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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2014 in review

According to WordPress stats, my blog was viewed approximately 13,000 times in 2014. In the big wide world of food blogging this is peanuts, but still, I’m amazed that people are interested enough to read my thoughts. If you’re reading my final post for 2014, then you are most likely one of my regular blog readers, so I’d just like to say thank you 🙂

My most popular blog of 2014 was Homemade Milo ice cream. I’m not at all surpirsed. Milo and ice cream in a title will always be a winner. This was also my most popular post in 2013 so maybe I should just concentrate my efforts on ice cream posts!

DSC00178When I reflect back on 2014 I realise how lucky I am to have had so many wonderful food experiences. Travelling to Vietnam and Cambodia was a highlight but I also had many memorable food experiences closer to home. Travelling to Adelaide for Tasting Australia, meeting Maggie Beer and developing new friendships with fellow food bloggers was inspiring. Two of my favourite meals in Brisbane this year were at Shouk cafe in Paddington and Catbird Seat Bistro in East Brisbane. If you haven’t already been, add these to your list for 2015.

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In July 2014, I challenged myself to make a Croquembouche. It was a tad lop-sided but I was so proud of my efforts. It tasted great and my friends loved it so despite a few burnt fingers and a little stress, it was worth it.

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2015 will see Al and I embark on the biggest project of our relationship. The birth of a coffee roastery/cafe in Logan City. It’s already been in the planning for eight months but short of winning gold lotto this weekend, it may take us a few more months to sort out the logistics of how we are going to make this happen without having to sell everything we own. Despite the stress of making this happen, we remain optimistic and I cannot wait to let you all know the details.

Extraction_BrownFinally, what is the last thing I baked in 2014?

A chocolate chip, sour cream orange cake and healthy date, dark chocolate and cashew nuts balls. I’m taking these sweet treats to a NYE gathering.

IMG_2596However you enjoy the final night of 2014, stay safe and enjoy some good food with your family and friends.

Much love, Heather x

 

Did someone say chocolate pudding?

Ok, with the recent announcement of world chocolate supplies being in jeopardy and possibly running out by the year 2020, we need to be worried people. According to stats, in 2013, the world consumed about 70,000 metric tons more cocoa than it produced. Startling information to take in, but I’m sure world leaders and horticulturists everywhere are tackling this problem as I type.

In the meantime, let me introduce you to the Black Sapote or as I prefer to call it, the chocolate pudding fruit. It will never fully replace chocolate but it will fool you into believing you’re enjoying the smoothest, most comforting chocolate pudding dessert you’ve ever had.

DSC03821The Sapote is a species of persimmon that is native to eastern Mexico and Central America south to Colombia. Crops are also now becoming more common in North Queensland.

It’ll be a bright green colour and very firm to touch when you purchase it. At this point, it’s nowhere near ready to eat. You need to be very patient with this little baby. Sit it on the kitchen bench and wait… wait… pick it up and wait some more. Wait until the colour is a brownish green and the flesh is soft and spongy. The image above and below shows the fruit ripe and ready to go.

DSC03822High in vitamin C (apparently four times the amount found in an orange), it’s a fruit that’s worth waiting for and the best bit, it has a mouth-feel just like a velvety chocolate pudding. I was expecting sweet but it’s not a sweet fruit or a bitter fruit, it’s just… ummmm… delicious.

DSC03825DSC03826Scoop out, eat and enjoy it ‘a la natural’ or mix it with vanilla ice cream if you’re looking for something a little sweeter. From memory, I think I paid about $4 for one fruit and it took approximately three weeks to ripen. (Pretty sure I picked it up everyday, so my anticipation of loving this fruit was very high). Thankfully, it lived up to all of my expectations 🙂

DSC03830DSC03829Purchased from James Street Markets.

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