Zucchero is one of my favourite spots in Manuka. It's an unpretentious, straightforward cafe/patisserie, serving up good food and coffee with no attitude. I like this a lot. I guess I'm a reverse snob in some ways - I can't bear to go to JusQytly simply because of their appalling name.
They keep civilised hours at Zucchero, serving breakfast until 3pm. I had a late breakfast there yesterday, with my usual pair of mates who also don't work on Fridays. I had a very decent rich Illy coffee, and a terrific bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado sandwich on their house bread. The bacon was cooked to perfectly crispy, but not at all burned, and the bread was a chewy mixed rye and white loaf. Both my friends went for pancakes, which were of the very fat fluffy hotcake kind, and came with a good serve of berry coulis and maple syrup. They were pronounced excellent, but I was so into my bacon that I didn't think to ask for a sample.
The meals aren't very expensive: I paid $12 for my sandwich and coffee, and the pancakes were also around $9. They also have bigger breakfasts, including several different vegetarian egg options, and good baguette sandwiches. I didn't buy any of their patisserie this time, but I have in the past. I remember a rather good lemon-lime tart. This time they had a new line in, of some kind of white mousse or maybe a pannacotta, sitting in a white chocolate cup, with a fruity gel layer on top. Beth and I disagreed over whether those ones looked good - I went for "odd but intriguing", she went for "off-puttingly plastic".
It was a lovely morning for sitting out in the lawns in the shade. The sun was bright, but yesterday's cool change gave us a pleasant breeze. After a while we pottered off to do a bit of light shopping, sneaking peeks into the shiny things shops, the bookshop, and the wool shop (not for me but my mates are both crafty types.) We spent up a bit at Manuka Fine Foods, which does indeed stock a lot of lovely - if often shockingly expensive - fine foods. I picked up some tea and piccalilli from the Xmas bargain table, that I'd never have bought at full price. And with a great effort of will, I avoided their extraordinary cheese room.
We had a second coffee at the Wine and Cheese Providore, which was OK but not so great - mine was a little too cool. I noticed that they stock Barossa Fine Foods smallgoods, but I was very annoyed that none of them had a price label. It seemed a bit strange: quite a lot of their refrigerated products lacked price tags, and some of the shelf goods, too. I find that this rather strongly inhibits one's browsing. We left without buying anything else, largely because of that.
Today was a different style of breakfast and shopping. I started with a trip to the EPIC markets. This wasn't as successful as usual. I started quite late, and some of the usual stall-holders seem to be on holiday. I had no luck finding tomatoes, eggs, coriander or bread rolls; they'd all sold out before I got there. Anthoula wasn't there with her cinnamon twists and pumpkin bread.
But I did get some amazing huge blackberries, and some tiny plums and a few fresh blueberries. Cherries are still in season, though a lot are not of the best quality. But I did eventually find some good ones - I split a 2kg box of big fat dark red ones with a woman in a pink stripy top. For veggies, I bought salad greens, radishes, herbs, spring onions, broccoli, garlic and some interesting looking dark purple beans. I also have some Galloway beef mince and a roast; and some honey, lime cordial, bread and olives.
Breakfast followed the shopping today. Back at home, I started a no-knead bread and another lot of roasted tomatoes and garlic. And I've just eaten a big slice of sunflower-seeded sourdough, with the new yellowbox honey, and a bowl of cherries. Pretty good, but I'm not wild about this honey: it's rather light and bland. I like them robust - stringybark is good, and you can get an amazing coffee-blossom one from one of the plantations up round Cairns. Oh well, it can be my cooking honey; I need a mild flavoured one for a gelato.