Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Breakfast at The Gunshop Cafe

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The Gunshop Cafe
http://www.thegunshopcafe.com/


I'm not exaggerating when I say that I've been dying to go to Gunshop for AGES. At least months, if not over a year. Maybe even 2 years now. It's reputably got Brisbane's best breakfast offerings. As a Brisbane girl, these claims impress me. Unfortunately, I am rarely up and about in time for breakfast (on the weekend, I'm generally awake at noon) so it's not easy to see for myself.

When a holiday rolls by, I tell myself that Gunshop is on my list of things 'to do' but it doesn't happen. In fact, once I actually went but the line was huge and I was starving so I went somewhere else instead. Not this holidays! Finally, we managed to check it out.


I got to Gunshop at the awkward time of 11am, which is 'late' for most people to have breakfast on a weekday but it was the earliest that I could drag myself out of bed. We had to beat 11:30am because that's when they stop serving breakfast (on weekdays that is, on weekends it's different - check their website).

The Gunshop Cafe has a pretty cute interior layout. There's a narrow seating area with little windows that show the counter beyond. It's dark but not in an intimidating or dirty way. Classy dark.

We ordered coffees and a breakfast item each. I nearly got carried away by ordering a third breakfast item to share (something sweet to cut all our savory food) but stopped myself. There is such a thing as 'too piggish' and I'm constantly pushing that barrier.

Latte

The coffee was good. Coffee and newspapers = already a nice start to the morning.

Black pudding, poached egg, ciabatta, prune and apple compote

Our food arrived. I ordered the black pudding with apple and prune compote. Even though I had read the menu online and on paper beforehand, I still forgot what was in the compote and spent ages trying to figure it out. If I'm to be honest, I ordered black pudding because it was the oddest thing on the menu and I'm a curious person. It was actually really tasty - nothing goreish at all. I thought this would be a very heavy breakfast option but it wasn't. The egg was poached and the toasted ciabbata was unbuttered... makes the whole meal practically 'light'!

Tolouse sausages, sweet potato hash, poached egg, bush tomato chutney and side of chriberg double smoked bacon

Charlie chose the toulouse sausages. They were full of flavor - really delish. He also ordered a side of bacon so his meal was quite 'substantial'. I liked the sweet potato hash too.

Ok now... what is my overall verdict? Not to chicken out of making a judgment call but I must say that I haven't had many breakfast experiences out in Brisbane. Breakfast might just be my favorite meal of the day but like I said, I wake up too late to enjoy it. I'm not sure if Gunshop has the best breakfast but it's definitely UP THERE out of all those that I've tried so far. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Gunshop Cafe on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Zucchini and Ricotta Pie

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Zucchini and Ricotta Pie
Home Cooking


Grocery shopping last week, I loaded up on zucchini. The problem that follows is of course... what to do with it all? I had great success making cabbage pie from Nick Malgieri's 'The Modern Baker' so I thought I'd try his recipe for zucchini and ricotta pie. I had ricotta and onion at home so it seemed like the straight forward solution.


The recipe is pretty easy to follow. It uses the olive oil pastry dough from the cabbage pie so click here to follow the procedure. I made half that quantity (amounts are specified below), which was enough for 2 double crust mini-pies. If you want a 10in double crust pie, you need the full amount of dough from this recipe.

The quantities for filling are enough for 2 mini pies (my pie tin is 11cm across the top and 7.5cm across the bottom). If you want a 10in pie, triple the quantities (but use 4 eggs instead of 3).

Zucchini and Ricotta Pie

Makes 2 mini pies (dimensions of tin given above)

Ingredients:

For the dough
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp water
For the filling
  • 300g zucchini, shredded/grated (I used 3 small zucchini)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 medium white onion, thinly sliced
  • 310g ricotta
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp of oregano
  • 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
Procedure:

1. In a bowl, toss the zucchini with the salt and scrape it into a strainer. Set the strainer on top of a bowl and let the zucchini drain for 1-2 hrs.2. At the end, rinse the zucchini and squeeze out excess water.3. While the zucchini is draining, make the olive oil dough according to this recipe and line your pie tin. Set aside. Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
4. In a frying pan, heat up the olive oil. Turn the heat down to medium and fry the onion until translucent and wilted. Add the zucchini and stir until the zucchini is also wilted (about 10-15min).
5. Pour the cooked zucchini into a bowl and season with salt and pepper. It should be slightly over-seasoned to make up for the addition of ricotta and eggs.
6. Add the ricotta, then eggs, oregano and Parmesan one at a time, stirring after each addition until smooth.6. Scrape the filling into the prepared bottom crust and smooth the top. Slide the top crust over the filling and press the edges firmly together. Use the point of a knife to cut vent holes into the top crust.7. Bake in a preheated oven until the crust is a deep golden color and the filling is set (about 25-30min).8. Cool the pie on a rack before serving. It should be eaten at room temperature.


