Monday, January 31, 2011

Perfect Choc Chip Cookies

At lunch time today I slipped on the biggest darkest pair of sunglasses and wandered down to Black Pearl Epicure to stock up on pantry essentials. This means purchasing fine Valrhona cocoa powder, Callebaut choc chips and dark chocolate vermicelli (for fairy bread of course. It's the business). Valrhona and Callebaut will always be my pantry essentials of choice as if you are going to make something with chocolate, you need to use the best.

Valrhona is a French company and is the only chocolatier to produce chocolate from a single variety of bean from a sole harvest. I tend to favour their cocoa powder as it has greater depth of colour than Callebaut. However Callebaut hasn't become the largest chocolate manufacturer in the world by being lacklustre. Callebaut specialises in Belgian chocolate for baking and leaves a lovely full bodied feeling in the mouth. I really like a 70% dark chocolate for eating as I feel 85% is a touch too bitter for the palette. Hold that thought as it will be a lovely segway into my next baking adventure. The quest for perfect Choc Chip Cookies!

I've been invited to a morning tea at work tomorrow so I decided to whip up something quick and settled on Choc Chip Cookies. My Mother has always been a fan of crunchy style cookies, whereas I love a softer texture as it works in harmony with a glass of milk and you're less likely to be caught out by work mates when you're snacking. For those people who follow my preference, I think I've found the perfect recipe on and it's dead easy. You start by beating all your wet ingredients until they become creamy and then fold in your dry items. You then get the most beautiful dough.

This dough is extremely pliant and it's a satisfying process forming lovely petite domes across a cookie sheet.

After 12 minutes in the oven you're left with light, crisp on the outside and moist on the inside cookies. If you have followed my directions and used the best chocolate you can afford, you should have the most perfect choc chip cookies possible. You'll never want to buy a packet from the supermarket again.

Mövenpick: The Barracks

Icecream and I have had a long history. We met, parted and reconnected again in my university years. For me, icecream has never been about quantity, it's always been about quality and Mövenpick delivers. Mövenpick is a chain of swiss icecream stores that offers amazingly silky, creamy icecream in waffle cones. There is something for everyone, from light fruity gelato (but why would buy it? It's like going to a steak restaurant ad ordering seafood) to the satifying swiss icecreams. My recommendations are Maple Walnut, Stacciatella (a fancy term for choc chip), and Mint Chocolate. So anywhere near a Mövenpick? Have an icecream.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Address: The Barracks, 61 Petrie Terrace, Paddington, QLD 4000
Open: Daily, 11:00am - late.
Phone: (07) 3367 3988
Price: From $4.95.

Movenpick on Urbanspoon


One of my favourite dining precincts is the Barracks as it's central, has ample free two hour parks (four if you are attending the cinemas), the fabulous
Bittersweet Chocolate Boutique and offers a number of lovely dining options. I've had the misfortune of drawing the short straw with sushi in my last couple of workplaces so any opportunity I get to have sushi, I do and lucky for me, Miss Sarah humours me.

We decided to catch a bite at Hanabishi before watching 'Black Swan.' Hanabishi is Japanese for fireworks and despite the line being out the door, I can't say that this sushi bar provided any sparks for me. The sushi rice was warm and I had to order the usually stock standard nigiri. However, it's efficient, the sushi is edible and it's in the right place. I wouldn't make a trip to Hanabishi but if you're at the Barracks and after sushi. It will do.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
Address: T13, The Barracks, 61 Petrie Terrace, Paddington, QLD 4000
Open: Daily, 11:00am - 10:00pm
Phone: (07) 3367 3889
Price: From $3.00.

Hanabishi-Petrie Terrace on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Australia Day Delivers

Australia Day proved to be extremely enlightening for me as I discovered a number of wonderful foodie treats and I thought I would share.

