Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bamboo Basket: South Bank, Brisbane

I've been craving dumplings. If you follow me on twitter, I'm sure you have already heard. I'm not sure why, but I could have eaten dumplings every day this month. That's right- could have, not have. Therein lies the problem, which I must admit would have created other problems (hello ever expanding arse), but still a problem in itself.

It's funny that I can easily find good dumpling stashes in Melbourne and Sydney, yet when it comes to finding dumpling here, I am very lost. Good yum cha places  do exist, but where in Brisbane does one go to get a good serve of dumplings after dark?

I started by asking my ever resourceful resource, twitter. Again the results were inconclusive. A few people mentioned a couple of names, Bamboo Basket at South Bank being one of them, but aside from that, there was a real lack of suggestion an the suggestions were mainly vague- 'I'm sure there is a dumpling place at Sunnybank - somewhere' ... When I tried to follow up the lead of Yong He Dumpling Restaurant, I came to a dead end as their phone had been disconnected and there was little written about them online, except another restaurant being listed with the same address. Kay, one of my friends who is usually in the know, suggested that Yong He still exists, but under another name. In any event, I wasn't planning on driving to Sunnybank in the rather nippy weather to find out otherwise.

So, I went with the suggestion of Bamboo Basket in South Bank, where I have dined before, but only ordered one serve of dumplings, so thought I would give it a go.

As my search for dumplings would suggest, good Chinese fare is particularly hard to come by in Brisbane. Bamboo Basket specialise in Shanghainese food, but there are a smattering of menu items that are more mainstream. Being located in South Bank, Bamboo Basket is a bit of a spiffy joint, much more glam than the average Chinese restaurant. The glassed open kitchen which overlooks the street provides much interest for passers by who can look in to see the chefs stretching pulling noodles or folding dumplings.

On the Saturday night that we visit, we arrive early, about 6:30 p.m. and the place is packed. They don't take bookings for 2 people, but C and I wrongly thought we would be fine at such an early timeslot. The manager takes our number and tells us he will give us a call when there is a table free, 'shouldn't be long,' he assures us.  True to his word, the phone rings about ten minutes later and we head back to the waiting table.

There was no need to muck around perusing the menu, C and I knew what we were there for- the dumplings, we just had to decide which versions we would be having.

Xiao Long Bao (4 for $7.9) were an obvious starting point. When done properly, I would vote that Xiao Long Bao are the ultimate dumpling- flavoursome meat and soupy insides. Bamboo Basket's version was solid- thick skin encasing the soupy inside, which burst into my mouth when popped, but I would note that they were a little large to fit in my mouth all at once. I was SOUPer happy (sorry) that ALL of the dumplings remained completely sealed until we ate them- it's so disappointing to find that half are busted before you get to them.

Next obvious choice was the pan fried pork dumpling (6 for $11.9), which are also an old favourite. Having to break through the 'pan' of dumplings makes for impressive presentation, however, I was less excited about the base of the dumplings which were still quite doughy.

I love when the base is a little crunchier- it just perfects the dumpling. That being said, the filling for these dumplings was pleasantly plump although not as packed with flavour as I'd have liked.

Chicken water dumplings (8 for $11.9) had good texture. The outside skin was aldente and the fillings were plain and simple, but nice. I'm a bit of a fan of boiled dumplings, they aren't as flavoursome as their fried or steamed cousins, but I like them all the same.

Steamed pork and prawn dumplings caught C's eye, so we ordered a serve of those which were 4 for $7.9. These dumplings lacked distinction and the frozen prawns that went into the mixture added unwanted liquid.  I really couldn't place any of the other flavours and these really didn't tickle anyone's fancy.

Steamed seafood dumplings (3 for $7.9) are also a fave of C's- he orders them almost everywhere we go, even though there are very few that live up to his standards. Unfortunately, these didn't. The skin was quite good - a nice texture, but the insides tasted a little bit odd, like there was something missing. They weren't overly offensive or anything, but really weren't a stand out, and honestly, I would expect them to be considering they are more than $2.5 a piece.

Even though we were on a dumpling binge, we were able to find space for some shallot pancake ($7.9). These shallot pancakes were more similar to a fried shallot doughnut, and were rounded instead of the usual flat pancake style. There were crunchy on the outside, and were filled to the brim with shallot filling. Although a little different to any other shallot pancake I've tried, these were not unpleasant and filled us to the brim.

