Thursday, December 27, 2012

Breakfast at Foxy Bean

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Foxy Bean Cafe

Kat and I reunited after a painstakingly long 2 month period apart. This time of the year is always fanatically busy and we hadn't found the time to catch up until last weekend. Kat is going to New Zealand over new years so we figured we better squeeze something in before then. As per usual, I chose the location.

I read great things about Foxy Bean on Dolce Bunnie's blog so I thought it would be well worth a visit. I roughly worked out my route of travel the night before yet somehow got to the wrong side of Stanley Street and had to do a mad sprint across 4 lanes of fast-moving traffic to get to the cafe.

Gingerbread Men

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Gingerbread Men
Home Cooking

It's been a long time since I've done any kind of cooking. Between working in Toowoomba, rushing to Brisbane on weekends and trying to keep a relatively healthy diet, I've omitted dessert production from my range of weekly activities. Christmas is one of those times in a year (along with birthdays) that reliably knock down any premises of self-control. It's a time for indulgence.

As well as (literally) opening up to an array of glorious food and decadent snacks provided by others over the 3 days (Christmas Eve to Boxing Day), I dusted off my own kitchen hands and decided to do a spot of baking. Christmas-themed desserts are plentiful but I kept it simple because I had to transport ingredients and equipment the 2hrs from Toowoomba to bake at mum and dad's house. Marc's keen on gingerbread and they're suggestive of the holiday season so I decided to make a batch of gingerbread men.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Lunch at Hanaichi Sushi Bar and Dining

Hanaichi Sushi Bar and Dining

Hanaichi Sushi train was one of my favorite treats from my uni days. Back then, it was considered an expensive rarity for special occasions. I'd only been a couple of time and never since it had renovated.

Marc and I walked past it with intentions of trying the new Brisbane Riverbar but we decided we were too hungry to deal with the potential queue at the Riverbar (this is when it had just opened) so we doubled back to Hanaichi instead.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Bacchus for Dinner

Bacchus Restaurant

Brisbane seems to be the new 'It' location for starting a restaurant. New eating and drinking establishments are opening left right and centre every week. My long list of 'neet-to-try' locations is getting longer by the moment. I'm starting to feel like I'll never catch up! There's not enough meal slots in the weekend and space in my stomach to conquer them all before something newer pops up yet again.

One that I can finally tick off my list is Bacchus. Living in the South Brisbane area (my weekend home-away-from-home), I've been aware of Bacchus for a while. There was quite a buzz in the blogosphere as it opened in a frenzy of publicity-high launch parties. I figured it would be best to wait for the hype to cool a bit before trying the place out for myself.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Lunch at Pho 99

Pho 99
Corner of Corsair Avenue and Wirraway Parade, Inala

Pho is addictive. It manages to strike the right balance between being a hearty meal yet somehow still seeming light and healthy. There's enough going on to keep me full and satisfied every time yet it's never so overwhelming that after a meal of pho, I vow not to eat it again for a year or so (I tend to do that after a big Indian feast or too much dessert).

I usually get my pho fix at one of the array of Vietnamese eateries around the city/West End or even in Sunnybank. To mix things up a bit and to touch base with the real deal, I decided to stop by Inala on the way to Brisbane from Toowoomba one weekend. For those not in the know, Inala has a strong Vietnamese community and by extention of that, the most genuine grocery stores, butchers, bakeries and eateries for Vietnamese produce.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Dinner at Il Posto

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Il Posto

I may have mentioned in an earlier post that I love Italian food but rarely go to Italian restaurants. As my recent expeditions show, I can hardly claim that anymore. Nowadays, I find myself booking into more and more Italian restaurants because that's what I'm in the mood for.

After Google Maps  revealed that Il Posto was just within walking distance to us in South Brisbane (Marc and I avoid driving to restaurants if we can), I made a booking for last Saturday night. It was originally for 9pm but I got so hungry that afternoon we moved it up a notch. As evening came, we set off Northward bound, into the unknown.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dinner at Hellenic House

Hellenic House
32 Russell Street, South Brisbane

Marc and I made it into Hellenic House on our second trip there. The first time, we had made a booking yet somehow, administrative oversight led to the entire restaurant being occupied by a private function that night. I thought I was walking into some weird gypsy dance hall but it was just someone's theme party. We were turned away by bouncers at the front door, which put a real damper on our mood.

