FOOD: THE BATTLE OF THE CHOCOLATE BARS
The Easter Bunny’s brought something a little different to Canberra this year. Not only did he come bearing chocolate eggs and hot cross buns, but some healthy – or should I say deliciously unhealthy – chocolate cafe competition.
That’s right, Max Brenner – the renowned and much loved chocolate bar and café – has opened in Westfield Belconnen, leaving Canberra’s longtime favourite, Koko Black quivering in their gooey chocolate boots.Is Canberra ready for two tantalising chocolate cafes? And, if so, how will they compare?
I took it upon myself to sample some of the wonderful chocolate delights from both stores to see how they measured up…it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!
Café and chocolate salon Koko Black Chocolate has been part of Canberra’s ever-growing food culture for the past five years; a transplant from the Melbourne café scene in 2003. It is Koko Black’s French décor, service and – most of all – the quality of their exquisite chocolate range that lures dedicated chocoholics to their door.
To taste a range of Koko Black’s delights I suggest you opt for a Belgian Spoil (pictured) containing chocolate cake, two Belgium chocolates, shortbread, chocolate ice cream and chocolate mousse. This is a true tasting platter for the senses.
Max Brenner has been open for just over a month in the newly refurbished Westfield Belconnen and every time I visit it’s as if the chocolate intoxicates me; it takes me on a journey.
Although I love Koko Black, I feel more relaxed at Max Brenner with the pots of melted chocolate being dished onto every dessert; fresh strawberries and chocolates displayed beautifully on the counter; and most of all, the look and manner of the customers. No one is in any hurry to leave the store…everyone, just like me, has been taken on an oozing chocolate journey.
Both chocolate cafes are very much individuals and offer different experiences.
Koko Black will always be a great place to take the girls for a gossip and some elegant chocolate dining; and Max Brenner is a great place to lose yourself in the chocolate.
Head out and make your own decision! Everyone experiences chocolate differently, it takes everyone on different journeys.
Read the full review here.
PLACES TO EAT: BABIES & ‘CINOS
‘Friday night drinks’ are the privilege of the worker. There are myriad options for the childfree, but what about when you have a baby? You still deserve that relaxing break (perhaps more than ever) but if you can’t drink and you have a child in tow, what do you do?
HerCanberra roadtested Canberra cafes in search of baby-friendly Friday afternoon coffee spots. Here’s the verdict:
A stalwart of the bustling Lyneham shops, Tilley’s caters to every demographic – all loving the ambience and cutting edge vibe of what must be one of the most loved cafes in the Berra.
It is great for us: plenty of room for strollers, chaotic enough that any little person noise doesn’t even raise an eyebrow, and low lighting that soothes away tiredness.
The coffee is strong and predictable, the biscotti to accompany it works well, and the ads for upcoming musical acts make you think of the possibility of a night out.
We spent a lovely sunny Friday afternoon at the start of Spring at the Yarralumla Nursery café. They have large tables in the sunshine and serve brownies accompanied by a pile of velvety cream.
Plenty of outdoor space means plenty of room for strollers and the outdoor space feels like you are in a friend’s backyard (admittedly a friend with a very stylish backyard) so it feels like you can stay for as long as you need.
It is probably not an obvious choice for mothers and babies but it is one of the best. Head into Raw Sugar on any day of the week outside of the lunch rush and you are guaranteed to find it filled with mothers and babies.
It has a few key things going for it. First, it’s conveniently located in the Canberra Centre which means you can shop before or after your coffee stop. Second, there are cushioned comfy chairs. And finally, the coffee is consistently very good.
bookplate is one of the most popular haunts for Mother’s groups in the Berra. The carpeted floor, high ceilings and spacious inside area mean it’s not too noisy, and there is a lovely big outdoor area with umbrellas and a delightful view over the lake.
The coffee is consistently good and there is a wide selection of cakes and cookies for mums and bubs. Parking is free, if you can find a spot, and there is stroller-friendly access making it all a very appealing place to pass a Friday afternoon.
When you are thinking baby-friendly, such posh nosh as high tea might not spring readily to mind but, as usual, the Hyatt was all class. Bubbles, coffee and a mountain of sweet treats made for a great experience.
The porter helped us and our stroller up the front stairs and the staff ushered we ladies and babies out on the spacious verandah, ensuring that we did not ruin the high tea experience for the other diners.
Read the full article here.
MOVIES: THE PRICE OF A TICKET
Canberra’s movie scene is fairly bustling these days, but what is ‘the price of a ticket’? In the Capital it’s an amazingly varied experience. Without quoting prices but in a vaguely descending dollar price, you can:
Go full luxe at Dendy Premium – a wonderful way to see any much anticipated film, particularly a period piece (to ease any desire for their lifestyle).
Go to Hoyts Xtreme Screen – bigger is better sometimes. Especially for action films. If the final Harry Potter shows on this HUGE screen we may indulge ourselves.
Go to Greater Union Manuka – it’s sometimes the only place limited release movies show in Canberra.
Go to Dendy – and remember, with numbered seating you can buy your ticket days in advance, avoid crowds and still get you preferred spot.
Or simply pack a picnic if you live on the Northside and go to the Deep South – Limelight Cinemas Tuggeranong are consistently the best deal in town. Their full price is just $9.90 and it descends from there – an adult on Tuesdays is $6.70. They have twice-monthly ‘BYO Baby’ sessions and any number of special offers.
