Monday, 31 May 2010

Top blogs for May

May was another busy month on E,d+bK with visitation up 20 percent. Thank you!

Don't forget that this week is Queensland Week - great lunch deals are available at some fabulous restaurants for
Lunch on Q

The same three restaurants that dominated the poll in April also took out the highest score in May.  You are fascinated with -
Mundo Churrasco – a new Brazilian barbecue carvery restaurant opened at Bardon, Brisbane.
Embassy XO – an Asian style restaurant opened at Sunshine Beach on the Sunshine Coast.
Eurovida -  a new, modern Australian-style café/restaurant in down town Paddington.

Also high on your list were my comments on
Brisbane's Best food - a list of restaurants compiled by me and other foodies
Search for the perfect cupcake
Foodie dinners - a round up of the latest food and wine orientated dinners on offer.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Darling Downs degustation at Bretts Wharf, Hamilton


The Darling Downs and the Gatton area in particular are a wonderful source of fresh produce for not only Brisbane, but the whole of Australia.

The rich soils of area result in amazing produce including award winning organic vegetables produced by Rob Bauer and Trudy Townson and Bauer Organics.

A champion of local produce, Bretts Wharf Executive Chef Alastair McLeod has been holding a series of produce dinners showcasing local products from the Sunshine Coast and Granite Belt.  This time it was the Darling Downs turn.

"When you consider the contents of the average shopping trolley has travelled over 70,000 km - that's two Jessica Watson trips - consideration for whence our produce comes has to be a factor," Alastair said.
   
  
Alastair’s menu was reflective of the cooler weather and along with Rob Bauer’s organic vegetables from Gatton it featured Ken Orange’s Banyard Quail from Pittsworth and Mark Ladner’s Gooralie Pork from Goondiwindi

Menu


- Starter V8 Juice with black cabbage

This was a last minute addition to the menu inspired by a Alastair's recent trip to Blue Hills at Stone Barns in New York State. It's made using Rob Bauer's organic vegetables. Served bubbling with dry ice like a witch's cauldron, the saltiness of the dried spinach was a sharp contrast to the sweet juice.


- Organic pork terrine, crackling, apple remoulade, purslane

 
- Wine match: fox gordon abby viognier 08


   
     

- Broccoli soup, yabbie tortellini, potato espuma, dandelion


- Wine match: leewin estate siblings sauvignon blanc semillon 09

  

- Quail in vine leaf, ‘coleslaw’, tomato and basil dressing


- Wine match: logan chardonnay 07


- 24h wagyu, horseradish and mustard crust, sweetcorn puree, smoked calves tongue
-Wine match: yangarra estate old vine grenache 07


- Candied organic tomato with 12 flavours, chocolate soil, anise ice cream


- Wine match: Frogmore iced Riesling 07

 

To find out about the next in the series of Alastair’s regional produce dinners just join the free subscription on their website – www.brettswharf.com.au

Bretts Wharf Seafood on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Lunch on Q

Lunch on Q invites diners to enjoy a two course lunch with Queensland's mouth-watering produce expertly matched with a glass of Queensland wine at just $35pp and is the perfect way to celebrate Queensland Week.

Lunch on Q runs from Monday 31 May - Sunday 13 June and bookings should be made direct with the restaurant of your choice

Restaurants may offer Lunch on Q at varying times within the dates or may decide to extend the promotion – check the details with each restaurant’s listing.

More information can be found at http://www.foodandwineonq.com/lunch.html

The list of restaurants participating this year includes:

Lamingtons are Queenslanders!


It's time to set one thing straight, to wave off the contenders and just say it how it is - lamingtons are Queenslanders!

Scorned at high teas but the backbone of sporting club fundraising, lamingtons – the cube of sponge cake dipped in chocolate and swathed in coconut – are an Australian institution. And like all famous faces, many lay claim to its origin including Harlaxton House in Toowoomba and even New Zealand.

But when it comes to the lamington, QUT historian and Old Government House curator Dr Katie McConnel says there is no dispute.

A quirky aspect of Queensland Week is the celebration of what is today considered an Australia icon – the lamington. It’s caused many debates including Old Government House in Brisbane, all claiming to be the birth place of the lamington that is the national cake of Australia.
 
”It was definitely first concocted at Old Government House by French chef Armand Galland,” Dr McConnel says.

”It’s all in the use of the chocolate and coconut and because Lady Lamington herself credited Armand Galland with this popular cake.

”Monsieur Galland came to Australia with Lord and Lady Lamington in 1900 and cooked for them until they left in 1901. The lamington was born of necessity – it was Monsieur Galland’s answer to the perennial problem of unexpected visitors coming up the path. He pulled from the pantry day old French vanilla sponge cake, chocolate and coconut and whipped up the lamington.

”It proved so popular that Lady Lamington was inundated with requests for the recipe and thus Galland named his delectable treat in honour of his patrons the Lamingtons.

”There is no doubt it would have been at Government House that a lot of unexpected guests turned up. Lord and Lady Lamington did go to Toowoomba in the summer to escape the heat but they received most visitors at Government House.

”Monsieur Galland accompanied the Royal Tour to New Zealand in 1901 and would have cooked lamingtons in New Zealand but that was after the Lamingtons had gone back to England.”

