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Showing posts from March, 2010

Hidden cupcake surprises - Couture Cupcakes, Bardon, Brisbane

There's nothing I like better than a surprise, especially when it comes with a cupcake!

A good cupcake looks delicious to eat and tastes delicious too. It has icing that doesn't make your teeth tingle but compliments the cake.

But most of all, a good cupcake takes you on a little journey.  Maybe it's back to your grandma's kitchen because you're eating something that tastes like her fairy cakes or perhaps it's the streets of New York where you first tasted that rich style of cupcake made famous by Magnolias.

And then, just when you thought it couldn't get any better, there's a surprise inside. A gooey centre that bursts into your mouth and explodes with flavour.  I love cupcakes like this, not every time mind or the surprise would be dissipated, but just when I don't expect it.

Couture Cupcakes new Fairy Cake cupcake and Lemon Meringue cupcakes promise this and deliver.  The fairy cake has a large drop of strawberry jam and the lemon meringue has l…

Manu's Pears - Hilton Brisbane Masterclass Weekend Launch

Here's a question a lot of women would like to know the answer to - What sort of pears does My Kitchen Rules co-star, chef Manu Fiedel like?

The cheeky chef was having plenty of fun playing with words at the launch of the 2010 Hilton Brisbane Masterclass Weekend (24 & 25 July) egged on by former 'Ready Steady Cook' colleagues Alastair McLeod and Matt Golinski.

The three were all at the Brisbane Hilton cooking lunch for an eager crowd ready to celebrate the launch of new Masterclass program.

Manu was the finale to the meal  with a dessert, Poire Belle Helene, a classic French dish of poached pears with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.

When it comes to choosing pears, Manu's tongue-in-cheek advice to the adoring women in the audience was "You need a good pear.  Size doesn't matter as long as they are good and firm."

Manu says the chocolate sauce recipe can also be used as body paint.  No one was game to ask more about that!

Will we be seeing mor…

Tasty Bits - bmag, March 23

Easter Treats - Gerbino's

If you are looking for a different way to celebrate Easter, head to Gerbino’s pasticceria at Kelvin Grove for one of their Colombo cakes, baked in the shape of a dove to symbolize new life.

These large cakes are traditionally eaten on Good Friday. Making the cake is a 36-hour process as the dough has to rest several times and Gerbino's owner Salvatore Gerbino says that’s why it stays nice and moist.

Columbo cakes cost $20 and have to be pre-ordered with two days notice. Supplies are limited as Gerbino’s has only enough imported Italian flour for 60 cakes.

Another Easter treat, also to be found at Gerbino’s, is a marzipan tableau of a lamb in a field called an Agnello Pasquale. Easter Marzipan Lamb is a Sicilian tradition.

The Gerbino’s range currently consists of over 300 products including handmade biscuits, gelato and artisan breads. Although they are all tempting, the Limon cello shortbreads are to die for!

Kelvin Grove Urban Village, Musk Avenue, Kelvin Grove, …

Best burgers - Normanby Hotel, Red Hill

Getting that burger feeling? If you want one that really hits the spot this burger from the Normanby at Red Hill looks a good fit. Thank you to my partner, Kevin, for stopping to photograph this before he ate it! It takes restraint believe me folks!

There's a large selection of burgers but this one is "The Normanby" and comes with bacon, cheese, lettuce, beetroot, tomato, onion jam and pickles and a choice of of chicken schnitzel, 100% ground beef, grilled haloumi or beef steak - all for $13.90. All the burgers come with a sour dough roll and fries.

Normanby Hotel
1 Musgrave Road
Red Hill QLD 4059
(07) 3831 3353

New at Paddington - Eurovida

I popped in last week to check out the new addition to the line up in Given Terrace, Paddington, Brisbane, Eurovida.

The premises, formerly occupied by Coffee and Chocolate, have been given a mini makeover with the addition of some very stylish wooden 'antler-style' chandliers.  I'd love one of those! It's now possible to see right through to the back where there's a nice view over Brisbane and what looks like pots of herbs. That must make the kitchen happy.

