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Showing posts from June, 2009

Crab Night at Gianni's

Wednesday night (July 1) is Crab Night at Gianni's Restaurant. Javier and his team in conjunction with Catalina Sounds Wines offer a mouth watering menu themed around the best mud crab, spanner crab, blue swimmer crab and snow crabs the market has to offer. This month the menu is Organic Sweet Corn Soup with Zucchini Flower filled with Snapper & Crab Mouse Spanish Bomba Rice, Lobster Bisque & Spanner Crab, Split Aioli½ Chili Mud Crab and Jasmine Rice Lemon Grass Crème Brûlée, Passion Fruit & Blueberry Compote$95 per person, food only Bookings from 6:30 pm
ph 3221 7655

Where to find the best coffee river view in Brisbane

Where can you find freshly brewed coffee, home made muffins and more, with a view that you could enjoy for hours?

The answer is Brendan's Cafe on the Goodwill Bridge.  It's right in the heart of Brisbane City yet suspended over the middle of the river.

Last Sunday I got out early for a power walk along the Brisbane River boardwalk at Southbank.

There's two hour street parking in Grey Street which is so much cheaper than the expensive all-day parking  in the underground car park.

We headed down towards Kangaroo Point along the Brisbane River but took a short detour on the Goodwill Bridge which connects Southbank and the Queensland University of Technology (my old stamping ground).

Half way across the bridge is what must be Brisbane's coffee with the best view. I'm sure this must be a popular stop with city workers needing an early morning lift as they start the day.

For the rest of the world, there's a couple of benches where you can take a break, drink your co…

Masterchefs of Shanghai Cooking Class at the Hilton

Saturday morning saw me up bright and early heading to the Brisbane Hilton for the Masterchefs of Shanghai Cooking Class organised by Alison Alexander.

Alison is the mastermind behind Brisbane's well organised Masterclass series which will run again in 2010.

Two Shanghai chefs of high renown have been visiting Brisbane as part of the 20th birthday celebrations of the sister state relationship Queensland has with Shanghai. They were also drawing attention to Shanghai as the home of World Expo next year.

The chefs were Fuhua Chen, Deputy General Manager and chef at Shanghai Meilongzhen Restaurant and Kangyi Zhang, Chief Chef from Ya Wang (Duck King) Restaurant Group in Shanghai.

We were treated to a very impressive display of how to carve a Beijing duck - short version - carve the meat with a small strip of the delicious skin attached.

The chefs also enjoyed using local ingredients including Crystal Bay prawns and Murray Cod.
The recipes were fairly simple and after tasting the prawns, I…

Eating scorpions

Today I went to the Hilton Hotel for the Masterchefs of Shanghai Cooking Class. It was fascinating to watch but more on that later.

Chatting with Fiona Donnelly from The Courier-Mail the conversation moved onto eating odd things and the deep fried scorpions I by passed in Beijing came to mind.

According to those who tried them, they were rather crunchy and not unpleasant. I didn't hear if they had any side effects from eating them.

So if you ever wondered what deep fried scorpions look like - here they are!

Brisbane at twilight

I take photographs all the time but it's usually a quick click and then move on to the next item. At the same time I'm asking questions and writing notes - all a bit hectic! That's one of the reasons why it was great to spend last Thursday evening with a group of budding photographers lead by Nick Lancaster of Blue Dog Photography for a Brisbane at twilight session.

It was a couple of hours wandering around Southbank just looking for interesting compositions and learning a few techniques. I certainly picked up some great tips on shutter speeds (thanks Nick) and will be going back for more.

Blue Dog are based on beautiful Mount Tamborine but the workshops are held in a variety of places. If you sign up for a day workshop you could combine it with a night on the mountain - wouldn't that be hard - not!

Find their workshop schedule here -

Best bread and butter pudding - The Chelsea

Recently I enjoyed a progressive lunch at The Barracks, Petrie Terrace, with some media gals. We were treated with food from several restaurants which we enjoyed with much laughter.

The meal ended at The Chelsea, Steve Ackerie's latest project, with a plethora of desserts. Even though we were seriously challenged by our previous consumption, there were some desserts that just couldn't be left half eaten and one of those was a delicious bread and butter pudding.

