Friday, June 24, 2011

Banneton Bakery @ Waterworks Road, Brisbane

A favourite past time on Sunday is waking up early and driving out to buy some good bread for the week. There is a lack of words to describe driving on the empty streets at 7am with the windows down, being greeted with the cool wind and that feeling when you reach the destination of fresh bread and pastries. 

My usual drive normally takes me to Choquette, a french bakery where its as french as one can get, down to all the staff who speak English with a very heavy laced French accent. Just the smile and the "bonjour", not to mention the range of sweets and bread makes my day. 

However this post is not about Choquette but rather a close contender for good bread. A recommendation from a colleague, the comment was that it's as good as what Europe can offer. The drive is slightly further, more time to enjoy the wind but was the bread any good?    


Banneton Bakery was much more quiet, with hardly any customers around. Their range of breads, pastries and cakes can makes one's knees weak (well mine was).


My usual pattern involves choosing a piece of bread that I will munch on in the car or while the Wife is sleeping. That particular day was a piece of sweet brioche. The rich bread is not for the weak heart. 


The loaf of the week was a sourdough with olives. I must say for bread this is certainly at the top. For AUD6.50, it is about what you would pay for a good loaf of bread in a class bakery, a small premium considering bread in the supermarket goes for up to AUD5 a loaf. 

Maybe it is the extra distance I have to drive or maybe it was the rather quiet ambience when I first set foot because I haven't been back eventhough the bread is up to scratch. Time to revisit?

Address and contact details:

Banneton Bakery/Cafe on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. One of the few places to go to for really good bread.

Monday, June 20, 2011

What happened at the Oxfam 100km walk

What happened to a dream to finish 100km was basically cut short by half. However, the fairy tale ending did happened to rest of my team mates who finished the walk in 38 hours, an amazing achievement as I checked for updates ever so often via the website's online tracking tool.

Looking back, I am still in shock how I managed to trek 50.3km in the first place but ultimately disappointed that I could not continue further and be at the finish line with the rest of my team.

However I can say that I have no regrets from the day I agreed to join the walk and loved every minute of the 15 hours I was out there; sweat, mud, cursing, soil and who can forget those disgusting energy gels.

I would like to thank all those who made donations and endured all these entries about a suicidal walk.

Now let's get back to food blogging soon!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Oxfam 100km walk T-24 hours

In all honesty, the mind is not exactly in the right frame to blog about food.

In slightly less then 24 hours, I will be taking part in the Oxfam 100km walk; yes you read right 1-0-0 km.

To those in Brisbane, think one way to Gold Coast with still 20km of spare change to wonder.

To those in the middle of KL, think a return leg to Klang for some Bak Kut Teh with also 20km of spare change. 

To finish within the given 48 hours.

Like my friend would always say, "wish me luck".

For those still interested to donate for a good cause (particularly any Australian readers out there, it is tax deductible), here's the link: HERE

Will update with hopefully some pictures and maybe a few articles on trail walking if i survive this.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Stir Fry Cafe @ Jindalee, Brisbane

A couple of weeks ago, I had the hankering for a good wholesome Chinese meal. One might ask; how would you define "Chinese"?

To me, a good Chinese meal involves sitting on a round table (optional) with a couple of friends or family members with a table of dishes and eating everything with rice. It is basically a typical Saturday or Sunday night dinner with my family especially growing up with a father who for a lack of a better description is a china man when it comes to food (no offence to dad who is probably reading this).

Over the months in Australia, our meals at home have essentially been individual portions or one pot wonders. When we do eat outside, there is only so much two fellows can order.   

So I rounded up the friends and I declared, let's eat Chinese! 

And so we did without the fuss I expected.

Stir Fry Cafe sounds everything like a dodgy shop that sells perceived Chinese food. Although I was assured by my friend that is would be "chinese" enough. Stepping into the small little shop lot in a quiet and dark area of Jindalee, it reminded me of our eating adventures back in Malaysia where we drive into the middle of nowhere just for a meal.  

We were handed two menus, an English and a Chinese one. To those who can read Chinese, all I can say is please order from that one. There are some overlapping dishes but there are clearly some items only written in Chinese, the more authentic ones too. 


Low Sui Ngap or basically Ducked cooked in a soy based broth. A generous portion with tender pieces of duck. This was good especially with lots of white rice.


Another delight to behold, the Mui Choy Kau Yoke, pork belly with preserved vegetables. Juicy pieces of pork with plenty layers of fat (usually steamed) together with sweet and salty preserved vegetables. 


The Beef Brisket Pot. I understand the more delicious version is the Lamb Hot Pot and I can't wait to get back for some. You can see that the above dishes have the theme of braise and stew, driven by the fact that particular night it was freezing to the bone (I would have never expected to say that since I was drummed into memory by my friend that Queensland was anything but cold). This I believe is also one of those dishes that features on both menu.


However the excitement seemed to have ended just there, when this order of Kung Pao Chicken appeared. We know better than not to order something that could possibly be bastardized but since the waitress recommended it, we ordered and were sorely disappointed. No sight of the dried chili and sticky sweet sauce but we got was a watered down version with a mix of vegetables that weren't meant to be there in the first place.  


