The Butcher’s Block – for a brunch option in Barangaroo

The Butcher’s Block have planted their culinary seed in many areas of Sydney including Wahroonga, South Hurstville, Parramatta and now with their new eatery located in Barangaroo. With an emphasis on seasonal, locally sourced organic ingredients, this is the place to get some nourishment. With a team of experienced Chefs and a magnitude of high end dining experiences, you will find this a culinary delight. The Butcher’s block team has to put multicultural elements  into the menu, providing variety and excitement to the table.

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There are many great places to grab a bite to eat in Barangaroo. But there are only a few places to visit for breakfast or Brunch. Butchers Block, with its new breakfast menu is the place to visit. 

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The Butchers Block use Allpress coffee and have a menu full of breakfast favourites. All menu items are prepared with the freshest of ingredients. 

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Dessert for breakfast, why not?

The Banoffee waffles were a crowd favourite. the waffles were perfect, nice and light topped with fresh bananas, a ridiculously good ginger butterscotch sauce, vanilla mascarpone and roasted almonds.

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If you prefer a healthy start to your day, there is delicious Bircher, topped with a mix of seasonal berries, poached pears, pomegranate honey and a sprinkling of homemade granola. 

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Another healthy option is the smashed avo bruschetta which is also perfect if you are on the run.

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The cornfritters are quality, nice and light and fluffy with plenty of flavour. 

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The Green Breakfast bowl is another popular breakfast option. This dish was super tasty with a crisp brown rice flavoured with a sweet teriyaki style sauce and served with a mix of BBQ vegetables including broccolini, zucchini, asparagus, add some more green with a generous portion of avocado. There is something satisfying about cutting in to a perfectly poached egg and watching the yolk ooze out over the breakfast bowl, working its magic, adding flavour as it floods with a tidal wave of yum.

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The Butcher’s Block is the ideal setting to enjoy a meal in the heart of Barangaroo. This cafe restaurant is modern with a casual vibe. The service is relaxed and the food is great.

The Butcher’s Block

Shop 2/100 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo NSW 2000

Thank you to the venue and to Wasamedia for the invitation to dine.

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The Butchers Block Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dare cafe – delicious and responsible eating

DARE is an acronym for delicious and responsible eating and the name behind the café on the strip of shops in Maroubra Junction. As the name suggests, the café produces delicious food, all made in house and they focus on using fresh ingredients from sustainable and ethical suppliers. You’ll be impressed as you walk in seeing all the fresh fruits, home-made granola, and freshly baked goods.

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When we were there, they’d pulled some freshly baked mango bread (like banana bread, but using ingredients they had) and it smelt amazing. We tried the coconut dairy and gluten free cake made with almond meal which was so delicious and I’d go back for this time and time again. The brownies were also amazing.

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The décor is rustic and decorated with eclectic items, mostly of the homewares/kitchen theme. The walls are painted with inspirational quotes which we quite liked.

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The staff are delightful and so engaged when talking with us. We like that they think out of the box with their recipes, using what they have and even some crazy opening times of 6:03-3:06 and closing at 2:58. Gotta make things interesting huh!

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We shared two dishes; a home baked and roasted granola, served with yoghurt, honey, milk and fresh seasonal fruit. Today the fruits were orange, strawberries, watermelon, dragonfruit, apple, pineapple and mango.

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We also had the vegetarian shakshuka, served with spinach, eggs and a few slices of bread. Both were presented really nicely.

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The coffee, using campos beans is great and they do some impressive latte art.

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We enjoyed our visit to DARE and love that it fulfills our perspectives on eating.

765A Anzac Parade, Maroubra, Sydney

DARE Delicious And Responsible Eating Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

We keep going back for more @ The Mews, Mosman

The Mews, Mosman is one of those cafes we’re happy to go back to time and time again. So much so, that we named it one of our top cafes of 2017. There are so many reasons for this: delightful owners, great coffee and amazing food!

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It’s almost like the chef’s here have also been to art school, with the food being presented like a creative work of art. Packed with colour and interesting textures, you almost have to admire this for a while before tucking in.

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We tried a few of the new dishes out for spring. The dishes are all extremely creative and have a great combination of flavours.

The new menu otems include;

Pea and corn fritters – with chilli brocollini salsa, smashed avo, poached egg, tomato relish, whipped goats cheese and tempura iceplant.

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Hen – with smoked potato, tempura shemiji, romesco sauce, fried enoki, furikake ash with a generous serving of chicken.