Steve has generously shared the recipe here so you can recreate it at home or just pop in and enjoy it at the restaurant.

The Chelsea's bread &  butter pudding with dates, pecans & butterscotch

15 slices of white bread, crusts removed
Butter for spreading
4.5 cups of milk
5 eggs
3/4 cup of caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
Vanilla pod
Vanilla bean ice cream
Fresh dates, pitted

Butterscotch sauce
250 ml cream
180 g soft brown sugar
250 g butter
4 tblsp golden syrup

Spread both…

Friday arvo wind down

If you are looking for somewhere to wind down on Friday afternoon, the Sip and Sup club at the Palace Cinema Cafe could fit. There's live music, cocktail specials and tapas platters. Afterwards you can take your pick of the movies upstairs at the Palace Cinema. Find out more at

There's plenty of parking under the centre and the first two hours are free. It generally costs $5 to park to see a movie.

Lady Lamington's Lamingtons

It was a bit weird to be drinking tea at a Merlo coffee shop but my first beverage in the newly opened Tearoom in the recently restored Old Government House building just had to be tea.

I've watched Old Government House for many years. First as a student (the verandahs were a great place for a picnic lunch) and later as editor of the National Trust of Queensland Journal. Old Government House was the Trust's headquarters for many years until it was turned over to the university.

Old Government House is perhaps the most significant heritage building in Queensland. The first public building to be designed and built in the new colony of Queensland it housed the Governor and served as a family home, an administrative centre, and a social hub for the new colony.

It's good to see that the building has been well loved and now is a fine place to reflect on Queensland's history. And forget the nay-sayers, this is definitely where lamingtons were invented!

The cafe is located in …

Top six wines women want

Here's THE list of wines that women want voted by a group of 18 Brisbane women who know wine and love to drink it.

Instigated by Manda Duffy of Wine North and Barambah Wines, the 'Wine Women Want Taste Off' was held in conjunction with Paula Tewksbery's Brisbane Fine Wine Festival scheduled for the Mercure from June 26 to 28. Paula has some seriously good prices on these wines at the festival.

And the winner is -
2004 Chain of Ponds “The Amadeus” Cabernet Sauvignon Adelaide Hills SA - $25.99 / $22.99
2002 Bertrand Devavry Prestige French Champagne,Village of Hautvelliers - $84.99 / $74.99
2005 Shingleback “D Block” Shiraz, McLaren Vale, SA - $52.99 / $49.99
2005 Ben Potts “Fiddlers Block” Shiraz, Langhorne Creek, SA - $31.99 / $27.99
2005 Lake Breeze “Arthur’s Reserve” Cabernet Sauvignon, Langhorne Creek, SA - $32.99 / $28.99
2008 Cassegrain Premium Chardonnay, Tumbarumba & Northern Slopes, NSW - $1…

African queens do bobotie!

Suzanne Quintner, well known for her fabulous dips and condiments and Matilda Scarfe who specialises in South African cuisine will show you how to cook African-style at the Buderim Ginger Cooking School on the Sunshine Coast on June 21.

Originally from South Africa, Matilda has a passion for the foods and flavours of her homeland and retails her own successful product range of sauces, chutneys and pastes that capture the mysterious flavours of South Africa.

Suzanne’s love of African cuisine has crossed over into her professional life and she has been teaching the secrets of North African flavours for nearly 20 years, while also retailing a range of North African-inspired dips, infused oils, sauces and marinades.

African cuisine draws from a melting pot of cultural influences attributed to its location on the spice trade routes and the formation of major trading ports along the African coastline. Dutch, Moroccan, Malay, Indian and Portuguese are just some of the influence…

Brisbane Cheese Awards results

I won't be eating cheese for a while after judging at the Brisbane Cheese Awards on Saturday. It was all white coats and very attractive hair nets so you are not getting any photos!

The tables were groaning with plates and plates of cheese which the judges worked through to find the top cheeses in each section. Congratulations to the organisers for staging a great event.

Here are the results.