To celebrate this icon and Queensland Week, people can join Katie McConnel at Queensland’s first vice-regal residence, Old Government House to enjoy a demonstration by one of Merlo’s specialty chefs on how the Lamington is made.

Once you have tasted this traditional cake people can stay and listen to Old Government House’s Curator, Dr Katie McConnel talk about how the Lamington came about and for whom it was named.

Where:
Old Government House Courtyard (Merlo Tearoom)

When:

Sunday 30 May, 10.00am - 11.30am
Wednesday 2 June, 10.00am - 11.30am


Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Feast on Q - May 2010

Here's a link to the latest Feast on Q - a Queensland food and wine newsletter I edit.

This month's highlights -

·    Lunch on Q
·    Brisbane Cheese Awards
·    A Taste of Coolum
·    Learn to cook seafood by the sea
·    Christmas comes early at Spicers Hidden Vale
·    River city views whet your appetite
·    Surf’s up!
·    2010 Queensland Grands Vins selection
·    Product watch
·    In season
·    What’s on

Home grown capers


Did you know that, until now, all capers have been imported into Australia?

Well they've bitten the bullet down in South Australia and produced a  new range of Australian capers grown by the aptly named, Australian Caper Company.

Grower Jonathon Trewartha describes his capers as environmentally sustainable, hand picked fresh, firm, fruity, organic and packed full of antioxidants and natural health benefits.

They are grown with minimal water on the dry, rocky slopes of the Murray River.  They pick the unopened buds of the caper plant at first light during the hottest months of the year. Any they miss at the bud stage then get picked as berries!

The flavour is a little different from the imported caperberries I've tried.  A slight sweetness  is an interesting contrast to the crunchy saltiness.

The Australian Caper Company is seeking growers who want to diversify their income stream, have 1 to 3ML of water, 1 to 3 hectares and existing infrastructure.



Find these capers at Black Pearl Epicure, 36 Baxter Street, Fortitude Valley


Maggie Beer, who was the inspiration behind Jonathon Trewartha's The Australian Caper Company, and his determination to establish an Australian caper growing industry, created this recipe to showcase them.
I find it hard to resist any recipe that uses kipfler potatoes and this one from Maggie also includes preserved lemons, pancetta and capers - a combo that's hard to beat.


Maggie's Warm potato salad with preserved lemon, pancetta and capers.
serves 4
500g waxy potatoes (such as kipflers)
1 half preserved lemon
4 long thin slices of pancetta
50ml extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Australian capers (rinsed or not)
1 tablespoon freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
sea salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 220 Celsius. Remove the pulp from the preserved lemon and cut the rind into long strips.Wash and dry the potatoes thoroughly, then cut them in half lengthwise. Toss immediately with the lemon rind, pancetta, olive oil and pepper in a large, shallow, heavy-based baking dish and roast for 20-35 minutes. The potatoes should caramelise and the pancetta become deliciously crisp. Remove the baking dish from the oven and shake to loosen the contents. Add the capers and parsley and taste to check whether it needs extra seasoning. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Line up for the Regent!

I love the drama of the old Regent Theatre.  It should be a Brisbane icon and how developers have got their hands on it over heritage I really don't understand.  I thought we had laws to protect our important stuff. Obviously not.
Don't let the Regent become a 'foyer to nowhere'! Line up for the Regent this Saturday, May 29, from 11 - 12 at Reddacliffe Place (it's the bridge end of Queen Street).

Show the government and the council that the Regent must stay as an entertainment venue, open and able to be properly used by the people of Brisbane.
Check out the Facebook group page. Show the government that you're serious.

Foodie bits from bmag

The not so secret seven.... top chefs cook for Variety


It's a line up that would make many foodies weep with an-ti-cip-ation - the not so secret seven hot chefs who are headlining the 2010 Variety of Chefs Dinner.

There's Ben O'Donoghue from the soon to be opened South Bank Surf Club, David Pugh from Restaurant II,  Russell Armstrong from Barolo, Shane Bailey from Berado's of Noosa, Kim Machin from Urban and PJ McMillan from Harvey's.

On Saturday, June 5, they'll take  up the centre stage at the Brisbane Convention Centre to prepare a three course dinner with wines matched by sommelier Peter Marchant from Mezzanine. There's even a singer, Ricki-Lee and an eight piece band to dance the night away with. 

The $250 a head night raises funds for Variety Queensland, an organisation that suports special children's needs. This year's event will assist The Preston James Fund which buys life-support equipment for children suffering lung injuries.

Here's the menu

Entree 
  • Queensland prawn, pink grapefruit, shaved fennel and avocado salad - Shane Bailey, Berardo's Noosa  (pictured top)
  • Pastilla of spatchcock with petit salad and pomegranate molasses, all with a dust of icing sugar- Ben O'Donoghue, South Bank Surf Club. Ben says it was inspired by a classic pie of sorts.

Mains
  • Slow roasted saddle of Victorian lamb, warm Nicoise salad, braised farrro and warm parmesan bavarois - Russell Armstrong, Seasalt and Barolo and David Pugh, Restaurant Two.

  • Fillet of barramundi, roasted garlic and sweet corn puree, king  brown mushroom, crisp serrano ham - PJ McMillan, Harvey's

    Dessert

    • Banoffi - banana brulee with caramel, almond pralline, toasted almond milk ice cream - Matt Moran, Aria. Matt describes this as a deconstructed version of the traditional banoffi pie.

