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Showing posts from 2008

The Chelsea

The Police Barracks is really starting to get a buzz. Several eateries were open after we ventured out from the movies the other night and people were getting into the swing of dining in the central mall. The Palace Cinema is in full operation and such a pleasant experience incomparison to the multiplex at Indooroopilly Shoppingtown which was strewn with rubbish on my last visit. And it's cheaper!

Just around the corner, a snip past Coles but before the Hogs Breath Cafe, is The Chelsea. It's Steve Ackerie's new thing and it's very smart inside, with lots of mirrors, plenty of wood and a heap of banquette seating. Outside there are tables both around the cafe and in the mall area.

The coffee is Merlo and very good and the menu offers some interesting choices ranging from sandwiches to light meals, mains and sides.

A couple of items in the light meals section captured my attention. Like the sound of Chilli fried squid with watermelon cubes and caramelised lemon or brusc…
A Bush Tucker Christmas was the theme for a festive celebration last night at Taste for the Love of Cooking, the fabulous cookware store in the Valley.

Taste queen Jodie Macaulay organised a wonderful setting with food by StephaneBremont from Tukka Restaurant matched by Australian wines chosen by Darren Davis of Purple Palete.

We started with a Native platter - a selection of emu and kangaroo meats with native berries, fruits and spices. This was a wonderfully surprising combination of new flavours. No qualms from me about eating Skippy!

The main was a seared medium rare fillet of kangaroo with braised veggies and a roasted peach. It tasted as good as it looked. For dessert Stephane rolled out lavender and finger line creme brulees with chocolates flavoured with native Round Leaf Mint - a winning combo.

The kangaroo we ate was MSA graded and came from North Queensland as the marbling in Queensland kangas is richer than that in NSWkangas. Go Queensland!

A highlight of the evening was Mic…

Tropical fruit update

.An updated Australian Tropical Foods website - www.australiantropicalfoods.com - has just been launched to promote and market the amazing produce and products from the area and heighten the awareness of tropical food and wine. If you've got a question about tropical fruit, this is the site to find an answer.

Scenic Rim bonus

The good folks at Scenic Rim Tourism have taken up the challenge tough economic climes pose for the traditional Christmas holiday and come up with a $100 voucher towards your next holiday break.

The Scenic Rim is an often overlooked area of south east Queensland and it shouldn't be. So close to Brisbane, yet so rural in aspect, the area includes Boonah, Kalbar, Aratula, Moogerah, Harrisville, Peak Crossing, Rathdowney, Mt Barney, Maroon and Queen Mary Falls. This area has beautiful scenery and is rich in gourmet food, wine trails and scenic drives showcasing local history, artists, music and our feathered friends

Scenic Rim Tourism Inc is offering $100 off your next holiday break which can be claimed by visit their website www.scenicrimtourism.org.au The voucher is valid to 31 March 2009 and the website includes all the details.

Accommodation participating includes:Zengarra Country House and Pavilions at Lake Moogerah, Wiss House at KalbarTuckeroo Cottages at Rathdowney, Spring Creek…

Luscious cherries

Wow! I've just been eating the most delicious cherries courtesy of the Granite Belt growers. They arrived in a pack with a heap of other goodies which were also delish. I'm a little too old to wear cherry earrings, but was still thrilled to find not a double, but a triple in the bunch.

The cherry growers have given me some good tips on how to eat my cherries at their best - keep them cool, keep them dry and loosely packed in a closed container in the fridge and leave the stems on to maintain freshness.

Here's a cherry recipe that sounds delicious -
Goats cheese and rocket salad with cherry dressing
(4 servings)
Ingredients: 4 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, Salt, Pepper, Sugar, 8 fresh cherries, pitted and quartered, 300g rocket, 50g pine nuts, 300g fresh goats cheese in a log, 3 tablespoon cornflakes, 2 teaspoons oil, 3 green onions, finely sliced

Method:
In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar and mustard to make…

Shiraz on the Granite Belt

No, this isn't another new wine, it's a great new restaurant.

I first sampled John Rogers' cooking when he prepared a special meal for a group of guests at the Girraween Environmental Lodge. It was fabulous food and the question on everyone's lips was 'why aren't you running a restaurant'.

Well just over a year and a half later I was able to once again dine on a fabulous feast prepared by John at his restaurant Shiraz at Ballandean which has been open 10 months. It's on the main highway so you can't miss it.