Gold medals

Fresh curd
Ashed Chevre - Udder Delights
Ashed Pyramid - Meredith Dairy
Chevre - Udder Delights

Fresh curd textured
Goat Fetta - Emmos Fine Foods
Frisky Fetta - Towri Sheep Cheesery
Federal Fetta - Bangalow Cheese

Fresh curd matured
Edith - Woodside Cheese Wrights
Black Savourine - Yarra Valley Dairy
Chevre Matured - Gympie Farm Cheese

Fresh curd marinated
Marinated Goat - Meredith Dairy
Marinated Chevre - Udder Delights
Marinated Goats - Tarago River Cheese Co

White Mould
Triple Cream - Witches Chase
Kaarimba Soft - Locheilan Farm House
Old Telegraph Road Brie - Jindi Cheese Co

Blue mo…

American Impressionism

You've got plenty of time to view the Queensland Art Gallery's latest show, American Impressionism & Realism which will be at the Gallery until 20 September, but don't hold back. It's an exhibition filled with light and love, paintings that shine and capture the moment with amazing clarity, images that take you there in a moment.

There are many big American names like Sargent and Whister, and many of the much loved Australian impressionists, including McCubbin, Bunny, Condor and Roberts. There's even one of my all time favourites by Vida Lahey,"Monday Morning".

Although I enjoyed just wandering through the exhibition - I'd love to go to The Met Up Late (Friday nights from 5.30 -9.30 pm) which includes a DJ spinning American jazz on vinyl. Book tickets for this through qtix. Full program details at

Sipping history

There were plenty of eager punters ready to have a taste of Penfolds Grange last night at the Taste…For the Love of Cooking ‘A Taste of Grange’ evening organised by Jodie Macaulay

Hosted by wine identity, Darren Davis from Purple Palate, guests enjoyed tasting their way through Australian wine history with an amazing flight of six iconic Australian wines, including a legendary vintage of Penfolds Grange.

Darren told us that many the wines were specially released museum wines that had been perfectly matured – not the sort of thing you get to taste every night!

Darren started us with a 07 Glen Eden Riesling and a lecture on how we undervalue Riesling. It’s a great buy at the moment because it’s so not sexy. The Glen Eden 2007 shows classic Barossa classic style and Darren recommended drinking it with a dozen oysters. Its zesty lime character is the hallmark of good Aussie Riesling, but you could put it down for another 5 -15 years to develop another layer of flavour.

The 05 Cirillo …

South Bank Regional Flavours Market

The inaugural South Bank’s Regional Flavours Market will bring producers and wine makers from across regional Queensland together in one location at South Bank tomorrow, Saturday 13 June, from 10am-3pm on Little Stanley Street.

You'll be able to taste produce from more than 80 growers from the Darling Downs, the South Burnett region, the Granite Belt, Scenic Rim and Gold Coast regions. There will be wine appreciation sessions and fresh produce, meats and poultry, wine, liqueur, coffee and chocolate to buy.

Stallholders will include The Bramble Patch, Sandmill Pestos, Granite Belt Dairy, Sirromet Wines, Granite Belt Highlands Winery, Crystal Ridge Lavender, Barambah Organics, Barambah Wines, Bunnyconellen Olives, Kingaroy Cheese, and more.

Live cooking demonstrations by Peter Howard and other chefs from local restaurants will showcase recipes solely utilising ingredients from the Granite Belt.

Here's the timetable
DishRecipeTime1Granite Belt Venison Sautéed with Bramble …

Women want red, not champagne!

Listen up men, next time you want to win the heart of a woman, don't automatically choose champagne even if it is French!

According to Paula Tewksbury from All About Wine, most men think the “Wine Women Want” is champagne. Paula bases this statement on a fine combination of popular opinion and a small survey in a lift where she got this answer three times from various men.

At the recent “Wine Women Want” taste off, 18 women from media, government, business, wine industry, and tourism choose a red wine as the “Wine Women Want”. It was the same two years ago at the last Brisbane Fine Wine Festival Celebrity Taste where the Tasmanian Josef Chromy Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay was the bridesmaid to the Chateau Tanunda Lyndoch Single Vineyard Barossa Shiraz.

At this year's event a group of women again collectively choose a red wine, this time a Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine in second place was again a sparkling and in fact a French Champagne.

