Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Salon Teneriffe

I love cocktails. If done well they are such delightful things. Delightful, expensive things. Generally cocktails in Brisbane are around the $15. This is pretty standard- the more exotic versions are obviously more expensive. And yet, I love them so much- I would rather have 2 cocktails rather than 4-6 normal priced drinks.

Unfortunately, I'm yet to find anywhere with totally affordable cocktails all the time. Sure, some establishments offer a $10 special or a cocktail of the week- but I'm talking access to the full range for about the $10 mark, which lets face it, is still expensive for one drink- but not for the ingredients in a good cocktail. Although I love a nice glass of red, if I had endless $$ I would probably drink cocktails much more often.

But.. despite the cost, we all know I can be decadent at times (more often than the budget permits) and so on the weekend C and I decided, or rather I decided and invited umm insisted C come along to Salon at Teneriffe.

Salon and West End sister venue Sling Lounge are both well known for their extensive cocktail lists. When I say extensive, I mean intensive, and huge and respectively 43 and 67 pages long extensive. Practically a concoction worthy of every occasion. I have been to Sling a number of times and had been meaning to visit Salon for some time now. Funny thing is, I had known about it, but never ever spotted it, nestled in beside The Ice Bar, directly across from Beccofino.

Salon is European styled with lovely little antiquey chairs and tables that are seperated by sheer curtains. The ceilings are high, the bar is also gorgeously high and the dark wood and adjoining ladder make you feel as though you could be in a bar anywhere else in the world.

We were seated in the corner booth (probably the best table) and handed the huge book containing the cocktail list. In true food blogger style, I had already stalked the menu and had narrowed down my choices, whilst it took C ages to decide.

We headed in quite early 6:30 on a Saturday night and the 'knockabout type of guy' waiter was very happy to help with advice.

I went with the Mandarin which at $16 was one of the lower priced drinks. The mix of muddled mandarin, sage leaves, spiced cuban rum, cane sugar and clove syrup was simple and warming. To me, this is the perfect winter cocktail, a hit of vitamin c, the warming spiced rum served in a glass with no ice.

C had one of the specials- a watermelon mojito which was maybe $16 from memory. This drink was probably suited better to a warmer day, but was a nice fresh twist on a classic all the same. However, I would have preferred some extra acid as I found the mojito a little sweet.

Although I specifically came here for the drinks, I had also heard the food wasn't too shabby, so I obviously took the opportunity to eat too!

To begin with, we ordered some rice flour zucchini fries for $12. The coating was light and crispy and the accompanying spiced ailoi was amazing, very moreish. The serve of fries was piled high as they should have been as $12 is pretty expensive for this sort of dish. Unfortunately I can't show you any photos from this outing, as they are too terrible, even for me, to post! The lighting was very dim and as a result, you can barely make out the subject! Boo! I know, sorry, sorry, you are going to have to bear with my descriptions, I will do my best.

All meals at Salon are designed to be shared. The waiter recommended 3 dishes to share, but being the compulsive over-orderers that we are, aside from the fries, we opted for 4 another dishes.

So (I wonder readers, are you sick of me ordering scallops every time they are on offer? perhaps I should branch out!) obviously as there were scallops on offer, I was compelled to order them. They were served with a potato cushion, cute micro herbs and szechuan bug butter for $18. The scallops were well cooked, and the potato cushion was crispy on the outside. There were four scallops dotted on the plated interspersed with four potato cushions. Now... here is a confession that is going to make me sound dumb- I'm not sure that bug butter was actually on the plate- there was a drizzled sauce, but the flavours were quite subtle and gentle. I tried tasting a number of times but just couldn't get it. Taste test FAIL! I know that on the menu it says 'szechuan bug butter' and I have no reason to think otherwise, but I just imagined these flavours to be a lot bigger. Whatever the dressing was, it was a great match for the scallops and the micro herbs, very delicate.

Next came the leek and truffle wrapped prawns, flying fish roe, confit garlic aioli @ $18. The prawns came encased in a batter, which for me, was a little thick. It took away from the beautiful flavours inside. The leek and the prawn were wonderfully tender, and the garlic aioli with fish roe made the whole dish pop.

As a heartier option, we ordered the free range confit duck leg with butter wilted radichio, duck fat potato and jus for $26. Quite a large serve of the duck arrived- cooked perfectly. The meat was so tender it is worthy of the cliched 'melt in your mouth' description. The potato was delightfully soft inside whilst the jus was rich yet simple.

