The Hungry Wanderers

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Posts Tagged ‘pasta’

Sweet Tomatoes

Posted by Amanda @ The Hungry Wanderers on May 25, 2010

This weekend, the Husband and I were in Charleston, SC for our good friends’ wedding.  We spent all day today attempting to get home as our flight from Charlotte to Chicago was delayed many hours due to multiple mechanical problems and it was ultimately cancelled.  We got rebooked on another airline and made it back to Las Vegas in the late afternoon.  The Husband and I hoped to get a handful of things done this afternoon/evening so we decided to check out Sweet Tomatoes prior to heading to the grocery store for the week (after getting a car wash and signing up for the gym!).

Sweet Tomatoes is a Salad Buffet restaurant, which was exactly what we were craving after traveling this past weekend.


The Husband had been to one before so he knew how it worked, but I appreciated that as soon as I walked in, I understood what I needed to do.  Upon entering the restaurant, we were to collect a tray and then we could head down the salad bar, collecting as much as we wanted on our first go.

IMG_3029 The first section of salads included pre-tossed salads.  We watched an employee tossing the salads at the front of the buffet so we knew they were fresh.

IMG_3030 Our options included Caesar Salad Asiago, Won Ton Chicken Happiness, and Rajun Cajun. I grabbed a small bit of the first and the third.



IMG_3033 Up next was the build-your-own salad section.  It had lots of traditional items as well as some unique items.

IMG_3034 I was particularly excited to find Butternut squash and Beets 🙂

IMG_3035 The main salad bar also had some premade cold salads.  I didn’t grab any as my salad plate was already full.

IMG_3036 After this last section of the salad bar, we found ourselves at the cashier where we paid for the buffet itself (which is way more than salad as you’ll see below) and beverages.  We had a coupon for a free dinner with the purchase of another adult meal and two drinks.  Even without the coupon, we were quite impressed with the price at less than $10 per person for the buffet.

After paying, the Husband and I found a table and began enjoying our salads.


IMG_3038 I then went off to explore the rest of the restaurant.  There was the section for beverages.  It included the traditional soda fountain as well as teas, juices, and lemonade.




The rest of the buffet sections included…

Soup (a wide variety!)




A bakery which included muffins, brownies, other desserts, and cheesy bread





A pasta bar which included three pastas… one of them was mac n cheese which I found to be better than it looked and fine for a reasonably priced buffet (not great)



There was also a baked potato bar – an area I’ll check out more the next time I visit I think.


Last but not least, they had a sundae bar!  Our options were Vanilla, Chocolate, and Swirl of Dreyer’s non-fat fro yo.  It also included a small selection of toppings.  A great dessert!



IMG_3041 IMG_3049

As I was running around the restaurant taking photos, a father noticed my camera and asked if I was a blogger.  He mentioned that his daughter also blogs and called her over.  As she and I started chatting, I realized that I read her blog! 🙂 Hi Kristen from Swanky Dietician! It was fun running into you! Hope you enjoyed your time with your family.  The blog community is so small.  I started reading Kristen after reading Kristen from Eating RD who I started reading after she and my friend Diana from The Chic Life met in Charlotte. I love the blogger community!

Okay, back to Sweet Tomatoes! For the price and convenience, we really enjoyed Sweet Tomatoes.  It’s not a fancy restaurant and doesn’t pretend to be.  There’s a decent selection and appears to be quite family friendly.  They have seasonal themes and I imagine we’ll definitely be back in June as there’s a Strawberry theme (my favorite fruit!).


As a final tangent, we found the following card on the table.  While up getting more food, if you left the card Tomato side up, the staff would know you’re coming back. IMG_3057 If you flipped it to the other side, they would know you’ve left.