Service at Bamboo Basket was friendly but patchy. After waiting a long time for our orders to be taken, we eventually got the attention of the drinks Waiter and he wrote down our orders. Although the staff were pleasant, when you miss out on things like water, despite asking a couple of times then giving up, it signifies that things need to run a little more smoothly than they do. In fairness to Bamboo Basket, they were extremely busy, but I noted that it was not just our table that missed out or had orders mixed up.

Something else worth mentioning is the tourist tax Bamboo Basket have slapped onto their prices. Whilst they are not outrageous, they are significantly more expensive than you would expect to pay at any usual dumpling place. I'd imagine that being located at South Bank would come with a hefty price tag, so obviously the diners have to cover that through the prices. If you are prepared to go suburban, you will get more bang for your buck.

Whilst some elements of Bamboo Basket weren't great, we did have an overall pleasant evening, and most elements were good. It is the best Chinese place I have come across close to the city. I would go back to Bamboo Basket and see if the problems we encountered were a result of being overly busy or just standard. I have tried a larger section of the menu on previous visits but wanted to keep this post dumpling specific. Bamboo Basket are a nice restaurant, located centrally and have some good dumplings on offer with the Xiao Long Bao, Chicken water dumplings and the pan fried pork being the highlights.

When to go: If you are in Bris City or close by and are craving dumplings.

Tell me readers - Where do you go for a dumpling fix?

Bamboo Basket
189 Grey St
South Brisbane QLD 4101
07 3844 0088
Bamboo Basket on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Gastronauts' Supper Club: June 2011

Last Saturday night, I was lucky enough to attend my second Gastronauts' Supper Club. Read about the first visit here. Gastronauts was inspired by Jamie Oliver's visit to a New York supper club in his American Road Trip Show - if it's good enough for New York, it can happen in Brisbane. The general idea is that dinners will be put on at Gastronauts' homes around Brisbane, with the odd special occasion for variety. They email out the menu for the next dinner - and if you're interested, all you have to do is reply to the email. Diners are then be selected randomly, and you'll be sent the location on the day of the supper club dinner. Once you have eaten, a pot is passed around where guests make a contribution to the host to cover the cost of ingredients. Gastronauts is an opportunity for foodies to enjoy a fantastic dinner, while at the same time meeting new new people who are equally keen on food.

It seriously is a great idea, and both times I have been surprised at how easily the evening flows. I have met some fabulous new people and now am considering becoming a host for one of the dinners. If only my kitchen wasn't so hideously small. Richard (one of the key Gastronaut's) very kindly offered to lend me his kitchen, but I wouldn't feel right doing that! I feel like I should host the evening in my own home.. I'm going to start thinking about my options and Camb and I are considering moving (not till later in the year though), so maybe I could host a supper club as my first function when we move. Anyway, clearly you don't want to listen to my ramblings, but rather, want to see what I ate!

Richard aka Food Bling and his wife Rebecca hosted the evening and did a fabulous job. The theme was Spanish food and Richard used a couple of Ferran Adria recipes as well as some Spanish classics. He talked us through the process of the El Bulli recipes and pulled out some packages to explain how he had completed each recipe, but it was pretty well lost on me. Molecular Gastronomy is far too complex for me to attempt but Richard managed to pull it off with some great results. Don't panic if you were thinking about hosting a supper club and have visions of horror about molecular gastronomy -The Gastronauts love all sorts of food, home cooked/rustic are just great!

 Melon with jamon 2005: This was the first dish- sort of like an amuse bouche - and was a Ferran Adria recipe. Syringes, white powders and some sort of gel were all involved in creating this little wonder. The melon balls were amazing and the texture was like nothing I had ever experienced before. Served in shot glasses, it made for an impressive sight.

Next up was a tasting plate which contained deconstructed gazpacho, prawn stuffed cherry tomatoes, Saffron tortillas with smoked paprika aioli and chorizo with apple cider. The deconstructed gazpacho was amazing. Again using some crazy techniques, Richard managed to get the tomato into tiny balls which were full of tomatoey flavour. Speaking of tomatoes, the prawn stuffed cherry tomatoes were so delicately done - they had their skins peeled off and were cute like packages. The smoked paprika aioli was seriously good- I'm sure lots of efforts went into making it- but it worked well with the saffron tortillas.

Next course was the pea and sherry soup with chorizo oil and croutons. This dish was my fave of the night- the soup was thick and really fresh with the chorizo and croutons adding some nice little highlights.

