Sunday, 31 August 2008

Get Grill'd


Sunday night after a hard day shopping and a burger at the new Grill'd at Rosalie seemed just the ticket. My first Grill'd burger was in Melbourne about a year ago and I've been hanging out for one ever since. Grill'd is in a new complex that also includes Tomato (formerly Tomato Brothers)and Wok Me, a noodles place.

We ordered three burgers, a Crispy Bacon & Cheese which was pronounced delicious,and a Big Queenslander (minus egg) that included beetroot, salad and relish and was also great. Our third choice, the Grilled Bird & Brie was not such a success. It was a little thin on the brie but had plenty of cranberry and also was a little overgrilled, maybe too char grilled.

The chips were ok but overly salted and there were too many small ones which were very crisp. Reports indicate that the chips are not usually that salty.



The staff are polite and service is prompt. Overall this is a great addition to the food scene at Rosalie and I'll be back to try it all again.

Grilled, 19-21 Nash Street, Rosalie.07 3367 1555 www.grilld.com.au

Grill'd on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Cheese matters

I've always wanted to be more selective in my cheese and wine matching and now I've found a new web site that answers all my questions. www.cheesematters.com.au It has some really good tips on cheese plus a nifty wheel that matches cheese with wine or wine with cheese. Next time I want to match a wine to some of the great new goat cheese I've found I now know I can confidently select a riesling or sauvignon blanc. There's also some good tips on putting together a cheese platter and buying the right amount for the number of people – I always seem to buy too much. You'll also find recipes and 'Ask the foodie' section where you can solve your pressing problems – don't suppose she covers dog barking problems too!

Friday, 29 August 2008

Dinner in the dark

Last night I joined other foodies for Dinner in the Dark at Royal on the Park in Alice Street, Brisbane. The Walnut Restaurant is now under the control of new Executive Chef Gary Farrell who is pumping out some seriously good food. Gary has done dinner in the dark before and describes his menu as ‘The Science of Deliciousness’. The concept is that dining in the dark challenges sensory perception and heightens the focus on flavours. It worked for me!

Guests described the 10 course dining experience as the ‘Barry White’ of dinners. We ate in the dark lit by glow sticks to the sounds of rainforest birds, an incredibly relaxing and intimate experience. The menu, which was matched with wines from Cloudy Bay, included some outstanding tastes like Tasmanian salmon with liquorice and a 65c ‘blue’ egg with maple smoked belly (dried with a hair dryer) and chanterelles. The smoked Asian duck with blueberry jelly was another favourite.

Gary Farrell and The Walnut Restaurant is a place to watch! The next Dinner in the Dark is on Wednesday, November 12.

The Walnut Restaurant, Royal on the Park, Cnr Alice & Albert Streets
Brisbane 07 3112 1650 www.royalonthepark.com.au

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Two nights is not enough!


I've just spent two nights at the Sofitel, Broadbeach and I can tell you this is a nice hotel. Why? The beds are very good (thick quilt doonas, super soft pillows and sink in mattresses), the spa is just right and there is a separate shower (always nice). There are several small touches which make an extra difference - a loofa in the spa, big, thick fluffy robes and slippers, complimentary herbal tea and choccie, luxurious shampoos etc. And then there's the view. My king corner suite had a view that stretched up and down the coastline - very spesh! The continental breakfast buffet was full of interesting choices and they all tasted like real food - unlike some hotel breakfast buffets I have experienced. I didn't try the cooked breakfast - just couldn't fit it in! It's just over the road from Pacific Fair and you can hop on the monorail for a quick visit if you feel the need. The Gold Coast Convention centre also is close by. I've eaten at Room 81 (not on this visit) and was impressed by the quality of the food. Each night when I retired after a hard day on the road (not!), Room 81 seemed to be pumping and could be a good spot for a few drinks. The hotel is hard to fault, really!

Sofitel Gold Coast 61 7 5592 2250 .

