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

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Best suburban BYO, Cinco

Cinco is one of those suburban restaurants that I’ve driven past countless times over the years. I’ve never given it more than a passing thought and in fact, if you go to the website, as I did recently, you’d be forgiven for dismissing it as a possible choice for a celebratory dinner with friends. The website certainly doesn’t reflect the unstated elegance of Cinco or the high standard of food we experienced.

After making a list of nine CBD contenders, Miss P and I decided on going local and giving Cinco at Camp Hill a try, based on the menu and the fact that it had just won ‘best suburban BYO restaurant’ at the Qld Good Food Awards.

Woo hoo! We felt like we’d won gold. Good company and good wine aside, the food and service was spectacular.

For starters we ordered the sizzling olives ($8) and a serve of empanadas (4 for $16) with Pebre sauce (a Chilean condiment made of coriander, chopped onion, olive oil, garlic and ground or pureed spicy peppers). The olives were moreish and the empanadas, deep-fried, were crunchy but not oily with a slightly spicy beef filling.

The much anticipated entrees were packed with flavour and all beautifully presented. After tasting each dish I had trouble deciding on my favourite but I think the fried goats cheese would be a dish I’d return for.

Salad of baby beetroot, fried goats cheese, candied walnuts, walnut cream and rye ($19).

DSC03009Jamon Serrano, grilled figs, torn boccconcini, mint, pomegranite and grissini ($22).

DSC03008Gratin of sand crab and bug, garlic, chilli, tomato and basil hollandaise ($23).

DSC03010Goat pie with pine nuts, dates, pickled radish and rose yoghurt ($22).

DSC03007Yes, we ate a lot of food, probably too much food, but it was so good. Seriously, Cinco does really tasty food.

For mains we ordered grilled Barramundi, artichokes, chorizo vinigrette and opal basil ($36), braised rabbit leg, Jerusalem artichoke, mushroom ragout and rabbit ravilolo ($36), Kurobuta pork belly, grilled onion, leek, rhubarb and pepper sauce ($38) and Cape Grim eye fillet, field mushroom, potato puree, spinach and oxtail sauce ($39). Because we couldn’t resist we also ordered sides of pumpkin with yoghurt sauce ($10) and the ancient grains salad ($12).

Usually I’m no slouch when it comes to ordering dessert but I very nearly did pass until I noticed pomegranate jelly with rose cream, fig, pistachio and meringue ($15). You had me at pomegranate! This dessert delivered on so many levels. Very cleverly constructed with each mouthful delivering a surprise in flavour and texture.

DSC03026We also had to try the hot pear fritters with walnut and cinnamon parfait ($15). Miss P claimed this was probably the best dessert she’d ever eaten. Now, that’s a big call. The hot fritter was perfectly cooked, light and crunchy on the outside, it went beautifully with the parfait which was smooth, with a good hit of walnut and cinnamon flavour

DSC03022A bonus for wine lovers, Cinco is BYO but if you forget your favourite drop, you can always select from a comprehensive list of wines.

The name Cinco (which means five), was chosen by owner Peter Stubbs, to represent the five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water, all of which are essential to cooking, as well as achieving balance and harmony in life according to the principles of Feng Shui. In my books, it also represents five stars. How lucky are the people of Camp Hill to have this gem on their doorstep? Very lucky indeed.

Cinco

Dinner Tuesday – Saturday 6pm
Lunch Thursday – Friday 12pm

589 Old Cleveland Road
Camp Hill
Phone (07) 3843 6666

July noodle nights

Apparently Brisbane loves night noodle markets. By 5.30pm on opening night, the Southbank forecourt, adjacent to the big wheel, was filling up with hungry diners looking for Asian flavours and fun.

Part of Brisbane Good Food month, the noodle markets are a great opportunity to sample some of Brisbane’s best Asian fare. We started with some mouth-watering yakitori from Birds Nest, followed by tasty little gyozas from Zagyoza, The home of Gyoza and finished up with buns from The Bun Mobile, cause it’s very hard to walk past and not want a bun!

There are plenty of cool places to sit and enjoy the beautiful Brisbane skyline and take in what is a very family friendly atmosphere.

Restaurants participating in the night noodle markets: Bang Bang Pop Up, Birds Nest Yakitori, Chitty Banh Banh, Fat Noodle, Harajuku Gyoza, ii-na Japanese Food, Japanese Pizza Okonomi House , Lets Do Yum Cha, Longrain, Mamak, Mini Pancakes, New Shanghai, Passion Tree, Peng You, Saigon Alley Cafe Vietnamese Street Food, Sake Restaurant, Sendok Garpu Authentic Indonesian Food , Serendipity Ice Cream & Sorbet, Spanthai, Taro’s Ramen & Cafe, The Bun Mobile, Zagyoza, The Home Of Gyoza.

A great place to meet up with friends, the Night Noodle Markets operate every evening until Sunday July 27, starting at 5pm weeknights and 4pm on weekends.

Cash only.