The top six wines chosen …

Grilled again

I've read some favourable reviews of Grilled at Rosalie recently but just can't get enthusiastic. What they are making there is not rocket science so there are precious few excuses for getting it wrong.

My recent order (x 2) of a Grilled Bird 'n Brie - a chicken, brie and cranberry roll with herb mayo for $10.90 is a prime example. The enthusiastic staff put plenty of the mayo, which is seriously good, on one side of the roll and plenty of cranberry on the other. But did they put the brie next to the cranberry - no they put lettuce. The brie went next to the mayo. The result was a seriously mixed up burger that just didn't taste right.

When I commented on the combo arrangement to the staff member checking whether we were happy with our meals, she explained it's all to do with the order the containers are placed in the fridge cabinet.... and it was supposed to be that way! I don't think so.

You might be lucky and they might have rearranged the containers for your…

Coffee and Chocolate

Starting with the name, Coffee and Chocolate has a lot of good things going for it, but not enough to make me go back.

I read a review of this establishment some time ago by Alison Cotes in The Courier-Mail. She wasn't that impressed so I decided to give them some time before I visited. Unfortunately they still have a long way to go.

The good things - firstly that it was till open at 3pm on a public holiday when many other coffee shops had closed - secondly it didn't have a surcharge.

What cheesed me off? As there was no sign saying table service, we joined a queue at the counter and waited a considerable time to place an order only to be told to take a seat. Then we waited again for someone to come and take our order and waited again for the uncomplicated order (bottle of water, cappuccino and a muffin) to come.

While we waited, and waited, and waited for the order, the table next door got theirs and I was very surprised to see a bagel that was seriously burnt rather than toast…

Brisbane Cheese Tastes

The line up for Cheese Tastes on this coming Sunday (June 14) is looking very inviting.

Royal on the Park in Alice Street, opposite the Botanic Gardens in the city, will be full for the day (10.30 am to 4.3o pm) with a very large range of Australian-made cheeses. Cheese producers will offer free tastings of award winning cheeses, plus a wide range of their produce will be available for sale.

The master classes sound particularly interesting, plus there will be gourmet food, beverages, condiments and biscuits for sale. The day includes free education sessions on Fresh, White Mould, Washed Rind, Semi-Hard, Hard and Blue cheeses. Do book early for these.

Cheese producers providing tastings and sales at Cheese Tastes include Fromart (Eudlo, Qld),
Kingaroy Cheese (Qld), Maleny Cheese (Qld), Meredith Dairy (WA), Yarra Valley Dairy (Victoria), King Island Dairy (TAS), Tasmanian Heritage (TAS), Heidi Farm (TAS), Olympus Cheese (Qld), Udder Delights (Adelaide Hills, SA), Ashgrove Cheese (TAS…

Chado (Japanese Tea Ceremony)

Tokonoma Gallery and Green Tea House is a beautiful little place in the Gold Coast Hinterland. It's an art gallery cum eatery designed around a Japanense Australian combo theme. The food is delicious and so artfully presented with Japanese style.

It's the brain child of Margaret Price who has a long history and love of all things Japanese. From June 11, Margaret is also offering instruction on the Japanese Tea Ceremony on Thursday mornings from 9:30-11:30.

Margaret has set up a tatami space in Tokonoma Gallery where students will practice both making and receiving tea while discovering the spiritual and aesthetic allure of Chado. If you would like to get centred and bring more beauty and tranquillity into your life, do give Chado a try.

Margaret has been a practitioner in the Urasenke discipline for 30 years and is co-founder of Chiichanakai (The Little Tea Society) based in Tokyo.

Details: Fee: $20 per each 2-hour session or $60 for 4 sessions paid in advance. One-off regi…

Twice as much - Freestyle Tout, West End

There's no stopping Brisbane restaurateur Martin Duncan who has transformed the corner of Browning, Melbourne and Boundary Streets in West Endwith a second edition of his much-loved Freestyle Tout.

The menu at West End is similar to the one at Freestyle Emporium but the big news here is a large bar which will be a great place to mix and relax. Licensing is still to come through, so wait a week or so before testing it out.