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Paddock to the plate


The Radisson Resort at Carrara put on two Paddock to the Plate dinners as part of Taste of the Gold Coast and the food was delicious. It was great to find the cheese maker we had visited that morning at the market, Charella Goat Dairy, in a tart with smoked roasted tomatoes and apple balsamic as an entrée. The other entrée featured green prawns that could have been the ones I saw people buying straight from the trawler with avocados straight from Mount Tamborine. The mains included locally caught snapper and sweet Bangalow pork (Bangalow is just over the border). Dessert was a mascapone vanilla and Mudgeeraba honey pannacotta - yum! Swiss style cheeses from Fromart on the Sunshine Coast and Charella were included on the regional cheese platter.

The Radisson is located a little out of the busy coastal strip and overlooks Palm Meadows Golf Course. I had an enjoyable night there in a very comfortable room.
Radisson Resort Gold, Coast Palm Meadows Drive , Carrara. 61 7 5555 7700, www.radisson.com/hotels/auspalm

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Ferry Road Markets at Southport




I'd heard much about these markets styled along the same lines at the James Street Market in Brisbane, but hadn't made a visit. It's certainly a great place to browse and shop and if I was a local it would be high on my 'must' list. There's everything from beautiful fresh flowers to the fine fruit and veg. The whole fish on display in the fish market were in peak condition with nice firm eyes, just the sort you'd want to take home and bake whole.

The butcher, Prime Specialty Meats, has a sense of humour along with some fine produce like Black Angus



fillet which he says 'once you've had black you'll never go back', settle girls! Next door was a bakery with a wide selection of freshly made bread. I bought some sour dough rolls which were a treat to eat. The Deli has one of the best selections of olives and antipasto ingredients I've seen. I bought some of the rainbow coloured olives to try on a platter. They are visually very pleasing and, I was told, all natural, except for the red olives which are coloured with beetroot. Around the corner in the complex is a Wheel and Barrow for all your kitchen/lifestyle purchases.

There's a tea shop with a great range of interesting teas. I found a budda ball which opens into a flower when infused and makes a jasmine tea. I'd enjoyed it at the Sofitel, Broadbeach along with a delicious strawberry chocolate which I found in the very tempting shop next door, Sweet. Beautiful handmade chocolates here.

Spendlove Bistro runs up the middle of the centre and was full of Sunday morning breakfasters. It was busy and the food was great.

Ferry Road Market, Brickworks Centre, 107 Ferry Rd., Southport.

Spendlove on the Gold Coast




Wow! What a weekend! I've been on the Gold Coast eating and drinking my way through Tastes of the Gold Coast and visiting some of the finest Gold Coast establishments.

I'm starting at the end which was breakfast at Spendlove in the Ferry Road Markets at Southport. This cafe is positioned in the middle of a large market-style shopping building, run by the same crowd who operate Brisbane's James Street Market in the Valley. More on that soon.

Spendlove is a locals haunt and some menu items are so popular, such as the green pea risotto they can not be changed. Owner Tony Roberts says the emphasis is on fresh local produce, citing hand-picked lettuce from Mount Tamborine and local goat's cheese as two examples. There's also local Burleigh Dukes Pale Ale and Vince's Verdelho from O'Reillys Gold Coast vineyard on the drinks list.

I chose bircher muesli which came with really fresh fruit and a super sweet honey and cinnamon yoghurt on the side. Best of all it was $9.50 which was great value. There were sighs of delight from those eating eggs benedict and the two cheese souffle with Hanks tomato chutney. And the caesar salad was pronounced 'the best I have eaten' by it's lucky owner.

Bottom line: Even after three days of serious eating, our group was wowed by the food. Do yourself a favour and try it out.

Spendlove, Ferry Rd Market, Brickworks Centre,107 Ferry Rd Southport.

Spendelove Bistro and Bar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Real hot chocolate



If you are looking for a hot chocolate to rock your socks and warm your soul on these cold winter days, try Salt in Nash Street, Rosalie. Their hot chocolate comes in a huge bowl with hot milk and real chocolate to pour in. Just for good measure, there's a little white chocolate on the side.
Delish! Try the banana caramel pancakes while you are there.

