New Zealand Eats

This is another post that’s been waiting to see the light of day for far too long – almost 12 months in fact. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since we took a little trip over to our neighbour New Zealand. We spent 2 1/2 weeks driving around the south island in a campervan. It felt good to be back on the road living the van life, albeit too short. While we did a bit of simple van cooking in that time, we of course did our fair share of eating out as well. Today I’m going to share some of those eats with you, because it fits in perfectly with this week’s international theme.

Before I go any further though, I must apologise for some of the photos that you are about to see. Unfortunately I decided to mess with my camera settings while we were over there, and I struggled to remember what I’d done/get it back to normal so a few of them are a little wacked. I also must apologise about the lack of detail that is to follow. I made some notes in my diary about each dish and our thoughts on them while we were there, but since it is now 2016, the old diary is no longer with us. Whoops.

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Our first stop was to the Shroom Room Cafe in Lyttelton, not too far out of Christchurch. Lyttelton was very sweet, and we were immediately attracted to the laid back vibe of the Shroom Room – from the name, to the retro crockery, to the rustic interior.

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We shared two dishes, above I think was the veggie hash stack. As I said, I don’t remember too much detail (can you blame me after 12 months?), but uhh….that’s what it looks like?

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I’m pretty sure this was a falafel burger. I do recall the bread being dense and tasty, but perhaps a little dry. Nothing a bit more sauce or avocado wouldn’t solve. The side salads were a little lacking in size and content – a few more slices of cucumber and some cherry tomatoes wouldn’t go astray.

shroomroom5The items we got were straight from the quite extensive display cabinet, but they also had a decent sized menu board to select from. We shared a banana milkshake from it which made us reminisce of our childhood and banana nesquik. I would have loved to come back and sample more from the menu, but it was a little out of the way of the rest of our journey, so I guess I’ll have to save it for next trip.

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While in Queenstown we visited the infamous Fergburger, which had constant queues out the door. Wanting to know what all the fuss was about, we took up spot in the line.There were two vegetarian burgers on offer – one falafel based and the other tofu. Having had our falafel hit at Shroom Room, we both opted for the Holier Than Thou – a tempered tofu with a spicy satay, coconut and coriander sauce, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, snow pea shoots and aioli which we were told could be made vegan. Unfortunately, that meant removing most of the sauces and being given replacements. I vaguely remember requesting some sort of chilli sauce, but I think it ended up being sweet chilli. The burger itself was kind of disappointing, likely due to the lack of flavours that were supposed to make it delicious.

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Obligatory chips.

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Old mate duck wanted in on the burger action.

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Next eat was Hell Pizza, who have a few locations around NZ. We had heard good things about them, so made an effort to visit them when passing through Invercargill.

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We got the Sinister – a pizza with refried beans, avocado, onion, salsa, jalapenos, capsicum and optional vegan cheese (which we went for). I was a little hesitant to go with the mexican style pizza, but I need not have worried. This was gosh darn delicious. I mean SO good. After eating this pizza, we talked about it for the rest of our trip, making loose plans to find another Hell Pizza to get our fix. Unfortunately it never happened (though we almost went for a 30+ minute detour on the way back to the airport to try and find another store before recognising that this was kind of crazy and not worth missing our flight home for….or was it?)

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We got some garlic bread too because, well, garlic bread, and were surprised to find it cut lengthways. It seemed like a wholemealy type loaf which was nice.

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The last meal to share with you was from Soul Food Organic in Wanaka. Soul Food is a little cafe slash health food store with a good range of veg options on offer. We stopped in for a quick lunch after a kayaking adventure on the lake. I can’t remember exactly what this was – some kind of vegan omelette crepe thing with tofu and maybe miso? It was the last one of it’s kind in the display cabinet and unfortunately I think the last of yesterday’s batch as after I got mine a whole bunch of fresh ones came out. It was nice but a little wilty.

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The Bear got a cream of asparagus soup which he was thrilled with because he loves it and I have never made it for him.

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I spotted this banana bean coconut ice cream in the freezer on the way out and had to give it a go as the retro style packaging was too cute. Good thing I did, as it was mighty fine. They do a range of flavours according to their website, including vanilla bean, chocolate, mango and toasted coconut caramel, though I only saw a couple of them. They apparently also do flavoured coconut milks – yummo!

I had a couple of dodgy photos from a place we stopped in at in Dunedin – I think it was Circadian Rhythm. It had some pretty average reviews but we decided to give it a shot anyway. Seemingly the reviews were quite accurate and the food was as disappointing as my shoddy photos and the service subpar, as many reviewers had noted. As I just looked it up to try to remember the name, I’ve discovered that it is now closed anyway (perhaps for the better?) so I will leave them off the post entirely and end on the high of delicious banana bean ice cream. Thanks Little Island!