The staff were very helpful, especially when rain caused us to relocate tables, and the whole place now has a good vibe.

Our mission was lunch and that was easily solved with two menu items - Penne with chicken, vine ripened tomato, basil and shaved parmesan and one of the day's specials - a very yummy meat pie.

The pie was a surprisingly light meal as it only had pastry on top and was accompanied by a small salad which was fresh and flavoursome.  My partner's penne also met with approval.

I'd like…

Search for the perfect cupcake - Cupcake Bakery, Sydney

This cupcake came to me via Peta Ellis of City Publicity, a fellow cupcake lover.

Peta visited Sydney recently was was very impressed with a Hummingbird cupcake from the Cupcake Bakery. Peta said "It was moist and the icing was made of real cream cheese!"

The Cupcake Bakery website describes it as a banana, pineapple and pecan cake with cream cheese, buttercream, coconuts and pineapple topping - wow!  They sell for $4.50 each.

Find the Cupcake Bakery on the lower ground floor of the QVB building or at 320 George Street, Sydney.

The lab bar + restaurant, Treasury Casino + Hotel

Yesterday I was invited to sample the new autumn menu at The Lab Bar + Restaurant located in the Treasury Casino Hotel.  I'm surprised to say that I haven't eaten here before - my Treasury Hotel experiences have been limited to functions and the bar.

Walking through the grand corridors I was reminded how gracious this building is and what a wonderful reminder of Brisbane's history it holds.

Joining us at the table was Lee Kuhnell, Treasury Casino & Hotel Executive Chef while Lab Bar + Restaurant Sous Chef Craig Bettjeman came out as each of the six courses was served to share a little of the history.

We started with freshly shucked Sydney Rock oysters with a sauce made from North Queensland finger limes, salmon roe and cucumber. The sauce was a tangy and fresh contrast of lime and salmon roe.

Search for the perfect cupcake - Beetroot & chocolate cupcakes

Just about the first stall I discovered at the Noosa Farmers Market was Chocolate Provisions. Wow - chocolate from one end to the other plus lots of other goodies.

Sitting there on a plate just waiting for me to sample them were Chocolate beetroot cupcakes. I've seen recipes incorporating different vegetables into chocolate cakes and a zucchini one is a personal fave, but beetroot was new to me.

The cupcake had a rich chocolate flavour with just a hint of the earthyness of beetroot.  Unlike a carrot cake, you couldn't see the beetroot at all in the cake, it just added a lot of moistness.

The Noosa Farmers Markets are on every Sunday from 7am to midday at the Aussie Rules Football ground on Weyba Road, Noosaville. The market has a good selection of the freshest of regional produce, grown or produced on the Sunshine Coast and surrounding districts.  I'll be blogging this in more details soon.

In the meantime - here's a recipe you could use to create your own beetroot…

Noosa Food and Wine Festival

Book your  room and pack your bags,  Noosa has got a show lined up for you that you won't want to miss!

The Audi Noosa Food and Wine Festival from April 30 to May 2 has a stellar line up with lunches, masterclasses and food trails.

According to Jim Berardo who started the festival seven years ago there will be plenty of famous faces in singlets and shorts walking the streets of Noosa. Jim says this is a festival that promotes the producers as much as the food and chefs and looking at the line up of ingredients I can only agree.

What am I looking forward to?  On Friday there's a Top Tastes of Queensland lunch combining Queensland's top produce with nine top Queensland wines and six top Queensland chefs.  Think Philip Johnson, Ryan Squires, Nick Holloway, Brad Jolly, Meyjitte Boughenout and Lizzie Loel with wines presented by Tony Harper.

Unfortunately I can't be in two places at once or I'd also be lining up for the Tastes of Iberica lunch that takes your taste buds…

Ortiga, Fortitude Valley

Simon Hill's Ortiga has been on my must try list for way too long so I was very pleased when it was announced  as the venue for the launch of the Audi Noosa Food and Wine Festival (30 April - 2 May).
It's located in Brunswick Street, just out of the heart of the Valley hustle and was formerly Isis. Simon has a long history of outstanding restaurants and Ortiga is no exception.  It's been described in The Australian as 'the most serious Spanish restaurant in Australia'.
And it didn't disappoint! I'm still thinking about the slow cooked lamb and the chocolate and caramel ice cream dessert.
The line up for the festival looks superb but more on that soon.  Here's what we had for lunch. .

