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Showing posts from October, 2009

Search for the best brekkie - Witches Falls, Mt Tamborine

This brekkie took a little work but was well worth the effort.

I was staying at a gorgeous cottage at Witches Falls on Mt Tambourine. The breakfast option here comes with free range eggs from Daniela's friendly cooks, freshly baked bread from Daniela's kitchen, local sausages, fresh vegetables and fruit.  The cottage had its own little kitchen and a barbeque outside so it's easy to whip up brekkie. Eating it outside in the delightful, flower filled enclosed garden Daniela has created is another delight. If you're not an eggs breakfast person there is a Continental option.

Witches Falls Cottages are located on the corner of Hartley Road and Main Western Road, just off the edge of the escarpment.  The cottages are beautifully designed as a weekend getaway and truly relaxing.  The only thing guests are asked to do is water the fern wall in the huge spa bathroom - they get a little hot under the glass roof without a morning drink.

Little touches make these cottages extra spe…

Urbane update

Much lauded Brisbane inner city restaurant Urbane, is set to open its doors again next month with a new cutting-edge look designed by Arkhefield.

As well as Urbane’s multi-million dollar facelift, the project also includes the opening of three new venues – Sub Urbane, The Euro and The Laneway.

Arkhefield has been working hard on the project for nearly three years. Urbane's Mary Street entrance has been opened with glass covered by two distinct metal screens creating a common entry point for Urbane and The Euro. The Urbane screen features copper expanded mesh designed to conceal the operations of the restaurant while offering sneaky glimpses of what lies beyond.

Sub Urbane is a linked cellar dining area positioned in the basement of the building and accessed through Urbane, offering an intimate dining experience for up to 30 people.

The Euro has been designed as a European brasserie with a relaxed atmosphere and menu to attract city dwellers a few times a week. The Euro’s pièc…

Walking Genova

Last night I dreamed I was walking the narrow alley ways of Genova.

I was fresh from a movie preview of the evocative 'Genova' where the dishy Colin Firth dons his 'I'm gorgeous but tortured' look again and his young daughters spend hours wandering the streets. Afterwards it was all I could do to resist ordering a big plate of pasta for dinner.

I settled for a glass of Italian wine and a recap with friends. We decided the movie was a great view of the fascinating life of Genova and a well acted and scripted drama covering some of the tougher aspects of family life. It's for all those who have or have had teenagers, those who have made or will make mistakes in life and anyone who has or longs to travel to Italy.

Expect plenty of Genova city scenes, a few visits to the beach and a seaside lunch, a wander through Cinque Terre National Park and some ghostly apparitions.

And if you've ever wondered what it's like to ride a Vespa - this is as close as you&#…

Brisbane food bloggers meet at Bar Barossa

Last night 14 Brisbane food bloggers met for the first time over dinner at Bar Barossa and it was great to finally put faces to blogs and twitter names.

Interestingly, although ages and themes varied greatly, we all shared an unusual interest in food - how it tastes, where it comes from, how it's made. Talking about the finer points of goats cheese, without boring your dinner companion, was a welcome relief.

According to yesterday's report in The Courier-Mail, we are all most likely 'Potentialists'.  It's a new post GFC group  of people identified by social researcher Mark McCrindle who are after a richness in lifestyle, particularly when it comes to food and cooking.  According to McCrindle, Queensland is the best place for Potentialists and I'd have to agree with that.

Last night we dined well at Bar Barossa which is a funky little bar cum restaurant at the top end of Queen Street, not far from E'cco. The grape shaped chandeliers are an interesting featur…

Smart, sexy and oh so French - Privé 249 at the Sofitel

It’s sleek, smart, seductive and surprisingly sexy!

The Sofitel's new restaurant Privé 249 seats up to 52 guests in a room where ceiling windows frame magnificent city views, overlooking Brisbane Central Clock Tower and Anzac Square.

The menu is French inspired Australian cuisine and the décor luxe with dramatic Italian chandeliers and giant candles. Black glass tabletops are set with white china and Italian titanium cutlery – a striking mix of gold and silver that costs $30 a piece, so don’t try to leave with any!