The Catbird Seat Bistro

I know it’s shallow of me but to be honest what hooked me was the name, The Catbird Seat Bistro. Once I realised that owner/chef was James Guldberg (formerly of Piaf, The Sardine Tin and Aquitaine Brasserie) I was smitten as a kitten and eager to go check it out.

First to the name, the term ‘the catbird seat’ is a phrase used to describe an enviable position, often in terms of having the upper hand or greater advantage in all types of dealings among parties. According to the Oxford English Dictionary the first recorded usage occurred in a 1942 humorous short story by James Thurber titled The Catbird Seat.

DSC02969Now, onto the food.

I love a small menu and this one was exquisite. From tiny snacks to shared mains it would keep most diners very happy.

For starters I chose two items from the snacks menu; pork jowel, raspberry, provolone toast and smoked crispy egg, horseradish mayo (both $5). The tart raspberry was a lovely addition to the rich little toasts. The crispy egg was perfection but I would have loved a bigger hit of horseradish. Al chose the soup of the day from the entree menu, French Onion ($10). OMG! Perfectly balanced sweet and savoury. This dish of goodness hit all the right notes for both of us.

We very nearly went with the shared main of roasted free-range pork, purple carrots, mustard sauce and anise roasted apple ($50) but in the end Al went with the fish of day, Barra ($28) and I, predictably, went with the Siwa Fresh organic, free range slow braised goat, vintage carrols, poached quince, crisp onions ($27). The fish was beautifully cooked and the goat, married with the poached quince was melt in the mouth. Very happy diners.

DSC02959DSC02957DSC02961The huge bowl of well seasoned fries ($7) were also a hit.

For the sake of my readers 🙂 dessert is a must. It didn’t matter that I was full, I had to go the extra mile. Strawberries and cream, dark choc pudding with winter berries and mascarpone, fine apple and rhubarb strudel, caramel brandy sauce or petits fours (all $11). Dark choc pud, made to order, it was. While we waited chef presented us with the most gorgeous wooden jewel box full of precious little petits fours. Unexpected and so beautiful to look at, they tasted as good as they looked. Choc chilli, honeycomb, caramel, turkish delight, cardamon white chocolate, profiterole.

DSC02964The dark chocolate pudding was oozy and rich and delicious.

DSC02965The Catbird Seat Bistro is charming and quaint with modest European decor and a friendly atmosphere. It’s the kind of place you look forward returning to, best enjoyed, I think, with the one you love.

The Catbird Seat Bistro

2/888 Stanley Street East, East Brisbane

Ph: 07 3392 2645

Tues–Fri 11:00 am to 9:00 pm, Sat 7:00 am to late, Sun 7:00 am to 3:00 pm

 

 

 

Alfred & Constance

Alfred & Constance has a distinctively Queensland vibe. Maybe it’s the weatherboard house and the party lights but it just yells, “come in, relax, have a drink, EAT, enjoy our fun atmosphere and drink some more.”  So we did.

DSC02925DSC02913There was nothing on the menu that didn’t tempt me so I spent plenty of time considering the options. For starters do we go with the southern fried chicken drumsticks with bourbon caramel sauce ($15.90) or the flame grilled lamb cutlets with yoghurt, tahini and garlic sauce ($16.90 for two). In the end we chose the blue swimmer crab cakes with hot pink mayo ($15.90 for 2) and the crispy calamari with sweet paprika mayo ($14.90). Crab cakes that were actually filled with crab and not a filler and the most tender calamari I’ve had in a long time. It was a happy start.

Crab cakes and calamari starterI actually had a tougher time choosing a main. I really wanted to try the pig carved from the whole hog and served with apple sauce, crackling and skin on potatoes (250g $32) or the slow roasted pork belly with smokey cauliflower puree and roast pear ($29.90) but in the end I went with duck, something I rarely order. Duck served with braised leek, lentils and quince ($32.90). It was the combo of braised leek, lentils and quince that got me in the end. Al went healthy again (what is going on here) and had the Cone Bay barra with lemon and sea salt crust, kipfler potatoes and sugar snap peas ($32.90).

Barra

DuckAl’s fish dish was cooked perfectly and so pretty to look at with all of the fresh colours. After a mix-up with my main (I was served a beautiful looking bowl of gnocchi with roast pumpkin and walnuts ($27.90), the duck arrived and looked spectacular. It was a sweeter dish than I had anticipated, the quince, maybe a little overpowering for the leek and lentils but still a delicious flavour combo. Our side dish of sauteed peas, brussel sprouts, broccolini, bacon and pine nuts ($9) was a winner. I devoured most of this while waiting for my duckie.

Brussel sproutsFor a sweet ending we enjoyed the crepes with lemon curd and vanilla ice cream, a traditional sticky date pud (both $14.90) and a piccolo of Vittoria coffee.

A&C has a great atmosphere. The music is cool but not too loud so you can still talk without yelling. The service we experienced (thanks Cody) was thoughtful and friendly. There is plenty to look at (I especially liked the walk to the bathrooms) and the glow from the EAT sign. Check out the winter menu here, text your friends and go check it out!

 Open seven days a week. Monday-Friday 7am – late. Weekends 8am – late.

