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Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

If you’d asked me 10 years ago if I wanted to got to Los Angeles or what I thought of Los Angeles I wouldn’t have had much to say. I’d never been there and after 9/11, I’d pretty much written off the US as a holiday destination.

Then in 2006 came the offer of a whirlwind work trip to Los Angeles. Just a couple of days in Beverly Hills for, of all things, to celebrate the hit soapie The Bold and the Beautiful. Even the man processing my visa application at the US consulate in Perth thought that was pretty funny.

It was a quick trip and at times a lonely one, being the only Aussie on a foreign press junket where English was not the first language of choice. I extended the trip a couple of days (long story) and managed to fit in a movie junket and a visit to the LA Times Festival of Books. Anytime I saw little kids I got homesick; my son was only two at the time – he didn’t want to talk to me when I got back.

But I got a taste for LA. The crooked palm trees. Starbucks. The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. Bagels and boiled eggs. Even filter coffee with half and half. People were friendly. Waiters were friendly. Food serves were enormous and servers always wanted to load me up with take away.

I started of at the Elan in West Hollywood, before moving to the Avalon in Beverly Hills for a few days to attend the Bold junket, including a night at a club to watch Ronn Moss perform. It was all a bit surreal.

No one walks in LA, so the hotel staff kept reminding me, but I managed to clock up some ks on foot. Cabs were expensive. I think it cost me $50 to get from Beverly Hills to Santa Monica. Cabs also work in districts and I was surprised you couldn’t walk on to the street to hail one (that’s a New York thing).

I became determined to return with the family and we managed to save up for a family holiday in 2009, clocking up a near 30 hour economy long haul flight from Perth to Brisbane (or was it Sydney) and on to LA and then finally, JFK in New York.

I’ll save New York for another post; we were so sad to leave the Big Apple we nearly cried, even though LA was still to come.

Pictured above are some of the places we’ve come to love in LA. First, the Farmers Market at the corner of Third and Fairfax. It has been a mandatory stop on each visit, whether for a coffee at Short Order (apparently now closed) or some Mexican from Loteria. It was literally the first place we went to after picking up our hire car in March 2012.

Next, Venice Beach. That place can be a whole lot of crazy. But there are some great restaurants and hidden patisseries tucked away, not to mention the canals. We loved the fact the staff at the Starbucks near our hotel in 2012 knew our orders by heart within about a day.

And last but not least the Pacific Wheel at Santa Monica Pier, beautiful by day or night. I just love Santa Monica. I’ve never been on the wheel or attractions (see previous post about  fear of heights and add rides to that) but we have eaten at Bubba Gump and had coffee along Third Street Promenade. So many cool places to eat and shop around there.

A lot of people say they hate LA; it’s polluted, there are to many homeless, it’s dirty. They hate LAX, they hate the queues at LAX, they hate the security at LAX.

So much of this is in the eye of the beholder. I love to see the Downtown skyline. I am always amazed by the 16 lane freeways, the traffic snaking down Santa Monica Boulevard. The streets and boulevards that seem to run from coast to airport and across the entire city (on my first trip I tried to walk from one address on Wiltshire to another not realising they were MILES apart -this was pre Google maps).

Work has fortunately taken me back to LA four winters in a row; one year it was freezing and we had to buy coats before a function but every other year, the weather has been crisp but beautiful. One day I hope to experience the heat of an LA summer holiday and get to really indulge in a hotel swimming pool.

In other circumstances, in another lifetime, maybe I’d have lived and worked in LA. Sadly it’s a city that’s become unaffordable for many; read why here in LA Magazine, absolutely my favourite monthly magazine (I’ve been subscribing for maybe three years now through Zinio, having become quite the fan when I found an edition in my hotel room back in 2012).

So for now, I thank Los Angeles for the food, the fun times, the memories…and the photos, of which I will post more in coming weeks.

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Pasadena at Dusk

Pasadena at Dusk

 

In the year, gulp, year that has passed since I last posted, a lot has changed.

But you won’t find any selfies posted here.

Nor will you see photos of my kids.

Instead, here are a couple of my favourite things about Los Angeles.

The wonky palms.

The crazy freeways – so big, so many lanes, so fast – but somehow safer that Perth where no one can merge to save themselves!

And Starbucks. Yeah Starbucks! Frozen soy frappes/frapuccinos rock!

 

Starbucks frozen soy frappe

Starbucks frozen soy frappe

Hollywood or bust

Hollywood or bust

 

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My last few posts have mostly been about places I have visited on my travels.

Today, I decided it was time for a trip into Perth, not having been into the heart of the city for a few months.

I was surprised a few weeks ago when my hair dresser told me she hadn’t been to town for about three years.

Three years! So much can change in three months!

Perth’s track record of failing to preserve its heritage buildings has long been of disappointment, so the new Brookfield Place development in and around the original Newspaper House building at 125 St Georges Tce has long had my interest.

Although it appears only the facade  and perhaps a small segment of the building (and the adjoining Royal Insurance and WA Trustees) remains, it is a far more attractive proposition than the gaping hole in the ground that ran from the Terrace to Mounts Bay Road for many years.

Having started my journalistic career at 125 St Georges Tce I can’t wait to take a look inside restaurants The Trustee and Heritage (thought they opened seven days for breakfast – oops – closed today!) and to dine at The Print Hall when it opens later this year.

The dining and coffee options are so much more sophisticated than 1987, when the Newspaper House arcade had from memory, perhaps a tea room/shop and we had our much maligned cafeteria. “Salmon sammich ready!” If only we’d taken more time to appreciate the views.