Merlo opens at Paddington, Brisbane

Yay! Coffee lovers rejoice! Merlo has opened a drive-in coffee shop at Paddington, Brisbane!

It's located on the corner of Latrobe Terrace and Alma Street on the site of an old servo (next to the Brow Bar) so there's plenty of parking just out the front. This site has had more incarnations than I can even remember but I think Merlo is here to stay

Except for Cabinessence tucked away in an old chemist shop on Enoggera Terrace, there's not a lot of great coffee in Paddington.

At Merlo you can drop in and buy freshly roasted beans for your home use and also pick up a free takeaway (with other purchase) at the same time.  At the back there's one long table and plenty of bench seating around the walls.

Dean Merlo was visiting when I popped in to try the coffee of the month - Columbian.  I asked him if there were plans to expand the limited range of food (three types of biscuits only) with something like cupcakes - which are of course essential to general well being.  He sai…

Granite Belt Flavours at South Bank

This Sunday the Granite Belt will once again showcase their fine wares at South Bank.

The markets are held in Little Stanley Street,South Bank from 10am to 3pm.

Apart from the cost of parking at South Bank (a one off fee of $15 even if you only stay for an hour - and on a Sunday), this is one of my personal fave markets. 

My best tip is get there early, snaffle some street parking and enjoy the range of fresh produce, wines and products.

Look out for a series of five food and wine matching sessions hosted by well known chef Peter Howard. Peter will present classic red and white wine varieties, plus some exciting alternative varieties with food suggestions. About 30 food and wine producers from the Granite Belt will be making the trek to Brisbane.
You could be one of the six members of the public who will have the chance to join Peter’s tasting panel in each session- see programme below.

Sessions 1 & 3 WHITES (10.30am and 12.30pm)
· Sirromet 2007 Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir

Talking food on ABC Radio Sunday Breakfast

I enjoy sharing the love when it comes to good food so was delighted when Kim Dennison invited me for a chat on her ABC 91.7 Sunday morning breakfast program.

I chatted with Kim in February about what makes a good cupcake and the essential ingredients to a good breakfast. We explored what it takes to make a good burger and what to do with finger limes.  It's not hard to fill half an hour talking about food.

On Sunday March 14 I talked about the huge range of food festivals on the calendar for the next few months.  We dipped into Feast of the Senses on around Innisfail in March, the Granite Belt Flavours Market at South Bank on March 21, and the Audi Noosa Food and Wine Festival at beautiful Noosa from April 30 to May 2.  Other festivals mentioned were Opera in the Vineyard at Ballandean on May 2 and Hampton High Country on May 16.  More details on these festivals.

Next time we are going to explore the different types of food movements around from Freeguns to Slow Food.  It should …

Limes Hotel - Happy hopping for Easter

If you are not one of the thousands of people who will be fighting for space on the Bruce or heading to the Goldie for Easter, Limes Hotel in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley has a line up that will keep you more than entertained.
I've had some great sessions on their roof top bar solving the problems of the world. Their chippies are great too!

You could start with knock off drinks from 3pm on Thursday with live jazz from 7pm featuring  acoustic duo Two Darn Hot with vocalist Amy Michaels and seven-string guitarist Nick Watson.
I like the sound of Easter egg cocktails on the roof top bar on Saturday and the Special Easter Sunday Session on the roof top with a Corona , Mojitos, BBQ and live DJ from 3pm.

There's a free Roof Top Cinema showing of  “The Wedding Singer” on the Monday - let's hope the rain has finished!
Happy Hopping!
Limes Hotel, 142 Constance St, Fortitude Valley Roof top bar opens at 3pm. p 3852 9000 

Easter cooking classes for kids

The My Little Hilton children’s cooking classes this Easter see kids joining the Hilton chef’s for a themed Easter cooking class at the Brisbane Hilton.

