Friday, 26 February 2010

The Hutch Bistro, Grange, Brisbane

 

It was on a friend's recommendation that we headed to The Hutch for breakfast.  He had such a great meal that he wanted to spread the word.

It's on a corner of Days Road at The Grange at the rear of a small shopping centre.  There's plenty of parking nearby. 


I've noticed a few interesting places opening in this area, extending some already good food options.  There are a couple of coffee bars that look worth checking out.
We rocked up for breakfast at The Hutch and quickly settled into a comfortable table and chairs.  The place is nicely outfitted with the sort of chairs and lounges I'd love to have at home.  There are couches set up for casual dining or drinks that look very comfortable.

We chose two items from the breakfast menu.  I went for poached eggs with hollandaise sauce and tomatoes on corn bread. The eggs were a bit hit and miss with one a little harder than it should be and the other just perfect.  The hollandaise was particularly yummy and the corn bread soaked it all up nicely. I would have liked a little more grilling on the tomatoes but they were full of flavour.

My partner's scrambled eggs went down very easily and were well complemented by a side order of bacon.

It was a good breakfast and I'd eat it again.  The coffee was a little weak for my liking.

Their dinner menu looks very interesting and I'd like to try some of those dishes soon.

Hutch Bistro on Urbanspoon
 
100 Days Road
Grange, 4051

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Citron - modern Asian at Wilston, Brisbane

A recent Saturday night saw us dining with friends at Citron at Wilson. I've dined there before so it was a delight to return.

The restaurant decor reminds me of eating on someone's verandah. It has a light open ambience and the service is friendly and professional.

Citron was awarded Brisbane's Best Asian restaurant in 2007 and 2009 by the Restaurant and Caterers Association. It's run by restauranteur Robert Foley from California, who previously ran Piccolo Restaurant in Ascot, with English born chef Mark Newman.

Top of my list were the betel leaves with sand crab, shaved fresh coconut, chilli and coriander. These come two to a plate and are ideal for sharing or as a small entrée.





Everyone was very happy with their mains which included a duck massaman curry, beef cheeks with asian rice and a pork dish.



Mine was smoked ocean trout with an Asian inspired dressing over a salad and I've got to say I'm still thinking about it. The rich flavour of the smoked fish was perfectly complimented by the crisp salad. The sauce was light, almost clear, but so packed with flavour.  I was smitten.




I shared a roast banana pudding with crunchy peanut butter ice cream and palm sugar sauce which was good but the stand out dessert, and the standout dish of the night was the caramelised lemongrass and lime tart with mascapone, red papaya and mint.  The pastry was crisp and flaky and the filling smooth, creamy and full flavoured with the tang of lime and hints of lemongrass.  It was superb. I'll be going back for one of those on my own.




It's open for lunch Tuesday to Sunday and dinner Tuesday to Saturday.

Citron Modern Asian Restaurant
3 Macgregor St, Wilston p 3856 0066

Citron Modern Asian on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Search for the perfect cupcake - The Welsh Lady

 

The Welsh Lady at Rosalie has been a Brisbane institution for more than 20 years. It's located on Fernberg Road at Rosalie, just up from the popular eat strip with Salt, Sings, Flute and Bali Grill to name a few.

The hunt for the perfect cupcake took me there this week and although the shelves were a little bare because it was late in the day, I did score a chocolate mouse cupcake with raspberry. Gwen told me she usually has much more in stock including some raspberry mouse cupcakes that sounded to die for.

The Welsh Lady cupcakes are more cupcakes by size and shape than style. The chocolate mousse cupcake was filled with exceptionally light milk chocolate mousse infused with a well rounded flavour that rolled around my tongue, complimented by a sharp sweet raspberry sauce on the bottom. It was encased in a chocolate cup and sported a rum ball on the top. A great chocolate treat and a delight to eat but there wasn't a cake crumb in sight.



I also sampled a caramel tart - can't waste a visit on just one cupcake! It had a perfect short buttery base with a creamy fresh caramel interior. The caramel was slightly runny (it was a hot day) which I really liked. It seemed very fresh. The three chococolate drops on the top were a great foil but the tarts also come in a chocolate flavour if you needed more of a chocolate fix.



If you love cakes and pastries the Welsh Lady should be on your list. She's certainly stood the test of time and the cakes are only getting better.

Bottom line: Delicious eating but not a traditional style cupcake.

Welsh Lady 92 Fernberg Rd Paddington QLD 4064 - (07) 3368 3485

Monday, 22 February 2010

This weeks Foodie TV

If you’re like me, you have too many things going on in your life to remember everything. I’m constantly discovering new food shows that I wished I’d watched from the beginning of the series or even the beginning of the show.