    • Coconut, pineapple, green tea, fennel pollen - Kim Machin, Urban and The Euro. Kim has set out to challenge the palette a little with this one.
    Tickets are available from the Variety Club

    Monday, 24 May 2010

    Coconut Grove Bar & Bistro, Sunshine Beach, Sunshine Coast.


    I was driving home to Brisbane from yet another wonderful weekend at Sunshine Beach on the Sunshine Coast and what was I day dreaming about?

    Not the outstanding coastal scenery on the walk to Alexandra Bay, the beautiful autumn swim (which is brave because I'm a Queenslander) or the smooth, well rounded coffee I'd had that morning.  Instead it was a small pat of house-made butter and a freshly baked baguette from the previous night. It's evidence that sometimes the smallest things are the best.

    The house baked bread of the day at Coconut Grove Bar and Bistro, upstairs in Duke Street, Sunshine Beach, varies but it's always served with Joseph EVO and house made butter churned from Eumundi cream and salted with Murray River Salt.  The sweetness of the butter combined with the crisp, golden bread was an unexpected pleasure that lingered.


    This was my second visit to Coconut Grove with way too many years in between.  I first darkened their door just after Leonie Palmer Fisher and Steve Fisher opened the restaurant in June 2008 (more ). Those were the days before Wasabi moved to Noosa.

    I enjoyed the food then and that hasn't changed. On Saturday night the welcome was warm and the table service attentive but not intrusive.


    Our choices were simple, bread and two pizzas - classic margarita with vine tomato base, basil and buffalo mozzarella and confit duck with Meredith goats cheese mushrooms and basil. The pizzas were just how they should be - a light crispy base well covered with ingredients full of flavour.  They both worked.


    My mains choice was the pan seared fish of the day which was Moolababah caught Red Emperor and served with sauteed spinach, Noosa reds tomato, caper, lemon and spring onion dressing. There were some great crispy bits on the fish that really accentuated the soft, white flesh. Just wonderful in the mouth.

    A hungrier version of me would have gone for an entree of char grilled asparagus, poached organic Bendele Farm duck egg, capers, lemon and white anchovy dressing with crispy bread and vincotto. Yum.

    I also was tempted by the 'Classic bombe Alaska'.  It's years since I had one of these and it promised honeycomb ice cream.  It will have to wait till next time.

    The restaurant is now owned by Geoff and Charmain Hall and the chef is Damon Porter.

    Bottom line: A pleasant night out with well priced food, a place to enjoy more than once.


    Coconut Grove at 8/46 Duke Street, Sunshine Beach. +61 7 5449 2333

    Coconut Grove Bar & Bistro on Urbanspoon
    Where to stay on the Sunshine Coast? Here's my favourite spot. more

    Friday, 21 May 2010

    Peasant, The Barracks, Petrie Terrace

    There's nothing that attracts my attention more that a restaurateur who doesn't like food bloggers. So when I opened the paper on Wednesday and read that the two owners of Peasant at The Barracks were not blogger fans I was hooked, especially since I was booked to dine there that night.

    Would I blog or not?  I put the question out to the Twitterverse and the reactions were mixed, ranging from don't tell them you're a blogger to wear a t-shirt with your blog address on the front. The overwhelming response was 'name and shame'.

    Interestingly, others ventured opinions that these restaurateurs were among many who just were not up to date with the new style 'word of mouth' of blogging.

    And when I saw some of the comments on the restaurant posted on various food sites I was not surprised that the owners were a little wary of the internet. Quite a few diners were less than impressed by the front of house or wait staff. Somewhat challenging statements to restaurant owners who pride themselves in their New York style of being able "to dictate to people but still let them have what they want''.

    However, I have to say that my experience did not reflect that. Our waitress was delightful and made some good recommendations, which was handy as the menu was not easy to navigate.

    The restaurant decor inside is quirky and atmospheric, with wild painted ceilings of different heights and lots of wood and brick. We sat in a semi circular booth at the rear which was good for conversation but could have benefited from some pillows for extra back support.  There were tables for two set under a pergola with fairy lights around - they looked cosy and romantic.

    The food was what you would expect from a Spanish restaurant - jamon,  morcilla, crumbed croquettes and sardines with some good salads on the side. We enjoyed the dishes but did not find them overly filling for the price.

    My main beef would be with the oh-so-tricky, hand written blackboard menu on a 'slate' which we had to share between the four of us. It was difficult to read and gave little explanation. The waitress filled in the gaps but it would have been handy to have more of a point of reference than the sketchy menu.

    Bottom line: Interesting and worth another visit.

    Peasant,
    No. 4 The Barracks, 61 Petrie Terrace, Paddington p3367 8066

    Peasant on Urbanspoon

    Thursday, 20 May 2010

    Party for a purpose


    Throughout MS Awareness Week, you can join millions of people from across the globe in hosting dinner parties to raise money for multiple sclerosis.

    From May 26, MS Global Dinner Party hosts will organise cocktail parties, dinners, movie nights and other gatherings to collect donations.

    Money raised will help fund vital support services for people living with MS, awareness programs and research projects to help find a cure.

