Week 27: It’s all in the family

The last few days we’ve had a visit from Tim’s brother from interstate and NKOTB really turned on the charm for her uncle.

We were worried that she was still in Stranger Danger mode but she warmed to Uncle David from the start, giving him a shy but bright smile from afar and then behaving impeccably the rest of the time.

Probably because both he and Tim gave her more attention and playtime than she’s used to from me. Or maybe because in David’s features she recognised her own.

Yes, despite being half Asian, NKOTB is beginning to look more and more like her (Anglo) Dad’s side of the family. Her skin has always been pinkish white rather than yellowish white. Her eyes still haven’t changed to brown but have darkened slightly to a steely grey. Sometimes in dull light her eyes look just like her Dad’s blue eyes.

I frequently catch glimpses of Tim’s expressions in her little face, especially when she half-smiles, and the resemblance between her, Tim and her Auntie Sarah’s baby photos is uncanny. I cannot see any part of her that looks like me at this stage, except maybe her cheekbones and the shape of her eyes (though when she’s really surprised or serious her eyes go really really round). I sometimes wonder whether people think I’m the hired help when I’m carrying her around :–)

Seeing the family resemblance makes me wonder what other traits she’ll acquire from Tim, myself or her extended family. I hope that she obtains my fine motor skills and Tim’s hand-eye co-ordination (and not the other way round). I hope she can sit still for long periods like me and not be a tearaway like her Dad, who notoriously ran into the moat of Tokyo Palace aged 2.  Will she have an ear for music or an eye for sport?

Whatever happens, we’re pretty sure she’s going to be strong-willed (and her behaviour when being fed solids, being strapped into a car seat or doing anything else she doesn’t like seems to indicate that). With parents like us, it’s inevitable.

HOT: East Elevation, 351 Lygon St, Brunswick East

Monsieur Truffe has opened bigger and brighter establishment in Brunswick East, with more kid-friendly features than the tiny original.

Thibault Fregoni, the ‘mister’ of Monsieur Truffe, has set up his own old-fashioned cocoa bean roaster and bean press, which means that he will be making his own chocolate. The machinery takes a good chunk of the exposed brick room (you can draw up a seat by the glass and watch the process at work – great entertainment for kids) and there are plans to offer tours at a later stage.

For the moment though, look out for the come-hither lipstick red door which opens out into the bustling cafe. There’s indoor, undercover pram/bike parking at the entrance, lots of space between the tables to manoeuvre a pram, wooden communal tables prettily adorned with cherry blossom branches and depending on what time you go, a bit of a wait list. Don’t worry though, the warm aromas of chocolate will keep you company.

Of course, the thing to order is one of their wonderful hot chocolates. You can choose between 69, 70, 74 and 85% cocoa (ranging from $4.80 to $5.20), with 70% being the house blend and the most popular mix. I went for the 74% Santo Domingo (was too timid to try the 85% African blend – next time) and it had definitely had a more intense, savoury note than the 70%. All the hot chocolates are served in gorgeous Japanese ceramic hug mugs and carved wooden spoons for licking the chocolate that’s coated on the very bottom.

There is a short savoury and sweet all-day menu with a French influence. I ordered the field mushroom brochette ($16)- sort of a miniature mushroom burger with olive tapenade, braised cos, melted scarmoza bianca cheese and all speared with a sprig of rosemary. I’m stealing that idea for my next sandwich!

RM devoured his French toast in record time, probably so I wouldn’t get to it first. This wasn’t just eggy bread but an unusual combination of baby apple sous vide, bacon foam and mandarin syrup ($14).

Though I’m generally a bit anti-kids menus (why should they get the dull, everything with chips, options?) the raspberry pancakes with coconut curd ($6) actually sound like the kind of things I’d order, plus there are mini hot chocolates for little tumies. There have highchairs (though we brought along the Bumbo and just plonked NKOTB on the communal table) and a change table in the toilets.

On your way out you can pick up a bar or bag of chocolate or continue your indulgent French experience with some of the cakes and pastries displayed in the glass cabinet. My recommendation is the wonderfully rich and moist flourless chocolate cake and the best pastry (yes it’s true) in Melbourne – the buttery, flaky, chocolatey delicieux.

HOT  Tips:

  • high chairs
  • change table
  • kids menu
  • standard menu suitable for kids
  • activities to keep kids entertained
  • pram parking


East Elevation, 351 Lygon St, Brunswick East, +61 3 93804915
Tuesday to Friday 8am till 4pm
Saturday 8:30am till 4pm
Sunday 9am till 4pm

L'atelier by Monsieur Truffe on Urbanspoon

HOT: Still More Lego

Have we mentioned how cool Lego is?

Via: …achieving outcomes, buy going forward.

