Sunday, June 27, 2010

Best Burger Ever

I am admittedly a bit of a burger fiend. You wouldn't know that, because it was something that belonged in my pre-Wolf life. It reared it's head most during my pregnancy where one of my number one cravings, whether I had morning sickness or not, was a lovely burger. At any time of day. TGI Fridays, Misty's Diner, Grill'd, Hungryjacks, even the much detested McDonalds. I'd try any pub burger, and even if it wasn't any good, try it again next time. I give burgers second chances. The combination of juicy beef, cheese, sauces, pickles and salads in between two halves of a bun is irresistible. Particularly good is a burger that has tomato and mayonnaise. There is something about that wet and messy combination that is just so good. 
Can a food obsession be hereditary? I know my dad loved a good burger. At his best he was a tall and chubby fast food lover, a fast driver and generous gift giver. When my mum was at work or when he picked me up from school, he would drive us places for greasy food my mum would disapprove of very much. We bonded over dripping burgers and soggy fries. He always added lemonade to McDonalds chocolate milkshakes. It was his signature. I can't remember whether he grilled a good burger himself. There aren't enough barbecues in my childhood memory to say for sure. I years past I sometimes I ate a burger in memory of my father, wishing he were beside me enjoying himself too. 
But as my focus post-Wolf has been on home cooked food and shedding baby weight, I haven't had a decent burger for ages. Until last week.
Behold, the best burger I've ever had. Ever. 

There are a few bites out of it. I nearly didn't take a picture, I was so preoccupied with eating. It has everything: beef pattie, cheese, bacon, egg, tomato sauce, mayonnaise, tomato slices, shredded lettuce. Not eaten anywhere fancy. Just sitting on a bench on a large median strip in the middle of Albert Park. 

Which means I could only have gotten this burger from Andrews Hamburgers. An institution. A legend. I wonder if my dad ever went here when he was younger. Walking around Albert Park trying to decide where to eat and then happening upon this much lauded little shop was a wonderful surprise but also bittersweet. I'd nearly forgotten about Andrews, a favourite of my favourite chef at my former workplace. Someone I adored completely but would probably never get to work with again. I did  imagine him standing outside waiting for his order.

Josh loves a good burger almost as much as I do. It's a wonderful thing to be able to share a long-time vice. He's not big on chips though, so there are some areas where we disagree. In the background is the Albert Park Hotel. We could have eaten there, or grabbed an Andrews burger. Not a hard choice in retrospect.

Wolf too will become a burger aficionado in time. At the moment he enjoys the elements of a burger individually, not yet ready to experience all the flavours at once. But he would have gotten a taste for them in a the womb, so it probably won't be too long. 
That Andrews Hamburger with the lot was the best burger I've ever eaten in my life. Eating it I think I remembered every burger I'd ever eaten, as though I'd died and my life was flashing before my eyes, only in burger related terms. That sounds incredibly pathetic, I know, but like so many other kinds of foods, burgers have left an indelible stain on the fabric of my life. 

Andrews Hamburgers
144 Bridport Streeet
Albert Park
9690 2126

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Daydreamers Indoor Play Centre

Before going to Daydreamers Indoor Play Centre in Windsor for Wolf's 1st birthday party, I had been pretty dubious about these places. Honestly I was still a little uncertain leading up to the day of. In my limited experience they are cavernous rooms filled with the sound of screaming hyperactivity and the smell of endless sausage rolls and are sticky underfoot. I wasn't actually proven wrong, but the overpowering fun and goodness of the place eased my mind. 
Walking in Josh and I were so impressed with the sheer size of the place and how airy and colourful it looked. Particularly striking is the amazing multi-level maze that dominates one half of the centre.

It's definitely more for walking kids two and over, but there is also a jumping castle, ball pit, massive slide and a car racetrack for those awesome Flinstones like cars that kids propel with their feet. There is just so much to enjoy here. There is also a infants play area very well stocked with toys suitable for the under 1s. I can't wait till Wolf is big enough to enjoy more of these attractions. Parents can follow kids through the multi-level maze, which is a good thing too because it's massive and there are certainly moments where you won't be able to keep your child in sight. 