  • Rekorderlig: At Renee's Australia Day Barbecue I met the cutest couple - Nikki and Luke. Nikki brought along a bottle of Strawberry-Lime Rekorderlig Cider and offered us a taste and it was full of fruity summer sweetness. Rekorderlig is a Swedish cider and retails for $7 for 500ml. MasterChef Magazine agrees with me (or were paid a lot of money) as they mentioned the product in one of their sections.

  • Hanh White: Renee was recently crowned as a Hanh White Summer Ambassador and had on hand a carton for the group to trial. Hanh White is a Belgium style beer served with a slice of orange. It has a distinctive cinnamon taste.

  • Maggie Beer Cabernet Sauce: At Christmas I was gifted with a kit containing a bottle of wine, quince paste and cabernet sauce. I'm already a convert to Maggie Beer's range of fruit pastes, but have never tried cabernet sauce. I marinated some lamb cutlets in it and it was amazing! Surprisingly didn't burn, gave the lamb a gorgeous colour and a lovely sweet taste. I've also since used it on a mini roast, but I prefer the more dainty cuts as you receive a geniune feel of how the product should taste.

  • Chevrette: While I hopped around New Farm the rest of the family headed to Maleny and made the pilgrimage to Colin James. My brother returned with a wedge of Chevrette and like Chevre it has a distinctive punchy goat's cheese taste, however it is firm, smooth and quite salty. It slices well but I wouldn't recommend it as an eating cheese. It did make a fantastic sandwich in conjunction with sourdough bread, left over roast lamb and rocket.

Flock It

If you have popped around my place you will know we have a lovely flock of Muscovy Ducks and Chickens that reside in the backyard. They live in the large pen but are released regularly to fossick, which is a lovely sight to behold as they scurry out in delight, tails wagging. The flock isn't just a pretty sight, they also lay eggs with brightly coloured yolks and a nice thick shell. Mum loves to salt the duck eggs for a traditional bamboo leaf wrapped parcel containing glutinous rice, bean, pork and eggs.

Could this be the chicken equivalent of photo bombing? Fanta has always had a lot of personality.

I've never been a tree hugger but on the occasion we have to buy eggs I have a inclination towards free range. Though you can never be exactly certain how these eggs are raised, you always hope the bird that egg came from was given a space larger than A4 piece of paper and was allowed to keep its beak and offered the opportunity to scratch, flap and socialise.

PLT (Precious Little Treasure), Fanta and Freedom the Greenie Activist search for grubs amongst the lawn clippings.

If you have the space, I highly recommend keeping your own flock. Poultry are cheap, great recyclers and an endless source of entertainment. I can't imagine a summer afternoon without a refreshing beverage in hand and the flock out on the lawn. The Brisbane City Council allows you a flock without a permit, however I can't be certain if this is the case in all regions so it's best to check with your local council before you embark on your own farming adventure. I highly recommend it if you have children as I hold grave fears that future generations will not know where their food comes from. Flock it now.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Closet Hippy Mum

I admit it, I'm a closet hippy Mum who dilligently subscribes her child a grain free diet. No I don't have a love child, but I do however have a lovable delinquent Border Collie named Baci who loves ... EVERYTHING! I'm almost certain that this dog thinks in caps locks.


And so the list goes on ... but why did I sign up my dog to such a diet? I believe that wild dogs rarely consume grain and the only time this occurs is when they tuck into a small portion of the stomach contents of their kill. I've considered feeding Ziwipeak, which comprises of air dried, human grade lamb or venison, free of antibiotics, but unfortunately it costs a bomb and until I'm supreme Marketing overlord of the world, unaffordable. I've also tried many other formulas including K9 Natural Freeze Dried Food, which is a great solution if you are mobile or camping, as it's feather light. You have rehydrate the food with warm water which tends to take valuable time when you are trying to dash out the door for work.

So where does this leave me? It leaves me with Artemis Fresh Mix Maximal Dog. It comes in 13.6kg bags which you can have delivered to your door. It's also a good quality kibble and Miss Baci has been happily eating it for years. However sometimes you want to give your dog something different and I used to feed the odd can of Nature's Gift, but then I found a tin of Artemis Fresh Mix in my latest delivery. It's the perfect size for a medium size dog and like the dry food, a nutritious option.

