2012 – Food and more food

I told you I would go batshit crazy eating my way through Brisbane in my last year. All the dishes I’ve posted a photo of below and have tasted it myself were worth every penny. When the new year started, I have been cooking and baking many new things; too frequently I may add (thank god I’m a physically active person. I would look like a whale by now if I wasn’t). I promise you this, I will make at least one new dish every week for the rest of the year. Let it be an appetizer, or dessert. Simple or complex. Side dish or sauce. I will try to incorporate new ingredients and textures along the way. While intensely exploring restaurant food has taught me so much about what I like, it’s time to move that towards the back burner and get my hands dirty.

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Chicken Tikka Masala – Taj Mahal in New Farm. The most tasty and affordable Indian restaurant I know of!

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“Lucie”, from Le Bon Choix – a French patisserie. Strawberry fillings with coconut base.

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Amandine Poires – Chouquette in New Farm. Another well established French patisserie

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Pesto scrambled eggs on house cured salmon with chili jam – Little Larder in New Farm. Excellent breakfast overall but the chilli jam was to die for!

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Poached egg on toulouse sausages and sweet potato hash cakes with tomato jam – Gunshop Cafe in West End.

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Potato and feta hash cakes with herbed sour cream, spinach and bella rossa tomatoes – a Gunshop Cafe breakfast classic!


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cranberry and macadamia, poached blackberries, fresh strawberries and yoghurt – Comfort at my Table in Milton. Cutest breakfast cafe in Brisbane!

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breakfast bubble and squeak with bacon bits, caramelized onions, spinach and chilli oil – Anouk in Paddington. An extremely memorable dish. Definitely wasted no time inhaling all of it

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avocado and roast cherry tomatoes on toast with goat chevre, rocket, dukkah and fresh lemon – Anouk in Paddinton. Cal ordered this and I had a bite, it was delicious!

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I believe these were baked Turkish eggs that Quynh ordered – Anouk in Paddington. Everything at this place is made with the freshest ingredients and never a disappointment!

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Was not able to get through a day without coffee this year. Now I know what it’s like to get hooked on coffee

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Always enjoyed visiting the fine food stores in Brisbane. Found some interesting products…

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A whole shelf devoted to Olive oils

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Probably one of the best combination of salads I’ve never had at this quaint cafe called Three Girls Skipping beside my work. One was potato, another was couscous and lastly a leafy tomato balsamic. So good.

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scallops, pumpkin chips and wagyu beef. Public in Brisbane. Not many people know about this tapas place but when you’ve discovered it, you’re in for a treat!

Duck egg baked in toast sprinkled with shaved truffles - Public in Brisbane city. Such an interesting dish. I have had duck egg in the past but not presented like this!

Duck egg baked in toast sprinkled with shaved truffles – Public in Brisbane city. Such an interesting dish. I have had duck egg in the past but not presented like this!

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field mushrooms on goat cheese, caramelised onions and puff pastry – Gunshop Cafe in West End. This gem of a breakfast cafe can always be found with a line up out the door!

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Rhubarb, aperol savin dessert – Public in Brisbane city. Was worth every penny. Sweet and slightly sour combination served with creme fraiche to neutralize the perfect flavours.

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Although I didn’t taste this dish nor was it found in Brisbane, I was still very impressed by its presentation. Poached pear, yoghurt and… some other stuff. I strive everyday for healthy breakfasts like this

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Bye bye #2 On My Bucket List

I just want to cheerfully announce that I am now able to scratch/cross out/check off-whatever you want to call it-the 2nd thing on my bucket list! It may not seem like a big accomplishment but there’s this feeble warm and fuzzy feeling on the inside that lets me know I am taking small but necessary steps. The only time I have ever had a macaron was when I was down in Melbourne last year; and it is without a doubt THE food city of Australia. Every few steps you take, something delicious slaps you in the face. Every corner you turn, almost guaranteed you’re heading down another food alley of awesomeness.

My first thoughts on macarons:

1. “It looks plastic.”

2. “Why isn’t macaron spelled with double ‘o’?” (…I’m such a spelling freak. I’m still bothered by people who cannot tell the difference between words like their, they’re and there. But if I correct them I’m the asshole.)

3. “There are too many colours and flavours… great, now I’m going to spend forever here making a decision. It’s not a life changing decision…just pick something… wow I really do have a problem”

I chose vanilla.

Despite my first impressions on this little gem, I’m pretty sure an orgasmic food bomb went off in my mouth as I bit into it. From that moment on, I wanted to try as many flavours as I can and make my own someday!

Then I came back to Brisbane without the first clue on where to find macarons. Aside from Starbucks but I don’t exactly want to pay an astronomical amount for just one. Until recently, my friend Jackie told me there’s a guy in the city every week on market day that sells them! And to the city I went…

Coconut macaron

Oh, what’s this? Pistachio macaron? Why not!

I loved both flavours and all the other nutty ones! Although the fruity ones were worth a try, they were too sweet and not as refreshing. In case you guys are wondering why I specifically wrote coconut macaron on the list; it’s because I love coconut. There’s no story behind it. I’m sure the title of my blog says how much love I have for coconuts. Did I have high expectations before trying the coconut macaron? Yes, I have been anticipating it. Did it meet my expectations? You bet!

