Last night I dined at Alchemy enjoying the creative efforts of Brad Jolly's dalliance with pork for a dinner where the guest of honour was Babe's cousin.

The night started with pork hock broth with shitake mushrooms served in trendy test tubes and fois gras mousse on a wafer thin fois gras bark.

Also on the list were oysters with pork belly jelly, dried shots of pork that looked a little like muesli and pork crackling foam with a yoghurt sauce.

The entree was a braised pork terrine with pickled walnuts. Braised for four hours, it was a taste sensation. Yum.

The main was a glammed-up pork chop that didn't really excite but the dessert was one of those chocolate numbers that explodes with a gooey centre. Double yum. And the garnish -crispy little snippets of pork ears on a blood orange sorbet!

See all the action here.

Alchemy is located on the promenade level of 125 Eagle Street with stunning views of the Brisbane River, that's if you can drag your eyes away from the ruby red murano glass chandeliers. p 3229 3175
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Granite Belt goodies

A big box of the Granite Belt's latest goodies has arrived on my doorstep. There's nothing like these farm fresh vegetables and fruit - the flavours are so intense and pure - a delight to cook and eat.

The flavour filled grapes disappeared very quickly but I'm planning something special for the biggest apple I have ever seen. Now is the time to head to the Granite Belt and pluck these new season fruits straight from the vine/trees.

I'll be working my way through these luscious fruits and vegetables for a while and I'm particularly looking forward to trying the Maple Apple jam from Greedy Me Gourmet and the Summit Estate Merlot.

Andrew Simpson, chef and food and beverage training manager at the Queensland College of Wine Tourism included this great recipe.

Cauliflower and Stanthorpe blue cheese soup

1 cauliflower
4 cloves of garlic
2 large onions
1 litre of chicken stock
300ml pure cream
300g strong blue cheese
freshly ground pepper
50 grams butter
1 small baguette
olive oil
chopped parsley for decoration

Cut the baguette into 5mm thick slices and lay flat on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then place a thin slice of blue cheese on top. Bake in hot over for five minutes until golden. Allow to cool - this will become the crouton garish for the soup.

Slice onions and garlic, sweat down in a large pot with butter until transparent and sweet (no colour). Add roughly chopped cauliflower, including the stalk as this the sweetest part of the flower, pour in chicken stock and simmer gently for 20 min. Remove from heat and puree with bar mixed adding in the left over blue cheese a little piece at a time. Once smooth, return to low heat and add pure cream, salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

Serve hot with crouton afloat sprinkled with chopped parsley and cracked pepper.


Cheap eats - Curry at Siana

Siana has brought back their lunchtime curry buffet with a $20, Monday to Thursday from 12.00 noon – 3.00pm, all you can eat, five curry buffet. There will be different hand-made Asian curries each and every week. The Siana website now has curry calendar so you won't miss your favourite.

Siana, Upper Plaza Level, Riparian Plaza, 71 Eagle Street, Brisbane. p 3221 3887.

Siana on Urbanspoon

Scenic Rim and Gold Coast at Southbank Markets

This week’s Wine and Growers Market at Southbank on Sunday features growers from the Scenic Rim and Gold Coast, an area new to Brisbane markets.

There’ll be lots of wineries including Warrego Wines, Normanby Wines, Cedar Creek Estate Vineyard & Winery and Barney Creek Vineyard plus some interesting producers. I’ll be lining up to taste-

  • Malleea Cheese manufactured by 23 year old Nigel Jackson on his family farm, on the northern tip of the Gold Coast. Nigel’s dad milks the cows (which graze on pastures on the Albert River), and Nigel uses this milk to produce fresh, preservative and gluten free cheese which is also made without annatto and with non-animal rennet. Nigel and his mother also sell Malleea Cheese at the Rocklea, Bundall, Canungra and Ipswich Farmers Markets.
  • Bee Happy Honey which won two first place awards at the 2008 Royal Queensland Show. The honey is processed traditionally onsite at Boonah Fruit Supply. No additives or preservatives are used, and the honey is not heat treated or blended.
  • Warrago Wines, producer of Queensland's only certified organic wines, is located near the historic township of Marburg, in The Scenic Rim. They do lunch seven days per week and are only 45 minutes west of the Brisbane CBD along the highway leading to Toowoomba.


