Flavours and Flair

Monthly Archive: April 2015



April 2015




Written by , Posted in Places


From world famous museums and amazing galleries to gorgeous canal cruising and fine Dutch cuisine- Amsterdam is one of the world’s most beautiful cities and such a fun place for families to visit.

Not only does it offer a romantic feel and rich culture, this pretty city is also very easy to get around as it has little road traffic-making it perfect to hire some bikes and ride around like locals.

Today we meet Esther Van de Paal, the smart, creative and fun-loving Dutch mum, behind the brilliant kids blog- Babyccino Kids. From travel, recipes and fashion- through to craft, parenting and cultural topics, this wonderful site touches on so many great ideas and inspirations for all mums.

Esther chats to us about her popular website, which she runs with another two of her besties, and also reveals some of her favourite spots around her hometown, which will ensure a great family holiday in this joyful town.


ML&S: How long have you been living in Amsterdam?

Esther: We’ve been back here for over 7 years now, after 7 years abroad- we lived in New York City, Brussels and London.

ML&S: Can you describe your life in Amsterdam? 

Esther: We’re a family of six – there’s my husband and I, and our 4 children- Sara aged 9, Pim 8, Ava 4 and Casper 2. We live in the leafy and family friendly south side of Amsterdam. My husband and I work full time – my work consists mostly in running Babyccino Kids, our website, a children’s lifestyle blog and shopping portal. My work is very flexible though, so it allows me to be there for my kids after school to cook dinner and the rest of it.


ML&S: Can you tell us more about your blog Babyccino Kids?

Esther: We started Babyccino Kids as a blog 7 years ago, when I moved from London to Amsterdam. It started as an online conversation between three friends in three exciting European cities (Courtney lives in London, Emilie lives in Paris, and I live in Amsterdam). We became friends when the three of us lived in London. We just had our first babies and we used to meet up in cafés and discussed everything from parenting, relationships, (children’s) fashion, products, recipes, travel – you name it. We would keep our children entertained by giving them babyccinos – hence the name for our blog!

Our blog still is, in essence, an online conversation between Courtney, Emilie and I. We talk about what we love (like products, clothes, recipes), or about first hand experiences, such as cultural topics, parenting, craft, or travel. Besides that, we run a shopping portal with a curated selection of the best online boutiques from all over the world. We have organised yearly shopping events in London, and this year for the first time, in New York. And we’re working on more exciting things to come!


ML&S: What do you love most about your work?

Esther: I love that it’s very flexible, very international, that I can put a lot of creativity in to it, and that I get to meet so many wonderful people!

ML&S: What is your favourite park in Amsterdam?

Esther: I like the Beatrixpark across the street from us- it’s a very family friendly park.


ML&S: What are your top children’s stores in your city?

Esther: Gray Label, AnnLiz, Imps&Elfs, Minimarkt and Big&Belg.

ML&S: Where do you like to shop for yourself?

Esther: I don’t have specific shops I go to here in Amsterdam, but I like to wander around the Haarlemsestraat, the Utrechtsestraat, or the Nine Streets and explore the boutiques there.


ML&S: Where is the best place to have a coffee or tea?

Esther: I love to meet up with my co-workers at Coffee&Coconuts – it has a really relaxed atmosphere and it’s really big and with a cool interior.


ML&S: What do you enjoy doing most with your family on weekends?

Esther: In Winter, we love long and lazy mornings with a special weekend breakfast- filled with pancakes, waffles, scones and muffins. We like to visit museums and be inspired. Have long and lazy dinners, or an easy pizza and movie night- preferably we share these experiences with friends. In Summer, we like to spend our mornings preparing salads, quiches, fruit cocktails etc. We then load everything up in our bakfiets (box bikes) and meet with friends somewhere in an Amsterdam park. We eat, drink, play and we’re merry! I can’t wait for summer!


ML&S: What is your favourite restaurant to eat with your children and also with your husband?

Esther: We all love restaurant As, which is located on Prinses Irenestraat, we go here with and without our children! My husband and I also love going to the intimate La Maria on Vechtstraat.

ML&S: Please finish this sentence, “You should never leave Amsterdam with your family until you have?”

Esther: Experienced a boat tour on the canal and ride a bicycle (preferably a bakfiets) through the Vondelpark.


ML&S: Your top areas or sights?

Esther: The city center is just beautiful, with all the canals and canal houses, the bikes, the small alleys, the restaurants and cafés and many boutiques.

ML&S: What is your favourite season in Amsterdam?

Esther: I love Spring and Summer in Amsterdam, when all the flowers are blooming and it’s warm enough to cycle around in a t-shirt.


ML&S: Where do you like to go for a close getaway?

Esther: The National Park the Hoge Veluwe is beautiful for nature, and also for the beautiful museum Kroller Muller, located inside.


Make sure to check out Esther’s fab blog Babyccino Kids & follow on FB @Babyccino Kids and IG @estherbabyccino



April 2015




Written by , Posted in Savoury


Winter is fast approaching in Sydney, which means there will be lots of soups cooked in our kitchen over the next few months!

