Tag Archives: Coffee

365 Places: Ode to a Cappuccino, Charlie’s 1978

Day 177: Charlie’s Italian Restaurant, Darwin 1978

This post is about my love of coffee, in particular a cappuccino, from where it all began – celebrating my 12th birthday at an Italian restaurant in Darwin – Charlie’s.

Now I may have shared with you my penchant for a good coffee, particularly a cappuccino, but I am by no means a purist. I understand that an authentic cappuccino does not have chocolate on the top, and if this is the case, it is not the cappuccino I love.

What I love, is a strong coffee, topped with foaming frothy milk and drowning with chocolate powder. Around the outside of the rim is a crust of coffee, making the foam a taste sensation of bitter and sweet. It is the coffee of my childhood, of Italian cafes in Darwin and Brisbane in the 1970s and the 1980s. Moreover, it was not the coffee we had at home, which was flavourless in comparison (though my Dad still swears by International Roast).

Bit Strip - about reusable cups
Bit Strip – about reusable cups

My moment of truth happened when I was 12 at Charlie’s: my parents asked me after dinner if I would like a coffee and that is what I ordered – a cappuccino. It was nothing short of a sublime sensory experience – its aroma and flavour sang and I loved mixing the frothy milk into the rich dark coffee. From that first meeting, I know I had found something very special and delicious.

Charlie’s also had a reputation for his Cordon Bleu and Spaghetti, but my mum excels with these dishes – but a cappuccino was a new experience and one that I have loved now for over 30 years. Ironically I drink black coffee at home but I still love a cappuccino when I buy coffee – it just seems special.

Who else loves this kind of cappuccino? Would love your coffee stories ūüôā

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Tilley’s – a Canberra institution

Tilley's light © Tracey Benson 2014
Tilley’s light ¬© Tracey Benson 2014

When we first arrived in Canberra in 2001, we lived in a tiny apartment in the infamous Brigalow Court in O’Connor. The rent was cheap, it was close to the school, the university and located opposite¬†the Lyneham shops.

In those early days, I would often meet a friend for coffee at the cafe across the road, Tilley’s Devine Cafe Gallery, affectionately known as Tilley’s. I learnt very quickly that this cafe had a rich history as an identity as a local music and social venue.

Tilley’s has a special history for Canberra women as well, as when it initially opened men were only welcome if they were in the company of women.

Lights at Tilley's © Martin Drury 2014
Lights at Tilley’s ¬© Martin Drury 2014

Sally Pryor, in 2003 wrote about Tilley’s in the Canberra Times:

With elegant, dark wood fittings, a moody, deep red colour scheme, and soft jazz wafting between the old-fashioned booths lining the walls, there is some things essentially nostalgic and cinematic about Tilley’s romantic atmosphere, reminiscent of a Hollywood film noir. Its timeless in a way that’s hard to emulate in a youngish, fickle town like Canberra, where high turnover of night spots seem inevitably dictated by the relative hip-factor of the decor, the DJ and the cocktail menu.

Over the years we have had some special times at Tilley’s, for example, we celebrated our son’s 21st luncheon there, which was a lovely day. Another fond memory is of ¬†the cold winter’s day we were very privileged to see Martha Davis from The Motels rehearsing for the evening concert. I remember being quite star struck as well as feeling incredibly lucky to see one of my rock heroes in such an intimate setting. When I asked the waitress if we should go (as we hadn’t paid to watch), I remember her smiling and telling us to relax and enjoy our hot chocolates. Our son was only 8 at the time and he wondered what the fuss was about. For me, memories of playing “Take the ‘L’ out of lover” on the record¬†player in my bedroom came flooding back. At the time, The Motels were one of my favourite bands, so to sit in the booth, all nice and snug watching¬† Martha was really special.

Inside Tilley's © Tracey Benson 2014
Inside Tilley’s ¬© Tracey Benson 2014

Today, after a gorgeous morning getting pummeled at the foot&thai, we wandered over to Lyneham for a delicious lunch at TIlley’s. It is a¬†cafe style menu, with generous servings and some nice options. The Mushroom Bruschetta was delicious, my husband really enjoyed the Fish and Chips and the Portuguese Chicken Burger was a winner with the 21 y/o.

Tilley’s¬†has not changed much over the years, and Sally’s description of the decor and music in 2003 still holds true. This is a rare¬†thing in a town where re-branding cafes is almost a yearly occurrence, thanks to some bad advice going around from some marketing ‘guru’. Also what¬†hasn’t changed is the quality of the coffee, they certainly know the difference between a latte and a cappuccino – it is surprising the number of cafes in Canberra that don’t know how to make a decent coffee. So after a morning of self indulgence and spoiling, we are off to a great start for the Easter long weekend.
Phone for reservations and information
Reservations available for breakfast, lunch and dinner, 7 days a week.
+61 2 6247 7753

Location
Corner of Brigalow & Wattle Streets,
Lyneham ACT 2602, Australia