Raw talent today's nomination- the Granite Belt

Congratulations to Granite Belt Wine & Tourism for embarking on a new nude food and wine calendar for 2010. They say it will be a calendar 'with a difference' building on the two successful self-drive trails through and around the town of Stanthorpe, Queensland's apple and grape capital. Strange Bird is the name given to the Granite Belt alternative wine trail. Nude Food is the name of the region's food trail which promotes the fact that food in region and food in season is what nature intended. It's nude!

Nude, of course, doesn't have to mean depicted so well in the hit comedies Calendar Girls and The Full Monty.

Each month has a food and wine theme and a community competition is being held to select twelve photos. There's a photo competition and advertising opportunities....

Find out more at



One of my tasks when writing the food pages for Style Magazine was to ask people about their favourite dining haunts. So many Inner West locals nominated Anouk it started to get boring. Now I know what they were on about.

Anouk is located in the city end of Given Terrace at Paddington. It's a busy spot where it's not always easy to find a park, but that doesn't seem to stop anybody. We turned up at 11.40am after a meeting looking for a late breakie or early lunch but couldn't get either until the kitchen opened around noon. I was a little put out by this as we had a timetable to work to but it didn't worry the group on the next table. They immediately ordered two cakes that looked spectacular when they arrived. They gave us a taste of the housemade chocolate truffle cake and New York maple cheesecake which certainly packed a flavour punch.

The glossy table tops, fans and French music create a chic atmosphere at Anouk but with concrete floors it tends to get bit noisy when there's a crowd. But the food... well that's worth just about anything. All the menu choices were interesting flavour combinations with out there ingredients.

I was tempted by red pepper jam and flat leaf bruschetta with proscuitto and bocconcini ($15.50) until I saw the goat chevre and roast beetroot bruschetta with spiced beetroot jam and rocket ($16.50) - totally delicious and a delightfully sized, light lunch serve. My companion chose lemon smoked salmon and potato salad with rocket, herbs, preserved lemon aioli and salmon pearls ($18.00). The potatoes had been baked in oil and were slightly crisp and caramelised. Delicious.

Find Anouk at 212 Given Terrace, Paddington. p 3367 8663. Best to book if you are going in a busy time.

Anouk on Urbanspoon


Time to get Nude

Nude Deli Cafe is new to the Mooloolaba Esplanade at Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast. It's taken the spot formerly occupied by Raw Energy which has moved further up the strip.

The original Nude Deli Cafe was established in Cotton Tree in 2003.

They promise creative 'housemade cooking' prepared on the premises and the shelves are filled with housemade pesto, tapenades, grilled zucchini and eggplant. And they deliver!

The turkey, cranberry, avocado and swiss on turkish with pesto ($10.90) was delicious. So delicious I bought a container of the pesto to devour at home. The steak sandwich was enormous with huge slabs of bread, a heap of avocado, tomato and cheese with a thin slice of beef steak. The steak was a little chewy and lacked flavour but at $15.90 for the lot it's hard to get too upset.

This is definitely a place I will return to taste more of the housemade treats - especially muffins which the menu proudly proclaims as not-to-be-missed.

The coffee is Lavazza.

Nude Cafe, Mooloolaba Esplanade p 5444 4371
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Fun, fast and fabulous food

I remember the days when I used to spend two days preparing for a dinner party only to sit down to eat completely exhausted. I think I even fell asleep at the table one night when dinner seemed to drag on.

Now I'm older, wiser and not prepared, even if I had the spare time, to spend hours in the kitchen preparing elaborate five course menus. That's just one of the reasons I like Alison Taafe's book "Fun, Fast and Fabulous Food".

