Tuesday, February 16, 2010
"The holiday is named after one or more early Christian martyrs named Valentine and was established by Pope Gelasius I in AD 496."
Ok- so this thing had been going on for a little longer than I thought- and I must admit that I do like receiving flowers and chocolate, so maybe I should be paying more attention.
I started mentioning Valentines Day to C to work out what we would do. I think he was on alert, as last Valentine's Day was pretty abysmal on his part! After much too-ing and fro-ing, C removed me from the decision making process (HOW RUDE!) and decided to book at Reserve Cellar Restaurant at Maleny.
I was a little mad, not really wanting to drive to get to lunch, but decided that I would not complain and go with the idea. Luckily I did- it was a lovely day- Maleny is totally cute (another post on their Co-Op soon) and Reserve Cellars was delightful.
Reserve Cellars is set on the Landsborough-Maleny Road, a couple of km's from the main town centre of Maleny. The chef, Kieran Reekie and restauranteur, Stephen Heffernan have set up shop in a reproduction Queenslander. The restaurant is homely with it's exposed beams, but also quite elegant, fine dining style.
As expected, the wine list is extensive, but unexpectedly there are some very reasonable by the glass prices ($9,$10 and $11). Luckily C was driving. I was in a red mood (the colour of hearts afterall) until I turned to the cocktail page. This is when the moral dilemma started- can I go to a restaurant specialising in wines and order a cocktail? You probably already know the answer. With a Lychee and Passion martini on the list- I most certainly could. Now I know what you are thinking- have a cocktail and a glass of wine?! Vast past experience denotes that I CANNOT mix alcohol. It's spirits OR wine. Not both.
The lychee and passion martini was strong but lovely. I think the passion was actually replaced with lemon- but I really didn't mind. The combination was fresh and zingy. Lemon zest added some extra colour and overall the concoction was very smooth.
Choosing an entree proved difficult. I rather fancied the look of the scallops (obviously!), the steamed and fried Mooloolaba Prawn dumpling (perhaps in the spirit of Chinese New Year too), and the sticky anise beef cheek. With these tough choices, I even considered having three entrees instead of an entree/main. Control got the better of me, and I decided on the scallops. You may have been able to predict the outcome but internally, it was a real struggle. C chose the dumplings, so that made me happy, confident that I could at least try two of my three choices.
The mains didn't attract the same amount of attention from me, and I chose the duck, whereas C was really stumped and ended up going with the beef (predictable too!).
When the scallops arrived, I was breathtaken. For $19- I was shocked at the size of the entree- 5 scallops! Unbelieveable. Usually I am only served 2 or 3 scallops for considerably more money. Those beautiful sea creatures were piled high on a delicious bed of creamy cauliflower puree, topped with micro herbs and beautifully bright tarama.
The scallops were delicious- perhaps a little underdone but still juicy and soft and pillowy. I couldn't get enough of the delighfully cauliflower puree and considered licking the plate, but thought better of it. The rest of the diners, mostly 45 Y O+ didn't look like they would appreciate that sort of display! The micro herbs didn't really deliver too much extra flavour, but honestly, I was more than happy with the pairing of the puree and the scallops.
C's dish arrived, and I had to admit, it also looked pretty good. I think there is secretly some sort of competition between us to see who can order the better dish- and in this occasion, neither of us were willing to concede defeat. And to be honest, I'm not sure either of us should. C's steamed dumplings were beautifully soft- and the prawn and herb flavours were some of the best I have ever tasted. The fried dumplings, seemed to be crunchy and incredibly light without being oily. They nicely displayed the versatility of the dish, proving that steamed and fried can both be great.
My confit duck leg with peppered duck and orange and beetroot ($35.50) arrived, and after the fabulous entree- I expected big things. I disected the salad- tasty enough, but not enough to blow my mind. The orange was a little bitter but the shredded beet was flavoursome. The duck breast on the side was next to try and I was a little disappointed. The meat was not overcooked but really lacked any serious flavour seeming to be, what I could describe, as a little bit soggy. There were also little sausagy type things on the side (not sure!) and they were interesting and tasty.
