Saturday, 29 November 2008

Accomodation Creek Cottages


Our recent trip to the Granite Belt included two nights at Accommodation Creek Cottages. Located just a few minutes drive from Ballandean, the cottage was a perfect antidote to a stressful city week. Curious kangaroos surveyed our arrival and kept us company, from a safe distance, over the weekend.

Inside our cosy cottage was a well equipped kitchen, sitting area with television and dvd and a cd player. There was even a coffee machine and a stash of coffee in the fridge.

Coming from sultry Brisbane, it was a surprise to discover the night was just cool enough to light the fire - in November!

The fridge included some fine Granite Belt produce - local cheeses from Granite Belt Dairy, condiments to match and some wonderful strawberries, cherries and apricots. How long since you have bitten into an apricot and juice has run out? Suttons Apple juice and gourmet yoghurt from Toowoomba were the finishing touches. There's even a barbie in the back yard!

The bed was comfy and the robes thick and fluffy. Chocolates and port were other touches that made the stay extra special.

Find Accommodation Cottages at Sundown Road, Ballandean. p 4684 1144. www.accommodationcreekcottages.com.au


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Friday, 28 November 2008

Lemon Tea Cake

I couldn't resist buying some lemon butter when I visited Jamworks on the Granite Belt recently. They have a huge range of condiments, jams and sauces, so it's hard to make a choice but there's just something about lemon butter that really does it for me. Now I'm torn between enjoying it in little tarts with a dollop of cream or making a lemon tea cake from the recipe supplied by Jamworks. Here's why....

Lemon Tea Cake
Ingredients...
1 cup Self-Raising Flour
1/2 cup Castor Sugar
60g Butter
1 Egg (lightly beaten)
2-3 tbsp Jamworks Lemon Butter

Method...
1: Preheat oven to 180c. Grease and line 17cm baking tin
2: Sift flour and mix in sugar
3: Add butter and rub together until fine breadcrumbs
4: Stir in egg to form a soft dough
5: Press 2/3 of dough into baking tin and spoon over Jamworks Lemon Butter
6: Crumble remaining dough over Lemon Butter
7: Bake for 30 mins and cool in tin
8: Dust with Icing Sugar
9: Serve with lashings of whipped cream!

More about Jamworks at www.jamworks.com.au

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Isis closing for revamp

Well Jason's leaving and Isis is closing for a revamp! There's only a short time to get your Isis fix before Simon Hill and Rachael Duffield close the doors on December 25 for what they are describing as a complete refit. No short term reno here! Expect to see the place open again some time mid year.

Find it at 446 Brunswick St Fortitude Valley, p 3852 1155 www.isisbrasserie.com.au

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The Barracks opens

Hooray! Finally after what seems an eternity, The Barracks at Petrie Terrace is opening on Thursday. I'm just as excited about the new Coles (boy am I sick of the parking ticket system at Woolworths Paddington) as I am about Chelsea, which is a restaurant and wine bar being opened by Michael Hoare of Cirque Café in New Farm. There are lots of other food outlets, a Swiss ice- creamery and the Centro movie theatre group. Also opening are Honey Birdette and Coaldrakes amongst others. It's way too exciting.

New at Salt

There's a new face at the helm of Salt at Rosalie. Mario Perna, who also owns Cafe di Moda at Stones Corner is the new owner and Rhett Allen is still head chef. The menu has changed a little and the bug and prawn skewers with mango salsa are a stand out. Also worth a try is the Chilli Crab and Chicken Linguini. Mains range from a reasonable $20 to $27.

Mario says he doesn't plan to change much - a good thing as the restaurant has a devoted band of regulars. However he is planning to open nights leading up to Christmas and perhaps again in the new year - stay tuned for updates.

My Salt favourites include the Caramel Banana Pancakes and a Berrocca for those self-inflicted mornings when only that will do :(

Find it at 5 Nash St, Paddington p 3367 0775
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Sunday, 23 November 2008

Sutton's Shed Cafe, Granite Belt, Queensland




Here's nothing like a bit of good, old fashioned home cooking, especially if you don't have to make it yourself! You'll find apple pie that rivals the best homemade effort and much more at David and Ros Sutton's new coffee shop - The Shed Cafe.

Filled with antique tables complimented by touches of silver, the cafe is a perfect refreshment stop on entry to or exit from Stanthorpe.