The hangar like space is bright and airy with the assistance of multiple skylights, balancing the harsh fluorescence that you usually find lighting large spaces. There's lot of space for parents to sprawl with large and small tables spread across a fake grass lawn by the maze, a lounge area particularly good for nursing mothers by the infants play area, and also seating by the cafe. The cafe is fairly impressively stocked and the coffee was decent, which is more than you can expect for a lot of these places. There's a good combination of healthy snacks, lunches and sweet treats available

There are two party areas at Daydreamers, and for Wolf's party we got the marquee. I didn't actually have to ask for it, so it was a nice surprise when we arrived; it just looks like the inside of a jumping castle, without the bouncy bottom. Thank goodness really. Everything was ready when we arrived so all we had to do was wait for the other guests to arrive. The other party area is slightly smaller and more open to the rest of the centre. You still get the odd uninvited guest wandering in and out of either area, but it's sort of cute. Unless they poke a finger in your cake. No one did at Wolf's though there was some very tempted little ones.

First birthday parties are covered under Daydreamer's themed parties, which start from $320 for 12 guests and include invitations, all decorations, table settings, children's food, entry to all play areas for children and adults, small gifts for both host and guests and the services of a party co-ordinator. Adult entry is free no matter how many attend and grown-up food platters can be purchased separately. For older children's parties, prices can start from $240 or $195 for a mid-week party. As far as party costs go, this is quite good, as I first approached the Family Life and Home cafe in Prahran, just the next suburb over. While Family Life and Home is a little bit fancier, in that the decor is hoping to please hipster parents tastes, the food is more upmarket cafe and there is a store full of expensive baby goods, I was quoted that the cost of a birthday party would start at $700 and fairly skyrocket from there. 


The kids food was basic, which was necessary as most of Wolf's friends are a couple of months younger than him. Stuff like vegemite sandwiches, cut fruit and sausage rolls. I also ordered a couple of platters for grown ups; a seafood platter and a ciabatta and baguette platter at $50 each, both very much up to a decent cafe standard and more than adequately served 13 adults. You can also order birthday cakes through Daydreamers, but I chose to make my own; a carrot cake with cream cheese icing. Recipe posted on the Bebe website.
Staffing was impressive. The young team were enthusiastic, efficient and all smiles. We got great service, someone was always around to answer questions and they were very easy going. I thought anyone who had to spend all day listening to children scream and cleaning up after their mess would be quite jaded and disgruntled, but either they are incredible well trained or have hide as thick as a dragon's.
Wolf's party was a lovely, nearly stress-free (as much as I am ever not stressed), and entirely fun day and the centre's excellent organisation meant I had plenty of time to socialise with the other parents and watch my little boy enjoy himself with his friends.

If any of you lovely readers are now considering having a party at Daydreamers, I've been given four $45 party vouchers for use with any party extras at Daydreamers. Every little bit saved counts! If you'd like one just drop a comment on this post and I'll email you directly for a postal address to send it to. 

Daydreamers Indoor Play Centre
61 - 71 McIlwrick Street,
Windsor 3181
9521 2170

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Things I love about the day after a party

Beautiful flowers in the kitchen from Andy, a complete gentlemen who brought a gift for Wolf, the flowers for me and a bottle of wine for Josh. They brighten up the whole apartment and don't look like they're going to wilt anytime soon.

A dining table completely clear of bicycle helmets, bicycle tools, wallets, paperwork, bills, empty cracker wrappers, receipts, dirty mugs, smelly work shirts and mysterious napkins. Imagine what that must look like usually. This sight is bliss.

Wolf discovering edible gifts that he didn't notice in the excitement of the night. Like this miniature gingerbread man from Uncle Andy.

Seeing the row of cards on the windowsill full of well wishes from so many wonderful people. Wolf is really lucky to be so loved.

Leftover decorations hanging from the ceiling fan. Quickly knocked up from patterns printed off the computer and stuck together with tape and sewing thread. But the effect was nice.

The very last piece of Wolf's birthday cake, saved for our family afternoon tea. I hope everyone who brought home a piece had theirs for tea too. Though knowing some boys and girls it probably didn't last the night, what with exam study and late night milk feeds.

Wolf's First Birthday Party Take Two

A lovely friend said I took photographs like a professional because I take so many at one time. It's not true. It's because it's so hard to catch a non-blurry photo of Wolf. These are the only clear photos I managed to take on Thursday night. But what a night. So much food. With three days preparation it was actually no stress on the day. Beautiful family and friends that are like family came to celebrate with us in our tiny two bedroom apartment. Wolf got some lovely presents and he enjoyed himself thoroughly even though he had terrible sleep the night before and woke up too early from his second nap and stayed up 5 hours till about 9pm. 

Not Wolf but I had to take a photo of the food. For posterity. It was too much! As per usual.

