the time but regardless it become a Canberra institution.

In May 2018 The Front has opened under new management with a glossy new look, not so eclectic anymore (the mix match of lounges and coffee tables have been removed) but  a little of “The Front” vibe still remains. Local artists work continues to line the walls and it appears from their website that they may open at night sometimes for performing artists.

I went in for breakfast (surprise, surprise) to suss out all the important details for you about the new Front:

Location: 1 Wattle Place, Lyneham

Parking: Ample free parking is available

Opening hours: Checkout their FB page for current opening hours

Menu: The menu is available here. I went for the hotcakes served with ginger and sweet potato puree. The ginger taste was quite explicit but not overpowering and the hotcakes were fluffy, the macadamia and honey crumble adding texture. Next time I plan to go back for lunch and have the chicken burger.

Atmosphere: Busy and buzzing, but I don’t feel like it was particularly loud.

Allergies/food preferences: Despite having zero food allergies or preferences the first thing that struck me about the menu was the number of options available for people with dietry requirements. There are a delicious options available for people who are gluten free, vegetarian and vegan.

Pram/baby friendly: rookie error I forgot to see if they had highchairs but there was two of us with prams and we easily fit in and didn’t seem to bother the staff.

Service: excellent! Drink order was promptly taken and delivered. We wouldn’t have waited much over 5 minutes for our food after ordering even though the place was really busy. Everyone was friendly and accomodating. I will definitely be adding The Front to my weekend brunch list!

Social media: Find them on Facebook and Instagram

 

A birth story.

A birth story.

I did not enjoy being pregnant. Instead of relishing in prenatal yoga, green smoothies and calm birthing classes I spent nine months moving between the lounge and bed with a constant feeling of sea sickness, a disgusting penchant for oven baked hot chips and snoring that sent Brendan to the spare room more often then I care to admit. While I may not have enjoyed being pregnant I was grateful for being pregnant and for a relatively event free pregnancy.

At 38 weeks I began to show signs of preeclampsia. To this day I am not sure whether I actually had preeclampsia, its all really a blur but something I probably need to investigate. This meant that I was travelling to the hospital nearly every day for blood tests, blood pressure checks and to make sure there were no signs of foetal distress. As my blood pressure continued to climb a decision was made to induce me on 13 February 2018. After nine months of waiting for our baby boy we had a date to meet him.

I mentally prepared myself and went in for my final checkup on 12 February . For a number of reasons a decision was made to not induce me until 19 February. Yup. I can honestly say there is nothing like preparing yourself for labour and to meet your baby to be told to go home and wait another week. It was a kick to the guts to say the least. On reflection I believe it was the right decision as my body was not showing any signs of being ready for labour but that is much easier to say four months later. After many tears of frustration I decided to make the most of it and spent the week napping, reading, going to the movies and continuing to go to the hospital for daily monitoring.

Archer one

On the 19th I woke up at 2am with cramps that were much more intense then what I had previously experienced. Unlike most women my ability to sleep only improved while pregnant and I managed to roll over and go back to sleep, convincing myself it was just more pre-labour pains. I woke up at 7am and the pain was definitely intensifying. I decided to take Dora for a walk while Brendan headed to the gym. After a 30 minute walk and luckily only about a block away from my house my water broke.

I called the hospital and was told to come in. I rang Brendan, “We are having a baby” and confirmed that yes he should definitely still pick up coffee before coming home. Coffee always takes precedent, even if you are in labour. We made it to the hospital around 11am and it was confirmed that my water had definitely broke and I was in the very EARLY stages of labour. However there was meconium in my water which means the baby had pooed in the womb which could be a sign that he was in distress.

A decision was made to put me on picatocin to speed up the labour and holy shit it was intense. The contractions started coming thick and fast but because I was hooked up to so many machines I could really only lie on the bed. I ended up going into my own little world, I barely remember what was happening around me. I do remember though having the most amazing midwife  Vanessa who seemed to know what I needed before I did, I will never forget her kindness and unwavering support. To be honest I can’t really remember what Brendan was doing but the most important thing is that I know whenever I opened my eyes he was there.