"We're offering fresh, seasonal fruit, sourced locally on the Granite Belt where ever possible, " says Ros Sutton. "And, where we can, we're going to use organic. Of course apples will feature prominently on our menu - home made apple pie, pancakes, chutney, butter, cider and juice, to name just a few."

What modest Ros won't tell you unless pressed, it that she is an award winning CWA cook. One taste of her apple pie will quickly indicate this is a cut above the norm - a well textured pastry with just the right combination of crunch and soft buttery smoothness. Combined with an ample scoop of Spiced Cider ice cream (made by Lick to Caroline Jones' recipe) and you're in foodie heaven.

Expect to find a changing menu that includes buttermilk apple pancakes, apple sorbet using Jonathon apple


juice, a ploughman's lunch, terrine and salad and vegetarian options.

Sate your thirst with a glass of Sutton's own Apple Cider or wines from the local Back Pocket winery.

If you can walk out without a bottle of their varietal apple juice - think Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Jonathon and more- you're a strong character. The same goes for the apple butter and apple syrup.




Sutton's Juice Factory, Cidery and Shed Cafe is open from 10am to 5pm seven days a week. Find it at Thumlimbah, just north of Stanthorpe.

The cafe is one of 20 stops on the Granite Belt Nude Food Trail that focuses on food as nature intended - in region and in season.

And - the best news for coffee lovers - the coffee is Merlo! If you are lucky, you might spot busy David Sutton behind the coffee machine!

Find more on the nude food trail at www.granitebeltwinecountry.com.au

Photos - from top - the perfect short black; Ros Sutton takes a short break; one of this week's lunch offerings; Apple pie with Spiced Cider Ice Cream


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African Rhythm & Reds


Wow! What a way to get a crowd moving! From the pit helmet groupies to the baseball capped mini teen, they were up and strutting their stuff at Rumbalara Estate Wines on the Granite Belt on for African Rhythm & Reds.

Mike and Bobbie Cragg of Rumbalara were returning to their African roots with a music, food and wine event where you can eat, drink and dance to an African rhythm. It started with African drum and dance from Rhythm Connection as plates of Mandela's Sticky Chicken Wings, Xhoso Imifino Patties, (East African Parcels filled with coriander, onion and tomato) and Malawi Mbatat Cheese and Sim Sim Balls (delicious sweet potato, cheese and sesame seed balls) flowed through the crowd. The kitchens opened for the evening meal from 5.30pm s eat as much as you like of Umbako (traditional Xhosa pot bread), Moroccan Lamb, Ethiopian Doro Wat (spicy chicken breasts) and Kenyan Vegetable Curry. New vintage Merlot and Shiraz was available straight from the barrel. For dessert lovers there were strawberries and chocolate fountains and Kenyan coffee. The event supported the Kurisanani V/AIDS Orphans, some of the most needy children from the South African area of Tzaneen. Each guest was presented with a colourful bag hand made by the orphans.

This is one-of-a-kind event on the Granite Belt which showcases the diversity of culture the area has attracted. While its roots might be firmly established in its Italian past, there's plenty of room in this broad landscape for others who wish to share the heritage and traditions from their homelands.

Rumbalara Wines is well worth a visit while you are exploring the Granite Belt. It's like a little slice of Africa and is a bit of a refuge for its owners who love the African feel. A great spot to taste some wines and you almost expect to see an elephant walking past the door.

The winery is located at Glen Alpin, just a few minutes off the highway. Find out more at www.rumbalawines.com.au

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Thursday, 20 November 2008

Jamming it up at Jamworks

I've found a new love - Jamworks' Spicy Fig Jam! I can't live without it smeared across a cracker with a nice sharp cheese. Peter Ingall (pictured left) from Jamworks likes it on his cheese sandwich with a spot of lettuce for texture.

I discovered the Spicy Fig Jam at the Granite Belt market at Southbank where Jamworks had a stall. I'm looking forward to trying some of the other unusual condiments and jams they produce including Boysenberry & Black Muscat Liqueur Jam,
Blackberry & Chilli Jam, Lemon and Nutmeg Butter,
and Mushroom & Walnut Relish.

Jamworks jams and preserves made using locally grown produce where possible. You'll also find real fruit ice-creams and Devonshire teas, coffee and cake at their Stanthorpe store. Find it 10 km south of the Stanthorpe Visitor Information Centre, on the corner of Townsend Road and the New England Highway at Glen Alpin. www.jamworks.com.au

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Blue to Ballandean


Leeanne Gangemi was very excited at the recent Granite Belt Market at Southbank. She was busily sticking blue-gold labels on Ballendean's 2008 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc ($16.50) that had just arrived from the Sydney International Wine Competition. The blue-gold medals are judged on wine matched with food.