Wolf unwraps a few presents with his two grandmothers and his paternal great grandmother. I was so excited and honoured to have Elva there. She is one of the loveliest women I've ever met; the kind of granny you find in storybooks almost. She's in her 80s but she drove all the way from Cranbourne to Footscray!

Wolf's first taste of his chocolate birthday cake. I say first, but really he had a lot of the off cuts while I was putting it together. Just to make sure that he would actually like chocolate cake. He's still a bit unsure. Probably because of the added complexity of cream cheese icing and chocolate ganache icing. 

After this picture all that is left on his table is an enormous brown smear. For once, a nice brown smear from Wolf. Actually some of the cake is on the floor and his sippy cup is sticky with frosting. I found it later. Buried under some presents.

Wolf attempts to put himself in a box. There was a gift in this box. A lovely squirrel shaped lamp from his Godfather from Corky Saint Claire. I'll put a picture of it up later. Wolf has this weird thing for folding box flaps in on himself, like he's trying to post himself somewhere. I wonder if he's trying to tell me something, or if he's just discovered that being crushed into a cardboard box is somewhat like being in the womb. Only sort of cold and square.

It was such a lovely night and I'm amazed at the number of people we fit in our place. I'm so thankful for the friends and family we have that supported us through Wolf's first year. We're really blessed all round. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My boobs are mine again

This morning I think we reached the end of an era. For the first time Wolf genuinely didn't feel like any breast milk this morning. He latched on, got bored, pushed away from me and started beating Josh around the head. I knew it was coming, as for the last couple of weeks I haven't had to express milk when I went to work and we're down to only two feeds a day. But even those couple of feeds, which just a month ago he seemed to want desperately, are starting to get shorter. I just hope he keeps it up till Thursday so that I can at least say that I managed to do it for an entire year. Manage is perhaps not the right word. Where so many women I've read about or talked to have found the experience of breast feeding quite difficult, overall I've had a really easy time of it. At first there was all the trouble getting Wolf in the right position and the pain and bleeding, but all the months after that have been a breeze. I'd even stopped freaking out about whipping the boobs out in public if a feed was necessary. Breast milk has had the ability to instantly calm Wolf down or cheer him up when he has been completely miserable, often for reasons that neither parent can fathom.
I can't imagine having to do formula, and am actually impressed with people who do, because it seems like a lot of extra work; sterilising, mixing, heating over and over again. In that sense women who can breast feed are lucky, because they can use the instant food they make automatically and don't necessarily need to take extra vitamins or add anything to baby's food, because the immunities are provided in the milk. 
On the one hand I'm quite relieved, as this means my bra size will stop fluctuating. I went from a 12B to a 14E! I got properly measured for the first time since I was 12 and am apparently a 12D and hope to stay there until subsequent children arrive and my breasts reach my naval. I can buy normal bras that don't snap open at the front (which means they won't accidentally snap open when I'm working). I've ended the embarrassing trek up the stairs at work, hiding myself in the store-room with my handheld breast pump, yelling at everyone that I hear approaching not to come in lest they see something they really don't want to. 
On the other, it's a little sad. The end of a private bond only Wolf and I shared. I'll really have to cut down on the calories as boob milk won't be stealing the fat from my diet. Early morning wake ups will actually mean getting up and making Wolf's breakfast immediately rather than the lazy lie in with the three of us in bed while Wolf enjoyed a leisurely entree to his day. 
Alas, he is a big boy now. I stood him up on his feet and he actually stayed up for a few seconds unassisted and took a couple of staggering steps towards he before he collapsed in my arms. He capably feeds himself most things (given not with any sort of cutlery) and seems keen to move on from sippy cup to normal cup. His favourite meal is no longer milk, but a lamb chop or roast potatoes. Look at him with his little push-cart. Not a baby anymore but a little boy. 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Wolf's First Birthday Party

lf's actual birthday isn't until June 17, this coming Thursday. But we chose this family friendly long-weekend Sunday to host the kid-friendly party at Daydreamers Indoor Play Centre in Windsor. A bit of a hike from Footscray but mere minutes away from where we used to live in Prahran. I have to say it was a place very much well worth the trip and an absolute dream for a first birthday party. But more on parties at Daydreamers later this week (I have work tomorrow and I'm so tired from today...).

Two old friends meet again after a long time! It's been months since we've seen Joshua. He's so big!

The kids from Mothers Group playing together. Wolf hogs the ball!

