Chips, cupcakes and Melbourne

Husband and I have stuff to do in the city every fortnight while the kids enjoy a sleepover with my parents.  My parents have a shelf in their laundry stocked with food supplies.  The rest of us call their laundry Mini Costco.

After our errands were done today, Husband and I went to the MCG.  That’s the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Australia’s largest open air sporting stadium and the tenth largest in the world.  It is the largest cricket stadium on earth and also has the honour of being home to the highest towers at a sporting venue.  Go Melbourne!


There are statues of sporting greats dotted around the stadium:


… and here you can see the reflection of two non-sporting lazy greats:


We’d parked the car nearby and I took photos of some homes which no doubt come with million dollar pricetags:





I never knew I wanted elephant topiary before today. I bet you didn’t either:


We drove off towards the city:




…then parked the car on St. Kilda Road and headed to the food court at Southbank Promenade.  The Promenade runs along the Yarra River.  There are restaurants, retail stores, a big food court, some offices and appartments along there.  The Promenade is a hustle-bustle area on weekends and you’ll often see street performers.  Like this woman.  I took this photo for my Canadian readers.  She posed specifically for you guys:


I have been avoiding eating at Grill’d since I was told their vegan burger patties are cooked on the same grill as the meat patties.  Today I decided to ask and was told that the vegan patties are put on a little tray.  I ended up ordering the chips:


Then I got a red velvet cupcake from Joy Cupcakes.  They have a few vegan options but they’re not available every day.  Hmm.  The cupcake was quite nice and I liked the icing, but I’ll be sticking with Mister Nice Guy’s cupcakes:

I needed to walk off my lunch and we had lots of time to spare before the parking metre ran out. We walked around looking at stuff.  Here’s the Victorian Arts Centre:



Walking down the steps below the bridge that takes you to the Southbank Promenade:



…and back up on the bridge!




Then I waved goodbye to the city and we headed off to Mini Costco to find our missing children amongst the packets of juice and Oreos.


bye bye!


Sovereign Hill, Ballarat

If you’re a schoolkid in Melbourne, chances are you’ll definitely visit Sovereign Hill.  I went there on a school excursion when I was about 8.  Now Arthur is 8 and DeeW is a very vocal 5 so this week we went on a day trip.  We’ve been learning about Australian history so this trip tied in nicely:


(my photos are different sizes because I started with my camera which then went flat so I had to use my phone.  And then I screwed up the scaling in my image editor).

Sovereign Hill is an open air museum that is set in the 1850s.  Gold was first discovered in the town of Ballarat in 1851 which then sparked the Ballarat Gold Rush.

Staff dress in period costumes:






Main Street is based on the real Main Street of Ballarat East during the 1850s, which was the settlement’s main street:






“we shall name him… Conan”:


(okay so that’s probably a joke not many will get, sorry…)

Arthur loves visitor maps.  He spotted the sweet shop and nagged us to make it the first stop:

…but we did the naggy parent bribery thing of good manners means you get to visit the sweet shop at the end.


Bowling!  Yeah, you remember this if you grew up in Melbourne:


We watched a lolly making demonstration.  Here you can see the raspberry lollies drying on the table.  The big blob of lolly goo was cranked through the mould thingy then placed on the drying table.  Then plain flour was scattered on top to assist in the drying process (which was quite short).  Then the lollies get smashed up like glass and separate in to their final shapes:


I like this sign above the fireplace.  I wonder if my children would pay attention to it if I bought one?  This room was the Mechanics Library (I think):

And this was the apothecary (I think) which also sold soaps and oils and that kind of stuff:


We visited the candle making shop.  Arthur and DeeW each bought a candle and dipped it in to coloured wax:



Some glassware on display in the candle shop:


What the cottages may have looked like (although one looked more well-to-do than the other):










I had packed my own snacks as I rightly assumed there would be no vegan options.  The staff at the New York Bakery were lovely and the waiter asked the chef what could be made vegan (the answer was a big salad and the risotto).  However I wasn’t hungry enough for them to go to the trouble of veganising their risotto so I just ordered a pot of tea with soy milk:



The most exciting part of Sovereign Hill for many children is the gold panning.  I have to admit, I had fun too although my job was mostly running after DeeW who decided she must run off and try every shovel she could see:



We actually found gold!  Real gold!  But you may be surprised to learn, as I was, that this real gold is a teeny tiny speck.  Not even as big as a small pin head.