HOT: Cooking with Mum

When I was pregnant, Tim and I would watch Junior Masterchef and plot about how we’d teach NKOTB to cook so that she could cook for us.

Not only did we want to save ourselves some housework, we wanted to instil in NKOTB a love for food, cooking and the social aspect of sharing food with others.

As NKOTB was 6 months old on the weekend, I decided to make some cupcakes for her half-birthday. Thanks to a recent visit to Cupcake Central, I used the cupcake mix provided in the goodie pack to make a dozen Devil’s Food cupcakes. It was easy peasy – I just had to sift the mixture, add butter, eggs and milk and bake for 15 minutes. The goodie pack also contained frosting mix, piping bags, a piping nozzle and colourful sprinkles, so I did my best to pipe swirls of chocolate icing before giving up and smearing icing on with a palette knife.

As you can see in the pictures, NKOTB was fascinated by the whole baking process.  Now that she’s a older and bigger she goes in her Mini Monkey sling in a kangaroo position, meaning that she sits upright like a little joey in a pouch and peeks out at everything going on in front of her. The sling is an ideal way to carry her in the kitchen, leaving me with two hands free to make cake mixture.

I can’t wait till NKOTB’s older and can actually help in the kitchen. In the meantime, I want to make cooking with mum a fun and interesting activity for her. Hopefully one day she’ll tell me that one of her earliest memories was being with me in the kitchen.

PS The cupcakes were universally pronounced delicious! Honestly some of the best I’ve had, home-made or bought. A really soft and moist dark chocolate cake and not overly sugary chocolate frosting. The recipe suggested 15-20 minutes baking time and I pulled them out at 15 minutes which was just perfect, I wouldn’t go any longer. As for the icing – I halved the amounts suggested and I think that’s more like the right quantity.

Week 26: Happy Half-birthday!

We made it NKOTB! Six months old!

So we put on a purple party skirt and shiny pink shoes and had a little cake to celebrate.

Well, sales treat actually NKOTB lunged at the cake and shoved it in her mouth before Mummy could move it out of arms reach…then Mummy ate it.

Week 25: The week of culture

Well, the Melbourne International Film Festival is over for another year and Tim and I are patting ourselves on the back for managing to get to 19 films in 3 weeks with a 6 month old baby at home (thanks to Ian for babysitting!).

We managed to get our bed-time routine down pat – dinner at 5:15, bath at 5:30, feed at 5:45, sleep at 6:15 for a movie starting at 6:40pm. There were a few hiccups but they seemed to happen only on nights where Tim was on baby-minding duty while I, oblivious, enjoyed my nights out eating choc tops and watching esoteric documentaries.

This week hasn’t just been about Tim and I absorbing culture though – NKOTB has been introduced to ethnic food, sculpture and classical music all in one week.

Now NKOTB and David Chang have both been to this restaurant

She’s accompanied me to eat pho on Victoria Street and Japanese bento boxes in the city.


We went on a tour of the Duldig Studio in Malvern, listened to the tour guide talk about her Austrian artist parents escaping from the Nazis and settling in Melbourne, looked around the artist studio and wandered around the sculpture garden in Melbourne’s unseasonably warm weather (NKOTB was particularly taken by the lemon tree). She absolutely charmed all the nannas on the gallery tour, though we had to make a quick getaway during lunch as she was getting tired and fractious.

We had a play (smack) of the piano for the first time.

Never too early to start practising scales

Fortunately NKOTB was remarkably well-behaved in all these outings, even when I slid into regret mode thinking I had been too ambitious with the stimulation and staying awake for long periods. She mostly just looked, listened and remained pretty quiet.

The one exception was when we went to the NGV and sat in the back row of a free concert by Orchestra Victoria of Viennese music. NKOTB didn’t scream or cry but she did babble quite a bit throughout the concert, and burst into tears at the loud timpani, so in the end I had to hide behind the back curtain to muffle the sounds and dance along to Beethoven’s 7th symphony with her. It’s a lesson learned – I don’t think I can take NKOTB to anything like a lecture, classical music concert or other event where she has to remain absolutely quiet. Without a dummy it’s almost impossible to control her babbling and I get too caught up trying to keep her quiet that I don’t get to enjoy the talk/music/film myself.

Another thing that I’ve noticed from all these outings is that NKOTB doesn’t really smile during them. I don’t think it’s because she dislikes it (I’m pretty sure she’d wail if that was the case) –  she just looks like she’s just taking everything in and is intently watchful. She’s the same even with semi-familiar people and places like the other babies at mother’s group. She doesn’t look like she wants to join in or interact and I get the sense that she’d rather be with me (or her dad) and watch the goings-on from afar.

It’ll be interesting to see whether this is a permanent personality trait. If so, I think she might get it from me – apparently I was quite an aloof child while Tim was like a puppy dog, seeking attention and love all the time.

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