Friday, September 30, 2011

Egg Bistro for Breakfast

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Egg Bistro
http://www.eggbistro.com.au/


In need of a suitable brunch buddy one morning, I dragged my mother out with me. She had already eaten but I convinced her to keep me company. We live on the East side so I thought Egg Bistro would be the easiest to get to. I don't think mum liked it though... heading down Stanley Street reminded her too much of going to work.


We parked and headed into the cafe. It was busy, busy, busy. I suppose that's normal for a Sunday morning so we contented with waiting outside. The wait for a table wasn't too bad... about 10 minutes or so. The queue for a table increased drastically after we got seated so I was quite thankful.


Mum just had water but I chose the juice special of the day.

Watermelon and passionfruit juice of the day

The juice was quite good. It was watermelon-based with passionfruit. I'm not crazy about passionfruit (yes, I know I should have chosen something different) but it was nice and fresh.

Unfortunately, the juice was all the sustenance I got for the next hour. That's right, our food took absolutely forever to arrive. Sure, the place was choccas but even then it was perhaps the longest I've ever had to wait for breakfast and by the end of it, mum and I were dry out of conversation.

The food arriving was like an A-lister making a fashionably late appearance. Sure I was pissed off but I was more relieved and thankful and by the time the plates were placed on the table, my annoyance had given way to excitement.

House lamb sausage with mustard leaf salad, panko egg and relish

I had the lamb sausage with panko-crusted egg. It was an on-the-spot decision where I didn't know what I was going to order until it came out of my mouth. The sausage was delicious. It was so juicy. Mmmm...

Inside of panko egg

I loved the panko egg too. Even while I was munching away I couldn't help but marvel how carefully engineered the cooking process would have been to ensure the yolk was runny and the exterior crunchy. Genius and perfectly executed. It was just the right binding factor for the sausage and mustard salad.

House granola with mango and yoghurt

Mum's granola was an equal success story. To paint the picture, she's a small lady with a small appetite and she had already eaten breakfast that morning but finished the granola anyway. It tasted fresh (as opposed to store bought) and had just the right amount of crunch, burnt caramelization and yogurt/milk to add.

Big chunk of mango

There was a glorious slice of fresh mango on the side too.

I adored this breakfast. Lateness forgiven. Well... it helped that I wasn't starving to begin with. It's rare that any food can make up for an hour of waiting but this would be close to it. At the least, it doesn't deter me from going again.
Egg Bistro on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Oktoberfest Party at Bavarian Bier Cafe

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Bavarian Bier Cafe
http://www.bavarianbiercafe.com/


After my fantastic night at Sake Restaurant, I felt very privileged and excited to be invited to the Bavarian Bier Cafe Oktoberfest Media party. The chance to try exclusive German beer and a selection of pure Bavarian food? Hell yeh. Pencil me in.


I had never been to the Bavarian Bier Cafe before but Mochi claimed the food was good and I find her judgement to be very reliable. To say I was keen is an understatment. As a testiment to my eagerness, Byron and I dashed down to Brisbane (from Toowoomba) after work last Tuesday to attend.

Once we found a car park, it was a lovely, leisurely stroll down Eagle Street Pier to the restaurant.


I wasn't sure what to expect but... Bavarian Bier Cafe was 'different' to what I expected. It wasn't 'pub-like' and it wasn't 'fine dining' but yet, there was an element of both. The feel of the restaurant was a strange hybrid allowed only by the prime, upmarket location and the robust, festive style of cuisine. Case in point: we were greeted at the entrance of a beautiful, contempory-style restaurant (with fabulous river views) by a girl in a checkered beer wench outfit. The contrast blew my mind but succeeded in giving the restaurant lots of character.

Thumpin' live music

The party was held in a roped off section in front of the bar (how convenient!)

First of the night

We started with a Stiegl (his) and a Paulaner (mine). Byron basically inhaled his so I'm not sure what his opinion was but mine was quite light and fresh. I am by no means a beer connoisseur so that's the most beer-describing I'll attempt in this post.

I couldn't wait to start trying the food because a) we had come straight from work and didn't have time for dinner, b) I love German cuisine and c) I know jack about beer but I can write 2c worth about food.

Assorted canapes

The first platter we spotted contained small canapes of mixed toppings on rye bread. They were little bursts of flavor. Nice and easy to grab but by no means substatial.

Standing around, eating food... doing what we do best

Next, came the hot platters which were much more exciting. I tried many varieties of German sausage (all extremely juicy and flavorsome) accompanied by dips (tomato sauce, mustard and some kind of chutney). The wedges were really nice and Byron scored himself a piece of pork crackling.

