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Showing posts from September, 2009

Urbane reopens in mid-November + Brisbane's first laneway bar

Premier Brisbane city restaurant Urbane will reopen its doors in mid-November after five months of renovations.

But there are steak knives - co-owners Andrew Buchanan and Drew Patten have taken their winning formula and announced the addition of two new venues. The Euro and The Laneway will be unveiled in just over six weeks to coincide with the re-launch of Urbane. The Euro will be a contemporary café style restaurant located next door to Urbane that will serve a range of European inspired food and the The Laneway will be Brisbane’s first laneway bar and will be accessible off Margaret Street, opposite the Stamford Plaza.  Whoo hoo! Way to go! Finally, a bit of intimate laneway culture in Bris city.

Chef Kym Machin will head up the impressive new imported European kitchen that will service both Urbane and The Euro with the assistance of 16 chefs.

Urbane was first opened in 2001 and was recently named one of the 50 best restaurants in Australia by The Weekend Australian. It is one …

Cook your favourite dish and win

Still having withdrawals from Masterchef? Been watching Dine With Me lately? Think you can do better?

If you answered yes to any of these questions (always wanted to say that) you should line up for the Siemens Signature Dish Series at The Courier-Mail and The Sunday Mail Home and Design Show from 8 - 11 October.

Why? Does the chance to win a Siemen's Liftmatic Oven and Cooktop or Siemens products to the value of $9,000 pique your interest?  And there's more - even the runners up will win great prizes from cooking store Taste for the Love of Cooking.

So this is what you have to do. First get an entry form (go to the visitor page and download the form). Then you have to post or email a photo of your dish, your recipe and a photo of yourself. If you are selected to cook, you have to bring all your own ingredients and utensils for cooking and plating up the dish.  You have one hour to prepare and cook the dish - just like Masterclass!

Why am I telling you about this? All the entr…

Search for the perfect cupcake - links for lovers

For anyone who loves cupcakes and for all those who think these cakes are a flash in the pan - some links to New York Times stories on my favourite fascination.

Food Stuff
It’s a Cupcake Truck. Need We Say More?
Published: June 3, 2009
CupcakeStop is a truck that travels between Union Square and Chelsea.

One Cupcake, One Mouthful
Published: March 18, 2009
Melissa Bushell’s mini-cupcakes are likely to be the ultimate recession-proof treats.

Yes, We Speak Cupcake
Published: September 23, 2009
The shop Sugar Daddy’s in Amman, Jordan, has brought the cupcake craze that has swept some American cities to the Middle East.


Search for the perfect cupcake - Silavadee

The search for the perfect cupcake continues to occupy too many of my waking moments.

On my recent trip to Thailand I had the good fortune to visit Koh Samui and stay at Silavadee Resort.

Resort Manager Luke Salway caught my cupcake enthusiasm and suggested I try the cupcakes baked in house. A veteran of the muffin plate at hotel buffets, I'm always sceptical of hotel cooking. But these were different - deliciously light, moist and flavoursome, topped with a lovely creamy icing.

Luke has kindly shared the recipe (below). It includes a little condensed milk which adds a touch of difference and also means the recipe is flexible for campers (if you can get the oven temperature right!)

Silavadee is a wonderful hideaway on Koh Samui about 20km from the airport. It's located on a hill overlooking a lovely beach with stunning sea views. The rooms are kitted out in teak and hand-made local fabric.

I had a tour of the ocean front pool villas, which have their own private pools, and can…

Taste goes Italian

Last night the monthly Taste Wine and Cooking Club was cooking Italian, one of my favourite cuisines, so I jumped at the chance to be the one to choose the best dish on the night.

The cooking club is not a cooking class and it's not targeted at either amateurs or professionals, it's just for those who want to share their favourite recipes, pick up some hot tips and have plenty of laughs along the way.

Taste owner Jodie Macaulay started the club which is based on a different cooking theme each month. There are several groups of 10 to 20 participants who bring pre-made home-cooked meals along a theme to share on the night. They also share their recipe.

And what a great bunch of people they were (pictured above and apoligies to those missing from the photo) All happy and chatting and boy did they cook some great food.Congratulations to all of them!