IMG_3058So, in the words of teh 10 year old customer who designed the back, See You Next Thyme 🙂

Sweet Tomatoes on Urbanspoon

Posted in Restaurants | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »


Posted by Amanda @ The Hungry Wanderers on March 26, 2010

Leaving Port Campbell and the Great Ocean Road, we took a more direct route on Tuesday back through Melbourne and south into Mornington Peninsula.  Our next hotel was scheduled for Mornington, near the northern end of the Mornington Peninsula.  We had a room reserved at the Brooklands of Mornington, a Best Western hotel a few blocks off of the Main Street of Mornington.  We checked in, dropped our bags in our room (nice as the other hotels but we failed to take any photos), and headed out to explore.

We drove over, not realizing how close we were to town (we walked over again later in the day), parked and hopped out to enjoy the beautiful day.  We admired the small town feel (which we’ve grown to really love here) and headed over to the water.



We walked through a park on the way to the water. IMG_7073

Brick gates welcomed us to both ends of the park. IMG_7076

Australia is keen on conservation and we found this sign – the first of its kind on our trip.  IMG_7078

We found steps to the top of a hill overlooking the water.IMG_7079

A quick look down we believe we saw a scuba diving class (or perhaps a group of friends).  It’s fun to see locals enjoy being able to go in the water after our experience in Queensland with the warning after warning of jellyfish.  We’ve even been able to step our toes in (though the water’s VERY cold) from time to time along the southern coast.



At the point we were admiring the water, there was also a boat harbor. IMG_7090


After enjoying the view, we headed the few blocks back into town and decided to get some tea.  We walked past a few cafes and decided on Banjo’s.  It had a picture of hot cross buns on the windows and commercials for them on the tv throughout out vacation (perhaps they’re something popular around Easter?) convinced me I wanted to try one.  I got a chocolate one (the choice was chocolate or fruit) and it was a nice treat with my tea!


We enjoyed our tea and read our books (or Kindle – I’m reading the Twilight series and LOVE having such a small device instead the super large books to lug around).


The Husband discovered that they had free wi-fi! So we updated our iPhones with email and app updates before decided to head back to the hotel to get our laptops to blog.  By the time we finally made it back, however, the cafes were closed for the evening :-(  Instead we walked over to Coles, one of Australia’s grocery stores, and bought some Vegemite to take home with us!  We also quickly perused the bottle shop (liquor store attached) and were amazed at the prices.  So expensive!

As we walked around, we built up an appetite for dinner.  There were a small handful of places to choose from, but not many.  We found La Porchetta, a pizza and pasta place with lots of outdoor seating.



We looked through the menu outside and the Husband headed back inside to place our order.  We decided to share three appetizer (entree) portions.

IMG_2286 We started with the usual bottle of water, a diet coke, and a lemon, lime & bitters.  I learned I really liked this refreshing drink (like Sprite and 7-up, but not quite) while at Bundaberg and was pleased to see it on the menu (it looked like they made it fresh).

IMG_2287   We started with a garlic & cheese bread.  It was gooey and doughy – just right!


Next up, we shared two appetizer portions of pasta.  You could mix and match pastas with sauces.  We’ve been loving gnocchi in Australia so that was a given pasta choice.  We matched it with their marinara sauce which includes a mixture of fresh seafood.  A great choice! IMG_2291

Our other pasta was the cheese ravioli with a chicken and mushroom sauce.  Also a good choice! IMG_2292

We only made it through half of each dish and asked for a Take Away box to enjoy leftover during our drive the next day to Swan Reach.  Throughout our dinner, while we enjoyed being outdoors, we were distracted by seagulls who decided they wanted our food.  They gathered on the light pools and rooftops surrounding us, calling to their friends to join.  Luckily, none of them decided to get close while we sat there and we took our dishes in as soon as we put the leftovers away!

The next morning, breakfast wasn’t included in our hotel package so we decided to head back into town to one of the cafes for breakfast. We headed to Cafe 96 which was next to Banjo’s (where we had tea the day before).


We each started with coffees (long black for the Husband and cappuccino for me).  We were excited to see that they came with cookies on the side 🙂IMG_2296

The Husband was eyeing the muffins for breakfast and asked the server what she recommended.  She suggested a White Chocolate and Raspberry Muffin which sounded appealing to the Husband.  It was a good choice!


