Thursday, 29 April 2010

Be my guest - David Rayner dines at The French Laundry, Napa Valley.


David Rayner shares his experience in E,d+bK's Thursday series - "Be my guest - my most memorable meal" - of a decadent 18 course degustation at the legendary The French Laundry in Nappa Valley, California.

David's career has taken him from London, Sydney and now to Noosa. He worked at London’s most well known restaurants including Kensington Place and Launceston Place. In Sydney, David helped establish and transform some of Sydney’s leading eateries including The Brooklyn, The Edge and Lucciola of Balmain. His final stint in Sydney was to lead the start up team at Vault Restaurant where they were awarded a hat in the 2000 Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide.

David was approached by Jim Berardo to initiate an innovative cuisine for the newly opened berardos restaurant and bar on Hastings Street, Noosa. After four years David decided it was time to establish River House Restaurant which established itself as one of Queensland’s finest restaurants.

In May 2009, David and his partner Belinda Frew, sold River House Restaurant and are setting up their next venture in Noosaville. Thomas Corner (eatery) should be open for business in August 2010.





My most memorable dining experience 


My passion in life revolves around eating; drinking and cooking so when asked to write about my best meal ever memories of amazing experiences come flooding to mind. How do I select just one? I have decided to base my selection on the best dining experience that supports my philosophy of food. The one that wins hands down in this case is Thomas Keller’s restaurant, The French Laundry in the Napa Valley. He believes “there is no such thing as perfect food, only the idea of it, then the real purpose of striving towards perfection becomes clear, to make people happy. That’s what cooking is all about” *

The joy of cooking comes when people are obviously enjoying what you have done for them. There is no point cooking the most complicated dish that has taken prep over several days to find that the flavour is not enjoyed. I love to cook what people love to it. Saying this, it doesn’t mean food is not to be respected. Food must be cooked to maximalise its potential, let the flavour shine.

Thomas Keller respects every ingredient in his dishes. He changes his menu daily to ensure the product is at its best. He has his own garden where he grows his own produce. He has been doing this for many years, many years before other chefs caught on to this. He has local growers that grow specifically for him. He tells them what he needs and they ensure the quality meets his high standards. The attention to detail is evident. Not just in the food quality but in everything that is done at the French Laundry. I admire this. If you are going to do something ensure it is done to the best of your ability.

A combination of these elements led me to my dining experience at the French Laundry, exceeding my high expectations and making it my most memorable dining experience.

On arrival, guests stroll to the dining room via a cute English style cobble pathway. The stage had been set for a long lunch. Seated inside, I was presented with a menu full of choices, all of which were degustation style.

I opted for the main degustation menu consisting of nine courses which, in fact, ended up being 18 courses. My partner opted for the vegetarian option thinking nine courses, including beef, may be a tad heavy and rich. Nine courses, let alone 18 courses, sounds excessive but each dish was so beautifully balanced and some were only a mere mouthful, so it did not weigh me down. In fact, each time a new course appeared I felt like a small child waiting to open their presents that Santa had left.


To start we were greeted with the famous salmon cone, with salmon tartare crème fraiche and unpasteurised salmon eggs. Being familiar with this dish it was like seeing someone famous and enjoying the moment to its max. It was very indulgent and I loved that I was sitting in one of the world’s best restaurant eating my first course using my hands.

The waiters slipped passed but appeared right on time. They made us feel we were the only ones in the entire room despite there not being a spare chair in the room.

The courses included-

· Cauliflower pannacotta with beluga caviar

· Sautéed foie gras with Jacobsen’s farm crab apple and honey syrup

· Fricassee of lobster with beech mushrooms, garden carrots and lobster broth

· Pork and black truffle sausage on puy lentils

· Roasted cobia with borlotti beans, yellow beans, green thyme oil

· Rib eye of lamb ratatouille of vegetables, potato cake, lamb reduction

· Roquefort ricotta cheese gnocchi, walnut oil emulsion

· Tomato water sorbet, melon and watermelon sauce, in preparation of dessert to follow

· Raspberry terrine with yoghurt cream and miniature beet leaves

In between courses we were asked if we would be interested in learning about the different salts used in the kitchen. A plate with six different salts arrived and the waiter patiently explained the properties of each and told us which salt was used with each course. It was fascinating. In what seemed to be as much time as we liked, the waiter answered all our questions. He knew the answers immediately and the depth of the waiter’s knowledge was impressive.