Shroom Room
48 London St, Lyttelton
Open 7 days – 8am – 4pm

Fergburger
42 Shotover St, Queenstown
Open 7 days – 8.30am – 5am

Hell Pizza
2 Dee St, Invercargill (other locations available)
Sun – Thurs – 11.30am – 9pm
Fri – Sat – 11.30am – 10pm

Soul Food Organic
74 Ardmore St, Wanaka
Mon – Fri – 8am – 6pm
Sat – Sun – 8am – 4pm

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1st Blogiversary + Beetroot and Mint Hummus

So it’s my blogiversary today – one whole year! I had often wondered how people remembered to announce their blogging anniversary – I thought for sure I would forget mine. But now I know the secret – I received a handy little notification telling me so – thanks WordPress!

Hard to believe that it’s been a whole year since I was picking grapes in Bathurst. Where did the time go? Since then I’ve been on almost a full lap around the country and now I’m sort of settled back in Melbourne, and have just started a brand new job. Polar opposites to the life I was living a year ago. Both good in their own way.

Anyway, I digress. As the day snuck up on me, I didn’t bake a cake or anything exciting like that. In fact, I had a little bit of a kitchen failure tonight, but I’ll discuss that later. Instead, for the celebrations, I’m going to do something I thought I’d never do.

That’s right, I’m going to share a beetroot recipe.

I KNOW.

Anybody who knows me knows that I DO NOT like beetroot. However, I am always trying to incorporate it into my diet in new, enjoyable ways. Usually it is quite well disguised (with chocolate). This time, I’ve used a bit to add a little extra to the old hummus. It’s quick, easy, and guess what?! – I don’t hate it.

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Beetroot and Mint Hummus

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 cup olive oil
400g can chickpeas

3 small beetroots, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp tahini
1/4 cup fresh mint, plus extra for garnish
Salt
Water

Place garlic, lemon juice, zest and in a blender or food processor and blend until relatively smooth.

Add beets and pulse until they are broken down.

Add chickpeas, tahini and oil and blend until fairly smooth. You may need some more liquid to get it going here – if so, add water 1Tbsp at a time until you reach the right consistency.

Chuck in the mint, and pulse until combined. Salt to taste.

Garnish with fresh mint, and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container until ready to eat.

Oh hi!

Hey there blogosphere! I am still here!

I took a bit of an impromptu break amongst all the craziness of getting back to Melbourne, weddings, christmases, breakfasts, lunches, festivals and so on. Y’know how it is.

So a quick recap – the engine in our van gave up while we were in Perth. We went to great lengths to source a new one, which happened to be in Albany in W.A and managed to get the van down there and have it replaced. By this point, we were running out of time to drive back to Melbourne (or we could have done it over 3-4 days, but had no time to stop and look at anything and it would have cost a fortune in fuel comparatively), so we sold the van in Perth (sob..bye ZZ) and flew back to Melbourne. The end!

And what a year it’s been! It’s so hard to believe it’s happened – once you have been traveling for a while it just becomes life. So it’s strange to be in one permanent place, but also great to catch up with friends and family who have not been seen enough over the past 3-4 years. I think the trick will be to keep things happening and keep life exciting. That’s what it’s for right?!

I hope all of you had a safe and happy holidays. We had a wonderful Christmas, doing the family rounds and having a great breakfast, lunch and then leftover dinner. Yum!

ImageWhile it was an ‘omni’ Christmas, we had one of the best vegan layouts yet..with stuffed mushrooms, tomato spinach and pinenut tarts, onion tarts, pumpkin chickpea and green bean salad, waldorf salad, purple cauliflower hazelnut and pomegranate salad and more. SO. GOOD .

ImageExcuse the blurry pictures, I think there was dirt or fog or something on my screen all Christmas (probably food smears) and I didn’t notice!

ImageAnd then check this out….not one, but TWO vegan desserts. My mum made this beautiful raw chocolate tart with raspberries (using avocados and banana).

ImageAnd I made this apple and ‘honey’ semifreddo from Hannah Kaminsky’s blog, which went down a treat too. Dessert heaven!

ImageInside shot! Mmmm. Find the delicious recipe right here.

ImageIt’s safe to say that we were preeeeeeetty full after that load.

I got some wonderful gifts this year, including a bunch of food related stuff. Check out my whizz bang new blender…duh duh duh duhhhhh.

ImageAlso some super heavy mortar and pestles for doing some super grinding, some raw chocolate, a beautiful cookbook and a cupcake decentre-er, hehe. Lots of new stuff to play with!

