Cake Star, Albion

Cake Star has been on my 'must visit' list for a very long time but always eluded me.

Today I finally made it through their door and boy I'm glad I did - it was really worth the effort - cupcakes that are definitely worth the calories!


Jandals, Clontarf

The decor is quirky but the welcome is certainly warm at Jandals, opposite the beach front at Clontarf on the Hornibrook Esplanade.

And if the name sounds familiar it's a hint to the owner's New Zealand heritage - jandals is the New Zealand name for sandals or thongs.


Can you find a wine match for cupcakes?

A good cup of tea or a kick ass coffee are my usual beverages of choice when I'm indulging in a cupcake.

But if I wanted to match my cupcake with a wine choice, but what would it be?

Master of Wine, Peter Scudamore Smith came to my rescue with these guidelines.

Peter says start with the anatomy of a cup cake-sponge (butter, slippery stuff/fat) which is complemented by sweetness/sugar in the icing or cup cake body, plus flavouring.

Dry wine is incompatible to the combination of sweet cake, and with the drying out effect of wine, the flavours are all out of sync.

Instead Peter recommends a sweet cake plus sweet wine match because of the high acidity behind the sweet wine will sooth the match and create palate harmony. As well, the acidity in both the cake ingredients and the sticky highlight the cake taste.

Which sticky? Well staying close to home, Barambah Wines in the South Burnett has a sticky is made by a using traditional techniques. Barambah Wines have built a series of drying racks to wither the grapes and make a artisan-style sweet table dessert wine.

Yummy - sounds just what I need for my next cupcake degustation!

Here are Peter's tasting notes on the wine -

2009 Rack Dried Semillon 375ml  RDSem09

The Semillon for this wine was hand-harvested from some of the South Burnett's oldest and highly-acclaimed grape wines grown on the dependable Barambah Wines vineyard.

This wine - from an outstanding 2009 vintage was made from portions of rack and vine-dried semillon grapes. Using the Italian passito method, the grapes were re-fermented with dry semillon wine and aged in French barriques. The balanced sweetness and full-bodied sweet wine flavours of this ancient style are high-quality hallmarks of this mature Barambah Wines vineyard.

You can buy Barambah Wines online at
Find out more about wine matching at Peter's


Monty's Chocolates, Paddington - closed

Last night I enjoyed a chocolate extravaganza with Steve Sheldon of Monty's Chocolates, Paddington as he led us on a tasting through some of his new products.

Decorating his store at the moment are some of the largest Easter eggs I've ever seen. Steve says he's taking one home for Easter for what has become a Sheldon family tradition. One of his children will get to break the egg on Easter Sunday and then the family will share it. Last time it was cracked on someone's head - what will be the method this year I wonder?

Several of the new treats are rather large chocolate hits - to large to be consumed at once. As Steve explains these made a perfect family treat that can be eaten by a crowd or over several days (depending on your chocolate eating style!)

Of course all this chocolate eating advice comes from a man who starts and ends each day with chocolate!

Here's what Steve has in store -

Hand made chocolates from Rococo - think rose, lychee and raspberry covered with chocolate conched for up to 100 hours or a banana and thyme combo that will rock your socks. Also on the plate was a chewy salted caramel with a heavy, buttery fudge choc caramel flavour highlighted with a tang of salt.

A highlight of the evening was a slither of the Francios Pralus Cubissime - a perfectly boxed, gold-covered solid moist cube of chocolate with the subtle crunch of nuts

You'll never look at a caramello egg again once you taste a L'artisan du chocolate creme de la creme egg. The rich yellow 'yolk' interior is flavoured with apricot and mandarin in the dark chocolate egg and passionfruit in the milk chocolate egg - divine.

And I'm one step ahead of Steve - he's waiting till Easter Sunday to taste the new nougat slice with freeze dried raspberries. I can tell him it just melts in your mouth with the intense, full flavour of my favourite fruit - raspberries. Yum!

Bottom line: Find all this and more at Monty's.

Monty's Chocolate,
155 Latrobe Tce, Paddington, p 3369 3135

Easter cake - colomba

Here's another way to celebrate Easter with food - the traditional Italian Easter cake the ‘Colomba’ - a dove-shaped cake that symbolises peace.

The Colomba (‘Dove’) symbolises the role two doves played during the battle of Legnano in 1176, won by the common Lombardi against the emperor of Germany.


Chocolate crunch cake - recipe

Want to celebrate the royal wedding but not up to making a multi-tiered fruit cake with flowers of the four home nations and the couple’s initials?

Make wedding cake number two instead!   Chocolate crunch cake is William’s favourite and just too easy.

It is seriously rich though, so this cake will feed the multitudes.  Nigella Lawson describes it as a simple but tasty pudding.

I thought it looked a bit plain when finished which is why I popped a flower on top.  You could do something fancy with white chocolate or chocolate swirls for a great effect.  I’d also recommend serving it with a raspberry coulis and/or some whipped cream for drama and to break it up a bit.  (It’s a lot of chocolate).