John has a thing for seafood and great connections so his seafood menu is always very special. I started with a dozen freshly shucked Coffin Bay oysters with lemon and cracked pepper which I not so graciously shared with my partner. Few things come between me and a good oyster.

This was followed bywinter 2008 Seared scallops, truffle oil potato, coriander salsa, leek, salmon caviar, a dream combination of all my favs. My partner chose winte…

Don't get too excited!

The Police Barracks might be doing business but there still a long way to go before some of the best stuff opens. Expect to find Coles (with lots of bargains), Fierra (one of my favs), Honey Birdette and the Palace Cinema open. There's also plenty of bargains at WoolworthsPaddington as shoppers flock to try out the new Coles. Nothing like a bit of competition.

The cinema has stunning views over the city and there are some tables where you can enjoy a coffee or a glass of wine and gaze across the city. A new must I think, especially for visitors!

The cinemas are very nice but still waiting on some finishing touches, like wall paint! There are ladders handy for when they get around to that.

I heard that the green grocer and butcher who are located in the actual Police Barracks heritage listed building, won't open until Jan or Feb next year.

Salt opens at night!

At the risk of becoming a little Salt centric, I have to report that Salt at Rosalie is now opening at night. This will disappoint fans of Sings next door who will have to wait longer for a table, but Salt fans are rejoicing at the prospect of enjoying their favourite dishes at night. I recently sampled the crispy duck's breast with soba noodles and enjoyed it, while my very fussy partner was raving about the salmon with mashed tatties and his favourite asparagus - a nine he said!

Dessert, always too hard to resist at Salt, was equally fab. My choice of white chocolate pancakes was a real sweet tooth treat - pancakes with white chocolate inside and pouring chocolate to go over the top from new owner Mario Perna's personal list. My partner's chocolate pudding with choc pouring sauce went down equally as well.

Pop down and see for yourself - soon.

Find it at 5 Nash St, Paddington p 3367 0775

New Tweed Farmers Market

I've been fond of the food offerings found south of the border in the NSW Northern Rivers area for a while. Apart from fabulous bananas, there's some great local coffee. With the opening of the Tugan bypass, this area is even closer to Brisbane for day trippers and now there's a farmer's market.

The Domain Casuarina Farmers Markets will be held on the first and third Saturday of the month with the first official market kicking off on Saturday, December 6. It will feature produce personally selected by Domain Catering’s Executive Chef Greg Pieper (of Bamboo Restaurant + Bar). Under the shade of the Sandbar + Grill courtyard, market lovers can discover Farmer Dave’s famous free range lamb, taste artisan cheeses from Burringbar, and cook up a storm with the freshest seafood from Warren Markwell. There will also be freshly cut flowers, quality brewed coffee and top quality organic fruit and vegetables. The markets will run from 8am – 11am at the Sandbar + Grill…

Accomodation Creek Cottages

Our recent trip to the Granite Belt included two nights at Accommodation Creek Cottages. Located just a few minutes drive from Ballandean, the cottage was a perfect antidote to a stressful city week. Curious kangaroos surveyed our arrival and kept us company, from a safe distance, over the weekend.

Inside our cosy cottage was a well equipped kitchen, sitting area with television and dvd and a cd player. There was even a coffee machine and a stash of coffee in the fridge.

Coming from sultry Brisbane, it was a surprise to discover the night was just cool enough to light the fire - in November!

The fridge included some fine Granite Belt produce - local cheeses from Granite Belt Dairy, condiments to match and some wonderful strawberries, cherries and apricots. How long since you have bitten into an apricot and juice has run out? Suttons Apple juice and gourmet yoghurt from Toowoomba were the finishing touches. There's even a barbie in the back yard!

The bed was comfy and the robes th…

Lemon Tea Cake

I couldn't resist buying some lemon butter when I visited Jamworks on the Granite Belt recently. They have a huge range of condiments, jams and sauces, so it's hard to make a choice but there's just something about lemon butter that really does it for me. Now I'm torn between enjoying it in little tarts with a dollop of cream or making a lemon tea cake from the recipe supplied by Jamworks. Here's why....

Lemon Tea Cake
Ingredients...
1 cup Self-Raising Flour
1/2 cup Castor Sugar
60g Butter
1 Egg (lightly beaten)
2-3 tbsp Jamworks Lemon Butter

Method...
1: Preheat oven to 180c. Grease and line 17cm baking tin
2: Sift flour and mix in sugar��������������…

Isis closing for revamp

Well Jason's leaving and Isis is closing for a revamp! There's only a short time to get your Isis fix before Simon Hill and Rachael Duffield close the doors on December 25 for what they are describing as a complete refit. No short term reno here! Expect to see the place open again some time mid year.

