The Canberra Weekend

11/12/2012 06:00:00 PM

Hi everybody! I'm still recovering from a massive weekend in Canberra as part of the Human Brochure - which included, among other fun activities, two six-course meals with matching wines in one day! Woah. Y'all already know I really like Canberra as a destination for weekend getaways (see my previous Canberra holiday posts for proof), and it was great to discover even more new foodie locations. The weather, as you'll see in my photos, was absolutely perfect! Canberra really showed us her best side!

Mount Majura Vineyard

I loved how enthusiastic all the operators and tourism staff were - they all really believed in their products and loved their city, and were excited to be part of this new initiative and share what they've got to offer. I must be honest and state that there were a couple of little organisational hitches along the way, which were a bit annoying - e.g. transfer arrangements out of Canberra were different from the itineraries we'd received, and we weren't told until it was too late for us to join the bus and we had to organise our own cab to the airport at the last minute. However, it didn't dent our enjoyment of what was a great weekend. Overall, Australian Capital Tourism did a great job coordinating everything, especially considering it was the first time they'd organised such a large and complex operation. Good work guys! It was great to meet like-minded foodie-social-media-people from around Australia too!

Another thing to mention: even though we were encouraged to share via our various social media channels and have it aggregated to The Human Brochure, they didn't impose any limits or requirement on our tweets/posts (i.e. I wasn't told that I could only write positive stuff, or that I even had to write/tweet at all). Just quietly, I was happy I could Tweet and Facebook to my heart's content without getting funny looks!

I'll be writing up a couple of these places in more depth, but for today I wanted to give y'all a snapshot of what the weekend contained.

Humans from the Food & Wine stream were put up at the East Hotel, a brand new and rather swanky hotel in Kingston.
East Hotel, Kingston

On the first afternoon we had some free time, so met up with our Canberran friend An (yes, he of the Vue De Monde, Embrasse and Tetsuya's fame), and had lunch down the street at my favourite Canberra cafe: Silo Bakery. (N.B. this meal was not included in the prize).
Clockwise from Top Left: Croissant; iced lattes; cheese platter; fluffy bread; pizza with potato, chilli jam and anchovies; the cheese room
Everything was excellent, as expected. The iced latte was refreshing and creamy, and the pizza - with potatoes, anchovies and chilli jam - was just divine! I loved the crunchy, chewy base, and the contrast of textures between it and the soft potato slices. The flavour combo was great too! And don't get me started on the fluffy fluffy bread! I actually wonder why Silo, a Canberra institution, wasn't included on the Food & Wine itinerary...

Later that night, there was a welcome function at the Australian War Memorial. I thought it was an odd location for a celebration, being so sombre and all, but it was a fun night - there's actually a huge museum underneath with real fighter planes and heaps of really interesting artifacts on display.
The Australian War Memorial
The roll of honour
Inside the museum at the Australian War Memorial
 A few things about the above photo:
  • Human Brochure cupcakes! 
  • It was amazing to see real life fighter planes and other weapons
  • The dials on the bottom left are steering equipment from German ships. I got Sandra to translate, and discovered that, "Full speed ahead" in German is: "ALLE FAHRT!!!"
  • Loads and loads of food and wine on offer that night - and the kids got their own little lunchboxes with fish and chips and mini pizzas! The canapes were of decent quality, and the most interesting thing for me was the smoked lamb chops. Look like lamb, tastes like bacon!

The next day we enjoyed a lovely six-course lunch with matching wines at Grazing, which was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon! I'll be blogging this in full shortly, but you can read about my previous visit to Grazing here).
Grazing at Gundaroo

After lunch, we humans walked it off at the National Gallery of Australia. Not being a very arty person, I must admit I wasn't particularly excited about this destination when I saw it on the itinerary, but it turned out that I really enjoyed it! They've got So Much Cool stuff there! Normally visitors aren't allowed to take pictures, but we were lucky and told that we could, as long as there was some sort of "human" element in the picture. (That meant when there was no-one else in shot, I'd be making a peace sign with my fingers to take the pic, hehe). Again prefaced with the disclaimer that I'm not an arty person, here are a few of my favourite pieces that we saw:
The famous (and controversial) Blue Poles, Jackson Pollock

Yves Saint Laurent for Christian Dior
Having taken a class on "surrealism and the cinema" at uni (yes, I was an Arts student), I loved the surrealist exhibition:
La Mort d'un Esprit, Giorgio de Chirico - I liked this because it had petits beurres biscuits in it!


