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Showing posts from June, 2010

Ma Mensa, Noosa Heads, Sunshine Coast

There's nothing like a spot of Italian for a group of hungry foodies and so on a recent Noosa sojourn I headed along to the well known Ma Mensa in Hasting Street.

Located at the northern end of Hastings Street, Ma Mensa has an indoor/outdoor setting with more than a touch of Italy.  It's popular amongst visitors and locals and the prices are in the reasonable range, especially for the pasta, risottos and pizzas.

bmag June 22

Top 10 Wellington Travel Tips

Windy Wellington certainly lived up to its reputation for my fleeting visit in June.

The only sign of blue sky that I saw was a poster of the harbour at the Central Markets. Boy it looked beautiful!

Unfortunately for most of my visit the sky looked like this.

Even the locals were complaining about the weather but that didn't stop a whole bunch of them trudging, or I should say running in the Wellington Marathon. They breed 'em tough here.
One of my fellow travellers, who has visited many parts of the world, said in her view Wellington on a good day is one of the prettiest cities in the world.
Inclement weather certainly didn't slow us down. We wined and dined our way throughout the CBD and the interior of Te Papa was warm and dry despite the rain outside. Te Papa is a not-to-be-missed  Wellington highlight for all the family.
Here are my top 10 Wellington travel tips -

In Wellington on a Sunday and like food? Don't miss the City Markets next to Te Papa. These ind…

The Interislander Ferry - New Zealand

I’m at sea, but in a good way.

I’m crossing the gap between the New Zealand’s two islands known as the Cook Strait.

The journey gets most interesting when we reach the Marlborough Sound but today it’s a bit cloudy and rainy so I’m waiting to see it all unfold over the next day.

The Interislander is like a ‘floating bridge’, transporting passengers, passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles and rail freight between Wellington and Picton. Around 1 million passengers and ¼ million vehicles are transported each year.

I’m on the Kaitaki – the largest passenger ferry in New Zealand. Capacity for 1,650 passengers, 1,780 lane metres vehicles, 60 crew. 181.6m long, 22,365 tonnes, 20.5 knots max speed.

Even better, I’m in the Kaitaki Plus lounge which is billed as the most comfortable and luxurious way to travel between the islands.  And it sure feels that way. There are comfy chairs, free internet access, free papers, food and drinks, and no children under 18 years!  This is how I like to trave…

Brisbane Masterclass Update

Thinking of drinking in the brilliance of passionate patissier Adriano Zumbo at the Hilton Brisbane Masterclass weekend (July 24 & 25)? Well if you haven't already booked you're too late - it's now booked out.

And here's the kicker - Masterclass Coordinator Alison Alexander says he's doing something with Wagu beef. No more information was coming from her lips so you'll just have to wait and see.

You'll leave with a special treat is the teaser in the promo for this session - wish I was going to be there!

I'll just have to join the queue of Sydney siders outside Adriano's Balmain patisserie to indulge in his famous French macaroons or his luscious cakes and pastries.

South Bank Surf Club, South Bank, Brisbane

Lifesavers on watch towers marked the entrance to Ben O'Donoghue's new South Bank Surf Club which opened last night.

In typical lifesaver style they were nonchalantly checking out the crowd but it must have been a trifle chilly atop those towers. And yes, they were wearing budgie smugglers while everyone else had donned overcoats and scarves. We were told to dress warm because it's an outside venue but it's really quite warm for an outside venue. The crowd and heaters kept us all toasty while the glasses of champagne dulled any pain.

South Bank Surf Club is located overlooking Kodak Beach in Brisbane's South Bank.  The restaurant fits the position well - it's casual dining with an edge reflected in the menu which ranges from straight up char grilled grass fed Barcoo Darling Downs Angus X Rib Eye steak and Surf Club fish and chips to kingfishsashimi and wasabi prawns.  The menu is heavily seafood but there's enough for non-seafood lovers (chicken, lamb, st…

The Tea Centre, Albert Lane, Brisbane

Brisbane's laneways are finally emerging from dust bin haven to coffee heaven creating new quirky eating experiences throughout the city.

