Tea time: Reaching Out Tea House, Hoi An, Vietnam

Reaching Out Tea House
131 Tran Phu Street, Hoi An, Vietnam
http://reachingoutvietnam.com/

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We stumbled upon quite a few tea houses in Hoi An, but my favourite was the Reaching Out Tea House. Reaching Out Vietnam started up back in 2010, with the goal of providing opportunities to learn skills and fain employment for people with disabilities.

In Hoi An, they have an arts & crafts shop, where every beautiful piece (and I do mean beautiful) has been created by an artisan with a disability. They also have the tea house, which is the ultimate sanctuary in such a bright and busy city.
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The beautiful space is serene and calm, made even more so by the request that guests communicate in whispers. The staff are all speech and hearing impaired, which makes not the smallest bit of difference in their service. If anything, it’s better than any other tea house I’ve ever visited; they were all so gracious, elegant and accommodating.
Communication really isn’t an issue; once seated, we were given paper menus and pencils so that we could mark our orders and hand them back. That was the easy part – the menu is huge! We also had some spare sheets of blank paper and blocks (see below) which made it even easier – they’ve thought of everything to make both the staff and guests as comfortable as possible.
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In the end, husband settled on a Good Day Coffee (made from specialty-grade Arabica beans grown in Cau Dat, with notes of toffee and cashews). It came out on a beautiful tray in an even more stunning coffee cup, with detailed golden lotus leaves and flowers crawling up its sides. The dainty little gold Vietnamese coffee filter was beautiful, too – if I drank coffee, I’d have gone home with a set! But I don’t, so I left the tasting to husband, and it got a big tick of approval.
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I chose a pot of private production Oolong tea (an organic tea from the Central Highlands with a pale colour and light, floral taste). Again I was blown away by the magnificent tea set, and took a moment to be a dork and just admire it. The tea was fantastic, too – such an easy drinking tea in that climate.
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We also ordered some sweets – husband chose the black sesame cookies (verrryyyy moorish), and I didn’t bother reading past the pandan green tea coconut, which (to my joy) turned out to be thick green tea & pandan flavoured strips of dried coconut. Actual edible heaven!
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My only regret was that we found this too late in the trip to make a return visit – they did tea and coffee tasting trays, which I’d have loved to have gotten involved in! But otherwise, it was perfect. We arrived at dusk, and sitting in this calm, dimly lit haven after a long, chaotic day was exactly what we needed. I can’t recommend it highly enough if you find yourself in Hoi An; good tea and coffee, great people and a wonderful cause to support 🙂
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Tea time: The Village Larder, Woodend, VIC 

The Village Larder
81 High St, Woodend
http://www.thevillagelarder.com.au/

Going back in time today because it’s cold and I’d rather be sitting in front of a fireplace with tea and scones. Unfortunately, I’m fairly stationary today, but when you’re taking a road trip and it’s freezing cold and raining a little bit and you’re not quite there yet, you gotta stop for hot tea and coffee. On our way from Melbourne to Bunjil Farm, we passed through the sweet little town of Woodend, and The Village Larder looked like the perfect place to stop off and warm up.

If I lived here, this would be my regular tea house. It was perfect; warm and cosy, owing mostly to the fire place (heaven!), cute random fabric curtains, the most gorgeous old wooden counter and plenty of space to sit and read and relax.

Tea and coffee were both delicious, and so was the sultana scone, warmed up and served with delicious berry jam and cream. I also really loved the two drawings stuck to the coffee machine; one a beautiful pen sketch done by someone who was clearly a talented artist, and another done by a child, signed with their name. They both looked perfect there. It’s the simple stuff 🙂

The breakfast menu looked great, too – shakshuka, fig date & raisin toast, bacon + egg + avo + chipotle ciabatta and freshly squeezed juices… next time, I think I’ll want to leave a little earlier so I can have breaky instead of just morning tea!

