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Showing posts from August, 2009

Search for the perfect cupcake - Desley Clark's Patty Cakes

Well before the cupcake phenomenon started to take over morning and afternoon tea and just about any time in between, there was a time honoured tradition of baking patty cakes.

Somewhat smaller that the average cupcake, patty cakes have been delighting Australian households with their delicate sweetness for generations. I remember standing at the kitchen table in my grandmother's kitchen while she showed me the finer points of baking. Always keep the spoons level, make sure the eggs are room temperature and grease the pan well were some of her tips to an eager ten-year-old.

If you hanker for the real thing head to St Lukes Anglican Church cake stall on Ekibin Road East every second Sunday from 8:30am to 9am and buy some of Desley Clarke's patty cakes. The church charges $3 per half dozen cakes, but you have to ask for Desley Clarke’s cakes by name and they go in minutes! The proceeds go to supporting ‘The Bush Mission’ for families in need in country areas (Tara and Leichhard…

DI Bella coffee open day

Di Bella Coffee are holding their fourth annual Open Day at the Bowen Hills Factory on Saturday August 29 with food entertainment, barista demonstrations and of course, the alluring aromas of Italian style coffee. Activities include factory tours with Phillip Di Bella as well as in-store home roasting demonstrations. For swimming enthusiasts, former Olympic Sam Reilly will judge the home barista challenge and trivia competitions.

Prawn Pad Thai - Thailand - Bangkok

Day 3 35 degrees
Today's adventure was a guided bike ride through the back streets of Bangkok. It was only 20 km but the 35 degree heat made it seem longer. The trip was eventful and I'll be writing about it in full.

Bottom line: A great way to explore parts of Bangkok that a tourist would normally not venture into. Tip - make sure you wear runners!

Here's another Thai favourite recipe

Prawn Pad Thai
(serves 6)
250g rice stick noodles
2tbs peanut or rice bran oil
20 peeled green prawns, tails intact
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 spring onions finely chopped
1/4 cup (60ml) fish sauce
2 1/2 tbs tamarind concentrate*
1/4 tsp each chilli powder and mild paprika
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 bunch chines cun into 2cm lengths
2 cups (160g) bean sprouts
4 fried tofu puffs* (optional) halved
1/3 cup (50gm) peanuts, toasted, chopped or 2tbs dessicated coconut, toasted
1/2 cup chopped coriander
lime wedges to serve

1 Place the noodles in a large bowl and pour over enough…

How to make great plunger coffee

Here are some tips from Campos in Fortitude Valley, Best Coffee Shop in Australia according to the Lifestyle Channel’s public-voted I Love Food Awards.

Use 10g per 150ml of water or 20g for a 300ml plunger.A coarser grind is preferred, but not too coarse. It should put up soft resistance to the plunger as you push the filter down.Use water a minute or so after boiling, so the temperature goes down to around 95 degrees.Steep the coffee for five minutes..Stir softly before plunging.Pour immediately after plunging.

Bangkok - Thai Green Curry

Day 2 Bangkok 33 degrees One of the delights of visiting Thailand is, of course the food. I've sampled local Pad Thai and Tom Yum soup and both were delicious. The Pad Thai came with a side of pennywort. Here's a recipe for Thai Green Chicken Curry which has been a feature on just about every banquet so far. Thai Green Chicken Curry serves 4 2tbs sunflower oil 2 baby eggplants, halved lengthways, cut into 2cm pieces 2-3 tbs green curry paste to taste 500 gm skinless chicken thigh fillets, cut into 3cm pieces 2 cups (500 ml) coconut cream 2 cups (500 ml) chicken stock 2 kaffir lime leaves roughly torn, plus 2 finely shredded leaves to garnish 125gm fresh baby corn, halved lengthways 2 tbs fish sauce 1 tb lime juice 2 tsp grated palm sugar (see note) sliced red chilli and Thai basil, to garnish steamed jasmine rice to serve Method 1 Heat oil in a wok or deep frypan over high heat. Add eggplant and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes until golden. Set eggplant aside. 2 Add paste to wok and stir briefly. Add…

Granite Belt Nude Food Calendar

First it was Nude Food, the Granite Belt's food trail that takes you throughout the Stanthorpe, Southern Downs area, to all the best foodie places.

Now they are keeping the theme going with a Nude Calendar.

Settle - we're not talking Pirelli here. It's a little Calendar Girls but more just great photos of the Granite Belt, sure to whet your appetite for another visit.

Here are my favs - the cute bare babes (photo Kath Ives) and celery man - gotta luv a man with plenty of celery!