The new Albert Lane is not the result of a makeover, instead it has emerged from nowhere as part of a redevelopment on the corner of Queen and Albert Streets in the heart of  Brisbane. It's home to several eateries worth checking out - Vapiano, Mad Espresso and Little Singapore.

But if you are after a good cup of tea it's hard to go past The Tea Centre.  They have over 180 varieties of tea and an eclectic selection of tea pots and tea cups on display and for sale.

The Tea Centre is part of chain with eight retail shops on the east coast. Their tea comes from around the world and is air freighted to Australia every 6 to 8 weeks - about 25 tonne of it annually. So you can pretty well guarantee there's going to be a tea for you - if you can make the choice.

Along with your tea you can have a sweet treat ranging from brownies or apricot…

Kim Thanh Restaurant, West End

My only trip to Vietnam was a two-day conference several years ago.  We were treated to several formal banquets but I didn’t get a chance to get out and eat in the streets as I would have liked.

So when one of my twitter ‘friends', Bao La, who is apprentice chef to his mother at her 24-year-old Vietnamese restaurant in Brisbane's West End, Kim Thanh,  issued an invitation for a Saturday night dinner with a few other bloggers, it was irresistible.

The restaurant has a typical busy Asian atmosphere with large tables full of people enjoying the food.

Here’s what Bao rolled out from the kitchen –

Vietnamese fried spring rolls (cha gio) came first (pictured above). Bao says in Vietnam rice paper is used instead of pastry, usually caramelised rice paper. The filling ingredients were pork mince, crab meat, prawn mince, taro, onion, carrots, bean thread vermicelli and fungus.

There also was a Vietnamese pancake (banh xeo), literal translation would be "cake sizzling…

Echinda Magic Restaurant, Mt Gravatt

Not living on the south side of Brisbane, Mt Gravatt is a place I rarely visit and I'm ashamed to say I've never been to the lookout before.

Usually when I'm looking for a view of Brisbane, I head to Mount Coot-tha which is just up the road. There the kiosk has morphed into a cafe and there's also a restaurant. The views are great but it's also very crowded, sometimes with buses full of tourists.

You won't find bus loads of people at Mt Gravatt lookout but you will find great views and a children's playground that's sure to please young and old. We had a bit of fun on the moving platform after lunch but it was a challenge in high heels.

But to the food.  I was lunching with friends who were also keen to try out this new cafe/restaurant which quietly opened several months ago.It was a windy day so the only seats worth taking were the ones inside.  I could imagine on a clear winter's day the seats outside would be superb.

We chose a trio of dips an…

Tetsuya's Pursuit of Excellence

I'll be watching Tetsuya's Pursuit of Excellence on SBS ONE at 7.30pm tonight with plenty of interest.  Not only because I'm doing a master class with him in August but I'll also be looking for an 80s perm! Not for myself, but the 80s incarnation of a friend on my Eat,drink+beKerry facebook page.

Sue and Danny White are the ones in the documentary.  Sue is the one with the perm, not Danny.  Tetsuya is a friend  from way back and they supplied lots of the old photos for the documentary from when he first came to Australia in the early 80s. (That explains the perm - I wonder if we should look for shoulder pads too?)

Sue says Tetsuya is such a nice person and Danny hired him as a kitchen hand for his first job in Australia. She surprised Danny and invited him to the opening of their restuarant  in Scarborough which, appropriately, is called Danny's Restaurant.

Now you have some extra trivia to make your night's foodie television!  See what else is on this week.

Kangaroo Island - the movie!

Here's snippets of our five day trek over Kangaroo Island with Park Trek. It was a wonderful experience.

I'm writing about the full journey in the August edition of Go Camping Australia. Thank you to my partner, Special K, for compiling this video. Many hours of work here - you are a champion!