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Mews open steak sandoitchi – this has got to be the best steak sandwich ever. 180g of grain fed rib eye fillet, with sauteed asian mushrooms in miso, baby wild rocket, tomato relish, melted cheese, nori, roasted sesame aioli on potato bread, topped with a fried egg.

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One of our favourite dishes most certainly has to be the okonomiyaki like Midori omelette which is a green omelette (made green with spirulina) and filled with a delicious mix of butter poached prawns, black rice, shallot, chilli, kewpie mayo, okonomiyaki sauce, katsuobushi and topped with salmon caviar.

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There’s some sweet dishes on the menu too and the especially insta worthy, taste bud friendly lavender infused hotcakes, so light and fluffy, with whipped matcha ricotta, koshian, black sesame, caramel, biscuit crumbs, raspberry, fairy floss.

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We visited on a sunny weekend with a group of fellow foodies and sat outside in the quiet laneway in the beautiful sunlit spot. The area is buzzing with happy café goers and we really like the ambience here. Suitable for families and even that special puppy in your life. The Staff at this cafe are so nice, helpful and really make it an enjoyable dining experience.

www.themewsmosman.com.au/

Shop 4/3-5 Myahgah Rd, Mosman NSW 2088

The Mews Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

101 Kissa Cafe

This quaint little cafe is just off Abercrombie St in Chippendale. It is simple in its decor, but bright and open with nice little decorative touches, like a bike on the wall and small succulents on each table. It is a cafe that could be described as Japanese and Asian fusion with some super interesting menu options.

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We love good coffee and read that 101 Kissa serves ONA coffee, this is something that encouraged us to visit. There’s a range of other hot drinks like turmeric and matcha lattes as well as milkshakes, frappes smoothies.

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There’s outdoor seating and suitable to bring your puppy for your weekend brunch.

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We tried the tender poached chicken (a very decent sized portion), sitting atop broccolini and with a smear or edamame and wasabi puree. To decorate it (and eat) was a tuille. We enjoyed this dish as it was not only presented beautifully, but it was super tasty and very healthy.

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The second dish was the Mushroom Garden, perfect for vegetarian diners, as well as those trying to stay healthy. A variety of dainty mushrooms: oyster, shitake and enokitaki with radish, kale, snowpeas and a an onsen egg (remove for a vegan dish), cauliflower puree with slice or two of bread.

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Honestly, this is just touching the surface, with each dish on the menu looking as quality as the next. We’re keen to try more sometime.

Lovely staff and efficient service and we really liked the atmosphere.

101 Kissa Cafe

94a Abercrombie Street, Chippendale, Sydney

101kissa Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Family friendly @ The Beach House Maroubra

The Beach house is located on the main strip (Marine Parade) at Maroubra Beach. It is a large cafe, with it’s decor fitting of the theme – with surf pics and boards adorning the walls and rustic furniture.

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It has a casual and relaxed vibe and perfect for you to take the kids, with a play section out the back as well as some outdoor seating.

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Offering brunch, lunch and dinner, you can visit anytime. There a bar at the front and also pizza and beer deals to get those crowds in.

We visited with friends who have kids for brunch on a weekday and it was good as whilst we sat and chatted, the kids amused themselves in the play area. Genius. We ordered some coffees, tea and babycinos as well as some food. The menu has a good mix of healthy and indulgent options to select from.

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We went for a porridge (which isn’t on their online menu), but a dish we really enjoyed. Made with oats and topped with poached pears, it was super flavoursome and filling.

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We also tried poached eggs with tomatoes and I ordered a side of spinach which was presented nicely on some really good, fresh bread!

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Other options include an acai bowl, shakshuka, buttermilk pancakes and smashed avo to name a few.

Good for a casual meal in a relaxed environment.

Staff were efficient, hospitable and eager to help.

Beach House

198-202 Marine Parade, Maroubra Beach

 

Clever and creative dishes @ at_neutral

Tipped off by a fellow foodie and coffee lover @sakinav, we decided to meet for brunch in Neutral Bay. The area is a hub of places to eat and thus its tough as a new addition to the scene. However, we’re sure at_neutral will have no trouble, with their creative and culinary flair added to each dish. Here, you won’t find your typical eggs on toast with a side of bacon nor fairy floss atop your pancakes, rather some very sophisticated brunch options.

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Its decor is clean and stylish with grey and wooden tones, geometric tiles and greenery. We sat on a table outside to enjoy the sunshine and take in all the action of the cafe. If you’re planning on paying a visit, get in early as it has already become popular.