I know I could just get pay more money to a giant corporation and get the whole thing recorded but my inner grinch says Noooooooo!

So, inspired by the launch of several new food shows, today I’m launching a round up of my pick of the week’s food television. I’ve created a new, dedicated page and will update it each week.(Find it just under the header at the top.) It will be a handy reference for those who know they want to watch but can’t remember when it’s on.

I’d love to know what you think about these shows and if you have any other faves. You can leave your comments/suggestions/additions to the line up below!

Here’s this week’s – from Feb 21 - line up.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Brisbane is Australia's best city to eat in

I’ve been a bit stunned by the vitriolic blog comments  in response to Natascha Mirosch’s Tuesday Courier Mail story “ Brisbane is Australia’s best city to eat in”.

Seems there are a lot of unhappy Brisbane diners out there. What I’m wondering is where are they eating? Sure we all have bad dining experiences where the food doesn’t match the expectations, service is poor or the menu is overpriced. I’ve had them in Brisbane and Sydney and Melbourne. But I’ve learnt from that and now I always do my research before I head out.

It’s easy to check in any number of ways from Urban Spoon to any of the great blogs on Brisbane food (mine included).

Surely, people, you can work out what you like and vote with your feet!

I’m also tired of people complaining that Brisbane doesn’t have cultural diversity in its food. We haven’t had great waves of immigration here until recently – that’s our history. I expect you’ll see more ethnic restaurants opening in coming years as our population changes. It doesn’t lessen the food we have.

By dismissing Brisbane as a great food city you are doing a disservice to all the hard working, national award winning restaurants this town has. Think Ecco folks, think Campos – Australia’s best coffee shop, think the Fish Mongers Wife – Australia’s best fish and chips.

Here’s a list of good places to go posted by Fifi of Newfarm as a reply on the Degustation blog. I think it’s worth repeating and I’ve added some of my own – please add your favourites in the comments at the bottom. Let’s give people some great Brisbane restaurants to visit.

Alchemy, City $$$
Anise, New Farm $$$
Baguette, Ascot $$$
Bar Alto, New Farm $$ Piaf, Southbank $$
Beccofino, Teneriffe $$
Blue Smoke, New Farm $$
Brents, Toowong $$$
Brothers Espresso, City $
Cantina, West End $
Choquette, New Farm $
Claret House, Teneriffe $$
Cirque, New Farm $
Citron, Wilston $$
Crosstown, Wooloongabba $$
Ecco, City $$$
Espresso Garage, Southbank $
Freestyle Tout, Valley + West End $$
Grasshopper Asian Kitchen, Teneriffe $$
Grill’d, Valley $
Jellyfish, City $$$
Kim Thanh, West End $
Libertine, Paddington $$
Manx, Portside $$
Manee Thai, Carina Heights $
Mons Ban Sabai, Camp Hill $$
Montrachet, Paddington $$$
Ortiga, Valley $$$
Pearl, Wooloongabba $$
Pearl Bus Station, City $
Rapide, Camp Hill $$$
Restaurant II  $$$
Salt, Rosalie $$
Sardine Tin, Southbank $
Sings, Rosalie $
Siana, CBD $$
Sono, Portside $$$
Thai Wi Rat, Valley $
Trang, West End $
The Lark, Paddington $$
Urbane $$$
Verve Cafe CBD $$
Vespa Pizza, Wooloongabba $$
Yum Yum Peking Duck, Darra $

Finally, there’s a reason why Matt Moran opened Aria in Brisbane. There’s also a reason why a Brisbane is opening is on the list for many southern chefs. This is a great place to live and the produce around is outstanding. It’s up to you to find ways to get what you like. Spread the word.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Thai beef salad

A few weeks ago my mate Natascha Mirosch sourced some wonderful New Zealand grass fed Angus beef and shared it amongst her friends. The last slice of the piece was too big for a steak but too small to slice into two. My solution was to barbeque it in one piece and slice it after it was cooked.

A Thai beef salad was the perfect way to use it, so I sourced a recipe from taste.com.au

I like the recipe but I made a few changes. First I got rid of the red onion! I also used chillies that were not a hot as some but still added the red colour needed to lift the dish.

The palm sugar I found at Zone Fresh, Windsor and the kaffir lime leaves came from the tree in my backyard.

Next time I make it I may throw in some bean sprouts or some lettuce just to break up the intensity of the leaf flavours.

