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Showing posts from 2017

Down at Farm House

Oozing rustic charm, Kedron’s new Farm House brings the country back to the burbs with feel good food and quirky theming.

Long time Brisbane hospitality star Amanda Scott (Gertie's, Continental Café and Café Conti), has spread her wings yet again giving birth to this new concept in a shed formerly occupied by much-loved Farmer Joe’s.

Building on her Milk Bar Café Ashgrove empire, Amanda has sourced an amazing array of  ‘country’ objects adding atmosphere to what was once a pretty basic shed.  Now there’s log stools, a table made from a tree stump and slate platters shaped like cows and pigs to serve food.

The country theme continues with the food and ingredients sourced from local farms with free range eggs from the Scenic Rim, halloumi from South Maclean, mushrooms from Mount Cotton, and fresh herbs are grown on site.

Amanda explains that her country roots have a strong family connection and she wants to look after our fabulous farmers.

The local approach also applies to the sta…

How to eat chocolate at Easter and still be healthy

Rivalled only by Valentines Day, Easter is the best excuse to eat more chocolate with the sound of that bunny hopping down the path with a big basket of choccie eggs music to the ears of chocolate lovers everywhere.

It's also a little scary for the calorie conscious, diet watchers amongst us (me included), as it's so easy to indulge in this treat.

However it's not all bad news. Chocolate  has wonderful beneficial properties from a nutrition standpoint.  Powerful antioxidants can be found in chocolate – specifically, polyphenols. These abundant and essential nutrients can help reduce our ‘bad’ cholesterol, known as LDL, whilst increasing the ‘good’ HDL cholesterol.

Eating dark chocolate has also been shown to significantly reduce blood pressure. And don’t forget the psychological effects. Eating chocolate releases calm, soothing, feel-good hormones.

Keep this in mind next time you peel back the foil on an Easter treat: it takes about 35 minutes of running or an hour of sw…

Make a moist Honey Chocolate Cake for Easter

Here's a recipe for a moist chocolate cake that that's perfect for Easter.

You are still getting your chocolate fix, in a less intense way, and the cake sugar level has been reduced with the addition of honey.

The cake takes about 20 minutes to make and less time to eat depending on who is around.

Honey Chocolate Cake

125g butter, softened
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup honey
1½ cups self-raising flour
½ cup cocoa
½ cup milk


2½ cups pure icing sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 tablespoon softened butter
1 tablespoon honey
1½ tablespoons boiling water
to decorate
chocolate curls (see tip)
small chocolate Easter eggs


Preheat oven to 170C. Grease and line a 22cm round cake pan with baking paper.

Place butter and sugar into a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add honey and beat until combined. 
Sift flour and cocoa together. Add to creamed mixture…

Secrets to a successful family holiday revealed

Just as I hopped onto a Qantas flight for Singapore, the Singapore Tourism Board revealed the results from a study that got inside the heads of five Australian families as they holidayed in the tropical island.

Kitted out with EEG headsets, the families explored the Lion City's multicultural neighbourhoods, explored the food scene, rode the theme parks, enjoyed nature-based activities and experienced iconic 'only in Singapore' attractions.

These sci-fi headsets captured the brain's electrical activity to measure emotional responses of 'fun', 'happiness', 'stress', 'interest', 'excitement' and 'relaxation'.

The project was overseen by Joel Pearson, Associate Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in conjunction with Singapore Tourism Board Oceania.

What did they find out?
Finding 1: Family members were 'happiest' in places that were unique to the destination.
In Singapore, …

Sunrise on the beach with kangaroos

There's only a hint of light in the pre-dawn sky, but the beach is already a magnet for eager visitors.

They are not there just for the stunning sunrise over the somnolent sea, but also to bond with nature through the wild kangaroos who browse the beach each morning checking what has been washed up overnight.

Seeking beach nuts, they wander down to the beach from Cape Hillsborough National Park to browse for a feed and happily pose for photographs.

It's not just kangaroos that are the star here. A walk along the national park trails will reveal colourful birds and the dramatic blue Ulysses butterfly.

Take the Andrews Point track to climb to the top of the ridge where there are five lookouts over the coastline and the islands.

You'll find Cape Hillsborough about 800 kilometres up the coastline north of Brisbane, or about an hour's drive from Mackay.

Stay at the Cape Hillsborough Resort which offers budget accommodation and camping facilities.

Find out more about Cape H…

Why bother with a cheap steak?

Trying to save money by dining cheap and cheerful when it comes to steak is a recipe for disaster.

The odds are against you when you select the random steak on the menu and expect to bite into something tender and flavoursome. Mostly you are going to be disappointed because finding the right beef and then cooking it to perfection is something that takes a lot of effort and practice.

My next beef when it comes to steak (pun intended) is paying $40 to $50 for a meal when I have to stand in a line to order and then sit with a buzzer on my table so I can collect it when it ready. Yes, I’m looking at you pubs with steakhouses.

Maybe you enjoy the relaxed ambience of the beer garden and live for the moment when you peel back the alfoil on that Idaho potato, but if for the same price I can dine with tablecloths and table service, I know where I would rather be.

One man who knows meat is Steven Adams, owner of Moo Moo The Wine Bar + Grill restaurant group with venues in The Port Office Build…

How to spend 48 hours in Sydney at Hyatt Regency

That moment when you walk into your hotel room and the first word on your lips is ‘WOW’.