I was thinking recently if I subscribed to the same philosophy of historical eating that I really shouldn't be eating dairy as the Chinese have survived for years without it. However I like creamy french brie with a sliver of quince paste on a feather light cracker ... so it's not happening. So occasionally I still bake the odd treat for Baci and she finds her grain by stealing duck food and unceremoniously rolling in duck poo. Bless my dumb dog.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gusto Da Gianni

The lovely Mellie and Aaron have flown up for a whirlwind Brisbane trip so we selected the close proximity of Gusto Da Gianni's location to catch up. Gusto Da Gianni's is located in the waterfront entertainment precinct of Portside. Portside is a gorgeous location, easily accessible with a number of parking spots, Dendy Cinemas, a selection of restaurants and even offers the occasional spectacle of a cruise ship. It's a lovely location in Summer but be prepared to rug up in Winter as the water and concrete combine to create freezing winds. I've previously been to Gusto Da Gianni to soak up their contemporary atmosphere and enjoyed their mouth watering Italian cuisine, but on this occasion we were only there for some dessert.

We decided to order the Churros Con Chocolate, a traditional cinnamon fritter with melted dipping chocolate and a selection of Gelato. The Gelato was flavoursome and silky smooth and the Churros were gorgeously feather light. The Churro is a naughty addition on the menu as it is actually a Spanish dessert but I suspect it harks back to the ten years that Gianni Greghini was partnered with Javier Codina (now of Moda). But I'm just nit picking, Gusto Da Gianni's a lovely location for a casual lunch or an evening sweet treat.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Address: Portside Wharf, Remora Road, Hamilton, QLD 4007
Open: Daily, Lunch and Dinner.
Phone: (07) 3339 0999.
Price: Entree: $7-$25. Mains: $20-$38. Desserts: $9-$15.

Gusto Da Gianni on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 24, 2011

The World's Highest Restaurant Opens

The world's highest restaurant 'At.mosphere' opened in Dubai this week. Located on level 122 of Burj Khalifa (formerly Burj Dubai), the restaurant is headed by Executive Chef, Dwayne Cheer. Cheer offers guests a European style menu, heavily influenced by a Spanish designed Josper grill. The grill is a charcoal fueled, barbecue dual oven with the ability to reach 700°C.

The restaurant is accessible only by a private elevator which whisks guests 442m in a mere 57 seconds (that's almost 10 meters a second). In typical Dubai style you can expect unparalleled views and famed designer, Adam Tihany to turn on a show of opulent splendour with a spacious main dining floor with a seating capacity of 135 and a private area for 35. As expected this experience won't come cheap with starters ranging from $30 AUD to $99 AUD, while mains run from $49.50 AUD to $162.40 AUD. Diners will be charged a minimum spend of $124 AUD per person in the restaurant, and $55 AUD in the lounge. So what can you purchase for this price? Some of the world's finest ingredients:

  • Chestnut and Pheasant soup
  • New Zealand Pan-Seared Scallops with Ricotta Dumplings
  • Beef Short Ribs
  • Free-Range Australian Salt Bush Lamb
  • Grilled Maine Lobster
  • Pear Compote

To mark the opening of the restaurant, 442 golden coloured balloons were released - some of them bearing dinner vouchers. So keep an eye on the skies Earthlings, maybe you'll be one of the lucky ones. However for the realists amongst us here are some images I've come across:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Christmas over, time to kill Jesus

Christmas is over, time to kill Jesus and bring out the Hot Cross Buns. Not just any Hot Cross Bun ... Chocolate Hot Cross Buns! Last Easter I discovered these delicious morsels and decided to give to try make my own using this recipe from My Mum and little brother are pretty good at making bread but I've always been more focused on desserts. This is my first attempt so it's not going to be the most attractive thing ever made. Here is the dough and a roughly chopped block of 85% Lindt Dark Chocolate.

