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24 hours in Canberra*

For someone born in a country where the earliest inscription date back more than two and a half millennia, there is a certain fascination in this entirely-planned city, that is just over 100 years old.

A sort  of “utopian city” where everything works efficiently and everybody has time for a chat and a smile.

With this in mind, we set up for a brief walk from our hotel to the chosen restaurant.

The streets in the trendy Manuka neighbourhood have large footpath bordered with trees and bushes. But there are no streetlights, only few cars parked and not a single human being.

Konoba is the award winning restaurant at the Hotel Realm.

We like the simple yet elegant charm. The menu is not very large, but its selection of char-grilled special beef cuts is noteworthy.

The service is unsophisticated but excellent.

Both the Cape Grim grass fed rib eye with Cabernet jus and the Robbins Island full blood marble with green peppercorn sauce (no cream, yippee!) were cooked to perfection and served with a soft potato mash and a fresh and tasty green leaf salad.

Our waiter helped us selecting the wines by giving us a little tasting of the wines of the region. Opening each bottle in front of us.

The dessert list looked mouthwatering, but we choose the cheese platter with the honey from the hotel “roof-hives”.

Breakfast before discovering the city.

Urban Pantry is the perfect reproduction of an Italian  cafe’. The constant noise of the espresso machine, the unmistakably Italians crowding the inside tables, the correct spelling on the menu made me feel at home.

My travelling companion  knows me well enough to wait till I’ve finished my first coffee before  discussing the plan for the day.

I order a second one to be sure it is really so good. This one comes accompanied by two Italian bomboloni (doughnuts). One simple and one filled with crema pasticcera (custard).

The plan for the day includes some of  the trademarks of the city.

  • The Parliament House, with its boomerang-shaped design, the relaxing “Parliament garden walk” and the panoramic view of the city from its terrace.
  • The Museum of of Australian democracy at the Old Parliament House with the charm of its neoclassical architecture and the view to Mount Ainslie from the front steps.
  • The James Turrell exhibition at the National Gallery.

With two great stops for lunch and coffee.

A.Baker

In the heart of the New Acton precinct, just behind the sustainably designed Hotel Hotel.

It serves breakfast, lunch and coffees all day, with fresh home baked bread, charcuterie, and cheese.

In the evening it becomes a meeting place to enjoy a selection of craft beers and cider.

We choose two salads:  the octopus and buckwheat and the duck with maple, carrot and orange. They were presented as for a photo shoot and the ingredients were exceptionally fresh.

For the coffee break we were torned between The Coffee Lab and The Londsale Street Roaster.

We decide to try the “new” coffee technology of the Coffee Lab.

“The machine uses a siphon brewing process, where water vapour transfers from a lower chamber into an upper chamber and makes contact with coffee grounds before being extracted through a filter.”

More sophisticated, but this is how coffee has been done for centuries in Naples. In the humble napoletana, Neapolitan style coffee pot.

No time for more visits, but it worth leaving something behind to come back for.

Konoba at Hotel Realm

26 Narellan Place, Canberra ACT

Urban Pantry

5 Bougainville Street, Manuka, Canberra ACT

A. BAKER

5 Edinburgh Avenue, Canberra ACT

The Coffe Lab

26 Narellan Place, Canberra ACT

Lonsdale Street Roasters

7 Lonsdale Street, Braddon Canberra ACT

 * The name Canberra comes from the aboriginal language: ”the Hollow between a woman’s breasts”. The breasts being the Mount Ainslie and the Black Mountain

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