Matching of food to wine by the staff was done with ease. Taking into account customer’s tastes and balancing the dish, they never missed a beat. One of the greatest matches was the foie gras matched up with a glass of sauterne. Having the option of salted and unsalted butter on the table reinforced the importance of pleasing the customer. The different butters were automatically presented on the table.

Dining is not just about the food but also about pleasing the customer. The French Laundry certainly left me feeling pleased.

* "The French Laundry Cookbook" by Thomas Keller, page 2.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Vodka, Chilli and Choc chip cupcakes recipe


When I flipped over the page on my 500 cupcakes desktop cupcake calendar I was hooked, I just couldn't resist the idea of this flavour combination, vodka/chill/chocolate, especially since the recipe includes a syrup which is poured over the still-warm-from-the-oven cupcakes.

I've tried chilli chocolate and like it, though I'm definitely more of a fan of the mild rather than hot variety.

You might want to play with the chilli/chocolate balance. I think I would up the chilli a smiggin next time.  I served these with a dollop of cream.


Vodka, chilli and chocoate cupcakes

3 tbsp vodka
225g unsalted butter, softened
225g castor sugar
225 self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
1tbsp finely chopped red chilli (I used Creative Gourmet)
75g dark choc chips

for the syrup
5 tbsp vodka
2 tbsp light brown sugar


Preheat the oven to 175 celesius. Place 18 paper baking cases in muffin tins. ( Made mine bigger so there were only 12)

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs to the mixture, one by one, while beating. Sift the flour with the baking powder and add gradually to the mixture. Add the vodka, chilli and choc chips. Spoon the mixture into the cases and bake for 20 minutes.  Cupcakes are cooked when an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

While the cupcakes are in the oven, combine the syrup ingredients in a pan. Disolve the sugar in the vodka over low heat and simmer for five minutess.  When the cupcakes are cooked and still in the baking tin, poke holes in them with a toothpick and pour the warm syrup over. Remove the cupcakes and cool on a rack.

* Recipe from '500 Cupcakes', Sellers Publishing.

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Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe

Poppy's at Emporium in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley make the most delicious red velvet cupcakes. I love them for the colour alone!

No guarantees on this recipe as I haven't tried it but if you are in need of a red velvet cupcake fix it's worth a try as it's fast and easy

Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe - http://rt.nu/2_rje5_un

Tasty bits - bmag, April 27

Gourmet getaway at Noosa this weekend


If you've been wishing you could go to the Noosa Food and Wine Festival this weekend and enjoy a weekend at Noosa, your prayers are almost answered.

As long as you can get yourself and a partner to Noosa, think about making a bid for this Queensland Holiday 

The holiday starts on the Sunshine Coast this Thursday and is a great foodie escape! Gold event passes give you access to the festival’s best while you lap up the luxury at The Rise Resort, Noosa.

Rub shoulders with Australia's top chefs at a “secret” VIP function, work with Masterchef’s Matt Preston and attend the celebrated Italian degustation dinner. Enjoy the Sunshine Coast's revitalising warmth at Mantra Mooloolaba and dinner at award-winning Spirit House restaurant. All proceeds go to the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation. 

It's a great deal with 6 nights luxury accommodation for two,  2 VIP Event Gold Passes, 2 VIP Degustation Dinners and 2 VIP entry to secret event. I'm attending the Festival but wish I had tickets to some of these events - it's really a great opportunity!

