Coffee, cuddles and cats

I’ll be completely honest. Don’t go to the Cat Cuddle Cafe if you want a coffee, go because you want to cuddle a cat and support an amazing business that is saving lives.

The website describes it as a ‘pawsome cat cuddling space for crazy cat people’.

This energising little business is changing lives, not only for the happy cats being re-homed but also for kitty loving folk who are lining up to visit. For $10.50 you can spend one hour with a room full of well-fed and much-loved cats, ranging in age from kittens to seniors. On the day we visited, I counted 12 cats. The space is fantastic and caters primarily to the comfort of the cats. They have climbing runs and toys and plenty of spaces to escape when they’ve had enough of human contact. It’s well organised and very clean (no cat poop smells here).

On entering the double-gated space, you’ll be asked to wash your hands and you’ll need to read and abide by the cafe rules. Volunteers ensure everyone, cats and humans, are behaving, although play is definitely encouraged with a large selection of cat toys for the more energetic felines.

Humans get a large communal table and seating but you are free to wander around the different zones and meet as many kitties as you like. You can also enjoy a coffee and cake if you just want to sit back and enjoy the space. The small outdoor area is also a popular spot for cats and humans seeking some sun. The number of humans allowed in at any one time is kept to a minimum so it doesn’t feel crowded.

Of course, the real aim of this business is to find the cats new forever homes. You visit, meet a kitty and fall in love. If you do fall in love, the adoption process is very serious. You’ll be interviewed to first make sure you are the right person to adopt a furbaby.

On average, most cats are adopted within two weeks of arriving at the cafe. They are all vaccinated and desexed, healthy and contented.

Donations are gladly accepted. This might be in the form of dry and wet food, litter, cat beds, flea and worm treatments and cat carry cages. They are also looking for people willing to foster cats until they are ready for introduction to the Cat Cuddle Cafe. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with them if you can help.

After losing my little girl in May (after 24 years) I was in desperate need of some cat company. This is the place I’ll be returning to when I’m ready to adopt a new furbaby.

Cat Cuddle Cafe, 160 Musgrave Rd, Red Hill

Hours: 10am – 6pm (Tues – Sat) 10am – 4pm (Sun)

Ph: 07 3189 2426

Regional Flavours hits the spot on a sunny Saturday

No better way to spend a sunny but cool Saturday then wandering around Southbank’s Regional Flavours Festival. After a heavy week, it lifted my spirits and reminded me how much I love food, regional produce and admire the people that are producing it and living their dream.

It also helped that I got to meet a food hero of mine. Paul West from River Cottage Australia is absolutely as lovely in person as he is appearing on my TV screen. So gracious to spend time chatting even when he was rushing to eat his lunch on the way to his presentation.

We talked briefly about the program recently where he ended the life of a small deformed chick and how important it was to show both the good and the bad of managing a working farm.

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Southbank and all of the sponsors should be congratulated for organising such a brilliant event showcasing the best that Queensland has to offer. The set-up was great. Despite the fact it was packed with people, the event organisers thought about all the little details, from pretty table decorations to excellent signage along with plenty of different places to stop, eat and soak up the relaxed atmosphere.

I started my day at 10am in the Southbank Piazza to watch Matt Preston cook up his super easy meals. Hosted by Miguel, the presentation was fun and his two ingredient bread (consisting of plain flour and plain vanilla ice-cream) was a crowd pleaser. Flour and ice-cream, an intriguing combination and might be worth giving a go I think.

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I then walked over to Little Stanley Street where all the market action was happening. Walking past the Moreton Shire stand I couldn’t go past the Panko crumbed Straddie mullet. A decent serve for $5 and it was delicious. I also ate haloumi with fig jam ($5.50). I sampled olives, capers and cheese and loads of different non alcoholic drinks. If you love wine and you aren’t driving, you’ll be happy. Every winemaker from Queensland is represented and all doing a roaring trade with samples. (You can purchase a wine glass from the Courier Mail tent).

If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll be on a sugar high. Zumbo has a stand and I have it on good advice that his Milo bar was Ahmazzzing! Believe it or not, I didn’t eat anything sweet. Not sure what’s going on… clearly I’m not myself at the moment, although I did buy fresh strawberries and blueberries. I ended my day with my head in large crate picking out some pineapple tops (they were free) to take home and plant in the garden.

If you don’t have any plans for Sunday, then I suggest you cash up, grab your market bag, wear comfy shoes and set out to Southbank to enjoy the sunshine, the food and the chilled atmosphere of Regional Flavours.

It’s free to get in and the full program is available here.

Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 July 2015

Southbank Parklands

Eats & Beats lights up Logan

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For the Love of Food was an invited guest to the inaugural Eats & Beats.

Food and music brings people together and from the crowds that showed up at Logan City Council’s inaugural Eats & Beats food truck and music pop-up series, this is the event that the City of Logan has been waiting for.

Ok, so we all know that the food truck scene is nothing new but for the residents of Logan City, who don’t want to travel into Brisbane to sample the food truck scene eg., Eat Street or Food Truck Thursday, this type of event is long overdue.