I also don't remember the Mapo Tau Foo being very spicy like the original version is meant to be. What we got was a watered down sauce but thankfully the tau foo remain smooth and silky. 


The disappointment continues with the Yu Heung Kei Chi or braised egg plant. The norm is that pieces of eggplant are flash fried and braised with a sauce that is a mix of salty and spicy. This looked like it was braised like there was no tomorrow. 

If you read the introduction of the menu, you will learn to know that they is only one chef and no one can be a master of all dishes. I guess the only way is to approach this through trial and error and I am happy to know that I have already gotten three dishes right. 

Now to re-visit and get a few more dishes in the bag.

Price are reasonable at around AUD20 per pax. 

Address and contact details:

Stir Fry Cafe on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5stars. Reminds me alot like home cooking and there is nothing like gathering in a group and eating a chinese dinner. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Symposium Cafe @ Fortitude Valley, Brisbane

Just when you think you have sampled enough breakfast places to finally consolidate a list and start to become comfortable to a few spots, another one pops on the to-try-list.

Symposium Cafe is probably best known for their unique offering; a 4 course breakfast degustation. Alas, we arrived, only to learn that you had to call in advance and pre-order. So much for trying the AUD45 meal. 

The rest of the menu by now all look a bit monotonous but we still found an item or two that looked new.


Music to some ears; breakfast all day long.


One of the more fanciful dishes if you would like. A filo bowl with scramble eggs and salmon with hollandaise sauce. Not exactly how I would have imagined it to be. The eggs were scrambled with the salmon and sauce poured over. To be honest, I wasn't crazy over this dish, it did not work for me. 


The more conservative dish of egg hollandaise tasted much better with the trickle of truffle on the top. 

The coffee was pleasing and their range of fresh juices are enticing. It helps that this is located off the main street and the crowd that morning wasn't to the brim. So breakfast is at your own pace without feeling that you got to leave for the next person to come in.

Would I come back again though? I just might because of the degustation menu but to me, it is another strike off the list of breakfast places to try. 

Address and contact details:

Symposium Cafe on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. To me, nothing particularly outstanding but a good option should you be around the area. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mariosarti @ Toowong, Brisbane

A few months ago, my friend and I were at the "group discount" stage, where we scout for the best meal deals every day and snap it up for a rainy day. After a while, we realised that more often than not; the restaurants were new, the meals were mediocre, it came with a fixed menu and really it came down to "you get what you pay for".

With Mariosarti, I understand from my friend that this was a really popular italian restaurant in Toowong. So surely a reputable restaurant can do no wrong, can they?

We originally called up on Saturday morning with the hope for a reservation but got a voice recording saying that they were fully booked. So instead, we decided to make an impromptu visit on a weekday night and was pleasantly surprised with the sight of empty tables since it was after all only 6pm. 

It is easy to see why it can be fully booked because it is rather small without being claustrophobic. The ambience is dim and bordering romantic, not the kind of place to bring noisy kids to. However it being dim, even my DSLR had problems, without having to blind everyone in the process with an external flash.  

Back to the deal.  For AUD45; it came with two glasses of house wine, two pieces of bruschetta and two mains of your choice. 


For house wine, I had no complaints about them. The white was slightly chilled, sweet and easy to drink, while the red wasn't overpowering in alcohol like some cheap wines. 


The bruschetta came with some soften onions and capsicum topped with cheese. Hard to believe that the two pieces would cost you AUD10 if you ordered off the ala-carte menu but a pleasant start to the meal.


I have a very soft spot for everything fried, more so when you work among colleagues who will order fries to share during meals. So when I saw Fritto Misto meaning fried squid and prawns, I couldn't help to order it. If it was one complaint I had about this, it was the measly portion for AUD20. Surely AUD20 can buy you more than a few prawns and squid rings?  


I would admit that being the stereotypical Asian I am, we ordered mains that were the most expensive. It did not make sense to order a cheaper pasta (AUD30) vs. a steak (AUD40)(eventhough on hindsight it was an Italian restaurant and surely the pasta would have been the safer choice). The Rib on the Bone was sadly overcooked and bordering Well Done even by the Wife's standard as she eats her meat, done medium. Thankfully the meat wasn't dried out with the help of the salsa verde. 

We just couldn't complain, get it sent back and imagined it thrown in the bin while the dish was still by all means very tasty. 


The other meat dish we ordered was the Veal Scaloppini. Flattened juicy pieces of veal sitting on a big juicy mushroom and mash that was melt in your mouth. The serving did looked a bit on the tiny side though.  

While the food was good but not great, I don't think I would be rushing to come back, having seen the pricing on some of the dishes and the quality and portions dished out. For close to AUD35-40 a main, I would be expecting close to food that I had in E'cco because that is what I paid there although it is hard to compare hearty Italian food and complex fine dining dishes. 

While one might say, you might be getting a better meal if you paid the full price, what is the point of buying a voucher that serves me a poor representation of the menu? Or was it a case of being too greedy and not ordering I guess, something more Italian? Who knows.