The nicely decorated table. Everyone tucking into the food. Um...that's just the kid's food. The adult food is on another table. All the grown ups ate well with a seafood platter and a mini bagel and baguette platter. Coffee on tap. It's necessary for this level of fun and exuberance.

More eating and party guests. You can't see from this picture but we're sitting under this massive blow-up marquee like the top bit of a jumping castle. It's quite cool but also the reason it's a little bit dark! Kids ate fresh fruit, vegemite sandwiches, sausage rolls and veggie sticks.
It was awesome to finally meet everyone's partners and see how all the resemblance worked in the babies' faces. A reasonably relaxing time for parents.

Singing happy birthday. Wolf has no idea what's going on. Neither do I really. I'm burying my face in his shoulder because I'm so proud, excited but also nervous.

I love seeing friends from different times and places meeting each other and talking. As I attempt to pull Wolf away from the camera, I see Rachel and Steph talking and it's so lovely!

Wolf gets excited about the decorations. After this picture he will try and eat the streamers.

Wolf had a taste of his own birthday cake. Admittedly he and I ate a lot of off cuts and test cupcakes the day before. It was a carrot cake with cream cheese icing. I don't often make carrot cake or cream cheese icing, but both turned out nicely to my relief. It was a very baby friendly recipe and one great for first birthdays.

Lovely Rachel and a party blower mesmerise Beth. I tried to teach Wolf how to use one of those but he mostly chewed on the end. It would have been a good way to practice teaching him how to blow out candles. Or set the end of the blower on fire.

Our friends gave Wolf some really lovely birthday gifts. Exactly the sort of thing we needed and wanted for him. Great friends!

From Sienna, Jasmine and Ivan, three lovely board books. We didn't have these ones yet! I'm excited to read them to him.

Cool Brio racing car and walking Turtle from Marea, Linda and Juan. I adore wooden toys for Wolf; they last longer, look better and feel more solid. These are so awesome. Wolf is gonna love them.

A cute toy mobile phone from Joshua and Masako. This might prevent Wolf reaching for my Iphone.

Gorgeous double breasted fleecy jacket and lined cargo pants from Beth, Rachel and Christ. Perfect for this weather and exactly what we need.

Adorable sweater from Charlie, Grace, Steph and Andrew. This is so cute. Wolf will look just like his dad. I love this preppy boyish stuff for Wolf. It makes him look so grown up. And he is!

I love this long-sleeve grow suit from Greta, Rachel and Leigh! Super soft, lovely colour and cute animal print. We need more long sleeves for sure!

Thanks everyone for a wonderful day and the fantastic gifts for Wolf. I hoped that today would not only celebrate Wolf's birthday, but also bring our whole families together to meet and to celebrate the luck of meeting each other in all circumstances, be it from a workplace, through a friend or partner or in Julie's little maternal health office. Thanks again guys!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Where will we go today?

'Where will we go today, Wolfgang?' I can't drive and it looks like Wolf might already have the jump on me. Which would be really convenient because then we might get further from the apartment without the assistance of public transport or mummy's poor tired feet. Look at his outfit. Just like a miniature Josh. He was shaking the steering wheel like, 'Why aren't we going anywhere? C'mon car, move!'. Mad skills already.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

After mothers group this afternoon

Wolf fell asleep in the Macpac Possum after our long walk home from mothers group at Happy River Cafe. Long walk, long day. It was so sweet when he just fell asleep right there. Very rare.

What's almost harder than giving birth?

Building Wolf's early 1st birthday present. Flat-packed like IKEA furniture, it always sounds a lot easier than it actually is in practice. Our apartment is full of IKEA furniture, but none of it built by me. That's what Josh is for: taking out the trash, heavy lifting, anything reasonably gross and building furniture. 

I stupidly started as soon as it had been delivered and ripped out of it's excessive packaging. The postman kindly warned me to watch out for babies with walkers, as they tend to crash into your shins a lot. Wolf was still awake while I built and so tried to climb my back as I struggled to follow some somewhat brief and vague instructions (to someone like me anyway...I like words! Complex descriptions! Not numbers and diagrams. Urgh). A couple of hours later it was finished but not without a lot of sweat, tears, yelling and sore hands. If I forget about all that, this is a pretty awesome toy. It's called 'Grow up - the transformable toy' made by an Italian company called Mishi. It starts of as this walker, then can be transformed into a ride on and then a trolley. Very useful.