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Staff are on their game, despite it being their first cafe venture. They’re all super friendly and efficient. We begin with coffees, and they use Gabriel’s, one we do quite like.

After perusing the menu, we are stuck on what to order, with all options looking extremely enticing. Whilst the banana bread with honeycomb butter was calling our name, we slected a few larger dishes to share.

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The apple and coconut chilled oats, with house made granola, seasonal fruit and rhubarb consomme was a lovely healthy dish and beautifully presented, with the consomme served in a small jar to pour at your leisure.

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If you’re into the cool healthy options, the cacao infused chia would also be a good choice.

We then had the mushrooms atop a carrot and cardamon puree at incredibly amazing bread, served with spiced blacberry. We could not fault this in any way. It would certainly be a dish to re-order.

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One cannot go without ordering truffle scrumbled eggs, served on the same amazing bread and presented with greens. Aesthetically appealing and stomach satisfying.

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We’re always fans of ordering healthy options where possible, and the poached chicken salad with puffed rice, quinoa, soft herbs, greends, tomato and radish with an edamame pesto was light and refreshing, whilst also being extremely tasty.

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If you’re bringing the family, there’s options for children too and a number of solid toasties for the bigger eaters.

We recommend this cafe for those who like brunch options that are a bit more interesting than your run of the mill cafe.

Find them on Instagram @at_neutral

Located at 9 Rangers Road, Neutral Bay, NSW

All day brekkie in Liverpool @ Ristretto & Co

Once a hole in the wall strictly serving coffee and a few sweets, Ristretto & Co. has evolved into a café hotspot for locals in Sydney’s South-West on Northumberland Street Liverpool. A small walkway through the cafe’s busy kitchen takes you out to a quaint, rustic style courtyard to sit, relax and enjoy a coffee & brunch with friends to escape the busyness of the world outside.

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Ristretto & Co. is a local favourite, renowned for its seamless Campos coffee and menu offering a wide all day breakfast menu.

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We chose a couple of favourites and were recommended to try the waffles – every instagrammers dream!

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We enjoyed corn and zucchini fritters with aioli, avocado salsa and a poached egg, which had a lovely crunch, yet were still light and fluffy on the inside. The serving was very generous so despite being full, was hard to resist finishing.

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We also had the smashed avo (with a side of bacon) just to lighten things up which was nice and fresh with the hint of lemon.

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To satisfy our sweet tooth, we tried some waffles served with vanilla gelato, shredded coconut, salted caramel sauce, fresh berries, maple syrup & Persian pashmak! The presentation of this dish was beautiful with the popping colours of the berries atop the glistening maple syrup and the delicate pashmak on the top. It was hard to pull this one apart! Although this was very sweet, the flavours and textures worked well together and left us very satisfied.

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We thoroughly recommend visiting Ristretto for an amazing breakfast/brunch.

Ristretto & Co Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Where to great brekkie in Bondi @ Parida

Parida, Bondi Beach has a grand new menu. It is the perfect excuse to visit this beachside oasis. Located on Campbell parade, this cafe is a great spot to enjoy a beautiful brunch meal. Parida has has a cool and casual atmosphere with comfortable indoor and outside seating options. The decor is stylish with Moroccan tiles and bifold windows, apt for the trendy Bondi Beach location.

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The new menu has fabulous takes on our brunch favourites, with some of the typical classics, healthy options and some exciting creations that will entice you. We were excited by this since we like cool brunch dishes that differ from the norm.

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Very importantly, the coffee is pretty good, they use Gabriel beans for coffee which we do like. There are also some fresh made juices available, great for that spring health kick. The ‘Bondi juice’ is made of pineapple, apple carrot, lemon and ginger was a tasty refreshing blend. Parida also have a range of smoothies, teas, and if you are up for it wine and boozy drinks too. Can’t beat a weekend mimosa!

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The menu has good variety to suit all. Our pick of the meals was the “Baby Parida”, that was thankfully not so baby. This dish had us excited with a cheese and chorizo croquette showcasing a crisp panko like outer shell, gooey cheese inner with bits of chorizo thrown in the mix. It had a potato rosti, perfectly poached eggs with hollandaise sauce and toast, oh baby! Perfect for sharing!

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The classics were also solid, the avo and feta smash which is a good version of this dish. It has a decent amount of avo and feta, served on a large slice of sourdough with heirloom tomatoes. Opting for the poached egg is a good idea and they were perfectly poached. The granola and yogurt, served with berries and passionfruit, a good choice if you are looking for a lighter meal.