Prized pork morsel

We also sampled some mini portions of shnitzel. They were a tad dry but we saw the full-sized servings being brought out to diners and they looked fabulous. I would definitely go back to try that.

Kransky and sauce

The stand out of what we ate was definitely the little sausages. They were perfecto with beer. Initially we were worried that we would go hungry because only finger food was served but even Byron was full by the end of it. German food can be quite hearty.http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif

The big moment

As we were there, we watched them crack open the official Oktoberfest keg. I am pleased to say I did score a pint from that precious barrel. Hopefully I'm now blessed by the Beer God to have many entertainment highs in the months to come.

Big thanks to these guys for trying their hardest to make our unphotogenic faces look beautiful

It was a fun night, even though it was during the week. I had a great time catching up with other food bloggers. The worst part was the drive home! I'd love to get back to the Bavarian Bier Cafe for a proper, sit-down meal some time.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

French Onion Soup

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French Onion Soup
Home Cooking


Writing this post takes me back... back to Bistrot Bistro (I can never remember whether the first or second word ends with 't'). Mochi ordered French onion soup on this occasion, thus taking my French onion soup maidenhead. We were both surprised with the flavor. Rather than creamy and mild, it was winey, sharp and sour. Mochi hated it but in time, I found myself craving more.


I started doing research on how to make French onion soup. I expected it to be simple and I wasn't disappointed. Mostly, it was just a matter of caramelizing some onion, ading stock, flour, cheese and wine (I noticed recipes with red and white). Some recipes called for the use of herbs. Some added splashes of balsamic vinegar. Most had a crispy carb accompaniment in the form of toasted baguette or puff pastry topping.

My my version, I mostly followed this recipe but I mixed and matched to my liking. The original recipe doesn't say how many it serves but I halved it and still had enough for 6 (maybe my servings are too small?) so be cautious if you don't want to end up with a month's worth of soupBold in the form of left overs. The recipe I'm posting has the halved quantities.

French Onion Soup
Serves 6

Ingredients:
  • 30g butter, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 (300g) brown onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 25g (2 tbsp) plain flour
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2L water (I used beef stock with a bit of water)
  • 1 glass white wine
  • splash of red wine vinegar
  • 50g gruyere cheese, 1/2 cubed and 1/2 grated (I used jarlsberg)
  • 1 baguette, in slices each 1.5cm thick
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • parsley to garnish
Procedure:

1. Melt butter in a heavy saucepan, add onion then cook for 25 minutes until the onion is deep golden brown and beginning to caramelize. Stir from time to time.2. Add flour and stir for 2 minutes.
3. Add water (or stock) and wine. Add the bay leaves and thyme and season with salt and pepper.
4. Add cubes of cheese, stir and bring to the boil.5. Cover and simmer for 20- 25 minutes. Add brown sugar and a splash of red wine vinegar. Check the seasoning.
6. Slice the baguette, sprinkle with the remaining cheese.7. Grill until the cheese is melted.8. Put the soup in a serving bowl and serve with the toasted baguette on top. Garnish with a sprig of parsley.


The soup was rather boring until I added the sugar and red wine vinegar (my own additions, not on the original recipe). I can't speak for authenticity but taste-wise, the sweet and tangy really picked things up.


At one point the soup looked like dishwater but this gradually improved (it helps to skim the top). I also think I added too much cheese to my soup because it was slightly gluggy. Other than that, it was a robust and flavorsome soup. It really needed the crunch of the baguette to go with it because there isn't enough textural variety otherwise.

I preferred the soup with plain buttered and toasted baguette rather than the cheesy baguette.

Groove Train, the lazy person's way

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Groove Train via Room Service
Dining out - but... 'in'


Over the last 3 months or so, I've been harboring this deep, dark suspicion about myself. I fear I'm getting lazy. Too lazy. It's not just a matter of not wanting to do chores. Sometimes I don't want to go out because I know it means I have to put on 'proper' clothes (as opposed to trackies and floppy home t-shirt). Sometimes I even dread having to go through basic acts of humanity (showering, brushing teeth, washing hair). My day's off work are spent in bed playing games and reading George Martin books.

Last Wednesday, I attended a CPD seminar in Brisbane (touched upon in this post), before which I stayed in a hotel.


When I start talking about my dinner arrangements, you'll make sense of why I started this post with a speal about laziness.

