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Showing posts from February, 2009

The Normanby Hotel

The girls had decided it was time to get together for a good old chat – a bit of sister bolstering, love life examination and children praising. All good fun that doesn't happen often enough now days.The beer garden of the Normanby Hotel proved a perfect venue. Outside, but cool enough on a sticky Brissie day, the drinking/dining area was comfortable enough for a four hour + chat. I left them there checking out the talent.The Normanby is known for it's quality steaks. Along with the Breakie Creek and the Norman, it has an extensive steak menu that includes Wagyu Porterhouse Scored at 7+ 250g ($ 44.90).However none of us were tempted by the steak menu - instead the choices were Caesar Salad - baby cos, parmesan, bacon & anchovy dressing with grilled prawns ($15.90); Grilled beef & cashew salad - eye fillet coated in garlic & seeded mustard tossed with baby spinach, tomatoes, onion & balsamic vinaigrette ($14.90);Whiting Fillets dusted with Japanese breadcrum…

Recipe - Baked peaches

Just love this recipe for baked peaches from the Mondo Organics newsletter.
It's quick, simple and tastes divine. Mondo Organics is a great restaurant which serves really great food.

Baked Peaches with Raisin and Cinnamon Frangipane
Serves 8


8 peaches or nectarines cut in half, stone removed
200 gm raisins
2 tsp ground cinnamon
50 gm plain flour
250 gm almond meal
5 eggs
250 gm castor sugar
250 gm unsalted butter


Cream butter and sugar in a mixer, and add eggs one at a time. Fold in the flour, cinnamon, almond meal and raisins.

Halve peaches and fill with mixture. Bake in oven at 180 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes.

Serve with whipped cream.

Find Mondo Organics at 166 Hardgrave Road, West End. p 3844 1132

Post movie bite at Jo Jo's

Jo Jo's is a place I used to frequent during my student days. I recently met up there with some colleagues for a business lunch and was surprised by the wood fired pizzas. They were thin, crispy and went down very well.

After a preview for Last Chance Harvey with Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson, we needed a bit more - the choc tops didn't quite do the job.

We chose Jo Jo's because it was above the mall on another hot Brisbane night and we thought the service would be quick. It was, and the food was decent for the price. We both went Asian - Green Chicken Curry and Chicken Egg Noodles. I can't say either dish was outstanding but they were filling and that's what we were after. Most of the meals are priced under or around $20 -that's not too bad for an inner city meal. There's a special breakfast deal on at the moment as well.

Last Chance Harvey is about first loves, last chances and everything in between.Harvey (Dustin) is in London for his daughter'…

New city market

Brisbane City central is about to get a Farmer's Market. Jan Power, well known for her fortnightly Powerhouse markets and monthly markets at Mitchelton and Manly, is set to open a new market right in the heart of the city in Reddacliff Place from 10am - 6pm. I've never heard of Reddacliff Place but I'm told its right at the top of Queen Street Mall near the bridge. Shouldn't be too hard to find.

Jan is promising over 30 speciality stalls with fresh seasonal fruit and veg, seafood, bread, flowers and cheese. It will be interesting to see how the stall holders cope with inner city traffic and council restrictions. Let's hope the City Council Can Do what ever is required to make this happen easily.

The official launch is next Wednesday, March 4 and it will be on every Wednesday after that. Be there or be square!

Tomato magic revealed

Well the secret about who has released new products into the pizza market is well and truly out of the bag! Domino's have added new pizza varieties, fresh pasta dishes and a choc lava cake.

While my inner foodie screams wood fired pizzas only, the realist outer has succumbed to fast pizzas when the mother doesn't want to cook and no one else can be bothered. Sometimes it's necessary just to keep the hoards quiet.

I've tried several of the new varieties and found some to my liking. Starting with a thin 'n crispy crust I chose a Vege Grande. It came with baby spinach and tiny tomatoes and looked pretty good except there was way too much cheese. I will order this again with the request to hold back on the cheese. I've also tried the chicken capri and it was ok but I'm not so keen on the strange yellow pieces of meat which I think might have been cajun chicken.

The two pastas we have tried, carbonara and beef neapolitana have not been to our taste. However it i…

Queensland or Australia? You decide!

Granite Belt wine makers want to know - should their wine be labelled “Granite Belt, Queensland” or, should they read “Granite Belt, Australia”? Both are legal, but what do you want?

It is a timely question as - for the first time ever – the 2008 Wine of the Year in Winestate magazine came from the Granite Belt. It beat off 10,000 all-comers from across the country, busting the myth that Queenslanders can’t make wine.