I met Alison at a recent dinner to showcase the new facilities at Miele's showroom at Eagle Farm. More on this soon.

Alison impressed me with her energy and passion, but also with her practical attitude towards home entertaining. Practicality shines through the whole book which details every step in the recipes, with a timetable to make sure you get it right. There's also a shopping list which, in a stroke of brilliance, is available as a download on her web site. Top marks for this!

One of my favourite recipes is Prawns Baked in Proscuitto which Alison has kindly agreed I can share with you. She's currently in Japan helping film a television show with one of Jamie Oliver's star trainees from 15 Melbourne called 'Outback Matty' (Matthew McKenzie) from the first Australian series of Jamie's Kitchen Australia.

Prawns baked in proscuitto
18 large prawns
9 slices good proscuitto
2 lemons (1 for juice, 1 cut in half for garnish)
30 ml olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch fresh thyme (lemon thyme preferably)
small box wooden toothpicks


1 Peel the prawns and leave the bottom section and tail attached for effect. De-vein them by taking out the thin, black string that runs down the outside of the prawn. Marinade in fresh lemon juice, thyme leaves, a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper for about 15 minutes (maximum).
2 Cut each slice of proscuitto in half and wrap each prawn, leaving the tail and the other end of the prawn exposed for effect. Secure with cocktail stick.
3 Drizzle with olive oil and bake in the oven for about 5 to 7 minutes on 190 c or until the prawns are pink and just cooled. The proscuitto should be a little crisp.
4 To serve, pile high on a nice white plate with half a lemon and sprinkle with thyme leaves. Remove the toothpicks if the proscuitto stays put without them.

Alison's tips for this recipe are-
*Peel and de-vein the prawns up to one day in advance.
*Marinade the prawns for only 15 minutes or they will start to cook in the lemon juice.
*Roll in proscuitto in advance. Put them straight into a lightly oiled baking dish or tray. This way they are ready to throw straight in the oven when you want them.
*Alison also suggest popping them into the oven just before you want to serve them as they only take few minutes to cook.

There are plenty of fabulous recipes for everything from breakfast to a cocktail party. You can buy the book online at Alison's web site.


Taste of India

If you’d like to know about chai making, authentic spice blending, curry making and the ancient science of Ayuverdic cooking head to cookware retailer, Taste in the Valley on Sunday March 29. The energetic Jodie Macaulay is planning Taste of India, a day of interactive workshops and expert demonstrations.

Workshop topics will include all about Indian Breads, chai making, authentic spice blending, curry making, and the ancient science of Ayuverdic cooking.

What’s Ayuverdic cooking you ask? According to Jodie it’s the art of personalising your food to your mood and body type, that has been passed down through Indian generations for over 5,000 years. It is said to hold the secrets to longevity, youthfulness, healing and health.

So brace yourself for a sensory overload of coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, tamarind, saffron and dill and be there for expert tips, sampling and advice at 10am – it’s free!

Taste, 3 Montpelier Road, Fortitude Valley. p 07 3252 2909

Rose petal cupcakes

How good do these cupcakes look? And they taste even better. I discovered them on a recent visit to Tognini's and couldn't resist the taste test.

The cake is not a traditional cupcake sponge but a very rich white chocolate and orange blossom mix with just the right amount of creamy icing. The rose bud topping is gorgeous, but left till last it couldn't surpass the cake.

It's a bit smaller than the usual cupcake, which is fine because it's such a rich cake mixture.

Find them at Togninis at Milton, Spring Hill and at the State Library.

Rating: Very good.
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Raw talent - Dominque Rizzo

What's under the cookbooks? That's the question that remains to be answered and the only way to find out the truth may be on the walls of West End's Gunshop Cafe. A photographic show by Trevor Templeman (until April 12) includes images of many Brisbane food identities including Philip Johnson, Thierry Galichet, Bruno Loubet and the very relaxed Dominique Rizzo, reclining under her collection of cookbooks. You'll know Dominique from her stints on the television program, Ready, Steady, Cook.