    Hosts can be as creative as they like and organise everything from a fancy dress party to a games night or simple barbecue with friends. Registering on the MS Global Dinner Party website is easy and fundraising is a breeze with a personalised party page where guests can make direction donations.

    MS Queensland chief executive officer Trevor Farrell said the MS Global Dinner Party initiative was a simple and fun way of making a difference in the lives of thousands of people.

    “We are encouraging people to host a party, big or small, and raise money to directly help people with MS – the most common chronic neurological disease among young Australians,” Mr Farrell said.

    More than 18,000 Australians have MS. The disease affects three times more woman than men and the average age of diagnosis is just 30.

    Register your MS Global Dinner Party at www.msqld.org/globaldinnerparty and start collecting donations today!

    Be my guest - Three favourite food memories from Mei Yen Chua


    'Be my guest' is a regular Thursday series on E,d+bK. Here Brisbane author and foodie Mei Yen Chua shares three favourite food memories.

    Mei Yen publishes Brisbane’s Budget Bites, an independent cheap eats guide to Brisbane. When she’s not out eating and researching, she works as a freelance indexer, proofreader and editor. She is interested in ethnic communities in Brisbane and loves introducing people to new and obscure food and anticipates publishing other food-related publications in the near future.



    My most memorable meal

    What is it about memorable meals? I thought this was an easy one when Kerry first asked the question. But when I pondered a little longer two more experiences kept popping up and wouldn’t go away. I realised that I’ve had several memorable meals in my life.

    There have been so many pleasurable meals – all unique and memorable in their own right but three stand out. My very first memorable meal comes from a traditional Indian wedding. I think I might have been about 10 years old. I remember in bits and pieces but the most vivid one is sitting down at a very long, communal table with my family and hundreds of guests.

    Empty pieces of banana leaves lined the table, there were stainless steel water bowls with flowers for hand-washing. Men then came roaming around the table with tiffins of food; this procession of tiffin-laden food didn’t stop for quite some time.

    We picked what we wanted to eat. The waiters heaped mounds of rice onto our leaf plates, then came the chutneys and various dhals, briyanis, after that, meat curries. I don’t remember the specific curries but I remember asking for everything that came past.

    I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed eating with my hands! The joy of digging into fluffy hot rice and burying my fingers in various sticky curry gravies; the satisfaction of tearing hunks of meat apart with my bare fingers! It’s the stuff childhood memories are made of I reckon. The wedding was an overload for a child’s visual and olfactory sensibilities. It was tactile, fun, loud and in the end, very memorable. Pity I don’t remember who the bride and groom were, I remember just the food!

    My second memorable food experience is when I lived in Sydney. I had watched a food lover's program on SBS on picking wild mushrooms. I am a huge mushroom fan so I got very interested in this. I researched and found some pine forests at the back of Lithgow. I went for a long drive and went off into the woods to forage for wild mushrooms.

    To my surprise, I found a lot of pine mushrooms or saffron milk caps as they are also called. I also picked a heap of wild blackberries. It was a very satisfying experience. I cooked the load of mushrooms when I got home with loads of garlic, butter, herbs and pasta – it is one of my most memorable home-cooking experiences. The flavours were so intense and earthy, the flesh was silky and yet so meaty, it was delicious. That was the start of my love for foraging and I always made a point to go mushroom picking every year. Now that I live in Brisbane, I am keen to find some places where I can pick wild mushrooms.

    Third most memorable meal so far was having a degustation meal at Vue de Monde in Melbourne. In the course of the many dishes I had, the dish that stood out for me was the wild mushroom risotto - yes, there seems to be a mushroom theme happening here. They had some fresh truffles from Manjimup, Western Australia in that morning and offered to up the ante by shaving some over the risotto. I had to say yes. The smell that pervaded when the shavings of truffles settled on the hot rice! I remember that smell like it was yesterday. Every mouthful of rice was brilliant, the perfume of the truffles still linger in my culinary memory and it’s not likely to go away anytime soon.

    Mei Yen Chua

    Wednesday, 19 May 2010

    Mercure picks their top Queensland wines


    Not before time, a major hotel group is taking the local wine industry seriously with the launch of another Mercure 2010 “Grands Vins Mercure”, a wine list dedicated to showcasing Queensland wines.


    The 2010 Queensland Grands Vins selection is available at Mercure hotels in Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns, giving visitors a true taste of the Sunshine State. The wine list is changed twice yearly.


    Wines come from a number of boutique wineries in the Stanthorpe region, recognised as Queensland’s premier wine area, as well as from emerging wine regions such as South Burnett, the Darling Downs and the Gold Coast Hinterlands.


    Reflecting Queensland wineries’ experimentation with grape varieties and styles, the list includes varietals such as sylvaner and verdelho amongst the whites, along with more traditional chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and semillon selections. The reds include straight tempranillo and cabernet franc wines as well as merlot, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon.


    Accor Regional General Manager Queensland, Neil Scanlan, said that the launch of the new Queensland wine list was not only a vote of confidence in the Queensland wine industry, but also for Queensland tourism.


    “Queensland wines have improved dramatically in recent years and we have had a great reaction from guests since introducing the Queensland Grands Vins wine list a few years ago, but there is still reluctance by most hotels and restaurants to fully represent the State’s wine produce,” he said.