I was a bit disappointed with this pie. The crust turned out lovely and golden - it was crunchy but not as short as I like. The filling had a nice consistency but wasn't as flavorsome as I like. I would recommend increasing the quantity of Parmesan.


All in all, it wasn't a bad pie but it had nothing on the cabbage pie. It could be down to the fact that I don't dig zucchini that much but I don't know... there's just something missing.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Pineapple Hotel Steakhouse

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The Pineapple Hotel Steakhouse
http://www.pineapplehotel.com.au/


Last weekend was spent house-hunting with my parents. We wound up around the Kangaroo Point region so I suggested lunch at the Pineapple Hotel. After driving around for ages, my dad figured out that he knew where this place was... and it was actually more towards the Gabba. Off we went.


It was Saturday lunch time but the Steakhouse was rather quiet.The seating area is expansive and you order your food at the counter. There's also a bar in the corner of the room.


Dad and I ordered a steak each and mum got some bread. We were all going to share anyway.

Parmesan herb cobb loaf

The herb cobb came out first. This bread was actually really nice - the crust is crunchy and the texture of the inside is wonderful. Mum in particular liked the bread. The herb butter was fairly strong.

MSA eye fillet

Our steak came not too long after. My rib eye was small but thick. It was slightly overcooked for my liking but still tender and juicy.

Steak cross-section

The sides were average (not bad and not amazing) but the steak was a satisfying piece of meat.

1824 rib fillet

Dad's rib fillet was large but thin. He said he would have liked a thicker cut... but that's probably not the fault of Pineapple Hotel since they had other cuts on offer. Both my parents enjoyed the steak though and wolfed it down. The chips on the side were YUM - crunchy and golden.

Pineapple Hotel does a decent steak. Not the best I've ever had but decent. The atmosphere is casual and relaxed but by no means slummy.

Pineapple Hotel Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Huo Fo Vegetarian Court

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Huo Fo Vegetarian Court
K4 Sunny Park Shopping Centre, corner Mains Rd & McCullough St, Sunnybank


I've been slack. Uni has resumed and I'm finding less and less time for writing up blog posts. Nonetheless, the weekend is here and I wanted to put something up to let you all know I'm still active :). Sifting through my collection of food photos, I realize that there are so many things that I haven't blogged... I had quite a decision to make.


Since my previous post was all about how determined I was to go vegetarian for a month, I've decided to kick-start that era with an entry about a vegetarian restaurant. Keep in mind that there WILL be posts put up later on that will feature meat dishes and so on... they're all from BEFORE this vegetarian challenge and well, I gotta put them up sometime right? So please don't think I'm cheating. Besides, it gives you more variety to read about. After all, this isn't a vegetarian food blog - it's an EVERYTHING food blog. Just because I'm going vego for a while doesn't mean I'll force you along my journey.

Back to today's post...

I've been doing quite well with my personal challenge, although it's only been a couple of days so who knows. My strategy so far has been to rely on salads and veggie soup. Today, I wanted to kick things up a notch so I went to a vegetarian restaurant for lunch: Huo Fo.


When Charlie and I got up, it was already noon so we didn't arrive at Sunnybank until nearly 2pm. Huo Fo was rather quiet with only 2 other tables of people. The restaurant has an outdoor courtyard feel though the roof is actually enclosed.

We were presented with menus and my first thought was confusion. I was reading dishes with the terms 'duck', 'beef' and 'lamb' and was stumped for a while thinking "did I really just walk into a vegetarian restaurant?"

Of course, when the brain cells started working again, I realized they were talking about imitation meat. Ahh...

I ordered a duck hotpot and Charlie ordered a hot and sour soup with the lamb and chicken rice meal. We also got some drinks.

Taro milk tea and coffee milk tea

The bubble tea was good and cheaper than other places. I liked my taro milk tea because the taro flavor was quite strong but it wasn't overly sweet. The coffee milk tea was nice too.