I really cannot understand why we decided to order 4 dishes- this was a little overkill, particularly with the huge plate of zucchini fries at the start. But... we seem to do this more often than not, even against the recommendations of staff. Perhaps it comes from an ingrained fear of being hungry, which must be a tribal instinct, because luckily, in my lifetime, I cannot remember being truly hungry. (Sadly this isn't the case for heaps of Australians- but more about that in a later post.) So... the last dish (thank heavens), albondigas meat balls with sauce provencale and grana padano, also $18, arrived. By this time I was stuffed and literally could not even eat another thing- not even a little taste as I felt I couldn't really handle anything cheesy. C says the meatballs were juicy and the sauce had quite a developed flavour. Well ok, that's not exactly what he said, I improvised a little to bring you something a little more descriptive than 'good.' He managed to eat the whole little pot full and said they were too delicious to waste any.

While all this eating was going on, after another ten minute flick through the cocktail menu, I decided on an attention seeking drink called Madame Brussel's Daughter Delilah. A mix of Hendricks’s Gin, Yellow Chartreuse, lychee, cucumber, grapes, cloudy apple juice, and elderflower cordial came topped with rose water foam in a cute little tea cup. This was supposed to be accompanied by a white chocolate and cucumber ice cream, but as I am allergic, I had to switch for some sorbet, which happened to be the same watermelon sorbet served in the watermelon mojito. This was a really interesting drink- I've never had such a thick foam served on a cocktail before. The foam was overwhelmingly sweet but suited the liquid underneath, a fresh, lively drink really characterised by elderflower and apple tang. I'm not sure whether I would order this drink again, the $20 price tag means you would have to love it. That being said, it was worth a try, I have never had anything else quite like it.

For his last drink, C chose the Cuba Libre which means 'Free Cuba.' The story behind the drink on the menu suggests that coca cola was only available in bottles when the rough riders (click on the link to get some history about the rough riders- one of the most famous units fighting in Cuba)brought it along with them to Cuba. Apparently, they mixed it with Cuban rum and lime and named it after their battle cry - Cuba Libre. The drink, true to history, is Havana Club Anejo Blanco with lime wedges, topped with coke, served in a glass coke bottle. For all the history behind this cocktail, the drink itself was fairly underwhelming. It was basically a nice rum and coke with a $16 price tag.

That being said, the effort that has gone into the cocktail menu is obvious. It is well executed and there are a huge number of drinks to choose from. There are plenty of classics, and more than enough originals to keep anyone entertained. The menu also contains interesting tid bits of information about some of the drinks, which when reading, gives you a sense of the story behind it all. This, coupled with the tapestry styled walls, transports you another place- perhaps even sipping a dirty martini across the table from Franklin Roosevelt in the early 1900's- if that's your kind of thing. If it's not, there are plenty of other fantasy scenarios to choose from, perhaps you would like to be THE Margarita or downing a mint julep at the Kentucky Derby or perhaps joining Carrie and the girls sipping a Cosmo at one of New York's hot spots? Whatever you choose, you can drink it at Salon.

Homage must be paid to the immensely talented bar staff who can mix up any one of these creations at your request. Whilst the drinks are quite expensive, the knowledge and skill the bar staff possess is worth a lot. They must have to stock a huge number of ingredients for all these combinations to be possible. The food was good and some of the cocktails were even better. So.... I will be looking forward to going back to Salon or Sling - But seeing I'm starting to be all budget conscious and whatnot (loving it like a hole in the head) I'll just have to do some saving first.

So Readers... tell me- what is your fave cocktail? Do you usually sip on something mixed or would you prefer a glass of wine?

When to go there: When you want to have a dreamy afternoon sipping cocktails with all the other hipsters at Teneriffe.

Salon Lounge
Shop 5a Macquarie Street
Teneriffe, QLD
E. bookings@salonlounge.net
P. 07 3252 3911
W. www.salonlounge.net
Salon on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Alegria- Park Road

A couple of Saturday afternoons ago I was cold, sitting at home and feeling very sorry for myself. C had taken off to the coast, and I had to stay in Bris for some family reasons. Boring. Boring Boring.

I knew one of my friends 'the puddle duck' was staying in town for the weekend, and that her sister was visiting. The puddle duck is lots of fun and I don't spend enough time with her so I thought it could be cool to hang out - she always cheers me up! Turns out the puddle duck had plans, dinner at Park Road and then a movie close by. Thankfully, she didn't mind me tagging along!