Although the recipe says it serves four, there wasn't much left after we finished.  We didn't have anything else with the salad but followed it with barbecued mango cheeks and half peaches topped with palm sugar and accompanied by yoghurt in deference to Mr Cholesterol (cream or ice cream would have been nice.)

Also will remember to have less wine before we take the photos so they look better :)


Thai Beef Salad
Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 1 1/2 tbs fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbs finely chopped dark palm sugar
  • 1 tbs fish sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 (about 680g) beef rump steak
  • 1 x 200g pkt grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 continental cucumber, halved lengthways, thinly sliced diagonally
  • 1 red onion, halved, cut into thin wedges
  • 2 long fresh red chillies, halved, deseeded, thinly sliced lengthways
  • 1 bunch fresh mint, leaves picked, large leaves torn
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander, leaves picked
  • 1 bunch fresh Thai basil, leaves picked, large leaves torn
  • 55g (1/3 cup) toasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, centre veins removed, finely shredded 

Method
  1. Whisk together lime juice, palm sugar, fish sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger and garlic in a jug. Place the steak in a glass or ceramic dish. Drizzle with half the dressing. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge, turning occasionally, for 2 hours to develop the flavours.
  2. Preheat a barbecue grill or chargrill pan on high. Cook steak on grill for 2-3 minutes each side for medium or until cooked to your liking. Transfer to a plate. Cover with foil and set aside for 10 minutes to rest.
  3. Place the tomato, cucumber, onion, chilli, mint, coriander, basil, peanuts and lime leaves in a large bowl. Thinly slice steak across the grain and add to the salad. Drizzle with remaining dressing and gently toss to combine. Divide salad among bowls and serve immediately.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Search for the perfect cupcake - Vanilla Pod

 

Vanilla Pod first came to my attention courtesy of Brett's Wharf mega star chef Alastair McLeod, who confessed he had a weakness for their caramel slice.  I was interviewing him for a story in Jetstar's inflight magazine where well known chefs shared their best budget bites around Brisbane.  You'd be surprised!

Alastair described this caramel slice as the size of a 'brick' and hoped his personal trainer didn't find out about his secret passion.

He's right of course - it's definitely a good caramel slice. Like Alastair, I have something of a passion for this sweet treat.  The base is textured with a well proportioned biscuit crunch, the caramel has a fresh, strong flavour and the chocolate is nicely thick, but not too thick. Try it halved with a dollop of thick cream but let it come to room temperature to fully enjoy the flavours.

But I was really at Vanilla Pod to check out their cupcakes. Owner Carla Burns has a long family history in baking and her shelves are full of delicious looking cakes, slices and cupcakes.



We sampled two cupcakes and they were definitely amongst the best I have tasted in Brisbane. The range varies according to the larger cakes currently being made but includes a selection of gluten free cupcakes which Carla says are extremely popular.

My raspberry chocolate cupcake was just the way I like it. Thick cream cheese icing with a strong raspberry flavour and a moist chocolate cake.  I took home a larger, slightly different version called a red velvet sponge which was just a joy to eat - red velvet cake and chocolate mud cake sandwiched with chocolate cream and covered by raspberry icing.


Vanilla Pod also has a good range of shelf items and a deli cabinet filled with must haves.

Bottom line:  These cupcakes are among Brisbane's best and worth checking out.

Vanilla Pod, 1198 Lancaster Road, Ascot. p 3268 7285

Vanilla Pod on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Grape stomping at Flame Hill

 

Feeling ripe red grapes squish between your toes is a curious feeling. I did the grape stomp one weekend at Golden Grove Estate on the Granite Belt as part of a fabulous celebration for  the start of harvest.

If you'd like to get that smooshy feeling, Flame Hill Vineyard at Montville should be on your  list. The winery will play host to the annual Grape Stomp Festival on Saturday February 20. Along with grape stomping there will be live entertainment and local gourmet delicacies.


“The day promises to be a feast for the palate, celebrating the wonderful combination of wine, food and entertainment, highlighting a tradition that has existed since the origins of wine making,” said Flame Hill Vineyard Manager, Sharon Hogan.

There will be plenty of local food at the event with the promise of cabernet ice cream created by chef Patrick Bender. Much of the food will be sourced from the Flame Hill Estate farm following their 'paddock to plate' concept and using herbs, vegetables, fruit, beef and game birds raised on the property for use in the restaurant.
 
The Grape Stomp Festival is a rain, hail or shine event, with plenty of shade and shelter provided commencing at 12 Midday and proceeding until 8pm. Tickets cost $25 per person (children under 10 free) which are limited and will all be presold.

