Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas to All,



It's that time of year- time to take a break. I'm finally at home after the long drive, which was much wetter than ever before. Luckily the roads were open and not too much water lying around. As I've said before- " I'll be home come hell or highwater."


I'm going to take a couple of weeks off blogging to just chill out and relax- plus I have some exciting things in store in the new year and have to prepare for them. Now that I think about it realistically, not too much relaxing will take place! 


I promise to get the QLD Food Blogger directory up in the new year, just waiting until after December to make sure everyone has had a chance to submit their details- wouldn't want anyone to miss out! If you want more details- go here. In true blogger style, some of you have babbled on for far too long- so I might have to do a bit of editing!


I'm so happy to be home so I can catch up with all my childhood friends and - of course, hang out with the fam. Christmas is one of my favourite times of year, and although it's not feeling too Christmassy- just yet (it was about 25 degrees cooler than usual yesterday!) I'm menu planning and thanks to all your suggestions, the ideas are finally flowing. It's looking like a cold Christmas lunch- lots of seafood,  some turkey, a terrine or two and plenty of pretty cocktails! More details and photos to come.


Now, I'm not normally mushy, HOWEVER, it is Christmas- and I want to say thanks to all my readers. All of you taking time out of your busy lives to read about my life, means the world to me. It really does. I still get super excited everytime I get a comment! 


Blogging and Twitter really has opened up an amazing world to me-  a world filled with wonderful people and kind hearts, lots of hilariousness and plenty of opportunities I would have never had otherwise! I have to say in the words of William Elliott Whitmore -


"And oh how it pleases me.
To be in such company.
And I'm so glad our paths have crossed."

And so - here's to another year! I want to wish you Merry Christmas and a really great New Year ! I hope you have a fabulous day- filled with love and laughter. Travel safely - see you/ talk to you next year!

P.s I'll still be on Twitter and would love to hear about all your Christmas plans let me know - obviously I'll be checking for comments! xx

"Drink your glasses to the bottom.
And toast me on another year.
Another year of hope.
Another year of holding on
.....
And I hope I will see you soon.
And I'll be home come hell or high water.
And I know I will see you soon."







Thursday, December 16, 2010

The most dreaded day of the year

So, this dreaded day has arrived. For those of you who read regularly or tweet or know me in real life, you will know how much I absolutely dread my birthday- which just happens to be today. I don't know why- but I have ALWAYS been like this, since I was really small. The first documented version of the birthday blues hit when I was not even school age.


If I've been sour or horrid towards you over the last few weeks, please understand that it is merely my birthday blues getting in the way of a good time. For that I apologise, but want to warn you, if you continue to know me, this could be a yearly occurance!


Luckily I've taken the day off work so I can mope- and have tried to incorporate suggestions into how to make my birthday better. So, I am trying to ignore the fact that my birthday is today, and have booked at Sake for lunch- something I have been looking forward to for a long time. Next year, if I'm feeling even more confident that I can beat the B.B's, I may even attempt a festive themed gathering to coincide to keep my mind completely off the whole thing!


Not sure about any other plans, but maybe I'll just take it easy, try to forget how old I'm turning and pretend that today is just an ordinary day. Except it isn't. 


Sorry for such a solemn post, but I must go now. My moping awaits!! 


Photos of Sake coming soon- something which I am super excited about! In other news- I made a really simple but lovely breakfast on the weekend- so thought I would share with you. Poached eggs, with field mushrooms and chives, served with tomato jam and unknown green spinach type thing grown in my own garden.




Eggs came from A & T Poultry (Noosa Farmer's Markets)
Mushrooms came from Mushroom lady at Noosa Farmer's Markets
Green stuff and chives came from the garden
Tomato Jam from Comfort at my Table




So, tell me readers, do you dread your birthday like I do, or love it- and celebrate a whole birthday week like some of my friends?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

QLD Food Blogger Directory- time extended until December 31

I know it's been really hectic time for everyone - and so given the repeated requests, I have extended the time frame- Bloggers- feel free to send your info to me before the end of the year and you will be included.


I’m doing a little blogging project and would love every QLD Food Blogger to be involved. A year or so ago, Kerry compiled a list of Brisbane bloggers, but since that time, there are so many new faces, it’s hard to keep up! I’d like to ask each blogger some questions, so more people can get to know a little bit about you and your blog. Everyone seems to have their own unique focus, which is great, and I’d like to find out a little bit more about the personalities behind the blogs.

If you want to be featured in this post, I’ve added a list of questions below that you could answer. Try to keep your responses short and sweet where possible. If you would have a photo or a logo you would like displayed, please send that through too!