Find the Gunshop Cafe at 53 Mollison Street West End p 3844-2241. I've always found it very busy so do book.


The perfect cup of coffee

If there's one thing the guys at Merlo know, it's how to make a great cup of coffee. The coffee culture has gone from strength to strength in Queensland since the Merlo family introduced the first espresso machine to Queensland at their Italian restaurant in 1958. In 1996, Dean Merlo established the Merlo Torrefazione – an Italian style coffee roasting house in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley.

Here are some tips from Frith La Vin Lloyd, Merlo's new Training Manager.

Coffee Storage Hints

• To maximise the flavour of your fresh espresso coffee for the longest period of time, eliminate or minimise coffee coming into contact with oxygen, water, heat, direct sunlight and other aromas.

• To achieve this, coffee should be stored in an environment that is air tight, cool, dry and dark.

• The best way to store your coffee is in an airtight container in a frost free fridge. merlocoffee’s packaging with its one way valve is ideal.

• Beans will hold their flavour longer than ground coffee.

Domestic Espresso Machine Hints

• Make sure the water tank has sufficient filtered water before you turn the machine on

• When you turn the domestic machine on, flush water out of the group head

• Coffee should be ground specifically for your espresso machine

• Fill the filter basket with coffee to the top and tamp lightly with a slight twist to ensure coffee is level

• Your coffee should pour out of the handle like warm honey.

NB. If it is pouring out quickly it will taste sour. To remedy this, have coffee ground finer. Alternatively, if coffee is pouring out slowly or is dripping through, it will taste bitter and burnt. To remedy this, have coffee ground more coarsely.

• Before steaming milk make sure you are using at least 60% fresh cold milk. Never reheat warm milk, the best results come from fresh cold milk.

• When steaming milk, submerge the end of the steam wand under the surface, then turn steam on full. Slowly lower jug until you hear a quiet sucking noise. This is air being sucked through milk to create foam. If you do not hear this noise then you are simply heating milk and not adding texture

• To keep coffee hotter for longer, fill cups with hot water for a minute before making coffee

• It is important to look after your machine. This involves cleaning everyday and descaling regularly. This prevents the buildup of minerals in boiler and pipes, and avoids extra pressure on the pump

If the taste matches the promise of the aroma, you have the perfect coffee

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How long will my coffee stay fresh for?

A. If stored correctly, whole beans will hold their best flavour for

approximately 6 weeks and ground coffee for approximately 2 weeks.

Q. What is the valve for?

A. The valve is a one way relief valve that allows the gas released by coffee out of

the bag or tin and doesn’t let any oxygen or moisture back in. It helps to keep

the coffee fresh.

Q. What is better to store the coffee in, the tin or the bag?

A. Either. Both are airtight and both are re-sealable.

Q. Why does Merlo refrigerate coffee?

A. Because Merlo Coffee is so fresh, it contains natural oils. The oil is essential to

the flavour and aroma of the coffee. These oils will store flavour longer and stay

fresher when refrigerated.

Q. Is it better to purchase my coffee ground or as whole beans?

A. Whole beans. Ground coffee will start to deteriorate straight away because it has

a larger surface area for oxygen, heat, light and moisture to attack it.


· bowen hills torrefazione: 10 Thompson Street, Bowen Hills

· fortitude valley torrefazione: 104 McLachlan St, Fortitude Valley

· southport torrefazione: Ferry Rd Markets, The Brickworks Centre, 107 Ferry Rd, Southport

· springfield torrefazione: Orion Springfield Town Centre, One Main Street, Springfield Lakes


Northshore oil

For breakfast this morning we headed for Northshore Cafe down past Portside. I've been to this cafe before and it's a great little spot with beaut views of the river. I wasn't expecting the 'beach closed' sign courtesy of spilt diesel oil from the MV Pacific Adventurer nor was I expecting the nasty smell.