Inspired by the fresh produce available on the Granite Belt, Ballandean Estate are now producing their own range of preserves, all available at the cellar door. Look for nectarine and fig chutney, onion jam, chilli onion jam, spicy tomato relish and maple apple jam - yum!

Find Ballandean Estate on Sundown Road at Ballandean. p 07 4684 1226. www.ballandeanestate.com

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Hats off to Brisbane's top restaurants!

The Brisbane Times Good Food Guide was launched last night in the Queensland Terrace at the State Library. Got to say this is becoming one of my favourite venues - the mirrored ceiling reflecting city lights and rows of collectable china are just too fabulous.

I was one of several reviewers who ate their way around Brisbane for the Food Guide - yes it was a tough job but someone had to do it. All reviewers were anonymous and paid for their meals so you can trust the advice.

Congratulations to those who received hats. Two hats were awarded to Urban, E'cco, Isis, Restaurant Two, River House and Vanitas. One hat was awarded to 1889 Enoteca, Absynthe, Baguette, Bar Alto, Berardos, Era Bistro, Fellini, Lurleen's, Montrachet, Muse, Peppers Spicers Peak, Restaurant Rapide, Ricky's, Sono, Spirit House and Wasabi. Chef of the Year is Craig McCabe of 1889 Enoteca, Restaurant of the Year is Urbane and Best Wine List went to Restaurant II.

Best New Restaurant is Pearl Cafe. Simon Thomsen says its a reflection of the adaptability of restaurants - 'Dining should be fun' - and he's right.

Find the full reviews at www.brisbanetimes.com.au/goodfoodguide

Monday, 17 November 2008

Muesli magic


I've always regarded muesli as a health food, so that's my excuse for indulging in Dello Mano's delicious breakfast treat. It did have some crispy bits that looked suspiciously like bran but the overall flavour was decadent with delicious choc chips as only Dello Mano can. The ingredients list includes Belgian chocolate chips, coconut, vanilla and dates all lightly toasted to create a very special weekend indulgence. It's available on their web site and makes a wonderful breakie for two. (250gm for $10.)

If you are looking for a
special gift for someone, Dello Mano's Rise and Shine ticks lots of boxes.
It includes Dello Mano Belgian Chocolate and Date Toasted Muesli (250g), a bottle of Dello Mano Roast Hazelnut and Chocolate Spread (as the Italians do - perfect for toast!), 2 chocolate bars of Dello Mano Belgian Chocolate Luxury Brownies and Campos coffee (250g) ($56).

Find Dello Mano at Jan Power's Powerhouse Market, at selected retail outlets and online at
www.dellomano.com.au

Congratulations Bien and Deborah on your passion and commitment to produce such a high quality product.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Granite Belt heats up Southbank


Brisbane turned on a scorcher for the third Granite Belt Market at Southbank today. Coming from the cooler Granite Belt climate into a hot humid Sunday was a stretch for some stall holders, although Sue Smith (pictured right) from Pyramids Road Wines was holding up well, but the visitor turn up was once again high with a steady flow. A wide assortment of wineries including Ballandean Estate, Symphony Hill, Pyramids Road Wines, Casely Mount Hutton and Granite Belt Highlands Winery were serving samples to eager punters who also were lapping up their special offers.

Pureheaven was there with some of their extensive range of natural skin care, Granite Belt Dairy had plenty of cheese on ice, Jamworks was showing a huge array of preserves plus there was home made cannoli and other Italian delicacies from Mary's Kitchen.

It's a long break until the next Southbank Market in March next year, so if you need to stock up on something in the meantime it will mean a trip out to Stanthorpe - not such a bad thing!

www.granitebeltwinecountry.com.au

Monday, 10 November 2008

Shot of Granite Belt Spice


Bridging the gap between city and country, the third South Bank Growers Market will showcase fresh gourmet delights from the Granite Belt region on Sunday November 16 with over 40 stalls flaunting farm fresh fruit, vegetables, cheeses and wine.

Sri Lankan born Val Rence from Shot of Spice has been blending her homemade curry spices she was a child with family recipes passed onto her by her parents. Val also incorporates produce from the Granite Belt into her dry curry powders and wet curry pastes.