The views from this winery are superb.  I've enjoyed a ploughman's lunch plate there and sampled some of their wines.

Flame Hill Vineyard
249 Western Avenue, Montville, Sunshine Coast p 5478 5920
www.flamehill.com.au

Monday, 15 February 2010

Vietnamese rice paper rolls at Kim Khanh, Darra

 

I am very partial to Vietnamese rice paper rolls.  They combine good fresh produce and strong flavours with a piquant dipping sauce. 

One of the best places to eat this type of food is some of the many Vietnamese restaurants in Darra.  Kim Khanh is one I have visited several times.  The food is good, the service good and the bill is always surprisingly small.  I'm not visiting this restaurant for the decor or ambience - there is none! You'll find it at the bottom of a small drive-in group of shops.

According to some of Brisbane's best chefs, you can find good many Vietnamese restaurants in the streets close to the Darra railway station. Fellow Brisbane food blogger Mei Yen Chu has written Brisbane Budget Bites which will give you an introduction to the area.  Another Brisbane food blogger, Sally Lynch of Taste Trekkers, takes tours of the Asian shopping areas in Inala.

Back to the rice paper rolls - At Kim Khanah you can order a platter with your choice of meat and then roll your own rolls at the table. 



The rice papers arrive separately with a large bowl of hot water to soften them in.  It's a lot of fun making your own and it means everyone gets exactly what they like.



This is how mine looked before I rolled it.  Sorry, no photos of completed rolls - I was too busy dipping them in the sauce and eating!

Find Kim Khanh at 677 Cardiff Road, Darra. p 3375 3014.  Open Tuesday to Sunday 11am to 10pm.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Top Sushi, Albert Street


I'm a long time sushi lover.  It's often my lunch of choice when I'm out on the town and need a quick fix so I've tried it at many different places.  I've even made it myself with some success.  It's not too hard and lots of fun if you do it with a partner. 

I have a few rules when buying sushi because it may contain raw food so no cooking process has been used to kill any food poisoning bacteria or parasites present.
  • Always pick a busy shop where you know the turn over is high. 
  • Look for a cabinet that is well chilled so the sushi kept in good condition
  • Check the hygiene handling when your sushi is served.
Prices for a sushi roll usually range between $1.50 to $2.70.
    I've heard about Top Sushi in Albert Street, Brisbane City for a while. It's a place that people queue around the block for at lunch time so I was eager to try it - now I'm just confused.  I don't understand why this is so popular.


    My daughter made the sushi choices for the day. We had soft shell crab which had a slight hint of garlic and a nice crunch with the crab,  smoked salmon which came with cream cheese (not my choice - cream cheese in sushi is just wrong) and teriyaki chicken.  The chicken was my least favourite as it was was shredded and texture was strange. It reminded me of something in a can that the cat might have liked. A roll costs $2.20.


    Bottom line: no way was this close to good.


    So were they having a bad day or am I being too fussy - you tell me!

    Wednesday, 10 February 2010

    Search for the perfect cupcake - Valentines Day

    Well there seems to be a strong connection between cupcakes and Valentines Day and several cupcake makers have come up with some irresistible selections for friends and lovers. They make a great way to show affection between lovers and also as a gift for friends to show you care.

    Take the time with your lover or loved ones to stop for a cuppa and a cupcake on Sunday, or any day of the week, and enjoy the sweet yummyness of a cupcake. Life is good!

    Here are some top suggestions -


    Milkbar at Ashgrove has delightful vanilla cupcakes with pink love hearts on the top - noice! And they have mini cupcakes if you just want one bite.


    Couture Cupcakes at Bardon has a selection of chocolate cupcakes with red and white icing. They are open this Sunday and each cupcake comes with a mini cupcake as well!


    Vanilla Pod at Ascot has a Red Velvet Sponge that's larger than a cupcake but it's so delicious I couldn't resist mentioning it.  The top layer is red velvet cake, the middle is chocolate cream and the bottom is chocolate mud cake.  Covering it all is the most delightful raspberry cream cheese icing.  It's to die for - really!  They can also put a message on the cake. Oh - and it's heart shaped!


    Cakes by Judy C at Ashgrove has some wonderful heart-shaped spicy biscuits available plain - so you can use them in your own dessert at I did, or inscribed with messages of lurve.




    If you see other Valentines cupcakes around town, do let me know!

    Monday, 8 February 2010

    Stanthorpe gearing up for Presidential visit

    It all started when the Courier Mail came up with a list of suggestions to tempt the Obamas to Queensland during their forthcoming visit ("Bligh bid to lure Obamas", Wednesday 3rd February).