If I wasn't already booked and going I'd be bidding myself. Bidding opens at 3pm and closes at 5.30pm. Don't forget!

Cupcake heaven - Vanilla almond cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream

I've been fascinated with the salted caramel flavour for a while now as a slight deviation to my dedication to all things caramel.

I haven't tried this recipe but it looks so good I just had to share.

http://gimmesomeoven.com/vanilla-almond-cupcakes-with-salted-caramel-buttercream/

Monday, 26 April 2010

AA Gill reviews Bistrot Bruno Loubet

AA Gill welcomes Bruno Loubet back to London with the opening of Bistro Bruno Loubet in a London Sunday Times review. Those who loved his food in Brisbane and Noosa now have another excuse to travel there!

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/food_and_drink/eating_out/a_a_gill/article7103869.ece

Friday, 23 April 2010

Be my guest - Most memorable meal - Churrasco, Darlinghurst, Sydney

Brisbane expat and now Sydney diva, Zoe Condon (@Princess_Zo) was inspired to visit Churrasco in Syndey by news of the launch of a Brisbane churrasco. Here's her report on how they do it.

My memorable meal

Churrasco has two restuarants in Sydney, one in Coogee and the other in Darlinghurst.

It is $35 a head for all you can eat. There is a disc on the table, one side yes, green and the other no more, red. Until you say no more, they will continue to bring food.

Brazilian food is a carnivorous delight, with every type of meat you can imagine. There is sirloin, rump and scotch fillet as well as lamb, pork belly, ham, chicken and chorizo.The chorizo and chicken sausages come directly from the open fire on sticks directly to the plate. All of the meat is really tender and more ish. It's actually really hard to stop especially when the food just keeps coming and coming. 

The only two non meat products on the menu are mini cheesy bread rolls and cinnamon glazed pineapple which we all developed a particular obsession for. 

The home made sangria is also fantastic and as everyone is seated in long tables, it makes for a very fun and enjoyable experience. 

Brazilian isn't for vegetarians, but the way if cooking delivers tender beautiful meat every time and it becomes harder and harder to turn that disc over to the red side. 

Churrasco, 60-70 William St, Darlinghurst, Sydney and Riley St

Mundo Churrasco, Bardon, Brisbane

video

It was all action at the opening of Mundo Churrasco (pronounced Shoo-tlas-Co) in Bardon on Wednesday night.  Wow, those Brazilians sure have beat.

This new addition to the line up on Macgregor Terrace is based on a 300-year-old culinary tradition that originated in the south of Brazil.  Think Aussie barbeque with a big Brazilian twist.

Owners Lucio and Flavia Boggian and Shirley Roiter think they are on to a winner. “One thing we noticed when we moved to Australia from Brazil is how similar we are in our love of food – especially meat cooked over an open flame! The Brazilian BBQ is a little different from the Aussie one as we use loads of fantastic meats and vegetables authentically cooked over the charcoal pit” he said.

Mundo Churrasco will offer an extensive variety of different cuts of beef, pork, lamb, chicken, fish and vegetables, all cooked over open flame.





The beef and lamb that I tasted had a real flame grilled flavour and were delicious.  I also had some casava chips which were a great alternative to traditional potato chips. I am looking forward to trying the full Brazilian experience.

Brazilian Fabio Pereira will lead the kitchen team creating the food cooked over open flames and then brought to tables by roaming carver waiters who continuously visit tables, topping up platters.

The all-you-can-eat menu’s options range from $22.50 and the food keeps coming until you say “enough” or, if you want to be authentic, “estou satisfeito”.

It's a reasonable cost for families to dine with childredn up to 4 years of age free and prices for children aged up to 12 are $14.95 for the same meal.

The restaurant will be open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner with live music featured on selected nights.

Mundo Churrasco Open Flame Restaurant & Bar
63 Macgregor Tce, Bardon, Brisbane.
p 3369 1660 www.mundochurrasco.com.au


Mundo Churrasco on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Be my guest - Most Memorable Meal, John Lazarou


A series of guest posts where food lovers share memories of a stand-out meal.