Hot and sour soup

Charlie can be quite picky with certain food. With hot and sour soup, he has a very precise idea of what it should be like... and he felt that this one was lacking in vinegar. I tasted it and thought it was OK - very peppery (maybe a bit too peppery).

Lamb and chicken nugget rice meal

The lamb and chicken rice came next. It's basically a braised lamb and vegetable dish with some fried chicken nuggets (all imitation meat, of course) plus some rice. We both noticed that there was not nearly as many chicken nuggets as there was on the photo in the menu. All the same, the nuggets were quite tasty - not exactly like chicken meat but passable. The lamb on the other hand tasted nothing like lamb. It was a bit like meat from a tough mushroom. The flavors were alright though.

Chinese cabbage and duck hotpot

My hotpot was quite big - loads of wom bok and some imitation duck on top. I was happy that there was so much vegetable. One reason why I wanted to do the vegetarian thing was to force my intake of vegetables to increase. I was a bit apprehensive about trying the duck (was so sure I'd be disappointed) but Charlie gave it the thumbs up so I had a go. It tasted like Chinese smoked chicken. They did a decent job in imitating the texture of the meat and the skin. Got nothing on real duck meat of course but it's a satisfying attempt.

One last comment: I REALLY liked the rice. I'm not usually a rice person and I try to stay away because I just see it as pointless carbs. However, this rice was delicious! I could have had bowlfuls with nothing else. I'm not sure everyone will 'get me' but the degree of separation of granules was just perfect. Not too dry and hard; not too mushy and sticky.

Huo Fo Vegetarian Court gave me a lot of confidence with my ability to last on nothing but vegetables for a month. I've learnt that there's so much more than tofu and chickpeas - there are whole MENUS catering for vegetarian people. I mean, obviously, there should be because there are loads of vegetarians out there. I don't think I was ignorant on the matter before but when you restrict yourself to vegetarian options, it's very different to just understanding that other people are vegetarian. I am reeeeeaaaally appreciative of any variety.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Vegetarian for a Month

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For various reasons, I've decided to attempt a meat-free diet for a month. I think I'll stay as true to that as possible, with minor exceptions of dairy products and POSSIBLY fish and eggs (not sure if I'll go all the way and exclude those too).

This may seem insane for anyone who knows me and the type of food I normally like (I'm one of nature's carnivores, through and through) but it's something I'm excited to do.

There are health benefits and of course, some moral compensation but to be honest, my reason behind doing this is predominantly out of curiosity and desire for change.

Fingers crossed that this will be a good experience and I'll document how I go along the way.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Grilled Haloumi

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Grilled Haloumi
Home Cooking


Haloumi cheese is one of those 'it' produces that have gained spotlight with the increased popularity of tapas. Nowadays, you'll see it offered on many cafe and restaurant menus as a side or as a meat-replacement in salads etc. Though I love my meat, I can happily munch on a chunk of grilled or pan-fried haloumi without feeling like I'm missing out on anything.

I bought a chunk at the supermarket to see how good a home version could be. Verdict = VERY good. It's super easy to whip up grilled haloumi cheese. This is BARELY passable as home 'cooking' because it's just THAT easy.

I have tried grilling and pan-frying the cheese - the effect is similar so you can go ahead with whatever you're comfortable with. The seasoning I chose is just a suggestion.

Grilled Haloumi
Makes... however much you like :)

Ingredients:
  • block of haloumi cheese
  • dried oregano
  • chili flakes
  • olive oil
  • fresh lemon
Procedure:

1. Cut the cheese into slices. I like thick slices - the ones in these photos were a bit thin for my liking.2. Coat the slices with oil, oregano and chili flakes to your taste. I find that the cheese itself has some saltiness and doesn't require extra salt.3. Grill at 200 degrees Celcius for 5-7min till the surface is bubbly. If you're opting to pan-fry, just cook in a heated pan till one side is golden, flip and cook the other side.4. Serve with a squeeze of lemon.


I served up my haloumi cheese in a Mediterranean-style platter with some crisp pita bread, hommus, tzatziki and bitter salad. So delish!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bretts Wharf Update

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Bretts Wharf
http://www.brettswharf.com.au/


The last post I did on Bretts Wharf was nearly a year ago so time is ripe for an update. I dropped by again quite recently with a friend of mine. We were actually on our way to the Hamilton Portside Wharf but got rapidly distracted with thoughts of 'hey there's Bretts Wharf... why not?'