Granted, you couldn't smell it inside the cafe but this area of the river has definitely been affected.

We enjoyed a great breakie. Eggs and bacon on turkish ($13.90), eggs on toast ($11.90) and eggs benedict with ham ($14.50). The coffee was Grinders and very good – rich, smooth and creamy on the mouth.

Not so impressive was the bottled orange juice which was labelled organic but really didn't taste great. Freshly squeezed juices would have been a much nicer alternative.

Also failing to impress was the double choc muffin we purchased after breakie. At $5.50 I was expecting something very lush and it just wasn't.

And while I'm having a gripe, I'll mention the child who was playing with a very noisy truck in the restaurant – what was that mother thinking? Next time please take quiet toys so everyone can enjoy their breakfast, not just you when you tune out to the noise.

Find Riverside Cafe on Riverside Drive at Hamilton, way past Portside. Just keep on driving.

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Farmers Markets at Southbank

Two markets coming up at South Bank should be on all foodie's calendars. On March 15 the growers from the Granite Belt are coming to town. I've been a regular at this one and purchased wine, cheese, jam (lots of jam), biscuits, tofu (when I was early enough), apples and apple juice, the best muesli and more. I am addicted to some of these products and would line up for many.

Two weeks later, on March 29, growers from the Gold Coast and Scenic Region will be bringing their wares to South Bank. This should be particularly interesting as it's a first for this district. They have a wealth of fine produce which I am looking forward to trying. Hopefully avos are still in season and they'll be plenty to pick up.


Poppy Cakes, Emporium, Fortitude Valley

Save yourself $4000 says Theo Levonis.

Satisfy your craving for New York style cup cakes in Brisbane instead of New York. If you loved the look in 'Sex and the City', you'll love the taste of these truly creamy cupcakes.

They are made with all the best stuff including Valrhona chocolate and creamy European butter.


Crabby night at Gianni’s

Seafood lovers can start drooling now! Gianni’s is introducing a monthly crab night with a mouth watering four course menu themed around crab - mud crab, spanner crab, snow crab, blue swimmer crab…. the best the market has to offer. Priced at $95 per person (food only), $125 (with wine). The first dinner will be on Wednesday April 1 and - bibs and hot towels will be provided. p 3221 7655


Brisbane's budget bites

Jetstar's Inflight Magazine has published a story I wrote on where to find Brisbane's best budget bites. I asked four top Brisbane chefs where they go for good cheap eats. Here's what they recommended.

Andrew Mirosch of Restaurant Lurleen's suggested Cam Ranh - Darra, C”est Bon -Woolloongabba and Bayside Seafood - Wellington Point.

Martin Duncan of Freestyle Tout recommended Cirque - New Farm,
Vespa - New Farm and Quench - Fortitude Valley.

David Pugh of Restaurant II likes Beastie Burgers - South Bank, Golden Barbeque - Fortitude Valley and Thynne Road Deli and Cafe - Morningside.

While Alastair McCloud of Bretts Wharf enjoys the Fishmonger’s Wife - East Brisbane, Kiss Fine Food -Coorparoo and Vanilla Pod- Ascot.

Thanks to all these chefs for sharing their favourite places. Catch the full story in Jetstar's March edition.

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Do try it!

I recently had lunch at Restaurant II with the founder of Dilmah tea, Merrill J. Fernando, and his son Dilhan. Merrill is celebrating 21 yeas of his family tea with a limited edition leaf tea and a new range -The Exceptionals - with a selection of eight black and green teas. It will be available in major supermarkets across Australia.

The teas are labelled 'ethically produced and packed at origin by my family', words that carry a lot of weight in today's world. They are also single origin and unblended

We've only tried some of these so far but have been impressed by the freshness (all are foil sealed) and the beautiful scent of the tea. The flavours have been rich and satisfying.