Capri Cafe Bar, Emporium, Brisbane.

You really should try a pizza at Capri Cafe Bar, but don't forget to explore the whole menu.

Reviewed in Where Magazine

The Outpost Cafe, Canungra, Gold Coast Hinterland

Some beautiful winter weather saw us heading out on a motor bike ride on Sunday through the Gold Coast Hinterland.

We planned a half day ride to end in a barbeque lunch back in Brisbane. It was cold when we started so many layers were required to make the ride enjoyable and neck warmers essential!

Starting from Windsor, we headed down the M1 to turn inland towards Canungra. Once you leave the highway, the scenery is wonderful with plenty of rolling hills, occasional farms and lots of bushland.

The Outpost Cafe in Canungra loomed just in time for morning tea. As evidenced by the line up of bikes outside, this is a popular cafe with bikers.  And there were plenty of them taking advantage of the beautiful weather.

Located on Canugra's main street, The Outpost Cafe is open from 6am and closes at 4.30pm except on Fridays when it is also open for dinner. We were too late for breakfast so settled for scones, jam and cream with a cup of coffee.  Special K ordered double shots because las…

Foodies survey - make your opinion count!

How often food is the main motive for travelling to another region, state or country?

Researchers from The University of Queensland’s School of Tourism want to find out.

Professor Don Getz and lecturer Richard Robinson are so serious about their food tourism research, they have roped in executive chef from Hamilton restaurant Bretts Wharf, Alastair McLeod, to help them with a voucher offer for those who complete the survey. Find the survey at in the box on the left or just go here

Alastair said he considered himself a food tourist, with recent travel to the US and Canada to keep up with the latest trends.

"Research is essential. You rest, you rust! " he said. "Experiencing the food of a country or region is in itself experiencing the place. Taste and smell are two of our most powerful senses.

"The public are much more educated and interested about food. Television cooking shows have had an enormous influence, I think."

The UQ researcher…

bmag June 8

Brisbane Cheese Awards winners

Here are the Gold Medal winners in the 2010 Brisbane Cheese Awards judged at Inn on the Park, Alice Street, Brisbane on June 12.

Congratulations to Witches Chase Cheese!

Primary Industries Cup – Best Queensland Cheese
Witches Chase Cheese Co Semi Hard Cooked Style - Chevphilly

Lord Mayor’s Cup – Champion Cheese
Jindi Cheese Washed Rind - Fire Engine Red

Cheese Please Cup
Best Fresh Curd – Soft
Meredith Dairy Ash Chevre

Fine Fruit on James Cup
Best Fresh Curd – Marinated
Yarra Valley Dairy Persian Fetta

Black Pearl Epicure Cup
Best White Mould
Woodside Cheese Wrights Woodside McLaren

Palatable Partners Cup
Best Blue Cheese
Jindi Cheese Sapphire Blue

Fino Fine Food Cup
Best Washed Rind
Jindi Cheese Fire Engine Red

Rosalie Gourmet Market Cup
Best Cheddar

Brisbane Cheese Awards 2010

Today was the judging of the Brisbane Cheese Awards at Royal on the Park in Alice Street, Brisbane.

The day started at 9am with about 15 judges equipped with hats and gowns and over 185 cheeses to taste.

The cheeses are divided into Fresh curd- soft; Fresh curd - textured; Fresh curd - matured; Fresh curd - marinated; White mold; Blue Mould; Washed Rind; Cheddar; Semi Hard Cooked Style and Hard Cooked Style.

I drew the short straw and had to start with Blue Mould at 9am in the morning but after the first five or so it didn't really matter any more.  The goal is to judge each cheese on its own merits according to taste, presentation and texture.  The judges are divided into groups taste all the cheeses on one table first, selecting their top five.  These top cheeses are then tasted by all the judges to find those worthy of a gold medal which requires 45 points or more out of 50.

I'm lucky because I seem to be able to retain my palette throughout the morning although I won't …