By this stage, I was getting quite full, but then Richard and Rebecca pulled out the pyrenees style lamb with sherry and paprika, poor man's potatoes and broccolini. Although I couldn't eat all the potatoes, some of the other guests were raving. The lamb was really tender as a result of being slow cooked for ages.

As a palate cleanser, pineapple infused with fennel was served, which was quite interesting. The freshness was a great contrast to the lamb and almost the polar opposite to the Crema Catalana which was served for dessert.

I didn't manage to grab a photo of the Crema Catalana, but by this stage, I shared a dessert with Camb as I was so full I almost felt like I couldn't sit down comfortably. I have to admit, prior to going to the supper club, I had been at the Brisbane Food Blogger so I was at my limit. The Crema Catalana was really great, very rich and almost everyone agreed that it was one of their favourite dishes.

As if we hadn't eaten enough already, Richard and Rebecca pulled out the 'petit fours' to just finish everything off. At this stage, there was NO way I could eat another thing, so had to leave the toffee eating up to the others. 

As you can see, we were treated to some fantastic food and importantly, the conversation and company was just lovely. I'm so thrilled that events like these are happening in Brisbane. If you are interested in getting involved in Gastronauts - please visit their blog and register your interest. They are on the look out for new guests and hosts all the time and they really are lots of fun. If you think you would like to do something similar i.e. start your own supperclub within your own group of acquaintances (I suggest extending outside your immediate circle- this is one of the major benefits), please let me know. I would love to let G.G. readers know about the event.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

G.G. Garden: In distress

Last week I told you proudly about my garden and how well my seedlings were doing. All the while, dreaming of my silverbeet being used mixed with feta and cased in flaky, buttery filo, or my cauli's being made into a creamy soup, topped with truffle oil croutons. I had high aspirations for you guys, and through no fault of your own, your lives have been sabotaged. 

I went to ridiculous lengths I went to so that nothing could get to my little green babies. However, it is with a sad soul that I bring you some distressing news. SOME CREEPY LITTLE CREATURE MANAGED TO GET THROUGH MY NETTING AND CHOMPED ON ALL MY BLOODY VEGETABLES. I am beyond angry. I'm going to go rambo (Rambo meaning yell and threaten but not physically hurt to confirm for all the animal activists out there) on the creep's arse, if I ever find that possum/rat/whatever the hell it is.  I already have enough problems with sunlight and small space but to have also set up a task force to deal with deliberate sabotage is another matter. Sigh. I'm beginning to think that whilst I'm living at this address (indefinitely) I'm not going to be able to have a garden. Actually scrap that. Game on creeps. It's going to take a lot of time and strategy, but at this point, I might just be mad (crazy and angry) enough to rig up an Azkaban style arrangement.

Before:  Coming along nicely.

After: All that is left

Any advice appreciated.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

G.G.'s Reader's Favourite Blogs

Just a quick post today. I find myself reading more and more blogs, and wonder if you do the same. There are so many out there, I often breathe a sigh of relief when I come across a really amazing blog, and I just want to share it with everyone else. I've already got a QLD Food Blog Directory, but want to compile a list of blogs from further and wider.

I'd love to know about your blogs so I can put them onto the list. These blogs don't have to be Australian - they can be from anywhere. 

Let me know your fave: 
Aussie Food Blog
Food Blog (not Australian)
Lifestyle blog
Home Blog
Mummy Blog
Fashion Blog
Health Blog
Travel Blog 
or any other blogs you just totally love.

I think it's really important to support great blogs because as you all know, most bloggers work really hard, a lot of the time, with little pay back. A little bit of recognition can go a long way! 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Gastronomy Gal Garden : June

I dream of a time when I am not confined to a small apartment and I can have a really large kitchen garden. Not that I have a particularly green thumb, it's more a shade of yellow. I am, however, trying to do my best with the little space I have. I know some people have awesome apartment gardens- Indira Naidoo in particular has a very inspiring green space, right in the heart of the city. I can't help but think it would be better to have extra space, but if I want to live in the city, I have to make some sacrifices- this is one of them.

Cauliflower (these guys are taking a bit longer than the carrots or snow peas)

Living in Brisbane does have it's advantages though- we rarely get a frost and so luckily we can grow lots more plants through the winter (that will survive) than most places south of here. 

Snow Peas

About a month ago, I planted some new silverbeet, snow peas, cauliflower, baby carrots and asparagus. I also cut back all my herbs completely as the basil was going to seed and my sage looked a little bit yellow.  Also, my dwarf lemon and lime trees are obviously very upset- they look awful. Will have to find out what I'm doing wrong with those too.  I can't wait until the vegies are ready- I'm such an impatient girl.