 

The Village Larder Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: Ampersand Coffee & Food, Melbourne (café/brunch)

Ampersand Coffee & Food
863 High St, Thornbury
https://www.facebook.com/AmpersandThornbury

I noticed this place what feels like ages ago on one of our long walks. A few weeks after that, I saw Ashley’s review on I’m So Hungree, and this girl knows her food, so I made a mental note to get around to it. 4 months later, I finally did (the only down side to this Melbourne hipster apocalypse is the ridiculous amount of good food popping up and no extension of weekends to accommodate it all).

We were greeted by the requisite fancy coffee menu on old-school board, ironic décor of a bike hung behind the counter covered in vines, and completely random neon light/art installation. But, I quite liked it all – it’s a beautiful, light space, and everything worked to make it a really comfortable place.

We were quickly seated with drink orders taken – while still new to the bean scene, husband loved the coffee (Padre coffee, for those who understand these things) and noted how many people were dropping in just for a cup to take away. I was happy to see Larsen & Thompson tea on the menu, and got me some Good Morning tea. Nice.

The menu, while not enormous, does have all the basics that you’re wanting. It should also note that they cater exceptionally well for special dieters, vegetarians and vegans, so big points there. Husband was recovering from a big Saturday night, and went with the breakfast burrito ($16.00), filled with scrambled eggs, Mexican rice, bacon, rocket, and chipotle mayo. He didn’t look too impressed when it came out, saying that it looked a bit on the small side, not realising how full of bacon and egg and rice it actually was – he didn’t finish it, in the end!

I was feeling a bit crap and was after comfort food; when I saw that the porridge ($9.00)  was made with soy milk (I think these guys are the only ones who offer a lactose free porridge…), I knew that was for me. Also came with poached pears (which I can’t really eat due to fructose issues), pistachios (yum) and toasted coconut (favourite). I was expecting something a little on the small side for the price, but this was a deceptively big bowl of porridge! I know I probably should have, but I did nibble on a bit of pear, which was soft and delicious. And heaps of pistachios and coconut. Just really good winter comfort food – loved it!

Cute café, great food and coffee, quick (albeit a little cold) service, and close to home – I wouldn’t mind another visit for the waffles with honeycomb, ricotta and chocolate sauce next…

 

Ampersand Coffee and Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: BSKT Café, Gold Coast, Queensland (healthy & special diet friendly)

BSKT Café
4 Lavarack Rd, Mermaid Beach, Queensland
http://www.bskt.com.au/

Our quick Queensland escape weekend was actually a family affair, with us all there to celebrate my mum-in-law’s birthday 🙂 So, when they all arrived a few days before us and discovered some hipster-looking, kale-on-the-menu, drinks-in-jars café near our apartment, they all made sure to let me know about it and make fun of me a bit – fair enough! But upon menu investigation, BSKT actually looked like it had some great stuff that I really would enjoy, so after an early morning walk on Saturday, husband and I decided to have breaky there.

First up, gorgeous space – a block back from the beach, big and open and full of natural light, it was perfect for Mermaid Beach. It also had plenty of room – indoor, outdoor and courtyard seating, it looked like it was able to cater easily for the day long crowds (they do breakfast, lunch and dinner); apparently not, though, because walking past at 8am on Sunday morning, there was standing room only and it was PACKED! That’s always a good sign.

We started with drinks – husband gave the thumbs up to his skinny latte, and my mint matcha latte (made with coconut milk) was magic. Absolutely the best matcha beverage I’ve ever had, it was basically fairy dust in a cup. It wasn’t cheap at $7.00, but it was worth every cent. I need more.

For breakfast, husband went with the H & M Omlette ($19.00) – Shaved leg ham & field mushrooms folded over with melted Gruyere, served with superseed toast & house made tomato relish. It was a monster serve, and full of ham and cheese. Husband very much enjoyed it, although he did say that without the relish it didn’t pack much flavour, so he was glad he got a decent serve of that on the side.