And that was our trip.  Ballarat has so many beautiful old buildings but we didn’t have any time to wander around as it was getting late.  So we waved goodbye to Ballarat and promised the kids we’ll take them back to Sovereign Hill.


Hot Cross Buns from Mister Nice Guy

With Easter approaching, that means hot cross buns are everywhere.  Our big supermarkets came under fire from church organisations for stocking hot cross buns right after Christmas.  I must confess I’m not really a hot cross bun fan.  I mean, they’re okay but I just get over them really quickly.  Every year I say I’ll bake my own and I might still do that for the Orthodox Easter which is still weeks away.

Mister Nice Guy’s Bake Shop have hot cross buns this week.  So you know where we headed off to, right?

These hot cross buns are more along the line of what I prefer in a HCB.  A sticky glaze (apricot jam) and not just a boring eggy/milky wash.  Light and fluffy and no overdone fruit inside.  Big too  🙂


Mister Nice Guy’s Bake Shop is located at 151 Union Road, Ascot Vale and very close to public transport.  Here is their stockists web page:

Wonderbao bao

I was in the city again yesterday Doing Stuff and was determined to try Wonderbao.  After wandering around aimlessly I finally found it.  And realised I’ve walked past it many times from the outside alley.


The vegan options were ‘Choi bao- shiitake, tofu and vegies’ for $2, ‘Taro bao’ for $1.70 and ‘Fried Silky Tofu Gua bao’ for $3.80.  So what’s a hungry vegan to do?  Get all three!


All three were delicious although I did feel a bit alarmed when I ate the fried tofu bao as I thought “uh oh, does this have egg in it?”  I did specifically ask for vegan as a comment by Wonderbao on their Facebook page said their ‘V’ options were vegan so I am assuming there was no egg.  I hope there was no egg.  I don’t think there was egg.  Looking at my photo I now wonder what the red dot is made from?  I kept the taro bao (on the right in the photo below) last as a sort of dessert:


There’s a bench along the window with seating for about 5 or 6 people but I ate my lunch outside the State Library.  Wonderbao is quite small so people placed their orders then stood outside in a lobby waiting for them. I didn’t wait long and the staff were friendly.  I’d go back again as the bao were all very tasty.

Wonderbao is located at Shop 4/19-31 A’Beckett Street, Melbourne.  Go in to the lobby on A’Beckett street and walk a little ways.  Wonderbao is on your left at the end.  If you’re coming from the Melbourne Central direction, walk down Swanston St and turn left on A’Beckett.  After a very short walk, 19-31 will be on your left.  I think they do cash only (I saw a ‘cash only’ sign but can’t remember now if it was in Wonderbao or somewhere else).

Lentil Stew with Cauliflower from Vegan Richa

The other day I saw this fab looking recipe for Red Lentil Stew with Cauliflower over at Vegan Richa. I had all those ingredients and so I made it today.  I love me some lentilly stewy thing and I needed an excuse to get out the pressure cooker, which hasn’t been used in too long.

Okay, so I followed the recipe to the letter.  Except I left it all in the pressure cooker for longer than the recipe stated so I could be ‘sure’ it all cooked.  Big mistake, cos it sort of went to mush.  Still tasted really good though with my brown lentils.  This is something I’ll definitely make again, with the proper time limit in mind!

No photo sorry, I forgot (because I was hungry)…