And, why not indeed. We rocked up without a booking but were graciously seated. It took us a good chunk of the evening just to decide what to order. I was hesitating back and forth between 3 mains that sounded equally enticing. In the end, I decided to play it safe and went with something nice and classic.

We chose an entree platter to share. I ordered steak for main and my friend chose the fish special.

Our wonderful and knowledgeable waiter recommended some wine. I have no idea what it is that I drank but it was delicious. I never thought I'd say that about any wine but it was crisp and sweet.

Tapas plate - seared smoked scamorza, truffle bruschetta, coriole marinated olives, salmon and shiitake spring rolls, banderillas, pork kebab

The tapas platter looked quite cute. It's not really enough to share if you're eating it on its own but since we were also having mains, the quantity was OK. I liked the salmon and shiitake spring roll best.

250g grain-fed rib fillet, sweet potato fondant, wild mushrooms, tobacco onions, grain mustard jus

Mains arrived, and I must say: I really enjoyed my steak. Like I said, I was debating about it for a while because steak just seams so... NORMAL. Most guys have no problems getting the steak on any menu. However, Bretts Wharf is a seafood restaurant and I just felt like I wasn't playing to their advantage. Nonetheless, the carnivore inside me won and I was happy with it. A well cooked chunk of meat is not to be under-estimated.

Steak cross-section

Having had a less than average steak experience at Hogs Breath Cafe, I could really appreciate the difference in quality. The tobacco onion is a bit like crispy onion rings - really yum.

Today's fish - served with petit pois a la francaise (peas, bacon, iceberg lettuce and lemon butter)

The fish was nice and tender and the sauce was quite creamy. Nice combination of flavors there.

It was a pleasant dinner at Bretts Wharf - my third visit now and probably the most impressive, in terms of the actual dishes I tasted. The standout for me was our waiter who really elevated the experience with his enthusiasm.

Bretts Wharf Seafood on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Be Green Cafe

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Be Green Cafe
Shop 2/8 Station Road, Indooroopilly


I was walking to Cold Rock near Indooroopilly Station when I spotted a cafe right near it. They had huge picture menus stuck on the windows and naturally, I had a peak. Be Green Cafe stood out to me because their menu contained EVERYTHING: lots of Korean-style dishes (I think the place is owned by Koreans) but also Mexican, Italian, burgers and more.


Ambiguous offerings can put some people off. Seinfeld fans will recall that Jerry disagreed with Babu's decision to have a menu containing cuisine from all corners of the world - he suggested that Babu should reopen his restaurant to serve exclusively Pakistanian cuisine.

However, if you've watched that episode, you would know that Babu was ill-advised.


It is my opinion that certain small cafes can pull off a multicultural menu. Be Green appealed to me and it wasn't before long that I gave it a shot.


We went in and were greeted by a very friendly waiter. After much deliberation over the menu, I chose the haloumi platter and Charlie chose the garlic bread and the karaage chicken. Unfortunately, both his choices were unavailable so he switched to Mexican and went for nachos and a chicken burrito instead.

Latte

I also couldn't resist Be Green's cake and coffee special. I went with a latte, which was good, and a sweet potato cake.

Korean-style sweet potato cake

It is fair to say that I chose sweet potato cake out of curiosity. It turned out to be very tasty - chiffon layers with sweet potato. I imagined something rustic and heavy but this cake was lovely and light.

Haloumi platter

The haloumi platter was quite thorough, with pita bread, dip, salad and of course, grilled haloumi cheese. It was a great little meal but having said that, haloumi is difficult to stuff up. I recently bought my own block to slice up and fry and that also tasted great. The salad was fresh and I really liked the dressing.

Nachos

Charlie enjoyed the nachos but I personally didn't find them appealing. I can't see the point in nachos unless there is MEAT of some kind on there. These nachos were meat-free; purely a salsa, sour cream and cheese affair.

Chicken burrito

The chicken burrito wasn't well-received. It wasn't bad as per se but just didn't appeal to our tastes. No big chunks of chicken and in my opinion, the filling was overly herby.

On the plus, there are so many other dishes on the menu and I'm really looking forward to going back! Be Green Cafe is relatively close to my house and is just the type of eating hole I want near me - casual, friendly, clean and lots of variety.

Be Green on Urbanspoon