Salt, 5 Nash St, Paddington p 3367 0775 - Note - locals call this area Rosalie, but officially it's Paddington.

Update: After some serious testing around town - the hot chocolate lover has rated Salt's hot chocolate as a 10 and uses it as a bench mark. Serious praise from Perfect One.

Food lover’s paradise


The Gold Coast is the place for foodies from August 22 to September , 2010, with a serious line up of 29 mouth watering events. I’ll be there eating for Australia like the best of them. New on this year’s list is a Jewels on a Plate, where Chef Meyjitte Boughenout will host an intimate luncheon Absynthe and the Varsity Lakes Sweet Saturday Affair, with yummy sweets on offer at village restaurants and cafes on August 23. There’s a dinner showcasing fine wines from local wineries and another featuring the best produce from local suppliers. Of course, it wouldn’t be the Gold Coast without a beach event and A La Carte on the Beach in Coolangatta brings beach and food together for a day’s enjoyment. Find the whole program at www.tastesofgoldcoast.com.au

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Beautiful berries

When my children were small The Bramble Patch at Stanthorpe was their one bright point in the Granite Belt winery trail. They loved the fresh berries mixed into ice cream and I loved stocking up on the range of berry jams and vinegars. Nothing much has changed except the children are now all but grown up and range of products from The Bramble Patch is much larger.

I’ve tried the Strawberry Coulis drizzled over ice cream – delish! And love the Raspberry Vinegar on mixed salad greens.

The Bramble Patch will be one of the stalls at the Granite Belt South Bank Growers’ Market on Sunday August 24. They are launching a new sensation, the Ice Burger. It’s a warm chocolate sponge filled with ice cream and sorbet and drizzled with Bramble Patch berry coulis. This time I’ll be the once doing the taste testing, not the kids!

I’m also going to try their vintage shiraz, cabernet and cracked pepper fruit paste and the ruby quince paste. Sounds like the perfect accompaniments to a good cheese plate.

www.bramblepatch.com.au

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Chasing the fox



The Fox and Hounds is a real find for anyone with a hankering for the English homeland. (See my story in today's Sunday Mail Discover travel section.) It's as real as an English pub smack bang in the middle of the Gold Coast Hinterland can be. My true Brit companion on the day I visited said it really made her think of the pubs at home.

Creator and landlord Ian Thurston found all the gear at the Sussex Arms in Tunbridge and transported it back to Oz until he built his dream pub. One side is dedicated to an English theme while the other is Irish. And yes, you can move food and drink between the two!

I'd really like to try the Sunday Roast Lunch which stretches all day. This is popular, so book well ahead. It's hard to beat a good roast as David Pugh proved when he served the ultimate roast dinner to an esteemed list of chefs, wine makers and journalists at Restaurant II to mark the end of Masterclass. Off duty, it's simple food that chefs like best and the dinner brought out compliments all round.

Find The Fox and Hounds pub on the corner of Oxenford Tamborine Road and Elevation Drive, Wongawallan. P 5665 7582

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Discover Pyramids Road Wines



I first met Sue Smith at a raucous girl's dinner at Girraween Environmental Lodge. It was a great night and we laughed, talked and drank big time. Thankfully we only had to stumble up the hill to bed. Next day we visited Sue and Warren at their winery and were introduced to the old wine press Warren uses to produce his wine. These two are people with a passion for wine making which is paying off.

Pyramid Road Wines has been operating on the Granite Belt for nine years. They do everything on site, from growing the grapes to bottling and labelling the wines. They use traditional methods, like the wine press, and produce low volumes. In his 2009 Wine Companion, James Halliday says their 2005 Shiraz is outstanding, a reflection of a top vintage in the region.