I have been very reliably informed that the man holding the celery is in fact, Peter Harslett, one of Australia's top three celery growers. The photographer was Michele Cozzi, and Peter's wife did approve the photo.

The calendar will be available from the Stanthorpe Visitor Information Centre and various Granite Belt Wine Tourism members for $9.90 from Monday 24 August. They'll also be for sale at the South Bank Growers market on September 20.

Thailand - Bangkok

Day 1, 33 degrees.
I'm here in Thailand for just over a week for a travel writers conference. It's a great opportunity to catch up with all my friends and hear what's happening in the industry.

The flight over with Thai Airlines was a good experience. The late departure, 11.59 pm, meant a night sitting up but we arrived at our destination with a full day to spend exploring the city. The plane food was plentiful and reasonable, in terms of airline nosh, and the staff helpful. Based on this experience I would say fly with them. You might think that with a bunch of travel writers on board any airline would make sure they get it right, however I can tell you from experience, particularly an overnight flight on Vietnam Airlines with a seat that didn't recline (sigh, stamp my foot), that doesn't always happen.

From the window of my room at the Centara Grand Hotel I have a magnificent view over the city including a face-to-face with Bangkok's tallest building. Yes, the…

At Our Table

The Q150 and State Library of Queensland’s At Our Table - celebrating Queensland people, our stories, our food – begins this month with the launch event – The Winemaker’s Story in Stanthorpe.

I wish I could be there on Sunday (23 August) when the Queensland College of Wine Tourism opens their doors for a day of good food, fine wine and tales of the Granite Belt. Local winemakers will be sharing their stories, traditions and techniques to unearth the region's 150 year wine making history.

Chef Andrew Simpson has created a menu inspired by Stanthorpe’s history and they will be releasing the long awaited Nude Food Calendar. Big secret - check E,D+bK on Sunday for the choicest calendar photos revealed!

You can visit the State Library stand and don the white gloves to view precious materials from the Collection including a recently discovered Queensland Cookbook dating back to 1860.

The next At Our Table event is a fine-dining experience - Fresh to the Table - at the Noosa Spr…

Search for the perfect cupcake - Sweet

I've got to admit it. I think the Ferry Road Markets are probably one of my favourite places on the Gold Coast. It's the combo of good food, easy parking, great homewares and flowers, plus an atmosphere that makes me want to linger. Plus it's another option when you are on the coast for the foodie extravaganza - Tastes of the Gold Coast.

My cupcakes hunt took me back into Sweet (boy what was a tough ask, not) where I had to gaze on a carousel of cupcakes for several minutes before I could even begin to select some. I chose ones that are generally popular according to the very helpful person behind the counter, although the decorations change every day depending on the whims of the decorators, some with the attention to detail which only comes with Japanese flair!

Although Sweet has been here for a while the store has been recently acquired by Eric who is a pastry chef and chocolatier. The walls are lined with a great assortment of all types of sweets, including chocolate…

Market in the city

Wednesdays have taken on a whole new meaning in Brisbane's city centre with Jan Power's Farmers Markets transforming the bridge end of the Queen St Mall.

Here's what’s new.

Fresh Hot Smoked
The delicious smell of wood smoke drifts over the market as the Original Hot Smokers prepare Tasmanian salmon freshly smoked on the spot to order, with dill, herb, parsley or chilli from father and son team, Campbell and Ian Green.

The Cheese Tent – All Queensland Softies
Macquarie Banker Carey Krause swaps his pin stripe suit for an apron on Wednesday to present a bunch of softies. The Cheese Tent has a great range of soft Queensland cheese from Kingaroy, Stewart River triple cream brie, and Bunya Black ash brie, and Barkers Creek camembert all running off the plate. The East Brisbane labna is to die for, with chilli and garlic, traditional or sumac.

Gold Coast Fishermans Coop
Straight off the boats at Main Beach, the fisher folk have a full range fresh seasonal fish and shellfish. Thei…

Melbourne my way - accommodation

On our recent trip to Melbourne we stayed at the Jasper Hotel in Elizabeth Street. It's right at the top end, next to the Victoria Markets which was handy for a quick snack in the food hall. The tram drops you almost at the front door and can take you all over the city inexpensively – love those trams.

Jasper was well priced on the internet and was exactly what we expected. Neat, stylishly decorated, well-fitted rooms. The surprise here was the spacious bathroom and large bath which was great for a soak after walking the town – sore feet. :(

Bottom line – Would definitely stay here again and recommend it to others if price was right. Staff were very helpful printing tickets for shows. Clean and close to everything.

