Sunday, 30 November 2008

Suspiro de Limena

Without a doubt, the best dessert I came across in Peru was Suspiro de Limena. If you translate the name of this dessert to English, it means something like "Sighs of a lady from Lima". As soon as you take your first mouthful, a sigh will pop out, along the lines of "how will I ever finish this?"

I don't normally post up recipes, but I enjoyed this dessert so much, I just had to put it up. I should warn you though, it's very rich and very sweet, so you don't need much. We made a giant batch of about 35 for our housewarming party a couple of weeks ago, and they all disappeared, which is always a good sign. The recipe is pretty simple, so there's no excuse not to try try it out.

Suspiro de Limena
(Serves 6)

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
6 egg yolks
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 small glass of port
1/4 cup sugar
Cinnamon power

1. Empty contents of both milk cans in a medium sized, non-stick, heavy saucepan and stir constantly with a wooden spoon over medium/low heat, watching carefully to avoid sticking or burning. After 20-30 minutes, when the milk thickens and coats the spoon and the bottom of the pan can be seen while stirring, remove from heat (the cookbook actually says fire) and let cool for 10 minutes.

2. Add vanilla and beaten egg yolks, stirring briskly, until smooth. Pour in individual dessert glasses.

3. In a separate small saucepan, make a light syrup by melting sugar and port, swirling pan until sugar is completely dissolved.

4. Beat egg whites and gently pour syrup in a thread until meringue holds stiff peaks.

5. Top individual servings of suspiro with meringue (use a piping bag), sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon powder and serve at room temperature.

The recipe comes from Peruvian Cooking - Basic Recipes by Annik Franco Barreau, a terrific Peruvian cookbook which I picked up in Lima. If anyone is keen to get your hands on some more Peruvian recipes, please let me know.

Once you try this, you'll be hooked, believe me.

Food Safari

Food Safari is my favourite Australian food show. I think the reason I enjoy it so much is because you can sense that Maeve is having such a good time with every single episode, no matter what country's food is in the spotlight.

So I was really happy to read today that a new season of Food Safari kicks off on Wednesday night. Apparently the first episode is all about South America, and it looks like Peru will get a mention.

If you haven't watched Food Safari before, put it in your diary for Wednesday night. Maeve O'Mara is a terrific host, and the food is always tantalising.

Food Safari
7.30pm Wednesday nights, SBS

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Stewarts' Champagne Tastings

If you haven't already noticed, I'm a big fan of champagne. It's great to see more and more champagnes making it to Australia these days, and a few places in Brisbane now have a fantastic selection.

The good people at Stewarts have one of the better selections of Champagne in town. Luckily for all of us, they are putting on a few free champagne tastings in the lead up to Christmas. The tastings will be held at their Portside Wharf store over three Saturdays in December. Here are the wines that will be on offer:

Saturday 6 December 2008
Dom Perignon 2000
Krug Grande Cuvee NV
Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 1998

Saturday 13 December 2008
Pol Roger Brut Reserve
Pol Roger Brut Vintage
Pol Roger Rose Vintage

Saturday 20 December 2008
Laurent Perrier Non Vintage
Laurent Perrier Rose Non Vintage
Laurent Perrier Brut Millesime 1999

The tasting on Saturday 6 December covers some pretty awesome wines. It's not often anyone gets the chance to try Dom Perignon, Krug & Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame all at the same time, so it will definitely be worth your while to pay a visit. As luck would have it, I'm going to be down the coast.

The tastings start at 2pm. If you're not there at 2pm, there's a good chance you'll miss out on the best champagnes.

Stewarts Wine Co Portside Wharf
Shop 7/39 Hercules Street
Hamilton 4007
P - 07 3216 4444
W -

Monday, 24 November 2008

Christmas Markets

Well Christmas will soon be upon us. As far as I'm concerned, the best way to stock up for days of non-stop eating is a trip (or two) to the markets. Usually you can find fresh, local produce at great prices. And while you're shopping for your favourite fruit, sausages or cheese, you're bound to come across something you've never tried before (which is my favourite part of any trip to the markets). I'll be dropping in to the Christmas Twilight Markets at Mitchelton to pick up as many Christmas supplies as I can carry.