Those who push for 'Australia' on the label often say that southern opinions of Queensland wine are so entrenched that it will never take off with Queensland on the label. I'd like to think that people are not that stupid and a good wine will win out where ever it's from. I think we should be proud of producing excellent wine in Queensland and appreciate the huge steps this very young industry has taken in such a short time.

However, it's all down to the dollar for many producers and I can't blame them for taking any advantage they can get.

Have y…

Pig Day Out

Did you know that the world looses three breeds of domestic livestock every month to extinction? I was surprised to learn that when I met Mark Tully last year at the launch of an ABC short film, 'Rare Chicken Rescue'.

Mark is dedicated to saving and preserving rare breeds of chooks and pigs at his Blue Hills Poultry Stud at Gatton, and has big plans like opening the world’s first national heritage domestic livestock museum and establishing a traditional meats co-op.

If you loved 'Jimmy's Farm' (Lifestyle Channel), Mark's Pig Day Out could really tickle your fancy.

The Pig Day Out on Saturday March 7, is an opportunity to see rare and heritage breeds of pig. Some these breeds, including the Wessex Saddle Back which has only 100 registered sows left on the planet, are even critically endangered. Visitors will be able to touch and hold little piglets and scratch a giant one!

It's a real turn of the tables as these breeds which we once depended on for our exis…

Hats and boots for Stockies Lunch

If you have a fondness for country folk, hail from far flung areas or just like to wear hats and boots, Deery's Restaurant at The Story Bridge Hotel, Kangaroo Point, is the place to be seen next Friday, March 6. It's the Stockies Lunch celebrating the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame & Outback Heritage Centre. If you haven't been there you can't call yourself a dinki di Aussie!

I'll be there strutting my stuff, lining up for a Bundy and Coke and tucking into some of the prime strip loin Wagu on offer.

The all Aussie lunch will include Shane Webcke, Chris ‘Buddha’ Handy and a whip cracking show by the Wicks Family. Proceeds will go towards the Young Members investment fund into the Hall's ongoing development which includes the establishment of a safari tent accommodation facility. Tickets are $100 per person and include complimentary drinks on arrival, food, entertainment and Bundy Rum Bar deals. Book at or call +61 7 3221 520…

Unleash your inner reviewer!

It's a common opinion that there's nothing to writing a restaurant review - it's just another free lunch. However, from my experience writing about restaurants and reviewing for The Brisbane Times, I can tell you it's not all fun and games.

But for all you would be reviewers here's a chance to strut your stuff! My good mate Natascha Mirosch is inviting one would be critic the chance to see their review judged by the Courier Mail’s own critic Lizzie Loel and published on her blog. But wait… there’s more....The lucky winner gets to have lunch at the fabulous Baguette Bistro in Ascot. I dined there recently and it was fabulous.

All you have to do is simply write a review of the last place you enjoyed eating in 500 words or less and email to by midnight Monday 2 March. The most original and best written entry received will be announced on Natascha's blog on Wednesday 4 March, so get writing.

Cheap eats - Restaurant Lurleen's

You've got until March 12 to take advantage of this outstanding offer from the award winning Restaurant Lurleen's located at Sirromet winery at Mount Cotton.

Their 2 for 1 lunch deal means you purchase one main meal from Restaurant
Lurleen’s and receive another main meal free. The offer is available to subscribers to Sirromet'sezine and you'll need to take a voucher with you, printable from the site, to claim your free meal. The offer only valid for lunch on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Restaurant Lurleen’s at Sirromet Winery is 30 minutes south from Brisbane’s CBD or 40 minutes north from the Gold Coast at 850 Mount Cotton Road, Mount Cotton. The restaurant
is open for breakfast, lunch, morning and afternoon teas from Wednesday to Sunday, with dinner available Thursday to Saturday nights.

Restaurant Lurleen's 07 3206 2999,

China Contrasts

In October last year I attended the Australian Travel Writers Conference in Shanghai with a pre tour to Beijing and a post tour to Sanya.

I had some wonderful experiences including climbing the Great Wall of China, walking The Bund in Shanghai and strolling on the beach at Sanya, China's tropical retreat.

You can read about my journey in the latest Road Ahead Magazine (Feb/Mar 2009)

Cheap eats - Lunch on Q

From 23 February to 6 March it’s on again – the best value lunch in town! Seventeen of Brisbane’s best restaurants offering a lunch not to be missed – two courses and a glass of wine for just $30pp. Following the stand-out success of Lunch on Q when it ran for the first time in 2008, it was decided to offer this two week promotion of the best of Queensland food and wine twice a year.

With great diversity of climate and growing conditions, Queensland has an amazing range of food. Combine this with the imagination of local chefs and great drops from Queensland winemakers and customers are definitely the winners.