Meet Sue and Warren and try their wine at the next Granite Belt Growers' Market at South Bank on Sunday, August 24. Be there early as some market stalls sold out by 10am last time. Pyramids Road Wines is a winery located 20 minutes from Stanthorpe near Ballandean on the Granite Belt. www.pyramidsroad.com.au
www.granitebeltwinecountry.com.au

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Good photos

I'm constantly telling producers that they need to improve their stock photography. Too often it's poor quality, low resolution and plain boring. If you can afford a professional photographer - do - it's not an area to skimp. If that's just not an option, there are some tips available. Paul Dymond's blog http://pauldymond.blogspot.com/ has lots of great suggestions in an easy to digest format. It's essential reading.

Photographer and foodie Gordon Hammond also has some great tips in his latest newsletter http://www.australianregionalfoodguide.com.au/

If you want to brush up on your skills, Blue Dog http://www.blue-dog.com.au/runs regular courses that will help.

Start clicking!

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

A little Spanish at Paddington


Walking into Vida at Paddington was a pure delight, once I negotiated which door was the front door!  

The restaurant was hopping with live Spanish music and filled with enthusiastic diners. Located just off Latrobe Terrace, this old building has been home to many restaurants including the well known Mano.
 
The menu offers a good selection of tapas as well as entrees and mains. Expecting a Spanish menu I was a little surprised by some of the inclusions, including the grilled kangaroo shish kebabs with quince and chocolate sauce, but ready to give them a go.

Guided by the waitress, we choose a selection of four for our table of five to share and were very happy with the result. The slow roasted pork belly was my favourite.

Our mains met with equal approval, although one took a little too long to arrive. My Unohana dumplings, stewed hijiki, miso and dashi broth was an interesting meal, especially on a ‘Spanish menu’, but enjoyable. 

We didn’t have the churros - fried dough-based pastries sugared and served with a cup of hot chocolate with tequila - for dessert but should have!
14 Collingwood Street, Paddington, p 3367 1002, www.vidarestaurant.com.au

Vida on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Not quite pandemonium

We’ve just had a delicious breakfast at Pandemonium in Given Terrace, Paddington. I’m guessing the name refers to the eclectic décor with its bright green and orange 60s style colours and retro anodised laminated furniture, rather than the service, which was prompt and efficient. The kitchen also seemed well tuned and turned out our breakfast order in reasonable time for a busy Sunday morning.

When the house was full, as it was when we arrived at 10am, it was a little chaotic, but only because of the large number of small children on the next table. But the coffee was strong, full flavoured and hot, just the way I like it. The pancakes were thin, more like crepes, but came with a mixed berry sauce and maple syrup. For the price $12.50, they were reasonable value, although a thicker pancake would have been easier to eat and would have soaked up the sauce a little better. The Spanish omelette, $13, was over done but the orange juice tasted freshly squeezed.

Bottom line: The prices make this restaurant an attractive breakfast option but be prepared for servings that are adequate but not overly generous. However it’s great to find a café that only charges $3 for a coffee.

215 Given Terrace, Paddington, p3369 4420. www.pandemonium.com.au

Pandemonium Cafe on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Primavera Granite Belt style

I'm drinking a zippy 2008 Banca Ridge Semillion made by the Queensland College of Wine Tourism's Young Winemakers for the Granite Belt's spring fling - Primavera. The quality of the wine is testimony to the effort the Granite Belt is putting into developing its culinary offerings. Their 'menu of seasonal events' includes an amazing variety from wine masterclasses to a gamekeeper's dinner. There are cultural, music and arts events and a list of almost 40 new wines to be released. The Banca Ridge Semillion is available now, but you'll have to wait for some of the other vintages. I'm keen to try the Golden Grove Estate 2007 Temranillo, Symphony Hill's 2008 Pinot Gris and the 2005 Winter Harvest Nebbiolo from LiraH. If you are thinking of visiting the area, spring is a great time to make the effort. www.granitebeltwinecountry.com.au

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Perfect pastry

I like cooking with pastry so was interested to attend the Masterclass session with William Wood, creator of Careme pastry. William shared many pastry secrets and I've already tried some of them with great success.