Coffee Club king John Lazarou takes us on a food tour of Bangkok and Thailand, proving you can eat at roadside stalls and live to tell the story.

My most memorable meal
I've been fortunate enough to visit Thailand three to four times a year for the past four years now and even more fortunate to experience some of the finest hotels and best restaurants that Thailand has to offer.

During the first few trips my fellow Australian colleagues living in Thailand (ex-pats) played it safe and only took me to fine dining restaurants in five star hotels where most of the menu items are western with a Thai twist.

It didn't take me too long to discover street food, initially I did as I was told by the ex pats and avoided any seafood items from the menu and only ate where there was high foot traffic. It didn't take too long for me to be tempted by all those seafood delicacies I saw being prepared in the street food carts and I thought it was awesome - soft shell crab is my favourite.

Since then I have found the market eateries scattered throughout the country and have never looked back. On my last trip earlier this year we went on a shopping trip to one of the many night markets in Bangkok. I came across an authentic Thai eatery - it was massive, with at least 400 seats and what surprised me with this place was that it only had one central kitchen! My rule of thumb when dining anywhere in the world is to make sure the place is relatively clean but first and foremost the place has to be busy, high turnover means high turnover of stock which in my books means fresh produce.

I was with two Australian friends who were also visiting Thailand and because they regarded me as a regular tourist they allowed themselves to be guided by me, I took on the challenge and entered this eatery. We sat and I ordered the meals as best I could. As with most Asian eateries most of the staff couldn't speak or understand English or very little and although some of the menu was written in English you still had to point to the picture of the meal of your choice.

I ordered some simple Asian greens in dark vinegar and soy sauce, the greens were simple and cooked equally as simple served in a big platter I recognized the Gai Lan and Bok Choy but there was another four or five types of unidentified greens in that platter and I had no idea what they were.

Second course was some sort of wet version of fried rice, it appeared to be normal fried rice with the usual little morsels, shrimp, egg, pork, chicken, peas, and corn, all served in a dome, then the whole lot was covered in some sort of thick gooey seafood-type gravy (very tasty) just poured over the top, seriously delicious.

The third and final course I had ordered was chilly mud crab - three of them. This was prepared beautifully, a combination of all the right spices with the most evident being the basil and chilli, and the sauce was thickened with egg. It was a meal I will never forget because the flavours, freshness and quality of the produce was so fresh; the efficiency of the meals being prepared; and the entire meal and drinks for the three of us cost AUD$68.00!

John Lazarou 


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Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Best Brisbane Blogs

Sometimes when I'm sitting at the computer late at night or early in the morning I wonder why I blog about food in Brisbane.

I'm sure my partner and daughter wonder the same thing when I ask yet another question at a restaurant or market stall. Or, worse still, buy another jar of chutney or tea! But I don't hear them complaining when the purchase is native peppermint fudge!

But it's all about the quest to find new foods, great foods and something a little out of the ordinary - that keeps me going.

Being included in The Brisbane Times list 'Best of the Brisbane Blogosphere' is a real boost and puts a little more cream on the cake. Congratulations to Eat Drink Brisbane who also were included on the food list.

There are many other great local food blogs out there as well - keep going guys! Here's just a few

Become a RocketFuel Influencer

Birches Restaurant, Mt Mee, Queensland





On the way back home from a beaut weekend visiting the Bunya Mountains we decided to stop for a final chat and debrief at Birches Restaurant on Mt Mee Road, Mt Mee.


I am continually surprised by the beauty of the areas surrounding Brisbane.  So close to the city, this is a verdant paradise of rolling hills, contented cud-chewing cows, scenic vistas and winding roads that are a pleasure to drive on a bike or car.

Birches Restaurant is one of the places along the way or a great destination all on it's own.  Judging by the picturesque church overlooking the coastline, it's also a popular wedding venue.