When she mentioned the name of the place , I didn't instantly recognise it, which is very strange because I drive up Park Rd twice a day, and know all the restaurants along the strip. When she described the place, I realised that it was the newish (6months maybe more?!) joint that I had been meaning to try but hadn't got around to. Score. Even though this is totally food blogger bitchy of me, I really like going to new places so I can blog them! Eating out is expensive and I have a mounting credit card debt to pay off, so I'm becoming a bit more spend savvy (more on this dilemma another time) which means it is always a bonus if you can blog the place you are eating at.

The place turned out to be Alegria, located at the old Bella Notte site. You may have seen the hilarious sign up for about 12 months before it opened proclaiming it was a 'Totally New and Exciting Meditteranean Bistro.'

So, now I knew where I was headed I put my coat and heels on . The puddle duck and I had decided to risk it and not make a booking, there were only 3 of us and it was relatively early on a Saturday night. First mistake. Always book on Saturday nights. Brisbanites are early diners and if the food is anywhere half decent, it pays to book, just in case.

Peering in the window at the packed full bistro, I stood outside by the small heat of an outdoor heater, waiting for the puddle duck and her sister to arrive whilst pondering what to do. Suddenly a booming voice from behind says 'It's too cold out here, why don't you come inside to wait?' In my distressed and chilled state I replied that I didn't have a booking. The lovely smiling man (which I later found out is the owner/manager) asked me how many people I needed a table for, and when I replied three, he told me he would 'sort it out' and ushered me in from the cold.

The owner quickly organised for another place to be added to the last table in the whole house, a two person table close to the corner. Whilst it was a little cramped, I was warm and grateful to have any table at all. The puddle duck and her sister arrived and after a super quick catch up, we perused the menu whilst noticing there was quite a nice bar located at the back of the restaurant.

The puddle duck had dined before so I was happy to take her suggestions. The tapas proved too tempting to pass up and the puddle duck also insisted on ordering 1 litre of Sangria for $28. I spotted the cocktail list (you know how I love a good cocktail) and despite the cold, HAD to order an Alegria for $12- Limoncello, mint, lemon sorbet, lemonade with a cherry on top. Limoncello is possibly my FAVOURITE Liquer and I find it very hard to look past, particularly when teamed with lots of other lemony goodness and mint.

The puddle duck let S (her sister) and I choose the tapas and with the help of another friendly waitress we decided upon a nice little mix of goodies. The staff here were WONDERFUL. The atmosphere was casual and the staff were laid back, yet our water glasses were always full, the staff were constantly scanning to see if anything could be done, and they were totally polite.

A nice surprise, an amuse bouche, arrived at the table. Olives seemed like the perfect start to the tapas we had ordered, although they were a little too bitter for the S.

S and the puddle duck then tucked into some crusty bread with eggplant salsa $8.9.
They both really enjoyed the salsa which had a chunky but silky texture.

I decided not to eat any because bread often makes me feel a little bloated and I wanted to save space for the garlic prawns with white wine and chilli, which was also served with crusty bread ($16.9). The prawns were fresh and meaty and the sauce was sweet with a very slight hint of chilli, but for me, the garlic just wasn't punchy enough. As you can see, there are large slices of garlic but the taste was far too subtle.

The arrival of the scallops shocked me. I guess eating out a lot makes you have preconceptions about what things are going to look like- and these just didn't look anything like what I had thought. They were described as seared scallops on caramelised apple and onion mayonnaise and arrived as creamy soup like plate with scallopes bouncing in. The presentation wasn't bad- just not what I had expected. Tucking in revealed that the scallops were delightful- fat and juicy and seared for the perfect amount of time. The 'mayonnaise' had a pleasant oniony bite, but was a little too soupy for me. I would have preferred to have the scallops just lightly dressed in the mayonnaise rather than swimming in it, but the flavours worked remarkably well together and the dish was pleasant.

We had a tough decision choosing between the two types of peppers on the menu, but eventually went with the Roasted sweet peppers filled with feta ($12.9). The other option was piquillo peppers stuffed with salt cod($13.9), and although I would have liked to have tried them, I wasn't disappointed with our choice. The sweetness from the peppers had leeched into the feta making it a nice combination. The rocket and onion complimented the dish quite well.

For me, the star of the night award goes to the chorizo on a shaved fennel salad with a fino sherry dressing $13.9. The chorizo was peppery but very sweet and the sherry dressing was a lovely touch. The fennel salad didn't overpower, but added that wonderfully aniseedy element.

The puddle duck and S loved the Sangria and the puddle duck believes that it is possibly some of the best Sangria she has had in Bris.