Amongst my favourites were:
Janelle Mulherin's Sweet and sour rabbit (a family favourite cooked regularly on a Sunday), Brenda O…

Granite Belt Growers Market at Southbank

There's another of the seasonal Growers Markets on at South Bank this Sunday (September 20)

You'll find a wide  variety of Granite Belt wine and food makers, growers and producers showcasing some of the best the region produces.

Expect to find mushrooms, fresh hand made pasta, fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables, organic beauty products, olives and olive oil, farmhouse cheese as well as the traditional favourites - wine, pickles, relishes and sweets.

Some of my Granite Belt favourites are:
Wine from Robert Channon, Symphony Hill, Pyramids Road, Summit Estate, Ballandean Estate- the list goes on hereJams from Jamworks and Greedy MeAnything apple from the Suttons - Hello Dave and Ros!Magical muesli from the Vineyard Cottages
The market begins at 10am on Little Stanley Street.

Cupcakes with bling!

Is my cupcake addiction getting out of control? I hope so!

Just when I thought things were settling I’ve found the perfect addition to my life – a new lust object.

It’s small, it’s silver and would fit perfectly onto my bracelet – yes, a silver cupcake!

Nikki Johnston is an enterprising gal I’ve known for more than a few years. She specialises in jewellery that just a little different and has heaps of sentimental overtones. The sort of things mothers give to daughters and babies get when they are born.

Nikki says the best thing about her new cupcakes is that they are 100 percent calorie and fat free. What’s not to like about that!

There’s also an icing choice. Which would madam like - silver or gold?

Find your new cupcake at

Brisbane Food Blogs

I've decided to make a list of Brisbane food blogs just because I can. These are blogs that mainly talk about food in Brisbane. If you are not on the list and want to be, leave your details below.

A word of warning - If you are a PR and want to use this list to contact Brisbane Food Bloggers remember to follow a few rules. If you are a blogger and don't want to be on this list because you don't want PRs to contact you - just say!

Read the blog before you contact the blogger. Blogging is a highly personal pastime and not everyone will welcome your intrusion.Ask first - ask if a blogger would like to know about your restaurant, product or eventEstablish relationshipsRemember few bloggers are paid so they don't want to spend money to blog things in which they are not interested. This includes parking in the city to attend events of doubtful interest. Think people!Don't expect a blogger to always be complimentary, blogging is all about having an opinion.
This list is i…

Search for the perfect cupcake - Sparkle - Sydney

The search for the perfect cupcake has inspired dedication beyond my dreams! Here's a guest blog from Paperdoll Princess Zoe who, before she moved south of the border, was a member of the E,D+bK cupcake tasting team.

"I had heard about Sparkle even before I moved to Sydney. The upmarket cupcake store to end all cravings. Inside its modern and shiny and slick. Their menu isn’t made up of ‘normal’ cupcake varieties and they sell Moet by the glass.

Safe to say I had pretty high expectations when I visited there. I also got really excited because they were located in the same street as the one I work in. So I quickly found and visited Sparkle within days of being here. And I wasn’t that excited. So I decided to wait until I had time to properly review it and I went back.

They all look the same so the only way to tell them apart is by using the colour chart.

My particular addiction is vanilla cupcakes and this was their special so I was excited. No need to be- the general consensu…

New Trad British Fish & Chip Shop on Brisbane Bayside

They are billing it as the most southerly, truly authentic, British Fish & Chip shop in the world and it’s due to open in October on Brisbane’s bayside just two minutes from the sea front.

The owners of Chumley Warner's Traditional British Fish & Chip Shop say they will be the only people in the whole of Australia selling North Atlantic Cod, Haddock, Plaice and Scampi.

All their key ingredients will be brought in from the UK including the batter mix, mushy peas, curry sauce and gravy. The chips will be fresh cut chip and the frying range has been made in Birmingham and is being shipped as their preferred style doesn't currently exist in Australia.

The café has seating for 30 and offers a range of traditional British foods including Chunky Steak & Guinness Pie, Cheese & Onion Pattie, Battered Sausage, Battered Haggis, Battered White Pudding, Battered Black Pudding and Cornish Pasties. All the sausages, pies, pasties, haggis, black and white pudding are handmade …

Queensland's best awarded

Last night 39 winners were announced at the 2009 Restaurant & Catering Queensland HOSTPLUS State Awards for Excellence at a dinner at Hillstone St Lucia.