I then combined the dough and chocolate and left it to rest for one hour. It was a windy cool day in Brisbane so the dough took longer to rise.

I then kneaded the dough further and separated it into 16 pieces. Though I enjoy this stage, I'm terribly sentimental kind of soul and I feel like some kind of horrible person dividing friends. I have a strange connection with food, I always decapitate my gingerbread men to save them from suffering.

This is the dough after I piped the chocolate paste onto the top. I like the fact you can cheat by snipping a corner off a snap lock bag.

Here is the finished Chocolate Hot Cross Buns with a St. Dalfour Apricot Jam glaze (yes it's precise but its been my jam of choice for years). Though it was fun making my own Hot Cross Buns, I think this is one of the few cases where I prefer to head to a local bakery.

Sake Restaurant & Bar

Sake Restaurant & Bar takes over from in the area formerly held by Pier Nine and I have to say it is a refreshing addition to the riverside restaurant line up with its visually pleasing with warm wood panels.

Unlike many of the Eagle Street Restaurants, Sake's restaurant area is spacious and holds many pleasant surprises. My favourites being this lovely feature wall and the unusual layout of the bathrooms. The bathrooms are unisex with a choice of self contained cubicle.

I was joined in my adventure by two lovely lads and Eden suggested the best course of action was to open with a Sashimi Combo and a 2009 Mader Pinot Blanc and I wasn't disappointed. I've always been fairly restrained with alcoholic beverages but this drop was especially pleasant. I wouldn't have been surprised if I could have finished half a bottle as it had such a lovely feel in the mouth. But alas I was driving and I prefer to keep to my fellow Queenslanders safe. After all I am only one strike away from the trifecta of bad driving - Asian and female, all I need to do is place a frangipani sticker on my car or drive a Volvo.

The meals at Sake are designed to be shared so our select dish was the Scampi Tempura which was served with sweet ponzu, coriander and jalapeno slices. It was a little moist for my personal taste.

Apart from my dessert, the stand out dish was the Beef Teriyaki. Grainfed beef sirloin cooked medium rare, served on sauteed shiitake and buckwheat with yakiniku sauce. The beans and buckwheat soaked up the sauce and provided wonderful savoury accents without the salty taste becoming overpowering.

Alex ordered the Popcorn Shrimp which were finished by a creamy spicy sauce. This was quite flavoursome and more inclined towards the savoury edge.

After the mains I decided I was in a warm chocolate mood so bypassed the Green Apple Mille Feuille and ordered the Chocolate Fondant with white sesame icecream and black sesame tuile. It was the perfect portion size and exactly how fondant should be. Break through a lovely baked crust to reveal a warm oozy chocolate center. I was in heaven and the plate was also dotted with chocolate toffee accents. The lads had a creme brulee special and reported though it was the least Japanese dining experience ever, they were pleased, never the less.

Sake Restaurant & Bar is a wonderful addition to the Brisbane Gastronomy Scene but a word of warning, don't order a coffee. If you choose to ruin your Japanese dining experience by smothering it with dairy be prepared to be visually assaulted with supplier provided red Italian plate.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Address: Level 1, 45 Eagle Street, Eagle Street Pier, Brisbane, QLD 4000.
Open: Daily, Lunch and Dinner.
Phone: (07) 3339 0999.
Price: Entree: $9-$30. Mains: $27-$33. Desserts: $4.50-$15.

Saké Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Guzman Y Gomez

Brisbane is in the grip of Mexicana Madness with the opening not one but two Mexican restaurants within stumbling distance of each other. Guzman Y Gomez is a cult Sydney chain claiming to offer authentic cheap meals and cheap they are with my cousin's Quesadillas costing $7 and my Beef Guerrero Burrito costing $9.90.

Each meal was served in small baskets with distinctive branded paper. My cousin's Quesadillas were rather petite but my Burrito was ample. Though it was lukewarm, the beef was melt in your mouth soft and was enveloped by black beans, rice and diced tomato. But for less than $10, I wasn't complaining. An edible, cheap and quick meal.

