Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Zuchinni flowers

Ever wondered where those delightful zucchini flowers on many menus around town come from? It could be from Owen and Kim Jago's Landsborough farm. They started growing zucchini flowers about three years ago and now supply restaurants from Brisbane to Melbourne, including favourites such as Gianni's Gusto, Manx, Ecco, Restaurant II and Mondo Organics.

I last enjoyed zucchini flowers at Gusto where they were filled with a delicious lemony goat's cheese that oozed out. Do give them a try!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Matt moves into Brisbane

The gossip is that famed Sydney chef Matt Moran bought Pier Nine last week! It's a big restaurant in a prime city riverside position. Certainly will add to Brisbane's dining options and flattering that another Sydney chef thinks the Brisbane market is worth exploring. Can't wait to taste the food!

Christmas goodies

I know it's scary, but I've just seen Christmas trees at the supermarket. Before we know it, we'll be hearing Christmas carols on loud speakers till our ear drums hurt! But the good thing about Christmas is a whole new range of goodies that we can indulge in because, of course, it's tradition and it's Christmas!

I tasted some of Judy C's Christmas creations recently and they get my thumbs up. Her chocolate rum balls are excellent, different from my family recipe which is just a well, but nicely moist and fudgey with a good hint of rum. Her fruit mince tarts are great too. Just the perfect mouthful with a cute star on top. Judy also has gingerbread houses, Christmas cup cakes, puddings and cakes. Pop into her Ashgrove store and place your orders.
Judy C ph 3366 9222. www.cakesbyjudyc.com.au

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Granite Belt Farmer's Market

I couldn't make the first Granite Belt Farmer's market as I was in North Queensland exploring the food trail between Townsville and Cairns. Think tropical fruit, mud crabs, local cheese, black tiger prawns, local beer, the best meat pies and Black Angus steaks.

However my friend and food guru Alison Alexander went for the weekend and reports that the market was small but very good with excellent fresh broad beans, peas, baby silver beet and leeks (yum!) and lots of other vegies. Ian Henderson was there with his vinegars and verjus, and there was some lamb from just outside Stanthorpe. She found excellent pork snags from the local butcher (the Italians in the region were full of praise for them) and some outstanding wildflowers from a commercial grower – large bunches of incredible variety of eucalypt blossoms and nuts, Geralton wax etc.

On Sunday Alison wandered through the muscat vineyard with Leeanne Gangemi picking wild asparagus. It grows in the Ballandean area around the base of trees, in vineyards, along the railways tracks, from a few plantings many years ago. It made great asparagus and parmesan fritters for lunch and an asparagus, leek and goat’s cheese tart.

Alison wants to go back in about six weeks for the start of the stone fruit season to enjoy the early apricots – very small but big on flavour.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Culinary journey through Vietnam

Here's something not to miss if you love Vietnamese food! Black Pearl Epicure Cooking School is running a Culinary Journey through Vietnam with Tracey Lister on 23 October. A well known chef, Tracey and her husband Andreas Pohl have recently released a book that tells of their experiences living and working in Vietnam at the KOTO restaurant, a charity that trains disadvantaged and street kids as chefs. Tracey will be sharing age-old recipes from Hanoi street stalls. Cost $140. Bookings ph 3257 2144, www.blackpearl.com.au

Black Pearl, 36 Baxter Street, Fortitude Valley.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Granite Belt goodies

Those who love regional, seasonal produce should head to the gardens of the Stanthorpe Civic Centre tomorrow, Sunday 12 October,for the first Granite Belt official farmers' market. Trading doesn't begin until a sensible 9am so everyone can have a lie in, and the centre will be filled with producers of food, wine and pamper products, plus a heap of organic produce. Look for the 'buy me I'm a local' signs.

Organisers plan for the market to run until 1pm, unless they sell out earlier, and many stall holders will be offering the opportunity to try before you buy. Amongst the vendors will be producers of tofu, cheese, vinegar, pesto and other gourmet items, plus fresh fruit and vegetables. A butcher and a number of award-winning wineries and lavender producers will complete the line-up.

If you can't make it to Stanthorpe, the next 'away market' will be on Sunday 16 November at South Bank from 10am. www.granitebeltwinecountry.com.au

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Monty's, Paddington - Chocolate Heaven

The days when a block of chocolate from the supermarket was a treat are long gone. Today, when we are looking for something special when it comes to chocolate, the words that come up are more likely to be single origin, coverture and free trade. It's all about high quality product because what other food can you taste the best of for just $2?

And if you want to taste the best, head to Monty's Chocolates, a new establishment on Latrobe Terrace. It's in the complex that includes the Antique Centre and the whole strip of shops seems to be undergoing a renaissance.

Monty's has seriously good chocolates. Owner Steve Sheldon opened the doors about five weeks ago with some very exclusive lines, but he says its all about the taste. Simple things with the highest quality ingredients that transform the flavour.

The shelves are filled with the most attractive looking boxes of goodies - just perfect for a present or a special treat. Think pink champagne roses by Rococo, chocolate balls as served in Gordon Ramsay's restaurant and realistic hand painted chocolate crocodiles. Steve is a distributor for the Pralus brand and welcomes inquiries.

I started by sampling the hot chocolate which Steve makes using a mix of hot chocolate base, fresh ingredients, secret spices and coverture chocolate. It comes with extra chocolate drops and the instructions to put these in the drink and stir. It's silky smooth, chocolately but not overly sweet, and deeply satisfying. On Steve's recommendation, I sample one of Gordon's balls before the drink. After the slightly bitter cocoa of the exterior, it's caramel centre explodes in my mouth - yum!

There are so many things to try - a cabinet full of chocolate treats, praline filled mushrooms and quail eggs. Chocolate covered almonds that look like olives, mini cup cakes and other treats by the wonderful Judy C and Leif chocolate blocks from Noosa.

The coffee is Byron Bay organic and there's a range of teas from which to choose.

Bottom line: Don't waste anytime - get your chocolate fix from Monty's soon!

Monty's Chocolates, 155 Latrobe Terrace, Paddington. ph 3369 3135.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Sassy Sassafras

Quirky and cute, Sassafras is a well loved café on Latrobe Terrace at Paddington, just opposite Paddington Central.

Filled with miss matched, rickety chairs and pre loved tables, it reeks of olde world Paddington atmosphere. I sat on a chair that reminded me of my less comfortable school days.

The menu is full of gluten free, organic and vegetarian options and generally offers healthy choices. Our picks were roast pumpkin fetta and spinach lasagne and a BLT bacon, lettuce, tomato and chilli lime mayo on panini with rice salad. Both were nicely presented and tasted great, although my panini was a little on the crisp/burnt side. The coffee was good – hot and well flavoured.

There’s a great courtyard out the back and a thin strip down the side, or tables inside where it is air conditioned. The only downside is a lack of staff awareness. Do I really want to hear comments like “When you’ve got a moment to scratch your bum, can you…” yelled across the room. Especially when some staff members wear pants that display more than an inch or two of butt crack – eew!

Bottom line: Make sure you book for breakfast on the weekends. Lunch time is often busy too.

88 Latrobe Tce, Paddington
07 3369 0600  www.sassafrasfoods.com.au

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