The supreme Restaurant of the Year title belongs to Philip Johnson’s Brisbane Restaurant E’cco Bistro. E’cco was also named Queensland’s Best Contemporary Australian Restaurant.

Michel Flores from Townsville was honoured for his contribution to the industry and presented with the 2009 Queensland Lifetime Achiever Award.

So who were the winners?
Brisbane’s Mons Ban Sabai Thai Garden Restaurant, Queensland’s Best BYO Restaurant and Best Thai Restaurant.Best Seafood Restaurant with Lure Seafood Restaurant at The Coro (Milton), Best Pizza Restaurant with Sugo Mi (Bulimba), Best European Restaurant, C’est Bon (Woolloongabba), Best Coffee Shop/ Tea Room, High Societea (Clayfield), Best Café Restaurant, Boroughs Café Wine Bar ( Sandgate), Best Chinese Restaurant, Enjoy Inn (Fortitude Valley) Best Italian Restaurant , Bar Alto (New Fa…

River Canteen closes for South Bank development

South Bank’s River Canteen will close its doors in December after more than 17 years of operation.

The  Queenslander-style building which houses the restaurant will demolished to make for a new South Bank Corporation development. It's unclear at this stage whether riverside dining will form part of the redevelopment.

I've dined at River Canteen many times over the years and always been impressed by the food and service.  There are too few opportunities to dine on the river and I hope the South Bank Corporation keeps this option available for diners.  Somehow I suspect they have a bigger agenda.

Restaurant owner David Carter said he hoped to relocate the restaurant sometime in 2010. The final night of trade will be on New Year’s Eve.

While he would not rule out a return to the redeveloped South Bank precinct, Mr Carter said he was exploring a number of options – including the CBD. The closure was a factor driving the launch of River Canteen’s corporate catering arm.

River Can…

New restaurant opening at Twin Waters

Isles Restaurant has opened at 175 Ocean Drive, Twin Waters p 07 5450 705

Highly regarded Brisbane chef Gary Farrell, will open his first restaurant at Twin Waters on the Sunshine Coast in November.

The 120 seat modern restaurant will have a focus on British influenced dishes showcasing traditional recipes that have morphed into modern Australian fare.

He's looking forward to having considerable creative flexibility. Having enjoyed some of his previous efforts and been fascinated by dining in the dark at the Walnut Room at Royal on the Park, I'm looking forward to tasting his new direction.

Gary has worked in some of the best restaurants and hotels in Australia and the United Kingdom and was youngest recipient of the prestigious Australian “Black Hat” award.

The restaurant will called ‘Isles’ (as in British and Irish Isles) and will operate seven days a week.

Weekend getaway - Cafe Fest in Launceston

As a coffee lover I couldn't resist the idea of this weekend which combines coffee with the undoubted delights of Launceston, Tasmania.

If you are not familiar with what Launceston offers, check out James Halliday's list of Launceston wineries in The Weekend Australian Magazine September 12 -13. Names like Pipers Brook, Jansz and Bay of Fires sound familiar?

Launceston’s inaugural ‘Café Fest’ is scheduled for 3 October. The centre of Launceston will become a showcase of the city’s celebrated café culture with coffee inspired fashion shows, a latte art competition (featuring the world latte-art champion), street theatre, international tea and coffee stalls, a historical coffee lovers tour, chocolate face-painting, chocolate and coffee cooking workshops and demos all part of the celebration - plus, local baristas will be brewing up coffees for only $1! There is also a chance to win a home coffee maker valued at $1200 simply by voting for your favourite café.

Need somewhere to…

Portside Markets

It's all happening at Portside this week with their monthly Boutique Market scheduled for this Sunday (September 13) from 8am - 1pm. The market showcases the work of more than 50 south east Queensland based stallholders including artists, designers, stylists, crafters and artisans. Best of all it's dog friendly. There are a couple of stand out stalls for dog lovers including Puppy Love with stylish gear for four footed pals and Pret a Pawte who create pet collars and accessories using funky fabrics and trims. 
You probably have to be small, white and fluffy to appreciate these according to my boy who is a really tough corgi (no comments about short legs pleeese!).