The welcome drink at the lunch was a deliciously refreshing iced tea made from Valley of Kings Ceylon Pekoe, a regal tea served with ginger and mint.

The lunch also was an opportunity for Dilmah to explain the work of their MJF Charitable Foundation and Dilmah Conservation.

Restaurant II chef and owner, the delightful David Pugh, had the good fortune to travel throughout Sir Lanka with Dilmah and told me of the wonderful experience. He's looking forward to going back for a holiday some time. On the menu were some interesting recipes David devised using tea, including Confit of Petaluna Ocean Trout and Moreton Bay Bug with Ceylon Green Tea dressing. The Slow Roasted Cape Grim Beef was a triumph - incredibly tender and flavoursome. Cape Grim is on the tip of Tasmania, near King Island, I was told.

I'll be adding Dilmah tea to my shopping trolley from now on, maybe for the cute shape of the tea bags, but really because I just like the taste of the tea.
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New dining club

Restaurant & Catering Queensland with City News have launched a new dining club -Savour Brisbane Dinners. Their monthly events will encourage diners to discover new venues, enjoy the company of other like minded and passionate foodies and indulge in Brisbane’s food and wine scene. Savour Brisbane Dinners are held at a different venue each month for a fixed price with a carefully created menu including matched wines. The chef will talk about souring fresh ingredients, simple tips and tricks from the trade. There's also a newsletter which will keep you informed of the different locations, menus as well as special offers and the latest in food and wine news.

The March Savour Brisbane Dinner will be held at The Hutch Bistro, 2/ 75 Welsby Street, New Farm 6:30pm - 9:30pm *$85 per person.

April Savour Brisbane Dinner will be held at Sono, Portside Wharf, Hamilton, 6:30pm - 9:30pm
*$85 per person.

May Savour Brisbane Dinner will be held at Salon European Dining, 5a 110 Macquarie Street,Teneriffe, 6:30pm - 9:30pm *$85 per person.

This is a great way to expand your favourite circle of restaurants. I've not dined at The Hutch or Salon European but I can recommend Sono for an excellent Japanese experience.

Please call 3360 8888 to book or email


Brisbane Times Good Food Guide

As one of the reviewers, I am confident in recommending the Brisbane Times Good Food Guide . It offers a comprehensive list of South East Queensland’ best restaurants listed in order of ranking, type of cuisine or location.

Good Food Guide judge Simon Thomsen says that Brisbane’s restaurant scene has been unaffected but the economic downturn and continues to grow with quite a number of newcomers entering the landscape.

“This is evident with both the standard and the number of entries having risen with more than 140 restaurants featured in the Good Food Guide 2009 edition,” said Simon.

I have to agree that the word around town is that many restaurants are very busy with no sign of a down turn. For those quieter days, there are plenty of special offers to draw the crowds in. Make sure you take advantage of them!


Hits top 1000!

For the first time since I started this blog in May last year, my monthly hits have passed 1000! Not bad for a short month!

So what caught your fancy this month?

Top ten pages
  1. The Barracks, Petrie Terrace
  2. Raw talent calendar
  3. Australian Regional Food Guide
  4. Cheap eats
  5. Fox and Hound
  6. Tomato magic
  7. MT Brewery
  8. Couture Cupcakes
  9. Hats off to Brisbane Restaurants
  10. Chocolate heaven - Monty's Chocolates
Most of you who visit live in Australia, although this blog has caught the attention of food lovers in the US, UK, Canada and Germany (+ plus lots of others). In Australia, most visitors come from the south east corner, though Sydney folk have been checking out what's happening here quite a bit, followed by Melbourne, Perth and Canberra - where are you Adelaide, Darwin and Hobart?

During February you browsed at least two pages a visit and spent, on average, 1.3o minutes on the site each time. 84 of you have visited my site more than 100 times (it's ok - I don't know who you are!)

Thanks for visiting and a special thank you to those who have left comments. It's great to get feedback!