Find it at 446 Brunswick St Fortitude Valley, p 3852 1155 www.isisbrasserie.com.au

The Barracks opens

Hooray! Finally after what seems an eternity, The Barracks at Petrie Terrace is opening on Thursday. I'm just as excited about the new Coles (boy am I sick of the parking ticket system at WoolworthsPaddington) as I am about Chelsea, which is a restaurant and wine bar being opened by Michael Hoare of Cirque Café in New Farm. There are lots of other food outlets, a Swiss ice- creamery and the Centro movie theatre group. Also opening are Honey Birdette and Coaldrakes amongst others. It's way too exciting.

New at Salt

There's a new face at the helm of Salt at Rosalie. Mario Perna, who also owns Cafe di Moda at Stones Corner is the new owner and Rhett Allen is still head chef. The menu has changed a little and the bug and prawn skewers with mango salsa are a stand out. Also worth a try is the Chilli Crab and Chicken Linguini. Mains range from a reasonable $20 to $27.

Mario says he doesn't plan to change much - a good thing as the restaurant has a devoted band of regulars. However he is planning to open nights leading up to Christmas and perhaps again in the new year - stay tuned for updates.

My Salt favourites include the Caramel Banana Pancakes and a Berrocca for those self-inflicted mornings when only that will do :(

Find it at 5 Nash St, Paddington p 3367 0775

African Rhythm & Reds

Wow! What a way to get a crowd moving! From the pit helmet groupies to the baseball capped mini teen, they were up and strutting their stuff at Rumbalara Estate Wines on the Granite Belt on for African Rhythm & Reds.

Mike and Bobbie Cragg of Rumbalara were returning to their African roots with a music, food and wine event where you can eat, drink and dance to an African rhythm. It started with African drum and dance from Rhythm Connection as plates of Mandela's Sticky Chicken Wings, Xhoso Imifino Patties, (East African Parcels filled with coriander, onion and tomato) and Malawi Mbatat Cheese and Sim Sim Balls (delicious sweet potato, cheese and sesame seed balls) flowed through the crowd. The kitchens opened for the evening meal from 5.30pm s eat as much as you like of Umbako (traditional Xhosa pot bread), Moroccan Lamb, Ethiopian Doro Wat (spicy chicken breasts) and Kenyan Vegetable Curry. New vintage Merlot and Shiraz was available straight from the barrel. For dessert lo…

Jamming it up at Jamworks

I've found a new love - Jamworks' Spicy Fig Jam! I can't live without it smeared across a cracker with a nice sharp cheese. Peter Ingall (pictured left) from Jamworks likes it on his cheese sandwich with a spot of lettuce for texture.

I discovered the Spicy Fig Jam at the Granite Belt market at Southbank where Jamworks had a stall. I'm looking forward to trying some of the other unusual condiments and jams they produce including Boysenberry & Black Muscat Liqueur Jam,
Blackberry & Chilli Jam, Lemon and Nutmeg Butter,
and Mushroom & Walnut Relish.

Jamworks jams and preserves made using locally grown produce where possible. You'll also find real fruit ice-creams and Devonshire teas, coffee and cake at their Stanthorpe store. Find it 10 km south of the Stanthorpe Visitor Information Centre, on the corner of Townsend Road and the New England Highway at Glen Alpin. www.jamworks.com.au

Blue to Ballandean

Leeanne Gangemi was very excited at the recent Granite Belt Market at Southbank. She was busily sticking blue-gold labels on Ballendean's 2008 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc ($16.50) that had just arrived from the Sydney International Wine Competition. The blue-gold medals are judged on wine matched with food.

Inspired by the fresh produce available on the Granite Belt, Ballandean Estate are now producing their own range of preserves, all available at the cellar door. Look for nectarine and fig chutney, onion jam, chilli onion jam, spicy tomato relish and maple apple jam - yum!

Find Ballandean Estate on Sundown Road at Ballandean. p 07 4684 1226. www.ballandeanestate.com

Hats off to Brisbane's top restaurants!

The Brisbane Times Good Food Guide was launched last night in the Queensland Terrace at the State Library. Got to say this is becoming one of my favourite venues - the mirrored ceiling reflecting city lights and rows of collectable china are just too fabulous.

I was one of several reviewers who ate their way around Brisbane for the Food Guide - yes it was a tough job but someone had to do it. All reviewers were anonymous and paid for their meals so you can trust the advice.

