Rockpools

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I love being by the ocean in the winter time. There is just something calming and nostalgic about that crisp sea salt air and the smell of the cold swirling ocean that is only present during the colder months.

Matt and I recently spent an afternoon tiptoeing over salty rocks, chasing crabs and peering into those deep mysterious rockpools you find wherever the ocean meets the land. I’m craving that ocean air again – I can feel it in my bones.

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Canberra Cafe: Pulp Kitchen, Ainslie

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This week it was Steven’s turn to choose a cafe and, true to his cinematic taste, we had a mid-week rendezvous at Pulp Kitchen in Ainslie. While its name might be inspired by Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, this “European Brasserie” packs a whole lot more than your average “Royale with Cheese”.

The food at Pulp Kitchen is pretty flippin’ good – the menu is fresh and seasonal and the food tastes as good as it looks. Pulp is a little more fancy than our usual hangouts and, while the bistro lunch menu might not be super cheap, we quickly realised its great value when we found ourselves “ooh-ing” and “ahh-ing” with every bite.

It was a pretty decadent afternoon – oven baked goat camembert with crispy sourdough toast to start; light and fluffy ricotta gnocchi for main (aptly described by Steven as “little pockets of heavenly clouds”); and, the most delicious chocolate dessert featuring dark chocolate mousse, some sort of citrus sorbet and soft, sugary beignets among an assortment of biscuit and custards. Steve could honestly not have picked a better place.

Located at Shop 1, Wakefield Gardens in Ainslie, Pulp Kitchen is the perfect place for when you are feeling a little more fancy.

- Bec x

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A Weekend Adventure: Four Winds Vineyard

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It is no secret that I enjoy a good glass of wine (or two) and the Canberra region has some fantastic cold climate vineyards and produces some delicious wines. The opportunity to visit the nearby wineries without driving is pretty rare, so when Matt’s parents asked if we wanted to go check out some of the wineries around Canberra one Sunday afternoon, we tossed all our other plans aside and jumped in the car.

On this particular Sunday, we spent a glorious afternoon at the cellar door of the Four Winds Vineyard near Murrumbateman. After a sneaky little wine tasting, we sat down to a full bottle and some rustic wood-fired pizzas. The wine was fantastic but the pizzas were definitely a highlight, with only three varieties on the menu, they were simple yet delicious. The cellar door is cozy and warm – a perfect way to spend a sunny winter afternoon.

The cellar door at Four Winds Vineyard is open on weekends and public holidays and can be found at 9 Patemans Lane in Murrumbateman, NSW.

- Bec x

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Canberra Cafe: Red Brick Espresso, Curtain

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Here we go again, this time we are hitting a little hidden gem in the shopping precinct of Curtain called Red Brick Espresso.

It’s a great cafe for anyone who appreciates simple yet delicious food, house-roasted coffee and cozy, yet sweet, vibes. I had myself a pretty rocking breakfast tortilla and Bec chowed down on some rustic baked eggs. They also served up the delicious fresh juices from Local Press in Kingston (we visited them a couple weeks back).

There is a nice homey feel about the whole place, the staff are friendly and easy going and the decor is cool, but not over the top indie try-hard. Serious kudos has to go to the music that served as a nice soundtrack for our lunch.

Red Brick Espresso is definitely one of the coolest cafes south of the lake. It’s a great place for either a quick coffee and a bite to eat or a long lunch with friends, or maybe a sibling…if they are cool enough.

Red Brick Espresso can be found at Shop 4/35 Curtin Place in Curtain.

- Steve

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Roadtrip Detour: Cactus Country

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I really like cacti and succulents. Despite killing my first ever cactus earlier this year (apparently they don’t really like water), my succulent collection has been growing alongside my obsession with anything cactus-related for a while now. They are cool plants – unusual and fun to look at, interesting in a nonchalant kind of way and all just a little bit different.

So you can imagine my excitement when Matt and I found ourselves at a little place called Cactus Country on our way back from Echuca a few weeks ago. Cactus Country is 10 acres of cactus. Honestly. 10 acres. It’s incredible. If you like cacti or succulents, you should go.

Cactus lovers can find Cactus Country at 4986 Murray Valley Highway near Strathmerton in Victoria.

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Canberra Cafe: Mocan and Green Grout, NewActon

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My favourite thing about winter in Canberra is the sunshine. Today Steven and I took advantage of the beautiful sunny winter weather and had brunch al fresco-style at Mocan and Green Grout in NewActon.

The NewActon precinct seems to keep getting cooler and cooler with every day that passes and Mocan has been leading the way for some time now. This cute little cafe serves up great food with a menu that changes with the seasons and fresh local produce a strong feature. One of the cafe’s best little quirks is the cute veggie patch out the front and the fruit trees scattered around the place. It’s hipster cafe meets my Italian grandmother’s backyard.

Out the front you will also always find pretty bikes to admire, as the owners of Mocan are also the bike makers behind Goodspeed Bicycle Co. As Steve and I brunched, we watched the cyclists come in droves for their post-ride coffees.

Mocan and Green Grout is warm and inviting – on colder days when the sun is hiding, you can warm up outside underneath crocheted blankets with a pot of soy chai. On days like today, you can sit amongst the fruit trees with a soy cap in hand and simply soak up the winter sunshine.

Mocan and Green Grout can be found at 1/19 Marcus Clarke Street in NewActon South and is open for breakfast and lunch everyday, and dinner from Tuesday through Saturday.

- Bec x

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One Day in Echuca

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When life hands you two nights accommodation at a spa resort in a cute little country town, you say goodbye to work and hello to champagne on arrival.

Echuca is a small town on the Victorian side of the Murray River, with big character, a lot of history and a large number of paddlesteamers. Moama is Echuca’s sister town on the New South Wales side of the river. In Moama is Madison Spa Resort. This beautiful country-style spa resort is where a room with a gas log fire and a spa bath overlooking the beautiful surrounding bushland awaited us – the perfect winter escape.

We had one full day to explore Echuca Moama and we started with the obligatory paddlesteamer cruise. Winter is off-peak tourist season, so we were the only two aboard the PS Canberra for what turned out to be a pretty sweet hour-long private charter along the Murray River. The Captain even handed over the reigns and let us have a go at the steering.

We then wandered through Echuca’s historic Port Precinct and found ourselves at the cellar door of St Anne’s Winery. Here they offer wine tastings accompanied by free bike hire. Yes. Free bikes. At a winery. I can’t think of a more perfect combination. So Matt and I had some wine and then went for a bike ride along the river bank to find a nice spot for a picnic lunch. But first, we stopped off at the Echuca Farmhouse Cheese for a cheese tasting, with more wine of course, and grabbed some delicious macarons from the Black Pudding Deli (which, in my opinion, also serves up the best soy cap in town).

Sharp’s Movie House and Penny Arcade is also located in the Port Precinct. The beautiful antique arcade machines are in working order and the black and white silent movies playing in the theatre give this cute little place some great atmosphere. It is definitely worth a visit, even if it’s just for the antique peep show machines featuring risqué slides of scantily clad women from the early 1900s.

We had one day in Echuca and it wasn’t enough. The region is a haven for food lovers and wine drinkers. There are bike trails and walking tracks. Echuca Moama is a great place for a winter weekend escape. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.

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