The kids roll up their sleeves, don a real chef’s apron with hat, and get their hands dirty to turn out cookies, cake and lots of other little goodies.

The classes are designed for children aged between 5 and 10 and a second class is available for children aged between 10 and 15 years.

All participants on the day receive a special lunch in the Atrium Restaurant and take home their culinary delights, recipe book and Chef’s hat and apron.

My Little Hilton Easter Cooking Classes
When: Saturday 3 April 2010
Class one (children 5-10): 11:00am-13:00pm
Class two (young adults 10-15): 11:00am-13:00pm
Cooking class and lunch: $45.00 per child/young adult

Reservations- Hilton Events Office on 07 3231 3231 or

Easter Cupcakes

How cute are these Easter cupcakes I found at Milkbar, Ashgrove in Brisbane's inner west.  These are sure to put a smile on the face of children and adults alike. And so good to eat!

While I was there, I just couldn't resist this raspberry white choc cupcake.  It's got real raspberries inside and the icing is just delicious.

Bottom line:  Large range of consistently good cupcakes, good coffee plus general cafe food. Plenty of parking underneath. Caters for kids. Milkbar 16  Ashgrove  Ave,
Ashgrove, 3366 2007

Ship Inn, South Bank, Brisbane

Today, with so many restaurants in Brisbane to choose from, it’s all about a point of difference.  That’s why the Ship Inn’s ‘We love ewes’ menu is such a good idea.

In a dining scene where too many big players are offering the world’s best steaks, the Ship Inn at the top end of the South Bank parklands, is bucking the trend and promoting lamb.  It’s also on Aria’s specials menu this month.

Buba & La, Paddington, Brisbane

This is a newly opened shop that offers lots of different things.  Its got women's clothes, lots of gifts, homewares, children's toys etc and a small cafe.

You'll find Baba & La on Latrobe Terrace at Paddington in between the Antique Centre and Thousand Island Dressing - the top end.

There's some cafe seating inside but most of it is outside on the front verandah.  Even on a very hot Brisbane day it was quite cool with a breeze (such a blessing).  Unfortunately there were no cupcakes but I did have a muffin - raspberry and white chocolate - and it was very good.  It was moist and fresh with plenty of white chocolate inside.  I might have liked an extra raspberry but I'm not going to complain because I really enjoyed the muffin.

The coffee was reasonable but just a little bitter.

It's only a small menu but if you are looking for a quick snack or a coffee and cake where you can browse as well, then this is a good choice.

Bottom line:  This was a 4 outa 5 on…

Search for the perfect cupcake -More-ish, Milton, Brisbane

Hot and tired, I decided to try a coffee at place that had been recommended to me as having fabulous brekkies - More-ish at Milton.

I spied a cupcake in the cabinet and couldn't resist the chance to taste it.  I should have....

Unfortunately it had been in the cabinet way too long and was completely dried out.  There was nothing to recommend it, even the icing didn't taste great. I stopped after two bites.

I politely passed on my comments to the waitress who served me. She was very pleasant and offered to tell the chef but did not offer me my money back or a substitute.

It's unfortunate when this happens but cupcakes are susceptible to drying out in a cake cabinet.  Cafes really need to be vigilant about checking their stock.  At the least they should offer you your money back or a replacement.

Bottom line:  Not an experience I will repeat.

12 Baroona Road, Milton  p 3876 6411

Sticky Toffee Pudding Cupcakes

Inspired by my new Sunbeam Pattie cupcake maker I’ve been experimenting with cupcakes. Here’s a warning to my friends – expect to see lots of cupcakes at every occasion!

I love the convenience of making cupcakes with ‘Miss Pattie’ without having my kitchen turn into an inferno!

My latest effort was for a dinner party gathering of a large group of friends. I had to make the cupcakes again because I forgot to photograph them on the night!

Aria, CBD, Brisbane

It was yet another day when Brisbane's sky opened and the rain fell in an avalanche.  Roads flooded, cars floated, chairs drifted away but I was safe in the bar at Aria hoping my daughter made it home safely after dropping me in town. (Thank you sweetie!)