The Sofitel’s French origins show strongly with Chef, Mathieu Astier and Restaurant Managers Francois Laran and Jerome Legal, all from France.
“Privé 249 is inspired by one of our young, talented and very passionate Chefs, Mathieu Astier,” says General Manager Goran Aleksandrovski.

Astier, (pictured) who has been cooking since he was 16, has worked with and been taught by some of the world's greatest kitchen maestros. Spending much of his life in Monte Carlo work…

Christmas goodies - Judy C

Look what just arrived on my doorstep! These delicious fruit mince tarts and festive almond crescents came with the order from Judyc - 'make yourself a cuppa now and enjoy' - so I did.

Judy has been maturing the fruit mince for her tarts from the first week in August and it shows.  The pastry is deliciously short and buttery and the filling intensely flavoured. They are only small but pack a powerful punch of flavour.

The almond crescents are wonderfully moist and dense inside a crisp exterior. Definitely not easy to stop at one of these.

Judy's Christmas list includes traditional fruit cake, both iced and plain and traditional fruit puddings made to an old fashioned recipe with rum soaked fruit and boiled in the cloth.

Along with fruit mince tarts, you can choose chocolate rum balls, Christmas biscuits - hand decorated in festive shapes and hand made gingerbread houses, decorated and filled with lollies.

Find JudyC at Shop 1, 227 Waterworks Road, Ashgrove. 3366 9111.

Search for the perfect cupcake - Couture Cupcakes

With its pretty Parisian pink decor, Couture Cupcakes at Bardon is a popular spot to enjoy the small, fine things of life like cupcakes.

Owner Deborah Doyle has a good selection of cupcakes and also offers coffee, tea, milkshakes and cold drinks. Prices range between $4 for a classic cupcake up to $5 for a gourmet version.

We tried two - Cookies and Cream has an Oreo bicsuit on top and lovely crunchy bits of biscuit throughout the icing. The chocolate cake  was rich and dense and the icing smooth and creamy.

Our second choice was also a chocolate cake but this one had a slightly tangy cream cheese icing which was an interesting contrast to the rich chocolate cake.  Very easy to eat!

Couture Cupcakes is becoming increasingly popular with a wide range of customers including mums giving their children a special after school treat - wish they were open when I was school age!

Bottom line:  Well worth a stop! Great cupcakes.

Find Cupcake Couture at 9/65 Macgregor Terrace, Bardon. p 3…

What are you doing for Christmas? - Spicers Peak Lodge

Here's the start of a blog theme that's only going to grow over the coming weeks/months till Dec 25!

'What are you doing for Christmas?' will all too soon be the question on the lips of many. Well, if I had an open budget, my first choice would be....

Christmas or New Year on a high note at Spicers Peak Lodge
I've stayed at this lodge on two occasions and lunched on another. It's superb - nothing more to say.

Here's their Christmas/New Year promo -
Visitors can scale new heights in luxury, seclusion and relaxation on Queensland’s awe-inspiring Scenic Rim this festive season with the launch of indulgent Christmas and New Years packages from Spicers Peak Lodge.

Surrounded by World Heritage Listed parks and ranges the architecturally stunning lodge is the perfect place to beat the summer heat and experience Christmas and New Years the cool, calm and sophisticated way on one of these decadent deals.

Let the award winning lodge be your host this Christmas, cater…

New local foods

One of the best jobs of a food writer is tasting new and exciting foods and food combos.

Last week a summer food showcase of regional Queensland produce at Brisbane’s Restaurant Two, organised by the Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries (QPIF), brought some new and newly established products into the spotlight.

There was delicious smoked aquaculture barramundi from the Sunshine Coast, buffalo milk cheeses and Davidson’s plum sauce from the Atherton Tablelands, rabbit from Stanthorpe, Achacha – a new tropical exotic fruit grown outside of Townsville, and free-range ham and bacon from Goondiwindi.

It was designed to tantalise the tastebuds of chefs, food buyers, industry representatives and food media, and expose some of Queensland’s lesser-known treasures.

“Fresh, farmed and unique summer produce from regional Queensland, such as wild-caught Red Throat Emperor from North Queensland and native rainforest fruits from the Sunshine Coast, is starting to find pride of place i…

Best burgers - Beastie Burgers

It should come as no surprise when I reveal I'm particularly fond of a good burger.  A much under rated meal, a burger will do it for me on many occasions.

