The Chelsea

The Police Barracks is really starting to get a buzz. Several eateries were open after we ventured out from the movies the other night and people were getting into the swing of dining in the central mall. The Palace Cinema is in full operation and such a pleasant experience incomparison to the multiplex at Indooroopilly Shoppingtown which was strewn with rubbish on my last visit. And it's cheaper!

Just around the corner, a snip past Coles but before the Hogs Breath Cafe, is The Chelsea. It's Steve Ackerie's new thing and it's very smart inside, with lots of mirrors, plenty of wood and a heap of banquette seating. Outside there are tables both around the cafe and in the mall area.

The coffee is Merlo and very good and the menu offers some interesting choices ranging from sandwiches to light meals, mains and sides.

A couple of items in the light meals section captured my attention. Like the sound of Chilli fried squid with watermelon cubes and caramelised lemon or bruschetta, chevre, roast beetroot, rocket and thyme? I do, so I'll have to go back but only during the daytime as the cafe 0pens for breakfast and closes at night. Shame, because I like eating this type of food all day.
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A Bush Tucker Christmas was the theme for a festive celebration last night at Taste for the Love of Cooking, the fabulous cookware store in the Valley.

Taste queen Jodie Macaulay organised a wonderful setting with food by Stephane Bremont from Tukka Restaurant matched by Australian wines chosen by Darren Davis of Purple Palete.

We started with a Native platter - a selection of emu and kangaroo meats with native berries, fruits and spices. This was a wonderfully surprising combination of new flavours. No qualms from me about eating Skippy!

The main was a seared medium rare fillet of kangaroo with braised veggies and a roasted peach. It tasted as good as it looked. For dessert Stephane rolled out lavender and finger line creme brulees with chocolates flavoured with native Round Leaf Mint - a winning combo.

The kangaroo we ate was MSA graded and came from North Queensland as the marbling in Queensland kangas is richer than that in NSW kangas. Go Queensland!

A highlight of the evening was Michael Connolly's didgeridoo performance - one of the best I have heard.

The Purple Palate wines were sourced from small growers in the Barossa Valley and were well matched to the unique flavours of the native-inspired foods.

Look out for more news of a new food lover's group (sort of like a book lovers club for foodies), that Taste is launching next year. Should be a fabulous opportunity for those with a passion for their food to share the love.

I also came away with a wonderful Ironwood Gourmet pizza board made from environmental friendly Acacia wood. I've travelled in the Outback and seen how tough this wood is. It's going to be my new best friend in the kitchen.

Find out more at -
Taste for the Love of Cooking, Montpelier Road, Fortitude Valley

Pictured from top: Jodie Macaulay, Stephane Bremont, fabulous MSA graded NQ kangaroo fillet.


Tropical fruit update

.An updated Australian Tropical Foods website - - has just been launched to promote and market the amazing produce and products from the area and heighten the awareness of tropical food and wine. If you've got a question about tropical fruit, this is the site to find an answer.

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Scenic Rim bonus

The good folks at Scenic Rim Tourism have taken up the challenge tough economic climes pose for the traditional Christmas holiday and come up with a $100 voucher towards your next holiday break.

The Scenic Rim is an often overlooked area of south east Queensland and it shouldn't be. So close to Brisbane, yet so rural in aspect, the area includes Boonah, Kalbar, Aratula, Moogerah, Harrisville, Peak Crossing, Rathdowney, Mt Barney, Maroon and Queen Mary Falls. This area has beautiful scenery and is rich in gourmet food, wine trails and scenic drives showcasing local history, artists, music and our feathered friends

Scenic Rim Tourism Inc is offering $100 off your next holiday break which can be claimed by visit their website The voucher is valid to 31 March 2009 and the website includes all the details.

Accommodation participating includes:Zengarra Country House and Pavilions at Lake Moogerah, Wiss House at Kalbar Tuckeroo Cottages at Rathdowney, Spring Creek Mountain Café and Cottages at Killarney Scenic Rim Cottages at Warrill View, Lillydale Farmstay at Mt Barney, Hilly Ridge Homestead at Boonah, Barney Creek Vineyard and Cottages at Mt Barney

I've visited both Wiss House and Spring Creek Mountain Cafe and enjoyed excellent food at both. The views at Spring Creek are outstanding. After all this rain the countryside is looking lush and green - the perfect time to visit.


Luscious cherries


Wow! I've just been eating the most delicious cherries courtesy of the Granite Belt growers. They arrived in a pack with a heap of other goodies which were also delish. I'm a little too old to wear cherry earrings, but was still thrilled to find not a double, but a triple in the bunch.