Located in the forecourt between Ikea and the Logan MegaCentre, there was a definite family-friendly party atmosphere and although the food truck lines were long, people seemed contented enough to wait and enjoy the music.

DSC03966We arrived at 5.30pm and it was already starting to quickly fill with people soaking in the afternoon light in anticipation of enjoying a food coma.

Food truck favourites The King of Wings and Vira Lata did a roaring trade as did Little Black (piggy heaven) and Pizzantic along with Logan local Grandma’s Kiwi Kitchen. Over the course of the night we sampled lots of food from different trucks and everything was tasty and well presented.

The Ikea/Logan Mega Centre forecourt is the perfect location for this event, with great visibility from the highway and plenty of parking. Hopefully it’ll become a regular event that Logan residents and visitors to Logan will enjoy for many years to come.

Excellent live music was provided by Dave Powers, Neighbour, Inigo and Pocket Love.

Stay up-to-date with Eats & Beats news by following Visit Logan on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter or go to www.visitlogan.com.au

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Lunch with Yotam

Yotam Ottolenghi hardly ate more than a few mouthfuls of food as he generously gave his time, chatting with his Brisbane fans. Talk about a fleeting visit to sunny Queensland. A little less than 5 hours to spend in Brisbane and attend a lunch hosted by Gerards Bistro and goodfood.com.au.

By the time dessert was served, everyone was in love with Yotam.

DSC03792On arrival guests were served a glass of Vinaceous ‘Burlesque’ Blanc de Blanc, Great Southern WA along with the following pretty and very tasty morsels; cured mackarel, piel de sapo melon, orange blossom, puffed skin and scales (this was my favourite), Blackmore wagyu basturma, buttermilk and pickled chilli, beetroot croquant, labne and spring flowers.

DSC03783DSC03784DSC03788This was followed by a glass of Yalumba Viognier, Eden Valley SA 2013 and shared entrees: Murray cod and spring onions, grilled over coal, warm yoghurt, braised broad beans, lemon and coriander, Batata harra ( a Lebanese vegetable dish consisting of potatoes, coriander, chili, and garlic which are all fried together in olive oil.)

DSC03799DSC03793DSC03798During entree Yotam did a Q&A, even popping over to my table to sample the Batata harra. Poor man, he was probably starving. Here are some of the things I learned about him.

  • Earliest food memory: Semolina gnocchi with cheese and nutmeg made by grandma.
  • Favourite cities to eat: Istanbul and Tokyo
  • Last meal: rice and lentils with fried onions, allspice and yoghurt. A dish he would eat with his family.
  • Must have ingredients: lemon, allspice, coriander, pomegranate molasses.
  • What ingredients are gaining in popularity: black garlic, miso, tamarind.

We then enjoyed shared mains of Holmbrae duck legs braised with Jerusalem artichoke, preserved lemon and olive, lemon and curry leaf rice and roasted pumpkin, cardamom and nigella seeds, served with Yalumba Old Bush Rine Grenache, Barossa Valley SA 2013.

DSC03806DSC03810DSC03807After signing books and more photo taking, Yotam bid us farewell before dessert was served.

Shared dessert included the sensational ricotta fritters wth orange and honey and the Turkish apple sorbet, spiced rum cake, salted caramel and milk chocolate with your choice of a Spring Seeds ‘Sweet Pea’ Moscato, McLaren Vale SA 2014 or the Yalumba FSW8B Botrytis Viognier, Wrattonbully SA 2014. The combination of apple sorbet, spiced rum cake and milk chocolate was smile inducing.

DSC03812DSC03813Ok, so this little lunch outing was somewhat of an indulgence for me. $175 a ticket, but this also included a copy of Yotam’s new book ‘Plenty More’ and a little goodie bag with a wee jar of ‘Bee One Third’ honey, some biscotti from Jocelyn’s Provisions and a copy of the Brisbane Good Food Guide.

With a menu inspired by Yotam’s recipes, chef Ben Williamson and the team at Gerards certainly lived up to my expectations with a very memorable lunch. Now I look forward to discovering all that ‘Plenty More’ has to offer and enjoying more ways to use my bottle of pomegranate molasses.

Plenty

 

The Charming Squire

I’m sure Obama and Putin will enjoy what The Charming Squire has to offer when visiting Brisbane for the G20. Unfortunately ‘The Squire’ will be closed to the public during this time, but will be looking after G20 staff and dignitaries, ensuring they get to sample the best of South-East Queensland produce and the full range of James Squire beers and ciders.

We’ve been lucky enough to enjoy two visits in three weeks with friends, pre-show lunch and dinner and both times we’ve enjoyed the food, service and atmosphere.

CSLocated next to South Brisbane Station and opposite QPAC, there is a lot to like about The Charming Squire. The cool wood interior on a hot sunny Queensland afternoon invites you in for drinks and share plates in the buzzing bar area or a full three course menu in the quieter restaurant space.

For lunch we ate fish of the day with lemon sauce ($34), prawn and Moreton Bay Bug paella ($38), mini lamb kebabs ($16), wood fired corn cobs with puffed quinoa and chipotle butter ($14) and the grand bazaar lamb burger ($20). The corn dish is fantastic, a little messy but well worth messy fingers.