Archer five

Unfortunately after 5 hours I had only dilated 1.5cm and Archer was showing increasing signs of distress. The obstetrician on duty asked me to seriously start considering whether  I would be comfortable having a c-section. Brendan and I began to discuss our options, as much as you can discuss something whilst in labour however about ten minutes later that decision was made for me with Archer’s vital signs beginning to crash. By the look on the obstetrician’s face I knew that this baby needed to join the world as soon as possible.

Within 20 minutes we were in the operating theatre. By this time I was exhausted, emotional and scared. My midwife Vanessa’s shift was meant to end but she worked overtime to stay with me. I couldn’t stop shaking as the anaesthetist tried to insert the needle into my back and kept yelling for a bigger needle which as you can imagine really helped to calm me down. Finally the needle was in and the c-section began. The whole process was extremely quick and it seemed like within minutes they were holding up our baby boy, the first thing I heard was the surgeon exclaiming “We have the our next Wallabies prop”. Archer’s vitals were quickly checked and he was placed onto my chest, not before Brendan nearly cut his foot when trying to cut the umbilical cord, luckily I didn’t see any of this.

The moment seeing Archer for the first time is one of sheer joy, amazement but most of all relief, our baby boy was here safe. I was quickly taken to the recovery area as there was another lady waiting for an emergency c-section in the hallway, we were literally pushed past each other, me with my baby and her about to meet hers, it seems crazy that we both crossed paths at the most important time of each others lives. In another crazy twist they named their baby Archie.

Archer three

In the recovery area I began to have a reaction to the morphine and my whole body was shaking and I felt like I was being roasted alive. They gave me drugs to try and reverse the effects but the feeling of claustrophobia was overwhelming. I breastfed Archer for the first time but having him on me mixed with the shaking and claustrophobia was too much. Once again Vanessa seemed to be able to sense this and suggested dad might like to hold Archer. Brendan ended up holding Archer for the next three hours until the side effects started to subside.

I was finally allowed to go to sleep around midnight and Brendan passed Archer over for me to try and feed him one more time. All the nurses left and Brendan fell asleep in his chair. It felt like just Archer and I were awake in the world. I finally had a moment to soak up my baby. It was pure magic. I soaked up his smell, examined every crevice, counted toes and fingers until he fell asleep in my arms. Our midwife came back at 1am and wrapped him up and placed him in the bassinet and despite the odds my ability to sleep regardless of the circumstances came through and we fell asleep for the first time as a family of three.

Looking back I wonder if I should have done things differently, maybe I should have requested not to start the pitocin so early but when you have never had a baby before its hard to know what the right thing to do at that time is and all you want is a healthy baby. Both the obstetrician and surgeon came to speak to me after the birth and both stated it was highly unlikely he would have ever come naturally and due to the position and size of my pelvis and the monster baby we had created  they both highly recommended an elective c-section if we have another baby. At the moment that is too much to worry myself with. The main thing is that Archer is here with us safe and sound and life as a family of three has begun. I am also extremely grateful that Brendan filmed Archer’s birth, at the time i was far too overwhelmed to watch him entering the world but being able to see it a few days later is such a gift, though not for the faint hearted and believe me not something I ever thought I would want on video but now something I cherish.

Hummingbird cake

hummingbird cake

Do you ever see something at a cafe and then instantly need to go home and make it? This happened to me just last week. After a very fresh walk around Lake Burley Griffen we retreated  to Bookplate to warm up with coffee. Inside there was a scrumptious looking Hummingbird cake but I got the ordering jitters and ended up with a cornflake cookie. Seriously?! A cornflake cookie. WTF was I thinking? It was actually a pretty good cookie but it was no Hummingbird cake.

When I got home all I could think about was the bloody Hummingbird cake. I had serious buyers remorse and decided I needed to make my own straight away.  Unfortunately I didn’t have all the right ingredients and to be honest could not be bothered to go out again with Archer in tow so I had to get a little creative.  I am happy to report though that all the substitutes I used ended up creating a really delicious, moist Hummingbird cake, so good (and easy) that the recipe deserves to be shared!