My previous knowledge of Indigenous art was extremely limited - "Duhhh... is that the one with all the dots?" - but we had a fantastic, knowledgeable and passionate tour guide who took us through the Indigenous exhibitions and explained everything in an engaging manner. I was particularly moved by the modern Indigenous art.
Ash on Me, Tony Albert

Dennis Nona - Mother and Baby Dugong. CUTE!

Adam Hill
Dinner that night was (another 6-courses!) at Rubicon - a restaurant that my friend and An has "always wanted to visit". Full blogpost to come, but for now, a quick preview:
Pink snapper, gruyere-stuffed diamond clam, pumpkin, kale, pancetta, sage beurre noisette

Sunday was a bit more low key - we started with a picnic in the Botanic Gardens, and went on a winery tour in the afternoon.
Human Brochure Picnic Blanket!

So much food! In addition to the sweet and savoury goodies in the box, there were locally made sausages on the barbecue, tea and coffee. (There were vans making espresso coffee too, but I made a beeline for the filtered coffee because I LOVE it!)
Picnic goodies
After brunch, there was the opportunity to take a tour around the gardens, but having had such a big weekend, Sandra and I decided to relax on the lawn and listen to the band. Lovely!

The final activity was a tour and tasting at Mt Majura Vineyard. (That's their gorgeous vineyard in the first picture of this post).
Mount Majura Vineyard

Cheese platter, local produce platter

And - phew! - that was the weekend! A big thanks to Australian Capital Tourism for putting on such a great weekend!

Sarah and Sandra visited Canberra as part of the Human Brochure campaign. Flights, accommodation, activities, transport and meals (except where specified) were included as part of the prize.

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  1. Love Silo Bakery. And Grazing is such a lovely spot for lunch - especially ambling around the veggie gardens out the back.

  2. Love Silo Bakery. And Grazing is such a lovely spot for lunch - especially ambling around the veggie gardens out the back.

  3. What an amazing weekend. I didn't know about most of the places. Have always seen Canverra as rather boring but must now change my mind.

  4. Now there's a massive list of places to visit when I'm home next :D

    Super jealous - looks like you had a great time in Canberra!

  5. Wow what a great weekend!

    And I love all the fingers in the art shots - haha.

  6. Helen - How good is Silo!! Grazing was great, and the weather was perfect - so lovely wandering around the back. :)

    Thanh - I think Canberra *might* be boring to live in, but there are so many fun things for foodies to do!

    Sophie - Wooo, we sure did!

    Agnes - Totally fun! And yup, I fingerbombed my own pictures LOL.

    xox Sarah

  7. What a great weekend! I've never been to Canberra but I am now inspired to visit!

  8. Despite being born-and-bred Canberran, I'd never actually gone to Silo before this year! Your photo is making me miss their blue cheese platter. ALL THE BLUE CHEESE.

    Also, Giorgio de Chirico! I saw an entire exhibition of his in Florence in 2010; had no idea we had his work in Canberra. Not that I particularly revere him, just, funny coincidence :)

    Rubicon is the restaurant that I always *mean* to go to, but somehow always end up choosing Sage instead. I love that it has entire vegetarian sections, though. Looking forward to your other posts. Yay Canberra!

  9. Woah, you guys got heaps of cheese! That's the only thing I would have liked at Jeir Creek, a lil more cheese ;) Mt Majura is beautiful!

  10. Great write up of the weekend! I'm doing the one in February so I hope they do just as good a job!



My email address is sarahcooks [at] hotmail [dot] com.