On my entire ride to Brisbane, I was thinking about different options for dinner that night (that's just how a food blogger thinks). I had a few spots in mind and at one point, I even thought of walking to Southbank to check out the new restaurants there. I was limited to places whereI wouldn't feel out of place dining alone.

Hmmm... in the light of day, dining alone doesn't seem to bad. As the sun set, the idea of eating at a restaurant by myself felt seriously daunting. I've done cafes many times but restaurants are another matter.

As I walked from the coach station to the hotel, I passed Groove Train and peered in. Being one of the places that I considered, I was seeing if there were any solo diners. Nope, not a single one. There were loads of couples and a few families. Well, that totally killed my confidence. I quietly checked into my hotel and planned to hide in my room nibbling from the mini bar.


Lo and behold, upon entering the kitchen, I found a menu titled 'Gourmet Deliveries'. Was it for room service? Well, sort of. I'd never really been exposed to this before but what the booklet promised was the convenience of room service for a vast range of restaurants located around Brisbane CBD. Come again? The variety and quality of eating out without having to endure the social angst? Colour me interested.

I spent a good half hour leafing through the booklet with the mantra 'decisions, decisions, decisions' repeating in my head.

Finally, I settled on Groove Train. If I can't go to it, let it come to me.

Not knowing what the serving sizes were like, I chose an entree and salad and sat back to wait for my order.

It was promised to be delivered within the hour and arrived just short of that. I was hoping I wouldn't have to elevator-ride back down to the lobby to pick up the order (laziness again) and was pleasantly surprised when the guy showed up right outside my room. Woohoo! Ultimate convenience.


The food was organized into large foil trays. I set myself up in front of the TV (watching Angelina Jolie pout her way out of impossible situations on Salt) and started unpacking.

Combination of fresh dips, black olives, semi-dried tomatoes, marinated vegetables and fetta

It didn't take me long to realize the Turkish bread and dips were not for one person to attempt alone. There was enough there for maybe 4 people to have as starters? I bravely ate my way through as much as I could.

Turkish dipped

The dips were nice. The semi-dried tomatoes and olives were tasty.

Turkish bread fingers

The Turkish bread itself was way too oily for me. One was OK but by the second, I could feel pimples getting ready to spawn just under my skin.

Grilled Calamari salad - on rocket salad with snow pea sprouts, tomatoes, cucumber, spanish onion and a balsamic & olive oil vinegarette

I quickly turned my attention to the salad, my 'healthier' choice. It was the grilled calamari salad and was actually very fresh, considering it was packed and delivered to me.

Another shot

The serving was HUGE and there was an ample amount of tender calamari. A little lacking in flavor but overall not bad.

My experience with Gourmet Deliveries was fantastic. They made ordering very simple (everything is numbered) and afterwards, you just wait. I liked it better than standard room service in that you could choose from many different restaurants rather than just whatever is affiliated with the hotel. The individual items are a bit dearer than if you ate in store though.

The food from Groove Train was pretty good. I know it's not fair to judge the restaurant since I didn't get a feel for their service or atmosphere. The food was nice (aside from oil-drenched Turkish). The serving sizes were huge.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

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Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Home Cooking


This is another remnant of my cooking marathon last week. What's a cooking marathon without a touch of baking?

I find that when you haven't touched the oven for a long time, it can be very daunting to asign The One recipe to break the drought. Logically, it makes sense to pick something tried and tested so as to steadily rebuild one's confidence. Logic is all fair and good but what about EXCITEMENT? I didn't feel like mucking around with scones and cookies (the only things I can really garuntee success) so I settled into my library of cookbooks and started shortlisting would-be contenders.


I bought lots of cream cheese, mistakenly thinking that this was a common addition to cake batters that emphasized moisture. Um... oops, what I was actuallly thinking of was 'sour cream'. Anyway, I have lots of cream cheese now that I'm sure I will eliminate at a later date.

Back to the main event now. I finally found a sour cream cake recipe that tickled my fancy from Nick Malgieri's Modern Baker. Now, coffee cakes are a common type of cake that I've never made. Growing up in an Asian family, I never really 'got' what a coffee cake was. I always thought they were coffee-flavored. Then, that Seinfeld episode about Drake's Coffee Cake aired and I've never tried them but the show did a great job of describing, so I started picturing moist, soft coffee-flavored sponges with a crunchy crumble top.

Now, after my research, I'm coming to terms with the fact that coffee cakes, like tea cakes, are named so because they are for made for afternoon consumption, along with your caffinated beverage of choice. Ahh...

Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Makes 1 loaf or 1 tube cake

Ingredients:

For the filling
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tsps ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 100g walnut pieces, coarsely chopped
For the batter
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 140g butter
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 225g sour cream
Procedure:

1. Set a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 160°C, grease a tube pan (or loaf tin) and set aside.
2. For the filling, combine the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and walnuts in a small bowl and set aside.3. For the cake batter, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in the bowl of an electric mixer. Stir well, by hand, to mix.
4. Add the butter, then beat at a low speed until the mixture is a smooth heavy paste, 1 to 2 minutes. If you find your mixture is too crumbly add a tablespoon or two of water.5. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolks and sour cream until well combined. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium and beat 1/3 of the egg mixture into the butter and flour. Beat for 1 minute.
6. Stop, scrape down the bowl, and then beat in another half of the egg mixture. Beat for 2 minutes. Repeat with the last of the egg mixture.7. Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using rubber spatula, give the batter a final mix to ensure everything is combined.
8. Scrape half the batter into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Scatter the nut and sugar mixture over the top. Scrape the remaining batter over the sugar and nut mixture and smooth the top.9. Bake the cake until it is well risen and firm, and a tooth pick inserted comes out clean, about 1 hour.
10. Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the tin for 5 minutes. Invert a rack over the tin and turn the cake out. Cool the cake completely before slicing.


This cake was an easy one to make. I loved the crumble topping. The sugar caramelized in the oven and effectively candied the walnuts. Yum!


As for the cake itself, it was nice and dense but I think I left mine in the oven too long because it was a tad dry. Initially, I thought this was the type of cake that would taste better warmed up in the microwave but I actually thought it was best straight out of the fridge.

One thing's for sure, it really goes with coffee.

Brew for Breakfast

2 comments:
Brew
http://www.brewgroup.com.au


I went on a little adventure this week. Rather than spending my RDO in bed playing games/reading (which is my usual routine), I had a CPD seminar in Brisbane city. My original plan was to stay at mum and dad's and then get a ride into town. After an exhausting weekend however, I decided I really couldn't be stuffed driving to Brisbane and back so I booked a hotel and some return coach tickets instead.


As much as I love staying in hotels, I haven't been in one solo since... one night in New Zealand earlier this year. To be honest, I did feel apprehensive at first because I thought I'd get lonely/scared/bored. Then I mentally slapped myself and got into the whole 'independant woman on business trip' frame of mind.

After that, I spent the whole coach trip fantasizing about food places I could visit. I'll write about what I did for dinner that night later on but for breakfast the next morning (before my seminar), I paid a visit to Brew. I had intended on Kitchen Sanitarium but woke up too late and Brew was more convenient.


What drew me to Brew was it's hidden, undercover location. It's on Burnett Lane, tucked behind Albert Street in a spot that, if you didn't know about it, you'd walk right on by.

I creeped down towards Brew at 7:30am ish on Wednesday morning, anxious because I'd never been before and I didn't know if they had any special protocols. It's an odd-looking cafe, I suppose because it doubles as a bar at night. There were a few tables and ottomans scattered in the laneway outside the entrance and more seating indoors.


I ordered inside and took an outside table to enjoy the sunshine. By the looks of my table number (1), I suspect I was the first to eat in that morning.

There's a simple breakfast menu and all the usual coffees and teas. I wasn't in the mood for anything too heavy so I ordered the porridge.

Cafe latte

My latte came first. It was beautiful - the perfect pick up for someone who stayed up way too late the night before. It was smooth and aromatic with no burnt coffee undertones.

Surprise on the side

There were also 2 chocolate-coated coffee beans on the side... yum!

Porridge with milk and honey

The porridge came arrived next with some milk, honey and brown sugar. It was a very basic bowl of oats, not dissimilar to what I make at home.

Mix, mix, mix

It was satisfying enough but had none of the richness or flair that makes ordering porridge out worthwhile.

Mini carrot cake

I also asked for a mini carrot cake take-away and ate it on the coach ride back to Toowoomba. I liked the carrot cake, it was moist and subtly spiced with a good amount of 'carrotyness' (unlike some supermarket types that are basically sponges with orange food dye). The cream cheese frosting was finger-licking delicious too. And I would know, seeing as most of it smeared onto the paper bag and I found myself scraping it off my bag to ensure none was wasted.


The service at Brew was lovely. I am the queen of being uncoordinated and I managed to spill half my coffee. The girl came and cleaned it up and even offered to make me another one. So kind! I think this is a great place for coffee and hanging out but the food isn't the standout feature.
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