Rating: 2.5/5
Address: 1000 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley, QLD 4006
Open: 7 days a week. 11am-10pm
Phone: (07) 3188 1701
Price: Mains: $6-$10. Sides: From $2.

Guzman Y Gomez on Urbanspoon

Freestyle Tout

If there is a grand dame of Brisbane Dessert Cafes, its Freestyle Tout. It's a lovely mystical place where everything is inside out and back to front and where desserts are mains. Some foodies have fond memories of the original cafe in Rosalie but with the passage of time this disappeared and in its place two establishments rose, one at the Valley Emporium and another at West End. Each location offers a fabulous function room and an artistic and diverse menu which includes a lactose intolerant, gluten free offering.

The dessert pictured is the Summer Fruit Crumble which is served with a jug of vanilla custard, berry compote and vanilla bean ice cream. This is one of my favourites, alongside their Passionfruit Tart (pictured below). The line is often out the door, but the wait is well worth it, but be prepared to share or only consume a light dinner.

Rich Chocolate Mousse served in a white and dark chocolate cone, served with berries and vanilla bean icecream.

The final photograph is their Chilli Salt Calamari served on mixed leaves, capsicum, coriander and onions with a chilli dressing. See they don't just do divine desserts, they also make lovely savoury dishes too.

Rating: 3.5/5
Address: 50/1000 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley, QLD 4006
Open: Monday, Sunday 10am-10:30pm. Tuesday-Thursday 10am-11pm. Friday-Saturday 10am-11:30pm.
Phone: (07) 3252 0214
Price: Entree: From $8.90. Main: $16.00 - $26.90. Dessert: $15.90

Freestyle Tout on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Zucchini Slice

I was called to arms this morning so I decided to make a tray of Zucchini Slice for Baked Relief. Zucchinis cost a bomb at the moment but it's quicker and healthier than making a Quiche. Zucchini Slice is dead easy, able to be consumed hot or cold. Want to have a go yourself? Try this recipe from

Miss Baci wishes this rain would go away as it means no afternoon running and a higher likelihood of a bath as it's hard work to keep those white socks pretty. But it's better than storms!

Scuzi Caffe

Scuzi Caffe is the Westfield Chermside cafe formerly known as Bada Bing, serving breakfast, Italian cuisine and Merlo coffee. The name change hasn't affected the cafe greatly with the same menu, wide open spaces and some light cosmetic changes to the entrance. The lovely Isadora and Kanani decided to order the Zucchini Fritters and were extremely pleased with the concept of haloumi, mushrooms and zucchini fritters being served in the one dish. I should also mention the photographs are courtesy of Isadora's iPhone 4 as I was neglected to take my camera and the new iPhone's camera is clearly superior to my own, grubby iPhone 3.

I decided to order Fettuccine Boscaiola which was the perfect portion size for the rich sauce. It was a satisfying dish but probably a little too heavy for my personal palette as I am inclined to select a lighter style cream sauce such as the pastas served at Otellos on Oxford Street. Scuzi is an unoffensive main stream offering but misses the mark of offering the Northside the standard you would find in Rosalie or Bulimba. However it is a start.

Rating: 3/5
Address: Parkland Pavilion, Westfield Chermside, 395 Hamilton Road.
Open: Monday-Friday 8am until late. Saturday and Sunday 7:30am until late.

Phone: (07) 3359 6693
Price: Entree: $4.50 - $12. Main: $14.90 - $27.90. Dessert: $7.90 - $14.90.

Scuzi on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Bad Old Days

The 80's was a horrible era, the perm and mullet came into vogue, retinas were subjected to pastel jump suits and many a death was caused by frustrated souls throwing a satanic Rubik's Cube out a window. However salvation was at hand and I was born (and a number of others, but we're focusing on me at the moment). Though my family always offered a number of wonderful food options, we also were subjected to number of bizarre food stuffs growing up, so let's take a trip down memory lane to some products that didn't make it:
  • Deli Cups
    Australian calorific death in a cup. These clear, square containers were mainly filled with cream, thin layers of sponge, sprinkles and an inbuilt spoon. They could be found everywhere from Red Rooster and your local supermarket.