Baby Carrots

Speaking of which, the bloody possums are rather impatient too, and try to eat all my plants before they are ready for me to plant. Look at the ridiculous lengths I have to go to to stop the possums having a nibble.

Anyway- I'm also going to go back to the nursery this soon to get some more plants and advice about what else I can plant at this time of year- I want to keep adding to the garden so I am getting produce all year round. Nothing better than growing your own organic vegies.

Some cool links : 
City Chicks  - These guys have a cool range of sister websites. City Chicks, My City Garden and Eco City Living. My City Garden stocks mushroom kits as well as sells insects that are good for your garden.

City Food Growers - Some great posts about growing organic vegies in South East QLD. They also run workshops and seminars if you want to get serious. One of the coolest things on this site is the market which aims to match backyard city growers with buyers! I'm definitely going to try to find someone local to buy my produce off. I think they are in the process of updating this website so hopefully they will get some new additions to this section soon.

I'd love to know what you guys are growing at the moment? Feel free to send me in a photo of your garden. I would love some inspiration and to feature your garden on G.G.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

E'cco Bistro Brisbane

We've all been in a restaurant when something goes wrong. Whether it's with our own meals, the service or another patron causing a fuss for whatever reason. Sometimes, these situations make everyone feel uncomfortable, and other times, there is not much you can do but sit back and watch the action unfold, which is what I did when I was recently invited to dine at E'cco Bistro in Brisbane.
E'cco is one of Brisbane's most loved, long standing restaurants with Philip Johnson at the helm. Philip Johnson was a celebrity chef back before there were celebrity chefs. E'cco has long been regarded as one of the top three in Brisbane but unfortunately, this doesn't mean it is immune to certain situations unfolding, as it did when I last visited.

Camb and I were seated at a table for two, just on the left of the main entry- at the window. Next to us, were an older couple who had already started their meal and were chatting away. Even though the staff knew that I was G.G. and I had brought my camera along, I didn't really feel too confident whipping it out, as the seating arrangements are quite close and I didn't want to attract undue attention or make other diners feel uncomfortable (hence the photos are taken on iphone and quite crap).

The very swift waitress had already given us menus and taken our drinks order when something at the next table started to go awry. The couple had just received their mains, and were now discussing, loudly enough for me to hear every word, the fact that the both the meals were cold. Uh oh. Neither seemed to be too uncomfortable when the man, not so bashfully, called the waitress over to complain, explaining that it was not good enough for the meals to be cold. At this point, I was inclined to agree. If you go to a restaurant with high expectations and are paying $40 +  for a main you would hope the meal would be, at the very least, warm.

Meals were re done within the blink of an eye, and soon, the couple had two new meals sitting in front of them. Ahh- disaster averted. I was about to turn my attention back to Camb when suddenly, again, the man voices his disappointment with the temperature of the meal, but continues to eat about half of his meal anyway. When another waiter walks past to enquire about the meals- the man replies something to the tune of 'these meals are not even marginally better than last time', the waiter confirmed that he had heard correctly and then, with a look of horror on his face, goes to get the manager.

The manager comes over to enquire about the problem, explains that the temperature the meals were served at was closely checked, apologises profusely anyway and asks if he would like the half eaten meals to be returned to the kitchen. The man says he would like them to be, but he would like to try another option. The woman says she has 'had enough' and asks that the remainder of her meal be taken away and she not be served with another. At this point in time, the kitchen goes into overtime, and again, within 10 minutes, the man has another new meal in front of him. This time he is not pleased, but not displeased with the results, and eats his whole meal.

Camb would, without a doubt, leave me, if I caused such a fuss. Of course, I wouldn't. What struck me as rather odd, was the fact that neither of the couple seemed particularly embarrassed about the fiasco, which had certainly left the wait staff with some red faces. I'm going to assume (I know- assuming makes an ass and all that stuff but.....) that they have done this kind of thing before. They almost seemed like experts at complaining and having no qualms doing so. The restaurant do have to do their best to accommodate this sort of behaviour, and to, essentially, let the customer leave having enjoyed their experience. But what if the expectations are too high or completely unreasonable? What happens in that situation?