Congratulations to those who received hats. Two hats were awarded to Urban, E'cco, Isis, Restaurant Two, River House and Vanitas. One hat was awarded to 1889 Enoteca, Absynthe, Baguette, Bar Alto, Berardos, Era Bistro, Fellini, Lurleen's, Montrachet, Muse, Peppers Spicers Peak, Restaurant Rapide, Ricky's, Sono, Spirit House and Wasabi. Chef of the Year is Craig McCabe of 1889 Enoteca, Restaurant of the Year is Urbane and Best Wine List went to Restaurant II.

Best New Restaurant is Pearl Cafe. Simon Thom…

Muesli magic

I've always regarded muesli as a health food, so that's my excuse for indulging in Dello Mano's delicious breakfast treat. It did have some crispy bits that looked suspiciously like bran but the overall flavour was decadent with delicious choc chips as only Dello Mano can. The ingredients list includes Belgian chocolate chips, coconut, vanilla and dates all lightly toasted to create a very special weekend indulgence. It's available on their web site and makes a wonderful breakie for two. (250gm for $10.)

If you are looking for a special gift for someone, Dello Mano's Rise and Shine ticks lots of boxes.
It includes Dello Mano Belgian Chocolate and Date Toasted Muesli (250g), a bottle of Dello Mano Roast Hazelnut and Chocolate Spread (as the Italians do - perfect for toast!), 2 chocolate bars of Dello Mano Belgian Chocolate Luxury Brownies and Campos coffee (250g) ($56).

Find Dello Mano at Jan Power's Powerhouse Market, at selected retail outlets and online at
ww…

Granite Belt heats up Southbank

Brisbane turned on a scorcher for the third Granite Belt Market at Southbank today. Coming from the cooler Granite Belt climate into a hot humid Sunday was a stretch for some stall holders, although Sue Smith (pictured right) from Pyramids Road Wines was holding up well, but the visitor turn up was once again high with a steady flow. A wide assortment of wineries including Ballandean Estate, Symphony Hill, Pyramids Road Wines, Casely Mount Hutton and Granite Belt Highlands Winery were serving samples to eager punters who also were lapping up their special offers.

Pureheaven was there with some of their extensive range of natural skin care, Granite Belt Dairy had plenty of cheese on ice, Jamworks was showing a huge array of preserves plus there was home made cannoli and other Italian delicacies from Mary's Kitchen.

It's a long break until the next Southbank Market in March next year, so if you need to stock up on something in the meantime it will mean a trip out to Stanthorpe -…

Shot of Granite Belt Spice

Bridging the gap between city and country, the third South Bank Growers Market will showcase fresh gourmet delights from the Granite Belt region on Sunday November 16 with over 40 stalls flaunting farm fresh fruit, vegetables, cheeses and wine.

Sri Lankan born Val Rence from Shot of Spice has been blending her homemade curry spices she was a child with family recipes passed onto her by her parents. Val also incorporates produce from the Granite Belt into her dry curry powders and wet curry pastes.

The dry curry powder is gluten free and has no heat in it so it can be used for those who love the taste of curry but not the heat. You can always add chilli if you like. The wet curry paste incorporates chilli and is ideal for convenient, quick curries. All you do is marinate and sauté with coconut milk for a delicious home cooked curry. There's also a date and lemon chutney as well as an eggplant savoury delight.

Apart from the Farmer's Markets, Shot of Spice is available at s…

Nude food unveiled

The lovely Lana made her debut last night at the Granite Belt Nude Food Trail launch. With an annual fruit and vegetable turnover of $130 million and Queensland's acknowledged wine capital, the Granite Belt is well placed to be at the forefront of culinary tourism.

The trail map shows visitors how to find 20 local producers with their opening hours. There are seven categories: eating out; wild things; fresh produce; local meats; savoury staples; sweet moments and events. Journey out to the region and you'll probably find even more places to stop as the trail concentrates on operators who are open at least four days a week and mainly seven days a week.

It includes a list of what produce is being harvested during spring, summer, autumn and winter. Keen foodies will love the 'wild things' and hunt out wild Asparagus and wild Fennel. The foundations have beenlaid for the production of Saffron and Truffles as well..

Granite Belt also is a proven area for Almonds, Carrots,
Ch…

Hot at Iceworks

Wow, the new Iceworks has taken off with a bang. I went there on Friday night with Natascha and Kaye after the Nude Food launch and it was standing room only in the front Iceworks Bar, Dining, Lounge, which opens up onto Latrobe Terrace. The crowd was mixed and obviously enjoying the new setting. Down the side in the Dowse Bar the guests were younger but it was much less crowded and noisy.