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Bondi beach and Campbell Parade can at times be a little hit and miss with all the tourist haunts. However, if you are looking at a good cafe to hit, pop into Parida. It is the perfect choice before or after the coast walk, a surf or just enjoying the serenity. A top weekend brunch spot, but any day suits as they’re open 7 days a week. All day breakfast is their specialty with fresh and simple ingredients and reasonably priced too.

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We enjoyed our visit and will undoubtedly be back.

Parida, Bondi

Shop G08A, 180 – 186 Campbell Parade Bondi Beach NSW

61 280697910

Parida Bondi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Where to go in the Sacred Valley: Ollantaytambo, Peru

We were told this town in the sacred valley was interesting and worth a stop on the way back from Machu Picchu, so we opted to get the Peru Rail train there and stay a night.

When we hopped off the train from Machu Picchu, we were expecting to find a small
Archaeological town, which it is, but it is also a thriving little tourist village with cafes, bars and markets.

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The following day we secured a taxi back to Cusco, but you could book the train again the following day if you prefer. It’s much of a muchness in price. Since we had some other sites to visit on the return trip, this suited us.

Where to visit

El Albergue

Upon hopping off the train, we were met with a fabulous looking coffee shop, restaurant and hotel. A few questions later, and we found the had a farm and distillery too. The lovely Stephen showed us around. He was extremely enthusiastic about the brand and highly knowledgeable about everything on site.

Hotel

El Albergue has a hotel and although we didn’t stay here as it was out of our price range, we had a tour through and it’s a good high end option.

This is a property right at the train station with beautiful rustic styling, large rooms and it is built around a garden. With an attached vegetable farm and distillery (where they produce Cana Alta on site), it’s really a lovely place to stay.

Part of this complex is also a cafe: Cafe Mayu and a restaurant: El Albergue farm. You can also have a wonderful Pachamanca lunch for US$40 (we explain this in further detail later). This accomodation is considered to be expensive for the town, between $150-$200.

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They also support a school called Kuska on site to promote education amongst local children.

Mayu Torrefaccion and Cafe Mayu

The site has a workshop for roasters and we had the opportunity to see their roaster, beans and learn about their selection and roasting process. These beans are used at the Cafe and you can order your preferred coffee; an espresso, latte or Americano. The cafe also sells beers, wines, snacks and especially a delicious choc chip cookie!

Distillery Andina

The property also has a distillery on farm, producing Cana Alta. We had a tour to the distillery and learnt about their artisanal distilling methods and also tried a number of different Cana Alta Canazo flavours.

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Chuncho

This is not on site at El Albergue, but a sister store. It is located more in the main town of Olltaytambo, which is less than a km from the train station.

We were recommended to visit here for dinner since we were staying in the town, and we were encouraged with free drinks! Newly opened, their rustic styled restaurant is on the upstairs of the property overlooking the main square in Ollantaytambo. The atmosphere and ambience here is cool and casual and the staff made it a great experience. It is a bar and restaurant selling food based on native ingredients sourced from their farm and flavours from the area. The food offered changes based on the season. Drinks are inspired by the Cana Alta flavours.

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Food is designed to be shared, and using your hands to eat. We were recommended to share a banquet since it was generous portions. This was great advice since there was so much food!

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The banquet involved a number of tasty dishes to share, the food having a rustic style and plenty of flavour. The appetiser was some maize, salt and herbed sauces followed by an entree with potato crisps, cream cheese, potatoes and a tasty vegetable salad. Then came a mixture of nicely seasoned roasted meats including lamb and the local delicacy: cuy(guinea pig). With this was a few salads and quinoa pancakes. The banquet completed with a trio of Andean desserts such as a beetroot chocolate truffle, quinoa rice pudding and poached tomato. You will be so full by this point, you will need to channel your dessert stomach for this.

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The bartender/cocktail designer made some brilliant cocktails based around the Cana Alta including the “Quillabandida”: Cana Alta, pineapple syrup, passion fruit, Tahiti lime, garden mint and also their creative version of an old fashioned “Mosoq”: Cana Alta, house bitters, wild mushroom butters, brown sugar, aperitif and wild mushrooms.

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We were surprised to find a restaurant of this calibre in a small archaeological town and it made the visit even better.

Pachamanca lunch

The highlight of our El Albergue visit was the day on the farm where we experienced the traditional Pacahamanca lunch. It was $40 per person and and you learn about everything from farm to table.