I hope to end up with a finished workable directory of all QLD’s great bloggers, and their blogs.  This post will be scheduled for 2nd half of December, so if you could get your response to me by the 31st of December, that would be much appreciated.

Blog Name:
Give me the low down on your blog: (A short paragraph) IS it just you, or do you have a little team? What are your favourite subjects to blog about? How often do you blog? Do you have a specific focus?
When did you start your blog?

Other optional questions to answer:
Favourite Brisbane Restaurant?
Most used cook book?
Strawberry, Mulberry of Raspberry?
Ultimate dinner party guest?
Favourite or most read food blog: (not your own)
Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner?
Three ingredients you can’t live without:
Most interesting food fact you know:
Signature dish?
Favourite bottle of wine, cocktail or beer?

Please send your answers and photos through to me at Gastronomygal@gmail.com
 
Thanks so much- hope to start receiving your emails soon and reading all about you!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Pressies & Hamper Ideas

One of my very stylish friends, Digella, always talks about how important beautifully wrapped gifts are. She is SO right! Yesterday, I spent the whole afternoon/evening wrapping pressies for all my fam and all C's fam. They didn't turn out as beautifully as I'd have hoped- but they are simple, which was what I was after. 






Wrapping was actually lots of fun, even though C got a bit sick of Neil Diamond Christmas Album being on repeat. For occasions such as this, I think I am going to request a number of Christmas Albums for Christmas this year, so I can compile a Christmas carol super list, this will probably drive C insane/ spell the end of our relationship! (Just Kidding!) Thought I would pop a photo in so you can see what vibe I was going for.






I also decided to wrap the box/hamper I am giving C's family for Christmas. Speaking of hampers,  I have had major difficulties getting any inspiration for Christmas lunch (as previously discussed- feel free to give me your deets), but luckily I have already got the pressie side of things sorted. 


I know there are heaps of places around that offer pre-made hampers, but I like to carefully select each ingredient knowing that they will be used. When I buy the ones that are already put together, I know there are jars of random stuff that will sit at the back of the cupboard!!





I visited Black Pearl Epicure and got most of the ingredients there, as well as a lovely rich fruit cake ($34.5) from the Gourmet Gallery who I visit at the Noosa Farmer's markets. The rest of the additions aren't necessarily the most gourmet items, but I know they will come in handy over the Christmas period when C's Mum and Dad have lots of family visiting.


I included Bellata Gold fettuccine, Simon Johnson organic ketchup, Murray River salt flakes, Hank's Cherry Seeded Mustard and Ginger Chutney 4 Ham, Rinaldi Orange Blossom Honey - roasted Almond Nougat, Herbies Spices Chermoula spice mix - complete with recipe from the lovely Emma, Maggie Beer's Seville Marmalade, Gwydir Grove Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Nobili Sapori 6 year old Balsamic Vinegar and J Friend and Co NZ Artisian Honey- Beechwood Honeydew. All this cost about $110. Super happy to have all the shopping for C's fam done in one hit, and even happier knowing the hamper is customised towards them.






Now, all that is left to do is plan my Christmas menu. Argh- I'm starting to stress a little bit- it's never been this late in December before, without me having some kind of idea of at least the theme! Off I go to spend the rest of the day reading old Christmas versions of Gourmet Trav and Delicious!


So.. I know I already asked this last week- but if you didn't contribute, please tell me... WHAT ARE YOU HAVING FOR CHRISTMAS LUNCH!!?!?


Black Pearl Epicure
36 Baxter Street
Fortitude Valley, QLD 4006
07 3257 2144 


Gourmet Gallery 
Noosa Farmer's Markets 
Every Sunday morning

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Review: Rouj - Rosalie

Rosalie is one of my local haunts, and I love when something new pops up there. I have had my eye on a space for a while, and been watching the progress intently. About a month ago- the signs finally went up- Rouj and a little giveaway tag line, modern Lebanese. 


In my previous life as a University student, I used to Nanny. The people I nannied for were amazing, and the kids- who I call M’n’M were just gorgeous. I love them to bits. One of the added bonuses of nannying for this particular family, was that they have a Lebanese background and their Grandmother would make some amazing Lebanese food, that they insisted I try. It was so great, I developed a bit of love for Lebanese food, where I hadn't had very much experience prior! So when I saw Rouj opening up in the hood, I was very excited, finally a chance to get my hands, or more precisely, mouth around some hopefully yummy Lebanese.


As Rouj had only been opened for two days when I visited, there were still some processes being put in place, and a couple of things that were not quite streamlined. Obviously this is totally 100% normal. I also didn't want to give a very critical review, as that wouldn't really be fair- so I'm going to give more just a rundown of what we ate.