Last on the list to try, was the main event, the duck leg. The duck leg took the dish to another level. The skin was crispy, the meat was tender and falling off the bone and the rich mash and jus were perfectly suited. This duck leg confirmed that other cuts, can ofter kick breast meats butt! I cleaned the plate leaving only a small piece of breast meat which C prompltly swooped accross and took.
C's pan roasted beef with roasted potato's and jerasulem artichokes ($38.50) arrived and was very tender. The meat melted in your mouth and felt so smooth it was silky. The 'Cafe de Paris' butter sauce and roasted potatos were a nice touch. It is worth noting that the beef was cooked to medium perfection (which C requested).
We also ordered some greens ($8) to go along with the meals as I was in need of a bit of a vegetable hit. We needent have worried, as there was plenty of food without the addition.
Dessert time came, and although I was full to the brim, I had eyed off the lemon creme brulee with fig and ginger bread earlier, and it had not left my mind. C also 'had to have' Assiette of Chocolate. Both were $13.50.
When my plate arrived it was absent of fig. Such a shame, because I was really looking forward to some figgy goodness, but life goes on and I dug into the creme brulee. Upon breaking the caramel, I dove into the brulee and found the sugar to be very grainy. I'm not sure the top was caramelised enough, hence excess sugar being left behind. The lemon flavour was not very apparent and the brulee was not as rich as I'd have liked. On the positive side, I did not leave feeling sick from eating too much creamy creme and the pair made a nice substitution for the fig. Again, I'd have liked more flavour from the ginger crumbs and it always miffs me a little bit when the changes aren't noted by the staff. This happened a couple of times throughout the afternoon and although the meal was still delicious- it's nice to be told.
C liked his chocolate assiette which included Fondant, Terrine, Brownie and Chocolate Ice Cream. The fondant was particularly rich but delightful. The gold leaf added detail and looked spectacular.
We walked into Reserve at about 1:15 and didn't end up leaving until 2 1/2 hours later. Although the service wasn't particularly fast, we weren't left waiting long between courses and it was nice to be able to relax thoroughly without feeling like we were taking up table space. The service was seamless throughout the afternoon and a number of attentive staff were quick to refill water, explain the menu and check that everything was ok.
Reserve was a wonderful destination, so wonderful, I would like to arrange to take the food bloggers there on a bus. There are also some cool ideas that reserve have listed at the back of their menu like the french lessons whilst eating and drinking with Mimie Pichenot, their resident French staff member! Fabulous idea- they really sound like my kind of lessons!!
I was utterly impressed by Reserve. I will be heading back soon, and taking some friends AND a designated driver. So Valentine's Day this year was a winner. What about for you? Lover of hater of V day??
Reserve Celler Maleny
840 Landsborough- Maleny Rd, Maleny
Mimie Pichenot (French Tutor)
Friday, February 12, 2010
I am still as obsessed with food as ever and have decided to do a Global Gastronomy Gal segment that will take a sneak peek at my favourite foods from other countries and hopefully provide you with a snapshot of what is eaten in the real homes of these countries.
Global Gastronomy Gal Part 1: First stop the Philippines.
One of my best friends (C.T) is Filipino so I have often eaten her Mum's (A.T) cooking when I go round to visit her. In fact, when we were growing up, A.T's dishes were devoured year after year by hungry girls at C.T's birthday party who wanted more noodles than A.T could cook.
When thinking about this segment, it dawned on me that I have never really had Filipino food anywhere else. Not only that, additionally, I have never really had the opportunity to have Filipino food anywhere else because I have never seen a Filipino restaurant.
Why is this? The Philippines aren't far away, and they are located right near Malaysia and Indonesia- and it is quite common to see Malaysian and Indonesian restaurants... hmmm. something to investigate.
When I was at home on holidays, I was lucky enough for A.T to invite me (and some other friends) around for a little pre-Christmas celebration. When C.T asked us what we wanted A.T to cook, I suggested (or begged)- traditional Filipino dishes please! A.T kindly agreed to my request and we ended up feasting on a banquet of beautiful dishes, fili noodles, sinigang and adobo.
What are your favourite Filipino dishes?
What was your favourite food as a child?
Other faves include ube halaya and suman.
Do you have any family traditions?
Are there any Philippino food festivals/traditions?