This simple, hearty and comforting recipe is absolutely delicious and healthy for all the family- you only need a few ingredients and one pot!


- 300 grams free range chicken breast, chopped
- 3 x fresh tomatoes, grated
- 1 x Spanish onion, chopped
- 1 x leek, chopped
- 1 x cup risoni
- 1/4 x cup olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- 2 x litres water


- Place olive oil in a large pot and add onion and chicken. Saute on medium heat for 3 minutes.
- Add leek, grated tomatoes and water. Stir for a minute.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir and allow to cook for about 30 minutes on medium heat.
- Add risoni and cook for another 30 minutes on low to medium heat, stirring occasionally.




April 2015




Written by , Posted in General


Becoming a first time mum can be tricky enough, however gorgeous mum Ange McCarthy, took to motherhood in an ever- so- fine form and also added a move from Brisbane to Sydney along the way.

Ange and her husband became Sydneysiders with their beautiful one- year- old son Max five months ago, and are loving their new lifestyle and home away from home, in this big and fast paced city.

Today stylish and chic Ange, chats to us about what it’s like moving to Sydney with a baby, her favourite places so far in her new hometown, and also talks about her popular Instagram page Life Style Diaries- where she shares her passion and flair for fashion, decor and all lifestyle and baby related concepts.


ML&S: How long have you been living in Sydney and what brought you to this part of the world?

Ange: We moved to Sydney 5 months ago for my husband’s work, and are loving our new city!

ML&S: Where were you previously living and how different was your lifestyle there?

Ange: We were living in the suburb of Teneriffe in Brisbane. Teneriffe is a trendy, leafy suburb on the Brisbane River with many nice coffee shops, restaurants and boutiques. Having been on maternity leave for 7 months whilst living there, I got to know a lot of the locals (they all knew Max of course), felt very comfortable there and we loved the community feel. We also enjoyed having everything at our fingertips, including restaurants close to us that would even do room service! This was particularly convenient in the early days after Max’s birth. Moving to Sydney we wanted to try to replicate this lifestyle, and we have been lucky to find it in Woollahra. Life here is a faster pace, but both my husband and I love the buzz of bigger cities and have transitioned well.


ML&S: What do you love most about Sydney so far?

Ange: We love the vibrancy of the city, and enjoy having the beautiful beaches and bays close by. Exploring our new city has been a lot of fun, and we try and visit some place new every weekend. We particularly love the older homes and historic buildings in Sydney, something you do not see a lot of in Brisbane, as it’s a younger city. I love wandering around our area with Max, and admiring the beautiful homes and the amazing trees.

ML&S: Do you find Sydney to be a baby-friendly city?

Ange: Yes, I have found Sydney to be excellent for families and babies. In the Eastern Suburbs there are plenty of cafes that are baby friendly with high chairs, and the parks are fantastic. There are also a lot of activities in offer for families and the Holdsworth Centre in Woollahra is a fantastic place for Max to play.


ML&S: Have you been able to easily meet other mums?

Ange: I have met other mums at the parks, play groups, coffee shops, the gym and sometimes even in the street. Motherhood is a wonderful leveller – and since becoming a mum, I’ve found meeting friends a lot easier. As mums, we may all have different views, be from different walks of life, and maybe never would have anything to say to each other before our babies were born. But, once you become a mum all of that other stuff doesn’t matter and most of us are going through-and have been through- a lot of the same things. It’s comforting to be able to speak openly about your experiences and ask for advice from other mums.

ML&S: What is your fave cafe in Sydney?

Ange: I have a few favourites- we like Sonoma in Woollahra for a family breakfast on the weekend. It’s a child friendly cafe, it’s spacious with room for prams and the staff are lovely. We are also regulars at Smiths Organic Markets in Woollahra Village for healthy, organic food and coffee- they use Little Marionette coffee beans. I am a coffee addict, and so far the best coffee I have found is from Gumption Espresso in The Strand Arcade in Sydney CBD. Maxi and I venture in there every so often to meet Dad for lunch and always make sure we stop there along the way.


ML&S: Fave places to shop for Maxi?

Ange: For basics we love Target, Country Road Baby and Seed. All of Maxi’s designer outfits have been gifted to us from family and friends – it’s nice to have a few special pieces too.

ML&S: Where do you like shopping  for yourself?

Ange: I do most of my shopping online now- my wardrobe is a mix of designer brands and high street finds. I don’t believe you have to spend a lot of money to look great – it’s about dressing for your shape and having an eye for choosing the right pieces. I’ve always had a knack with this, and often have friends and family asking me to help with their wardrobe styling. My favourite boutique is Calexico in Brisbane (they have a great Instagram account too) and I love wandering through the shops at Westfield Bondi Junction in Sydney.


ML&S: Please tell us about your fab IG page Life Style Diaries?

