When Erika entered the CTS guest post contest, she hinted at “degrees of separation” links between she and I but wisely kept the details to herself. Turns out she is a fellow traveller with myself on the journalism/writer road and we have many overlapping professional and personal connections. I truly loved her contest-winning story and the subsequent review of her family’s prize lunch at Woven. And now that we’ve met face-to-face over lunch, I also know she and her husband (yes, the one that interviewed me for a job about a decade ago …) are determined and even forensic about exploring the many wonderful food options right on their Footscray front door step. So I am very happy to announce that Erika will be writing regularly for CTS. We don’t know quite how this is going to shake out yet – but we figure somewhere between once a week and once a month. I am excited about the contrast Erika will provide to my own ramblings and the small children perspective she will bring to CTS proceedings – that’s important now Bennie is a young man! I hope you enjoy her contributions as much as I know I will!
Brother Nancy, 182 Essex Street, West Footscray. Phone: 0439 318 820
By Erika Jonsson
When my son Joe was younger I rarely had to pay for a ’cino.
I would drink my coffee and read the paper while Joe made a happy mess of his froth, a milk moustache always adorning his top lip at the end.
Over time, babycinos have become a happy habit for many families like mine – and the prices have gone up accordingly.
I made the mistake of ordering one without asking the price at a popular Footscray coffee stop and was gobsmacked to pay $2.
Since then I always check, and if it’s more than $1 Joe and I share a hot chocolate.
I have a collection of photos from our babycino dates that shows my son growing too quickly from a toddler into a boy.
In July last year, Joe became a big brother to Hugh.
It’s a role he cherishes and we have all settled into life as a family of four pretty well.
As Hugh has grown, Joe and I have found a chance for regular time together again on Thursday mornings at a garden in Maidstone.
One day a couple of months ago I noticed a café in Essex St, West Footscray, and pulled up without notice.
We headed inside Brother Nancy and I asked the price of a babycino.
“They’re free. And they come with a marshmallow.”
Since that day we’ve stopped almost every week for a decaf latte, a babycino and usually a yo-yo.
It’s a beautiful ritual that doesn’t break the bank.
Owner Leigh is passionate about his free babycinos – he has choice words perhaps not fit for publication about cafes that charge a premium for a bit of froth.
When he opened Brother Nancy six months ago, he wanted to create a place that families could visit regularly for restaurant-quality food in their own neighbourhood.
His chef had trialled at Vue de Monde and Atlantic but embraced the chance to create his own menu without limits in an inner-suburban setting.
At the moment nothing on the menu costs more than $16.50, and every dish I’ve seen is full of quality ingredients generously served.
But it’s the ’cinos and the warm service (and Proud Mary coffee) that keep us going back.
This week Hugh joined us for his first babycino.
Joe stole his marshmallow and most of his froth ended up on the floor, but Hugh wore his milk moustache with glee and a prized new memory was created.
Leigh, your café is the first where we’ve been regulars – and that’s not likely to change any time soon.
What a great sounding place. It’s right near my new office so I will definitely stop in.
Oh, I’ll definitely keep that in mind for next time the niblings are visiting! Great news.
I once knew a couple of guys who ran a great café and I’d take my daughter there, in the days when no-one charged for babycinos. BUT after being horrified by the huge mess that one group of mothers and kids left once, on the table, chairs and on the floor, and after enduring the noise that came from that table, I fully understand why cafes charge for the treat. This was not an isolated case, it happened to these guys all the time, and it still happens. It has all to do with LACK OF RESPECT from patrons, not greed from café owners. Far too many parents shove a baby cino at their kid in the hope of getting a few minutes quiet, not caring what the kid is doing with the froth/cup/toys on offer. And if that one cino doesn’t do it, well then ask for another one. All the while not caring a toss about who has to clean up afterwards, and who has to stack and wash dishes. Charging for the cino in my mind makes sense, people don’t value what they get for free it seems.