The dry curry powder is gluten free and has no heat in it so it can be used for those who love the taste of curry but not the heat. You can always add chilli if you like. The wet curry paste incorporates chilli and is ideal for convenient, quick curries. All you do is marinate and sauté with coconut milk for a delicious home cooked curry. There's also a date and lemon chutney as well as an eggplant savoury delight.

Apart from the Farmer's Markets, Shot of Spice is available at several outlets in Stanthorpe and Village Meat in Rosalie.

Contact Val at grence@bigpond.net.au

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Nude food unveiled

The lovely Lana made her debut last night at the Granite Belt Nude Food Trail launch. With an annual fruit and vegetable turnover of $130 million and Queensland's acknowledged wine capital, the Granite Belt is well placed to be at the forefront of culinary tourism.

The trail map shows visitors how to find 20 local producers with their opening hours. There are seven categories: eating out; wild things; fresh produce; local meats; savoury staples; sweet moments and events. Journey out to the region and you'll probably find even more places to stop as the trail concentrates on operators who are open at least four days a week and mainly seven days a week.

It includes a list of what produce is being harvested during spring, summer, autumn and winter. Keen foodies will love the 'wild things' and hunt out wild Asparagus and wild Fennel. The foundations have beenlaid for the production of Saffron and Truffles as well..

Granite Belt also is a proven area for Almonds, Carrots,
Chestnuts and Prickly Pears.


The Nude Food Trail also includes suggestions on food and wine matching.

Trail participants include: Ballandean Estate Gourmet Gallery, Bella Rosa’s Tea Rooms, Cottage & Garden Centre, The Bramble Patch, Castle Glen, Granite Belt Dairy Farmhouse Cheese, Granite Belt Highlands Winery, Granite Ridge Wines, Hawker Brothers Butchery, Heritage Estate, LiraH Vinegar and Verjus, Lucas Estate Winery & Cafe, Mt Stirling Olives & Fudge Cottage, Olga & Agnes Fine Foods, Quart Pot Bakehouse, Queensland College of Wine Tourism, Robert Channon Wines, Sandmill Foods, Sutton’s Juice Factory, Cidery & Shed Cafe, Thunderbolt Farm & Claudia’s Country Restaurant plus Vincenzo’s at the Big Apple.

Catch up with some of these producers at the next Granite Belt Market at South Bank next Sunday from 10am to 3pm.

Find more on Nude Food at www.nudefood.com.au
or at www.granitebeltwinecountry.com.au 1800 SO COOL
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Hot at Iceworks

Wow, the new Iceworks has taken off with a bang. I went there on Friday night with Natascha and Kaye after the Nude Food launch and it was standing room only in the front Iceworks Bar, Dining, Lounge, which opens up onto Latrobe Terrace. The crowd was mixed and obviously enjoying the new setting. Down the side in the Dowse Bar the guests were younger but it was much less crowded and noisy.

We took one look at the crowd and headed to the rear and Peak Fine Dining where chef James Williams, ex- Restaurant Two, is turning out some great food. The prices are fairly steep - $24 upwards for entrees, around $35 to $45 for mains, desserts $16.

As we had filled up on some fine Granite Belt food entrees were enough and we all opted for one - the salad of ocean king prawns and mud crab with candied fennel and an orange cardamon dressing. It looked good (see the photo) with the crab as a thin layer that looked like a slice of bread. The prawns were excellent with that sweet/salty flavour and firmness that means super fresh.

The other entree that tempted me was shaved jamon with vincotto and cherry jelly with watermelon foam and rocket salad. I've been overly fond of jamon since I tasted some of the best at the Spanish stand at Sydney's Fine Food show last year.

We decided to share a dessert and it was hard to go past the fine chocolate tart with orange granita and orange sherbert. It came with a tricky little straw to suck it up - very cute. Natasch has a similar recipe on her Courier-Mail Degustation blog.

The restaurant was quite full but it wasn't particularly noisy, great for those who hate loud dining spaces. There's some booth seating at the rear that must have looked great for a tight spot on the architect's plan but I bet this won't last - just too confined and claustrophobic.

Find it on Latrobe Terrace at Paddington, just opposite Lang Park. More info on the restaurants at www.iceworksapartments.com.au


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Snaps to Peter Howard


From the man who gave us ABC days (anything but chardonnay days) we now have 'carrot footprint'. In a play on carbon footprint, Peter neatly encapsulated the advantages of eating local at the launch of the Granite Belt's new Nude Food Trail.