Rouj has lots of promise. When I popped in to get a take away menu the day before, one of the waitresses showed me down to the back cabinet which was packed full with fresh Lebanese desserts, salads and fresh marinating skewers. 


The menu is separated into three categories - mezza & dips, salads & kebabs and platters & sweets.  There are plenty of gluten free and vegetarian options that are clearly marked on the menu. The prices are reasonable - salads $5.5 for small, $7.4 for medium and $8.5 for large, mezza items under $3.5 and skewers between $4.5 and $5.5.


We decided to get takeaway as C and I both had lots of other things to do at home, and couldn't really be bothered dining out... Weird, I know, especially as it's often easier if you dine in- no washing up! But sometimes I feel like being slovenly, so I was!


We selected a cheese finger for $3.2 and a silverbeet roll for $2.8 from the mezza and a small eggplant salad $5.5 and a kebab each. Don't ask me why. I don't even really like kebabs, but I decided to try anyway! C chose the chicken kebab for $8.5 and I went with the kafta kebeb for $8.5.


The cheese finger was much more sophisticated than the cheddar on toast cheese finger from my childhood. Filo pastry filled with haloumi, feta, onion, parsley and spices - then deep fried, was particularly tasty. The parsley really came through and provided a delicious green element to the cheesy bite.






The silverbeet roll, a Leb version of the much loved Greek Dolmade. I'm not sure who made them first, but they are both good. Filled with rice, onion, tomato and lemon juice, wrapped in soft silverbeet leaf and served with a little tzatziki on the side, the roll was lovely and fresh- the lemon giving extra kick. These would be lovely to take to work for lunch, may look into making some on the weekend.. Or I may just pop across and buy a couple... I'm feeling lazy- it is the end of the year!






Smoked eggplant, cauliflower, lettuce, tomato, onion and lemon juice made up the eggplant salad- which as the smoked eggplant would suggest, was extremely...... um,..... smoky. It just occurred to me that there aren't really any other ways to describe smoky... but this eggplant salad was smoky. It was really a really vivid salad and I loved the texture. Always a fan of eggplant.






The kebabs here are interesting. The quality of the meat is infinitely better than a regular 'kebab' shop.  Free range chicken breast meat, lamb backstrap and marinated rib fillet are all options.


I went with the kafta- which is minced leg of lamb, hommus, tomato, pickles, parsley and sumac. The Lebanese bread it was wrapped in was good, but mine was a little oversauced. I could really only taste sauce, but when I fished out some of the kafta by itself, it was quite well seasoned. Next time I decide to order a kebab, I'll ask for only half the amount of sauce.






C agreed that the kebab was really fresh, but also thought the chicken breast could have had more seasoning. His sauce very garlicky and probably overpowered the other ingredients too, so maybe less sauce as well. Please note- these are TOTALLY different from the average kebab that you would eat at 2 a.m. and thankfully so!


I'm really excited to have Rouj in the neighbourhood. Even from our takeaway in their first week, we had some good food and was impressed by the simple but rather nice menu.
There are banquet options and for $35 per person you get a mix of entree, mezza, main and dessert- so that option could be worth trying if you have a party of four or more. I will go back in a couple of weeks and try out some of the other options- the skewers look promising, as do the sweets. I'm glad that Bris Vegas is finally attracting some quality, family run eateries into the burbs!


When to go: Whenever! Pop in and give it a go. 


So tell me readers, do you love Lebanese food?


Rouj 
Shop 3, 21 Nash Street
Rosalie QLD 4064
07 3367 2210
www.rouj.com.au

Rouj Modern Lebanese on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Review: Wasabi, Noosa

I've been needing a weekend getaway for a while and unfortunately, just haven't had the time to schedule one in, so was really relieved when last weekend finally arrived. At last, a weekend at Noosa.

The forecast didn't look good weather wise, and not so characteristically, it was spot on. It bucketed down from the moment we arrived and was still teeming when we left. I didn't mind one little bit. I did feel a little sorry for friends who had come up from Sydney to escape their torrential weather, but really, just loved hanging about without the pressure to do anything much.

It also meant that I could finally make a lunchtime booking at Wasabi, something I had been meaning to do well before they shifted from Sunshine Beach to their new restaurant. How time gets away- I think the move happened in early 2009. Wasabi are pretty well renowned. They repeatedly win 'Best Regional Restaurant of the Year' type of awards, receiving that particular honour in the Courier Mail's 2010 round. Among other things, they were also awarded 2 stars and restauranteur, Danielle Gjestland has a number of impressive accolades too.