To top off our meal, the staff brought out a little pressie for our table (they do for everyone), what I think was a shot of grand marnier, and a little bottle of prosecco to top it with. Alongside came a liquer soaked strawberry that tasted like it contained enough alcohol to get a large bear dancing! This was a lovely little touch, to wonderful service all through the evening.

This little bistro has some interesting menu choices and offers great service. The food didn't blow my mind, but it was consistently good and the atmosphere was lively and warm. I will head back there in the future, but will remember to make a booking next time, so I don't nearly miss out!

When to go: When it's cold outside and you are in need of some warm hospitality. The breakfast menu also offers some different options if you want a change from bacon and eggs.

Tell me, have you ever lucked out and had to change plans because you failed to make a booking?

Alegria Bistro
Shop 11, 20 Park Road
Milton Brisbane QLD 4064
(07) 3369 7775

Alegria Mediterranean Bistro and Bar on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

T'licious Southbank

Tea is just such a perfect drink, there are different varieties available for every possible situation in your life. I have always loved tea and am constantly seeking out different herbal blends. High doses of caffeine don't really suit me, so I try to stick to herbal and don't drink any coffee.

...When I was taking South Bank head on a couple of weekends ago (see Sardine Tin Post for more details) I stopped in at T'licious Tea on Grey Street. The shop is a little bit like a magical lamp shop (maybe I was delirious by this time...) and houses heaps of different beautiful tea accessories, like teapots with matching cups.

There are so many different blends, I was thrilled to see a little basket of 'trial size' teas - 3 for $10. This is perfect for me, because I buy so much tea, I love to try it first- and this way I can try without spending half my pay on 8 different vari'teas'(sorry couldn't resist.) I shuffled through and found three that sounded good; claritea, arthritis blend and calming tea.

The claritea looks like it will be perfect for my 3 p.m. cup of tea at work, when I need a little something to help me focus and get through the rest of the day. I tried it yesterday and I'm not sure whether it was the tea, or the placebo- but something kicked in about 10 minutes after I finished the cup! (p.s anyone else know any great 3 p.m. pick me-ups ? I've heard that some rosemary oil can help the situation?)

The blend consists of green mate, honeybush, verbena, liquorice root, coriander, pepper, ginger and cardamom is earthy without being too strong. The ginger and greenmate are particularly present and the pepper adds a nice kick.

Now let me explain why I bought the arthritis blend, as it seems a little peculiar for someone my age. When I was little (about 4 or 5) I developed this weird child arthritis called viral athropathy. It basically existed in my hip and at times, caused walking to be very painful. I would have the symptoms for a couple of weeks, every now and then until I was 16. In fact as all arthritis sufferers know, colder weather means aching joints, and as a result I spent lots of time crutching around in the rain. It's really weird that my joints still ache a little when it's cold and I loved finding this 'arthritis blend'! It claims to have anti-inflammatory properties and ingredients include celery seed, devils claw, ginger, nettle and silver birch leaf. I haven't tried it yet, but my back has been aching a little (or a LOT!) for the last week so I may just have to pour myself a cup when I get home today.

The last choice was 'calming tea' which, lets face it, most of us could use at some time or about 18 times a day if you work in a stressful environment! I haven't managed to try it either, but will report back to you, after a cup and let you know if I am feeling calm/ less neurotic than usual!

I'm really glad I visited T'licious, they have some great herbal blends available and an extensive range of green and black teas. The shop is totally cute and you can sit in to have a cup of tea if you so choose. The blends also differ from other tea shops like T2 and the Tea Centre (reviews coming soon), so it is worth shopping around to find the perfect tea for every occasion.

T'licious also have a cool website and you can order online- great if you run out and can't pop down to South Bank.

so Tell me, when do you find you need a cup the most. Is it to comfort or calm or refresh and revitalise?

When to go: Obviously, when you need a cup of tea! A cup of tea in Winter is always nice!

Shop S9 Little Stanley Street
176-178 Grey Street South Bank QLD 4101
Tel: 07 3844 3305

Monday, June 21, 2010

Life as a Pie (From one of G.G's Partners in Eating)

So.... one of my regular PIES (partners in eating) decided to send me an unsolicited guest blog on the life of a pie. C.S is one of my besties (not to be confused with C- the BF) and decided to write a "life as a pie" guest blog to let you all know what it is like to dine with me. I think she is hilarious and so have posted her experiences (dining with a food blogger) below. I think that anyone who has dined with a food blogger will also be able to empathise and may get a laugh out of her little story.