    “When visitors come to Queensland they want to get an appreciation of the destination in many ways, and wine and food is very much part of the travel experience. While Queensland doesn’t have the size of wine industry as its southern counterparts, it is really working hard to bring the wine and tourism experience together, as can be seen by the creation of the Strange Bird wine trail up to the Granite Belt. Even if visitors can’t get to these wine areas, they can at least try them at a Mercure hotel.


    “What is really important with the Grands Vins wine list is the pricing. We want to dispel the myth that good wine is only associated with high-end restaurants and high-end prices. Mercure’s Grands Vins shows it is possible to enjoy great wines – many from smaller vineyards - at very attractive prices, by both the glass and by the bottle.”


    The Grands Vins wine list is designed to make wine selection easier, grouping wines in four particular styles – fresh and tasty; fruity and light; balanced & elegant and spicy and full bodies – to help guests choose the most suitable wine for every occasion and for every dish, while introducing wines from a range of distinctive wineries that guests might not otherwise have a chance to experience.


    Every wine offered has been selected by an expert tasting panel comprising sommeliers, wine connoisseurs and food and beverage professionals, and, importantly, final judging is conducted with appropriate food courses to ensure the wines are “food friendly”. Some 80 per cent of wine sold at Mercure hotels is consumed with food, so compatibility with food was a major judging criteria.


    The launch of the Queensland Grands Vins list is part of a national roll-out of the concept, with State-based lists prepared for NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia. Internationally, Mercure has been offering Grands Vins selections in Europe since 1983.

    So, which wines made the cut?  Here's the list:


    MERCURE GRANDS VINS QLD Autumn 2010
    WHITES


    • Felsberg 2009 Sylvaner (Glen Aplin, Granite Belt)
    A wine for those with sweeter palates, this has lovely softness on the palate, upfront fruit and quite low alcohol. Great with spicy dishes.

    • Tobin Wines 2009 “Kate” Sauvignon Blanc (Ballandean, Granite Belt)
    An appealing combination of tropical fruit flavours and herbaceous characters make this a lovely drink that dry and nicely tangy on the finish.

    • Symphony Hill 2009 Pinot Gris (Ballandean, Granite Belt)
    A zingy, zesty and lively wine with plenty of upfront appeal, this has crisp apple and juicy stone-fruit flavours and nice crisp acid. From an outstanding winery and very refreshing.

    • Clovely Estate 2009 “Left Field” Semillon (South Burnett)
    Semillon is an under-rated grape variety that deserves to be more popular. This is crisp, clean and slightly grassy with nice freshness and acidity. Versatile with food.

    • Sirromet 2008 “820 Above” Verdelho (Ballandean, Granite Belt)
    This Portuguese grape variety thrives in Queensland conditions and is a benchmark style with tropical fruit freshness and liveliness on the palate.

    • Witches Falls 2008 Wild Ferment Chardonnay (Ballandean, Granite Belt)
    Chardonnay is always popular and there are funky characters to be found in this well-balanced wine that has grapefruit hints and plenty of integrated toasty oak.   

    REDS
    • Heritage Estate 2008 School Block Merlot (Stanthorpe, Granite Belt)
    Merlot is a grape that produces soft, easy-drinking reds. This is a smooth customer with plum and wild berry flavours, hints of spice and integrated oak.

    • Golden Grove 2008 Tempranillo (Ballandean, Granite Belt)
    This family-owned winery is using a number of alternative grape varieties with huge sucesss. This has vibrant cherry/berry characters and hints of pepper and spice. Really lovely.

    • Rimfire Winery 2006 Cabernet Franc (Darling Downs)
    A nicely mature red with plenty of length and depth of flavour, hints of red fruit, mint and pepper on the palate. Well worth trying with meat dishes.

    • Mount Tamborine Vineyards 2007 Shiraz Cabernet (Mount Tamborine)
    From the hills behind the Gold Coast comes this red blend that won a gold medal at the Australian Small Winemakers Show. It’s mouthfilling, soft and smooth.

    • Ballandean Estate 2007 Family Reserve Shiraz (Ballandean, Granite Belt)
    This family owned winery was one of the pioneers of fine wine in Queensland. This has nice juicy fruit and lovely balance. An elegant, cool-climate style that’s great with red meats.

    • O’Reilly’s 2008 Viola Cabernet Sauvignon (Canungra Valley)
    Dark berry aromas and flavours are notable on this is soft and refined cool-climate cabernet that is extremely easy to drink with or without food.

    Search for the perfect cupcake - Cocolat





    I think I've found it - the perfect cupcake.

    But, and there's always a but, I'd really need to try it again, and again, and again. And that won't be happening anytime soon as the cupcake was  in Adelaide.

    Maybe it was escaping from every day life or just surviving the walk from the very sleezy end of Hindley Street (make sure you put the emphasis on the 'Hi' or they'll know you are a tourist according to our taxi driver), that made the cupcake taste so sweet, so deliciously moist and chocolatey, with icing that rolled around in your mouth and shouted 'eat me'!


    It was a tip off in Tiger Tales, the inflight magazine for Tiger Airlines, that sent me to their door. We had wandered down Hindley Street, past the male strip shows and red curtained doors to Rundle Mall.  The Mall is identical to every other Mall in Australia and, perhaps,  now the western world.