Search for the best brekkie - James Street Bistro

James Street Bistro is conveniently located in James Street which is a great spot for all types of activities. There's the James Street Market which has a superb range of food stuffs, several great restaurants and bars and the cinema which has a predilection for art house movies.

Around the corner is a new perfume shop, Libertine Parfumerie, which definitely worth a look. And keep your eyes on the revamp just around the corner as there are some exciting shops opening there.

James Street Bistro is an open air casual place with lots of seating. The breakfast menu is varied and I was tempted to stray but stuck with my theme - two eggs, bacon and tomato. And it was good! The free range eggs had bright yellow yolks, and the slow roasted tomato was full of flavour, and there was plenty of bacon - yay! Turkish bread was a nice twist and those little black seeds (I think coriander rather than the traditional nigella) added another flavour dimension. All for $13.90.

There are a lot o…

Hot new Brisbane bar - alloneword

You gotta love a bar that doesn't need to shout that it's there!

One of the things I loved about Queenstown in New Zealand was wandering the streets listening for the good bars. No signs, just a reluctant tip from a local to open the blue door. Wow, walk inside and you're in another world - the sort of place you never want to leave.

Now you can do it in Brisbane and in the skanky end of the Valley no less! Bring it on!

Look for a simple door on Brunswick Street next to the Step Inn – no red carpets, no flashing lights and sirens, no fireworks… just a door. This is what I've been told is inside - a low black cushioned ceiling, cool bar, clever lighting and further through, an incredible open, outdoor space bounded by brick walls covered in amazing stencil art. Think New York rooftop bar where you can see all the other roofs and tops of buildings, but in a private space.

Music-wise, it’s DJs playing house – classic, underground.

alloneword is a guest list venue and t…

Oyster happy hour

Wilson’s Boathouse Seafood Restaurant has an Oyster Happy Hour from 4.30pm to 5.30pm every Friday during September. Indulge in a dozen Moreton Bay Rock Oysters for only $10. If you haven't tasted these sweet, local gems do yourself a favour and get down there.  
They are not the biggest oysters around but they capture the freshness of the Moreton Bay waters.  Remember those days on the beach at Moreton? Tobogganing down the sand hills, snorkelling around the wrecks, swimming in the lakes and climbing up to the lighthouse? Ah, memories.
Wilson’s Boathouse Seafood Restaurant, Portside, Hamilton. 3868 4480

Eight of the best Thai travel tips

What happens when 130 travel writers, travel public relations representatives and their partners descend on Thailand for their annual ASTW (Australian Society of  Travel Writers) conference?

Well lots of talking and drinking for a start but also a good exploration of what Thailand has to offer. Thanks to Thai Airways  for getting us all there efficiently and comfortably and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) for organising a great showcase of Thailand.

After a few days conferencing in Bangkok, we spread from one end of the country to the other. Judging by the rapturous ravings post conference on Facebook, everyone had a really outstanding time.

Here are some tips from seasoned travel writers and travel PRs for making the most of your Thailand travel experience.

A very good but not cheap tailor is World Garments at 1302 New Rd - between the river end of Silom and the Oriental. Can have a suit in two days but you'll need to allow time for an intermediate fitting. See Mrs Keng. …

Search for the perfect cupcake - Saabi

Here's a tip from a reader who came across the search for the perfect cupcake on the Ourbrisbane site and has joined the noble cause.

On the weekend Dianne went to a relatively new cafe in Albion called Saabi on Manson.It's named after the owners' dog.

Saabi is set in a suburban street and is surrounded by lovely old Queenslanders. A friend took her there for a father's day brunch.

Dianne managed to take a photo of this luscious cupcake before her four-year-old stuck his finger into its icing. The owners make all of the cakes.

116 Manson Rd, Hendra. Ph: 3113 3636.

Search for the perfect cupcake - Milkbar, Asgrove

Milkbar is the latest addition to the dining scene at Ashgrove in Brisbane's inner west.