On top of that, my mum and dad (who I am currently residing with upon returning to Melbourne) got themselves an Excalibur dehydrator. More toooyyyyyysss!

ImageHere are some zucchini chips on the go. I’m excited to try some crackers and pizza bases and the like….it’s opened up a whole new world!

So wowzers, that was Christmas! Afterwards I dashed off to the Lorne Falls Festival to work at a food stall over new years, which was a blast, and now I’m back for a few weeks before heading to Rainbow. Yaaaay!

Hope you’ve all had a fantastic start to 2014 x

 

Goodbye Simba

I’ve still got a few catch up posts to do, but for a moment I am going to fast forward to the present. We are back in Melbourne, we arrived on Monday. The last week has kind of been a whirlwind and a little overwhelming in some ways. But in others, it’s like I never left.

But on to the point of this post – some sad news. Over the past year, our little cat Simba’s health had been slowly declining. In the last two weeks or so, it had done so rapidly. He had had arthritis for some time, and some kidney issues. Recently he developed an infection and his kidney function was becoming minimal.

When I got home on Monday, he was looking pretty unwell. He was being treated by the vet so we were basically waiting to see whether he would improve or not. We took him in for a blood test, the results of which showed he was suffering from ‘stage 4’ kidney disease. The kindest option was to have him put down.

So on Thursday night, we took him to the vet and put him to sleep. It was so sad, watching his little body doze off before our eyes. It was not the first time I had been present for a pet being put to sleep, as our old dog Tilly was put down around 7 years ago at the very same vet.

Simba had a good, long and healthy (until recently) life, living to a whopping 19 years old. We got him when I was only six years old, so he has been a part of our family for almost as long as I have. It’s amazing that he’s lived such a long life, and while we all knew it was the best thing for him to be put down and not be in any more pain, it doesn’t make it any less sad to let them go.

It’s hard to believe that he’s gone, I find myself expecting him to be there all the time…like I said, the majority of my life has had him in it! As you pull into the driveway you expect to see him sitting there, or hear his little bell as he runs down the hallway, or see his bed and bowls, or see him sitting on his favourite blanket. He’s been such a lovely cat (aside from the odd puke in suitcase as you’re packing to get on a plane incident) and well miss him a lot. He’s buried in the front yard of my parents’ place now. 

My Granny said that the spirits of animals stick around the house for a while, and I think she’s probably right as since Thursday there have already been several times where I think I see him jumping up on the table out of the corner of my eye, or hear a sound that makes me think he’s there. It’s kind of nice to think they are anyway.

Anyway, here’s a bunch of photos of our little Simba, the best cat ever…Goodbye Simby, thanks for sticking around with us for so long xx

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The incident

So I was really excited to share a post about our time in Darwin (and all the delicious things we ate at the markets there!), but instead I’m a little bummed out as we had a bit of an incident. While staying in Broome over the weekend, our van was broken into while we were asleep inside it. Crazy, I know.

They didn’t get much as most of our valuables were in the back with us, but they managed to steal my handbag from the front seat, which had my wallet, car keys, ipod, and all my usbs with the past year of travel photos on it, as well as some other bits and pieces – notebook, shells, etc. I am most disappointed about the loss of the usbs, as I have lost a lot of photos, as well as various documents from my uni life. Some photos are online, so I’m grateful to have those still, but a bit upset about the rest. We have spare keys, and I can get all the cards replaced (as annoying as it is).

When something like this happens, we often get fired up and hope for retribution. While I certainly feel unsettled that somebody came into our personal space while we were sleeping just inches away and stole personal items from us, I also feel frustrated that we live in a society that has vast inequalities, ranging from (but not limited to) access to decent health and education to disparities in employment opportunities and discrimination based on race, class, gender and sexuality. These inequalities can sometimes lead people down a path in which they feel that they need to commit acts such as theft to get by. Sometimes getting by may be feeding the family or paying the rent, and sometimes it also includes sourcing alcohol or drugs to feed addictions. 

It seems to me that we have a big problem in our attitudes towards these situations, particularly when we can palm offenders of with labels such as ‘junkies’, ‘druggies’ or ‘drunks’, believing that ‘they’ve brought it upon themselves’ or that ‘they don’t want to change’ and that people always have a choice when it comes to the position they find themselves in. That we are all born into equal opportunities with equal resources available to us. This is not the case. I am aware that I am very lucky to have been raised by a loving family who had the means to take care of and provide for me financially as well as in terms of love, health, education, and so on…but everyone is so lucky.