The Patchamanca involved heating rocks using wood, once the rocks hit the right temperature, the marinated meats; lamb, chicken and pork are placed on top and with a hiss, the meat sizzles on contact with the rocks, then some potatoes, sweet potatoes and beans are added. This is then covered with a wet cloth and dirt to retain the heat, sealing the food with in a primitive oven. 15 minutes later the food is ready and the layers are removed to reveal a simple exquisite meal.

The meat served on a long table set nicely, in a serene setting, on the farm where many of the ingredients were source and with tranquil surrounds of the Andean snow covered mountains.

The meal delivered to the table in rustic earthenware, perfectly suited to the meal being served. The meal is served with a mixed salad of ingredients sourced literally meters away, simply not possible for it to be any fresher. Another tasty side of quinoa cheese and vegetables cooked in a sealed cast iron crockpot also provided a great dish. Then there were the inviting chunks of super tender meat served on the bone, very succulent with the skin charred and crisp. This cooking method instils a magnificent flavour to the meat. To wash this down, a jug of their refreshing house made beetroot cordial. It is also possible to order beer wine and spirits to accompany the meal.

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Where else to stay

Valle Inca

We chose this cheaper hostel style accomodation for our one night stay. Right in town, just off the main square. Check in was easy and a lovely staff work they. They were super eager to assist with anything. Room is a decent size, large bed with warm blankets, TV, charging ports and a cupboard. Hot shower and soap provided. We didn’t need it, but the room doesn’t have a heater. You need to climb stairs and they have a terrace where you can buy breakfast. It’s pretty quiet, though if street side, you hear the running water of the aqueducts. For $25 it’s a bargain.

Where to visit?

Archaeological site

You can enter this site at 130 peso as part of your 4 pass ticket if you purchased it with other sites in the sacred valley. However, it’s otherwise 70 peso entry. Your other option is to visit the free site, overlooking the city. It doesn’t give you as many ruins, but certainly a good option if you’re not spending as much time or money.

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Cerveceria Del Valle Segrado (Sacred Valley Brewery)

About 5 minutes out of Ollantaytambo, you can visit this brewery for a taste of some of their local brews. We tried a sampler of 5, but you can also try them all if you like. It was reasonably price and they also sell food. Unfortunately they were out of the pale ale when we visited.

We highly recommend a stopover to Ollantaytambo.

One of the best airport lounges – Plaza Premium First Class, Hong Kong

The plaza premium First class lounge at Hong Kong International airport is a new addition. For access, it costs 700 HKD and they give you a little takeaway thermos to keep as your momento. We happened to be passing through on opening day and there was a special deal on until October 5. We are an American Express customer with a priority pass and were fortunate enough to take advantage of their 200 HKD upgrade offer that was well worth it.

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As you arrive, you are provided with a lovely welcome drink, perfectly apt, called ‘wake me up’ – TWG Paris Singapore Tea with Orange Juice, Thyme and mixed spice.

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You can sit at their dining room and eat from The A la Carte Menu and there is also a buffet. If you are hungry why not do both. Order off the menu, they make your meal fresh and delivered to your table.

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The options all looked magnificent – we viewed them all, but went with the Maine Lobster and Capellini with a lobster volute which is quite delicious for an airport lounge meal.

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If this isn’t to your liking they have a thai green chicken curry, marinated goose with egg, beef bibimbap, beef burger with sweet potato fries or an all day breakfast.

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There are vegetarian options and gluten free selections too. If you’ve got kids with you, they do a few kids meals as well, like spaghetti. The staff in the dining room were absolutely superb.

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The buffet has a good selection where you can make own plate of food. There’s granola and yoghurt, as well as pre-made salads or you can make your own. There’s a selection of meat to be carved, and even a bar to make burritos or nachos.

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Some local food is on offer such as the fish ball noodles, chicken congee and steamed rice rolls straight from the chef.

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There’s also a dessert and coffee station where you can get an espresso, latte or cappuccino, complete with some cute latte art. Grab yourself one (or 5) little patisserie items to go with your coffee – they are great.

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Drink wise, there’s a huge bar. They have fresh juices, tea mocktails and barrel aged cocktails like the old fashioned. We also had a classic coffee cocktail, the espresso martini using lavazza coffee, kahlua and vodka. This bar is also a complete whiskey bar.

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The whisky selection was impressive, you can order by the glass or choose one of their tasting selections. The bar staff are knowledgeable and will provide you with information on the whisky available.

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The lounge has comfortable couches, complete with charging stations and the lounge is super quiet and relaxing. Entry also includes a 10 minute massage – make sure you book it as soon as you arrive. There’s also showers should you need one.

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Make sure you visit this lounge when leaving Hong Kong, thank us later.