The cherry growers have given me some good tips on how to eat my cherries at their best - keep them cool, keep them dry and loosely packed in a closed container in the fridge and leave the stems on to maintain freshness.
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Here's a cherry recipe that sounds delicious -
Goats cheese and rocket salad with cherry dressing
(4 servings)
Ingredients: 4 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, Salt, Pepper, Sugar, 8 fresh cherries, pitted and quartered, 300g rocket, 50g pine nuts, 300g fresh goats cheese in a log, 3 tablespoon cornflakes, 2 teaspoons oil, 3 green onions, finely sliced

In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar and mustard to make a dressing. Season with salt, pepper and sugar and stir trough the cherries, set aside.
Rinse rocket and spin dry. Heat a small frying pan and dry roast pine nuts until golden brown. Cut cheese into about 2cm wide discs. Place cornflakes in a sealed lunch bag and crush with your fingers. Place cornflakes on a plate and press cheese with both sides into cornflakes. Heat oil in a non stick frying pan and brown the cheese on both sides. Place cheese on paper towel, then arrange with the salad on a plate. Scatter over the onions, pine nuts and dressing and serve immediately.


Shiraz on the Granite Belt

No, this isn't another new wine, it's a great new restaurant.

I first sampled John Rogers' cooking when he prepared a special meal for a group of guests at the Girraween Environmental Lodge. It was fabulous food and the question on everyone's lips was 'why aren't you running a restaurant'.

Well just over a year and a half later I was able to once again dine on a fabulous feast prepared by John at his restaurant Shiraz at Ballandean which has been open 10 months. It's on the main highway so you can't miss it.

John has a thing for seafood and great connections so his seafood menu is always very special. I started with a dozen freshly shucked Coffin Bay oysters with lemon and cracked pepper which I not so graciously shared with my partner. Few things come between me and a good oyster.

This was followed bywinter 2008 Seared scallops, truffle oil potato, coriander salsa, leek, salmon caviar, a dream combination of all my favs. My partner chose winter 2008Black Angus rib fillet, sweet potato mash, port mushroom and thyme jus and was pleased he did.

After my oysters I left the dessert choice to Glen and he went for the simply described winter 2008Chocolate fondant, double cream and Baileys. Went for it was the right description - I was busy chatting with John and barely got a mouth of it because it was sooooo good. Just like liquid chocolate inside.

John told me he sources much of his produce locally, often organic and the menu changes weekly. The meat comes from Toowoomba and the seafood from Brisbane.

Other local items you'll see on the menu include venison, hare and rabbit from Ballandean.

John's plans include a four to six course degustation menu featuring organic produce sourced from within a 100 mile radius with wine matched by the glass.

There's also a great range of local wines on the list - with some available by the glass.

Photos: Top - the scallops (yum), John, Chocolate fondant dessert (double yum).

Find Shiraz at 28200 New England Highway
Ballandean. 07 4684 1000
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Don't get too excited!

The Police Barracks might be doing business but there still a long way to go before some of the best stuff opens. Expect to find Coles (with lots of bargains), Fierra (one of my favs), Honey Birdette and the Palace Cinema open. There's also plenty of bargains at Woolworths Paddington as shoppers flock to try out the new Coles. Nothing like a bit of competition.

The cinema has stunning views over the city and there are some tables where you can enjoy a coffee or a glass of wine and gaze across the city. A new must I think, especially for visitors!

The cinemas are very nice but still waiting on some finishing touches, like wall paint! There are ladders handy for when they get around to that.

I heard that the green grocer and butcher who are located in the actual Police Barracks heritage listed building, won't open until Jan or Feb next year.


Salt opens at night!

At the risk of becoming a little Salt centric, I have to report that Salt at Rosalie is now opening at night. This will disappoint fans of Sings next door who will have to wait longer for a table, but Salt fans are rejoicing at the prospect of enjoying their favourite dishes at night. I recently sampled the crispy duck's breast with soba noodles and enjoyed it, while my very fussy partner was raving about the salmon with mashed tatties and his favourite asparagus - a nine he said!

Dessert, always too hard to resist at Salt, was equally fab. My choice of white chocolate pancakes was a real sweet tooth treat - pancakes with white chocolate inside and pouring chocolate to go over the top from new owner Mario Perna's personal list. My partner's chocolate pudding with choc pouring sauce went down equally as well.

Pop down and see for yourself - soon.

Find it at 5 Nash St, Paddington p 3367 0775


New Tweed Farmers Market

I've been fond of the food offerings found south of the border in the NSW Northern Rivers area for a while. Apart from fabulous bananas, there's some great local coffee. With the opening of the Tugan bypass, this area is even closer to Brisbane for day trippers and now there's a farmer's market.

The Domain Casuarina Farmers Markets will be held on the first and third Saturday of the month with the first official market kicking off on Saturday, December 6. It will feature produce personally selected by Domain Catering’s Executive Chef Greg Pieper (of Bamboo Restaurant + Bar). Under the shade of the Sandbar + Grill courtyard, market lovers can discover Farmer Dave’s famous free range lamb, taste artisan cheeses from Burringbar, and cook up a storm with the freshest seafood from Warren Markwell. There will also be freshly cut flowers, quality brewed coffee and top quality organic fruit and vegetables. The markets will run from 8am – 11am at the Sandbar + Grill, Barclay Drive, Casuarina Beach.