Beastie Burgers at South Bank is a good example of the perfect place to get your fix.  It was recommended to me by David Pugh, chef and owner of Restaurant II and Queensland Chef of the Year, a man who obviously knows his food. Earlier this year, when I asked him for a list of good cheap eats, David included Beastie Burgers.

The surprise is that one of Brisbane's best pastry chefs, the talented and extremely amusing Caroline Jones, also works here.  But don't expect to find any of her delicious pastries, Caroline is very much in charge of the burger side of things here.  (You can tap into her knowledge at her occasional cooking classes at Executive Chef)

The amusing menu includes 14 burgers priced from $11.50 to $16.  The two most expensive burgers include a hefty piece of fish - Whistler with chermoula grilled salmon, …

Search for the perfect brekkie - Salt, Rosalie

I'll start this one by declaring my interest straight up - my son works here - okay! I think the food is great, particularly when it's served by my son, something he never showed me he could do at home. I've spoken to many people and this restaurant does have a strong following, so I'm not totally biased.

My last dining experience there was for my daughter's birthday and was just great. They made a bit of a fuss on her plate which added a nice touch.

Some background - Salt is a relaxed, open style restaurant in the busy strip at Rosalie. It can be hard to find a park and it's definitely best to book if you want a table at peak times.

The restaurant was taken over by Mario, who has a long history in the industry, earlier this year. It's running smoothly and many of the old staff are still there which I think is a good sign - Hi to Jay in the kitchen!

Okay - down to business. My search for the perfect brekkie revolves around a constant bacon, egg and tomato …

Food and wine on Q till 23 Oct

Sixteen of Brisbane’s best restaurants are offering a lunch not to be missed - two courses and a glass of wine for just $30pp from 12 - 23 October. With the great diversity of climate and growing conditions, Queensland has an amazing range of food and combining this with the imagination of our chefs, customers are the winners. In addition, the great drops from Queensland winemakers mean you can’t pass up this opportunity.

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. The restaurants involved are: Barolo Modern Mediterranean, Freestyle Tout Emporium, Giannis Restaurant, Harveys Bistro; Bar, Atrium Restaurant at Hilton Brisbane, Liquorish Bistro, Restaurant Manx, Restaurant Rapide, Restaurant Two, Three Bistro, Timmy’s Restaurant, Two Small Rooms and Iceworks Restaurant.

Food and Wine on Q

Coconut Jam - Anantara Koh Samui

Here's a little taste treat from the tropics. It has a flavour like coconut ice and is very rich, but use it sparingly and it is a real hit. I couldn't resist just spreading it toast but I'm sure you could be a lot more inventive.

It was a gift when I visited Anantara Koh Samui in Thailand during a recent holiday. This is a seriously lush resort with a spa that just begs to be sampled. It's on a long straight stretch of beach where we enjoyed dining on the night. Locals came past and sold us lanterns which flew up into the sky when they lit them. They carried our hopes and dreams, it was magical.

Just to introduce drool factor - I've included photos of the resort down below.

Samui Island Coconut Jam
Portion Yield: 800 GRM
200 gr. grated coconut flesh (Samui mountain coconut)
600 ml coconut milk
2 tbs fresh lime juice
100 ml coconut syrup*
250 gr. sugar

Using a blender, pulse the white coconut flesh until chopped into fine strands. A…

Barossa cleanskin sale

If you don't mind your wine a little plain (and at these prices, who cares) Purple Palete have 52 cases of the 2007 Barossa Shiraz cleanskin at a bargain price. Darren Davis says these are exceptional quality and won’t be around again till August next year. Pay $165/ case or $300 for two dozen. That’s $12.50 a bottle.

If whites are more your style for summer, then try the crisp 2008 Riesling cleanskin, made from 50 year old Eden Valley vines at $100/case.


Order from Darren Naylor: 0412 609 026

Search for the perfect cupcake - Tommy Bahamas

On Sunday I was strolling down Hastings Street, Noosa on a mission to enjoy an ice cream at Massimo's  (rockmelon and lychee sorbet was my choice) when I was distracted by cupcakes on offer at Tommy Bahamas.