I planned on having toast with butter and vegemite (I wasn’t sure if I needed to explicitly ask for butter – apparently I didn’t as there was already some on the bread so the dish was left filled with the butter).  I also ordered a side of hash browns. IMG_2298

As a side note, I’ve noticed that different cafes seem to be “sponsored” by different coffee brands.  For example, this cafe had Grinders Coffee.   IMG_2299

The cups and saucers were Grinders. IMG_2300 As was the sugar (and assumedly the coffee!).


After breakfast, we explored the town a bit more.  On our way into town, the Welcome to Mornington sign mentioned that they were “Home of the Wednesday Market.”  We had no idea what that meant until that morning.  Seeing tents everywhere helped us realize that it was Wednesday 🙂 It was like a Farmers/Craft market lining both side of Main Street. IMG_2302


We didn’t buy anything but enjoyed seeing this quaint town quality.

After we were done in Mornington, we made a slight detour north before heading out east to Swan Reach.  The Husband’s brother had mentioned that there was a U.S. Import store in Melbourne and he need Q-Tips 🙂 We offered to head there while we were in the area.  It’s actually closed on Tuesdays which is when we would have originally passed it so we made the short detour there on Wednesday morning.   We found it in a semi-industrial area, parked the car, and headed on in.IMG_2304  Unfortunately they didn’t have any current stock of Q-Tips but we were fascinated with what they DID have :-)  There were multiple options of hot sauces (we’ve definitely noticed that there’s not a lot of spicy food here).  There were cake mixes, canned pumpkin, and American soda.  This included Original Dr. Pepper which we’ve only ever seen when we were in Dallas!  We grabbed the Husband’s brother some hot sauce, grilling seasoning, the Original Dr. Pepper, and a Twinkie for good measure! After our short detour, we were back on the road to our next destination: Swan Reach.

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Port Campbell

Posted by Amanda @ The Hungry Wanderers on March 25, 2010

At the end of our journey on the Great Ocean Road, we made it to our final destination west: Port Campbell.  Port Campbell is quite close to the 12 Apostles and assumedly is a good rest stop for those who make it to the 12 Apostles at the end of the day.  We had reservations at Waves Port Campbell and with the help of our trusty GPS we found our way there. 


There was a bit of confusion when we arrived, both for us and another guest who had just arrived.  While we saw the sign for the suites, it was actually the restaurant of the same name that caught our eye on the corner.  There was driveway we drove down that appeared to end at the lodging establishment but the door to enter was locked.  The three of us (the Husband and I and the other guest) ventured back out on to the street and saw a sign for Reception but that door was locked as well.  We all walked into the restaurant then and thankfully found the woman who would be able to check us in! The other guest checked in first (since he arrived a minute or two before us) and then we were assigned our room – what appeared to be one of maybe 8 rooms.

As with the rest of the trip, we were very happy with our accommodations.  (No matter how many times I’ve typed that word on this trip, I still can’t spell it correctly without the help of spell check!)  The room was spacious with a small, semi-private patio and large bathroom.




IMG_2252 As with pretty much all of our rooms (I can’t remember any that didn’t have any), there was ample tea and coffee available to us behind a cupboard.


After we felt settled, we headed back out into town to catch the sunset and find some dinner.  The town, as we expected, appeared to be quite small.  We ventured only a block or so to the water to see the very pretty view.


We then began our decision making on what to do for dinner.  We saw a Take Away and Ice Cream place.


There were also one or two restaurants along the block, but the menus didn’t entice us that evening.  We saw a pizza place and it looked rather closed from the outside but we ventured to the door to take a look at the menu.


Once we got to the door, we realized we were quite wrong and a handful of tables were full inside.  After reviewing the menu, we were set on dining at Nicos.  We had the option of Take Away or Dine In and decided to eat at the restaurant.

On the beverage menu, the Husband noticed that they had an alcoholic Ginger Beer.  After enjoying Bundaberg Ginger Beer, we were quite interested to see what an alcoholic version would taste like.  It was… interesting to say the least :-)  The Husband is glad he tried it but he wouldn’t order it again.  I think that if you like Cider and ginger, you would like this beverage.