But as always Martin's desserts are the star and chef Nicholas Cooper has come up with a great list. Our choices on opening night were sticky date pudding which had a great ginger twist and a hint of burnt caramel in the luscious sauce.

The lemon tart was pronounced beautifully sharp and the chocolate cake was well appreciated although the newly addicted to 70 per cent coverture lover wished for a bit more bite.

Freestyle has a 'Pronto Lunch' offer to launch the new location. It's a quick $12 lunch special with two fabulous options available W…

When one is enough!

It's not often that I would willingly say that one chocolate is enough - that it satisfies the craving. But today I did. I've discovered the sort of chocolates that are worth the calories. So full of flavour that you're left thinking about the taste long after the evidence has disappeared.

Where are these gems you say? Monty's Chocolates at Paddington is where they can be found. Monty's owner Steve Sheldon imports these goodies by Coppeneur direct from Germany. The flavours I chose were cactus fig, pomegranate, mandarin, cranberry, lavender wild berry and bourbon vanilla.

Of course Monty's has lots of other chocolates that are delicious. Take the time to browse the shelves and you are sure to be tempted. It's also worth checking out the other shops in the strip which include gift/clothing store Green Tangerine and the Paddington Antique Centre.

Monty's Chocolates, 155 Latrobe Terrace, Paddington. ph 3369 3135.

New cheap eats at Baguette

Here's a good lunchtime offer at Baguette - any two dishes from the list below and a glass of wine for $30.

* prawn fettuccine chilli, pernod sauce * coq au vin, mash, mushrooms and bacon * tomato tart, goat's cheese, rocket, basil * creme brulee, pistachio biscotti * tarte tatin of pears, vanilla ice cream Baguette's new larger winter menu begins this week with all entrees and vegetarian dishes under $20, mains from $27-$35 plus five great cuts of meat from the char-grill.

150 Racecourse Rd, Ascot 3268 6168

Peppers pips all

Topping the list of 15 winners announced last night at the 2009 Restaurant & Catering Queensland HOSTPLUS Darling Downs Awards for Excellence at Preston Peak Winery was Peppers Spicer’s Peak which was awarded Best Fine Dining establishment.

This destination venue deserves high praise. I've dined there several times and stayed overnight and can only say it was a totally delightful experience that has been seldom matched.

Peppers Hidden Vale was announced winner of the Best Hotel/Motel Restaurant title which
led them to top gong; Darling Downs Restaurant of the Year 2009. This is another well deserved title. I was very impressed by the food when dining there and the location is wonderful. So close to Brisbane but a real country get away with horse riding and clay shooting options.

Winter pears and cheese

Love these suggestions for combining pears and cheese in the cheese matters newsletter.
The yellow-coloured Williams pear works well with blue cheese, but you also can try a sweet brown BeurreBosc pear with Vintage Cheddar, a juicy Triumph with Camembert or the delicate Red Anjou pear with Brie.Roast pears in a little butter for 20 minutes and serve as an accompaniment to blue cheeses.Layer thin slices of pear, smoked chicken and Vintage Cheddar Cheese onto a puff pastry sheet and bake until golden. Serve topped with rocket.Try a salad of baby spinach with chargrilled bacon, chargrilled pear wedges, Goat's Cheese and toasted walnuts with a light lemony dressing.Poach pears in Sauternes dessert wine and serve with Mascarpone and crushed toffeed almonds.There's also a recipe for proscuitto pears with parmesanwaffers which would make a great light entree.

Crab night

Here's a feast for crab lovers at Gianni’s Restaurant on Wednesday night (June3). A crab night with Ceviche of Spanner Crab, Mediterranean Style & Mini Croutons, Sweet Corn Soup, Topped with Arbequina Olive Oil & Steamed Crab Meat, ½ Chili Mud Crab and Jasmine Ric .

Thank goodness the dessert has nothing to do with crab - Lemon Grass Crème Brûlée, Passion Fruit & Blueberry Compote.$95 p.p It's one of their regular, first Wednesday of the month, crab dinners. Enjoy.

Gianni's Restaurant, 12 Edward St, Brisbane Qld 3221 7655