Guest Blog by C.S – “Life as a PIE”

Having been a PIE (G.G's codename for Partners in Eating) on too many occasions to remember, I thought I would share my experiences on what it is like to dine out with a complete and utter foodie, in this case Gastronomy Gal. I have been friends with G.G for the majority of my life and whilst her company is always enjoyed, the life of a PIE can be quite stressful. I have simple tastes you see and therefore our expectations when it comes to food can sometimes be quite different. I’m of the mindset that great food can come in the form of a fast food chain and good service merely means my order is right or thereabouts. As long as I have good company and a decent meal I am happy.

Life is different when dining with G.G. She is on the case as soon as you enter a restaurant/cafĂ©/bar and will notice the tiniest of flaws. She will make a noise which lets you know she is not comfortable and not confident about the dining choice. And if a mistake is made at the beginning of the evening, then you will hear about it all night long and probably the next day also. When it comes to the food itself it must be better than what she is able to make herself otherwise she will remark something along the lines of ‘why should I bother coming here when I could whip up something better in 5 mins’. To be fair to G.G if she is pleased with her dining experience then she is happy to spread the word and even if she is not so satisfied, she does give second chances. Also, her food knowledge is very extensive and she does know when something is cooked well or is lacking.

I don’t think her high expectations are a bad thing because she is striving for a higher quality of food in and around Brisbane,which can only be a good thing. I’m just saying that sometimes life as a PIE it is hard work. The example which leads me to write this guest blog occurred on Sunday at yum cha. We were given jasmine tea instead of bolay tea and when G.G asked if it was bolay tea the waitress nodded. This was a massive mistake by the waitress and caused significant stress at the table especially because the jasmine tea was just not very good. I started to feel a bit anxious after this because G.G was not happy and I thought she might make a scene rather than let it slide. Whilst she didn’t make a scene there was still this lingering sense of doom throughout the meal (which turned out to be rather delicious.) This is just one small example although I am sure many of her fellow PIE’s (especially C) could empathise at some level with my point of view.

Despite this, I wouldn’t trade G.G as my PIE of choice for anyone because despite the stress that is sometimes involved in dining with her, we always have a good laugh. Many of my most enjoyable evenings have been spent with G.G eating delicious food and downing delicious wine and I am sure her other fellow PIE’s would also agree. I wouldn’t want G.G to drop her standards otherwise she wouldn’t be the unique individual she is and I wouldn’t have eaten as much great food.

Just for the record- I never cause a 'scene' but have been known to send back the occasional dish if the quality is questionable- and - I am usually very polite when doing so.I save my

'ranting' for my pies ;)

So.... are you scared of dining with a food blogger friend, or food bloggers- perhaps you know some of your friends are a little wary of dining out with you?!

Espresso Dot

So as you may have read, I decided to embrace South Bank last weekend. After getting over my phobia of tourist traps, 'I scratched South Bank's (SB) surface and found some really cool places.

After a fabulous lunch - my Pies (Partners in eating) Mum and C, decided to go for a little walk. We ended up strolling and browsing around for quite some time visiting a cupcake shop, a tea shop, a clothing shop or two, the lolly shop and a coffee shop. WHOA! SB Overload!

Mum was craving a coffee so it was convenient that on the walk back, I noticed a tiny little cute cafe, packed with people enjoying a mid afternoon coffee.

Dot Espresso (cute name!) is a small cafe situated in Grey Street, next to Nando's. They do coffees, tea and various other drinks. They also have a limited range of sweet treats and savouries. By the looks, the food is made on site, as one of the staff (I think the owner) was stirring up something with white choc and sugar when we were ordering.

I went to sit outside on one of the tables and stools and started to snap a few photos. The lady who was baking something, looked at me quizzically and commented something to the effect 'why are you taking photos of my sign? I don't think it's really that good.'

I went in to explain (p.s - I can't believe she busted me- I am usually SO stealth - PLUS I take the photos with my crappy iphone camera FOR THIS REASON!) that I was a food blogger and like to write about cool places that I find. She still thought that I was going to 'open a cafe' but was relatively happy once I explained my purpose. It's really funny to gauge people's reactions to food bloggers! This lady seemed happy and friendly but just a little on guard and perplexed.

After the little incident, I returned outside to sit and relax to the AWESOME music that was playing. I'm talking vintage Spice girls, ABBA, etc- trust me - you'll love it! In fact, the hits were so good, I was almost disappointed when our drinks arrived.

I had the lavender grey tea which was just lovely, but I feel like the range of teas could have been bigger. I guess this is just a tea lover's opinion- especially since I don't drink coffee. They do get points for three herbal teas they had offer which were much more interesting than the usual selection.