With corner rooms offering panoramic views over Sydney’s picturesque Darling Harbour, a wow moment at Hyatt Regency Sydney is definitely on the cards.

Opened in December 2016, the hotel is the first opened in Australia by Hyatt in the past 17 years. The new 24-story tower includes 222 additional guestrooms, making Hyatt Regency Sydney the largest upscale, full-service hotel in Australia with a total room count of 892.

While one of the 130 Club hotel rooms and suites in the hotel’s new accommodation tower from floors 8-15 may initially look like an expensive option, the Regency Club Lounge with its complimentary continental breakfast, evening canapés and complimentary beverages takes much of the ouch away.  Downstairs the exclusive check-in and concierge also go a long way towards making what can be a fairly frantic lobby into a very friendly place.

Cocooned inside your luxe room, you won’t give a…

The world's first onboard bionic bar

A robot arm walks into a bar, and the bartender says, “I’m out of a job”.

No joke, on Royal Caribbean’s new Anthem of the Seas, a ship that redefines cool, the Bionic Bar breaks new ground.

The two robotic bartenders can produce two drinks per minute from an endless selection of cocktails.  Guests just log into the system via the ship’s iPad ordering system and their cocktail of choice goes up on the visual order list.  There's also a few saucy one-liners and bar chat on the board, the sort of stuff that bartenders regularly exchange but it's usually hard to hear.

The bartender robots are excellent at muddling, stirring, shaking and straining your creation.  Once completed, the drink is ready for you to claim via your wristband.  Your perfect cocktail just slides across the bar into your hand.

There are 30 different spirits and 20 different mixers, so you are unlikely to be stuck for an option. There’s the occasional breakdown, and a bit of human error to contend with but the…

Slip, slide, spit…Melon mayhem hits Chinchilla

What happens at Melonfest doesn't stay at Melonfest!

Here's what happened when I visited the Chinchilla Watermelon Festival for the weekend to slip, slide and spit watermelon.  It's on again from Thursday, February 16 to 19.

Turn back the clock to 2013.  I'm staying on Heeney Street (they got the spelling wrong there), and I'll be having a four-course melon only dinner.

They are keeping the menu a secret but there are hints that an oyster shucker has been brought in from Mooloolaba to do watermelon oysters and there's some watermelon semifreddo setting in the fridge.

Chinchilla is the ‘Melon Capital’ of Australia. For four days (Feb 14 -17) they’ll be skiing, slipping, sliding and spitting watermelons across a range of family-friendly events and activities as part of the 11th Chinchilla Melon Festival.

The bi-annual event draws crowds in excess of 10,000 who migrate to the Queensland town, located 308km North West of Brisbane, to join in the watermelon-themed …

Valentine's Day menu that won't weigh you down

Here's a Valentine’s Day menu that will shrink your love handles without assaulting your taste buds and get that lovin' feeling flowing.

Just because you are losing weight, you do not have to forsake the foods you love when romancing your loved one.  These mouth-watering recipes are not only healthy, but they are also packed with aphrodisiacs that may have you burning off those unwanted calories later in the night!

Foods such as salmon are packed with omega 3, a well-known mood-elevator.  Amino-acids found in chocolate also help to boost serotonin levels in the body have also been linked to feelings of attraction and desire.

The Valentine’s Day menu your waist will love starts with  Grilled Salmon with Asparagus and baby greens (Healthy Living for Families Cookbook) and finished with the eye-pleasing Chocolate Strawberry Crepes (Healthy Living for Life Cookbook}.

While the jury is still out on the actual physiological effects of aphrodisiacs, the psychological effects are a d…

Long Road is a short trip to French food with flair at New Farm

Discover a fresh approach to French food at The Long Road Bar & Eatery opposite the New Farm Cinema on Brunswick Street.
Named for the four years it took owners Leslie McLaughlan and Chris Tope to bring their dream to reality, The Long Road is the sort of bar and eatery that both welcomes and excites.
Head Chef Phoebe Mille has created a menu is influenced by European flavours and her own unique style based on five years in the Paris food scene.

Taking centre stage in the decor is a hand-blown chandelier by Byron Bay craftsman  Raffael Lohmann.  He also made the leather accented menu holders and leather aprons for staff and makes some pretty awesome leather bags that anyone can purchase.

Check the concrete table under the chandelier with it's long well running through the centre.  The wooden stools and custom made wood fixtures throughout the restaurant were made at suburban Red Hill, all from one giant Tasmanian tree.
The outside verandah has been furnished for comfort with cou…

Is this tasty treat Australia's national cake?

It's time to set one thing straight, to wave off the contenders and just say it how it is - lamingtons are Queenslanders!

Scorned at high teas but the backbone of sporting club fundraising, lamingtons – the cube of sponge cake dipped in chocolate and swathed in coconut – are an Australian institution. And like all famous faces, many lay claim to its origin including Harlaxton House in Toowoomba and even New Zealand.

But when it comes to the lamington, QUT historian and Old Government House curator Dr Katie McConnel says there is no dispute.

”It was definitely first concocted at Old Government House by French chef Armand Galland,” Dr McConnel says.

”It’s all in the use of the chocolate and coconut and because Lady Lamington herself credited Armand Galland with this popular cake.

”Monsieur Galland came to Australia with Lord and Lady Lamington in 1900 and cooked for them until they left in 1901. The lamington was born of necessity – it was Monsieur Galland’s answer to the perenni…