We were still fortified by goat sausages and farm fresh eggs (more on that soon) so the freshly baked scones with strawberry jam and cream ($7.90) were perfect. They were just as fresh scones should be - warm, soft and inviting.

If we were more in need of food the menu certainly had a good range of offerings. It's a fairly safe line up, the sort of menu that would appeal to everyone from the kiddies to grandma without a problem.

The open fire place also would be very inviting on a cold winter's day.



Bottom line:  Stop here for a quick bite or make it your lunch destination. The views are worth the drive and the food (only tasted the scones) is good.

Birches Restaurant
1350 Mt Mee Road, Mt Mee, p 07 5498 2244

Birches Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, 19 April 2010

The Silva Spoon, Cotton Tree, Sunshine Coast


You could almost miss this small tea and coffee emporium in King Street at Cotton Tree, which would be a real shame.

Walk inside the door and you'll find a very inviting atmosphere that is filled with a wondrous assortment of teas and coffees and a selection of mugs and tea pots that's hard to beat.

Despite the range of teas on display, we settled in for a coffee and each enjoyed a fine brew . Our indulgence was one of the shortbreads with a substantial spread of icing and sweet flower decoration on top.  They were buttery and slightly crumbly, like all good shortbreads, and the icing on top was a cute bonus.

I couldn't resist walking out without a selection of the fine teas on offer.  It was hard to choose, but with a little help from my friends I picked out some small foil packs of teas for those times when I really shouldn't or couldn't have another straight tea.


* Wellbeing - formulated to preserve and fortify from the inside out with lemongrass, ginger, dandeloin, peppermint, cinnamon and liquorice.
* Peach melba - a sweet summertime infusion with peach, apple, elderberries and sunflower petals.  This also can be served with crushed ice, garnished with mint.
*Chocolate jewel - a melange of chocolate droplets and Ceylon tea.

I like them all with varying degrees of success, the chocolate being my least favourite.  I think I want a more chocolate hit but that's just my sweet tooth showing through.

If you are in the area and just after tea and light snacks, this is a great alternative to the strip shopping cafes outside and much more fun.

The Silva Spoon
Shop 2/3 King Street, Cotton Tree, Sunshine Coast.  p 5443 8822

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Be My Guest - My most memorable meal - Will Cooke, Vapiano

Here's the first in a new Thursday series, Be My Guest. I'll be asking foodies around town to share some of their favourite meal memories. The events that have stuck in their mind long after the occasion has passed.

First up is a round the world trip of restaurants starting in Australia and ending in London from Will and Jodie Cook who recently established Vapiano, a new Italian eatery in the heart of Brisbane city.

Our most memorable meal…. 


There are so many things wrapped up in the connotation of your most memorable meal. The food, the place, the service and the company or sometimes how you even came to be there. In a lifetime, how do you determine what was your ‘most’ memorable? How do you separate out the different parts – sometimes like a jigsaw – some meals have been short a few pieces.

When asked to write this – I wondered how to separate the pieces; I closed my eyes and let my mind wander over my memories.

What seemed like a lifetime ago, before marriage and children – our local Thai restaurant became the place for announcements, eight young couples ready to take on the world would converge on My Thai in Paddington to break their news. Engagements, pregnancies and departures for foreign countries were all announced in this way. In fact sometimes the announcement itself was cut up into pieces and used as a jigsaw puzzle to be put together to find out what the announcement was and who was doing the announcing. The food and drinks were always great, washed down with some of our dearest friends – what joy we shared at these meals and even though I don’t recall a memorable dish – but each of these meals became memorable in their own right with us announcing our first pregnancy (shedding tears) and our departure for Europe.

With the opportunity to live and travel through Europe there are a handful of restaurants that left their mark and are places we still talk about today.

Bang Restaurant, a small, popular restaurant just off St Stephens Green in Dublin which we frequented again and again for the best scallops we have ever tasted, so much so, that scallops are now compared to that Bang standard – ‘They ain’t no Bang’ – is our standard reply. It was no secret that we sought out any occasions or excuse to find a reason to go there even after we had departed Dublin.