Nonetheless, we persevered and made a second booking, this time assured that the restaurant was indeed operating as normal. As we made our way up to Hellenic House again, we crossed our fingers that there wouldn't be a repeat of the first incident.

As its name suggests, the restaurant does ressemble a house, and it's perched on the top of a mini hill. At night time, it looks almost foreboding with the front columns casting long shadows down below. Hellenic House did not become any less bizare the closer we got.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Breakfast at Pablo

893 Brunswick St, New Farm

The score of rad cafes in New Farm have been elusive to me because I'm too lazy to travel beyond my comfort zone of West End and South Brisbane. A couple of weekends ago, Byron was staying in New Farm with friends so it was as good a reason as any to visit and grab some breakfast.

We wandered without direction for a moment before I spotted Pablo in the distance. I had heard about it from other bloggers and knew it was a place I wanted to try. We crossed a couple of streets and headed over.

Fat Noodle for Dinner

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Fat Noodle at The Treasury
130 William Street (Treasury Casino), Brisbane CBD

I was really excited when I heard about Luke Nguyen's new restaurant in the Treasury Casino. Asian hawker-style food? Win! A restaurant that opens till 3am on weekends? Even better! It just opened last week and my friend Howl happened to be visiting from Cairns so we arranged to have a late dinner there on Friday night.

The restaurant is designed to have a high turnover and thus, no bookings necessary but we figured that on their opening week they were bound to be busy. To avoid a long wait, we got there just after 9pm. Despite being relatively late for dinner, there was still a significant queue outside Fat Noodle. We ended up leaving our name and getting a buzzer.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dinner at Hosokawa

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Shop 3, 53 Racecourse Road, Hamilton

In my old age, I've developed a taste for sashimi that I could have never predicted as a child. I used to balk at the thought of any type of fish, even the battered variety. Now, I can guzzle the raw stuff by the bucketful.

After I wrote about the ace sashimi sesh we had at Sakura in Runcorn, my pal Mochi recommended that I try Hosokawa. When she mentioned that it was on Racecourse Road, I recalled a small Japanese eatery there that I'd walked past many moons ago. I filed that away for future consideration.

A couple of weeks ago, we did make it to Hosokawa. The restaurant is easy to miss if you're not looking out for it because it is very small and understated. Regardless of that, it was nearly packed and we weren't able to get a table (the few empty ones left were reserved) but we were happy to sit perched up at the bar.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Lunch at The Music Kafe

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The Music Kafe

Marc and I spent a weekend trawling through his surrounding suburbs, checking out open houses. That can be a tiring activity. And also, very time-precise. We had one Saturday lined with inspections back to back every 1/2 hour. To squeeze a much-needed fuel stop in there was challenging, yet necessary.

We ended up along Boundary Street at an awkward hour where it was slightly too early for lunch and many places weren't open yet. The Music Kafe was open and had a menu that went beyond just breakfast so we stopped there. It was a boiling hot day and we took up one of the street-side tables.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Perfect Cuppa at UGees Espresso

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UGees Espresso
80 Boundary Street, West End

I've been referred to by some as a coffee fanatic. I don't agree with that one bit. I doubt I'm any more addicted to the stuff than others from my generation. We're a coffee-drinking society. We socialize over coffee, start our day with coffee and calm our retched souls with coffee. I recently bought my first coffee machine: a simple entry-level Nespresso Pixie. Prior to that, I was drinking instant coffee every morning (further proof that I could hardly be called a coffee fanatic). My coffee machine's been fantastic. It's easy to use, barely requires cleaning and the coffee itself tastes a treat. But enough about that...

This post is about a recent experience I had that reminded me that there is no substitute for a professional barista brewed coffee.

I've walked past UGees on a few occasions and peered in, but never actually stopped to order a coffee. It's got a tiny shopfront that's always busy in a way that, as someone uninitiated, I found slightly intimidating. What if it was exclusive to a certain grade of coffee connoisseurs?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Family Dinner at E'cco Bistro

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E'cco Bistro

I recently took my parents out to dinner to commemorate my 2 years of working full time. I know that's hardly a common celebratory occasion but I've always subscribed to the belief that any excuse to dine out is a good one.

