Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hazel Tea Shop @ Brisbane

In the last couple of months, I have read numerous updates on Facebook, plenty of blog posts and Twitter comments about the resurgence of bubble tea in Malaysia.


Queuing for 20-30 minutes for essentially a drink that has been available since I was a kid shows that even the classics can get hip and trendy.


It must have been the same time that my friends introduced this place to me for their bubble tea. 


Their speciality is the "bubble" i.e. the black pearls (or does bubble mean something else?). 


Soft and chewy, not too tough and hard, my friend from Hong Kong said you can't even get anything close in Hong Kong.


The flavour? It must be the Brown Sugar Milk Tea. 


A bloody good drink for the 30 + degree weather we have been getting in Brisbane over the last couple of weeks.


IMG_1650

IMG_1652

A good alternative to my afternoon coffee habit, thankfully I don't drink afternoon coffee every day, if not I will be on sugar overload!

Address and contact details:

Hazel Tea Shop on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 4.5 stars out of 5 stars. There's another one in the city on Elizabeth Street and I can't help myself every time we walk past.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Joe can cook! Season 2 Episode 4: Comfort Food; Lasagna

I reckon it is the stress of thinking about moving out all the furniture from my place, wondering if I am ripped off with the remover's quote, thinking of  where to park my car while I am away to whether I would have enough money to survive in Melbourne before the new employers pay me that is causing my eating behavior to go bonkers recently.


Not usually a fan of carbs at night, I have been indulging in potatoes like no tomorrow, from frozen potato wedges to roast potatoes in the last week or so. I am pretty sure all the hard work I have put in bootcamp over the last 8 weeks have gone into shambles.


The week before we were craving for the king of all comfort food; lasagna. There's just something about digging into minced beef, tomato sauce, cheese and pasta sheets. In that twenty minutes or so we were digging into it, all worries were forgotten.  

IMG_1762

It sounds like a daunting thing to make but seriously, its easy especially if you have pre-made lasagna sheets, a simple bolognese recipe, lots of parmesan cheese and a bechamel recipe too if you feel like pigging out. 

If you ever feel like pigging out, give it a try (Serving for 4):

Bolognese sauce

800 grams of minced beef
1 tin of tomatoes
4 tomatoes
Pre-mix italian herbs
2 bay leaves
5-6 cloves of garlic
2 small onions
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Lea Perrin sauce (to season)

1. Heat pan up, fry your garlic and onions till soft.
2. Season minced beef with salt, pepper and lea perrin sauce before cooking it through, get some colour into it by using medium high heat. 
3. Once the meat is cooked half way through, put in your chopped tomatoes, your tin of tomatoes, italian herbs and bay leaves. If you have fresh thyme or rosemary, you can use that too. 
4. Season generously and let it simmer 15-20 minutes till the sauce thickens up. If it doesn't you can make a roux which is basically equal portions of butter and flour (I reckon 15-20 grams would do), cooked into a yellow paste like form to thicken up the sauce.    

Bechamel sauce

1. This is again an approximate recipe (I know I am hopeless).
2. Make a roux with butter and flour (15-20 grams).
3. 1 glass of milk, poured into the roux.
4. After that 50 grams of parmesan into the mixture.
5. Throw in an egg too for good measure.
6. Stir and cook it till it thickens

Lasagna

1. The idea is sauce, parmesan cheese and pasta.
2. Start the first layer with sauce.
3. The last layer should be sauce and then top up with bechamel sauce and a good sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
4. Into the oven at 180 degrees for 25-30 minutes or till top is golden brown. 

A brilliant 1 dish wonder that will drive any comfort food craving away.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sourced Grocer @ Teneriffe, Brisbane

I always thought I had a huge folder of photos, still untouched and yet to feature on the blog until I realise I am up to date.


That got me thinking, had we not been eating out and instead been cooking more at home? 


Turns out if my memory serves me right that we have been frequenting familiar spots, spots that we are comfortable with. It also dawns upon me that I should be feasting on all the good stuff I have unearthed in Brisbane before we start our new adventure next year. 


Luckily I still have a place that I have yet to blog about. 


One place that keeps sticking out in Twitter, Facebook or the newspapers is Sourced Grocer.


What can I say about this place? Its hippy, cool and relaxed. Somewhat resembles the cafes in Melbourne.


As the name suggests, it is a grocer where you get a range of meats, bread, vegetables, fruits and etc that looks like its been hand picked and sourced. On the shelves, you get a whole load of other goodies like the Yarra Strawberry Jam that I had with my toast this morning. 