    Thankfully, just after the mall, we discovered a great food precinct with lots of interesting restaurants and Cocolat - a dessert cafe with cake, gelato and coffee.  It's renowned, according to Tiger Tales, for its truffle trees.

    As we were heading to dinner we, or my gallant partner, carried the cupcake for what seemed an endless walk to discover Adelaide's other CBD eat street - Gougar Street. It survived the journey well and was a wonderful end to the night.


    Bottom line: Seriously good, but so it should be for the $6.50 price tag!

    So it's up to you, dear readers, to tell me whether the other cupcakes at Cocolat live up to the promise of my chocolate fantasy.

    Cocolat
    283 Rundle Street, Adelaide. p 08 8232 6133

    OMG -I've just seen that I could have had another cupcake at their airport shop - life is cruel!

    Tuesday, 18 May 2010

    La dolce vita in Brisbane's Mall



    Brisbane is really taking Italian week to heart this year with an Italian twist to Jan Power's city Farmer's Market on Wednesday (May 26, 10am-6pm)at Reddacliff Place (the Bridge End of Queen Street).

    Jan says she researched farmers markets in Italy and all over Europe before she launched the concept in Brisbane.

    “Italian farmers markets from small villages to the big cities, like Venice or Florence, are a delight to the senses!”

    Many of Jan’s farmers and providores are Italian, adding personality and delicious tastes to her markets.

    It seems they'll have everything from pasta making to assembling antipasti. It's also the place to purchase fresh pasta and sauces, cheeses, salamis and sausages, pesto, fruit and vegetables, breads, olive oils, coffee and even Italian wine.


    Here's a quick and easy Italian dinner or lunch from the market -

    • Start with an antipasto platter of olives, sundried tomatoes and stuffed peppers served with crusty Italian bread or a pasta course of spaghetti with lemon, olive oil, crab meat and a touch of chilli.

    • For secondo or main course, pick up pan fried veal scallopini, flavoured with lemon and fresh herbs with a simple tomato, sweet onion and pesto on the side.

    • For dolce (dessert), the market offers authentic creamy and rich Italian cannoli or a handmade fresh fruit gelato.

    This year’s Italian markets will be like a trip to Italy with the aromas of traditional Italian food, wine tasting and Italian music to complete the day.

    Jan Power's Farmers Markets

    Monday, 17 May 2010

    Kangaroo Island highlights

    A wild and spectacular coastline, untouched wilderness, a poignant history and a remarkable sense of isolation are the images and memories I've brought back from my five day walking tour on Kangaroo Island with Park Trek.

    Our group of seven with two guides ranged in age from 16 to 82 years,  with a grandmother and her grand daughter at the top and bottom.  It was wonderful to see these two walking the trails and inspiring to have an 82-year-old hard on your heels most of the time.

    Here are the  photographic highlights.



    Don't forget to follow the link below to see the rest of the photos!

    Get lucky at Campos

    Not that sorta 'lucky', silly - coffee lucky!

    Campos has planted five 'lucky beans' on the bottom of branded cups at Campos stockists throughout Queensland and expects all beans to be in the public arena by mid June.

    Business co-owners John Ronchi and Eugene Phua said the lucky beans could be found at any café brewing the brand’s famous coffee from Coffs Harbour to Noosa.

    “Everyone knows of Campos’ popularity in Brisbane, thanks to being recognised by The News York Times, but our presence expands far beyond the walls of our flagship Wandoo St café,” Mr Phuai said.

    “You don’t have to be in the CBD to enjoy a quality drop; our coffee is stocked in 50 coffee shops around rural, regional and metro South-East Queensland so you’re never too far from a Campos coffee.”

    Regional wholesalers include Hard Coffee at Noosa, Stanthorpe’s Olga & Agnes, Refuelled at Wellington Point, Byron Fresh and Beach Stone at Coffs Harbour.

    The five winners of the Lucky Bean Promotion will receive a year’s subscription to the Campos Coffee of The Month.

    Campos Coffee exploded on the Queensland map in 2008 when New York Times journalist wrote that ‘A visit to Campos is worth the 22-hour flight from New York – not to mention a great way to kick the jet lag’.

    To find your local Campos stocked coffee house visit www.camposcoffee.com

    Maggie Beer's new soups


    Soup is sometimes just what I crave on a cold night. Warming and comforting, it fills the spot without weighing you down.

    My favourite varieties are pumpkin, beef + vegetable, pea and ham and a fish soup which I haven't made for a while. My partner thinks the idea of fish soup 'is just wrong' and I'm struggling to find a way to present it that doesn't look like soup - suggestions?

    Anyway I was more than pleased when asked to trial Maggie Beer's new soup range.  Sometimes I want it but I just haven't got the energy to go through the proper process and I've yet to find a soup in a can or a packet that doesn't taste as though it came from one.

    Maggie's soups have that individual flavour that's all to do with good ingredients and proper cooking processes rather than mass production.

    I tried two of the four varieties - Pumpkin and Verjuice with Mascarpone and Tomato, Saffron and Verjuice.