I would love to have not been robbed, or to get some of my stuff back, but what I would love more is for us to work harder on finding solutions to the problems that are driving people to theft and petty crime in the first place.  I am not trying to justify crime or theft, but I really think that we need to divert some more of our attention to the underlying causes of it in order to do our best to prevent it. Punishment is not prevention. Phew.

As for our time in Darwin, we spent most of it market hopping, as we explored EVERY market available to us in a weekend. That included The Mindil Beach night markets, the Parap, Nightcliffe, Rapid Creek, Palmerston and Coolalinga markets. It was a big weekend! The Mindil Beach markets probably had the best atmosphere, with busking and fire twirling as the sun set over the beach. There were lots of delicious treats at the various markets, we managed to find some vegan food at most of them, including some awesome rice paper rolls and delicious dragonfruit sorbet. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my bag gets found and I might get my usbs back (often bags get ditched once any valuables are retrieved from it) so in the event that that happens, I’ll share some lovely photos from our time in Darwin.

In the mean time, I’ve got a couple of snaps on my phone from some of the places we ate in Darwin (after it recovered from the Y2K bug), so I’ll be able to do a little review of those shortly. Until then…!

Farewell to my Bunny Baby

I’m interrupting this MoFo broadcast to post a tribute to my little bunny BB, who sadly passed away the other day.

BB was a surprise bunny, given to me as a gift to keep my housemate’s bunny Elkie company. They had a lovely life, munching our veggie garden, climbing the wood pile, lazing in the sun, and just generally being adventure bunnies.

When I left Tassie at the start of the year, we thought it best to keep the bunnies together, as they were best friends…one was never far from the other’s sight. Poor Elkie is all alone now…so sad.

We’re not really sure what happened, my housemate just found her in the yard, she han’t displayed any signs of anything being abnormal. My poor little bunny baby (yes, that’s what BB stands for).  I’m going to leave you with some photos of the little sweetie.

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Hopefully she’s living it up in the big veggie garden in the sky…

Woodford to Caboolture

Next stop on  our journey was Woodford, home of the Woodford Folk Festival. We stayed at the showgrounds ($15) for a couple of nights, which is just around the corner from the main street and just next door to two little shaggy ponies like this guy.

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Woodford has a really nice vibe to it – it’s small town, but quite funky, and all the people we talked to were really lovely. We spent about 45 minutes in a music/antique shop talking to the guys there, who we had a good old chat about everything from Tasmania to candles to hotspots for fruit picking to the folk festival.

We made good use of our bikes and rode into town the few days we were there. Billy was taken by a little fruit and veg shop that had this Elvis Parsley’s Grapeland mural on the side and we had to stop for a photo shoot. 
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We also rode down to a cute little place just on the other side of town called Storey Brook Cottage, which is a teahouse/cafe/restaurant/bar, with a small but pretty garden and a craft shop attached. They had some gorgeous handmade jewellery in there that even Billy was a bit taken by – beautiful pendants made by trapping herbs in a kind of resin in the shape of a little lightbulb.

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We wandered around the garden, then popped back to the cafe for a coffee, where we discovered talking to the lady who runs the cottage that you can book murder mystery parties there. How much fun does that sound?!

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After Woodford, we went onto Caboolture, stopping at various strawberry farms along the way trying to find some work. No dice.

In Caboolture ZZ started making TERRIBLE noises, our plans were stalled as we had to stay overnight so we could take him to a mechanic the next day. A whole day (and a good chunk of our pockets) later, we had a new clutch and we were ready to leave this town that damned us with bad car luck.

Oh, and check out this rad art installation we saw at the gallery there while we were killing time – it’s all made out of core flute!

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Technical difficulties

Oops…this little vegan bear is having some technical difficulties, in that I accidentally deleted a bunch of past photos, so they’re all appearing as empty boxes. I will get onto fixing that up later this afternoon.

On the plus side, I added both a recipe and an eating out index at the top of my page, for ease of access to the food stuffs that I’ve posted about so far.

Helpx-ing in Main Arm

Last time I was posting, we had just travelled up the coast to Ballina with no immediate plans. We spent a day in Byron Bay doing the old job ring around (avocados and macadamias in this area) but to no avail. We decided to camp out two nights at the Alstonville showgrounds (about 15 mins inland from Ballina) for showers and power (and only $10/night!). Alstonville was a lovely little town, and here’s a fun fact for you – it is the home of the Tibouchina Alstonville, a plant which has vibrant purple flowers around Autumn time. A guy who lived there developed the plant, and we were lucky enough to be there at the right time to see them in action.