You see, in this situation, if I was the waitress, I'm not so sure I would have retained my temper or composure as well as the staff did, (who handled this situation with aplomb.) Had we not been seated directly next to the couple, we would have never known what was going on. I'm quite confident that after having the meals sent back once, the kitchen would have done their best to ensure everything was as close to perfect as possible. In fact, on the Saturday night that we visited, the restaurant was completely booked out, with several patrons waiting at the bar and everyone else in the restaurant seemed to be happy.

The experience was obviously meeting with everyone else's expectations. I'm also not sure if this man had an ulterior motive, (like his meal being given to him for free- which it was) or if he really, honestly, felt the three meals he was served just weren't good enough. I'd like to ask him- was it just the temperature that wasn't good enough? The flavour? Composition of the food? Service? All round experience lacking?

Were the couple next to us being unfair with their expectations? I think so. I think they were unnecessarily rude, demanding and downright grumpy. But still, the restaurant had to cater towards them. This, is why, we as diners also have a responsibility to be reasonable and adjust our expectations accordingly. I'm not suggesting that you should not have high expectations when dining at the a restaurant the calibre of Ecco, however I am suggesting that the man may have had a very different definition of hot to everyone else.

I'm also suggesting that whilst a restaurant is in the business of people pleasing, there are obviously, some people that can't be pleased. Whether in this case this was 'rightly so' or completely unreasonable, the restaurant still had to do their best to cater towards this couple, and do so with a smile. I'm not sure I would last very long as a restaurateur.

Whilst all this fuss was going on, we were not left without attention, and ordered our meals. Camb was asking me to stop eavesdropping, but even if I wanted to (I didn't), I basically would have had to put ear plugs in to not hear the conversation at the next table.

Now, to the food. Camb ordered the field mushrooms on olive toast with rocket, parmesan, truffle oil and lemon as his entree whilst I went with the carpaccio of kingfish, nori, shiso, edamame and ponzu dressing (all entrees are $24.5)

Camb's entree was a simple dish, a classic ecco styled arrangement. Philip Johnson specialises in simple done exceptionally well, as this dish proved. The mushroom was gorgeously textured, the rocket fresh and the truffle oil splashed sparingly to ensure the rest of the dish was not overrun by the flavour. This dish is actually pretty sought after, and I managed to find the recipe online for you to use if this is something you would like to create at home. I'm going to give it a go this weekend.

I chose the carpaccio of kingfish which was served with herbs, edamame and ponzu dressing. This entree was light and almost cleansing- great to start with. The kingfish was fresh and the texture good, although, I would have preferred a little less ponzu to get a little bit more of the kingfish hit I was after.

As you know, it is my duty to try as many dishes as possible, and in every other instance I can remember, Camb and I ALWAYS order different dishes- but on the evening we dined at E'cco, both of us had our eye on the rabbit loin wrapped in smoked bacon served with rabbit leg ravioli, pea purée, baby carrots and maple jus for $42. Neither were willing to budge. Stubborn old things, aren't we?! This one time, we decided that it would be ok to order the same because we were both enamoured with the dish when we saw it being served to a neighbouring table (not THE neighbours) earlier in the evening.

The dish looked like a garden on the plate- very tempting. Peas and carrots were seriously special, even though they were just a little something on the side. 

The rabbit loin and stuffing wrapped in bacon were just beautiful. The loin was tender, the stuffing had flavour and the bacon added just the right salty touch. The maple jus was rich but whole, adding depth to the dish. 

The ravioli inside was falling apart tender, however, the ravioli case was overcooked, a little chewy and lacked the softness of a great ravioli case. That being said, the dish as a whole worked incredibly well and Camb and I were more than happy with our choice.

As you know, I'm not a big dessert eater, but this time, something caught my eye. Whilst Camb couldn't go past the special a chocolate souffle, served with chocolate sauce, honeycomb and chocolate icecream - the honey bavarian cream with gingerbread, compressed apple, coriander and green apple sorbet took my fancy.

The chocolate souffle had risen and Camb enjoyed every bite,  blah blah blah- I simply cannot write anymore about it because I am so excited to tell you about the honey bavarian cream.

This honey bavarian cream, served with gingerbread, compressed apple, coriander and green apple sorbet (yes, I am showing reverence by repeating the full description again) was the single best dessert I have ever eaten in my life. Ever. There are no exceptions, nothing even comes close. This dessert was absolutely bewitchingly fantastic- it was as close to perfect as a dessert can taste for me. The cream was rich and full but not overpowering. The honey provided a sweet yet somehow almost earthy taste which was matched with the crunchy, bitey gingerbread. The dreamlike compressed apple and syrup had a beautiful soft texture and the syrup, drizzled over the cream, with a little bit of gingerbread too was basically the most wonderful dessert flavour combination. When all the sweet side of things got a little overwhelming, a bite of the fresh, punchy coriander and apple sorbet was all that was needed to bring the palate back down to earth and prepare it for the next bite of heaven.