So, here are a few snaps of the changing face of the Terrace. If only I had some old snaps from my days at 125…possibly in a box in the shed!?

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According to an email I received from WordPress at the end of 2010, my blog is doing really well based on traffic/stats. That’s pretty amazing since it hasn’t been updated in about five months.

So whoever has been visiting (Twitter followers?) I thank you.

If I did an audit on the number of blog posts and tweets about food versus television or entertainment I think food might win.

On that note, I’d like to post a photo of a macaron from the famed Adriano Zumbo –  “Patissier of Pain” as he came to be known on MasterChef Australia.

macaron from Zumbo, Rozelle, Sydney

Salted caramel macaron from Zumbo, Sydney

The Rozelle cafe outlet is much smaller than I imagined. It sells a selection of hot pies and sausage rolls, the ubiquitous macarons, tarts and assorted pastries like croissants. There are perhaps eight to 10 stools to perch at while having a nibble and a coffee. As a bonus, there are windows into the commercial kitchen where the macarons are being made. And yes, Adriano was at work the day we visited.

There were perhaps a dozen flavours on offer the afternoon of our visit including peach tea, apricot and rosemary, raspberry licorice, banana but alas no chocolate. Actually the macaron pictured may have been salted butter caramel.

I’m looking forward to the documentary series Zumbo coming to SBS next month where Adriano sets out to create 60 flavours.

Zumbo macarons

Zumbo macarons, a little worse for wear after flying Sydney to Perth!

I also hope to return in search of a chocolate or hazelnut macaron to benchmark it against my favourites in Perth from Choux, Rochelle Adonis, Jean Pierre Sancho and Globe.

The best bit about the Zumbo macarons is they are only $2 each – in Perth most are anywhere from $2.30 to $2.80 and I’ve even heard reports of $3.50 a pop!

It was a relief to finally try the real deal, having grabbed a macaron from a Sydney cake shop in October that was oversized, too sweet and ended up in the bin. Ditto the one I picked up on the run at a Sydney wine bar/cafe last month, which was more like a meringue.

Last but not least, here’s a hazelnut macaron with banana icecream from the dessert menu at Rockpool Bar & Grill. No, I didn’t order it.

Hazelnut macaron wiht banana ice cream filling

Hazelnut macaron with banana ice cream centre from Rockpool Bar and Grill

What did I order you might ask.

Well, there are two things I Tweet about a lot.

Macarons

and

Donuts.

Voila:

Donuts for dessert

Dessert donuts at Rockpool Bar and Grill, Sydney

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Headache

Have headache. Drinking black tea. Usually drink white tea. Usually have proper coffee in the morning but coffee machine in for service. Milk wouldn’t froth. Apparently now it won’t grind. Not sure what QuickPress is or does so writing in semi-whimsy Marian Keyes style to publish and see what happens. Nothing’s that quick. Especially when it comes to fixing coffee machines.

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Pictured is what has to be Perth’s best value babycino, available at Lawley’s bakery in Mt Lawley. I hope that by revealing this secret that there won’t be an immediate stampede and price rise! Just to be sure, all I will say is it is less than a dollar.

Perth's best babycino

Perth's best babycino

My son calls Lawley’s the “smartie cookie place” because of the cookie that comes with the babycino. How good is that, beats stale marshmallows.

You would think a babycino would be relatively cheap and easy to make. After all, it is just a bit of warm milk froth and in better cafes, actually a mini hot chocolate.

Gloria Jeans cafes usually offer a free babycino for every adult coffee purchased. You can then top the milk with chocolate and sprinkles. They charge for flavoured milk.

The last time I purchased one in David Jones it was about $1.90, pretty steep. We were charged $2 at the cafe at Ngilgi Cave in Yallingup but the babycino was served in an adult cup and was actually about a 2/3 sized hot chocolate.

Tealicious in Dunsborough offered a free babycino with adult coffee purchase.

On a recent visit to a food outlet at the Galleria in Morley, my son screwed up his nose and said “this is not a babycino”. I continued chatting to my mum and he continued protesting. Imagine my horror when I realised he had in face been given a small shot of coffee with froth!

I returned it to the counter and the apologetic barista said “it is only a small amount of coffee” to which I replied, “in all my years of buying babycinos, no one has ever given my son real coffee!” A new one made with chocolate was forthcoming.

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Strange food

Last week I went to to a popular local hotel for dinner with some of the other mums from school.  The table was set for 15 people despite me calling a day before to revise the number down to 10 (cue look of crankiness from waitress). The menu did not bear much semblance to the one the venue has on its website. But the icing on the cake was the garlic bread. I swear it looked exactly like someone had grabbed a loaf of sandwich bread and toasted it for us. Make that barely toasted – it was square, soggy, a total joke. There were several varieties of bread on a shared platter we also ordered, making it all the more bizarre. Must get the photo to post. It was like we had stepped back to about 1975. Heck even then I am sure garlic bread was round.

Today my son had an unusual experience – being served real coffee in his babycino! Most Perth cafes know how to make a babycino and they range in price and quality from 50 cents to the more exorbitant $2. Some come with a small biscuit or marshmallows; disconcertingly the pricier the babycino the less likely it is to have an accompaniment. Brandon was complaining that the babycino didn’t taste right and I wasn’t paying much attention, figuring he had been served plain frothed milk instead of milk with a bit of hot chocolate. So imagine my surprise to find it was actually about half a shot of coffee! The chap behind the counter was apologetic, having initially said “it’s just a little bit”. I’ve seen babycinos served in full-size adult cups, in polystyrene cups, as froth with no milk or chocolate, with sprinkles…but never have I seen one with real coffee!

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