William's tips were:
  • Always rest your pastry for 15 minutes to avoid shrinkage.
  • Add a bed of breadcrumbs to take up excess moisture - works especially well with tomatoes.
  • Always cool your filling before adding to the pastry as pastry reacts better when cold.
  • Use egg yolk with a touch of water if necessary to glaze but avoid touching the cut pastry sides.
  • When you blind bake a flan, chic peas are better than rice to distribute the heat.
  • You can also avoid shrinkage by making your pastry a day ahead and putting it in the freezer.
  • Use wax paper under a flan when baking to ensure no stick.

Pictured is Bitter Chocolate Tart with Hazelnut Chocolate Ganache which uses Careme Dark Chocolate Pastry. And yes, it was delicious! http://www.caremepastry.com/

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Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Masterclass magic




It's not often that you get the chance to get up close and personal with some of the world's great chefs but you can at Brisbane's Masterclass event. Here I am between Martin Bosley, one of New Zealand's most famous and stellar US chef Michel Richard.


Martin is chef and co-owner of Martin Bosley’s on Wellington’s picturesque harbour front, a restaurant with an enviable reputation for stunning seafood which was named New Zealand Cuisine magazine Restaurant of the Year – Supreme Winner in 2007. Fellow food writer Christine Salins, who hails from Canberra, says the meal she enjoyed at his restaurant is one of the best she has ever had!


Martin shared a few of his secrets which included the fact that he doesn't use fish stock at all, but prefers chicken stock. He loves carrot puree, especially tossed through a risotto at the end to add sweetness and only uses salt, never pepper on seafood. Martin has a new book coming out soon with plenty of 'accessible' recipes that you can cook at home.


A pioneer of French-California cuisine in the US, Michel Richard is the creative force behind Citrus at Social in Los Angeles, Citronelle in Northern California, and his flagship Citronelle In Washington DC, lauded as 'one of the world’s most exciting restaurants' by Condé Nast Traveller. In 2007 he was chosen by the James Beard Foundation as the year’s Outstanding Chef, and this year has earned himself a nomination for James Beard Best New Restaurant 2008 with his new venture, Central Michel Richard.


Michel wants your mouth to dance when you eat his food and loves to play with texture. He says French cooking is a lot lighter these days but when he started it was one pound of butter per person - eek! Michel showed how to make a very tricky Lobster Beluga Pasta that looks and tastes like the real thing and a 'kit kat' that's hard to beat.


It was a great opportunity to listen to these chefs, watch them cooking and sample their food. Bliss!

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Queenslanders have lumpy bottoms

Queenslanders have lumpy bottoms? Well not all Queenslanders, just the best sweet and juicy strawberries. Identify Rubygem strawberries by the lumpy bases around the green bit. You'll also know them by the fabulous strawberry taste, but only after you've eaten them! Ruby Gems are in season now.
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Ambiwerra a winner

Kate Cebrano rocked the 16th annual Ambiwerra Festival at Corinda today. It was a fine turn out on a beautiful warm winter day. So warm some revellers were wishing they had ditched their winter woollies.
Along with a great line up of music, Ambiwerra is known as a fine foodie experience with many of Brisbane's best restaurants lining up to serve the crowds. The queue at some stalls - Restaurant Two, Odyssey Oysters from Coffin Bay, Vietnamese Cuisine and Strawberries and Cream -was somewhat daunting!
Along with Kym Pitt from Fraiche Deli, I was a judge of food and wine stalls on the day. It was tough - we had to eat from every stall - but we did it. The final four were Simple Pleasures from Kenmore for their great presentation and salt pepper squid with wombock and herb salad (delicious), Restaurant Two for their seared ocean trout with sushi rice and Japanese BBQ sauce (sold out), Cream Patisserie for their Parisian themed stall decor and Food by Farrell for the Pie, Mash & Liquor - just yummy. The trophy went to Garry Farrell from Food by Farrell who served up three interesting dishes to the eager crowd. Find him at Royal on the Park in Alice Street - the old Park Royal.
The winner of the wine stalls was Symphony Hill, the only Queensland winery at the event. It was hard to go past Ewen McPherson in a blonde wig as Andy Wharhol and his companion Marilyn.
This is a fabulous day - don't miss it next year!
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