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So while we were there, we decided to try the Helpx route while we continued on our search for paid work. We picked a host we liked the sound of, got in touch, and next thing we knew, we were on our way out to Upper Main Arm, about 15 minutes out of Mullumbimby. The Main Arm/Mullum area really is beautiful, and the minute we got there we were struck by the strong sense of community that is present there. Nowhere else in Australia (so far!) have we experienced something quite like it.
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Our hosts were a lovely couple who had a gorgeous property on which they had organic gardens, a little sub-tropical orchard, about 27 ducks and a handful of chooks (with names like Elton, Rob Zombie, Venus & Serena and Barry (White)) as well as two dogs, Possum and Peanut.

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The property is surrounded by bush and backed onto a creek that winds its way about the area. Oh and I almost forgot, over the neighbouring fence lived the most awesome bunch of cows, including (a super pregnant) Moonshine, her son Midnight, Little Brown Bull, Paddy and Madonna (also pregnant). Here is Little Brown Bull, Midnight and Moonshine.

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We really took to feeding the cows over the fence or in the paddock. Moonshine and Midnight were always the first to come running.

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While we were there, Madonna gave birth to a beautiful little calf with a heart shaped patch on his head, that we named Inca. Not long after we left, Moonshine had a little girl too….awwww. I can’t wait to see a photo. Baby cows are just so sweet with their long eyelashes and knobbly legs and the way they bound around.

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While we were there, we spent our days in the garden waging war on tradescantia (a creeping weed trying to take over the garden), mulching, transforming a circle garden and collecting stones from the creek to create garden edges (or barriers to prevent pineapples being squashed by duck bottoms). The beautiful circle garden we helped build/transform…

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Our hosts took us along to various outings – belly dancing lessons, winter solstice parties, social dinners at the local community hall, to the beach, yowie hunting in the bush and on missions to get delicious vegan pies. We met lots of lovely people, and our hosts were just the most awesome, lovely, funny, warm, generous people who really made us feel welcome and almost like part of the family! They cooked amazing vegan food too! I think they also taught us a lot and even inspired us to become more active in our communities. We had originally planned to stay one week, but ended up staying three, and then travelling with one of them to the gas fields in Queensland (more on that later). We already miss them!

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But our travels must continue! I’ve got some more catch up posts to come that I can hopefully get to this week, so stay tuned…

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Bibina

I’m kind of behind in terms of posts I’ve been wanting to do, as the lack of access to computers makes it a bit difficult sometimes. I’m determined to catch up though! The order of some of these will be a bit out of wack, but hopefully over the next couple of days I can get back up to speed with where I actually am now…real time.

Firstly, I wanted to do a quick post about this amazing place that Billy’s sister told us about called Bibina, because every vegan needs to know about this place. Bibina is a warehouse in Warners Bay – not too far from Newcastle – that imports a large range of international foods. There are aisles upon aisles of wonders, well organised by their country of origin.
You wouldn’t guess by just looking at it, but this place is a little slice of vegan paradise! While they do stock various animal products, they have an almost abnormally large amount of vegan (and gluten-free) stock. We spent over an hour inside, wandering up and down all the aisles and oohing and aahhing over all the foreign items. Here’s a picture of my bounty (NOTE: this was us being very reserved with out impulse buying).
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The incredible part is the price of a lot of this stuff. Some of these items I’ve seen in health food shops for more than double what they were charging here. I had never tried any of the Linda McCartney range because at around $8-12 a pop, it seemed like a rip off. Enter Bibina: $3.50 – how could I not?! I had tried Sheese once before but paid a ridonkulous $11 for it (and was not overly impressed by it anyway), but at a far more reasonable $5, I decided to give it a second chance. Also in this photo are; fairtrade soy cacao milk, GF self saucing choc pudding mix, Moo Free choc with banana chips, organic spinach noodles, GF chili pasta spirals, Massel stock cubes, Byron Bay habanero chili and mango hot sauce, tin of hummus (awesome stock to keep on hand in the van for when we need a quick snack), soy pepper pate, chili and lime peanuts, and speculoos biscuit spread (amazing…I had only heard the rumours about this magical stuff, having no idea it was available in Australia. We ate a whole jar with a spoon and had to go back for more..)
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This was our second time to Bibina, the first I didn’t take snaps but we got some similar bits as well as different items, like pepper tapenade, wholemeal roti breads and more. Seriously, this place is amazing. I really don’t think that I need to sell it any more than I already have, but if you need more incentive to get your butt down there, check this out – they have an ENTIRE ROOM OF CHOCOLATE. Yep.
Bibina
355 HIllsborough Rd, Warners Bay
Monday to Friday 8am-5pm
Saturday 8.30am-4pm