Mum had a cappucino which was silky smooth and strong enough. Mum is a die-hard cappucino fan so for it to be strong enough, is a very good sign! Mum stirred her coffee before I even got an opportunity to photograph it!

C enjoyed his flat white- that was 'a good coffee!' Don't you just love how descriptive C can be!?

I also noticed a couple of other little things about this cafe that I quite liked, they had lettuce growing in a little pot next to the window, and had supplies to make real food in the cupboards! I say real food, because they obviously have the facilities (however small the kitch may be) to make food on site. I really hate going to a cafe and finding out that everything is bought in or made from a supplier etc- this to me, indicates that the cafe has no soul, no personallity. Luckily Dot Espresso has plenty of personality, making it a great place to stop for a coffee or a light bite when you are wondering around South Bank.

When to go: When you need a quick hit of caffeine or want to lounge in a cute coffee shop post market shopping.

Dot Espresso
Shop R/4 Little Stanley Street
South Bank QLD 4001
07 3844 6614

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Blowing my own Horn- Thanks Dear Reader

Ok, so I don't like blowing my own horn but ... (if you don't want to hear some shameless self promotion tune out now) I'm really stoked, and I have no other way to reach the person who nominated me, other than to blog about it.

So.. I was nominated by one of my readers, to be profiled on Brisbane City Council's Visible Ink Website as a 'young person defining Brisbane.' Sarah from the site contacted me and my Q and A was posted a couple of weeks ago.

I really appreciate that anyone even reads my blog, letalone take the time to nominate me for an award. I have been trying to find other contact details for the person that nominated me for the last couple of weeks, and it has become apparent that the only way to thank them, would be to publicly thank them.

Thank you so much!! I am really humbled and hope that my blog posts continue to bring happiness to you, even if it is the inner ramblings of my half mad self. You can see my interview below or check it out at Visible Ink.

Gastronomy Gal is a Brisbane blogger who shares her love of food with avid readers with an equal passion for all things food. in her own words:

“I am not a food expert- I am just a food lover, and so want to share my love of food with you.”

Who are you? Give a complete stranger a brief snapshot into your world…

I’m a 23 year old girl living in Qld, my adoptive State. I’ve been in BrisVegas for 5 years after moving here from my cute country hometown in NSW. I work in Communications/PR and write my own food blog. I also write columns for an online magazine. I’m pretty infactuated with all things food (hence the food blog) and spend much of my time trawling around restaurants/providores/food festivals/wine & cocktail bars in Brisbane looking for awesome food and wine to blog about. I also blog about the occasional horrible experience too! Whilst I love eating out, I love cooking in my tiny kitchen with one of my many cooking appliances, re-planting my herb garden after it is inevitably eaten by possums, and reading one of my new books or old vogue, delicious or gourmet traveller magazines.

What are you working on right now?
Always, always, always working on my blog! Seriously, blogs are like a pet- really high maintenance! They never stop needing to be updated! I’ve just finished healthy eating month and now I’m attempting to visit at least one or two new restaurants every fortnight, as well as continuing on with Global Gastronomy Gal segments- where I take a snapshot into food from different countries. I’m also in the process of redesigning my blog, so that is taking up some of my energy!

When do you feel at your best and when you feel at your worst how do you get through it?
I feel at my best when I’m relaxing, eating and drinking with family and friends. Long lazy lunches, bustling through markets and just hanging out and reminiscing. It sounds lazy, but I love it when I have ‘nothing to do’ meaning nothing urgent because I never have ‘nothing to do.’

Obviously, there’s often times when I get sick of blogging and lose motivation, but generally all I have to do is make a conscious decision to take a week or so off and not focus on the problem. Writers block is a killer. Usually the drought is broken when I taste some fabulous food that I want to tell the world about! That, or moan enough to anyone who will listen to me and force them, to force me, to do some work!

Where do you see yourself in five years time?
As much as I love my current job (hello to my boss – who will be reading this!!) someday, I would love to be a full time blogger or working in food PR. There’s also the inner hippie that would love to be living on a farm growing and producing all my own food, pretty much like my grandfather used to do. I won’t be able to be a total hippie though, I need electricity because I imagine I’ll still be blogging!

Why do you do what you do?