I chose E'cco over a host of new restaurants that have popped up in Brisbane recently (and haven't there been many?!) because I felt like reconnecting with a classic. Philip Johnson's E'cco Bistro has a solid reputation as one of Brisbane's best restaurants and it has stood the test of time. I had dinner there once, many years ago and loved it then. A revisit was long overdue.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hong Depot for Lunch

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Hong Depot
193 Melbourne St, South Brisbane

I can not, for the life of me, remember what was at the corner of Melbourne and Boundary Street before Hong Depot was there. All I know is that block is now occupied by a vibrant and inviting Korean restaurant that commands my attention every time I walked past. I really, really wanted to try it... even before they painted a silhouette of Psy on their wall. Gangnam style, peeps.

Hong Depot is open for lunch and dinner. Marc told me that their dinner menu is more 'proper' (and expensive), with barbeques and hotpots and large set menus. When we went at lunch time, the food was quite cheap but there wasn't a lot to choose from.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Banneton Bakery

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Banneton Bakery at The Gabba
25 Balaclava St, Woollongabba

I was on my way to mum and dad's place last Saturday morning when I thought I'd stop off at Banneton Bakery to pick up some breakfast supplies. I had never been before but I read lots of great reviews about the breads and baked goods. The general consensus is to avoid actually eating there because the atmosphere and service is supposedly under par so I figured that by purchasing the goods and eating elsewhere, I would avoid those issues.

The bakery is located in an industrial area where there isn't much else around. I got to Banneton not long after they opened and there was already a fair few people standing around buying bread and coffee. I took some time viewing the display cabinets before deciding what to get.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

La Via for Dinner

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La Via

To quench my recently developed thirst for Italian food, I voted to dine at an Italian restaurant last Friday. I was researching reputable establishments that were walking distance from West End, typing addresses into Google Maps and calculating routes to Paddington, New Farm and the likes. Then, I remembered La Via, which is right near us in South Bank. Definitely walkable. Sorted!

La Via is a relatively small restaurant but every time I've passed it, it's been packed. Friday night was no exception. I'm glad we made a reservation.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

All you can eat Hotpot and BBQ at Little Lamb

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Little Lamb
Shop 22/23 Runcorn Plaza, 254 Warrigal Rd, Runcorn

Mention 'hotpot', 'charcoal barbeque' and 'all-you-can-eat' in one sentence and you're bound to spark my interest. Even though I'm an advocate for clean eating and trying to stay healthy rarara, there is an undeniable appeal to being able to pile your plate with food from a vast selection, gob it down and then, get up and do it all again.

As soon as I heard about Little Lamb, I started baiting friends to go. Unfortunately, my immediate clique is unenthusiastic about travelling beyond the Brisbane CBD and Zone 1 suburbs and the thought of anything Sunnybank and beyond seems almost other-worldly. The circumstances under which I went to Little Lamb would sound strange to anyone who isn't aware of just how crazy I am about food/restauranting. Last night, Byron and I decided to catch up over dinner and we ended up driving down to Brisbane and back over the span of 5 hours (with a 1:4 ratio of eating to travelling time).

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Breakfast at Two Trees Espresso

Two Trees Espresso
58 Vulture St, West End

I first heard about Two Trees Espresso via mention of their DIY toasting station on Twitter. I figured it was a perfect spot to visit during my weekend morning strolls through West End. Last Sunday, I had an opportunity to stop by and see what the deal was.

I was keeping an eye out for Two Trees and still managed to walk right past. It's almost like an optical illusion. If you look at it from an angle, it's too indented to spot and all you can see is couple of closed stores and garage doors side by side. Walking right up to it, the cafe emerges.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lunch at Kimono

119 Melbourne St, South Brisbane

As South Brisbane residents who love sushi, Kimono was something Marc and I were really glad to have around. Unfortunately, at least 2 times we tried to visit, it was closed. Both times it happened was on Sunday and finally we got the hint that Kimono was closed for Sunday lunch. Learning from our mistakes, our next attempt was Saturday and horray, we got in!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Breakfast at Cafe Wrapture

Cafe Wrapture
71 Russell St, West End

My visit to Cafe Wrapture had been a long time coming. I first heard mention of its popular haloumi wrap towards the start of this year but never got a chance to try it. This past Saturday, I woke up early and went for a morning stroll through West End. Amusingly, I had no idea it was raining so I strutted out of the apartment in a getup of singlet, shorts and thongs and was immediately greeted by wet droplets on my hair and sunnies and amused looks from tradies getting coffee outside.

