Freesia Fun and Hellenic Eats
When I am with Ben, I feel like I am swimming in the Ionian Sea. Everything smells like freesias and tastes like peach gelato. Today is our nine year anniversary. We have a whole day of fun and frolicking planned. This morning we woke early and went for a brisk walk to a local park, where we relished the fact that no kids were around and we could get away with playing on the playground. We spent a good ten minutes on the swings, slides, rock climbing wall (yes, I know, amazing!), and other sweet equipment, and then headed home.
As Ben and I are saving (for a house/more travel/wedding), we put a $20 limit on presents. It encourages creativity, which I love. Ben made something special involving photos, tickets and other bits and pieces from our travels. I love it.
For Ben, I wrapped up a plate that I made during a school holiday pottery class when I was around ten years old.
It has a duck in the middle. Why, I’m not sure. I’m really not very crafty…. he thought it was hilarious. I also bought some lolly bags and filled nine of them (one for each year we have been together – awwwwww). In each bag I put a different lindt ball (the funky flavours like peanut butter, mint, coffee and raspberry), and a note highlighting something that I love about him.
I love cute presents like this. Having a budget really makes you think about how you can show someone that you love them.
Now to the eats. We just came back from a beautiful long brunch at Hellenic Republic. We had been wanting to visit this casual Greek eatery for a while, and always wanted to go with a group so that we could get away with ordering more food and work our way through the menu. My parents were keen to join us, and so this morning headed to Brunswick East to celebrate our anniversary with some delicious food.
The atmosphere of this place is very casual and relaxed, yet vibrant. Lots of chatter from different tables, it is pleasantly raucous. The interior is lovely and bright, with lots of windows and painted white brick walls. An open plan kitchen allows you to see what the chefs are getting up to, which I always love. Greek salt sits on the simple, wooden tables. As does olive oil and vinegar, which are in thin 250ml recycled ouzo bottles - a nice touch! The staff are very friendly and the service is quick (but not too quick). The prices are really reasonable - $12.50 for Spanakopita and two poached free-range eggs! The menu focuses on nostalgic Greek food, with simple fresh flavours using good quality produce. Coffee to start, which was really well made.
Greek yoghurt with honey and walnuts. Lovely and light, however it was not as amazing as the yoghurt I practically lived on in Greece. I was kind of disappointed.
The Omeletta was superbly silky and fluffy, with potatoes, sausage and really lovely feta. I never love sausages, so I ate around them, but the rest of the table gobbled them up with glee (they had a nice spice to them).
House-cured bacon. Im not a huge bacon fan, but I could tell that this was of good quality.
Beautiful sardines - hello omega 3s! I've recently started to like sardines, after visiting Sicily (a.k.a heaven) last year.
One of the most delicious spanakopita I have ever had. Light, buttery pastry, with a delightfully strong spinach flavour...... heaven. My favourite dish.
I have no words.....
Gigantes. I was not overly impressed with these beans, but the others loved them.
House-made chilli jam. Respect.
Amazing grilled Dench toast
Vino - too early? Surely not.
We certainly made a good dent in all the dishes, and weren't shy about ordering most of the menu :) Dessert had to happen....
Baklava. Wow. Very impressed. Super moist and robustly sweet. Beautiful. I am often disappointed with baklava in Australia, but this little bite of heaven did not disappoint.
Loukamathes - Greek donuts, served warm with honey and walnuts. I had never tried these before today, and was pleased with what I tasted. They are more heavy and eggy than Italian donuts, but I certainly wouldn't turn these down if offered one!
Personalised take-home pack!
We had a fabulous time at brunch. I will definitely be coming back here for the breakfast menu, and am keen to try out the lunch/dinner menu. Something tells me the Moussaka here would be amazing. Ben looked longingly at the rotating spit as we were leaving, so I’m fairly certain that he would support future visits.
This evening will be fun, as we are planning on turning our kitchen into a wonton-making factory. I love wontons. The only phrase I know how to say in Cantonese is “one wonton noodle soup, please”.
Happy anniversary, gorgeous pie. I love our fun, freesia filled life.