Sleeping around - Chile, Coolum or both?

Which would you prefer?  A night in Chile or a night in Coolum? 

Obviously, Chile looks nice James but it's a long way to go for just one night.

However, Coolum is a doddle up the road from Brisbane and so it was an easy choice to hop into the car and head north for A Night in Chile at the recently renamed Palmer Coolum Resort on the Sunshine Coast.

A taste of Coolum is the resort's annual food and wine feista, 'A Taste of Coolum' (June 22-24), and this year the theme was Chilean.  Oh how I wish I could be abducted and taken to the heart of Santiago but the resort's Village Square looked pretty lively for the night.

With highly regarded Chilean pastry chef Wuile Pineda Flores in charge, the feast was full of new pleasures and some old friends. The oysters, mussels, fish and prawns in the Chilean antipasto were fantastico and had plenty of people queuing to sample their delights.

A series of food stations positioned around the square offered soups, empanadas cooked to order at a wood fire oven station, a variety of grilled skewers, roasted pork ribs and beef rib eye fillet, steamed mussels, garlic and chilli prawns.

Wuile's passion for pastries, exotic desserts and sublime sweets was certainly evident at the dessert spread where, to my delight, caramel was a prominent ingredient. There were also delicious churros with a thick chocolate sauce.

Hailing from Santiago, Wuile has worked in some of South America’s leading hotels including one of Santiago’s oldest and most prestigious establishments, Carrera, as well as the Hotel Plaza San Francisco, the Hotel Laguna Marina and the Sheraton and Sonesta hotels. Currently working as a private chef, Wuile runs his own patisserie and catering business specialising in traditional and fine pastry, wedding cakes and functions.

A country blessed with some of the richest soils on earth, Chile has had a long viticultural history, proved by the series of tasting stations offering wines from some of Latin America’s best producers such as Sauvignon Blanc from Casa Lapostolle in the Rapel Valley, Chardonnay from the Casablanca Valley and Merlot from the Colchagua Valley.

We stayed overnight at Palmer Coolum Resort, my first visit here. There was an air of nervousness amongst the staff with the hint of job losses in the air but there's plenty of that around everywhere at the moment. We found everything working very smoothly.

Our room, which overlooked the golf course, also looked recently refurbished and was very spacious with a dining, lounge and bedroom area plus a very large bathroom with a bath, fluffy towels, bath robes and slippers!

Palmer Coolum Resort is spread across 150 hectares of lush rainforest, natural bush and woodlands, with direct access to 2km of surf beach. The resort has a range accommodation choices and dining options and leisure activities that include a day spa, a tennis centre, an arts centre, a kids’ clubs and a par-72 golf course that is home to the Australian PGA Championship.

Friends who have stayed here say it's hard to match the combo of golfing facilities, day spa and beach access - something for all the family it seems.

Disclaimer; E.d+bK was a guest of the Palmer Coolum Resort.


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Foodie news for Brisbane and beyond
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Greetings food lovers,

I've been in the media this week with a story about roadside produce  in The Courier-Mail and a chat on 4BC with Ian Maurice.

News is that the doors to Gerard's Bistro in James Street New Farm are set to open and I'm also looking forward to trying Kettle & Tin in the former Pandemonium site on Given Terrace, Paddington. My spies also tell me (Thank you David Costello)  that Lachlan Scott's Flour and Chocolate Patisserie on Wynnum Road, Morningside, is another one to check out.

I'm buzzing with excitement about this dinner at the Brisbane Sofitel tomorrow night. Le Petit Gateau’s Head Pastry Chef, Pierrick Boyer and Prive's  Craig Napper are hosting a special five-course chocolate-inspired degustation including foie gras macaron au chocolat noir villa gracinda, braised oxtail and bitter chocolate spring rolls, seared salmon. And for dessert - elianza white chocolate bĂ©arnaise, caviar geometry of chocolate textures with pistachio and darjeeling tea sauce.

And this one -  Vintaged Vinters Evening with Brokenwood Wines on July 5. Iain Riggs, illustrious winemaker and managing director of Brokenwood Wines in the Hunter Valley, returns to the Hilton Brisbane for a memorable evening following his last sell-out appearance at Masterclass 2010.

If you are heading to Sydney, from July 3 there will be a MasterChef fine dining 'pop up' outside St Mary’s Cathedral on College Street where chefs Justin North, Martin Boetz, Kylie Kwong, Christine Mansfield, Adam D’Sylva and Giovanni Pilu will strut their stuff.



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Brisbane struts its food cred


Noma style
Domaine Chandon


Where wine flows like water
Happy Little Dumplings


Dumpling heaven
Foxy Drop


The Fox has turned

The Velo Project


The new Mooloolaba
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The Velo Project, Mooloolaba

At last there's an alternative to the same same of the tourist strip at Mooloolaba - The Velo project.

This cafe is very non Sunshine Coast in a good way. In fact those who hail from cold and wet Melbourne or Bondi Hipsters will feel right at home.  But that's not to say that ordinary folk won't like it too.  My mum is taking her book club there soon.

It's hard to drag your eyes away from the decor here to check the menu.  There's so many interesting things to look at - a telephone I remember my grandmother having, a old dresser filled with cute china a teapots, manikins, books and typewriters - it's all there.  The chairs and tables are totally random, motley mix as well.

The breakfast menu reads very well with lots of organic eggs, crepes, fruit salad, croissant with organic ham, and fresh daily muffins. It expands, under the 'some hours later' heading, to include baguettes with delicious fillings and plenty of extras  including side salads.

The Velo Project also offers special food for children at children's sizes at  a reduced price.

We ate from the specials menu choosing a lemon and blueberry muffin with marscapone and a warm crossant with honey roast ham, melted bried and fried egg.  I was wowed by the presentation of my muffin which came heaped high with delicious marscapone.  Unfortunately it needed it, as I suspect the muffin had been cooked a little too long. While the biker's breakfast looked tempting, K2 went for his usual orange and poppy cake from the display cabinet.

The coffee was great.

Extra marks too for the beautiful presentation of the cutlery which came wrapped with a sprig of rosemary.

At the back of the cafe there's a collection of fridges crammed full of produce from farms and gourmet goods. Plenty of cured meats, stocks, eggs, cheeses and even flowers from which to choose .

There are plans to expand the cafe with an outdoor area in the backyard and a wood fired pizza oven.

I heard about this place from my friendly chef Jay who is currently rattling the pans at Little Larder in New Farm.  Thanks Jay, great tip.

Bottom line:  One to check out.
Best tip: Tricky to find unless you are a local.  Consult a map or GPS.

The Velo project
19 Careela Street, Mooloolaba, Queensland 4557

The Velo Project on Urbanspoon


Foxy Drop, Woolloongabba

Perched high above the bar, the fox at the newly renamed Foxy Drop casts a disaproving eye over the premises.

He reminds me of the tiger that used to twitch its tail at the museum when ever my children pushed the button, one of V Diddy's faves.

The Foxy Drop has morphed from the Foxy Bean, a coffee spot on the same site.  It's a bigger, brighter and more welcoming set up with cushy leather chairs and a bar to prop yourself up at.  There's a lot of Queenslander charm with pressed metal for the bar backdrop, decorative arches and VJs of varying colours lining the walls.  The effect is warm and cosy.

I particularly liked the vertical green wall and the pot plants hanging from the ceiling.

The lunch menu I saw still was headed Foxy Bean and I'm hoping they have something a bit more coming as the cafe grows into it's restaurant/bar shoes.  My lunch companion Matthew chose a steak sandwich and struggled to finish it. Great steak he said, but a lot of food.  Sounds like reasonable value for the $17.90 price tag.

I went for a sandwich made with house smoked salmon which was delicious.

We were tempted by the freshly house made desserts on offer - well who wouldn't be tempted by chocolate oreo and peanut butter tart? But I was strong. Drat!

The breakfast menu includes the usual suspects, granola (even though that term is not 'legal' now days), banana bread, avo toast and eggs done a couple of ways.  My pick would be Bushman's Benny which is a savoury mince, poached egg and hollandaise combo. Prices range from $6 to $17 and breakfast starts at 6am till 11.30am unless its the weekend when you can sleep in and still have breakfast until 1pm.

There's a courtyard at the rear which is decked out in astro turf for a green look.  It looks inviting and I could imagine this whole place going off on a good night.

When I visited they were still waiting for a liquor license.

Bottom line: I'll be going back to check the dinner menu.
Best tip:  I think the beer garden/courtyard could be a lot of fun.

Foxy Drop
896 Stanley St (corner Potts Street, East Brisbane
Wed – Sun 6 – late