I’m passionate about great dining, and especially the emerging scene here. I would love to have a fabulous dining experience every time I eat out. Sadly that just doesn’t happen, so I hope my blog alerts people to really great restaurants, and helps them to avoid the dodgy ones. I’m also an advocate for constructive criticism and do re-visit restaurants I have previously given an unfavourable review to, to see if the sitauation has improved! If it has, my job is done! I love food and as I work in communications/pr and am that way inclined, food blogging is a natural extension of who I am! I really do like dining out, especially as the dining scene in Brisbane has come so far, even since I moved here 5 years ago. I’ve met some really fabulous people through blogging and some cool opportunites are starting to arise! It’s nice to think people actually care enough about your opinion to read it religiously.
How have you been able to do what you love?
The great thing about blogging is, anyone can do it. It does take dedication but you can start a free blog and start writing straight away. Luckily, I have an understanding boyfriend and friends which is important- because I know it is frustrating to have to wait to eat in Restaurants while I try and find the right light to snap the perfect pic. My gene pool probably has something to do with it too. I think my background has sort of forced me to do something in food. Since I was born, our lives have revolved around food- so I think I have some kind of gravitational pull towards food.

Get Visible: if there’s anything else you’d like to add, speak now or forever hold your peace!
It’s great to see that Brisbane is really surging ahead in the food stakes. It’s no secret that we have been about 20 years behind the other states but we are starting to catch up. I’m really happy to report on all the triumphs happening in QLD – be it restaurants, produce, wineries or anything food related. We are now represented by a small but savvy contingent of food bloggers and people are starting to understand the value of good food. It’s also fabulous to see such a young element to the dining/food scene- lots of enthusiasm and vigour which is really shining through.

Check out the Gastronomy Gal blog at http://gastronomy-gal.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sardine Tin Southbank

When I was driving to work the other day, I saw a corporate attired clad lady on a mission, simply stop dead in her tracks, to read a plaque on a public chair. I'm guessing that this chair was dedicated to someone with love from someone, but I can't be sure, because I myself, have never taken the time to read the plaque. What was written is hardly the point.

At one point, I lived less than 3 minutes away and walked past the chair dozens of times and had never realised there was a plaque on the chair, let alone bothered to stop to read the damn thing. This incident reminded me that you can look at things a million times, without ever actually seeing what is there. It made me realise that I sometimes live my life in a trance state, going from one thing to the next, without ever really stopping to look and see. I shrug things off on first impressions because I haven't ever really stopped to scratch the surface.

My relationship with Southbank is a little like this. I often shrug off Southbank based restaurant suggestions because the thought of tons of tourist, teenagers with too much attitude and bikini clad screaming toddlers sends me into a 'I'm local - I don't do that' spin.

I'm really glad the lady took time to 'stop and smell the roses' because she caused me to think about seizing the moment. My visiting Mum wanted to go to SB last weekend so instead of loudly complaining about her venue choice, I embraced the opportunity and visited the Lifeline Bookfair, a cupcake shop, a tea shop, the lolly shop, a coffee shop and most importantly The Sardine Tin.

I've been putting off visiting Simon Livingston's newest (newish-opened in the 2nd half last year) foray into the restaurant world due to my little aversion to SB. I'm a big fan of Livingston's Piaf- a Modern French-Australian styled bistro in Grey Street and it's a shame I left it so long to visit little sister wine bar located just across the way.

The aptly named Sardine Tin, is a tiny little space that is used incredibly well. It is situated on the corner looking towards the parkland and serves tapas and wine to a chilled out crowd. The small but constantly changing menu is interesting and reasonably priced and the staff are more than happy to help you sample and choose a drop to match.

Very cutely, there is always a sardine dish on the menu and although I'm not a huge fan, Mum was tempted by the Sardinillas. Perhaps the accompanying info had something to do with it!

I can't resist Olive bread ($8) and ordered a serve to start. The bread was fresh and doughy and perfectly toasted. It would have benefitted from additional olives but the rosemary and garlic butter added pizazz.

Mum eventually ordered us a bottle of the Pinot Noir - and disappointingly, I can't remember what it was! It was, however, good.

For whimsical reasons (Nan used to make awesome oxtail stew) Mum and I ended up choosing the same dish; one of the specials, The oxtail croquette with celeriac puree and truffle salad - also $12. Note to mother: C'Mon! Mum- seriously? I need you to order something different so I can maximise the number of tasting opportunities. The perfectly crunchy croquette arrived on a sea of creamy celeriac puree, with salad perched precisely on top.

The croquette was as crispy as it looked, deliciously fried. The oxtail inside had a lovely consistency but the flavour lacked depth. The puree was a beautiful accompaniment, as was the 'truffle' salad. I would have preferred less dressing and feel that the puree outshone dressing. I loved the style of this dish. If the oxtail filling had more zing, it could have been a contender for 'the best croquette'.

