Thursday, 27 November 2014

10 reasons to celebrate Christmas at Emporium

Simplify dining in the silly season with Emporium’s selection of eateries and tick all your boxes in one easy swoop.

Centrally located between Ann and Wickham Streets in Fortitude Valley, Emporium has choices ranging from friendly fine dining to casual take away, including Indian, Mexican, Italian, Mediterranean, Japanese, modern Australian or Middle Eastern. 

You can be oh-so-healthy with raw, vegan or gluten free or indulge with dumplings, burgers or pastries.  Dessert can be ice cream or sticky date pudding.   Finish with cocktails, whisky or a frozen margarita.

1.    Tony’s table at Tartufo
Sit yourself down at chef/owner Tony Percuoco’s table and dine like you are joining him for dinner at home.  It’s family style, with dishes emerging from the kitchen to be enjoyed and shared. One of Brisbane’s best Italian restaurants, Tartufo’s menu is full of century old dishes given Tony’s modern twist.  My pick is the carpaccio di manzo – thinly sliced raw beef tenderloin drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and topped with a little fresh rocket, parmesan shavings, pickled truffle and a liberal dose of cracked black pepper.

2.    How about a curry?
It’s Indian with a twist at Roti Chenai where they combine traditional Southern Indian food with Malaysian flavours.  The dishes, made from authentic recipes handed down through three generations, will have you coming back for more.  My pick is the Dosai – a pancake stuffed with a lamb mix.

3.    Want to be healthy?
Give your body some great fuel to start the day in a healthy way at Avalanche Natures Superfoods.  If it’s raw, sugar-free, vegetarian, vegan or paleo that you desire, you’ll find it here. They also have all day buckets designed so you can dip in snack but they taste so good the bucket might empty faster than you think. My pick is the smoked salmon, caper and avocado salad.

4.    Ooh la la, French pastries for me!
Straight from the sidewalks of Paris, the décor at Belle Époque Patisserie will have you looking for the Eiffel Tower in the distance, but only if you can take your eyes away from the pastry cabinet. The macarons are a must try, especially the chocolate with rose water filling, but there’s plenty more to tempt you.

5.    Did someone say dessert?
Freestyle Tout has been one of Brisbane’s premier dessert destinations for 17 years. Now, along with their to-die-for-desserts, the restaurant also has a range of healthy options so you can have your sweet fix without dietary pain.  There’s also a full menu of snacks and meals that you can eat before you indulge in dessert.  My pick? Salted caramel éclair with vanilla ice cream.

6.    Just a dram will do it
You’ll probably want more than one of the smooth drinks on offer at Nant Whisky Cellar & Bar. As well as whisky from the award-winning Tasmanian Nant range, there are more than 150 boutique whisky tastes from around the world. My pick?  You can’t beat a Tasmanian!

7.    Max out on Mexican
It’s fast, it’s fresh and it’s full of authentic Mexican flavour.  That’s what you’ll find at Guzman Y Gomez.  Simple food prepared using traditional techniques wins every time.  I like the frozen margaritas and the frozen margaritas. Did I mention the frozen margaritas?

8.    Best breakfast

Looking for a breakfast that will set you up for the day.  Buzz has plenty of choice from warm banana and blueberry bread and breakfast bagels or a Buzz breakfast toastie with bacon, swiss cheese and a fried egg.  When I’m feeling indulgent, my selection is the eggs benedict with wilted spinach and hollandaise topped with Chriberg bacon.

9.    Take me to the casbah
Travel to the Middle East with your tastebuds rather than your passport.  Mecca Bah serve mezze full of fresh herbs and spices creating exotic flavours in a setting full of Middle Eastern spirit. My pick is the tender Moroccan spiced calamari which comes with a Turkish bean salad.

10.    Sushi love
Forget a sandwich, sushi is my first choice for lunch these days and Gina Sushi Bar & Dining does it very well.  Sashimi and dim sims also are on the menu but along with the Japanese specialities we’ve all come to love including chicken karaage and tempura.  Despite the many temptations, I find it hard to go past their freshly prepared sashimi.

Kerry Heaney

Disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

What fish are you eating? Matthew Evans calls for accurate seafood labelling

What sort of fish is it? Where and how was it caught or farmed?  These are the questions that you should be asking and receiving accurate answers to, each time you buy or order seafood.

Walk into your local seafood shop and you'll often find there's little detail on the fish, prawns or crabs for sale, particularly if it's the 'special of the day' or ubiquitous 'reef fish'.  Likewise at your local cafe and restaurant you'll often find extensive details on the beef and even lamb, but little information on the fish available. 

"Without laws requiring accurate labelling, Queenslanders, not surprisingly, end up buying imported, cheaper seafood over local produce, without recognising the choice they're making," says Tasmanian farmer, chef and author Matthew Evans.

Serving up locally caught sustainable fish straight off the barbecue for the Brisbane launch of the Label My Fish Alliance was Richard Webb, chef and former owner of Brisbane's Swampdog Fish & Chips.

"Things move pretty quickly in the restaurant sector," says Webb. "Since I opened Swampdog three years ago, customers are showing more interest in where their food comes from.  But how is it I can walk into a pub and be told exactly where the beef comes from, but for most of the time I wouldn't be able to find out even what species of fish is on offer?

Alarmingly, according to Greenpeace we now eat double the amount of seafood we ate in 1975, about 370,000 square tonnes but about 70 per cent of that is imported.

"Some of that seafood is okay, but much of it comes at an environmental cost, or is tied to unacceptable labour practices," says Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner Nathaniel Pelle.

If you don't know what this means take a look at What's the Catch, Evan's recently aired three part television series on SBS which examines the issue.

Local fisherman John Page spoke about the waste involved in old fishing techniques and how the industry has changed to be sustainable.

"We fish in Moreton Bay and we can get fish from the bay tot he restaurant door within an hour and a half. It's the freshest seafood you could want. We want the public to know that what they're buying comes from right off our coastline and is caught in a way that doesn't harm the environment. Without better labelling laws, there's no way for us to tell people that," says John.

"If you want to give local fishers like me a fair go, then we need better labelling laws."

It was great to see leading local restaurateurs David Pugh of Restaurant Two and Jose Lopez from GOMA at the launch. Other Queensland supporters of  Label My Fish include Wasabi, Mondo Organics, Stokehouse Restaurant, Moreton Bay Seafood Industry Association and Samies Fresh Seafood Market.
A Senate inquiry into Seafood labelling is underway with a report due on December 4.  Visit for more information.

Kerry Heaney
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