Of course I didn't actually put it together properly, so we had gotten home (after a surprisingly successful night in the city hanging out at the bike store Josh works at), Josh took it apart and fixed it. I know I should have waited for him anyway, but I was too excited for Wolf. He seemed pretty ambivilant at first, but he loves it now. Tears up and down the apartment crashing into walls and things. 

We ordered ours from Cow Trees, a gorgeous Brunswick toy store that used to be located on Lygon Street until a truck crashed into a fire hydrant outside. While they fix up their flagship, they're still operating their great online store. At $150 They have the best price for the Grow Up I've seen, which goes for between $180-$200 at most other stores, online or otherwise. This is a really nice wooden walker, and I'm happy that it should last Wolf from now till about 6 years of age as a functional toy. Considering a lot of other nice wooden walkers cost between $120-$250 and last a much shorter period of time, I think the Grow Up might really be worth it. It looks quite cute too and comes in another two colours: purple and pink or green and orange. 

Saturday, June 5, 2010


This is possibly the most beautiful ham hock I have ever purchased. It's huge! How can one not make something incredibly delicious out of this thing. It came from our favourite store at Queen Victoria Market. I can't actually remember the name of the stall, which is stupid. I just had to show you a picture of this beautiful hock! I don't think we even get one's as nice as this at work. 
Basically when you walk into the meat hall from the deli hall, turn left, going uphill and there will be a meat store selling deli products and things just a few shops up on your right. Opposite a fish shop. I know that's vague but I suppose I am quite vague...
Anyway get your hocks there. Completely superb. Stoked about dinner!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Potato, Rosemary and Taleggio Pizza recipe

As promised here is the recipe for a potato, rosemary and taleggio pizza. We had it for a quick dinner on Sunday night and it went down really well! I was stoked that they showed potato pizza on Masterchef Friday night after we'd already bought our grocery ingredients. I didn't know about dusting the pizza pan with semolina and flour till after that episode! I prefer to use taleggio cheese rather as the strong flavour and soft texture are a perfect foil for the blandness of potatoes. This pizza has a very mild taste. Even Wolf ate an entire piece with no complaining. This is a very cheap and easy recipe and considerably quick as we use the yoghurt pizza dough (recipe posted March 4 under 'Best Ever Pizza Dough'). 
This recipe makes four medium sized pizzas. Good for three people with normal appetites or 1 normal adult, one greedy adult and a child. 


Yoghurt Pizza Dough
300g plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
250g plain yoghurt
Pinch of salt

4 medium potatoes
a few sprigs of rosemary
200g taleggio cheese
clove of garlic
olive oil
sea salt

1. Prepare pizza dough as directed in 'Best Ever Pizza Dough' post. Preheat oven to 220 degrees celicius or 200 degrees celcius fan forced.
2. Cover and allow dough to prove for just 1/2 an hour in a warm place
3. Peel clove of garlic and crush. Place in shallow bowl with a sprig of rosemary. Cover with olive oil and allow flavours to infuse
3. Thinly slice potatoes with a sharp knife, to roughly 1-2mm in thickness. Don't panic if they're not perfectly even, this will give it textural interest. Otherwise you could use a mandolin. 
4. Prepare a pizza pan or any flat baking tray with a dusting of equal parts semolina and flour
5. Divide dough into four pieces and roll each piece into a thin round, about 3mm thick. It doesn't have to be perfectly even in thickness, nor does the shape need to be circular. The more rustic the better!
Place a dough round on a the prepared pizza pan.
6. Brush dough with garlic and rosemary infused olive oil, leaving a couple of centimetres on the edge bare. 
7. Scatter dough with rosemary leaves and small pieces of taleggio cheese.
8. Arrange potato slices on top. A little overlapping is fine, but not too much or the potato won't cook properly. 
9. Brush potato with more infused olive oil, scatter a few more rosemary leaves on top. Scatter over a bit of sea salt.
10. Cook in oven for about 5-10 minutes. That's quite a varied time I know, but it depends quite a lot on your oven. Watch for the edges darkening and the potatoes in the centre getting some colour. After the first pizza you'll know how long to cook them for. Check underneath to make sure the dough is cooked in the centre (It'll still be pale but it shouldn't feel doughy). 

I hope I put this down accurately as I made this while Wolf was crawling around crying cos he was so hungry. I'd gotten home from work a bit late and he'd already been up from his last nap for a while. 
I'm really happy with this yoghurt dough recipe, as it takes a lot of the hard work and proving time out of  making a pizza. This pizza should have a nicely crisp edge and slightly chewy centre. 

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