Deadliest catch dinner

I'm not much of a boating person except for cruising around tropical islands, but I have seen more episodes of "Deadliest Catch" than I care to remember. It's all to do with a holiday where the Foxtel was limited and the weather not so wonderful. Ahh - the stuff of which memories are made!

If you have more than a passing interest in "Deadliest Catch" (Discovery Channel) or Andy Hillstrand, the easy-on-the-eye skipper of the "Time Bandit", join the folk at Wilson’s Boathouse Portside Wharf next Saturday evening, 22 August. You'll find out about life at sea and what it takes to be the captain of a trawler ship and crew, fishing in some of nature’s most challenging and dangerous conditions. (Wish I could say that in one of those deep sultry television voices.)

Wilson's Executive Chef, Shane Keighly, will be presenting a five-course menu with some great Aussie wines.

Deadliest Catch Dinner, Saturday 22 August.
Time: 6.30pm for 7.00pm start

Search for the best brekkie - Spendelove

You'll probably be heading to the Gold Coast over the next few weeks to take advantage of some of the great events in Tastes of the Gold Coast.

While you are there dine like a local at Spendlove in Southport. This is a long way off the tourist trail with open plan dining in middle of an upmarket shopping mall, Ferry Road Markets. The surrounding shops include Sweet (will be blogging cupcakes from here soon), MerloTorrefazione, Wheel and Barrow, and a great florist.

There's also a very large market very similar to the James Street market where you can buy almost anything food wise.

Spendlove is the sort of place where they bring you a glass of water without being asked. There's soothing background music and plenty of papers to read while waiting for brekkie to arrive.

My Spendlove mini ($13.50) included rashers of bacon, two eggs, toasted Vienna bread and herb crusted tomato. It came exactly as described. The eggs had bright yellow yolks and there was plenty of delicious cr…

Prawns fly at Benihana

When a prawn hit the side of my face I knew it was time to employ duck and weave tactics.

No, this wasn't a food fight, but part of the entertainment at Benihana Japanese Steakhouse on the third floor of the Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort and Spa. And while it was a bit messy, the night was heaps of fun.

For the uninitiated, the proper technique is to catch the prawn in your mouth. Marriott Executive Chef Andrew Fraser showed his style with a napkin turned into a prawn catcher funnel - very effective!

With Teppanyaki your meal is cooked by the chefs on a hot plate built into each table right in front of you. Watching the chef's antics is great entertainment and a good family event. There's plenty of tossing, juggling and chopping and an omelette made after three eggs are balanced on top of each other. It's a great show!

The great thing about this food is that the ingredients are all super fresh and there's not too much in the way of additives apart from a bit…

Search for the perfect cupcake - Carousels Cupcakes

Don't blink or even with it's brightly coloured sign, you'll miss Carousels Cupcakes while dodging traffic on frenetic Gympie Road at Chermside.

However, step inside this retro haven and you'll be transported back to a much calmer decade when women were mothers and wives and excelled in kitchen gymnastics.

Just to show they don't take that all too seriously, there's a great sign for those who like to colour coordinate all aspects of their life.

This is a fun 50's diner style cafe with a bright and perky decor and staff to match. You gotta love the bright pink booth seating, chandeliers, LP covered walls and retro posters. I was told the shop had recently changed hands but the cupcakes are still being made by the original owner.

It's always hard to choose from the delicious array in a cupcake cabinet and this shop was no exception.

Our picks:
Hot Date - had a laugh with the name and liked the good touch of ginger with the expected date cake topped with a moi…

Wine dinner at Manx

Here's an opportunity to try some very special food with some very special wine. Manx at Portside Wharf will host a Felton Road wine dinner on Monday 17 August.I've been a fan of Paul McGivern's food since his early days at Tognini's. He used to be so excited when he found a new local supplier of spinach or lettuce. Paul's interest in local produce and his expertise in cooking translate into very fine fare at Manx which is a great place to dine.
For this event guests will enjoy a five course menu matched with current and back vintage wines from Felton Road winery in Central Otago.Central Otago is one the most southerly wine regions in the world producing some of the best examples of new world pinotnoir, chardonnay and Riesling.Winemaker Blair Walter will be Manx’s guest to present the wines on the night.Apart from Paul's food, I also like that there's normally plenty of free parking at Portside.
Date: Monday 17 August, 2009Time: 6.30pmCost: $150 per pe…

Brisbane's best

Which are the best restaurants in Brisbane? Well here are the top picks from the 2009 Restaurant & Catering Queensland HOSTPLUS Brisbane Awards for Excellence which were presented last night.