TTFN

See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil

A lot of you may have noticed that I haven’t been blogging about my kitchen creations since my return to Brisbane. I’m not lazy, nor did I lose interest. Just that the student life is catching up to me. I have a shitty oven that merely holds a 5lb bird, and very limited kitchen supplies – ’cause it would be silly if I lugged it all back from Canada. Well, I have pots and pans and basic utensils. But I miss my electric mixer, baking trays, spices, and… coffee maker. The things I would give for my coffee maker right now. Nope, not about to get into what my instant coffee tastes like. Anyway, I find it frustrating to search for proper ingredients at grocery stores in this area. Last year, in an attempt to recreate a cupcake recipe of Martha Stewart’s, I quit after failing to find half of the ingredients at Coles. HOW IS IT THAT YOU DON’T HAVE BROWN SUGAR IN STOCK!?

… *ahem*

So, I’ve temporarily taken a new direction with this blog while I’m overseas. I will write about my new experiences with food as I utilize my precious last 7 months exploring Brisbane. A food-travel blog, if you will.

Of the 3 years I have spent in Brisbane, and being a cafe lover, I have found THE gem in this city. And from this place, located subtly on a street corner in a suburb called West End, the most delicious piece of chocolate cake was discovered.

The Three Monkeys

The first time I came here I almost missed it. It didn’t look like a cafe from the outside. Through the miniature front yard and sliding door, there’s an immediate claustrophobic feeling that is dissipated as quick as it came as soon as you walk down the side corridor into another backyard seating area. That’s probably what it feels like to enter Narnia from the wardrobe…

You can now sense that this is not just your typical cafe or a hole in the wall, but rather somewhere inbetween. It can be private and peaceful but at the same time filled with so much character that you cannot help but to come back again and again. ONE cake in the front display case hits the jackpot every. single. time. Their variety of teas is amazing; from the typical store-bought flavours to the tropical fruity herbal spicy soothing light surprising kinds whatever it’s there.

Filo wrapped chicken mushroom ham with garden salad seasoned with rosemary. It may not look like a big portion size but took me ages to devour this plate and still had leftovers. You can taste the quality and freshness of their ingredients. A nicely balanced lunch.

Saving the best for last. Who is Diane and what other heavenly cakes does she make!?!? Diane, if you’re out there, just know that I will bow to you when you show your face. Do not underestimate this piece of cake, for it is the best chocolate cake I have ever had. Moist cake and fluffy mousse layers. Covered in a thin coating of dark chocolate, but not thick enough that you need a glass of milk. That’s my rule for cakes: if I need a glass of milk to wash it down, it ain’t good enough. It’s obvious that I am about to make it my life mission to figure out the recipe. If you are a chocolate cake lover, or not, go try it. More importantly, if you know the recipe, don’t tell me. This is a personal challenge.

This post is dedicated to my best friend, who is just as unreasonably crazy about Chocolate Diane as I am. The obsession began when she visited me in Brisbane last year. I’m confident she will appreciate the fact that I have the advantage of enjoying this cake whenever I want since she is far away now. It’s a cruel world we live in. But no fear, when I have successfully imitated this god-sent cake, I will share the recipe with you all. 😀

To sum it all up, this is Three Monkeys in my books:

  1. Quality food. Check
  2. Reasonable price. Check
  3. Good atmosphere. Check
  4. Speedy service and friendly staff. Check

I would say my checklist is quite reasonable in terms of what I look for in cafes. But surprisingly it’s not easy coming across places that can check off all 4. If you’re looking to steer away from the hectic streets of the city, and the uncomfortable silence of your own home, Three Monkeys is your temporary escape.

Sunday bliss in New Farm

Hello all, this is my first adventure post!

I forgot to mention that I am back in Brisbane now. Quynh, Kim and I decided to have brunch today in New Farm, a quaint suburb by the city.

 

Campos cafe is strangely down a little alleyway. Unexpected but not that I mind. There is something cozy about a hole in the wall. I wish Cambridge had more places like these. I mean, as great as being able to leave no more than a 10 dollar bill on the table at 50’s diner for a full-on breakfast, the atmosphere obviously cannot compare to what Brisbane has to offer. Notice the sign on the wall that says “dog parking”? And the doggie dish by the flower pot. Too bad nobody parked their dog there. Would have made for a more interesting photo 🙂

It’s 11am and this place is packed, naturally. We were seated in a corner at the very back of the restaurant at a table that is barely bigger than a cafeteria tray (I may be exaggerating). Somehow, the 3 of us managed. It wasn’t until a few minutes later that we realized the room in front of us shadowed behind a display window is actually a museum – for lack of better words. It’s called a “Cupping Room”. If I’m not mistaken, on certain days the room is open for demonstration, tasting and educational purposes to the public for an entry fee of $20. Excuse the glare in the photo, it was not easy to get a decent shot of that pitch dark room. I haven’t even ordered anything off the menu yet and already I am so intrigued by this place!

My eggs benedict with ham and spinach, Quynh’s pork belly and Kim’s scallop and rocket salad. Why didn’t I ever make Sunday brunch a weekly thing again…?

Sisters and friends 🙂

Two of the most easygoing people I know in Brisbane. Quynh (left) told me at brunch that she is now in her late 20’s. This picture is putting doubts in my head =P

Red doors make me nostalgic for home (Beijing). In Old Beijing there are still some residential doors that are painted red. I love it. It’s vibrant and inviting.

Strolling along Brisbane river with a soft breeze through our hair. And envying the million dollar homes and boats on the other side… a little bit 🙂

My idea of perfect Sunday. What’s yours?