Address and contact details:

Mariosarti on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3 stars out of 5 stars. I stay clear if I wanted huge portions but the upside of the place is the dim and romantic ambience, making it another option for a romantic date. If someone was to tell me now that the pasta is to die for, I might make it back on a weekday when it is not overly crowded.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Zum Kaiser, Brisbane German Club @ Woolloongabba, Brisbane

As far as I know, there is no shortage of European beer and food around Brisbane, with the nearest one barely a trot away from office being the Bavarian Bier Cafe and the Belgian Beer Cafe down at Edward Street. To look for good 'on the tap beers' served with roast pork belly or knuckle has never been easier.

To add on the list now is Zum Kaiser or simply known as the Brisbane German Club. Since it is a club,you need to have a member (for an affordable price of $5) among your dining group (the rest can skip through as guests) and there is a dress code i.e. no slippers (which I was caught for). 

Look through the technicalities involved in getting into the place, you will be rewarded with one of the most extensive beer collections I have seen. With plenty of beers (from blonde to dark) on the tap, you also have the options of even more beer that comes in different bottles. No wonder on a bad night, there is a rather strong stench of alcohol in the air and carpets, no surprises how that happens. 

It doesn't help that prices are very affordable i.e. 5-6AUD for a pint of beer and AUD20+ a main.


The difference between the Chinese roast pork and German version is the meat here is far tender, almost braised and certainly brined. The crackling is as crispy as it can be. On the side, there's some cabbage and roast potatoes that will leave you at the end of it, very satisfied.


If you are up for more pork, there is the pork knuckle (minimum 600 grams (well theres the heavy bone after all). Sauerkraut and more roast potatoes are there on the side to make sure you won't need any starters or desserts. 


If pork is not for you, I am not too sure whether the non pork dishes are worth coming for. The squid looked like it was poorly battered and the chips ordinary. On another day, we had fish and chips and there was no beer batter to be seen. 


One of the more unique beers here has a very smokey bacon after taste, dedicated to those who worship pork, i reckon because by the end of the night, I was suffering from pork overdose and a pork hangover the next day. 

If beer is not for you, the schnapps are excellent for digestion at the end of a very full dinner. 

A place for a good cheap German meal and beer but the strong stench of alcohol that pollutes the air and carpet is not exactly very inviting if you are coming here for a quiet date and it can get quite noisy over here. Beware of the long wait time too if it is packed (which is often the case, even on a weekday).

Address and contact details:

Zum Kaiser, Brisbane German Club on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. The place to stuff yourself silly with pork and beer.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pho Hien Vuong @ Market Square, Brisbane

We had our fair share of pho in our two odd months in Melbourne. There's isn't really anything better than a bowl of hot soup with barely cooked beef slices and noodles on a cold winter's day. Not to mention it is one of the cheaper options too.

However with the warmer months, the last thing you want to do is sweat before, during and after a bowl of hot pho. Thankfully with the evident colder nights around, we couldn't wait to get back to our "pho" habit and there is no better place to start than in Market Square. With a reputation for being a jack of all trade (simply because there are so many restaurants serving so many different kind of asian cuisines) and nothing really standing out, Pho Hien Vuong seem to have proved me wrong with their pho.

With their long queues, old decor and furniture that looked past it's prime and busy waitressing staff; I swear these are prerequisites for an Australian pho shop judging from my experiences in Adelaide, Melbourne or Brisbane. 

Picture 120

It was one of those funny days when you can't resist a cold drink despite the cold, just like the other day when we had ice-cream on a 10 degree night in short pants. 

Picture 127

Apart from pho, there is the beef brisket noodles; thick gelatinous sauce, chunks of meat and carrot and smooth noodles. 

Picture 122

How can one not order pho in a pho shop, its like not ordering fried chicken in KFC. The pho was pretty good, well boiled stock (not sure if there was MSG though), lots of beef slices and other parts you fancy.

Picture 125

If you are tired of pho, there are the lemongrass pork and chicken chops served with rice, pretty decent too!

Cheap and delicious vietnamese food (a noodle and a drink goes for just about 10-11 dollars depending on the size you want), what is there not to like? The best part is you can always squeeze a bit of fish sauce if you need more flavour!

Address and contact details:

Pho Hien Vuong on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. It is what it is, cheap and fast pho, just don't expect the best of service, the quietest of ambience and a place to impress a girl on a first date (unless she totally digs pho). 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Brisbane Cheese Awards – People’s Day this Sunday 5th June

I know I don't have too many readers from Brisbane but to all those who are in Brisbane and are free this Sunday, why don't you visit the Queensland's Biggest Cheese Festival?!

The Brisbane Cheese Awards - People's Day is this Sunday 5th June, come over if you have a passion for cheese, want to sample a variety of cheeses, buy some cheeses or just to be surrounded by cheeses!

For those who are crazy about Masterchef and Masterclass, there is one hosted by beer writer and educator Matt Kirkegaard to teach participants the secrets to the unconventional art of beer and cheese matching.

Time                      10am – 4pm
Cost                       Entry: $10.00 or children under 16 admitted free             
        Master Classes: $25.00
Location               Portside Wharf, 39 Hercules St, Hamilton 4007    

I am thinking of dropping by, so see you there!