Is it mainly the woman's role to cook the food?
Yes, it is mainly a womens role to cook. I've never seen a male Filo cooking before come to think of it.
What are your thoughts on why Filo food is not as popular as some of out other Asian neighbours?
Some provinces, they produce a lot of corn, or yam and that's their staple food.
1 kg chicken wings
1/3 cup vinegar
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 cloves garlic crushed
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup water
1) combine all ingredients in a pot and let it stand for at least 30 min
Friday, February 5, 2010
I can remember a bit of buzz surrounding the opening of iceworks. I headed down and grabbed a meal and a couple of cocktails and was pretty impressed. In 2008, I decided to book my birthday dinner at iceworks only to rock up with my whole family, to be told they had no electricity. Not cool. I know this wasn't their fault but still, I was disappointed.
I hadn't really ventured back to iceworks since then, not because I was scared of blackouts, but because I had simply had forgotten about it.
I've been trying to branch out and head to places in Paddo that aren't Simpatico. So when A from EatDrinkBrisbane and I were deciding where to go one idle Friday arvo, iceworks was selected. Iceworks has been only open for maybe 18 months and is diagonally accross from Suncorp Station or for the bogans among you, across the road from the Paddo.
Iceworks offers three different dining options. The Restaurant menu, Peak Dining Menu and Dowse Bar menu. We decided to go with the regular restaurant.
I arrived at Iceworks a little earlier than A, and I have to say the reaction was .. (pun intended) a little icy. The staff seemed to be a little too busy stacking the fridges to notice me, and when they did, there was no warm reception. Ok I'll try and stop with the temperature jokes, but they are so easy.
I was cooly (here I go again) showed my table, and ordered a Mojito whilst I was waiting for A. From what I can remember, this menu has much more robust options than when I dined before. When A arrived, we shared some turkish bread with tomato kasundi dip. A ordered a roast pumpkin and confit onion pizza whilst I decided on the braised beef cheek lasagne.
The bread ($8) arrived and was pretty ordinary. The bread tasted stale and the tomato kasundi dip basically tasted like tomato pasta sauce out of a bottle. I was expecting the zing of mustard seeds, ginger and chilli - but there was really no flavour.
Tell me, do you go back to places that are OK or do you search for something great? What are your experiences in Iceworks?? Let me know.....
Paddington QLD 4064
07 3367 9800
In actual fact, I haven't been able to get the pulled pork I saw on Jamie Oliver's Visit to America series out of my head.
To feed my addiction, I used to regularly visit Stetson's Steakhouse and Saloon Bar which is not that authentic, but never-the-less, very tasty and reminds me of home. (There used to be a Steto's in my home town.) In fact, the frequency C and I would visit was a little embarrassing so I was delighted to discover somewhere else in town that served ribs and buffalo wings with blue cheese. I thought all my dreams had come true.
I rang to make a booking, and only one table left for 2 people at 7:00- perfect, just what we were after. I then proceeded, as is my usual routine, to start researching.
My dreams started crashing around me. I was reading reviews on a number of sites including menufeast, urban spoon etc and basically there were a concerning number that suggested the service was terrible and the food wasn't much better. I started to get a little anxious- was I going to waste a dining opportunity and be pushed out the door before I could manage to pull the meat off the last bone? Because that, to say the least, would be very unsatisfactory and would probably upset me to no end.
I consulted C on the matter- questioning should we, or should we not go? In the end I decided, the worst that could come of our visit would be a bad meal, equalling a bad review. At least my curiosity would be cured.
I was a little nervous walking in, to tell the truth. I am scared of mean staff, and the reviews pretty much suggested that the staff were flat out rude.
Anyway, I tentatively walked in and asked for our table, to which we were taken by a lovely guy.
We were then served by another Scottish gentleman who was absolutely charming and continued to be all night. He explained the menu to us, gave us suggestions without being condescending and was generally chatty and helpful.
He (sorry to refer to him as he but I didn't catch his name) also had an excellent grasp of the menu (may have been the owner- i think) and was happy to explain all about their in-house smoking. I learnt that Blue Smoke are only QLD restaurant that smoke all their BBQ in house.