Wasabi's premisis is located in Quamby Place which is technically Noosa Sound. Wasabi, for those who know your Noosa restaurants, is located right next to Ricky's. A beautiful spot - right on the water. Stepping into Wasabi is very calming. Slim lines, white gloss and simple but chic decor awaits. There is also a sleek Tatami room for those who want a more traditional dining experience.

Although the tasting menu looked tantalising, C, The J (C's grandma) and I felt would be best saved for when we could really enjoy the matched sakes.

The sashimi and sushi menus are extensive, and there are some great options on the a'la carte menu. Always being one to want to try everything, we decided to share and chose a little something from each section.

An amuse bouche arrived, obviously designed to test out our chopstick skills! A yuzu and dashi jelly with pickled vegetables opened me up to the idea that I may not be opposed to subtle dashi. This was clean and fresh tasting, a nice summer starter.



Sashimi wise (3 per serve), fresh soft scallops ($9.0) (oh, how predictable of me!) and silky trout ($9.5) lined some gorgeous plates, and were snapped up in a second or two.



Nigiri was next - with tiger prawns ($14.2) and snapper ($12.7). Service is thorough and thoughtful, and waitstaff make it easy to add an extra piece to a dish, so everyone gets to try. Luckily one of the polished, lovely waitresses recommended this, as I was glad I didn't have to share my snapper nigiri which was delightfully smooth and tender. I loved the sneaky wasabi hit between the rice and fish too. 



Dish of the day undoubtedly goes to the Hiramasa Ponzu ($26.0)- sashimi style hiramasa kingfish, toasted seasme, ginger chips and ponzu. The kingfish was sliced thingly and the seasme seeds added texture and flavour. Oomph from the ginger chips and prefectly balanced ponzu helped to make this dish extra special.



Gyoza (serve of 6 - $19.0) are always a must order for me, and these little babies were crispy bottomed, soft topped and quite good. The filling was nice, but could have had some extra ginger. My only other complaint was that they just weren't big enough. I wanted more!! 



Tempura vegetables looked promising and really delivered. Piled high, shiso leaf,  eggplant, sweet potato, broccoli, lotus root, asparagus and nama shitake mushroom were all covered in almost impossibly light, beautiful batter. I devoured the eggplant and mushroom in record time, the maccha powdered green tea salt mixture and tentsuyu tempura dipping sauce helped make them incredibly moreish.



We ordered from the futari section (serves 2) even though there were three of us and the waitress suggested that we would have more than enough food. The spatchcock teriyaki for $47.5 caught my eye earlier on, so we ended up going with that. 

Deboned and stuffed with hijiki rice and served with torigara shoyu, roasted golden eschallot, nama shitake and warm japanese mushroom salad, the spatchcock was moist and subtle, perhaps even a little too subtle. I don't want the hit of teriyaki that you get from the chicken wings out of a hotbox doused in the stuff, but I do like a little bit of depth of flavour. The rice made a good stuffing, and the whole dish was nice, but not overwhelmingly so. Perhaps a little bit of a disappointing end to an otherwise fabulous meal.




Throughout the meal, The J sipped on sake, whilst I chose some Umeshu plum wine and C had a Kirin, but there are extensive wine and cocktail lists available. We were seated right on the water, and it was really relaxing. A toot of an arriving ferry, a crash of thunder and the splashes of rain on the roof were the only sounds we had to endure. Sigh...



I could have sat all afternoon with some plum wine or sake or cocktail and lazed away the afternoon, and I intend to do so sometime soon, perhaps I'll have the tasting menu then. The service was swift and polite, and the food was, overall, really quite lovely. It's no wonder Wasabi are so widely recognised as being one of the best restaurants in regional QLD. Putting together the whole package- the food, wine, service and serenity, I don't doubt they are one of the best restaurants in all of regional Australia.



When to go: Whenever you can make time. Lunchtime is particularly nice as there is a beautiful view to lap up. Keep in mind they only do Sunday and Tuesday lunches.

So tell me readers, how do you feel when it rains for your whole weekend? Ripped off or relaxed?

Wasabi Restaurant
2 Quamby Place
Noosa Sound QLD 4567
07 5449 2443
http://www.wasabisb.com/

Wasabi on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas is coming!

And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young
A very Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

What's that I hear playing softly (ok, not so softly) in the background? Is it Neil Diamond's Christmas Album?? I believe it is! Don't judge. My fam listed to this every year(much to my poor father's dismay). It's a matter of tradition and enjoying possibly one of the most kitch albums of all time. AND I absolutely LOVE it and cannot wait until the 1st of December every year to blast that shiz.