I have no issues walking in the rain as long as it's not cold. Wandering around, it was refreshing and peaceful seeing the streets quiet and inactive. I found Cafe Wrapture on Russell Street, near Cup Coffee. It's in a small, renovated old building that's easy to walk past if you're not looking out for it and difficult to miss if you are.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dinner at Siam Samrarn

Siam Samrarn

Sarcasm: I love it when rain reserves itself for the weekend. It started to drizzle on Friday and by Sunday afternoon, the sun was out again. How timely. Marc and I were ducking around through the streets of West End trying to find a dinner spot last Friday night. The place we'd made a booking at was somehow taken up by a private function so that obviously didn't pan out. Bottle of wine in hand, we had the task of finding a BYO venue.

The 2012 Good Food and Wine Show with George Calombaris in the Celebrity Theatre

GFAWS 2012 Brisbane

I hear about the Good Food and Wine Show every year but I'd never been before. This year, I figured I'd ammend that and purchase some tickets to see what the deal was. I went with my mum and dad on Sunday, which was the last day the show was on in Brisbane.

The GFAWS was held in the Convention Centre in South Bank, taking up exhibition halls 2 and 3. We got there at about 9:30am and queued up before we were let in at 10. There were quite a lot of people already waiting in line.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Satay Chicken Lettuce Wraps (sugar free and low carb)

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Satay Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Home Cooking

A major hurdle in my pledge to go low-carb and sugar-free has been "what do I eat instead of bread?" I read on a forum a suggestion of using lettuce to wrap filling rather than using a processed, grain-based item. Lettuce is not something that makes its way into my trolley very often. The only time I buy any is when I'm planning to make tacos. I know it's meant to be 'good for me' so I figured it was as good of an excuse as any to try and incorporate it into my diet.

I set about making a satay chicken filling that was sweetened with coconut products instead of sugar. Try to avoid prebought basting sauces because their sugar content is often through the roof. The types of vegetables you end up using in the satay is obviously up to you. Broccoli is popular in satay stir-fries, as are green beans. I used celery and red capsicum.

Sydney Weekender 5 - Lunch Feast at Xanthi

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Xanthi Bar and Restaurant

Whilst our trip to Sydney wasn't planned around any 'foodie' destinations, I did very much want to check out the food offerings at Westfield Sydney. I knew there were a bunch of newish restaurants there and that the food court itself had a notable selection. We wandered up after 1/2 a day's worth of shopping and had a look around. The food court reminded me of the big shopping centres I visited in Singapore and Malaysia that had all kinds of fast food stalls offering quirky things ('Haute Dogs anyone?') rather than standard Maccas and KFC. I was tempted to stop there but we went up a floor to see what the restaurants were like.

Kat and I were tossing up between Chat Thai and Xanthi. Chat Thai has a hot reputation and there was a queue to get in. I do want to try it one day but on that occasion, my desire for Greek food won out and we went into Xanthi instead. I'd actually read up about it online and saw lots of rave reviews. They also had a lunch special that sounded enticing.

Sydney Weekender 4 - Breakfast at Rossini

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Rossini Cafe Bar and Restaurant

The thing about Sydney (and this applies to Brisbane too) is that there are gorgeous, fabulous and exciting boutique cafes galore... but they're not located in the CBD. Sure, you can find tonnes of foodie destinations in Surry Hills or Darlinghurst or anywhere a little way out of the commercial centre, but when you're on a tight schedule and staying in the city, it's easier to grab a bite somewhere close by.

Kat and I were staying in a hotel near Circular Quay so we figured we'd get breakfast there. On the weekend of our stay, the weather was moody at best. There was a brief display of sunshine Sunday morning so we thought we'd make the most of it by taking a stroll to the waterfront.