Ingredients

Cake

  • 250 grams self raising flour (Sifted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon (Sifted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger (Sifted)
  • 270 grams brown sugar
  • 440 gram can of pineapple pieces
  • 2 ripe bananas (mashed)
  • 1/4 cup of walnuts
  • 1/4 cup sultanas
  • 2 eggs (Lightly beaten)
  • 1 cup of canola oil

Icing

  • 250 grams of cream cheese (room tempreture)
  • 2 x cups of icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup of crushed walnuts or 1/4 cup of shredded coc

Method

  1. Mix all cake ingredients together and bake at 170 degrees celsius (fan-forced). Allow to cool before icing.
  2. For the icing, beat the cream cheese until soft and then slowly add icing sugar until well mixed. Ice cake and top with crushed walnuts.

A breastfeeding journey cut short.

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As soon as I found out I was pregnant I knew I wanted to breastfeed our baby. My hospital bag was packed with lanolish, breast pads, breast feeding tops, nipple shields – you name it, I had all the paraphernalia.

After Archer was born he latched like he was born knowing exactly what to do. For the next couple of days he wouldn’t leave my boob for more then a few minutes, and if he wasn’t on there he was screaming, fidgeting or distressed. I thought this was completely normal and I know that cluster feeding at the start, is completely normal, but Archer very rarely seemed settled. It wasn’t until the fourth day that the obstetrician walked in as Archer was screaming and he exclaimed that he was starving and asked the midwife to get formula. After 60mls he fell into the most settled sleep he had, had since birth. The obstetrician examined me and asked me a number of questions and was concerned that I may not be producing enough food yet.

Before I left hospital I was given a prescription for Motilium to try and increase my supply. I was also given a routine to follow of breastfeed on both sides for twenty minutes each, top up with formula and then express every three hours. When we got home I was determined to breastfeed so followed the instructions to a tee.

However Archer instead of being “topped up” with formula was always drinking the whole amount. At times when I tried to just breastfeed him he would scream afterwards until he got a bottle. I began to dread him waking up for a feed and my sleep deprivation only continued to worsen as the whole routine would take so long that by the time I finished feeding it was time to start the routine again. Feelings of failure and shame were flooding my waking moments.

Archer 6

I persevered for four weeks. I was drinking lactation tea, downing boobie biscuits and visiting the MACH nurses where I was told to keep trying. However the amount of formula Archer would drink after each feed just kept increasing and I began to feel completely defeated. I am so grateful for my mum and Brendan stepping in and discussing my options with me. Neither pressured me to make a decision either way and I felt completely supported whatever decision I made for the future. Ultimately I decided a  few days later that I couldn’t keep trying to breastfeed for any longer as it was causing me too much mental distress. I went cold turkey from that moment as I knew I would find doing a last feed far too emotional. While our journey wasn’t for long I am grateful for every moment that Archer and I had breastfeeding.

If anyone has quit breastfeeding cold turkey you will know that it is physically very confronting. For the first time my breasts went as hard as rocks and I was convinced that they would explode at any moment. However due to my low supply I was basically back to normal after 24 hours which I am grateful for. The only reminder I had of breastfeeding was when my boobs would leak if Archer cried which is just another slap in the face when you already drowning in guilt from no longer breastfeeding.

On reflection, four months later, I have absolutely zero regrets about stopping our breastfeeding journey early. Archer and I are both so much happier and less anxious and I immediately began to enjoy motherhood so much more. I don’t deny breast is best at all but I also think good mental health is best and this is what we needed to do to ensure that I could be the best mum possible. I am extremely grateful that there there is an alternative to breast milk available so babies like Archer can continue to thrive and live healthy lives or mums who are not comfortable or unable to breastfeed can still feed their children. I will try to breastfeed our next baby but I am also not going to let myself be eaten alive by the guilt and shame if it doesn’t go to plan like I did this time around. I know that those precious moments with a newborn are limited and I don’t want to spend them in the darkness that I did this time around.