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Showing posts from January, 2016

Would you like a coffee with that owl? Akiba Fukurou Owl Cafe

Take a seat at a Tokyo cafe and the chair next to you might be occupied by a rabbit, snake, goat, cat, dog or even an owl.

The chance to get up close and personal with a variety of animals is one of the many attractions of visiting Japan.  The weirder the better does it for me, so I headed off to a cafe where there are as many owls as there are people.

Akiba Fukurou is a popular spot to visit and visitors line up outside waiting for their hour of owl.

Although it's widely known as a cafe and looks like a cafe, the owner of Akiba Fukurou prefers to call it a relaxation space where visitors can interact with the owls and doesn't actually serve food or drink.

Once inside, guests take a seat and have the chance to meet the resident owls.  There are about 20 owls ranging in size from petite to quite large.  They don't seem terribly bothered by the people around them and some just chose to nap the hour away.

Guests are instructed not to disturb sleeping owls or those with sign…

Romance is not dead at The Chelsea Bistro

You might not be feeling romantic when you arrive, but fine food and fine wine under the twinkling lights on a warm Brisbane evening at The Chelsea Bistro will leave you in a pleasant state of mind where anything is possible.

The heritage listed Barracks building on Petrie Terrace is home to several good restaurants,  Libertine, Peasant and Los Villannos Mexican Kitchen.  The Chelsea's menu is best described as modern Australian with a deft twist that includes highlights including the spice of chimichurri, a touch of Italian with squid ink arancini and olives that are smoked in house.

If you are looking for value, the prix-fixe deal is hard to beat with two courses plus wine and coffee for $35.

From the prixe menu - the burrata came out with a creamy knot of cheese with the wonderful varigated colours of heirloom tomatoes doused with aged balsamic and several slices of sour dough toast.  I followed it with the Vietnamese crispy duck salad which the chef kindly made without onion …

10 things you didn't know about Nigella Lawson

She's every bit as gorgeous in real life as she is on television, but the real Nigella Lawson is also warm and decidedly down to earth.

In Australia to take part in Masterchef, definitely not I'm a Celebrity Get -Me Out of Here, Nigella is also launching her new book, Simply Nigella, which has been inspired by what she has been eating over the past three years.

Business Chicks  brought Nigella to Brisbane for a breakfast event at Sofitel Brisbane.

1. There are more than 5000 titles in her cook book collection.

2.Don't call her a chef - prefers a to call herself a food writer.

3. Success didn't start for Nigella until she was 40 years old.  She believes it helps not to plan your life because if you focus too much on a five year goal, the lead up is not going to seem very worthwhile. Should embrace everything whole-heartedly because you never know where it will lead.

4. She doesn't let anyone tweet on her behalf and tries to post a recipe everyday on social media.

Discover the 10 best Brisbane food blogs to follow

Who should you follow to get the best on Brisbane's food scene?

Dining options in Brisbane have exploded in choice since I first started writing about it seven years ago. I've seen lots of food bloggers come and go, but there's always those that stand out from the crowd.

When I choose to read a food blog, I expect to find interesting and truthful commentary that goes beyond the ordinary report on what was eaten. Something that gives an insight into the venue, the food style and chef's direction.  I want a blog that takes me to new and back to established places that are worth visiting, and gives tips on what to order or how to get the most from the experience.

If the post is written from a hosted experience, I want to know about it and expect disclosure.  It's only good manners. I don't place much value on websites and newsletters that are written as advertorials when this is not disclosed to the reader, although they can be useful for keeping track of new ope…

Calamities in the kitchen - top tips on how to clean up the mess

That moment, the moment when you know it is all going pear-shaped in the kitchen big time.

The moment when the lemonade explodes out of the bottle, the full cake pan oozes all over the oven or the platter slips from the fridge to the floor.

We've all had those times in the kitchen when you'd really rather be someone else other that the person who is going to have to clean that up.

Here are my top tips.

1. Stay calm It's important not to loose your cool.  After all, no one has died, it's just a mess.  Even if something has broken, it's more important that your nearest and dearest have not been hurt.

2. Vacuum the worst up first
If it's dry try the vacuum first for a quick clean up.  Sugar, salt, sprinkles, flour and coconut all clean up well with a quick vacuum.  It's more efficient than using the broom as this can create more mess by moving  things into the air. You can even use a hand help vacuum to clean up bench top spills.

3. Spray the area with a water/v…

Small is even more beautiful when it comes to cruise ships

We all know that size matters, but here's a ship that really proves it's not what you've got but how you use it.
With the trend towards cruise liners big enough to sleep a small nation, well at least 6,000 people, Azamara Quest is small fry accommodating just 686 guests. However when it comes to visiting tiny little European fishing ports, Azamara's captain says this is the vessel you want to be on.

Azamara Quest is the first ship from Azamara Club Cruises to visit Australia and it's been a long time coming for the eight year old company.

One of the points of difference with this cruise brand is longer stays and more overnight stays at destinations. For the Brisbane stop guests arrived at Portside Wharf at 8am and didn’t have to get back onboard until 6pm. Azamara Quest docked in Brisbane on a 10-day voyage from Cairns to Sydney.

For the technically minded, this ship is 180 metres long and 25 metres wide with nine guest decks.  It weighs 30,277 tones and has a cru…

When a long flight doesn't mean a long night - Brisbane to LA

Setting out on a journey with the expectation that it's going to be long and hard is a my least favourite way to start a holiday.  However, the world is full of surprises and Virgin Australia's economy flight from Brisbane to Los Angeles proved to me that not all long haul flights are special sort of hell.

Instead I arrived at my first destination after over 13 hours in the back end of the plane feeling able to tackle another flight leg without serious damage.

 Flight reviews JAL Sydney to Tokyo Brisbane to Hong Kong with Cathay

Researching for the best flight for my one week trip to New York, I was looking for a price/time combination which would give me the quickest flight at a reasonable cost.  Virgin Australia's route won out with their Brisbane flight that departed at 11.20am and arrived at Los Angeles at 6.30am.

I didn't board with high expectations but straight away, I was also impressed that there was already a bottle of water waiting for me in my seat pocket.  …

Sealed with a kiss at Ascot

It was the way the cool girls at school signed off on the heavily folded notes that were surreptitiously passed around the class.

SWALK, or sealed with a loving kiss, was on the back and the recipient's name on the front. Sometimes is was all about a lovers tryst but often it was just a request to borrow someone's home work. I wonder if they still pass notes around today or is it much easier just to text or message?

It's a great name for a coffee shop located right next door to a Post Office. Of course it's just around the corner from that other Ascot institution, Victor Scott and the very fabulous cafe/cakeshop/deli Vanilla Pod.

The menu is low key with simple, but well flavoured wraps and toast but includes a wide selection of smoothies and cold press juices.  I'd suggest that you don't try the one with chilli in it unless you really like chilli. It was a bit hot for me.

Owner Chloe Tunnicliff has a strong local following and, according to my companion Monty…