Ange: Life Style Diaries is an account I started when Max was 6 months old. It’s where I share my favourite images and the products and services I love in the lifestyle, baby and fashion world. I have always had a creative, artistic flair and I am a visual person, so it’s a great way for me to put this to use. In my down time, I spend a lot of time trawling through Pinterest, design books, Interior design and fashion mags- and dreaming a little. It’s my way of relaxing. So far I have had a lot of fun with it, and have met some lovely like minded people through Instagram. It’s early days, however, I would like it to evolve into something more, but right now I am just enjoying being a part of the Instagram community.


ML&S: Any advice for other mums who have recently moved to Sydney?

Ange: I suggest getting out and about as much as possible and frequenting your local parks. It’s the best way to meet other people and the fresh air is good for you and the socialisation for baby.


ML&S: Anything you really miss from home?

Ange: We miss our families the most of course. I also sometimes miss the familiarity of Brisbane and I think this Winter I will be missing the warmer weather!! All in all though we are so pleased we have made the move to Sydney.

Be sure to follow Ange’s fab finds and shares on IG @life_style_diaries



April 2015




Written by , Posted in General


If you are looking for a wonderful family day out in Sydney on a weekend or during the school holidays, you should definitely take a ferry trip to Manly.

A few weeks ago, hubby, Nikoleta and I spent an entire Saturday over there and had an absolute ball- especially little Missy Moo!

IMG_4340We drove to the Domain car park, which is located right next to St Mary’s Cathedral in the city (it has a $10 flat rate on weekends) and left the car there, we then took a lovely stroll through the delightful Botanical Gardens, which leads you straight through to Circular Quay. There we spent a little while admiring the spectacular Harbour and Opera House- even though I’ve been born and raised here, I never tire of looking at our gorgeous Harbour!


Then we hopped on the ferry and went across to Manly Wharf, which offers some of the most incredible harbour views in the world! Followed by some early brunch, late lunch and lots of fun in between.


Here is a list of my favourite places that you should definitely check out if you are in the area-


Fika Swedish Kitchen

For some amazing Scandanavian inspired brunch, this lovely cafe located in Market Lane, is perfect! This bright and friendly joint offers some lovely Swedish tea- with blends such as Stockholm South, Nordic Forest and Polaris. And some of our most loved brunch options include their Swedish Breakfast Tray of fralla, muesli, yoghurt, boiled egg and fresh juice; Thin Pancakes with forest berries, cream and house made jam; and the Swedish Garden of radish, parsley, green peas, fennel, sunflower seeds, cured salmon and meatballs. There are also lots of great and healthy options for kids, which is always a winner with us mums!



Hugos Pizza

This sophisticated beach side restaurant has a fresh menu, endless wine list and an amazing view. What you will love most is that it’s also child friendly and as soon as we walked though the doors, the waitress gave Nikoleta a bunch of colouring pencils and paper to amuse her, while Mummy and Daddy enjoyed their glass of wine. I’m a huge fan of their gourmet pizza range and you HAVE to leave room for their famous Chocolate & Hazelnut Pizza with Ricotta, Banana and Vanilla Gelato!


The Boathouse Shelly Beach

Take a walk down to Shelly Beach for a swim (if weather permits) otherwise enjoy a walk along the sand. A new cafe and restaurant is currently under construction, however you can pick up a great coffee at the cute little Kiosk and take it away!


Fairy Bower

On top of my list of sights to see in Manly, is Fairy Bower- it’s situated in between Manly Beach and Shelly Beach. Take a walk down Bower Lane and it will lead you on to a walkway that reminds me of the Greek Islands. There are a few cute little cafes and shops, or you can just grab an ice-cream, enjoy the breathtaking views and here you will find all the local kids on their bikes and scooters, riding around and having fun.


Manly Fresh Water Market

If you are lucky to be there on a Wednesday or Sunday, you must take a walk down to Manly Plaza on Short Street and visit the fresh produce and artisan food market. You will find some luscious gourmet treats and the freshest produce around.










April 2015




Written by , Posted in Sweet


Koulourakia are traditional Greek biscuits that can be eaten all year round, however they are very popular during the Easter period.

Here is our family recipe, that has been with us for so many generations.


- 250 x grams unsalted butter
- 6 x eggs
- 2 x cups white sugar
- 1 x kg self raising flour
- 1 x tablespoon vanilla sugar
- 1 x teaspoon ammonia
- 1 x tablespoon baking powder
- 1 x cup full cream milk


- Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.
- Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar for about 5 minutes or until they are light and fluffy.
- One by one, add your eggs and beat well. Add your white sugar and beat for a few minutes or until sugar dissolves.
- Combine milk, vanilla sugar and ammonia in a small bowl and mix.
- In a large bowl, sift flour and add baking powder, milk mixture and sugar mixture. Using an electric mixer, beat altogether until a smooth, dough forms- make sure not to overwork it.
- Cover with cling wrap and allow to sit for an hour.
- Turn dough on to working surface. Rub your hands together with some olive oil, so that dough mixture won’t stick to your hands and using about one and a half tablespoons of dough, begin shaping your biscuits in to your desired shape. (One method is to fold each log in half, then twist together, pressing the ends together to seal).
- Place biscuits on a parchment paper lined trays, about 2 cm apart.
- Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.