Corner Alfred & Constance Streets, Fortitude Valley.

Phone: (07) 3251 6500.

For the Love of Food dined as a guest of A&C and Lucid Media.

 

 

 

 

Toro Bravo

Bravo, Toro Bravo. What a feast Al and I shared at this very stylish Spanish tapas bar and steak restaurant when we visited recently for a leisurely Saturday lunch.  Head chef Chris Anderson has created a menu made for sharing but first drinks!

DSC02853Despite the fact we loved the description of the Margarita, we went with more suitable Saturday lunch drinks. I tried the non-alcoholic Ginger Berry $7, delicious, while Al ordered the Palma Louca beer ($8). I also tried the Raspberry Bellini ($12) later during the meal. Clearly it was a pink drink day! For cocktail lovers, the list is extensive and inventive.

From the tapas menu we ordered lamb and halloumi skewers with rosemary oil, chicken and green chilli spring rolls with sour orange dip and baked streaky bacon wrapped dates with warm honey (all $3.80 each). These were all packed with flavour but you really can’t go past bacon and dates. Yes, it’s a throw-back to the 70s, but it’s a definite winner. I also especially liked the combination of the chilli chicken springroll with the sour orange dipping sauce.

DSC02849Next up, potato and spinach tortilla with sofrito sauce ($12) and a serve of Manchego and breadcrumb crusted zucchini batons with aioli ($8.90). The tortilla was comfort food at its best and the well seasoned zucchini batons had been cooked just enough to remain crisp. The sticky beef shortribs with cherry tomatoes, shredded papaya, red onion and mint ($18.90) was the least successful of the dishes. When you read the word sticky, you imagine sticky, real sticky, but it was more fatty and unfortunately the whole dish really lacked any depth of flavour.

As Toro Bravo prides itself on having the best char-grilled steak, we couldn’t go past trying the 180 gram Black Angus eye fillet, cooked to medium rare with crunchy potato bravas with a chimichurri sauce ($30). The larger 300 gram serve is $37.90. The steak, well caramalised on the outside and the accompanying jus was mouth-watering. The potatoes crunchy on the outside, fluffy in the middle and just perfect with the spicy sauce.

Finally, we were presented with the prettiest of desserts, white chocolate parfait with berries ($14). Creamy and decadent, it’s a dessert to share and was a lovely, not to sweet finish to a very big meal.

DSC02864We really enjoyed Toro Bravo. The service was friendly and the atmosphere relaxed. We look forward to our next visit. Let’s hope the bacon wrapped fresh dates remain on the menu!

Note: Tuesday evenings you get two meals for the price of one. That’s a great deal.

Open Tuesday to Saturday from 12 noon, Sunday and Monday from 4pm.

Toro Bravo, 455 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley.
Phone: 3852 3533

For the Love of Food dined as a guest of Toro Bravo.

Uncorked & Cultivated

Lily Bollinger once said, “I only drink Champagne when I’m happy, and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I am not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it—unless I’m thirsty.”

Lily was a very smart woman, but did you know, according to Peter Scudamore-Smith, that Prosecco is now considered the largest selling sparkling wine in the world, just overtaking Champagne.

Italian ProsecoAl and I recently attended an aperitivi and canapés evening hosted by Peter and his wife Denise and their business Uncorked & Cultivated. The evening focused on tasting Italian and French wines and also promoted their upcoming food and wine tours to Tuscany, Piemonte and Sicily and the Champagne, Burgundy and Rhone regions of France.

DSC02834Here’s what we tasted:

  • Astoria Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2012, $38 available from The Wine Emporium
  • Gavi DOCG 2012, Piemonte, $29.99 available from Dan Murphy’s
  • Chateau Thieuley, Bordeaux 2011 Sauvignon-Semillon, $28 available from The Wine Emporium
  • Chateau D’Angles Languedoc 2008 Mourvedre, Syrah, Grenache, $37 contact Peter for stockist
  • Barolo DOCG 2007 Nebbiolo La Morra Piemonte, $95 contact Peter for stockist

The Astoria Prosecco and the Piemonte Gavi made for very easy drinking. Perfect with a light lunch or afternoon drinks with cheese and ciabatta. Al enjoyed the complex flavours of the Nebbiolo most of all.

Peter holds the prestigious Master of Wine award which is recognised as the highest achievement in the global wine community. This title and qualification recognises wine experts who have worldwide knowledge of tasting, making and marketing wine and skills in wine writing. Globally there are approximately 300 Masters of Wine. The title reflects a lifelong dedication to upholding and promoting the highest educational and professional standards in the wine industry.

You might think talking wine with Peter would be pretentious but that couldn’t be further from the truth. He is down to earth and unassuming and enjoys sharing his knowledge in a simple and easy to understand way.

Peter and Denise lead small boutique tours (limited to 12 people), visiting restaurants and wineries they have a personal connection with. It sounds brilliant and is definitely on our travel agenda for the future!

Lots more information about the Uncorked & Cultivated tours and other interesting wine news can be found here.

For the Love of Food was a guest of Peter Scudamore-Smith.