Melbourne's most quintessential laneway bar.
What was meant to be a temporary container unit bar in an empty car park has stayed put and is possibly the best thing to have ever happened to Melbourne. In the heart of the CBD, on the outskirts of Melbourne's Chinatown, down an alleyway lies Section 8.
Section 8 is as industrial as it gets. The open-air space is surrounded by a chain link fence and graffiti every which way you look. Inside, there are barrels to perch your beer on, wooden crates to sit on and pallet furniture galore. This place is proof that you don't need to spend a ton of money to create a great bar. DJs are regularly spinning the decks meaning there is basically always a laneway party going on at Section 8.
The drink selection is pretty vast for such a small place. Grab something exotic from their imported beer selection like a Royal Jamaican Ginger Beer - a delightfully refreshing beer with a lingering spicy kick. Sink an Australian classic in the form of Coopers Pale Ale, Melbourne Bitter or good ol' Stone & Wood Pacific Ale. Or check out what beer specials they're stocking for the week. Cocktails are aplenty too - choose from the classics or try a herbaceous Chartreuse Swizzle combining Green Chartreuse, pineapple juice, lime and velvet falernum or a Mediterranean Azedar with gin, fino sherry and elderflower with apple, lemon juice and egg white.
Need food to soak up some of that alcohol? Section 8 also serves a selection of burgers, hot dogs, fries, and melted cheesy open-face sandwich goodness aka zapiekanki (which is basically a polish pizza).
This is a Melbourne beer garden like no other.
Steak, chips and a butcher knife.
Along the famous Denmark Street, aka Tin Pan Alley, lies Flat Iron Steak. A lit-up sign reading 'Flat Iron at La Giacondo' is on display outside while the full-length glass window entrance displays what's going on inside. La Giacondo used to be a favourite hang out for the likes of David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and The Sex Pistols (to name a few), so you know that you're stepping into a venue with some rich musical history about it.
The interior features exposed brick walls, hanging vines entangled around the specials board while other green plants are scattered around the space and neon lighting reading 'steak is what you want'. And steak is what you get.
Upon being seated, you are given a cup of popcorn to nibble on while you peruse the menu. Daily specials normally include a burger and a wagyu bavette but who are you kidding, you came here for the £10 flat iron cut. The flat iron cut of steak is neatly sliced and presented on a wooden block, while the sides are served in enamel camping bowls. The steak is lightly seasoned and cooked to perfection with each slice tasting more juicier and flavoursome than the next. The creamed spinach is a must as well as the perfectly crunchy chips. Choose between bernaise, peppercorn, horseradish or fred's sauce (a spicy tomato salsa) to accompany your steak and you're good to go.
It's all about that flat iron cut.
That lone tree at Juniper Point.
Lighthouse Park, Vancouver
Photo Credit: Billie Norman
Golden larches up in Larch Valley.
Moraine Lake, Alberta
Photo Credit: Billie Norman
Vegan pizza with nut-based cheese in Vancouver's Chinatown.
So you thought vegans couldn't eat pizza with cheese, you thought wrong. Situated in Vancouver's historic Chinatown, Virtuous Pie is pumping out a variety of plant-based pizzas all with cheese on top. Whether it's the line out of the door, the bright neon light or the window where you can see the chefs putting the finishing toppings on, you will be enticed in.
The interior is minimalist and simple with exposed bricks, wooden tables, marble counters and hanging light fixtures. Dotted around the space is an array of green plants, on shelves and in picture frames. Virtuous Pie claims to be fast-casual and that's exactly what it is. From when you order at the counter, take a seat, have a sip of your beer (33 Acres and Four Winds bottles are available), and have a deep and meaningful about cheese, you'll hear your name being called for you to collect your pizza.
Virtuous Pie uses a number of nut-based cheeses; think cashew mozzarella and almond ricotta, which are delicious and lighter than your regular mozzarella, making the pizza at Virtuous Pie possibly the healthiest pizza ever. The classic Margherita hits the spot but it is the Ultraviolet with its walnut pesto, oven dried tomatoes, caramelised onion, kale and pine nuts that steals the show.
The guys at Virtuous Pie also have a creamery where they make their own 100% plant-based ice cream. Try some of their unique flavours, some of which include Coffee and Donuts, Basil and Peach Jam, and Hawaiian Vanilla.
Embrace that plant life.
Cosy coffee bar on a bustling West Broadway.
Nestled on a busy main road in Mount Pleasant, Aperture Coffee Bar manages to slow everything down. Exposed brick walls, higgledy-piggledy furniture and bookshelves more stacked than your local library, Aperture makes you feel right at home without actually being at home. Snuggle up on the sofa with your morning cuppa, get some work done at a high top or catch up with some friends on the big wooden tables.
Despite the plethora of roasters in the city, the guys at Aperture use Intelligentsia beans from Chicago and make a damn good cappuccino. After 4pm, it's Aperture Dessert Bar time which means you can eat all of the affogatos you want, in any flavour you want. With seven to choose from, including London fog, lemon, ginger, chai, mocha, matcha or classic espresso, you'll be coming back to try them all.
There is also a selection of breakfast and lunchtime sandwiches as well as sweet treats made by Olivia Wu (founder of Cannele & Honeybun Bakery). Make sure you try one of the cookies - these things melt in your mouth.
Aperture has one of the best loyalty schemes we've ever heard of. At the back of the café, there is a dartboard. Once you've filled up your coffee stamp card (ten coffees), you get three shots to win a prize. A polaroid of you is then added to the 'Winner's Wall' and you are entered into a championship match.
Get cosy at Aperture Coffee Bar and you'll never want to leave.
Brewing beer in the heart of the Canadian Rockies.
Tucked away on the second floor of a very Swiss looking building along Banff Ave stands a brewery churning out the best beer in town. Banff Ave. Brewing Co have been getting people merry since 2010. The three co-founders started their first brewery venture in 2005 in Jasper, when one of the guys got lucky and won the lottery. Suddenly, there were few limitations on making their brewery dream come true.
Head Brewer, Kent Boomer, was on hand to give us a tour of the place and teach us a thing or two about the brewing process. It all begins with barley, imported from Europe, which is roasted to turn it into malt. This malt is poured into the mill which feeds into the mashtun (a specialized brewing container). In the mashtun, malt is stirred into hot water with nothing other than a canoe paddle. Banff life. During the mashing process, enzymes in the malt converts starches into sugars creating wort. This wort is put into the boiling kettle and hops are added as need be. Next is the fermentation process where yeast is added to the wort and left for various days depending on what is being brewed. After this is complete, the yeast is extracted for future use. The yeast at the brewery leads a very Banff lifestyle... It parties like crazy for a week, sleeps for two days and then does it all over again. Sound familiar?! The beer is then put into a conditioning tank where it matures. From here, the beer is carbonated and ready to be served straight to the in-house taps, just 65 feet away. Now that’s fresh.
Enjoy a fruity Pond Hockey Pale Ale, hoppy Head Smashed IPA or, the local's favourite, Black Pilsner. Check out the community taps for some interesting collaborations and feel good knowing that $1 is donated to specific causes in the Bow Valley. You can even take some home with you in a growler or a pre-packaged bottle.
Oh and we should probably let you know... $4 pints on Mondays and $8 steins on Thursdays.
I'm on a boat.
Buntzen Lake, Vancouver
Photo Credit: Billie Norman
Through the trees.
Cape Schanck, Mornington Peninsula
Photo Credit: Billie Norman