Lunch on Q only lasts for two weeks so get together with your friends and try out new destinations, re-visit old favourites and support these Brisbane restaurants. Bookings are essential. For more information, visit where all menus are listed in detail. Don’t miss the best bargain in town!

The restaurants involved are: Baguette Bi…

Cheap Eats - Freestyle Tout

Freestyle Tout at Emporium in the Valley has a $22 main with a glass of wine lunch special available Monday to Friday. Chef Nicholas Cooper's menu includes a choice of Ocean trout, lemon and Noosa rocket risotto topped with caper lavoush; Chicken escallops 'Saltimbocca' served on braised cabbage and sweet fig with white wine sauce or Crispy skinned ocean trout served on kipfler potato, pancetta and asparagus with sauce Jacqueline. The wine choice is between Wild Oats SemillonSauvignonBlanc, Rose or Cab Merlot.

The hard thing here would be to resist having dessert at a restaurant renowned for its fine sweet tooth creations. It's your choice!

My contribution to the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) is to blog good quality cheap eats around town.

Raw talent - today's nomination Martin Duncan

Full of fun is the best way to describe Brisbane's Mr Dessert, Martin Duncan. Martin is the brains behind Freestyle Tout at Emporium and the former Freestyle Tout at Rosalie which has now morphed into Grilled and more.

Martin also has a property on the Sunshine Coast with beautiful views overlooking the hinterland. Freestyle Escape is a great weekend getaway and also the perfect location for the creative art and sculpture workshops that Martin coordinates.

Freestyle at Emporium has regular art showings and the latest one (pictured) opened just on Tuesday night with an inspiring collection of creative offerings.

Find it at Emporium in the Valley, 1000, Ann Street.

Keep those nominations for Queensland's Raw Talent calendar coming in. Make a comment below or email

Raw talent - today's nomination Mirko Grillini

Mirko Grillini is described by his nominator as a 'bit of a local legend' and his cooking classes have built up quite a following.

Driving thousands of kilometres to teach his distinctive brand of Italian cooking classes in rural communities across Australia, is just one of the jobs that keeps Mirko busy.

A quick visit to his website uncovered his latest project -Fair Dinkum Italian. This is a new television series following Mirko on an adventure-bound cookery trip through the regions of Australia made famous for their fine produce. While gathering local ingredients and meeting town residents, Mirko searches to find participants for his cooking class. His students prepare Italian based culinary delights; fresh, warm breads, handmade pastas, wonderful flavours from simple, fresh ingredients with added secrets learned from his grandmother in Bologna, Italy.

Sounds like something I'd like to watch - bring it on!

Also - the beard Mirko sports for the photo is not his normal lo…

Cheap eats - Baguette

You've still got time to take advantage of some of the platter meals Baguette is offering at $38 per person. Their three course menu is served on platters in the middle of the table in the same way the French often serve up simpler dishes when entertaining friends at home.

For the rest of this week it's Moroccan with Eggplant dip, spiced with cumin and chilli oil, flat bread, Chicken tagine with saffron and preserved lemon and Couscous cake, rose water ice cream.

It's French week from February 16 with Smooth chicken liver pate with toast, Lamb confit with Provencal herbs, grill vegetable salad and Thin apple tarte, cinnamon ice cream.

From February 23 it's Spanish week with Tomato and bread soup, garnished with ham and boiled egg, Slow roast pork belly, green sauce, sautéed potatoes and Orange custard, almond biscuit.

My contribution to the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) is to blog good quality cheap eats around town.
Baguette, 150 Racecourse Road Ascot. p 3268 6168

Raw talent - Today's nomination Andrew Strange

The delightful Andrew Strange heads up the new Buderim Ginger Cooking School on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. He's the man if you want to know the secrets for a perfect roux, jus or stew. His nominator says Andrew is a great bloke with a good sense of humour! And cute too!

Keep those nominations for Queensland's Raw Talent calendar coming in. Make a comment below or email

New at Baguette

Last night I had the most delightful dinner at one of Brisbane's most long lived and outstanding restaurants - Baguette.

I was invited by Marilyn Domenech to try out Bruno Loubret's new summer menu - a delightful wander through classic regional dishes along side contemporary French cuisine.

Marilyn says there is a generation of young chefs in Paris pioneering a new style of French bistro, featuring regional dishes that have great finesse and an innovative twist. Known as neo-bistro or bistronomique, she says it could be the most influential dining trend in France since nouvelle cuisine.

How lucky are we in Brisbane to have Frenchman and Michelin- starred chef Bruno Loubet, creating his own versions of France’s regional classics resulting in innovative, contemporary dishes of subtle complexity.