For our early dinner we started with the charcuterie plate ($29) followed by the very popular choice for the boys of beer battered fish n chips x 3 ($28), smoked chicken and goats cheese salad with hazelnuts, pumpkin and pepitas ($25) and confit zucchini flowers with goats cheese, ratatouille, kipfler potatoes ($28). The fish n chips was definitely a winner dish. Two large juicy pieces of Cod, perfectly cooked, wrapped up with well seasoned chunky chips. I had food envy… again!

We are yet to sample anything from the Iron Bark coal pit but this just gives us another reason to return. Garrison Farm Dorper lamb with mint jelly, Berkshire pork with apple sauce, Kimberley red beef with horseradish cream. 250 grams of each of these plus your choice of two side dishes ($34).

Dessert time! Dark chocolate souffle with vanilla ice cream, berries and cocoa crumble ($17), fresh caramel waffles with roasted pear, milk jam, vanilla ice cream and caramel jus ($15), assiette of mandarin and orange with macaron, jelly, sorbet ($15), coffee creme brulee with vanilla foam ($14) and sticky date pud with butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream ($14). I’ve tried them all, one word for you. Delightful! The souffle is really more like a fondant but that’s never a bad thing. The assiette of mandarin and orange is truly a taste sensation and a brilliant light, zingy way to finish a lovely meal.

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IMG_2326Tip: the very beautiful wooden dining chairs only have three legs, so just be careful you don’t tip over. We experienced some instability and also witnessed a lady take a tumble. If this scares you, just ask to be seated in a booth.

The Charming Squire

133 Grey Street, South Brisbane

ph: (07) 30777254

bookings@thecharmingsquire.com.au

 

Pearl Cafe

The Woolloongabba dining precinct is fast becoming one of my favourite places to visit. Not only can you wander the antique stores, have a decent coffee and spend money in one of my favourite boutiques ‘That Shop‘, you can also enjoy lunch at Pearl Cafe.

Sadly, on this occasion, no wandering or shopping took place, as Miss P and I met Mr K for a business lunch.

I ordered the ‘lobster roll’, Moreton Bay bug, baby cos, creme fraiche, chives, dill on brioche ($20). The brioche was baby soft and the bug meat well cooked. It was a tasty lunch but needed much more dressing. Extra creme fraiche would have solved this problem.

DSC03775Miss P choose the other dish I was keen on. Lamb salad of roasted shoulder, sprouted lentils, peas, coriander, labna ($18). Melt in your mouth lamb and fresh salad but again, not enough labna to bring it all together. Mr K went with the ‘special’. Pulled pork with Gruyère cheese, pickles and salad leaves on sourdough ($18).

Pearl Cafe has a slightly sentimental fit-out with lots of what I like to call ‘Aunty Pearl’ dressing table mirrors on the walls, intimate lighting and my absolute favourite Bentwood chairs. I imagine for dinner service, the atmosphere and lighting would be really lovely.

DSC03766Miss P and I shared a prune and almond tart for a sweet treat. As tasty as this was, I think we were a little disappointed it sat alone on the plate without the loving company of some vanilla ice cream or a pretty quenelle of cream.

The lunch menu also includes some larger dishes e.g. Carnaroli risotto with fermented kale puree, peas, house-made buttermilk cheese ($24), Alstonville farm spring chicken, lemon myrtle, leek, rosemary ($32) and sides including salt and semillon roasted potatoes with citrus mayo ($8), grilled pickled artichoke hearts, fresh ricotta, mint ($8).

I like that the lunch menu is small and interesting. I’d be keen for a return visit for dinner.

Pearl Cafe

Breakfast 7am to 11am  |  Lunch 12 noon to 3pm

28 Logan Road, Woolloongabba

 

Thank Truck its Thursday

Love street food, love cool tunes, love fast food that isn’t greasy and won’t break the budget, then Food Truck Thursday is for you. Held at Wandering Cooks in South Brisbane every Thursday night from 5pm, it’s laid back atmosphere and tasty food will have you re-thinking your Thursday night takeaway options.

DSC03614On the night Al and I visited we had the choice of pizza, soft tacos, mini sliders and various international options from the Cha Baby truck. We started with drinks from Stone & Wood Brewing followed by three soft tacos (The Barcelona: chorizo braised in cider with potato, roast capsicum and shallots, The Kingston: spicy Jamican jerk chicken with rice, black beans and fried plantain, The Chicago: Mac n’ cheese with fresh herbs and smoked paprika). Three tacos for $15. Take a taco photo #mealforameal and get a free milo cookie. Easy!

Never having tried Cha Baby we ordered Africa: slow BBQ lamb with hummus, green chilli, arabic salad in pita ($12) and Europe: pork and veal meatballs with vodka and horseradish cream and dill potatoes ($10). The lamb was indeed slow cooked and melted in the mouth.

We arrived at 5.45pm and found a park easily in Cordelia Street. It’s a cool place to catch up with friends for a quick bite to eat.

Every Thursday from 5pm on the corner of Fish Lane and Cordelia Street, South Brisbane.

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