Not only was the service impeccable for us, I was keeping a close eye on other tables around the restaurant, and the other staff seemed to be attentive and polite. I'm sure whoever was responsible for the bad service listed on menu log etc are now gone, or were definitely no where in sight on the night I visited. We were not under any pressure to leave.
Not only was the service impeccable, the food was great. I know some people aren't a fan of BBQ/Southern styled foods, but if you are- seriously visit blue smoke.
We ordered the blue hot buffalo chicken wings for $14 as an entree and then both had a main of Kansas City Pork Baby Back Ribs for about $30-$34 ish.. (can't remember exactly) The waiter politely suggested that I might like to go for a half size, but clearly he wasn't aware of my capacity when it comes to ribs.
Complimentary corn bread landed on our table which I didn't love- but hey, I'm not a real cornbread fan. I don't like to waste my time on such things, when I know what is coming.
The buffalo chicken wings arrived and were luscious! Courtesy of the hot sauce, they had a nice zing and were really tender. The blue sauce added dimension and C loved it, even though he is not normally a fan of a 'really blue' cheese. I was really nibbling down the on wings as I saw other plates of plates of ribs go past. Oh NO! They were huge, and I had made a point of ordering a full serve. I knew I had better slow up on the wings, If i was even going to get through half the ribs, but I just couldn't stop! Oh well... I'd just have to leave shamefaced.
Of course, that didn't really happen. The ribs arrived timed perfectly with my second glass of wine- and I devoured the coleslaw side. The coleslaw was creamy and very simple. The chips left relatively untouched on the side of my plate because all my attention was focused on the ribs. OH the ribs. Smoky, I mean really really smoky, slightly charred and still moist near the bone. The flavour from the sauce wasn't as intense as Id have liked but the meat was delicious. So delicious, I polished off the whole plate of ribs.
I must say, the waiter was suitably impressed but I did almost fall off my chair when C decided to order a bloody brownie. Seriously? How could you. But when he brought the nutty brownie out- I did try a small piece, and then ended up devouring half. How, you wonder? I don't know. My stomach works in mysterious ways. The brownie was delightful, and made on the premises- like everything else at blue smoke.
Blue smoke was fab. The service was professional and friendly- perfect for the establishment. The meat was oh-so-smoky, the wine list contained some gems, the cocktail list looks interesting and the buckets they give you to put the wing bones in are super cute.
I'll definitely be going back, and hopefully soon. Maybe I'll have to start getting some disguises ready, so I can go more often than is socially acceptable.
Tell me, have you ever been turned off a restaurant because of a bad review, only to discover the place isn't so bad after all???
UPDATE: I've been back since this establishment changed it's name from Blue Smoke to the Smoke and had some lovely food, but also encountered some shocking service. So bad we waited for almost 1/2 hour after our booking and it was obvious that the table we were to sit at was empty, it just had to be cleaned. Several groups including walk-ins off the street were seated before us whilst the staff watched us stand awkwardly outside. Something was really going on with the staffing that night. Besides the service, the food was good. The ribs were sticky with sauce and well smoked, and the wings were incredibly moreish, it was just a shame we were made to feel so unimportant before the meal even began.
The Smoke BBQ
85 Merthyr Road
New Farm 4005
07 3358 1922
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Mirasoul is a bit of a dark horse on the dining scene. It is located at the end of Caxton Street, and is a funky little place to go for cocktails. They also offer a selection of tapas, pizza, pasta and risotto and their wine list stocks over 40 Aussie and NZ wines. I never really hear anyone talking about it, but everytime I've been, the cocktails have been fab.
Whilst we didn't eat there this time, I have eaten at Mirasoul on a number of occasions before and I am planning to go back soon, particularly because they have some awesome house meatballs and some great enticing deals (I'll list them below.)
Enticing seems to be a theme, because the cocktails here, well to be honest, kick arse. There are heaps of house specials like, my personal favourite, the pink diamond and even better, if you let the bar staff know what you like (and they aren't hideously busy) they are happy to customise something for you! Perfect for when you can't decide or are feeling adventurous. After hearing me rave, I.P ordered the pink diamond- with Strawberries and passionfruit shaken with 42 Below Passionfruit vodka, Massenez Liqueur de Lychee , apple juice and elderflower cordial. Garnished with fresh passionfruit fruit in for $16ish. She loved every sip, and when she want to the toilet, I must admit, I did sneak a couple of sips. Oh Lychee liquer with passionfruit vodka- I do love you.