Much loved E'ccoBistro was awarded the supreme award ‘Restaurant of the Year’and 'Best Contemporary Australian Restaurant'.

Those who took home more than one award on the night included; Boroughs Café Wine Bar at Scarborough (Best Café Restaurant and Best Entertainment Restaurant) and Jellyfish Restaurant in the CBD (Best New Restaurant and Best Speciality Cuisine Restaurant).

New Farm had two winners this year with Watt Modern Dining (Best Alfresco Dining Restaurant) and Bar Alto (Best Italian Restaurant 2009).

The Brisbane CBD proved a hot spot for some of 2009’s best venues including; Cha Cha Char Wine Bar & Grill (Best Steak Restaurant) , Jade Buddha (Best Pub/Tavern/Club Restaurant), andGianni’s Restaurant (Best Fine Dining Restaurant).

Bulimba’s Citron Restaurant t…

Melbourne my way - Markets

Here's a quick summary of my markets experiences in Melbourne at the beginning of July.

MarketsQueen Victoria Markets Food Hall
Foodie heaven – everything from kangaroo sausage to beetroot pizza. Plenty to choose from with many specialist stalls for cheese, wine, deli items and coffee. If you were self catering you could buy all supplies here as there are a fruit and veg market and fresh produce (fish, meat, chicken) sections as well. There's even a large organic area.

I tried a salmon bagel ($5) and a beetroot-based mini pizza topped with pumpkin and feta ($6.50). The egg and bacon roll we grabbed as a quick brekkie ($4.50) was not so great but the almond croissant ($3) after was.

Bottom line: Well worth the visit especially if you love food.

Victoria Markets
What an amazing collection here. Buy a chook (definitely still clucking), a bag, a tee shirt or leather coat all within a few paces. There's a lot of repetition here but plenty to choose from. As with all markets, not ev…

Vine dining

With all this beautiful weather, it's almost a crime not to head out and explore a bit of the country. How much better to do it when you know there's going to be excellent food and wine at the end!

Vine Dining on Saturday August 15 is a day when you can explore the wonders of the South Burnett. This is a very picturesque part of south east Queensland, full of wineries producing some very good drops. Three wineries have got together for this event and organised four great chefs to provide food. There's a bus to take you around the different locations do you don't have to drink and drive, and plenty of accommodation in the area if you decide to stay the night. It's a good three hour drive from Brisbane so overnighting will make it a fun weekend. The program even offers Sunday morning brekkie.

Here's the deal. You'll be following the Barambah Wine Trail, Moffatdale and enjoying food at Barambah Wines, Bridgeman Downs & Clovely Estate.

Once parked at either…

Search for the best brekkie - Denim

Denim is one of a number of cafes at Southbank that does a roaring trade on the weekend mornings when I've been walking past. There's always a queue which I generally take as a good recommendation.

This Sunday morning it was particularly busy as it was the monthly Young Designers Market which sparked a completely different morning outing than the usual fast paced walk.

After browsing the great fashions on offer we were ready for brekkie but the queue was long. When I finally got to order I was told it would be a 20 minute wait and it was. I appreciated being advised that I would have to wait as there's nothing worse than smelling cooking bacon and not getting any.

For the Search for the best brekkie I'm going to try a standard two eggs and bacon on toast, or as close as possible, each time. If they can make such a standard order memorable then they are doing a good job. Also it's a good benchmark for comparative pricing.

Denim's closest fit was Eggs on turkish, a…

Guilt free lunch at Baguette

When you just want to eat a healthy lunch but it still has to taste great, Baguette at Ascot has a great solution.

Their new healthy lunch menu has been scientifically analysed by dietician, Desi Carlo from Tree of Life, so you know exactly what you are eating. Notes on each dish indicate calories, fat, GI, carb, lactose and fibre content.

The menu, available to eat in the bar or the pavement tables, is priced from $10-14. Dishes include home made ham and veg soup, prawn and avocado baguette, chicken salad, grilled steak and salad and a cajun chicken salad wrap. It's available until August 31.

150 Racecourse Road Ascot p 3268 6168

Local heroes

Here's a story I wrote recently for Where Magazine

Thai Cuisine - Tom Yum Goong

This hot and sour prawn soup is a favourite for many people. You can make the stock mixture a day ahead and add the prawns and remaining ingredients just before serving.

