“And from your legs in tabletop, extend one leg out away from your body, flexing and pointing your toe and lower it slowly towards the floor.”
Teeth gritted, my hands behind my head, upper torso off the floor, with an “Oh my goooood” running through my mind as I did as the instructor asked.
I don’t remember Pilates being this hard. I went to my first Pilates class in about six months yesterday evening; and I wasn’t sure what I was more surprised at – the fact that the instructor, who I’ve always had a massive girl crush on, was seven months pregnant, or how sore I was when I stumbled out of the room an hour later, topknot askew, my yoga mat rolled haphazardly under my arm.
When I got home finally at 9.30pm for a very late dinner, I soothed myself with not one, not two, but three Tim Tams. THREE.
I can’t quite hang my head in shame because everything hurts this morning. I couldn’t lift my arms above my shoulders to wriggle into a top, so resorted to stepping into a dress. Normally I have quite a high-backed, shoulders-back posture, but my lower back is not liking that today either. I can’t believe how sore I am considering I do weights, cardio and core work quite regularly; but Pilates I find tends to work the smaller, less utilised muscles (well, for me anyway). Either that or it may be because when I do core work on my mat in the privacy of my room I feel free to roll around like a beached baby whale; but while I’m in class I’m on my best behaviour because I can sense the sharp eyes of the instructor on me – ready to chastise me!
Perhaps it’s time to get into Pilates classes again to change up my routine as I’ve plateaued (I.e. I’ve stuck with the same exercises for some time and so my body has registered no change in response). In my funny little masochistic way, I do take quite a bit of pleasure and pride in that next day strain after a good workout.
Continuing along the lines of looking after your body, I was visiting Bread & Circus Wholefoods Canteen one fine sunny Sydney Sunday in late December. I’ve actually seen quite a few pictures up on my Instagram feed from the canteen, with bowls of colourful salads and vibrant fruit salads. Salads with either vegetables or fruit are not something I usually actively go out and seek; simple, fresh ingredients really should not cost so much – I prefer to pay for food I can’t re-create myself at home.
The Canteen is situated in a warehouse (as most things are around Alexandria) with a handful of other cafes and bakeries. With it being just after 2pm, it wasn’t too ridiculously crowded with the Sunday lunchtime crowd.
Scan the menu and you will see the words “biodynamic”, “organic” and “preservative-free” everywhere. There’s even a “Breakfast with Gwyneth” and a tea list that contains five types of green tea and four types of oolong. But it’s good to see they aren’t going too overboard with the health theme, with sourdough served with most dishes and the sandwich boxes, and Cow & Moon vanilla gelato used in their affogatos. There’s a note at the bottom of the first page of the menu stating that “requests for alterations will be politely declined”, which I can’t help but suppress a smile at.
My lunch companion for the day – let’s call her M for now – enquired with one of the waitresses about the most unusual drink on the menu. The Ginger Rainwater Kefir by the Fermentary ($6) from Daylesford was described as ‘seriously probiotic’, made from real kefir grains, served with lime. The super-chirpy waitress said – I quote – “It’s fantastic, it’s like the new kombucha. It’s seriously probiotic. It’s like having 20 yoghurts!”
At hearing the 20 yoghurts, I knew what she was on about and decided not to risk it! But M decided to give it a shot and ordered that and the Pimms Without the Pimms ($6) – preservative-free ginger beer poured over slices of cucumber, lime and seasonal fruit with fresh mint.
The Ginger Rainwater Kefir was…there’s no other way to say this: pretty terrible. Incredibly sour, but not a sour obtained from citrus but from fermentation. I had to wash it down with a gulp of M’s Not-Pimms. She found it fairly medicinal as well, but apparently it was better with a squeeze of lime. I wasn’t willing to give it another go.
I ordered a small cold-pressed juice, the Minty Citrus ($6) – pineapple, apple, lemon and mint. I asked for ice as it was a stifling day – the waitress agreed and confirmed – and it arrived without ice. Oh well. Still, it was refreshing and sweet. And I looked like I was being all hipster by having a green smoothie without having to add ghastly kale or spinach into a drink (where they completely do not belong).
Our food arrived without too much of a wait. I had ordered the Caramelised Lemony Banana Pancakes ($19) with banana, ricotta and biodynamic egg flourless pancake with maple syrup, lemon compound butter, caramelised banana and strawberry.
Okay, I understand that going into a wholefoods cafe for pancakes is a little like going into a Chinese restaurant and ordering the spaghetti bolognese. But it sounded convincing on the menu and so I gave it a shot.
It was better than I had been expecting. The lemony-caramelised bananas were a nice touch, but the pancakes themselves – being flourless – I found very soft, and rather “wet” and eggy despite looking quite dry on the outside. Without the addition of flour though, they felt significantly lighter on the palate and stomach. I think I do prefer honest, hearty pancakes, but if you’re gluten intolerant these would probably be bliss.
M had selected one of the sandwich boxes, the Mustard Mad Biodynamic Egg Salad ($15) with avocado and tomato. The other sandwich boxes include a Meredith goat’s chevre, poached organic Inglewood chicken and grass-fed sustainable medium-rare beef.
It also came with a bit of roast pumpkin which I pinched a piece or two of. Carefully, but steadily, M began to assemble her sandwich. Personally, I would have just eaten the ingredients like a salad and torn off a piece of bread here and there to munch on. It would have been nice to have a toasted option, but none of the lunches come with toasted bread.
To give her credit, she managed to cram 80% of the contents from the box between those two slices of bread, before sitting back triumphantly while I photographed her achievement.
“You do realise it’s going to all fall out as soon as you bite into it, don’t you?” I commented as I pushed the beautiful sandwich back towards her.
Suffice it to say that I was right. Eating it became a bit of a mess, but it was a delicious, fresh sandwich and she enjoyed every minute of it.
We didn’t stay for much longer after that as I was keen to drop by Salts Meats Cheese for a look-see. But I think I’ll be keen to come by again to try some of their other sandwich boxes and maybe a tea when the weather cools down. It would take a special trip out for me – being in the middle of Alexandria – but I think it would be worth it.
Bread & Circus Wholefoods Canteen
21 Fountain Street
Alexandria NSW 2015
(02) 9698 2939