Located at the front of the new Woolworth's building, it has a bright, cheery yellow interior with plenty of seating and even more seating outdoors.  The outdoor area will require some serious shade protection as summer approaches but owners Amanda and John Scott are on to it. There's plenty of parking underneath.

You  may have met Amanda and John before when they were at the helm of the much loved Continental Cafe at New Farm.

This new operation is styled like an old fashioned milk bar but with an update which notably includes the flavour of the moment - cupcakes.

Amanda has even designed and imported her own stylish cupcake carriers.

Now to the serious business.Amanda has gathered a team of cupcake makers and currently has four different suppliers so the cupcake styles are quite varied.

They are all the usual cupcake size and range in price from $3.50 to $4.50.  On Frida…

Thailand - Samui airport

This is a one off blog as I can't imagine I'm ever going to say this again – I'm was really pleasantly surprised by an airport!

I'm going to tell you that they had free drink and food in the public lounge and toe tapping music playing. And, you are not going to believe this, there were comfortable seats, and plenty of them.

Despite the fact that I was heading home after a wonderful but all too short stay on a tropical island, it was a really a pleasant place to be. If I had more time I would have explored what seemed like endless shopping opportunities as I walked down to the gate.

So it really came as no surprise when I discovered Samui Airport has been announced in the world’s top ten in the “Best Airports Worldwide” category for the fourth consecutive year in an annual “Best Asian Travel Brand 2009” poll surveyed by one of Asia’s forefront online travel magazine, Smart Travel Asia.

Samui Airport, the only regional airport on the list, sees over 6 million passenge…

Bistro C, Hastings Street, Noosa

Ahh, Noosa - so hard to go past.

It's a mini paradise with great food, surf, sun and a wonderful National Park to walk through.

I've been heading north to Noosa since the days when you could camp at the end of Hastings Street. Yes, you used to be able to do that! Now I usually get my fix from the occasional shopping excursion and meal.

Bistro C is right on the beach front and is a reliable spot for a meal. They offer breakfast from 7.30 - 11am and the menu is reasonably extensive.

We just strolled in and were lucky to get a table outside, right at the front with fabulous views to the ocean.  There are plenty of tables inside which also offer ocean views.

First up was a Sunshine Bliss fresh fruit juice with pineapple, orange, banana and strawberry. It came with great bi-colour appeal and went down well.

My choice was my standard bacon and eggs poached on toast with tomato. ($15). The egg yolks were bright yellow and the bacon crispy. There was a nice side of rocket as well   …

Search for the perfect cupcake - Subversive cupcakes

From my great mate and esteemed food writer Alison Cotes, in Theologian-at-Large mode, came this innovative suggestion for Subversive Nipple Cupcakes. Alison suggests these as great for church fetes or after-Sunday-service coffee in the crypt.

Alison says - "Make your favourite cup-cake recipe,  you don’t need me to give you one. (Search E,D+bK for a cupcake recipe). Some cakes should be flat, some pointy and some rounded. Ice some with pink, some with different shades of brown, and some with sunburn-red. DIY colours. What do you think all those artificial food dyes in the supermarket are for? Top with the appropriately-coloured red glace cherry. You can boil some in coffee for a deeper colour. Serve with a sheepish smile and not even the starchiest vicar or narrow-minded prude will get the symbolism."

Here's a challenge.  Make the cupcakes and send E,D+bK a photo!

Search for the perfect cupcake - Cupcake Teahouse

Roof down and smiles on we headed north to the Sunshine Coast with Noosa and Maleny in mind, however the temptation to hunt cupcakes proved too strong. A slight detour saw us heading up the steep hill and down the main drag of downtown Buderim which was still waking up on Saturday morning.

We discovered The Cupcake Teahouse at the back of a small shopping centre. It's not far from a fitness gym which could be handy for locals.

This is a cute lolly pink shop with tables inside and out for dining and a large cabinet filled with a variety of cupcakes. It looks like a great venue for children's tea parties. They also make children's birthday cakes to order. The cupcakes were priced between $3.50 and $4.50.

We were told they baked nearly every day which sounded good at the time however anticipation over rated reality here.

Our team sampled four cupcakes -  The passionfruit sponge had passionfruit in the cake and icing but was not baked that day and was way too cold from the fri…