    As a fan of Maggie's verjuice it wasn't hard to like the soups.  The pumpkin soup has a rich, home made flavour with a creaminess from the mascarpone and a slight zing from the verjuice.  The label suggests serving it with a blob of mascarpone (but you could also use cream or yoghurt) and some good crusty bread.  It was delicous and filling.

    The verjuice shone through a little stronger in the tomato soup. The flavour was ripe tomatoes with a splash of saffron spice and the tang of the verjuice.  This also was great with crusty bread and, next time, I think I'll try a little finely shredded basil on top.

    The other varieties are Portobello & Porcini Mushroom with Creme Fraiche, which has hints of rosemary and thyme and Sweet Potato, Pear and Ginger which is next on my list to try.

    The container easily feeds two people for a filling meal.

    Find it at Black Pearl Epicure or at your local deli.

    Black Pearl Epicure 
    6 Baxter St, Fortitude Valley (07) 3257 2144

    Sunday, 16 May 2010

    Tasty bits - bmag April 13

    Hilton Brisbane Masterclass Weekend 24 & 25 July

    Bookings have opened for the next Hilton Brisbane Masterclass Weekend.

    Chocolate, cocktails, pastry, pork from head to tail,  blending spices and Queensland seafood are just a few of the subjects that will be covered in the inspiring program that makes up this year's Masterclass.

    Held over the weekend of July 24 and 25, this is the event that first brought world famous chefs Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Nancy Silverton and Gordon Ramsay to Australia.

    This year the leading overseas chefs are Michael Caines from the UK who has two Michelin stars for his restaurant Gidleigh Park in Devon and Susur Lee from Toronto, names as one of the top ten chefs of the millennium alongside Pierre Gagnaire and Ferran Adria. Baker Peter Reinhart from the USA will join Masterclass to demonstrate the intricacy of handling sourdough.

    Each day offers six hours of sipping and supping with some of the best chefs and winemakers.  You can do one or two days, depending on your stamina. See the full program.

    Top of my list is a class with Adriano Zumbo, creator of the pastry challenges for contestants in the 2008 Masterchef series.  He has a bag of goodies for those attending his session to take home - yum!

    I'm also lining up for Thomas Schnetzler's Lindt chocolate class which includes a tasting of an amazing selection of petit fours and a take home gift bag of Lindt chocolates.

    But I'm starting the day by discovering

    Since I've developed a fondness for tapas, it only seems right that I also find out a little more about Spanish wine. Christopher Cannan is presenting a tasting of the Emilo Lustaur range of sherry and Scott Wasley, a major importer of Spanish wine, will explain what tapas to eat with which wines.

    As if that wasn't enough wine and food, all sessions at Masterclass include morning and afternoon tea and lunch.  A two day ticket costs $595 (10 sessions) and a one day ticket $350 (five sessions). Tickets are available from Ticketmaster

    Congratulations to the sponsors of this event - The Courier-Mail, Singapore Airlines, Queensland Government and many more.  Good work!

    Share this with your friends

    Saturday, 15 May 2010

    Paniyiri Cooking Program

    Spanakorizo. Kourabiethes. Loukoumathes.

    You may have difficulty pronouncing them, but that’s not a problem when it comes to eating them!

    Queensland’s signature celebration of all things Greek, the famous Paniyiri Festival will this year celebrate with the biggest ever Paniyiri Greek Cooking Program yet, featuring My Kitchen Rules culinary bombshells Tanya and Gen, and winners Shadi and Veronica.

    Upstairs in The Greek Club during Paniyiri the secrets behind Greek gastronomy will be revealed, with free sweet and savory demonstrations all day Saturday May 22 & Sunday May 23.

    On Saturday May 22 at 3pm at Paniyiri, Brisbane My Kitchen Rules contestants Tanya and Gen will be Keeping Traditions Alive as they demonstrate how to cook Yemista (or for those non-Greeks, Stuffed Tomatoes and Capsicums). Then, it’s over to My Kitchen Rules winners Shadi and Veronica to cook up a Greek storm on Sunday May 23 at 2pm using ingredients of the Mediterranean and bringing them together in Greek Cuisina with a traditional Greek flavour.

    As well as a few famous faces, there will be demonstrations on how to entertain Greek style, how to create traditional Greek cuisine, preparing low fat Greek goodies, how to make traditional Greek sweets and more.

    Paniyiri NAB Cooking Program
    Where: Greek Club & Convention Centre
    When: Saturday, May 22

    12.30pm Litsa: Experience a traditional Greek welcome and how to entertain Greek style

    12.45pm Mary Skarparis, Antonia Tambakis and Eva Diamond: How to cook up a Greek Banquet

    1.30pm Anna Stephanos: Pastelli (Sesame nut and honey sweet)

    2.pm Sarva Argyrou (Chef and Fashion Designer) and Tammy Vallis: Puffalicious – Loukoumathes

    3pm From Channel 7’s My Kitchen Rules, contestants Tanya and Gen, together with The Greek Clubs

    Head Chef Yianni: Keeping Traditions Alive – Yemista (Stuffed tomatoes and capsicums)

    4pm Kathryn Zigenbine: Galatabouriko (Greek custard delight

    4pm Desi Carlos (Nutritionist): The Mediterranean Diet - Tyropittes & Spanakopitt

    When: Sunday, May 23

    11am Litsa: Experience a traditional Greek welcome and how to entertain Greek style and Voula James:

