Friday, 30 September 2011

Shoot the chef

Last night's Crave Sydney International Food Festival cocktail party launch at Zeta Bar also showcased the winning images in shoot the chef.

Hilton Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast

The Gold Coast was bathed in the warm glow of a setting sun as I drove in to stay at the newly opened Hilton located right in the middle of Surfers Paradise's throbbing centre.

I wound down the car windows to soak up the warmth and heard a strange strangled cry that sounded like a Bush stone-curlew, a bird I last encountered on Daydream Island in North Queensland, an unlikely inhabitant for the concrete jungle of Surfers Paradise. Realisation dawned as I looked sideways and saw where the cry actually came from - the overexcited body of a tourist being shot into the air an 'adrenaline' ride.

There's often an air of excitement in the air at Surfers, whether it's the giggles of the girls as they walk down the streets, the wide smile of a surfer emerging from the blue ocean or, now, the pleasure of discovering the unfolding delights of new hotel.

If you want to be smack in the middle of the action you couldn't find a better position than this new Hilton Surfers Paradise, but I would be sorely tempted to stay put and never leave the grounds.

Between the ground floor deli, the first floor Salt grill restaurant, the expansive pool areas and the spacious room balcony there's more than enough to keep me occupied for a few days.

I'm also sure that Gold Coast residents will be equally excited when the discover the delectable food offerings in the deli which boasts an extensive range of cured meats (sliced to order); Australian and imported cheeses; herbs, spices and condiments; Luke Mangan branded products; cakes and coffee and also a reasonable choice of wines.

First floor delights include Luke Mangan's Salt grill (read my blog for the full story) and FIX a retro-styled cocktail lounge which takes its name from the common term for a cocktail in prohibition America circa 1920’s. The  cocktail menu reflects the hotel’s famous Surfers Paradise location with some cheeky twists on styled classics, circa 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s, which are served in vintage glassware.

My room on the 18th floor is really a one bedroom self-contained apartment with everything a holiday maker needs. There's a separate living room with a dining area and compact but fully kitted out kitchen with a fridge, stove top, microwave and oven.

I also like that there is a wide range of hampers for breakfast, lunch, dinner or something else, that can be delivered to your door or you can stock up yourself with freshly cut meats from the charcuterie and your personal selection of cheeses.  Foodie's heaven.

If you can be tempted out of your room, breakfast is served in Salt grill with a choice of buffet and full breakfast options.  I ordered two poached eggs on sour dough and they arrived just to my liking.

Although there was no time for swimming on this visit, I checked out the pool area and was impressed by the spacious lounging areas, the pool bar and the swimming areas.  

Rates at the new Hilton Surfers Paradise start from $259 for a one bedroom residence and from $279 for a hotel room.

Hilton Surfers Paradise,

Bottom line: Room rates start at around $216 per night.

Disclaimer: Ed+bK stayed as a guest of Hilton Surfers Paradise

Kerry Heaney

Thursday, 29 September 2011

The colour of purple... asparagus

It wasn't long ago that we were bemoaning the lack of variety in fruit and veg and presented with shelves of sameness at the supermarket.

Things have changed and there's some new kids on the block that not only look interesting but taste great as well.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Corner Store Cafe, Toowong

One of the highlights of visiting my Grandmother in Ashgrove was the close location of the corner store.

We thought it a treat to walk up the hill and purchase meat at the butchers for dinner and then pop into the corner store for a few lollies in a paper bag.

The Corner Store Cafe replaced a corner store in suburban Toowong but still has a few staples on the shelves, including milk, for locals to enjoy.

Looking around the cafe on a busy Friday morning, I got the impression the only locals where my friends who walked down the street to with me for a coffee.  The place was packed with people tucking into food and enjoying it immensely.

We were only here for coffee and cake, though after reading the menu I did regret my stomach wouldn't stretch to lunch. Reef fish taco, Tiger prawn nasi goreng and Shepherds pie were just a few of the lunch items that caught my eye.

I'd also like to try their Quesadilla, Colcannon potato cake and Belgian waffles on the breakfast menu. It's great to see a breakfast menu with options different to standard fare.

Our order was just coffee, a smoothie, a raspberry muffin and chocolate brownie, which all exceeded expectations.  In fact I'd rate the brownie as very good.

I've seen comments that the service here is patchy, especially when they are stretched, but everything was running very smoothly during my short visit.

There's a large amount of covered outdoor seating in the cafe which is great at this time of the year but is subject to weather variations.  

The Corner Store also gets a big tick for their well tended veggie garden at the back which helps preserve the suburban look.  They also have a worm farm to recycle waste matter - commendable!

The only issue with this cafe seems to be getting a seat, as they don't take bookings, and parking in the local area.  My friends who live close by have experienced people parking over their driveway and so have their neighbours. Nothing explains this boorish and selfish behaviour so I hope the City Council parking inspectors take note.

Oh, and the lilies are very well priced and look great.

Corner Store Cafe is open seven days from 7am with last meal orders at 2.30pm.

Corner Store Cafe
113 Sylvan Road, Toowong. 07 3670 2223

Corner Store Cafe on Urbanspoon

Kerry Heaney

Monday, 26 September 2011

I went to Spicers Canopy and this is what I saw

Tucked up in bed at night in my safari-style tent I'm feeling at bit Katharine Hepburn, minus Spencer Tracey, the gravelly voice, the lions, Africa and any angst.

In fact I'm actually feeling really relaxed and happy with a stomach stuffed with delicious food, several glasses of wine, a fill of good conversation and another day full of promise tomorrow.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Top contenter in the Brisbane Melbourne Cup event stakes is ...