And all this variety without even mentioning the wonderful ARC at the National Film and Sound Archive, the intimate Kendall Lane Theatre in New Acton, or the intermittent screenings at various national institutions and local film societies.
Read the full article here.
FASHION: WEAR THE PANTS
Now that Autumn has well and truly arrived, pants are set to become a staple of both corporate and weekend wardrobes. But how do you choose the rights trousers for your shape?
Short legs: If you have short legs, try and source labels that offer petite ranges. This will save you money as there will be no alteration costs.
Buy in softer and more flowing fabrics with good drape so that the leg is lengthened. It’s always advisable to wear heels with trousers so keep the hem long enough to cater for a heel underneath.
Remember to keep shoe colours light or neutral to lighten the leg as opposed to giving it unwanted bulk and weight with a dark or chunky shoes.
Saddle bags: You must be a minimalist when you have saddle bags, so your trousers shouldn’t have side pockets which will expand out to emphasise your hips. Avoid tapered leg shapes but instead for straight leg, wide leg and cuffed leg styles to balance the hip area.
As we are in the middle of a 70’s revival mini trend in fashion, there are plenty of wide legged trousers available. Try softer colours such as apricot, caramel and salt and pepper browns teamed with camel shoes to wear the look completely.
Tummy: Whether you are carrying a few extra kilos from Christmas; have a loose tummy from having children; or have menopausal thickening at the waist; the tummy can be minimised in trousers by keeping the waistline between the bellybutton and true waist, and buying styles without pleating to avoid fabric bulking at your thickest point.
If you wear dark pants keep the top relatively dark; and vice versa with light colours to elongate the waist area. Leg shapes should be wide and in flowing fabric not stiff or crisp cloth.
Pear: It is such a common problem for ladies to have to wear trousers to fit their upper thighs which inevitably end up too big in the waist. If this sounds like you, you’re most likely a pear shape.
Add an extra $20-$30 to the purchase price of trousers for altering, as they will more than likely have to be taken in at the centre back seam by 1/2 to a full size. This will change the fit immensely, and in most cases, a belt will not be needed to cinch in the extra bulk.
As pears have heavy leg shapes, they will need to wear bootleg shapes or kick flares and avoid skinny leg designs.
Read the full article, and get the lowdown on the latest in trouser trends, here.
BEAUTY: BY A THREAD
I recently caught up with a friend who had just returned from five years living in the UK.
“Know anyone in town who does good eyebrow threading?” she asked.
“Ah, I don’t know anyone…but then again, I have no idea what you’re talking about,” said clearly-out-of-the-beauty-loop me.
It turns out she was talking about the ancient Indian skill of eyebrow ‘threading’ that uses cotton thread to remove unwanted hair.
The cotton thread is twisted and rolled along the surface of the skin entwining the hairs, which are then lifted quickly from the follicle.
It’s quick, more precise than waxing, allows for better lines and is long lasting. It can also be used to remove unwanted hair from the face.
Unlike tweezing or plucking, eyebrow threading removes one clean line of hair all at once, making it much quicker and easier to shape the brows.
As opposed to waxing, the top layers of skin are not peeled or traumatised in the process making threading gentler on the skin. There’s no residue, no pulling of the skin, no risk of allergic reaction…only a small amount of redness because of the friction of the thread, which causes heat.
At Kundalini, one of only a handful of Canberra salons to offer the service, threading costs $30 for an introductory session and then $25 each time after that.
Find out more by reading the full article here.
FITNESS: YOGA ROADTEST
For the first in the HerCanberra fitness roadtest series, we tried yoga. Yoga continues to grow in popularity around Australia – a fact certainly backed by the impressive range of yoga practitioners in Canberra – and, as a high intensity gym junkie, I was surprised how much I enjoyed it.
It’s great for injuries, relaxation, reducing stress, toning, and core strength. I was told yoga ‘makes your day longer’ and I experienced it firsthand; it fills you with an energy that lasts for hours!
As a yoga novice, I first went to the Beginner’s Yoga class on Saturday morning at Soul Yoga at Torrens shops. The class is ideal for those new to yoga and allows each person to work at their own limit.
The class was very gentle and calm and followed with Savasana (relaxtion). I left the class feeling energised and my body felt less tense and more calm- like the stress of the week had physically left me.
Prices are $90 for a six week block – find out more on the Soul Yoga Canberra website.
I also roadtested Yogalates (Yoga and Pilates together in one class) at Om Shanti College at Griffith Shops.
The class was slightly more advanced than the beginner’s class at Torrens, and Jenna the instructor provided great guidance. We stretched every way possible, but it was all gentle and calm.
Classes run with school terms and cost $160 for the full term or $18 per class for casual visits.
I use to think Yoga was a bit ‘hippy’, and I have never been one to meditate, but there’s a lot more to it. It clears your mind and fills your body with a sense of calm and energy. It’s almost as though it clears all the toxins of the body and creates space for the energy of the day. I felt less tired and less frumpy.
And yoga really does get amazing results – check out the body of any regular ‘yogi’ (i.e. Jennifer Aniston) and you’ll see the toned, lean physique that comes with doing a lot of work using your own body weight.