Chocolate crunch cake

    * 4oz/110g margarine/butter
    * 300g milk chocolate
    * 400g tin condensed milk
    * Large packet of rich tea biscuits or digestives or half of each
    * (Optional) 15 Glace cherries (chopped) (I added more because I like them)
    * 2oz raisins (I added more here as well because I like them)
    * variety chopped nuts ( I used pecans)


   1. In a large bowl crush the biscuits, or even crush them your own way

   2. In the bowl stir into the biscuits: the cherries, raisins and nuts
   3. Melt together in a pan the margarine, condensed milk and half the bar of chocolate

   4. Pour the chocolate mixture over the biscuit mixture. Stir well until the crushed biscuits are all coated

   5. Line a tin, basin, OR box with greaseproof or parchment paper. Pour the mixture into it
   6. Freeze for at least 2 hours or until needed. When needed take out and leave for 2 hours
   7. Melt the remaining chocolate and spread on the top of the cake

   8. Cut into pieces and serve


Easter cupcakes and cake pops

Like to know how to make cupcakes like these?

Hop along to Taste for the Love of Cooking in Fortitude Valley this Saturday (April 16) and join the freecupcake and Easter Pops class.


Soaking up the good life in the Barossa

Last year I was whisked through the Barossa for a taste of the Barossa Vintage Festival which is held from April 21 to May 1.  The program is jam packed and worth a visit but if you can't make it then the Barossa is a great destination at any time of the year.

My story on the trip was published in Jetstar's Inflight Magazine, April edition.


Sheer luxury - that's the way to see Bali!

Probably my favourite trip of all time was last year's stay in Bali.

It was a return to an old stomping ground with a new partner who also shares the love of this part of the world.

I'm back there in a heartbeat!

The story of my adventure was published in The Sunday Mail on April 10.

Here are links to my previous Bali posts

Nourish Cupcakes, Eagle Farm Market

I was excited by the idea that Brisbane now has another weekly fresh market but overjoyed when I received an email from Margaret Cunningham with exciting cupcake news!

Margaret, like myself, was a huge fan of the sadly missed Nourish on Racecourse Road. Ness and Carlie's cupcakes really evoked that old fashioned taste of cupcakes from my childhood.

Saddened by the shop's closure, Margaret approached the sisters to see if they would be interested in selling the cupcakes on a wholesale basis.

The result is that Nourish cupcakes will now be available every Sunday at Margaret's market stall, Maggie Mays Cupcake at the Eagle Farm Markets.

The sisters will be busy cooking the cakes through the night so they will be nice and fresh for collection early on Sunday mornings. (Glad I'm not the baker!)

The Eagle Farm Market is located at the top of Racecourse Road and opens from 8 am to 2pm. Maggie Mays Cupcake stall can be found in the St Leger building.

Margaret says she is really looking forward to having a Nourish cupcake again and so am I!

With 100 stalls, Eagle Farm Markets will offer seasonal fresh fruit and vegetable produce as well as a selection of seafood, meats and poultry. Other stalls will sell freshly cut flowers, plants, arts and crafts, clothing, accessories, home d├ęcor, sweets, baked goods as well as gourmet and deli items. Car parking is available off Lancaster Road, through Eagle Farm’s main gates.

Bottom line : Nourish cupcakes were amongst my favourites in Brisbane.


In season this week - April 12

The cooler weather has seen an improvement in vegetable quality this week with beans, cauliflower, carrots and broccoli all good value.

New season washed potatoes have fewer marks while dirty, red and the gourmet potato varieties, such as Dutch creams, pink eye, kipfler, nicola and King Edward are eating well.

Tasty bits from bmag - April 12


Is the Easter bunny hopping your way?

Chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner? 

Not the best dietary habit but at Easter it is not just accepted, it is almost expected.

If you have to eat that much chocolate it should only be the best and one of the places you’ll find it is at Bittersweet Chocolate Boutique at The Barracks.


Prawns for Easter - Producer profile

It's nice to find a silver lining in the recent floods - the local seafood market is set to make a comeback in time for Easter with some impressive quality stocks being yielded from Moreton Bay and Mooloolaba catchments. 
“Popular fish coming in season include local spanish mackeral, whiting, mahi mahi, swordfish and tuna from Mooloolaba,” said Dave Cooper from Princess Charlotte Seafoods who trades at Jan Power’s Queen Street Farmers Markets. “Wild caught barramundi  and long line catches are also coming into season now from Bundaberg.”


Fresh produce market update - April 5

Brisbane Produce Market fresh
produce report: 05 April 2011

The change of season has meant the entry of new season fruits, including pomegranates and custard apples, but be prepared to pay more over the next few weeks until more stock becomes available.

Bananas, raspberries and passionfruit are firming in price.  There are plenty of great tasting, cheaper fruit options available including a large variety of plums, persimmons, table grapes, red and Granny Smith apples and great value pears, with Williams being the popular pick.

New Queensland Food Fellow

A big congratulations to Alison Alexander who has been appointed to the inaugural role of Queensland Food Fellow.

Alison has been a strong supporter of Queensland produce for many years and has a finger in so many Queensland food pies it's hard to keep track! 


Ricotta stuffed truss tomatoes

Our strange weather conditions have caused a lot of mix ups when it comes to fruit and vegetables lately, think bananas @ $12 a kilo and rising!

But it’s not all bad news - there’s an oversupply of truss tomatoes at the moment which hopefully will make shoppers smile.


Easter at Vanilla Pod, Ascot

It doesn't just have to be chocolate and more chocolate at Easter as these cake pops and cupcakes from Vanilla Pod at Ascot prove.

Carla at Vanilla Pod has launched cake pops for Easter in what she believes is a first for Brisbane. These are hugely popular in America and tipped to overtake cupcakes.  Have you seen them elsewhere?