It's odds on that this will be the hottest Melbourne Cup Day event this year - the AEIOU Foundation lunch at Stokehouse at The Parklands, South Bank.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

First date with a foodie

It was only after we had been dating for several months that my partner revealed his dilemma when faced with trying to choose a restaurant for our first dinner date.

Where do you take a food writer for dinner?

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Salt Grill opens in Surfers Paradise

Luke Mangan describes his food as 'simple but well excecuted' and he's right.

It's the sort of food where the true flavours of the produce shine through, enhanced by clever combinations and a minimal presentation - a style that especially appeals me.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Brisbane food Tasty Bits from bmag

Catch up with the latest food news - New foodies guide to Brisbane by Karen Reyment, new chef at the Sofitel, new bar and dim sum house Dragonfly in Rosie's Tavern and more...

Read it in bmag

Monday, 19 September 2011

Short Order - PJ McMillan

Nice to see Brisbane local PJ McMillan on the back cover of The Australian's Weekend APlus section where they now hide my fave food columns.

Finding the now slim section in the massive Weekend Australian edition puts a whole new new slant on Saturday morning entertainment, but it's always worth it to discover Michelle Rowe's Food Detective gems for the week.

PJ  is the owner chef of Harveys Bar and Bistro in busy James Street.  I recently lunched there and enjoyed some wonderful food with a stand out dessert that deserves to be sampled again.  (note to self).

Don't read this post with a hungry stomach!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Baguette Bistro celebrates 35 years

Thirty-five years is a long time the restaurant industry when days often start early and finish late for weeks on end.

It's also no small stretch to keep a business of any sort, but particularly in the volatile hospitality industry, running for half a life time.

So it's a big congratulations to Marilyn and Francis Domenech who last night celebrated 35 years of trading at Baguette Bistrot + Bar in Racecourse Road, Ascot. They are one of a very select group of restaurants who have lasted the distance.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Modern Lebanese at Rouj

Spoilt for choice is probably the best way to describe the dining scene at Nash Street, Rosalie.

There's Indian, Thai, Mexican, Australian, Asian, Indonesian, Japanese, burgers, seafood, ice cream, pasta and more, plenty of seats and some restaurants more popular than others. So when you find a restaurant where there's consistently no vacant seats you know they've got it right.

Monday, 12 September 2011

A taste of luxury - Hayman Island

I'm sitting in a perfectly positioned deck chair gazing out onto palm trees, a sweep of blue sea and one of the biggest pools I've ever seen.

It's the new improved revamped and regenerated Hayman Island in Queensland's Whitsundays, post cyclones Anthony and Yasi.

The gardens are a tropical visual feast filled with bromilides, unusual palms and more designed by garden guru Jamie Durie, but that's only the beginning.

Everything has received a major spruce up and the resort feels like a lux Asian getaway (with distinctly Aussie tones) all just a couple of hours from Brisbane and no international airport hassles.

In less than 10 minutes the Air Whitsunday sea plane whisked us from the airport near Shute Harbour over the azure sea to Hayman Island with an oh-so-smooth flight. We appreciated the extra 30 minutes the flight saved us over the launch and the scenic view of the Whitsunday Island group islands along the way.

The greeting at Hayman was impressive with smartly dressed staff waiting in attendance to guide us to the check in desk. It was a first taste of the luxury to come. 

Walking along the sweeping marble covered walk ways en route to my room I was swamped by memories of lux Asian resorts, but all this luxury is not new, it just looks that way. It's hard not to stop while walking to dinner and admire the gardens which, according to my press release, include 33,000 new plants and 327 new plant species.  To me they look like they've been there for ever and I only wish I had their landscaping budget to buy established plants!

I'm just here overnight on a three night exploration of the Whitsundays but it's enough to put Hayman up there on my 'must return to list'.  Normally my budget doesn't stretch to this sort of luxury but there are some pretty fabulous opening specials out there.  Check the website for deals.

I stayed in a Pool View room which was on the second floor with views over the pool.  With a spacious balcony, plenty of room space and an open bathroom it certainly gave me the holiday feel.  A visit from the resident cockatoo was all the invitation I needed to kick off my shoes and relax before dinner.

Dinner was a very special affair - a Chef's Table - which deserves it's own blog post.

I'll skip to breakfast which was a full treat in itself.  I've never been to a breakfast buffet where wine was included as a standard item.

Nor one where there was an ice cream bar.

The range and quality of the breakfast offering was mind boggling and my only problem was finding space to fit in everything I wanted to try. In true international style there was plenty from several different cuisines to choose from.

When I could drag myself away from the food and the breakfast view, we did a quick tour of the resort and saw some of the rooms.

There are eight fabulous Kerry Hill-designed Beach Villas, overlooking the sparkling Coral Sea. Each features a large private pool in an open air gallery with a day bed, a private terrace and outdoor shower, and a vast bathroom. Villa guests receive a dedicated Butler service and exclusive dining experiences including Chefs’ tasting menus.

All too soon it was time to leave, but even leaving Hayman was done in style.  I've never been greeted with a drink of choice when boarding a boat transfer either but then I haven't been on the Sun Goddess before.  And then there was the little selection of sandwiches and more that appeared to keep us from hunger on our journey home.

But the surprises didn't end there.  On the way back we saw two whales slapping their tails in the sun so joyously their exuberance was infectious.

During the next few weeks, the presence of whales and their young in the warm Whitsunday waters, promises more unforgettable sightings.

Hayman Island

Kerry Heaney

Disclaimer: Ed+bK stayed as a guest of Hayman Island.