As an appetizer, we ordered garlic bread to share.  It was good!


For our main courses, I ordered a Chicken Avocado pasta.  I believe it had chicken, mushrooms, a creamy tomato sauce, pasta, avocado, and parmesan.  While the bowl looks small, it was quite a large portion and I ate only a little bit of it.  Took home the rest to enjoy as lunch the next day!


The Husband ordered the Aussie pizza.  It had ham, bacon, fried egg, capsicum, mozzarella, onion, and bbq sauce.  He enjoyed this and was happy to have half the pizza left for lunch the next day as well 🙂


While we dined, we saw a small handful of individuals we’d seen at the 12 Apostles.  Port Campbell must have been their end point as well for the day!

The next morning we enjoyed breakfast at the hotel restaurant (it was included in our room rate).  We generally had the traditional breakfasts we’ve had throughout the trip and the quality was as good as the others.  We then headed down to the General Store to buy bottled water and stamps so we could send some postcards.  We packed up the car and headed back east toward Melbourne and then south to our next destination: Mornington!

Posted in Hotels, Restaurants, Travel | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Melbourne’s Blue Train Cafe

Posted by Amanda @ The Hungry Wanderers on March 23, 2010

On Sunday, after flying from Cairns to Melbourne, checking into our hotel and meandering through the city for a bit (city post to come soon!) the Husband and I were hungry! We had had breakfast at the Cairns airport and I got a fruit smoothie before our wandering through Melbourne – other than that, we’d had nothing to eat during the day.  We decided to check out what restaurants were available in South Bank overlooking the Yarra River, right near our hotel.  We came upon Blue Train Cafe, were drawn in by the Specials board, and were hooked by the menu.

IMG_2247 Upon entering the restaurant, we saw funky colors and a good looking dessert display case so we knew to plan accordingly through our dinner.

IMG_2245 IMG_2246

We flipped through the menu, although I knew I was going to have one of the specials.

IMG_2231 We had hoped to sit outside but it was pretty full from the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.  Luckily, we were seated almost as if we were outside 🙂


To start, the Husband and I were intrigued by the name of one of the beers – the Mountain Goat (I think from Victoria).  I ordered a “pot” while he ordered a “pint.”  We didn’t know how big a pot would be, but I knew it would be smaller which made me happy (I often have difficulty getting through one glass of beer or wine, forgetting about it as I eat my meal).


We were impressed with the Mountain Goat and would definitely order it again.

I was excited to see reasonably priced salads on the menu and got one to start.  It was a rocket, beetroot, goat cheese, and pine nut salad.  Yum!


The Husband saw Bread and Dukkah on the menu and remembering how he enjoyed it at the Capricorn Resort he decided to try it again.  This time the olive oil was already mixed in.  (It’s hiding there at the bottom.)


My entree was amazing.  I ordered the special – Gnocchi with Duck and Spinach Ragu.  The gnocchi was as good as the dish we had at Romano’s on Hamilton Island.  The duck and spinach ragu was to die for.


The Husband ordered the Singapore Noodles.  It had chicken, pork, bean sprouts, scallions, and capsicum mixed with noodles.  He thought it was fine, but compared to the gnocchi, he wished he had ordered the same as me.


As we mentioned earlier, we knew we had to have dessert after seeing the display case.  The Husband went back to double check, but I knew exactly what I was having… chocolate mousse! Even the dish it was in was edible chocolate.  A bit spongey but still quite good!


The Husband ordered a flourless chocolate cake which he adored.

IMG_2243 Overall, this was an excellent meal and well priced (in Australian metropolitan standards at least).  The service was quick and friendly and how to pay was much easier to figure out (there was a sign!).  The restaurant also offers breakfast and lunch which we imagine would be good.  Two thumbs up from these Americans!

Blue Train Café on Urbanspoon

Posted in Restaurants, Travel | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »