Food dreams - dining on the edge

It feels like the edge of the world but actually you're just sitting in the dining room of Peppers Ruffles Lodge  & Spa which is perched on the edge of the Gold Coast Hinterland. This is gourmet travel at its best.

It's one of those places where you really can't help sinking into the beautifully comfy beds and relaxing at the dining table over a well cooked meal.

They have a rejuvenating weekend of yoga, day spa pampering and gourmet dining experiences coming up on 26-28 October. The two-day ‘Finding Balance for Healthy Living’ event  is designed to help guests achieve a balance between a healthy lifestyle and a busy life, plus embark on  a Gourmet Food Trail discovery of fine local food and wine.

Priced from $744.50* per couple per night, the event package includes two nights accommodation in a Garden or Chums Spa Villa, a fresh fruit basket on arrival, full breakfast daily for two people, a three-course candlelit dinner at Ruffles Restaurant on one evening, a 60 minute full body relaxation or deep release massage for two people at Ruffles Day Spa and an assortment of mind, body and soul experiences on Sunday 28 October.  I've been to the spa - it's gorgeous!

There's also yoga sessions, a degustation lunch and champagne and canapés at the retreat’s poolside gazebo when you arrive.

Ruffles Restaurant recently won the ‘Restaurant in a Hotel / Motel / Resort’ category for the Gold Coast at the 2012 Savour Australia™ Restaurant & Catering HOSTPLUS Awards for Excellence – Queensland.

For those who can’t make the weekend event, Peppers Ruffles Lodge & Spa has a Gourmet Food Trail Package

Disclaimer:  This is not a paid post, just a thank you for a lovely weekend I enjoyed a few years ago at this property.


5 tips for having your cake, eating it and fitting into your jeans

Amanda Bowen enjoying a chocolate almond croissant in Paris
Balancing the scales, the dinners out and the gym is a constant battle when you are a food writer.

I was brought up to never leave anything on my plate - 'think of the starving children in China' my mother used to say.

Well the children are no longer starving in China, that's for sure, and I'm not either but leaving good food on my plate still is hard.  My daughter says that eating food just because you should is the same as treating your body like a waste bin.  Thanks for that V Diddy!

I 'met' Amanda Bowen on my Facebook page when she asked me for a High Tea recommendation in Brisbane, so I know she likes good cake. (Amanda went to the Sofitel and loved it)

Amanda is a weight-loss consultant, blogger and speaker based in Brisbane.  Her approach is coined ‘weight-loss for hedonists’. She works with women who love food, but hate elasticised pants (me).  She advocates all the things that diets generally don’t: champagne, cake and celebrating life.   

These are her top five tips for having your cake, eating it, and fitting into your jeans:
Food - Naughty- Gluten Free, Dark Choc Walnut  Brownies

Respect the cake

1) Sweet treats and alcohol need to be treated with respect. Have them to celebrate good times and always share them with the people you love. Eating cake by yourself on a Tuesday night usually spells disaster. Using food or booze as a salve when you’re feeling low sets up an unhealthy relationship with these vices and will generally make you feel worse.

Food - Naughty- Croissant and dark chocolate pudding-cake (Amanda made it!)

Only the best will do

2) If it’s not amazing, don’t eat it. Have you ever had a bite of cake, a biscuit, macaron or crème brulee and it just wasn’t as good as you’d hoped it would be? Leave it. There are brilliant, shining examples of your favourite treats in this world and you deserve the best.

Food - Naughty-ish -Pork Belly  - Comfort at my Table, Milton

Own it!

3) Acknowledge that you are eating something beautiful, and enjoy it. I have often been guilty of ‘just having a slither’ of cake, and then just having five more slithers! It’s more enjoyable if you own it, cut yourself a piece, sit down with a cuppa and exclaim over how freakin’ good it is with your cake companions. If you are prone to ‘accidentally’ eating half a cake, go with cupcakes or individually wrapped items. Then you have to consciously choose to have seconds, thirds and fourths, rather than mindlessly chipping away at a slab of caramel slice or your son’s pirate ship birthday cake.

Food- Nice- Pho at Pho 99- Inala


4) If you know you have a degustation, high tea or other special meal coming up, consider a little compensation to minimise the collateral damage. You can take measures either before or after the indulgence: have an energetic workout the morning of, eat light and clean foods for a few days prior, or go for a nice, relaxing walk after the event. Walking after a big meal might be the last thing you feel like doing, but it’s a lovely habit to forge as it aids digestion, minimises fat storage and can be a very pleasant way to round off an evening.

A friend and I love to go to the West End markets every Saturday to get veggies, drink honey-spiced lattes and eat haloumi wraps. Trick is, we workout at 7am and hit the markets at 8. We’re starving, everything that is earned tastes twice as good and it makes for a very happy start to the weekend indeed.

Food- Nice- Slow Roasted Lamb - a regular at our house

Ditch the leftovers

5) Love entertaining? It’s a lovely excuse to get friends and family around, and to share good food, wine and frivolity. Problem is, the host is often left with leftovers. I love any excuse to bake an apple pie, make a batch of buttercream cupcakes or a decadent cheesecake, and a single piece isn’t too dangerous. However, leave that pie in my fridge for two days, and magically it disappears, only to reappear on my thighs several days later. It’s the difference between 500-800 calories, and 4000-5000 over the course of several days. Christmas is an especially deadly time for this. So I say, enjoy it on the day and get rid of the leftovers. Send them home with your Mum, neighbour, or unsuspecting friends. They can share it with their families and so the cake-joy spreads further, instead of your waistline.

However, despite all of these tactics, if I could make one recommendation to foodies, it would be get on out there and move! Make exercise a habit and not only will you get all of the physical and mental health benefits; you will enjoy your food even more!


Thank you Amanda!

To me Amanda makes a lot of good sense.  This is the way I like to eat anyhow, I just need to be better at it.
If you like food and eating, but don't like elasticised pants, I hope this helps you your journey. Find out more about Amanda here

Disclaimer:  This is not a paid post.  Sharing food love also comes with the responsibility to share good eating messages  and I think this is one of them. Enjoy.


James Street Epicurian Adventure Oct 15 -20

Take a plunge down the culinary rabbit hole from October 15 – 20 and find yourself on an epicurean adventure with The James Street Food and Lifestyle Trail, an inaugural event showcasing the ever-expanding food, fashion and lifestyle precinct in the heart of Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley.

The James Street Food and Lifestyle Trail will meld internationally acclaimed designers with world-class chefs over a series of intimate events, culminating in a large-scale festival with fresh food stalls, tasting stations and pop-up bars on Saturday October 20.


Bucci Ristorante will open the festivities with An Evening with Pepe Saya and Pangkarra (Mon, 15 October), a four-course dinner and demonstration that will provide guests a unique opportunity to interact with head chef Shaun Malone alongside his favourite producers.

“With such a strong focus on fresh produce at Bucci, we want our customers to explore some of the techniques and processes that have gone into creating the dishes. Guests can expect to learn how Pepe Saya’s hand-churned butter adds that extra flavour kick that they have come to know and love!” Shaun said.

Scrumptious Reads

Enhancing each guest’s knowledge of food and wine is a key trend that will continue throughout the week. As well as An Adventure in Tea and Food Pairing with the Specialty Tea Institute’s only certified speaker in Australia, Scrumptious Reads will be hosting the launch of The 2013 Foodie’s Guide to Brisbane.

Author of The Foodies’ Guide, Karen Reyment, said “James Street is such a vibrant food hub in Brisbane with many new food and wine destinations to explore, so hosting the launch of the Foodies’ Guide during the Trail seemed to go together like crackers and cheese.”

One such notable introduction to James Street has been Gerard’s Bistro, who will showcase its signature fusion of European, African and Middle Eastern cuisines with a five-course degustation (Wed, 17 October) and a variety of live cooking demonstrations at a pop-up stall in Gerard’s Laneway (Sat, 20 October).

Free brunch bites will be featured from 10am at Gerard’s Laneway, giving guests a snapshot of the newly launched breakfast menu, followed by a presentation by head chef Ben Williamson on the art to the cooking the perfect suckling pig.

For more information on The James Street Food and Lifestyle Trail, visit - program of events

Disclaimer: This is not a paid post - just sharing food love. 


Le Bon Choix, Paddington

Did you say cake?  With shelves and cabinets overflowing with sugary treats that look almost too special to eat, Le Bon Choix at Paddington has plenty of happy customers.

Positioned on the corner of Given Terrace and Great George Street, this old Commonwealth Bank building has never looked so good.  It's so shiny white inside it almost hurts your eyes and I'm glad I'm not responsible for keeping that gleaming floor clean.

Le Bon Choix has been wowing pastry lovers in Ascot and Brisbane's CBD for several years.  Their wares are a visual as well as taste delight.

Inside their display cases you'll find a wonderful assortment of cakes and pastries to eat there or larger sizes to take home. There are danish pastries, muffins, donuts,croissants, macarons, eclairs and wonderful little delights known as Lucie and Miroula.  How they create some of these treats is beyond me but eating them is pure pleasure.

Savoury treats include baguettes and rolls, with a selection of quiches and pies in various sizes.

There's also a large choice of freshly baked  bread, an option which has been missing from the Paddington precinct for a while.

Open from 7am, this is a great spot to grab a coffee and a croissant on the way to work.

Bottom line:
Le Bon Choix translates to 'the best choice' and I'd have to agree their offerings leave me feeling well satisfied.

Best tip:
Parking will be a challenge here in busy periods.  Be prepared to park and walk which will give you a chance to work of some calories and peruse the many great shops in the area.


Create eye candy and win $500 - simple

Here's some inspiration to help you come up with a suggestion that could win you a $500 Woolworths Gift Card and a jar of eye candy.

Time is running out - competition closes midnight September 27.

“How would you use baby capsicums to create an ‘eye candy’ recipe? Tell us in 25 Words or Less” competition. Win a $500 Woolworths Wish Gift Card PLUS one jar of Il Bello Rosso® baby red capsicums and Vine Sweet Minicaps® baby capsicums PLUS an assortment of sweets valued at $750.

Leave your comment here.

Email your suggestion to me at by midnight September 27.  You can only enter this competition once and must have an Australian metropolitan delivery address for the prize delivery.

Here's a visually stunning feast of carnival colours and flavours. Recipe created by Andrew Mirosch, executive chef at Sirromet Winery, Brisbane.

Capsicum carnival

Serves 18.
Prep Time: 30 minutes.


6 yellow Vine Sweet Minicaps® baby capsicums
6 orange Vine Sweet Minicaps® baby capsicums
6 red Vine Sweet Minicaps® baby capsicums

Olive Cream Cheese Filling

150g cream cheese
8 black olives, seeded
1 tsp chopped basil

Chilli Lemon Cream Cheese Filling

150 cream cheese
1 red chilli
Juice 1 lemon

Beetroot Cream Cheese Filling

150g cream cheese
100g cooked beetroot

Preparation Instructions

Laying each of the Vine Sweet Minicaps® on their sides, slice off the top quarter and scrape out any seeds. Discard.

For each of the fillings, place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Place olive cream cheese filling in a piping bag and pipe into red capsicums.

Place chilli lemon cream cheese filling in a piping bag and pipe into yellow capsicums.

Place beetroot cream cheese filling in a piping bag and pipe into orange capsicums.

Assemble around a platter to serve.

Lick my plate

This dish of Smoked ocean trout, crisp oyster, crab and tapioca salad, parsley at Tank, CBD, was a little drama in it itself with the steps involved in serving it adding to the enjoyment of dining.

See below how how the plate transformed several times before myeyes, engaging with a delicious smoky aroma and the visual delight.

Congratulations Chef Alastair McLeod on a fine creation - definitely a five star 'Lick my plate'.

Disclaimer:  This is not a paid post, simply a great meal.

Larder 2, Teneriffe

There are times I wish I was a Teneriffe local and could walk out my door for a coffee at Campos, breakfast at Sourced Grocer and lunch at Larder 2.

If you are a regular at Larder 2, which is the little brother of much loved Little Larder in Moray Street, New Farm, you'll know that a fire put the cafe out of action for a few weeks recently.

Good news is that all is back up and running and apart from the plain ceilings (they used to be decorated with street art) all is normal.

Chef Jay Holland has stocked the cabinets with lots of delicious food and tells me that one of the most popular items is a bowl of soup from the daily special hot pot.  I tried Jay's Thai red consume with shredded pork - delicious.

There's plenty of seating both inside and out and the coffee is great.

Jay has plenty of take away meals in the cold cabinet that would be just as great for dinner as they are for lunch.

Find Little Larder 2 at 68 Commercial Rd, Newstead.

Disclaimer:  This is not a paid post


Food dreams - NZ gourmet food trail with Peppers

Every time I visit New Zealand I always end up surprised by the stunning scenery, quality of the food and produce and the ingenuity of such a small nation. 

So the idea of gourmet food trail wending its way throughout the land of the long white cloud taking the best they have to offer is almost irresistible.

"Our seven Peppers properties are located in some of the finest food and wine producing regions in the New Zealand," says Ken Harris, Peppers Regional General Manager.

"So it makes sense that Peppers should combine its exceptional lodgings, love of food and expert knowledge of regional produce to prepare a collection of gourmet escapes."

With locations in Martinborough, Rotorua, Northland, Abel Tasman National Park near Nelson, Christchurch, Lake Tekapo and Queenstown, each Peppers property will showcase the expertise of their chefs and give guests the opportunity to not only taste the finest locally sourced food and wine but to really experience the journey of produce, from the paddock to the plate.

The Peppers Gourmet Food Trail packages provide guests with a welcome Chef's Tasting Plate served in room showcasing local produce; a local food trail map for a self discovery tour of the gourmet surrounds; plus a sumptuous buffet breakfast for two in the resort's on-site restaurant.

Local Food Trail Maps offer a range of gastronomic journeys. For example, in Martinborough visit the Olivo Olive Grove and Ata Rangi Winery; or in Christchurch feast on the local cheeses from grass-fed Banks Peninsula Friesian cows in Akaroa and in Lake Tekapo, sample the delicious ready to eat sushi at the High Country Salmon Farm. And in Queenstown, the team at Peppers Beacon have meticulously chosen their top 10 places to eat amongst the town's plethora of fine dining and family friendly options plus some fantastic spots for a night cap.

A day spent gourmet shopping in the region is finished perfectly back in your room with a feast on the balcony or around the dining table with the day's finds.

Visit for further details of Peppers Gourmet Food Trail Packages available across the seven Peppers Retreats and Resorts.


Paddington Station Coffee House - Rosalie

I want it acknowledged, right here and now, that I resisted a Death by Chocolate Deluxe Milkshake made with Belgium chocolate ice cream.

I also acknowledge that this is only because I didn't see it on the menu before I ordered.

Thanks to Tash for pointing us in the direction of Paddington Station Coffee House which has replaced the Japanese eatery at 151 Baroona Road Rosalie.  That's next door to the Blue Room Cinebar for those who know the area.

I can't work out where the link to the cute train station decor comes from.  Was there a Paddington line with a stop at Rosalie that I don't know about?  Please share if you have some information.

Otherwise the interesting decor is just a fascination assembly of railway decor, and there's nothing wrong with that.  Plenty to look at while you wait for your coffee.

We popped in for a quick afternoon tea and were delighted to see shelves full of house-made goodies.  I found it hard to pick but settled on a butterfly cupcake while V Diddy chose a veggie patty from the cabinet which came with a wonderful salad.  Often veggie patties are too overspiced or laced with onion for my taste buds, but this one was deliciously flavoured and obviously house made.

The lunch menu is filled with lots of light options from sandwiches and open grills to fresh salads. It's easy to find something to fill the spot.

Open from breakfast till evening, Paddington Station also offers some delicious desserts.  Think warm chocolate brownies with chocolate sauce and cream, hot toffee or raspberry waffles, banana and chocolate hazelnut crepes or deluxe sundaes. Home style desserts done well are a wonderful find and sorely missed in this area since Freestyle Tout moved to Emporium.

Bottom line: Perfect for a simple breakfast, light lunch or dinner and don't forget to try the desserts.
Best tip:  Parking in this area can be challenging. Be prepared to walk and choose your times carefully.


Lick my plate - baked eggs in napoli

All my own work here - with a little help from my friends chef Kym Machin and Spring Brisbane

It's hard to go wrong when it all arrives in a kit, including the dish, but boy this tasted good.  Check out the recipe here

Just a simple combo of an egg baked in a delicious tomato sugo with cheese on top but you have to add in a bit of Kym Machin magic.

Disclaimer: Travels of a hungry blogger,  nothing else.


Lick my plate - sardine sambo

This is more lick my platter :) than plate.  Simple but stunning presentation of a 'make your own sardine sandwich' at Double Shot, New Farm.  See the dessert I followed it with tomorrow.

Disclaimer:  Travels of a hungry blogger.

Latest Tasty Bits from bmag

New food news in this edition of  b mag - Due East opens at Gumdale, Sake Restaurant turns pink, Beans on the Green opens at Bardon and Cafe Lacuna opens at Wavell Heights, plus new chef for City Hall is Russell Armstrong.

Click on image below to expand.


Brisbane turns on City of Lights at South Bank

South Bank was the place to be on Friday night with thousands of people out enjoying the mild Spring weather, lining up for performances at the Spiegal Tent and the Santos GLNG City of Lights 8 - 28 September, all part of the Brisbane Festival line up.

A spectacular light, laser and special effects show presented nightly over the three weeks of the Festival, the
Santos GLNG City of Lights plays out along the river bank with plenty of prime positions for viewing.

If you are not up to braving the Riverfire crowds, don't miss out on the towering structures, lasers, searchlights and cascading water that's wowing spectators at South Bank’s Cultural Forecourt.  Next time I'm lining up for a seat in the Santos GLNG Lounge, definitely the best seats in the house, to view the show in all its glory, but I don't think I missed too much from my river bank position.

The free choreographed light plays over the river, bridges, sky and buildings between Kurilpa and Goodwill Bridges seven nights a week, with shows at 7pm and 8pm from Sunday to Thursday. Friday and Saturday nights also feature shows at 7pm and 8pm, with an encore performance at 8.30pm.

You can hear the official soundtrack at the Santos Lounge and it is also broadcast along the South Bank Promenade. The lanterns outside QPAC next to to Santos Lounge are also worth a look. Download the Santos City of Lights map at the Brisbane Festival website.

When: Until 28 September - Sunday – Thursday at 7:00pm and 8.30pm; Friday – Saturday at 7:00pm, 8pm and 9pm
Where:  Cultural Forecourt, The Parklands, South Bank

Here's what I saw -