Restaurangen, was the very first restaurant we had dinner at when we arrived to live in Stockholm. The menu devised in a unique way, where you make your selection using a pencil to mark the box on the paper menu – you could choose 3, 5 or 7 dishes including desert and each dish had a particular flavour and that flavour was linked to a tasting wine that best suited the dish. Needless to say, a great way to taste a variety of food and wine and where we our last dinner in Sweden ended three years later on a cold, snowy night – when leaving we ended up in a joyful snow fight – a perfect way to end our meal and our time in Sweden.

Whilst living in Europe we had the opportunity to dine at Zuma, a restaurant hidden in a small laneway in Knightsbridge, London where we always needed to book weeks prior to our trip to London to ensure a table. With divine, if not costly Peach Bellini’s, the most melt in your mouth salt and pepper calamari, char grilled chicken wings with rock salt and lime, sweet potatoes cooked over the char grill and salmon sashimi to die for. Purely from a food point of view this would be the most memorable and somewhere we will always try to return to over the years.

As I think back over these and many more dinners, to separate out one would be difficult, if the world was ending tomorrow and I was asked what I wanted as my last meal, I would perhaps pick a dish from all my favorite restaurants and I would have to um and ahh about the selection (there’s only so much one could eat), but I know the one thing that I wouldn’t need to think about was who I was going to share it with, we would be together with our children and as many friends and family as we could fit at the dinner table…they are the people who have shared some of the memorable meals of our lives…

Will and Jodie Cooke
Vapiano Australia

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

New flights to the Granite Belt, Queensland

If you'd rather spend more time enjoying fresh local produce and sipping fine wine than driving, Sunshine Aviation's new Stanthorpe package might be just the ticket.

From next week, charter flight tours to Queensland's Granite Belt will be added to the menu of Sunshine Aviation to meet the boom in consumer interest in wine and food.




Initially established in Noosa in 1999, and now with a new base at Brisbane’s Archerfield, Sunshine Aviation will offer two day tours to Stanthorpe.  The package includes flights, overnight accommodation, meals and ground tours.

Flight time from to Stanthorpe is approximately 35 minutes Archerfield and from Sunshine Coast 85 minutes.  This leaves plenty of time to take in a tour of wineries, an olive or lavender farm plus visit a boutique chocolate, cheese or cider producer. In the interests of flight safety, wine tastings will be conducted on day one, ensuring a “dry flight” for the return journey.

To learn more visit TOURS at www.granitebeltwinecountry.com.au or phone 1800 SO COOL.

Tasty Bites April 13 bmag

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Olley's Coffee in the Rainforest, Mt Glorious

We we were breaking in some new hiking boots in preparation for a five day walk on Kangaroo Island - serious stuff. Our first stop included a view of the now full Wivenhoe dam and we found some wonderful wild flowers on the track.



Of course such exertion required fortification and by the time we found a suitable spot it was lunch time.

Olley's is a quirky spot.  Its the sort of place where you'll find just about anything, from scented oils to socks decorated with the Southern Cross. It's a mish mash of all sorts of stuff but the highlight is some very good organic honey.

The whole building is surrounded by rainforest and there are some really delightful places to sit and enjoy the atmosphere.  Inside there is comfortable seating as well and it's warmer if the day is cool.


The cafe offers breakfast with a few unusual twists like a Filipino breakfast with Asian sausage and chicken served with egg, garlic rice, fruits and coffee. Not sure about that one! There's also your standard brekkie with bacon, egg, tomato and onion with toast and coffee or tea. Noice touch is that is comes with a 'fruits in season juice', all for $15.

A Glorious High Tea ($29) was delivered to another table while we were there and it looked a treat.  Designed for 2- 3 people, it includes sandwiches, pancake, cake, fruits, spring rolls, chocolates and wishing cookies (?), all served on a three tier plate.