I hated myself for ordering something with such a pretentious name, but I ordered the paleo veganola ($15.00). I even hate typing that, I’m sorry! Let me say that I am not a vegan or paleo worshipper, but a serving of granola packed with nuts, seeds, berries, coconut, macqui and a side of coconut ice cream sounded too good to pass up! And it really, really was – crunchy perfect granola, it was some of the best I can remember having… and that coconut ice cream was incredible! Husband got stuck into it, too, after he finished his omlette, and was a little disappointed there wasn’t more to go around.

It’s a great little café, although it does attract the young and beautiful “fitness crowd,” clad in their tight, bright lycra, puffer vests and a layer of make up. If you can get past that, though, the service was friendly and quick, and the menu is pretty great when you want a break from the standard surf club bacon-and-egg breaky, as are the brilliant range of coffees, teas, specialty hot drinks and juices  : )

 

BSKT Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: Honey Badger, Hobart (dessert)

Honey Badger
7 Salamanca Square, Hobart, Tasmania
http://honeybadgercafe.com

Home, sweet home…
I always returning home to be so bittersweet, whether it’s a few weeks away or just a few days. This little break was exactly what I needed, and I absolutely loved spending time in Hobart 🙂 hopefully you guys will enjoy seeing a bit more of this beautiful part of the world with the upcoming blog posts on it, but given that it is Friday (or FriYay), I thought I’d get back into it with a sweet little post and recommendation for anyone who finds themselves in Hobart and looking for a little treat this weekend.

Our first night in Hobart inevitably saw us end up around Salamanca Place, which is where we noticed an A-frame with the words “dessert bar” on them. That was a no brainier. It had been a long day, I needed a cup of tea and desser is never a bad idea when you’re on vacation!

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Enter Honey Badger; gorgeous, hipster, and very welcoming, it wouldn’t have been at all out of place in one of Melbourne’s hot spots. The menu is a sugar fiend’s dream, with things like panookies (skillet cookies) and waffles, with a pretty great tea and coffee menu to go with it all. Husband really enjoyed his coffee, but we both REALLY loved my matcha latte – it was magic! Husband is now into matcha lattes now, happy days for me!

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We also got a serve of the Kyoto Holiday waffles, that came with green tea custard, sweet red bean paste, pistachios, cream and green tea ice cream. Absolutely completely delicious… It was really hard to narrow down the menu to this one, and I have no regrets! I’d highly recommend it!

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And the best part is that they’re open until late, so if you have a hankering for a big chocolate brownie and a matcha latte at 9.30pm, you’re well and truly covered! Happy weekend, friends 🙂

Honey Badger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here – weekend brunch spots: Wild Timor Coffee & Percy’s Aeroplane, Melbourne

Guys, it’s Friday. AKA the day before brunch time. It’s exciting stuff! Last weekend being a long weekend meant I had time for two outings instead of the regular one, so I thought I’d share them both this morning, in case you like to have a few options when picking out a weekend brunch spot  : )

 

Wild Timor Coffee
282 Sydney Rd, Coburg
http://www.wildtimorcoffee.com/

I always feel a bit bad visiting places like this who pride themselves on their coffee, because I don’t drink it! You can read all about the story behind the beans here, but basically these guys are sourcing organic, ethical and direct traded coffee from Timor Leste to help support the country and help it to prosper, while developing social programs that encourage the highest quality coffee. You don’t have to be a coffee drinker to appreciate that. Luckily for me, they can also brew a decent pot of tea  : )

While they say that the coffee is the biggest focus in the Coburg cafe, the food is pretty good, too. Simple and classic options like eggs benedict and a breakfast burrito, as well as dishes like their Timorese sweet and sour eggs which are pretty popular. Because I’m a sucker for good oat related breakfasts, I went with the granola, topped with berries, pistachios and coconut yoghurt.

It was nothing like what I expected, with no oats in sight – instead, it had a small amount of other assorted grains and lots of toasted almonds and cashews. I always expect granola to have oat clusters in there, so I was a little surprised not to find any, but I certainly wasn’t disappointed, given that it was basically just a bowl full of my favourite things – roasted nuts, coconut yoghurt and berries. And very filling – 3 hours after a normal breakfast and I’m usually hankering for a snack. 3 hours after this, I didn’t even want to think about lunch!