We took one look at the crowd and headed to the rear and Peak Fine Dining where chef James Williams, ex- Restaurant Two, is turning out some great food. The prices are fairly steep - $24 upwards for entrees, around $35 to $45 for mains, desserts $16.

As we had filled up on some fine Granite Belt food entrees were enough and we all opted for one - the salad of ocean king prawns and mud crab with candied fennel and an orange cardamon dressing. It looked good (see the photo) with the crab as a thin layer that looked like a slice of bread. The prawns were excellent with that sweet/salty flavour and firm…

Snaps to Peter Howard

From the man who gave us ABC days (anything but chardonnay days) we now have 'carrot footprint'. In a play on carbon footprint, Peter neatly encapsulated the advantages of eating local at the launch of the Granite Belt's new Nude Food Trail.

"For too long we've considered it progress to buy peaches or strawberries out of season. Actually, it is a madness to pay a premium for food that has probably travelled great distances. Not only is taste impaired, but the 'carrot footprint' with some of these items is incredible."

Peter says start eating seasonally, buy local and do your body and your wallet a favour. I can't help but agree! Congratulations Peter Howard!

Congratulations also to locavore Alison Walsh for her persistance in sticking to a 100 mile diet for the whole familyas outlined in her story in today's QWeekend magazine. Along with Natascha Mirosch, Alison was inspired by the book 'The 100-mile Diet' by Canadians Alisa Smith and J…

Nude Food

I'm off to the Good Food Show at the Brisbane Convention Centre to see what's on offer. There's a strong contingent of Queensland producers showing this year so I'll enjoy talking and tasting my way around the show. I'm particularly interested in the new Nude Food trail being launched by the Granite Belt tonight. Hopefully I can show you some photos of this soon - probably food rather than people shots. :)

Street Smart

With the festive season fast approaching it's nice to think about giving back and what better time than when you are dining out enjoying yourself with friends.

For the six weeks in the lead-up to Christmas, StreetSmart partners with restaurants to ask diners to make a small donation to StreetSmart on their bill. Every table is asked to add $2 or more to their bill, not even the price of a coffee or mineral water. It’s a simple idea that adds up to a big impact on the lives of people who are homeless.

StreetSmart is a unique bridge between the community and small, grassroots agencies that assist people experiencing homelessness. They support critical services and emergency aid as well as projects that promote social inclusion, empowerment and sustainable change for people who are homeless. When money is raised from the public through Streetsmart fundraising events, 100 per cent of donations are distributed in the form of grants. To date, over $485,000 has been raised and distributed…

Zuchinni flowers

Ever wondered where those delightful zucchini flowers on many menus around town come from? It could be from Owen and Kim Jago's Landsborough farm. They started growing zucchini flowers about three years ago and now supply restaurants from Brisbane to Melbourne, including favourites such as Gianni's Gusto, Manx, Ecco, Restaurant II and Mondo Organics.

I last enjoyed zucchini flowers at Gusto where they were filled with a delicious lemony goat's cheese that oozed out. Do give them a try!

Matt moves into Brisbane

The gossip is that famed Sydney chef Matt Moran bought Pier Nine last week! It's a big restaurant in a prime city riverside position. Certainly will add to Brisbane's dining options and flattering that another Sydney chef thinks the Brisbane market is worth exploring. Can't wait to taste the food!

Christmas goodies

I know it's scary, but I've just seen Christmas trees at the supermarket. Before we know it, we'll be hearing Christmas carols on loud speakers till our ear drums hurt! But the good thing about Christmas is a whole new range of goodies that we can indulge in because, of course, it's tradition and it's Christmas!

I tasted some of Judy C's Christmas creations recently and they get my thumbs up. Her chocolate rum balls are excellent, different from my family recipe which is just a well, but nicely moist and fudgey with a good hint of rum. Her fruit mince tarts are great too. Just the perfect mouthful with a cute star on top. Judy also has gingerbread houses, Christmas cup cakes, puddings and cakes. Pop into her Ashgrove store and place your orders.
Judy C ph 3366 9222. www.cakesbyjudyc.com.au

Granite Belt Farmer's Market

I couldn't make the first Granite Belt Farmer's market as I was in North Queensland exploring the food trail between Townsville and Cairns. Think tropical fruit, mud crabs, local cheese, black tiger prawns, local beer, the best meat pies and Black Angus steaks.

