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Showing posts from July, 2008

Queensland wine

I'm just back from the 2008 Queensland Wine Conference in Toowoomba where I presented a paper on 'How to attract the eye of a journalist'. The weather was bitterly cold but there was a warm welcome and a good turn out of winery owners.

The bottom line is Queensland's wine industry is doing well and has much potential. Currently there are 223 wine companies in Queensland compared to 2645 throughout Australia. When it comes to the crush, 96 per cent of Queensland wineries crush less than 500 tons a year while the big 13 Australian winemakers account for 73.7 per cent. Basically, Queensland is small fish but still doing very well according to the James Halliday Australian Wine Companion released on Monday. James spoke at the Monday night pre conference dinner in Toowoomba and offered a devil's advocate point of view on climate change, an issue of great concern to wineries.

The guide gave Boireann on the Granite Belt a top mark of five red stars which is awarded to less …

Masterclass bargain

There's a last minute bargain available on tickets to the Masterclass Weekend this weekend 26 & 27 July with a 10% discount on tickets. From past experience this is a fabulous weekend with much to learn and taste. You'll feel like you are eating for Australia! See the program here - Masterclass. Book at the Hilton 07 3231 3231.

Thanks Mum!

Is your mum a fabulous cook or do you take your lead from Maggie Beer or Bill Granger? You can nominate the food personality who has most influenced your knowledge of cooking for the inaugural Lifestyle FOOD Channel People’s Choice Award at! Nominations close 31 July.

Go to, view the list of favourite food gurus, and decide who has most influenced your knowledge of cooking. Stephanie Alexander? Margaret Fulton? Lyndey Milan? Nominate your favourite on-line and the reason for your choice. Or, if you prefer, pitch your mother against the top-liners!

Food by Farrell

Royal on the Park, which used to be known as the Park Royal for those old enough to remember, has a new chef and a new menu that promises 'an avant-garde approach to food' and 'modernism mixed with a little orthodox'. Executive Chef and Director of Food and Beverage, Gary Farrell is highly awarded and has lead the Australian National Culinary Team for 10 years.

Gary opened the restaurant to local food media today and served us all a pared down version of his new menu. It was interesting food with a surprising combination of flavours to tickle the palette. We started with a poached free range bullet egg, roasted potato foam, maple bacon chip with caviar, Manjimup truffle souffle and winter mushrooms. Wow - just love those truffles.

Next was Atlantic salmon poached in star anise with big, fat tapioca pearls. I couldn't taste much of the star anise, which is great because its not my fave, but I loved the poached Coffin Bay oyster and Sirromet Rose Essence.

The ballontine…

Cheese finale

I have a confession to make. I forgot to photograph the cheese before I ate it, but it was good. It looked just like a normal brie but a little smaller and had a creamy yellow interior, which was a little firm for my taste. (I prefer it just on the runny side.) Even the fussy people in my house (both of them) ate it and enjoyed it.

My cheese making efforts have left me with a new respect for cheese makers. It requires an enormous amount of patience and follow through to get it right. And a big thank you to Chris Ganzer at Kingaroy Cheese for his great tuition and helpful suggestions throughout.

Zen and the art of tea

When you see the windmill you are almost there. That was part of the directions to find Tokonoma, a delightful Japanese tea house and gallery in the Gold Coast Hinterland at Mudgeeraba. It is run by Margaret Price in partnership with Toshiko Fukuda and includes a wonderful array of changing Japanese art that is worth the trip on its own. However, I was particularly seduced by the wonderful food. Margaret describes it as a Japanese Australian fusion. She has included some distinctive Australian flavours, like lemon myrtle, in her green tea drinks and the results are very impressive. There's a small lunch menu and some wonderful sweets that you just have to try - curry ice cream - sounds foul but is really very good. Black coffee jelly is another that has to be tasted. The Japanese sweets are almost too pretty to eat, but do! This place is really worth a visit. Read more about it in my story in today's Sunday Mail Discovery section.
Tokonoma, 442, Springbrook Road, Mudgeerab…

Click on Q!

Brisbane is the place for food lovers during July as things really hot up for the Brisbane Food & Wine Festival, which includes Brisbane Masterclass, Noodles on Q, Lunch on Q and Click on Q. Marilyn Domenech of Baguette organised Click on Q, a photographic competition that highlights the diversity of Queensland food. The competition winner, Josh Collins “Eat Me, Spaghetti Legs”, has his own photographic gallery at Woolloongabba and the chef in the bath of spaghetti is his sister! Josh won $2000 cash and the five finalists each received a $200 dining voucher at Baguette. The winner and finalists will be on display at Baguette Restaurant, Racecourse Rd Ascot from 24 July to 24 August.

Cheese making day 17

Well it's really looking like cheese now. Today when I opened the lid I got that slight whiff of ammonia that I recognise when opening a camembert sometimes. I am hoping this is a good thing (Help Chris!). I have not planned the tasting party yet but I'm thinking of sampling my wares. It's just over two weeks since I competed the one day workshop at Kingaroy Cheese and the expected maturation time for the cheese is 2 to 3 weeks.

Brisbane Masterclass Weekend

The fast approaching Brisbane Masterclass Weekend on July 27 -28 will be an opportunity to taste some of Queensland’s finest produce. Cooking sessions will incorporate Bethonga Gold pineapples, Stockyard Beef, Granite Belt mushrooms, Banyard Farm quail, Gallozola bluevein cheese from the Atherton Tableland as well as Hervey Bay scallops, custard apples and spanner crabs. Wines from Ballandean Estate and Boireann will also be featured in tastings. Those attending the daily chocolate and coffee session also have the opportunity to win the first release of the Lindt Chocolate cookbook and a year’s supply of Merlo Coffee!

I am looking forward to immersing myself in food for this whole weekend. This is a fabulous event and really should not be missed by any one interested in food. Full program details available on or by contacting Hilton Brisbane on +61 7 3231 3239.

Limes Hotel, Fortitude Valley

Decided to test out the roof top bar at the brand new Limes Hotel in Constance Street, Fortitude Valley on Thursday night. It's on the north side of St Pauls Terrace, just a short walk from the Valley proper. The roof top bar is very sexy with lots of fluro lighting and cute little cabanas that come complete with a couple of cosy rugs for the cool weather. We sampled two cocktails which the obliging bar tender made up to suit our on the spot whims. They were delicious, but at $18.50 each our next drinks will be standard mixers.

The other side of the roof top has an open air cinema which would be a great place for a gathering or function. In fact the whole floor would be a very cool party venue.

We had a peek through one of the compact but very well appointed rooms. The complimentary Dello Mano brownies are sure to be a big hit with guests. The hotel has 21 rooms.

Limes Hotel,142 Constance Street Fortitude Valley. +61 7 3852 9000

Sculpture workshop

My great mate Martin Duncan has just launched his new website for Freestyle Escapes on the Sunshine Coast. Martin, the dessert king of Brisbane with his Freestyle Tout in Emporium, Fortitude Valley, has branched out with something a little different. It's also a good excuse for Martin to spend more time on his farm in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Having been there, I can't blame him. My one day sculpture workshop was fabulous. I rediscovered talents I hadn't used for 20 years, met some great people and had a sumptuous lunch. Freestyle Escapes is now open for business and I can recommend it. If you want to rediscover your creative side or just find out if you have one, this is a good place to start.