It was a little disappointing to see that the coconut and raspberry French toast was off the menu because I’d have loved to try that, but I’d happily visit again to try some of the egg-based dishes. It also didn’t hurt that it was a visually gorgeous cafe and staffed by some of the nicest people I’ve ever seen working in hospitality. Double points for the lovely young guy manning the cash register and the floor who knew almost everyone by name and made time to have a quick chat to all of his customers – you’re a star, mate!

 

Wild Timor Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 
Next stop was…

Percy’s Aeroplane
96 Denmark St, Kew
https://web.facebook.com/flywithpercys/?_rdr

I’ve heard so many great things about Percy’s, tucked away out in Kew near not much else, so I dragged the husband out last Sunday morning for a visit. One of my main reasons for visiting was the matcha panna cotta I’d seen pimped out all over social media, so when I arrived and found that it wasn’t advertised on either the menu we were given or the specials board, I was pretty disappointed. We were handed menus without much else of a word, so I figured they just weren’t doing it anymore. Luckily, the rest of the menu read pretty well, so husband chose the Mister Percy, and I went with the Smoked Buxton Trout.

The Mister Percy (crispy bacon, smashed avo and a poached egg on top of herbed potato rosti with a chipotle sauce. Literally every single thing the husband loves in a breakfast dish. And unfortunately underwhelming. For a breakfast priced at $18.90, you’d usually expect to get 2 eggs, but it was just the one. The bacon and avo were great, but the rosti were sadly a little underdone. Had potential, but didn’t quite get there…

As for mine, it hit both extremes. My breaky was comprised of smoked trout, rosti, baby spinach, an egg and dill mayo. The smoked trout and dill mayo were amazing! Incredible flavour, the trout was beautifully salty and smoked, and the mayo was absolutely perfect with it. But unfortunately my rosti were even more underdone than husband’s, so they left party uneaten  : (

On the way out, I couldn’t help pondering what breakfast would have been like if I’d been able to have that panna cotta I so wanted instead, only to see a small sign for it on the door on our way out… SO disappointing!! I so wanted to love Percy’s, and it had so much potential, but it just didn’t quite hit the mark for us. That said, I still want to try that panna cotta, so I may still be back!

Percy's Aeroplane Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tea time: Naked Espresso Bar, Melbourne (eat here, too)

Naked Espresso Bar
390 Little Bourke St, Melbourne
http://www.nakedespressoco.com.au/

Another Friday, another week down (almost). Come Friday, I feel like I’ve really earnt my lunch time break, and love heading down Little Bourke Street or Hardware Lane for a pot of tea and some reading and writing and people watching. Sometimes, if I’ve got a bit of extra cash (because eating in Melbourne costs a bloody fortune), I might even treat myself to lunch, like I did on this visit to Naked Espresso.

They’re one of my favourite go-to places to a good lunch time pot of tea, mostly because they’re lovely and friendly, play great tunes, and give me a chocolate dipped Tiny Teddy with my tea. How can you not love a place that does that?!  Thanks, guys, you make long work weeks so much better  : )

Food is also top notch, particularly the toastie menu for which they’re so well known. Is there anything better than a really well made ham, cheese and tomato toastie? Really? Good bread, well filled (not stingy on the ham, yay) and  a nice little pot of tomato relish on the side. Also, at $8.00, it’s a pretty good Friday lunch option if you don’t want to spend a small fortune and save your cash for after work drinks.

While I’m not a coffee drinker, I do know that they make a damn fine brew; one can only assume as much when you see the absurd amount of Naked Espresso take away coffee cups walking up and down Little Bourke Street first thing in the morning/at lunch time, as well as the constant line at the front door for them. And Melbournians are pretty fussy about their coffee, so if they’re happy to wait in line for a cup, it must be good! And one of my favourite mid week time out spots in the city  : )