C decided he needed something a little more substantial than us and went for the steak sandwich with dijonnaise for $12. The sandwich was smallish, simple and sensational. The bread had a lovely crusty outside, but was soft and fresh underneath. The thinly sliced steak was easy to bite through and the mushrooms were buttery. The spinach added colour and freshness and the beautiful house made dijonnaise was rich without being overwhelming and melted nicely over the steak and into the bread. The size of the sandwich meant it was easy to delicately bite into (not that C cared about that) and really was a testament to the notion of simple sometimes being best.

The service at Sardine Tin was friendly without being over bearing, and Mum LOVED the fact that they let her taste three or four wines before she made her choice. She's fairly picky!

I will head back to The Sardine Tin sometime very soon and recommend you try it too. I was impressed with everything- the service, the wine list and the food.

I'm so happy that I took the time out to scratch Southbank's surface. I had a lovely time despite the tourists, teenagers and toddlers! There are some really cool eateries popping up and and you know what?! My next visit might be sooner rather than later. I might even go back later this month to visit Max Brenner and Ben O 'Donoghue's much awaited Surf Club.

When to go there: When the weather is lovely on an Autumn or Winter afternoon-anytime you want a chilled setting for a glass of wine and some tasty treats.

Sardine Tin
Shop 3A Arbour on Grey
Southbank 4101
P. 07 3846 1146
w. www.sardinetin.com.au

Sardine Tin on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Sorry guys, having a few problems with some of my photos loading properly (grrr Blogger!) - should all be fixed before the end of today :)!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bondi Pizza

On my most recentish trip to Sydney, my sister took me along to the Bondi Markets. I love Bondi Markets- no markets in Brisbane really measure up. There seem to be stalls at every corner of the school yard and most things are pretty cool and reasonably priced. (I put this in -here as I really want someone to make a Bondi styled market in Bris- someone... anyone??) After shopping until we almost dropped, we decided to go up to the main strip in Bondi and grab something to eat. The afternoon had graced us hours earlier, and we really just needed something light to sustain us until dinner time.

We didn't want to walk too far, as I had bought some heavy prints so when we stumbled upon Bondi Pizza, we could go no further. Heaps of my Sydney friends rave about Bondi Pizza so when I saw it sitting there amongst the crowd on the beautifully sunny early Autumn afternoon- I knew I had to have it.

We decided to have takeaway, although I'm not entirely sure why. The vibe was cool and relaxed and it seemed like a lovely spot to sit whilst eating a slice. Perhaps we were so tired from all the shopping that our brains were momentarily sleeping. After perusing the menu for what seemed like a lifetime, my sister finally asserted authority and demanded we order a small chicken pancetta ($13.9) - with grilled marinated chicken, pancetta, fresh tomato, rocket and bondi pizzas secret BBQ style sauce. We ordered from the takeaway counter and sat on the big rock outside to wait. Whilst it was a lovely day - it would have been a much smarter move to eat outside at one of the tables!

In face, we made a series of mistakes in this visit.
1) Order a large- even if you think you want something light, you don't. 2 small pieces is not enough to sustain you when you have been shopping for hours;
2) Order and eat in the restaurant instead of having takeaway on the walk back to the car;
3) Never forget to look at the cocktail list, because you will spot it when you are sitting staring wistfully in, and it will make you even more unhappy.

The cocktail list was scrawled out on the wall and looked fab- I really could have done with a bikini mojito or an icy lychini ($16.5) to revitalise my spirit. Ah well.. maybe next time.

After what seemed like an eternity, but was only probably 20 minutes (which would have gone a lot quicker had I been seated and drinking a cocktail) our number was called, so we grabbed the pizza an proceeded back to the car- eating a piece along the way.

Bondi Pizza pride themselves on having the tastiest 'thin pressed' pizza in the world, though I'm not exactly sure what means, I am sure that the base was thin and crispy. The napoli sauce was tasty and the chicken and pancetta complimented each other nicely. The rocket added colour and a peppery kick, but for me, the 'secret bbq style sauce' was oily and borderline stodgy. The flavour wasn't bad but I didn't really like it smothered all over the pizza and think it could have been nicer if it was used in conjunction with the napoli sauce on the base or more sparingly when drizzled on top.

After observing for 20 mins, most people looked like they were enjoying their meals and the chilli king prawn pizza looked quite impressive- something I might consider next time I'm in Bondi and in need of pizza.

Bondi Pizza
180-186 Campbell Parade
Bondi Beach
NSW 2026
+61 2 9365 6500

So tell me - when have you made a silly dining decision?
Bondi Pizza on Urbanspoon
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