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

 

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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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Depot at West End

I love sitting in a cafe with loads of things to look at. Things that make you wonder why or things that just make you smile. Apart from great food and friendly service, Depot at West End has plenty to keep you amused.

Al and I visited with Mrs A for breakfast. The omelette with goat’s curd, mushroom, potato, fresh herbs and sourdough was huge and would easily satisfy two. The Croque Monsieur with rye, ham, Gruyere, mustard served with a garden salad was generous with filling and the toasted granola with coconut, pistachio, almond, dried fruit, fresh fruit, oats served with coconut yoghurt was healthy and tasty.

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I think Depot might be one of those places that has the ability to be many things to many people. Family friendly for breakfast, buzzing with the social lunch crowd and a magnet for all of the cool young creative types in the evening. It’s a great space.

Depot serves a seasonally inspired menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Monday – Tuesday, closed
Wednesday – Sunday, 7am – 12am

16 Horan St, West End

Bacon ice cream at Cowch

It’s delicious, slightly salty with a creamy texture and a definite taste of bacon. It’s made by Brisbane company, Lick ice cream but unfortunately only available as part of the Canadienne Waffle bowl with maple syrup ($15.50, breakfast menu only).

We visited Cowch at 4pm but one of the staff members was kind enough to offer us a sample taste of the bacon ice cream, tempting us to come back for the Champagne Brunch ($25) which includes your choice of the Canadienne Waffle Bowl or Breakfast Churros served with a glass of Primo Secco and a regular coffee.

Considering it was late afternoon, we ordered two Tropicana Quenchers ($9 each) and an iced mocha ($9) along with a Pomegranate Naked Pop dipped in dark chocolate with coconut, pearl and peanut brittle sprinkles ($9.80). The Naked Pops are a cute idea. Your choice of a naked chocolate, vanilla, coffee, mint or pomegranate ice cream, dipped in your choice of white, milk or dark chocolate and three dips in a multitude of different sprinkle options. It’s fun and our version tasted pretty darn good.

Cowch also does gourmet dessert pizzas ($17), mini dessert sliders ($12.5), Fondue ($14), and for those with no sweet tooth, cheese platters from $24 to $38.

Calling itself a dessert and cocktail bar, you’d expect some pretty special dessert cocktails and the menu doesn’t disappoint. Ranging in price from $19 to $21, the Monkey Butter with peanut butter ice cream, vodka, frangelico and agave and the Coco Grande with chocolate yoghurt, rum, espresso and vanilla sound wicked. Plenty of classic cocktails and mocktails are also available including a reasonable range of beers, ciders and wines.

Cowch, it’s fun 🙂

Open from 7am until late seven days a week.

179 Grey Street, South Bank

BSKT Cafe, fuelling the food revolution

BSKT Cafe has been on our radar for a while now, so on a sunny Sunday, that just happened to be our 16th year anniversary, we decided to take a Sunday drive, with the top down, to Nobby’s Beach for lunch.

The first thing that caught my attention was the cow illustration on the wall and then after finding a lovely corner window table, reading the explanation for how the name Nobby’s Beach came to be.

According to their website, BSKT Café was founded on the beliefs of early Egyptians and Romans who used biscuits as their option for sustenance and good health on long journeys. After reading the menu you quickly realise that good health, innovation and quality of food is integral to this business.

The menu is exciting and as per usual I struggled with a decision so we ordered an apple, berry, mint juice and an apple, orange, ginger and mint juice (both $7) to start.

DSC03527The menu is broken up into breakfast, smaller and larger plates and each item has icons to help you choose wisely.

Al ordered the BSKT burger, ground Angus beef, wholemeal bun, beetroot relish, tomato, spinach, goats cheese and grilled leg ham with fries and aioli ($20). This dish looked amazing and apparently tasted as good as it looked.

DSC03535I went with the Cypriot sandwich, roasted mushroom, kale pesto, charred red pepper, haloumi, caramelised onion with tomato chilli jam on quinoa toast and served with veggie chips ($16). I loved this dish. So tasty and satisfying. The quinoa toast was particularly delicious.

DSC03540Other dishes that caught my eye were; healthy Quesadilla with goats cheese, chia seeds, pepitas, garlic confit, shallots and sesame seeds on toasted flat bread ($13), seared wild tuna with coconut, fresh basil, cashews, smoked mackerel and quinoa salad ($26), green Goji salad with kale, spinach, rocket, pear, asparagus, shaved parmesan and apple cider vinaigrette ($16), 18 hr sticky pork with fresh chilli, shredded raw veggies and sour herb salad ($26), slow braised rack of ribs with house slaw and chefs condiments ($24).

DSC03539We finished with an organic piccolo and a serve of coconut sorbet ($5). Definitely one of the most flavoursome sorbets I’ve had in a long while.

DSC03542BSKT service was friendly and despite being a busy Sunday, we were well looked after and served quickly. The website says they want to ‘create an army of healthy, productive, creative and inspired humans’ and that’s just how we felt after our anniversary lunch. We’ll definitely venture back to BSKT, most likely to try the ‘house nights’ 3 course, Fri or Sat night dinner which includes a glass of wine for $45 per person.

DSC03547Ph: 07 5526 6565
4 Lavarack Rd, Mermaid Beach, Gold Coast
Open: 7am – 4pm Mon to Thurs, 7am – 10pm Fri to Sat, Sun 7am – 5pm.