December is a month of contradictions for me. End of the year, exhausting and usually chaotic. My birthday (which I DREADDDDDDD) thrown in, but then, soon after, the absolutely exciting time of going home (it's a looooong and dry drive!), catching up with my very loved and extremely missed, friends and family.



I cannot explain to you how fun Christmas in Gunnedah is. I love everything Christmassy - Neil Diamond Christmas Album, trees, tinsel, light looking, drink and (no surprise here) - eating. The smell in the air is intoxicating. All my friends that grew up in Gunnedah can 'smell' Christmas too. 

Lots of people put up gorgeous Christmas decorations and light show spectaculars, so there are parties in the streets with people sitting out eating and drinking and spreading the Christmas cheer. Forget the display at Myer- Sorry guys, but it pales in comparison. And I'm not even kidding!!



It's generally so stinking hot, you can't breathe too well, but that's all part of it. We spend days by the pool, lazing around. Christmas Eve is the most anticipated night of the year. After getting family commitments out of the way (yes, I still go to Christmas Eve Church with my Grandfather - just cos')  all the youngins head out on the town to spend time with long lost friends they haven't seen since the year before.



Somehow, despite the best of intentions (I always preach that I'm not drinking) I fall into a dangerous trap and end up having a couple, and talking the night away, then creeping into bed at the early hours of the morning. My little sister (who I might add, is 18- so not so little) always sneaks in to wake my other sister and I up at a ridiculously early, and we grab our sacks (Yes, I still get a santa sack ) and open them.



Then the last minute prepping begins. I say last minute, because usually Dad and I spend the whole month preparing our menu, and cook for the week leading up to Christmas so that the big day will be relatively stress free. 

My sisters and Mum usually take care of the decorating and theming but this year, I'm going to give that a go aswell.



Not only do we cater Christmas day- my fam also hosts two additional Christmas parties (or they will be this year) A night for all my friends (and my sister's friends) to come and drink copious amounts and party on the lawn, AND a party with all the family friends. We might even think about combining the two events, but I'm afraid my parents and their friends will be a badddd influence on us 18-28's! 



Usually by the first of December, I'm emailing menus to Dad for approval, or have at least suggested some themes. The end of this year has been so hectic, professionally and personally, that I haven't started Christmas shopping or opened my December version of Gourmet Traveller, letalone finalised meal choices.

HELP!!! I want to use you guys as inspiration!! 

I'd love to know what you do at Christmas time. Tell me about your family traditions, what you like to eat and drink and what you listen to(as if it's NOT Neil Diamond)?

What theme is your Christmas this year? Do you do traditional, seafood, a mixture of both or something completely original?? I would like some stuff that can be prepared ahead of time too- don't want to have to get up TOO early!

I also know some of you are decorating divas- so would love some inspiration there too!

I'll will be serving my Christmas cake made at Judy C's class - that's for sure! But am totally open to suggestions- so hit me! 




P.S. Let me know if you want a copy of Neil Diamond- I can arrange. x

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

QLD Food Blogger Directory


I’m doing a little blogging project and would love every QLD Food Blogger to be involved. A year or so ago, Kerry compiled a list of Brisbane bloggers, but since that time, there are so many new faces, it’s hard to keep up! I’d like to ask each blogger some questions, so more people can get to know a little bit about you and your blog. Everyone seems to have their own unique focus, which is great, and I’d like to find out a little bit more about the personalities behind the blogs.

If you want to be featured in this post, I’ve added a list of questions below that you could answer. Try to keep your responses short and sweet where possible. If you would have a photo or a logo you would like displayed, please send that through too!

I hope to end up with a finished workable directory of all QLD’s great bloggers, and their blogs.  This post will be scheduled for 2nd half of December, so if you could get your response to me by the 14th of December, that would be much appreciated.

Blog Name:
Give me the low down on your blog: (A short paragraph) IS it just you, or do you have a little team? What are your favourite subjects to blog about? How often do you blog? Do you have a specific focus?
When did you start your blog?

Other optional questions to answer:
Favourite Brisbane Restaurant?
Most used cook book?
Strawberry, Mulberry of Raspberry?
Ultimate dinner party guest?
Favourite or most read food blog: (not your own)
Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner?
Three ingredients you can’t live without:
Most interesting food fact you know:
Signature dish?
Favourite bottle of wine, cocktail or beer?

Please send your answers and photos through to me at Gastronomygal@gmail.com
 
Thanks so much- hope to start receiving your emails soon and reading all about you!

 
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