1.125 litres (4 1/2 cups) fish stock
750 ml (3 cups) water
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh lemon grass
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh ginger
2 Thai red chillies sliced thinly
2 Kaffir lime leaves, sliced thinly or 2 teaspoons grated lime rind
16 (800g) large uncooked prawns
2 tablespoons fish sauce
60 ml (1/4 cup) lime juice
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons coriander leaves
2 tablespoons Thai basil leaves
4 Thai red chillies, seeded, sliced, extra

Place stock in a large saucepan with water, lemon grass, garlic, ginger, chillies and lime leaves. Bring to boil then simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes. Strain into a  large jug or bowl. Return to pan and bring to the boil.

Meanwhile, shell and devein the prawns, leaving tails. Add prawns, simmer until they change colour. A…

Search for the perfect cupcake - MySweetopia

People have been telling me about MySweetopia for a while so I'm glad I finally made it there. Despite Google Maps insisting it was just near QPAC, the shop is down in the heart of the retail part of Grey Street at Southbank.

There's certainly wow factor when you walk into the shop with rows of delicious looking cupcakes and some wedding cakes that are very special. The cupcakes are made on the premises, fresh daily, to an old family recipe.

There's plenty of seating around the outside of the cafe and the area is dog friendly as well. On weekend mornings it seems to be very popular with bikers (pedal type).

Now onto the cupcakes! We hit My Sweetopia with a team of four seasoned cupcake lovers - Jayne, Zoe, Kate and Kerry. All cupcakes were tried by four people - yes I know this is getting way technical! The shelves were full of cupcakes and it was very hard to choose as they all were beautifully decorated.

So here's the report -
Most popular was the tallest and pretti…

Fun in the sun at Ambiwerra

If you missed this year's Ambiwerra Festival you are probably kicking yourself as it was a perfect day for eating, drinking and listening to great music, all the hallmarks of a perfect day at Ambiwerra.

An 18+ event for the first time this year, the festival still attracted a healthy crowd of around 4500 .

One of the big attractions at this event is the range of food on offer from great Brisbane restaurants. They are all smallistentrée-size dishes so you can taste plenty.

This year's culinary winners were Restaurant Two won the festival’s Best Restaurant Award. Chef and co-owner, David Pugh's menu included Porcini mushroom risotto and a Braised Stanthorpe venison pie floater. (Watch out for Stanthorpe venison - it's a great product and environmentally sensitive as well.)

The Best Wine Award went to Bouchon Wines for its selection of more than 20 wines from Australia, France, Italy and New Zealand.

Here's a reminder for your 2010 diary - Ambiwerra will be held on Aug…

Qld wins in the I Love Food Awards

There were several Queenslanders who were national winners in the I Love Food Awards. Judged by popular vote, the mix of winners is interesting as many are well deserved and others - what the?

Congratulations to national winners -
EUROPEAN Baguette Bistrot+Bar, Ascot
ITALIAN/PIZZA Parso's Gourmet Pizza, Pacific Pines
MEDITERRANEAN 1 Two 3 Mediterranean Dining, Broadbeach
CAFE Campos Coffee, Fortitude Valley

In the Queensland section the winners were -
ASIAN Siam Orchid Thai Restaurant, Burleigh Heads
CAFE Campos Coffee, Fortitude Valley
COFFEE Merlo Coffee, Fortitude Valley
EUROPEAN Baguette Bistrot+Bar, Ascot
FISH AND CHIPS The Fishmongers Wife, East Brisbane
HAMBURGER Grill'd (Healthy Burgers) Rosalie, Rosalie
ICE CREAM The Chocolate Room, Coomera
ITALIAN/PIZZA Parso's Gourmet Pizza, Pacific Pines
LATIN AMERICAN Serrano's Mexican Cantina, Beenleigh
MEDITERRANEAN 1 Two 3 Mediterranean Dining, Broadbeach
MODERN AUSTRALIAN Restaurant Lurleen's at Sirrome…

Campos Best Coffee Shop in Australia

Campos in Fortitude Valley was today named Best Coffee Shop in Australia by the Lifestyle Channel’s public-voted I Love Food Awards.

Campos owners, Eugene Phua and John Ronchi (pictured), were up against some very prominent and well-established outlets from across Australia and the inside word is that it was a strong win. This speaks volumes for Brisbane's burgeoning cafe culture – Melbourne and Sydney watch out!
It's a quirky little coffee shop with a entrance that wanders past a dumpster, quite unusual for Brisbane where rubbish bins are usually something to be avoided in the heat of summer. The plastic astro turf lifts the dull grey exterior and inside it's funky and interesting. Particularly love some of the light fittings!

Campos’ coffee is roasted on site in Brisbane and is now on offer at a growing number of coffee shops around south-east Queensland. I recently attended a coffee roasting and cupping demo there and learnt some interesting stuff. Campos post blend the…