However my friend and food guru Alison Alexander went for the weekend and reports that the market was small but very good with excellent fresh broad beans, peas, baby silver beet and leeks (yum!) and lots of other vegies. Ian Henderson was there with his vinegars and verjus, and there was some lamb from just outside Stanthorpe. She found excellent pork snags from the local butcher (the Italians in the region were full of praise for them) and some outstanding wildflowers from a commercial grower – large bunches of incredible variety of eucalypt blossoms and nuts, Geralton wax etc.

On Sunday Alison wandered through the muscat vineyard with Leeanne Gangemi picking wild asparagus. It grows in the Ballandean area a…

Culinary journey through Vietnam

Here's something not to miss if you love Vietnamese food! Black Pearl Epicure Cooking School is running a Culinary Journey through Vietnam with Tracey Lister on 23 October. A well known chef, Tracey and her husband Andreas Pohl have recently released a book that tells of their experiences living and working in Vietnam at the KOTO restaurant, a charity that trains disadvantaged and street kids as chefs. Tracey will be sharing age-old recipes from Hanoi street stalls. Cost $140. Bookings ph 3257 2144, www.blackpearl.com.au

Black Pearl, 36 Baxter Street, Fortitude Valley.

Granite Belt goodies

Those who love regional, seasonal produce should head to the gardens of the Stanthorpe Civic Centre tomorrow, Sunday 12 October,for the first Granite Belt official farmers' market. Trading doesn't begin until a sensible 9am so everyone can have a lie in, and the centre will be filled with producers of food, wine and pamper products, plus a heap of organic produce. Look for the 'buy me I'm a local' signs.

Organisers plan for the market to run until 1pm, unless they sell out earlier, and many stall holders will be offering the opportunity to try before you buy. Amongst the vendors will be producers of tofu, cheese, vinegar, pesto and other gourmet items, plus fresh fruit and vegetables. A butcher and a number of award-winning wineries and lavender producers will complete the line-up.

If you can't make it to Stanthorpe, the next 'away market' will be on Sunday 16 November at South Bank from 10am. www.granitebeltwinecountry.com.au

Sassy Sassafras

Quirky and cute, Sassafras is a well loved café on Latrobe Terrace at Paddington, just opposite Paddington Central.

Filled with miss matched, rickety chairs and pre loved tables, it reeks of olde world Paddington atmosphere. I sat on a chair that reminded me of my less comfortable school days.

The menu is full of gluten free, organic and vegetarian options and generally offers healthy choices. Our picks were roast pumpkin fetta and spinach lasagne and a BLT bacon, lettuce, tomato and chilli lime mayo on panini with rice salad. Both were nicely presented and tasted great, although my panini was a little on the crisp/burnt side. The coffee was good – hot and well flavoured.

There’s a great courtyard out the back and a thin strip down the side, or tables inside where it is air conditioned. The only downside is a lack of staff awareness. Do I really want to hear comments like “When you’ve got a moment to scratch your bum, can you…” yelled across the room. Especially when some staff memb…

You know you want it

Sometimes a slice of cake is just too hard to resist. Take a look at this hazelnut, mocha, meringue and sponge stack from Togninis - yes it tastes as good as it looks. Actually it tastes even better as it looks very rich but is delightfully light with a good sprinkling of crunch from some toasted walnuts. Do yourself a favour and try it, but don't even look in the cake cabinet if you are on a diet - it's too hard to resist. I tried it at Togninis Spring Hill but you'll probably find it at Milton and the State Library as well. Enjoy!

Palazzo Versace

Ever wondered what it's like inside PalazzoVersace? I've stayed at a few of the Gold Coast's great hotels but not this one, so I was pleased to be allowed a little wander around. It's certainly grand, very lavish, and very Versace. Interestingly, the guests still looked like normal folk!

PalazzoVersaceopened in 2000 as the first Versace hotel. Apart from it's over the top decor, the hotel also gained fame from the untimely death of Dubai's Crown Prince SheikhMohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum in 2006.

The images show a Superior room ($480 per night) , and the lounge and bedroom area from the Imperial Suite ($3500 per night).

The main restaurant, Vanitas is very highly regarded by some of Brisbane's best palates. According to the locals, Le Jardin, which takes a prime spot in the hotel's foyer, is a great spot for drinks and snacks. There's live music to enjoy in the evenings and Sunday afternoons.

On the deck at Vie Bar and Restaurant is another place favou…