Addicted to Picking

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blueberriesDSC_0270I got to be a tourist in Melbourne for the first time in December! With my family visiting from the US it was only natural that I become one of them: a tourist. And so, like any good Melbournian tourist, we set aside a day for a Great Ocean Road-trip.

All excited with brochures and handwritten lists in hand we jumped on the M1. My mom happened to look up at the right time to see the sign for Geelong and said, “Oh that’s where they have fruit picking.”

PICKING OF FRUIT!! My sister immediately woke up from her nap and I made a sharp left turn to exit the highway. Before we knew it we were en route to Tuckerberry Hill. I feel like I’ve been on a bit of a picking binge lately but after the success of apple picking last year I’ll take any picking opportunity that presents itself.

My favorite thing about Tuckerberry Hill is that it’s quite small, but extremely well kept. The fruits are completely protected by netting, and they are grown organically and chemical free. It’s all amazing information, I know, but my mom went into the enclosure with a reason to shamelessly eat the berries straight off the stem. Shame on her, and only her. I swear!

We each took our clear buckets and after a thorough explanation of how to tickle blueberries off their stems and into your bucket we made our way into it all. Past the blooming but not yet ready strawberries we went; we took a left before the lemon trees and there we were, face to face with the blueberries that woud be ours.

I’m no expert or anything but I’ve got to say that the tickling technique is not correct. If experience has taught me anything it’s that a combination of fondling, pushing and light gropeing gets the job done.

Fast forward 45 minutes and we were up to our buckets in blueberries. We picked a total of $39 worth of those sweet little suckers and split them into three bags for our all necessary uses; one to be frozen for baking, one for the way up through Great Ocean Road and one for the drive back.

Apple Picker, Donut Eater and Hot Cider Drinker

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I’ve been quite confused with the seasons lately. I’ve had three summers in a row, even though “summer” in London shouldn’t really count. Then I spent fall in the US, but came back to Australia just end time for the end of Spring. And now here I am with a cold and a knack for choosing the wrong outfit for the day.

The best season for me this past year was fall and that’s all thanks to my sister, apples, and a wonderful place called Honey Pot Hills.  Because my family agrees my sister is the greatest person in the world we spent her entire birthday week in Boston celebrating, and doing some apple picking.

To some (“me”) apple picking seems like an activity you could get bored from rather quickly, but it turned out to be the exact opposite. Apple picking, if taken VERY seriously, is an intricate process which becomes addictive once you figure out there are indeed better apples then others. And so, for our group of five, the day went as follows.

1) we purchased our apple picking utensils; we got two 16 dollar medium sized bags that hold up to 10 pounds worth of apples.
2) we all partook in the maze, I mostly did it as a way to tire out my apple picking opponents.
3) we stopped by the animals for a quick good luck pet.
4) we took a short but thrilling hayride to the battle field.
5) birthday apple picking got very competitive very quickly.

There were so many questions to answer off the bat. What type of apple should I pick? Which is shinier, red or green? But is shiny too 2007? Maybe I should go for matte?  Should I start from the back or front row? Should I find a ladder or try my luck with the botton ones apples? Should I pick some off the ground? Should I have a cheeky little apple now?

There comes a point where you get to know these apple so well that picking a bad one and throwing it on the ground seems law breaking. Oh, and let me tell you how much your mind will be blown once you pick the siamese version of an apple. It’s incredible!

In the end my sister found the largest apple but I also have to give credit where credit is due; I found the largest amount of good quality apples. So who won? Everyone! Because we got a dozen of the best cinnamon and apple donuts I’ve ever had, some hot cider and had peanut butter waiting in the car to be consumed with the picked apples. And so, birthday heaven was had.

To be completely honest, with the the animals, the maze, the hayride, the actual apple picking, the cider and food you really can’t mess up a day filled with fun.

The Paramount // Boston

I keep a draft folder in my gmail account filled with restaurants I want to visit. It’s categorized by city, which keeps the research and decision making easy when travelling. After five short days of visiting my sister I had crossed out everything on my Boston list, which caused disappointment on my families face when the only idea I could offer was a blank stare. We needed something fun, quick, and delicious, so I searched and searched my blogroll but couldn’t find anything that fit. I finally turned to Time Out Boston and found The Paramount.

The Paramount is a small caffe in Beacon Hill that stands out due to its head to toe red awning. Everything in Boston seems to include a hint of red in the fall, even the trees, and I’m loving it. Inside The Paramount you’ll find a long and open kitchen giving their cafeteria style eating system a comfortable and homey feel. As you walk in you will be greeted by a host who will explain how it all works. You get in line, choose what you’d like to devour, order, and watch as multiple chefs work together to prepare it. A little like Mama’s in San Francisco but you witness a lot more action.

The need for something warm and comforting lead me to order the Banana and Caramel French Toast; with the addition of a small coffee and a large orange juice my meal was perfect. I got caramel on the side, but it all ended up in my tummy anyway. I already knew banana and caramel was a match made in heaven but the addition of french toast is ace. I was suppose to share with my sister, but it somehow all disappeared before she had the chance to ask for some.

Every 5 minutes at least one person came walking through the door. On the Friday morning we went, it wasn’t unbelievably packed, but it was definitely busy which should have been a given due to it’s desirable location. Since they serve brunch until 430pm I’m sure it fills up quickly as the day goes on.

Another fun fact about The Paramount is that it’s run by Colombians! We probably should have tried the Huevos Rancheros, but I guess there’s always next time. And the time after that.