So... that was my experience - a little bit of heaven for me, and a little bit of hell for the waitstaff. Is that the mark of a great restaurant? Something like the 'send it back 3 times situation' can occur right next to me, yet my dining experience was still fantastic. At times, I do see people getting a little self righteous about their dining experiences, it is surely an easy trap that we can all fall into. Particularly when you are paying good money for the experience and it doesn't live up to your expectations.

In these situations, I think, before complaining, it is important to ask- 1. Are my expectations reasonable? If you answer yes, then I think you are within your rights to politely point out the fault/problem. If you are polite and reasonable, I believe most establishments go out of their way to fix their error, and if they don't then your bad word of mouth is their punishment. If, however, like E'cco, they do everything in their power to rectify the error and the evening is saved, then surely that is something you would like to tell your friends about too.

....Tell me readers, what do you think about dining expectations? Have you ever been in a restaurant where a situation like this has unfolded?

When to go: For a special dinner, perhaps a birthday or anniversary. Or anytime you think you deserve to eat the best dessert of all time. (I'm hoping it stays on the menu forever.)

E'cco Bistro
100 Boundary Street
Brisbane QLD 4001
07 3831 8344
E'cco on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Gastronomy Gal Goings On: Food events for June

 Goings On:

Five Chef's Dinner - Monday 6th of June at 6:30 pm (Yes peeps- this coming Monday)

The deets: Five courses prepared by five of Australia’s best chefs, matched with five fine wines. The ultimate gourmet food and wine dinner was created to raise much needed funds to support the Starlight Children’s Foundation. 

My rundown: Brisbane chefs Pablo Torsedillas (Ortiga), Javier Codina (Moda), Rhett Willis (Jellyfish), Tony Percouco (Tartufo) and Mathieu Astier (Prive 249) gave us a some tasters at an event that I was lucky enough to attend and the tasters simply weren't enough- I was left wanting more of their special dishes. The really great thing about this dinner is that all the proceeds go to The Starlight Foundation which is a very worthy cause. The Chefs don't only donate their time, but also much more so they really put their heart and soul into it. Almost every element of the dinner is donated so this is a big event for the Foundation. I believe tickets are still available so if you haven't got anything worthwhile to do on Monday night (which I know you don't!!) get some friends together and get to the five chef's dinner. You won't be disappointed.

Brisbane Cheese Awards - Sunday 5th June, 10 am to 4pm
Entry: Adults = $10, Kids = Free
The deets: Brisbane Cheese Awards have announced that Queensland’s premiere cheese festival will be back to tantalise our taste buds in June, hosted by new venue Portside Wharf (Hamilton). Fromage fanatics from across the South East will be heading to Portside on n Sunday 5 June 2011 to celebrate People’s Day, an event dedicated to all things cheese. 

My rundown: I'm hoping this is going to be a great event to attend. I have never been before, but am looking forward to having a cheesey day on Sunday. If you love your cheese, like I do, but want to get to know a bit more about cheese, meet Will Studd from Cheese Slices (yes that awesome show dedicated to cheese, or just want to do some tastings Portside is probably the place to be. 

Lurpak Baking Challenge
Butter company Lurpak got in contact with me and a couple of other bloggers to ask if we would be involved in their latest campaign (please note- this is not paid involvement). We are going to be judging the first round of their baking competition which aims to find the greatest recipes in Australia that use Lurpak butter. Adriano Zumbo is judging the final round and five winners will receive $1500 prize money and have their recipe featured on recipe cards that will be available in Woolworths as a Lurpak promotion. If you are a gun baker (which I know many of you are!) I reckon this competition is well worth a shot. Check it out - most of you bloggers will have amazing recipes that can be entered - feel free to send me a taste test of the recipe too! 

Hunter Valley Wine and Food Month: 3rd-27th June
If you are planning a domestic holiday in the next month, it might be worth getting down to the Hunter Valley, as it's Wine and Food Month and it looks like there are some pretty interesting things going on- from cocktail classes to loads of wine and cheese events to some tasty looking lunches.
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