    Never ones to let an opportunity pass, the enterprising Apple and Grape Harvest Festival committee have been busily preparing for the visit...

    Here's their very tongue-in-cheek line up!


    • A space has been reserved for the Presidential security team in the Festival's Grand Parade...can't wait to see how the cars look decorated in the Apple & Grape theme!
    • The Obamas will be pleasantly surprised as they are thrown in the deep end to get involved in the Celebrity Grape Crush and Apple Peeling competitions.
    • After Barack is through with the Grape Crush it conjures the thought 'Wonder what the wine juice will taste like from the feet of the most famous man in the world?' The Festival committee intend to auction the President's wine juice, by the bottle, aptly named 'Top Dog', during the Fruit & Vegetable and Wine auction at 5pm Saturday.
    • The First Lady will have to work hard to beat the Fastest Apple Peel Champion from 2008, but you never know the skills of an out of towner.
    • What was going to be a solo aerobatics display by a RAAF Roulette has now been expanded to the full RAAF Aerobatics Display Team with Air Force One in the lead.
    If the President and First Lady don't visit Stanthorpe then the region will just have to celebrate the Apple and Grape Harvest Festival (5 - 7 March) without them, just like the last 44 years. But the Obamas would be most welcome as Stanthorpe is very hospitable.

    Grasshopper Asian Kitchen, Teneriffe

    Brisbane's food blogging community met for the second time last night for a catch up at Grasshopper Asian Kitchen.

    Grasshopper is a new eatery in the Teneriffe bar and restaurant precinct.  The decor is casual but there's nothing casual about the food. Head chef Minh Le is one to watch. His style is a combination from his time in the kitchens of Brad Jolly (Alchemy), Russell Armstrong (Seasalt at Armstrongs) and Helmut Proxrucker (Treasury).  Minh combines his passion for the flavours of Asia with exquisite presentation skills.


    Wines were matched by Grasshopper joint owner Todd Rumble from Grasshopper's wine list. You can continue your evening trawling  the same wines next door in Claret House which is also owned by Rumble and Michael Rutherford.

    We sampled some of the stars from the new Autumn menu.

    Sashimi of yellowtail kingfish with ponzu vinaigrette and tomato salsa - An exquisite mix of intense flavours beautifully presented on the plate.
    Wine -NV Devil's Corner Cuvee, Tamar Valley, Tas

    Beef tataki with potato salad, quail egg and lemon vinaigrette
    Wine -2008 Argento Reserva Torreontes Mendoza, ARG.  This was probably my favorite wine of the night.  The bouquet was very impressive.

    Japanese scallop with duck ma hor, crisp proscuitto, daikon and wasabi puree. I particularly liked this dish with its sweet caramelised pineapple top.
    Wine - 2007 Cave de Ribeauville Gewurtraminier, Alsace, FR -


    It wasn't on the menu but the lime and chilli sorbet with chilli sherbet was a real winner.


    Lamb cutlet with prawn mousse, sweet potato and wasabi mash, soy beans and lamb jus gras. The lamb cutlets were beautifully rare and I couldn't resist a quick naw on the bone.
    Wine - 2008 Capel Vale Rose, Margaret River, WA.


    Slow baised beef cheek cooked for six hours in Vietnamese style aromatic stock with coriander and chilli polenta cake and baby vegetables
    Wine -  2007 Tamar Ridge Pinot Noir, Tamar Valley, TAS

    Coconut and white chocolate parfait infused with kaffir lime leaves served with berry consomme and basil seeds. This was a stand out dish - visually very pleasing with the little seeds of basil swimming around the parfait like tadpoles. There was a surprise within a surprise here which I won't spoil for you - just try it and you will be impressed.

    Wine - 2009 Patina 'Sticky Tea' Riesling, Orange, NSW.  A wine with an interesting provenance - ask Todd for the details.

    Grasshopper very kindly decided that the dinner was by donation to the Little Lantern Foundation, a not-for-profit project spearheaded by Sydney restauranteurs Luke Nguyen and Suzanna Boyd.  Grasshopper Head Chef Minh Le left Vietnam with his family in 1979 as a refugee and has a passion for the country and its people. The Foundation assists disadvantaged and under educated Vietnamese to improve their lives through vocational training programs in the restuarant, hospitality and tourism industries.

    Grasshopper Asian Kitchen
    London Woolstores
    36 Vernon Terrace, Teneriffe. p 32528622


    Grasshopper Asian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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