    Baklava and Masourakia (nut rolls)

    11.30am Nicky Nicholas: Haloumopittes

    12.15pm: Irene Cayas: Vegetarian recipes from Asia Minor

    12.45pm Chrissie Demetriou: Bougatses and Galactoboureko

    1.15pm Maria Piperidis: Tilexhti (Filo twisted nut scroll)

    2.pm From Channel 7’s My Kitchen Rules, winners Shadi Veronica: Mediterranean Greek Cuisina with a traditional Greek Flavour

    3pm Sarva Argyrou (Chef and Fashion Designer): Traditional cabbage Rolls and a special preview of his Couture fashion

    4pm Desi Carlos (Nutritionist): The Mediterranean Diet – Low fat Spanakopita and Tyropita; The Three Teachers Mary Skarparis, Antonia Tambakis and Eva Diamond: Eliopitta (Olive pastries)

    The Paniyiri Main Stage in Musgrave Park will host almost 20 hours of entertainment over the weekend including the return of Greek Dancing with the Stars with special guest judge Mark Wilson; appearances from Greek Goddess Effie and the return of Greek singing sensation Maria Maroulis; Grape Stomping, Olive and Honeypuff Eating Competitions and Hellenic Dancing and Zorbathon.

    Paniyiri 2010 Fast Facts

    Date: Saturday May 22 & Sunday May 23, 2010
    Time: From 12pm on Saturday and 10am on Sunday
    Location: Musgrave Park & The Greek Club, Edmondstone St, South Brisbane
    Entry: $8 Adults (13+), $2 Aged Pensioners, Children free
    Info: www.paniyiri.com.au or 07 3844 1166

    Thursday, 13 May 2010

    Be my guest - Sally Lynch of Taste Trekkers remembers mushrooms

    This is another installment in E,d+bK's Thursday series "Be my guest - my most memorable meal".



    Today's guest is Sally Lynch, a passionate cook, a dedicated cooking teacher, a kooky tour guide and a food fanatic.  Sally moved to Brisbane from Melbourne in 2002 for a year and she is still here! She has run restaurants, cafes and wholesale food manufacturing businesses and has been able to travel the world while doing it. She now follows her passion for amazing and exotic ingredients, kitchen gadgetry and sharing her food discoveries from around the world with others. Taste Trekkers is an ecletic mix of all these things.

    Sally travels back in time to her first memorable meal.


    The Great Memorable Mushroom Meal


    Memorable meals are varied and are not just about the food but the smells, the people, the place, the time in your life, the temperature, the tan (ok – maybe not the tan, but when I picture myself back eating these meals I always have a hot tan!) and of course, the amazing food.
    Sally Lynch


    My first memorable meal experience - that I actually knew was going to be a meal memory- was when I was in my early twenties and I was travelling with a friend in Perth.



    The night was balmy, the company Perth establishment, the restaurant expensive (name long forgotten), the tan golden after a day on the beach.

    No menu selection required, the food was just delivered - the most amazingly simple but delicious field mushroom was served first up. It was the size of a side plate and had simply been grilled with slivered nutty garlic, fruity olive oil and fresh fragrant thyme and sliced into chunks but left as a whole. The taste was earthy, fleshy and fresh – I can still remember the mingling of flavours and the taste of love that came from the deft hands that had skilfully prepared this simple mushroom.

    I have, through my travels, had many memorable meals on the streets in Vietnam and on the pebbled alleys in Italy and on various beaches the world over - since then and possibly many before the great mushroom meal. However none really had as much impact on me as a cook as this single gorgeous mushroom.

    It was this meal that I understood the importance of fabulously fresh ingredients handled with love and simplicity and the impact that they have. It is a lesson and a memory I have never forgotten and use daily.

    Wednesday, 12 May 2010

    Fairy Cakes at Togninis


    It was too early in the morning but I just couldn't resist this oversized cupcake at Tognini's Trattoria in Spring Hill.

    It's a regular buttercake with a very decadent white chocolate cream filling and a dop of raspberry jam to make the angel wings. The cream on the side is totally unnecessary.

    Bottom line: Matched with a strong coffee, this would make a great afternoon tea sugar hit.

    Tognini's Trattoria
    Spring Hill Marketplace, Cnr Turbot & Boundary Streets, Spring Hill p3831 5300
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    Tuesday, 11 May 2010

    Jonathon M Patisserie, Coolum, Sunshine Coast


    I was driving back from Noosa to have afternoon tea with my mum.

    Driving down the scenic coast road past Perigian and Marcus Beaches, I was lucky to discover this delightful patisserie, smack on the main road in the heart of Coolum Beach.

    Jonathon M Patisserie is located in a strip shopping centre on the David Low Way, opposite the beach. As I was taking the afternoon treats, it was a real find.

    The biggest problem here was chosing which treats to take home.  I solved it by buying a selection of the peit fours for us to sample.

    According to the sign on the wall, all the goods are baked fresh daily on the premises using quality local  organic produce, and they certainly tasted that way.  The individual treats were full of flavour and a party in your mouth.


    Bottom line:  I'll be returning here for more.
     
    Jonathon M Patisserie
    Element On Coolum, David Low Way
    Coolum Beach. p 5446 5820

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