This shop is better known for its distinctive men's wear - think Hawaiian shirts with a twist - but they have a coffee shop hidden away in the corner which does a fair trade.  There's seating out on the verandah and it's just around the corner from the beach which adds up to a great location.

My eagle eye spied cupcakes in the counter and after a closer look I just had to try one.  Pretty and pink, they looked delicious and the name 'Raspberry Macadamia Cupcake Friand' pushed all my buttons.

And I was not disappointed. The cake had a subtle almond flavour with plenty of macadamia crunchy bits. The surprise was the deep well of raspberry butter icing which was a wonderful foil to the cake - rich and creamy.

Although the friand mix is not a traditional cupca…

Italian treats

In a week when I am diligently attending boot camp and working my 'a' off running up hills, boxing and doing push ups, the evil (in a good way) folk at Cibo decided to launch their new range of Italian delicacies by sending me some. DRAT!

The easy solution would have been not to open the door but once faced with a full cake box of treats the only answer was to try some while sharing with friends. So I did.

Unfortunately there was more trying than sharing (so hoping the boot camp trainers are not reading this - I'm not looking forward to wearing the loser t-shirt they hand out on Fridays) cause they were definitely yummy.

The range includes
sweet Torciglioni (brioche filled with an orange scented chocolate custard coasted with sugar and cinnamon), Brioche Viennese (sweet brioche bun soaked with Alkerries liqueur, filled with orange custard)Panezerottie di ricotta (sweet bun filled and baked with sweet ricotta and dusted with icing sugar),Fiori di mandorla (almond meal biscuit…

Taste Italian - Gnocchi with gorgonzolla

Here's another recipe from Taste for the Love of Cooking's Taste Food and Wine Cooking Club.
This one is very rich, heart attack on a plate stuff, but very nice.  I'd suggest it in moderation, perhaps with a noice salad.

Gnocchi with gorgonzola
Prepared by John Gray

1kg floury potatoes, such as King Edwards or Maris Piperunpeeled
330g flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
250g gorgonzola cheese
30g Butter
3 tbsp double cream
black pepper
chopped chives, to garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4.
 2. Put the unpeeled potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with salted water and bring to the boil. Simmer briskly for 15-20 minutes until tender, then drain. Peel and cut in quarters. Place on a baking sheet and put it in the oven to dry for about 5 minutes
 3. Pass the potatoes through a mouli or coarse sieve set over a large bowl. Quickly stir in the flour and egg, and season with salt. When nicely blended, cover with a clean tea towel to retain the warmth.
 4. Ta…

Taste Italian - Porchetta

Recently I was invited to be a guest judge at one of Taste for the Love of Cooking’s Taste Wine and Food Club meetings. It was Italian night and the line up of dishes was impressive.

Everyone prepares a dish to share on the night and brings the recipe along to share as well. I’m going to share some more of my favourites from the night including this lovely Porchetta which was prepared by Deanne Higgins. I particularly liked the crunchy skin bits – yum.

Find out more about Taste’s cooking club

Taste for the Love of Cooking is a cooking/ homewares store in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley. Find it at 3 Montpelier Road. p 3252 1022

Prepared by Deanne Higgins
• 3kg boned shoulder of pork, butterflied and skin on
• sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

for the stuffing
• 2 onions, peeled and finely diced
• olive oil
• 200g chicken livers, cleaned and roughly chopped
• 200g pork mince
• 75g pine nuts
• 100g raisins
• ½ bunch of fresh sage, leaves picked and roughl…

End of an era for River Canteen

The writing is on the wall for River Canteen on the Boardwalk at Southbank as the Southbank Corporation plans a huge revamp for the space.

Brisbane will loose the board walk which is one of the last remaining elements of Expo and the building which currently houses River Canteen.

An inlet lagoon with a grassed river bank and five to six food outlets is what current plans indicate will reopen in the area in about two years time.

In the meantime River Canteen will trade until the wee hours of January 1, 2010 with a great menu that showcases their style well.

Where they will open after that is still in the melting pot but the owners are considering several CBD options which, of course, include a river view. The closure also has driven the launch of River Canteen's corporate catering arm.

But all is not lost yet. Still plenty of time to get in and enjoy some fabulous meals. Here's a run down of what to expect.

From top:
Fresh Pacific oysters with caramelised chardonnay vinegar and…