The people from Orient Express were in town to talk about their new product and when only the best will do, Aria was the natural choice.

We sat in the bar and watched the rain and shuddered as lightening cracked around the city towers waiting for those who weren't able to make it before the storm.

Aria is the sort of restaurant where you expect and receive something special - anything less is disappointing.  Our lunch choices were certainly not disappointing.  The flavours were strong, the presentation imaginative and the combinations exciting to the palate. Even the torrential rain did not dampen our enthusiasm.

My main was a roasted fillet of barramundi with confit fennel, asparagus, marinated calamari, brandade and fennel …

Tasty bits - bmag

I'm now writing a regular column in bmag on food and the sort of stuff that makes your mouth drool!

bmag is delivered direct to over 428,627 Brisbane homes fortnightly reaching a potential audience of over 1,101,000 people every edition. Yes - it's one of those newspapers that hopefully finds its way into your letterbox.

Tsuru Sushi Cafe, Ashgrove, Brisbane

Sushi is a very popular meal choice today.  It's seen as a healthy alternative but still has the capacity to hit the spot.  There's lots of places to buy it but the taste doesn't always live up to the promise.

At Tsuru the product looks fresh and it is.  There's a chef in the kitchen who's constantly turning out new sushi and he will happily make it to order as well.  It only takes a few minutes, as we found out, and they are happy to do it.

Mt Glorious Restaurant & Cafe, Mt Glorious

The weather looked fine enough when we started on this motor bike trip to Mt Glorious.  My partner was worried about wet roads and bikes sliding but with sunny skies I thought it would dry quickly.

The roads at Mt Glorious snake gloriously between the trees and rainforest, along hilltop ridges and down gullies to the next ridge.  It's a beautiful ride for the passenger, looking down on to the green valleys through the bush and drinking in the aroma of the rainforest.

When we hit a patch of low level cloud I guessed the weather wasn't going to get brighter - and it didn't.  We had just arrived at our destination when the rain really set in for a while.  It didn't matter because we were perched on the edge of the mountain at Mt Glorious Restaurant and Cafe.

Lunch in Paris

I've just returned from a quick coffee break at The Black Cat, formerly Mary Ryans, on Latrobe Terrace, Paddington. I'll blog it soon, but in the mean time I picked up this great book "Lunch in Paris" by Elizabeth Bard. 'A delicious love story, with recipes'  it says on the cover.

It had me with the first sentence on the back cover - 'The chocolate centres flows like dark lava onto the whiteness of the plate. The last ounce of stress drains from my body... I have discovered the French version of Death by Chocolate.'

AND - it promises recipes. Stay tuned for an update on this as I work through the pages and recipes.

Search for the perfect cupcake - Sunbeam's Pattie

I love making cupcakes but I live in Brisbane, Queensland.  It's hot here in summer and too hot some days to heat up the house by turning on the oven.  That's why I was very interested when I saw Sunbeam's Pattie in a catalogue.  I thought it would be the perfect solution to the heat problem and I've been proven right.

I asked Sunbeam if they would let me play with one and next day one arrived by delivery!  Thank you Sunbeam.

Aria - Moran’s Lamb Lunch for March

Do Brisbanites love lamb? Clearly Matt Moran thinks so – in the six months since the restaurant opened he says lamb has been a clear favourite.

Aria has introduced a special lamb menu for March and it's not just any lamb - this lamb comes from the Moran family sheep property. Matt grew up in country NSW and retains his ties to the farming community and his commitment to locally grown produce.

The Moran’s Lamb lunch specials are priced at $38.00 per person for the main course plus a glass of wine. Key dishes include:

Northey Street Organic Markets, Windsor, Brisbane

We had intended to rise early but it seemed better to sleep in and so it wasn't until about 9.30 that we arrived at the Northey Street Organic Markets in Windsor, Brisbane. That was a mistake because these markets close around 10.30am.

These markets are long established and have a regular following. It's Brisbane's only certified organic farmers market. Fresh produce, dairy and dry goods are all available and there is an edible landscapes plant nursery. Look out for permaculture workshops as well.