For entrees we choose Smoked chicken & liver terrine, stone fruit chutney and Fresh local crab meat salad, Vietnamese style, mango dressing. Both were outstanding. The fu…

Cheap eats - Cinco Bistro

My contribution to the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) is to blog good quality cheap eats around town.

Peter Stubbs’ Cinco Bistro at Cooparoo, a favourite of two of my foodie friends, has a last Thursday of the month lunch special with $20 main courses. This month the lunch special falls on February 26.

Book quickly if you want to try Peter’s menu pick, the Crisp Duck Confit served with Grilled Peach, Braseola, Rocket, Almonds and Vincotto or the Grilled Quail served with Fresh Grapes, Zucchini and a Verjuice, Walnut Sauce, which is new on the summer menu.

If you join Cinco's Birthday Club when you dine (a yellow slip is presented with the bill) you’ll be eligible for a free main course for the birthday person valid for one month from their birthday.

My contribution to the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) is to blog good quality cheap eats around town.
Cinco, 589 Old Cleveland Road, Camp Hill. p 3843 6666

Raw talent - today's nomination Ryan Squires

Ryan Squires, from the newly opened Buffalo Club in the Valley, was featured in Natascha Mirosch's Bites section in Tuesday's Courier Mail. His nominee says Ryan looks a bit like Tom Williams (settle girls!) and I think she's right.

The challenge is to nominate the Queensland Chefs you would like to see on a Raw Talent calendar. Send those names in!

You can leave a comment below or email your nomination to

Raw talent - today's nomination John Waikling

Well the competition is hotting up! Today's nomination from some red hot pr girls around town is John Waikling, pictured hard at work during a demo at Taste for the Love of Cooking. John teaches at Tafe and has owned his own catering businesses and numerous restaurants, including one on Straddie. He is a keen cyclist.
Here's the challenge - which Queensland Chefs would you like to see on a raw talent calendar? We've got just as much local talent as Sydney.
First nomination was Martin Duncan, the Freestyle Tout dessert king.You can leave a comment below or email your nomination to

Cheap eats - Simple Pleasures

Just received this great offer from Simple Pleasures, a casual but elegant restaurant tucked away in Kenmore on Moggill Road just up the road from my old state school.I've dined here a few times and it's always been a pleasure. Well constructed food with interesting combinations in a restaurant with great hospitality. Congratulations Kate Von Bremen on running a tight ship.
They've come out with a great offer this week - $20 off your bill if you make a booking via email for dinner on any night between and including Friday February 6 and Friday February 13. They will automatically take the $20 off your total bill. That's a good offer and will get you more than an entree or dessert for free.Find Simple Pleasures Bistro and Bar at 2060 Moggill Rd, Kenmore p 33789466 e

Tastes of the tropics

Here's something that's definitely on my wish list. Not only does it include one of the nicest places to stay but you also get to learn how to cook from really top chefs - hard to beat.

Last year on a trip to North Queensland I was lucky to stay at The Elandra at Mission Beach. It's one of those places that has a special feel to it and you just can't help relaxing and enjoying yourself. I spent a whole day just lying by the pool.

Now they are hosting a series of cooking-based events with a stellar lineup of high profile celebrity chefs. ‘Tastes of the Tropics’ is a series hosted by Australia’s top chefs. Curtis Stone (‘My Restaurant Rules’, ‘Surfing the Menu’ & ‘Take Home Chef’), Matt Moran (‘My Restaurant Rules’, ‘The Chopping Block’, ‘Heat in the Kitchen’, ARIA Restaurant & Opera Bar in Sydney), Luke Mangan (‘Today Show’, Glass Brasserie, Hilton in Sydney, Salt in Tokyo & South Food + Wine in San Francisco) and Geoff Lindsay (Pearl in Mel…

Chefs showcase raw talent

I know things are uncertain in the restaurant scene and it's always harder to make a buck in Sydney but naked chefs to promote the restaurant?

Reported in The Daily Telegraph January 31, 2009- WHAT do you do when the boss orders you to strip naked in the workplace? It seems the answer is "as you're told" if Justin Hemmes is the boss and that's what nine of his chefs did last week for an upcoming promotion for the Merivale Group's nine restaurants. And that includes Est.'s Peter Doyle, one of the venerable doyens of Sydney's chef scene who posed with fellow chef Lauren Murdoch at the Ivy kitchen shoot.

Is this going to be a calendar? Obviously not something to hang near the dining table! Will this catch on in Brisbane? Anyone game enough to suggest who should be on a local calendar? Which top chefs would you like to see with a carefully positioned apron a la Lauren Murdoch or a pile of plates like Peter Doyle?

You can leave a comment …