I had a custom made cocktail with spanish vanilla vodka with kiwifruit. It was refreshing and vanillery (I requested vanilla vodka) and went down far too quickly! Mine was $16 too. It's a pity we had to continue on our tour, because I would have loved to have stayed for a while and had some more cocktails i.e. The Bjock - but it is well known that too many cocktails will make me very drunk, so I had to limit myself. This was after all, for research, and what good is researching if I can't remember the results!!??
I would recommend checking out mirasoul in the week, because on the weekends it does get pretty busy and I have been seated at a really cramped table. Sunday night was awesome because there were only a couple of other groups of people there. We were seated on comfy lounges looking out at the rain so we knew when we could make a quick dash to the next cocktail bar on our list. Libertine, here we come.
Tuesdays - Open from 4pm - 2 for 1 Tapas
Select an even number of dishes from our selected Tapas menu and receive the cheaper dish for free!
Wednesdays RECESSION BUSTER
$40 of value for only $25 One Tapas dish of your choice and one regular pizza of your choice. Includes a beverage.
(DINE IN ONLY)
Friday - Open for Lunch
Come in an check out Mirasoul’s great Friday Lunch specials.
$10 pizzas (dine in or takeaway)
$15 Large Pizzas
Drizzly and overcast, Sunday afternoon seemed like the perfect day for a catch up with a friend I had not seen in ages. She always lets me pick where to go (bless her cotton socks), but I was having trouble deciding. I definitely didn't feel like a trip to the valley- I just wanted something low key and comfortable. But where to go for cocktails and something light to eat?
Sometimes, the answer, is right in front of your face. I spend so much time going to restaurants in the city, the valley etc etc that I thought it was time to get back to home ground and head out in Paddo.
Perhaps a walking cocktail tour of Paddington? Delightful- and just what the doctor ordered. So I will bring to you reveiws of a number of paddington drinks establishments over the course of the next week or so.
Despite having the WORST service of my entire life at The Lark a couple of years ago, I decided it was time to forgive and head back to see if things had changed. They had. In fact, I have never seen such a dramatic improvement in a restaurant ever. From the moment we walked in the waiter/bar guy was charming, as was the lovely girl that was also working. Through the whole visit, the service was delightful, yet still homely.
We decided to sit upstairs in the lounge area with the comfy cushions and watched the rain drizzle down, making us feel like we were anywhere but Brisbane. The live music (one man on acoustic) added a nice touch to the atmosphere which was chilled out.
As cocktails were our first priority, we browsed through their menu which consists of prelude, body and epilogue cocktails and I decided on 'The Strummer"which contained orig. Absolut Vodka, Fresh Lime Juice, Falernum Syrup, Passionfruit and Aromatic Bitters; topped up with Ginger Beer served in a highball for $16. My drink was refreshing and the falernum syrup (sweet syrup used in Tropical and Caribbean drinks) added an awesome sweet, tropical kick.
I.P, my pie (parnter in eating) ordered the El Fuego for $17 (I think). Her cocktail looked impressive and tasted good, but had quite an overpowering sense of orange. I'm not a huge fan of artificial orange flavours, but I.P didn't mind it at all.
At the Lark, we only grabbed a couple of things from their grazing menu, because we didn't want to fill up too much. I.P predictably ( she is mexican!) chose the Hot buffalo mozzarella & prosciutto quesadillas $3.50 each and I went with the wild rabbit pastries for $6 each(from my hazy memory.) The quesadillas were ok, a little too oily but the buffalo mozzarella and spring onion meshed well.
The wild rabbit pastries were divine. The filling was gamey and rich, but not overpowering. The actual pastry was a little flaky but I seriously wanted more rabbit. Please give me more rabbit in my next pastry! And there will be a next, because I will be going back. Perhaps for a lazy lunch or an after work apertif. I now understand why The Lark were nomintated for Bar Operator of the Year and Asia Pacific Top 20 bars in 2009- because they really do deserve it. More from the walking cocktail tour soon!