Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Web of gold

Two birthdays in one month was cause to celebrate with dinner at Alchemy, overlooking the Brisbane River in the heart of the city.

It was a busy midweek night for the restaurant and, according to the wait staff, it’s often well patronised.

Being girls we all just went for a main which proved a good choice in the end when our stomachs were groaning.

Choices included the Tranche of Salmon with Smoked Mushroom Boudin, Pea and Bacon Veloute and the Duck Breast with Orange Glaze, Confit Duck leg and Shiitake Mushrooms, Orange Jus. My selection was the Braised Beef Cheek special which came with mashed potato that should have been a restricted substance. It was deliciously rich and deceptively filling.


None of us felt the need for dessert but a small plate of petit fours was most welcome. The group’s reaction to them was somewhat mixed and some were not at all popular. Coffees and hot chocolates finished the meal.

Perched above the boardwalk, Alchemy’s glass framed view is an unobstructed vista of the Story Bridge and Brisbane River along the Eagle Street reach. The décor is sleek and modern highlighted by stunning hand blown red Murano glass chandeliers.

Alchemy
175 Eagle Street, Brisbane. 07 3229 3175

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Masterful weekend

Brisbane’s Masterclass Weekend (July 26 &27) was launched last night and what a weekend it’s shaping up to be. The main problem is going to be choosing which sessions to attend – I’ve already got three full days of ‘can’t miss’ opportunities and it’s only a two day program. How to decide between Mark Best (Marque, Sydney) talking about truffles, George Calombaris and Andrew Phillpot (The Press Club, Melbourne) sharing the soul, elegance and substance of Greek food and William Wood (Careme Pastry) giving tips on how to impress your guests with his artisan puff and shortcrust pastry.

Congratulations to culinary maestro Alison Alexander and her committee who have assembled a topical program with a great team of presenters drawn from around the world.

Now back to the programme - Captain Crunch or the ultimate combination – coffee and chocolate? Spanish or French? Stimulating the senses or Catch of the day? Thank goodness there are two days to fill!

Masterclass www.qldmasterclass.com

Full Moon Hotel, Sandgate




Sunday lunch at the Full Moon Hotel at Sandgate is beginning to become a bit of a favourite. 

Sitting on the deck overlooking the water and washing down a few wines is not hard to take. And the food doesn’t disappoint either. I had a seafood pasta combo that was delicious and my constant companion had fish and chips which he enjoyed. I pinched some of his chippies and can vouch that they were very good.

Sunday arvos at the Full Moon are extra great because there’s usually live music which certainly adds to the atmosphere. There’s plenty of seating, including some comfy lounges and the Sunday papers on offer. A good place to chill.

Don't miss Saturday arvos either. "The Deadliners" are a regular on the entertainment list and the music is great. Say hello to my mate Brian.

Bottom line:  Good pub food.
 
Full Moon Hotel, 118 Eagle Terrace, Sandgate. p 3869 0544

Full Moon Hotel on Urbanspoon

Out and about

Over the past few weeks I’ve been lucky enough to eat at several great restaurants – Isis (twice), Three Bistro and Simpatico. They all lived up to my expectations – good service, great food, good restaurant layout.

Simpatico at Paddington has been a favourite for a while but I had not dined there for some months. The menu still has the popular deep fried olives but shows some interesting new directions. It was great to share the plates with friends but we all guarded our desserts carefully. A deliciously light chocolate cake was my choice and it was a winner.

Three Bistro is an appealing restaurant with good acoustics so it's possible to hear your dining companion over lunch. The backless seating next to the window is probably a little hard for some bodies to cope with but I had the chair which was fine. The food was simple and well executed. I couldn't resist trying the chips which were fabulous.

Isis has a well deserved reputation for fine dining and we were not dissapointed. The menu was inventive but satisfying and we came away feeling like we'd had a great night out. The Kobe steak was particularly memorable, even the small piece I stole from my companion's plate. There's just something about fat...

Also enjoyed Pumpkin and Rosemary soup at Freestyle Emporium. Great colour, good thick body and crunchy bread slices to wipe the bowl clean. Delish!

Can’t say the same for some of the café food I’ve had lately – Coffee Club Paddington really needs to lift their act! I had to send back my daughter’s Iced Chocolate as it was undrinkable.

Time to do Turkish

Time to do Turkish at Caravanserai on Dornoch Terrace at West End. It was a friend’s birthday and we scored a long table on the rear verandah. Ok in summer but very cold in winter! As it was a Friday night the staff were stretched at the beginning so took a while to take our order. They did serve the children’s meals quickly which was a blessing!

The banquet was an easy choice and popular with everyone except the vegetarians who decided on different options. The food was typically Turkish – full of flavour and a little bit oily. We finished the meal with pearl tea which read beautifully but was really just like jasmine tea. The birthday boy was treated to some personal belly dancing, much to everyone’s delight. 

A good night out and reasonably priced. Worth repeating.
Caravanserai
1-3 Dornoch Tce
West End 4101 QLD (07) 3217 2617

Caravanserai on Urbanspoon

Brisbane sweetens up

Think of the most delicious pastry you’ve ever had then head into the Sofitel’s Cuvee Lounge Bar and you’ll taste something even better!

Their new Afternoon Tea includes a spectacular range of Lenotre desserts that are almost too pretty to eat – but you will. There’s the Cone au chocolat filled with luscious berries and delicious cream, Tarte au citron with the perfect balance between tart lemon and sweet meringue. There are layers of delicious vanilla Bavarian cream with fruits of the forest jelly and caramelized hazelnuts known as Ambiance and macaroons made of soft almond meringue filled with fresh raspberries and lemon curd. For serious types there are even scones with jam and cream and assorted finger sandwiches.

Lenotre, a leading French Patisserie and Boulangerie, is synonymous with the finest traditions in gastronomy. Sydney-based Chef Pastissier, Mark Stone trained in with Lenotre in Paris for three months, building on his extensive experience and learning the their techniques before returning to Australia to oversee the production of the pastries for Accor.

Served on an innovative tiered stand, afternoon tea at the Sofitel has taken on a whole new meaning with the introduction of Lenotre. This is the new place to enjoy this fine tradition in style.


Tempted? Head into the Sofitel and indulge in a petite take away dessert from the Thyme2 Patisserie, enjoy Afternoon Tea or save the treat for dessert. You deserve it!

Sofitel Brisbane
249 Turbot Street
Brisbane p 3835 3535

Heritage Tomatoes


How often have you been disappointed by the taste or lack of it in a tomato? Insipid and flavourless are the words that come to mind. That’s all set to change courtesy of some Gatton farmers who were encouraged to try something new. Armed with some Diggers seeds and a lifetime of knowledge, they are growing heritage varieties of tomato that have distinct and unusual flavours.

The Sutton family is growing handsome specimens of heritage tomatoes in all shades and sizes, varieties that have almost died out because in our fast food world convenience is valued over taste. There are big beefy Bullock Hearts, striped Green and Black Zebra, Tigerella, baby Romas and Black Russians, among others.

It’s still a bit of trial and error as the old varieties face up to the realities of Queensland weather but you should find Sutton’s heritage tomatoes from November through to June at the Powerhouse, Mitchelton and West End markets.

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