On top of that, they have a section for breakfast items with coffee. 

IMG_1754

Order at the counter and take a slip. You pay at the counter where they use Macbooks as a POS, isn't that cool?

IMG_1749

The place was packed when we went on a Sunday morning. You had people taking away, sitting on the stairs and outside the shop. Coffees took a while to arrive but were as good as gold.

Originally when we saw a lack of space, we wanted to take away coffees and be gone. Lucky me again, we scored two seats and I couldn't wait to dig into some breakfast.

IMG_1756

The Croque Monsieur, eventhough in reality is ham and cheese was awesome with the addition of some rocket leaves. 

Be warned though, it does take awhile for meals to be served. 

All in all, a hippy breakfast place and you can even pick up some groceries too!

A word of warning for those who don't embrace the heat like me, it is not an enclosed air conditioned place so it can get a bit hot although it be perfect for autumn / winter.

Address and contact details:

Sourced Grocer on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. Love the concept!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Verve Restaurant @ Edward Street, Brisbane

There's something cool about this place which is situated in the basement of the Metro Arts building. Maybe it is just the whole experience of walking into a dimly lit underground area which feels cold and cool at the same time. Oh did I say cool again?


Well maybe it isn't that cool but it is cooling.


The Wife and I were feeling generous that day so we decided we will pick a nicer place for lunch instead of trying to find a place that will get me a meal for under $10. 


Verve which is just opposite her office was an easy option.


The menu is a simple assortment of pasta and pizza; not exactly the most authentic Italian stuff but probably more Australian/American/Modern Italian if you know what I mean.

IMG_1644

A special of the day was a cream based prawn pasta with sun dried tomatoes. I love pasta that is cooked al-dente and this was probably a minute too long in boiling water. Else, this tasted pretty good.

IMG_1643

I think this was a seafood pizza but honestly I think for the same price, you can get a better one at Pizza Capers. 

Overall, a decent place for a pasta or pizza and a beer but nothing that was really shining. Meals are almost AUD20 per person so not cheap for an everyday lunch unless you earn a bucket load of money.

Address and contact details:


Verve Restaurant Bar Cider House on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3 stars out of 5 stars. If there's consolation, I reckon it should be a couple of degrees cooler than the blistering sun we have been getting in the last week and in the upcoming weeks.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ponycat @ New Farm, Brisbane

I might as well make it official. 


Yes, I am moving to Melbourne beginning 2012.


I thought I would be much more happy than I should be but it feels more like an unwanted son going back to a mother that didn't want him to begin with, compound by the fact that the unwanted son is casting away his foster mother who's been treating him well. 


It was probably not a move I had anticipated but you could say one thing lead to another and the opportunity to live life in Melbourne became a reality, a chance I couldn't say no to. 


There are still mixed feelings about leaving the place we called home in the last 14 months or so and we will be making the best out of it till we fly back home in mid December.


Meanwhile, I need to dig deep into the archives of photo and finish up this foodie adventure of mine.


---


Reading Urbanspoon and some of the local blogs, Ponycat seems to pop up once in a while for a good breakfast. However the thought of going there never crossed our minds and it wasn't until one day we decided, ok lets go.


Looking at the address, I had no idea it was a trot away from Choquette, my weekly source of bread and at one time, pastries. 


Back to Ponycat. The place is rather small with an open kitchen so I reckon it was fortunate we got a place outside. The only troublesome thing was the menu is written on a board inside the restaurant and I found myself standing awkwardly in the middle of the restaurant reading the menu, pressured to find something I like.


The menu is a mix of classic dishes with one or two highlights. 

IMG_1680

Corn pancakes with eggplant relish and bacon was something that caught my eye. However the Wife was too tempted to just walk across to Choquette for that to die for Almond Croissant. Foodwise, the combination of ingredients and flavours worked and strayed away from the good old poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. 


IMG_1677


The Coffees were a mixed bag. I had a latte that was well made but the Cappuccino came out rather bitter, maybe an over extraction of the espresso shot. 

Overall to us, it was another one of those breakfast spots that we would consider over the weekend but not dream about in our sleep.

Address and contact details:

Ponycat on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. A decent breakfast spot in this part of town.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Govinda's @ Brisbane CBD

It has certainly been a crazy week for me. 


Although not cast in stone, throughout the week I have been thinking about a potential move away from Brisvegas. Look if it was 6 months ago and I was single, I be happy to pack up my bags immediately. Now, I have got furniture to think about transporting and whether my other half will find a job too. Of course it goes without saying, Brisbane and I have gone from an unwilling relationship to being good friends.