"For too long we've considered it progress to buy peaches or strawberries out of season. Actually, it is a madness to pay a premium for food that has probably travelled great distances. Not only is taste impaired, but the 'carrot footprint' with some of these items is incredible."

Peter says start eating seasonally, buy local and do your body and your wallet a favour. I can't help but agree! Congratulations Peter Howard!

Congratulations also to locavore Alison Walsh for her persistance in sticking to a 100 mile diet for the whole familyas outlined in her story in today's QWeekend magazine. Along with Natascha Mirosch, Alison was inspired by the book 'The 100-mile Diet' by Canadians Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon. So glad that I wasn't invited to dinner at their place in the middle of British Columbia's long winter when there was only potatoes and cabbage on the menu!

Natasacha Mirosch wrote about her journey in her Degustation blog. I shared her angst over lunch one day as she lamented about some items that were impossible to find.

Find out more about the Granite Belt's new Nude Food Trail at www.granitebeltwinecountry.com.au

Friday, 7 November 2008

Eco friendly restaurants

Know of any restaurants that put extra effort into making their operation ecologically sustainable?
Please let me know if you do.

Nude Food

I'm off to the Good Food Show at the Brisbane Convention Centre to see what's on offer. There's a strong contingent of Queensland producers showing this year so I'll enjoy talking and tasting my way around the show. I'm particularly interested in the new Nude Food trail being launched by the Granite Belt tonight. Hopefully I can show you some photos of this soon - probably food rather than people shots. :)

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Peking Duck in Beijing


I've just returned from two great weeks exploring China. I was attending the Australian Travel Writers Conference in Shanghai and also managed to make it to Beijing and Sanya - China's tropical island.

The touring was organised by Helen Wong and was excellent with guides who were well versed in local knowledge.

Chinese ingenuity came to fore at one dinner in Beijing at Bei Jing Quan Ja De He Ping Men Roast Duck Restaurant, where the speciality was Peking Duck. Our guide told us this was a very special restaurant which had hosted many important visitors. Judging by the standard of the lavatories I would have to say it was well set up for western tastes.

We had a number of courses before the duck actually arrived which included a dish with scorpions (pronounced very tasty by the more adventurous members of the group) and other parts of the duck including the stomach, wings and heart.

This was the end of a long and busy day where we had climbed the Great Wall of China, explored the Summer Palace, and done some serious shopping, so the fact that everyone enjoyed the dinner says a lot for the food.

Photos
Top: The duck was brought in and expertly carved alongside the tables.
Middle: This fish was almost too pretty to eat but was delicious.
Bottom: Scorpions were an extra element in this dish.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Street Smart


With the festive season fast approaching it's nice to think about giving back and what better time than when you are dining out enjoying yourself with friends.

For the six weeks in the lead-up to Christmas, StreetSmart partners with restaurants to ask diners to make a small donation to StreetSmart on their bill. Every table is asked to add $2 or more to their bill, not even the price of a coffee or mineral water. It’s a simple idea that adds up to a big impact on the lives of people who are homeless.

StreetSmart is a unique bridge between the community and small, grassroots agencies that assist people experiencing homelessness. They support critical services and emergency aid as well as projects that promote social inclusion, empowerment and sustainable change for people who are homeless. When money is raised from the public through Streetsmart fundraising events, 100 per cent of donations are distributed in the form of grants. To date, over $485,000 has been raised and distributed.

Find all participating StreetSmart restaurants at www.streetsmartaustralia.org/findrestaurant

Participating Brisbane restaurants to date include:Anouk, Baguette Restaurant, Brent’s The Dining E.., Brett’s Wharf, Cilantro Restaurant, Cinco, Citron Modern Asian, David’s Off Oxford, Dell ’ Ugo New Farm, Dell’Ugo South Bank, e’cco bistro, Eves on the River, Fuscia, Fuse Bistro, Grappino, High Societea, Hotel Bravo, IL Centro, Luxe Restaurant, Mario at the Dining Room, Mecca Bah - Brisbane, Mondo Organics Restaurant, Monsoon, Montrachet, Oxleys on The River, Planet Matterz, Restaurant Manx, Rhubarb Rhubarb, Salon, Sprout, The Lido Woodfired Decadence, The London Club, Tukka Restaurant, Urbane, Vil’lagio, Vine, Vino’s Restaurant.

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