But our mission revolved around burgers. I ordered a Veggie Burger ($8.50) that came with salad and a burger bun.  Our other choice was an Asian Beef Salad ($8.90).  The meals were nicely prepared and good value for the price.


The coffee, which is made using organic beans, was reasonable although a little weak. Maybe a double shot would do it.

Bottom line:  This place is worth a stop. Quirky and full of character.

Olley's Coffee in the Rainforest
2040 Mt. Glorious Road, Mt. Glorious 4520
ph: 07 3289 0286



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Monday, 12 April 2010

Embassy XO, Sunshine Beach, Sunshine Coast

I've been walking past the redevelopment on the corner of Duke and Bryan Streets on Sunshine Beach for some time, wondering what it would bring to this great strip of restaurants, cafes, delis and coffee shops.

We are regular visitors to Sunshine Beach and love the ambience, the opportunity to park the car and just walk where ever you want to go and the good quality food and coffee on offer.  It's a little paradise.

The three new operations to open are Embassy XO (previously Alegria Restaurant) which is an upstairs licensed modern Asian and Chinese restaurant with indoor and covered outdoor dining for up to 80 diners.

XO Bistro Wine Bar (previously Wasabi Restaurant) on the ground level, is a licensed and BYO beach-style bistro and wine bar serving pizzas, steaks and seafood in a more casual style. It includes indoor and outdoor dining for up to 100 people.

Completing the trio is XO Cellars,  a boutique style bottle shop serving quality wines and beers.

Company Director of the XO group and local developer for over 25 years, Michael Collins originally built the complex at the beach end of the busy shopping village 16 years ago.

With friends coming up from Brisbane to join us for Saturday night we decided Embassy XO would be a great venue for our Saturday night. After checking out the decor - red, Chinese-influence and very smart casual - we picked out a table and booked.

It was very busy when we arrived on Saturday night and the wait staff did not have much time to explain the menu. We worked it out ourselves and decided to order four dishes from the 'share' menu.


The menu is mouth watering read, a fusion of Australian Chinese ingredients and style with some unusual twists.  We decided on coral trout, wagu beef cheeks, a roast chicken dish and a grainge beef curry with a side of rice.


When the meals arrived they were delicious.  There was some debate amongst the four of us but the coral trout and the beef cheeks came out as favourites.  The chicken was the least popular, voted a definite fourth.


It was good food, voted 8 out of 10 by the group.  Priced at between $32 and $38 for each dish it was what we would have hoped for and expected. We were pleased with the flavours.

What we weren't pleased with was being presented with the bill, without request, just under an hour after sitting down.  It made the food price, just under $130 (excluding alcohol), seem quite expensive. At 8.30pm we were out on the street wondering what to do for the rest of the night!

I also was disappointed that, despite visiting the restaurant and specially booking a specific table, we were off loaded to another table without any explanation. There's also a noise problem in the restaurant which needs to be addressed.  We could not hear each other talk due to a loud and noisy table of girls packed close by.

And although we ordered from the share menu, our dishes arrived before the plates to divide them onto and all at once.  It would have been better to have them arrive progressively, in a considered tasting order, so we could fully enjoy the experience of each dish.

In the big scheme of things these are probably just teething problems unless the restaurant has a fast turnover policy.  I would suggest that giving diners a little extra time to enjoy their meal would make for a better customer experience that would make them return another night.  Based on this experience, I won't be rushing back.

Embassy XO, Cnr Duke & Bryan Street, Sunshine Beach. p 5455 4460

Embassy Xo on Urbanspoon

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Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Trish's Carrot Cupcakes


Easter Sunday was one of those days when the sky was blue, the air was warm but not too hot and the birds were singing.

At least they were around the deck at Albany Creek where we sat for a delightful family lunch.  Trish kept rolling out dishes till we were all full up but the sight of these carrot cakes seemed to open up another part of my appetite.  I was fascinated with the cute little carrots Trish made to decorate the cupcakes.  The combination of marzipan and food colouring with tiny dill tops was very realistic.  I'm sure the Easter bunny would have been jealous.