I guess that is also compounded by work piling on tables by the day. Oh well such is life. 


When it is all official, readers, you will be the first to find out.


---


Now back to food, gosh, don't think there was ever a period I haven't blogged for a whole week and a bit.


Friday afternoon and somehow or rather Govinda's became the lunch spot that day for the Wife and I.


Apparently, it is a all you can eat vegetarian buffet although I couldn't see any description of that sort on the menu board. The first serving is done canteen style and dished out for you and if the rather big portion doesn't satisfy you (I didn't see a single one that day go back for seconds), that would be the time to confirm whether it is all you can eat.  


IMG_1730

For AUD 12 you get the above, dessert and a drink. Not too bad.

IMG_1733

Open up the Pappadum and you get an assortment of vegetarian dishes piled on rice. Overall, not fantastic but rather consoling that it was all vegetarian and it should make me more healthy. 

Take note that the assortment of items are fixed according to day, so you might want to drop by on different days, unless you are happy with eating the same dish. 


If vegetarian indian is not your thing, they do a couple of vegetarian western dishes, like lasagna, pastries and chips. 

Address and contact details:

Govinda's on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3 stars out of 5 stars. Something different is what I would call it since my staple lunch diet over the last week has been sushi roll after sushi roll.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mizu @ New Farm, Brisbane

We are always on the look out for inspiring breakfast places with a menu that goes beyond the poached eggs, bacon and coffee. After complaining (something I am getting quite good at), one of my friends said if we wanted to try a Japanese breakfast instead. Off we went on a Sunday morning, warm and bright to Mizu. 


An immediate bonus about this place was that it was near empty when we walked in at 10am. No long queues, no standing outside the sun and no crying stomach.   

IMG_1683

Instead of my coffee, we had the green tea latte instead. Done exactly the same way using green tea (powder I suspect). To really appreciate the drink though, I suggest putting a little bit of sugar. The iced version which comes with ice-cream was tempting for a takeaway but luckily a pinch on the leg reminded me that I should be on a diet (of some sorts).  

IMG_1685

I was expecting a nice big rustic looking okonomiyaki with the lot although at AUD10, you had to be realistic as to what you would get. What I did get was 2 patties which tasted spot on and a nice smiley face with some salad. Not exactly the item to fill me up for half a day but something for a change. 

IMG_1690

IMG_1687

The Bento Box is much more filing and you can see a couple of pickled items used to presumably wake up the sleeping palate. Simple but nice for a change unless eating rice in the morning is not your cup of tea.

Overall, if you are looking for something different and think eating a bento box in the morning might do the trick, Mizu is the place to go. Having tried their food at breakfast which was quite promising, I do want to drop by for a lunch or dinner. 

Address and contact details:

Mizu on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. Japanese breakfast, how cool is that?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Jude @ Brisbane, CBD

To all those who watched the Race that stops the Nation; namely the Melbourne Cup or the Emirates Melbourne Cup, cheers if you won and cheers for time off (officially or unofficially).


Having sneaked out of my office function just after the race that net me a lunch, I thought I share with you a spot in the city which is not much of a secret from the daily crowds.


We had always wanted to try Jude but was put off by a comment made about how it was all about salads and not substantial especially for a guy like me. However when we realised that there was a buy 1 free 1 deal on the Entertainment Card, we thought we might as well make the most out of it. 


If there was one down side, it is the lack of menus. The only menu is up on the board which ranges from burgers, fish and ships and etc and then you got a choice of a ton of salads to go with which are on display at one side. For those who are indecisive, you will feel a bit lost in the middle of the crowd, trying to decide what you want to eat.


IMG_1737


The Wife originally wanted to try the assorted arancinis but found out you don't get one of each flavour but two of one flavour. With that not as appealing as it did, she settle for good old fish and chips. The fish came out fresh and not dripping in oil and I must say, we found a new spot for chips because the ones at Jude are awesome!  


IMG_1739

I have been wanting to eat lasagne for awhile and it was an easy choice. Choosing the salad was a hard one though and in the end I thought order something that I would never cook at home; beetroot salad with goats cheese and it was awesome too! 

Prices are slightly more than the AUD 10 budget we put to ourselves, with a main, salad and chips closer to AUD 15-18. Add a drink and you are at AUD20. Luckily with the deal on my Entertainment Card, we were right on the budget. 

Address and contact details:

Jude on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. Cute little place, wholesome food and yummy salads, the only thing that would stop me from coming back often is my AUD10 a meal budget.