  • Dunkaroos
    In the olden days, we weren't too fussed about the environment and were happy to nibble on things like Le Snak and Nutella housed in landfill consuming miniature tubs. Dunkaroos followed a similar formular with sweet dip and kangaroo shaped biscuits. The Google machine informs me that these are still available in found roaming wild across the United States and some parts of Canada. But they can have them as I don't miss them.

  • Golliwogs
    Arnott's still make these under the banner of Scallywags, which in my opinion seems to have an even more negative underlying tone. Oh political correctness killed the biscuit!

  • Hamish and Andy Gravy Chips
    We love hot chips and gravy so in a stroke of genius, Australian comedy duo, Hamish and Andy championed the people's cause and in 1998 brought Gravy Chips to market. It makes me very sad that this flavour is no longer available on shelves.

  • Kellogg's Honey Rice Bubbles
    I don't tend to enjoy cereal for breakfast as I would much rather half an animal to start my day. However I miss Kellogg's Honey Rice Bubbles! Perfectly balanced, lifted the bland nature of the traditional product and you no longer had the issue with clumps of feather light crisps stuck to honey. Why would you forsaken me Kelloggs?!

  • KFC Mousse
    Deliciously light, these desserts could have been polished off at a lightning fast past with flexible red plastic teaspoons. However KFC realised this and housed this dessert in a container with a fluted base. This brought parents a few more minutes of quiet time as their child worked to extract every single scrap of mousse.

  • McDonald's Flavour Shaker French Fries
    I had forgotten about the MSG goodness of Flavour Shaker French Fries until Girl Clumsy mentioned them. You can read about them in her delightful article.

  • Pop Tarts
    As long as humanity boldly marches forward, we will continue to love warm chocolate desserts. Pop Tarts were the ultimate afternoon school snack as they could be easily heated in a toaster and then washed down with a glass of milk. You can still occasionally find them in specialist sweets stores.

  • Red Rooster Potato Planks
    Fried potato chips coated in beer batter. No explanation required why I miss this.

I suspect that none of these things would be as satisfying as they are in memory, but I do dream of their return. Do you have any other memories of your favourite childhood snacks? Feel free to share as I would love to know.

Baked Relief

Queensland has always been a deeply parochial state. We love our outdoors lifestyle, our farm to table food culture, how we blow raspberries at other states by stubbornly rejecting the concept of Daylight Savings and the list goes on. But in the last few days Queensland has been faced unimaginable adversity with three quarters of this fair state being declared as a disaster zone. Brisbane's inner city was executed, public transport ground to a halt and supermarkets stripped bare in a spree of panic buying. We watched as scenes of destruction swept across the mass media and felt the suffering of the tiny township of Grantham. A town of approximately 370, flattened with only one surviving street.

However despite all this, there have been some amazing stories, with Brisbane being inundated with offers of help and the wonderful Baked Relief Movement. Baked Relief is feeding flood affected and volunteers across the state and first caught my attention when Renee of the Pantry Review's Tweet popped into my feed. You can find out more about Baked Relief here or if short on time donate to the Premier's Flood Appeal. Every little bit counts!

Friday, January 14, 2011

I think I might leave it to the Experts

For Christmas my cousin Yens gave me a box full of Chocolate Crinkles, Ginger Shorts and Palmiers to enjoy. Having a sheet of Butter Puff left over and feeling inspired I decided to try making Palmiers of my own. I brushed the remaining sheet with melted butter, sprinkled Cinnamon and two tablespoons of sugar and then rolled the two edges to form a scroll shape. I then chilled the pastry in the fridge before slicing them with a serrated knife. I was left with this:

I think placed the pastry into the oven and produced a small tray of Palmiers. I enjoyed a couple with my mug of green tea.

They were pleasant but nowhere as nice as the ones Yens produced. I think I'll leave it to the expert for now. :)