Trish's carrot cake recipe is one she has made for many years.  It was given to her by the owner of a coffee shop where she often enjoyed the cake with her mother on outings.  The recipe converts well into cupcakes which were deliciously moist and the cream cheese icing was just fabulous.  Well done Trish!


Trish's Carrot Cupcakes

1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup castor sugar
1 teasp baking powder
3/4 teasp bicarb soda
pinch (1/2 teasp) salt
5/8 cup (140mls) olive oil
2 eggs
1 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup pineapple, drained
1/4 cup (75g) chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Mix dry ingredients, add eggs, oil and mix well. Stir in carrots, pineapple and nuts. Bake in a greased floured tin for 1 hour  (20-25 mins for cupcakes). Ice when cool.

Icing
90gm butter
90gm Philadelphia cream cheese
1/2 teasp vanilla essence
walnuts

Cream above together, ice and then decorate with the walnuts.


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Sunday, 4 April 2010

Top blogs for March

Looking at the top blogs, March was an interesting and diverse month on E,d+bK with large interest in one of Brisbane's top diners - Aria,  plenty of people checking out this great cafe in the mountains - Mt Glorious Restaurant & Cafe and lots of lookers at the pub grub available at the Normanby Hotel, Red Hill and the Ship Inn, South Bank

There were also high hits the blog on my latest cooking toy - the Sunbeam Pattie cupcake maker.

Here's the top five for March

* Best burgers - the Normanby Hotel
* Lunch at Aria
* Morning tea at  Mt Glorious Restaurant & Cafe
* Loving that lamb at the Ship Inn
* More fun with cupcakes - Sunbeam's Pattie cupcake maker

Friday, 2 April 2010

Farmer's Market Accreditation

Victoria has just launched Australia's first Farmer's Market Accreditation program - what a great idea!

The Victorian Farmers’ Markets Association (VFMA) Accreditation Program has a rigorous stallholder application process and about 350 members. It's designed to ensure their fast growing farmers’ markets sector is made up of genuine farmers, producers and makers so that people are buying goods that are directly from farmers and makers and that customer dollars are going straight back to regional communities

When visiting a market it's always nice to know that the sellers are the real deal and not resellers.

Victorian Farmers’ markets will gain accreditation under the VFMA Accreditation Program through a rigorous process once they have no less than 90% of stallholders accredited in metropolitan areas and no less than 75% in regional areas.

When you go to a 'Farmer's Market' how do you know if you're buying the real thing? First talk to the people you are buying from and ask them about their products. Real farmers will know stuff no reseller could even imagine or care about. They may even talk way too long telling you which paddock the tomatoes where grown in and why this variety is better than the other.

Also check their range of produce - if it's really extensive it's unlikely one farmer could grow all the items. Check where they come from.

Another tip, courtesy of food guru Alison Alexander, is to look at the boxes behind the stalls. If you see labels from many different sources ask how the seller obtained the goods. Boxes from way outside the local geographic area are a dead give away! No good food miles there...

There's nothing wrong with purchasing produce from a reseller at market as long as you know that's what you are doing. Just be smart, especially if you are paying a premium price. Resellers who are cutting out the middle man and selling direct from the produce market to you often don't have access to or want to buy premium products. Remember this if you look at your market purchases with disappointment later in the week.

Anybody know if there are plans to introduce this in Queensland? I think we need it!

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Ultimate last minute Easter present - Guilt free chocolate massage



It's been a while, but I still remember the delicious chocolate aroma of this massage. It's a great Easter gift for those who love chocolate but not the calories. And for those challenged by time, it's also available as a gift voucher making it the perfect last minute Easter pressie!

And Ripple has now branches around Australia!

Here's my experience -

It’s more than eight hours since I was pampered in massage heaven and I still can smell chocolate!

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