I've listed below a few of Brisbane's regular food markets which are running in the lead up to Christmas. As I come across any other special Christmas markets, I'll add them to the post.

Fair Trade Christmas Market
Saturday 6 & Sunday 7 December 2008 - 10am to 4pm
Marymac Community Centre
616 Ipswich Road
Annerley 4103

Green Flea Community Market
Saturday 6, 13 & 20 December 2008 - 6am onwards
Davies Park
Corner Montague Road & Jane Street
West End 4101

Jan Power's Farmers' Markets

Mitchelton Farmers' Markets
Sunday 7 December 2008 - 6am onwards
Tuesday 23 December 2008 - 5pm onwards
Blackwood Street
Mitchelton 4053

Powerhouse Farmers' Markets
Saturday 13 December 2008 - 6am onwards
Sunday 21 December 2008 - 6am onwards
The Brisbane Powerhouse
119 Lamington Street
New Farm 4005

Manly Fresh Food Markets
Saturday 20 December 2008 - 6am onwards
Manly Esplanade (between Cambridge & Cardigan Parades)
Manly 4179

Kelvin Grove Urban Village Markets
The Village Christmas Market
Saturday 20 December 2008 - 6am to 1pm
Blamey Street (between Musk Avenue and Victoria Park Road)
Kelvin Grove 4059

Organic Growers Market
Sunday 21 December 2008 - 6am to 10.30am
Northey Street City Farm
Corner of Northey and Victoria Streets
Windsor 4030

Saturday Fresh Market
Saturday 20 December 2008 - 6am to 12pm
Brisbane MarketPlace
250 Sherwood Road
Rocklea 4106

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Queensland Cricketers' Club

The other day I was lucky enough to score a ticket for the first day of the test against New Zealand at the Gabba. Even better, it was a ticket to seats in the Queensland Cricketers' Club.

The tickets included a 3 course set menu lunch at the Cricketers' Club. I usually think of club food as being a bit stuck in a time warp, so my lunch expectations weren't particularly high. Boy did I turn out to be wrong. The lunch we had was excellent.

Things started off well when our table was right against the glass. It was floor to ceiling glass, so we had an amazing view of the entire field. It feels a bit surreal having someone serve you a delicious lunch while the cricket is going on out the window, but I got used to it pretty quickly.

Our entree was a delicious prawn & fennel salad. This was probably the best dish of the whole lunch. It had already been plated up on our table when we sat down, so again I was a bit sceptical. But the prawns were fresh, sweet and tasty. They were a perfect match with the fennel salad. A bottle of 2005 Jim Barry "The Florita" Riesling ($79) made this probably the best start to any meal I've ever had a sporting venue. It sure beats a box of tired old chicken & chips.

By this stage my expectations of lunch had risen remarkably and I was looking forward to the next course. The main meal turned out to be a very generous chunk of medium rare beef, served with asparagus, grilled tomato and a slice of a potato dauphinoise type dish. Although it wasn't quite in the league of the prawn & fennel salad, it was very good. After finding a bottle of 1995 Katnook Estate cabernet sauvignon on the wine list for $99, we couldn't pass it up, and it turned out to be a lovely match with the steak.

Dessert was a baked cheesecake. I'd already had a few drinks by this stage of the day, so I can't actually remember what flavour it was. I do remember though that it was good. We rounded off a great lunch with one of Australia's classic dessert wines - De Bortoli Noble One botrytis semillon ($33.50).

It really was a decadent way to watch a few hours of cricket. If you're ever offered a ticket to the Cricketers' Club, grab it with both hands - you'll have a brilliant day.

Queensland Cricketers' Club
411 Vulture Street
East Brisbane 4169
P - (07) 3896 4533
E -
W -

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Pandemonium Cafe

Pandemonium Cafe has been a popular spot in Paddington for as long as I can remember. I've eaten breakfast and lunch there plenty of times over the years, even when it used to be a bit further up Given Terrace.

Pandemonium has a retro/70's feel to it inside, with old mis-matched chairs and tables for an authentic touch. On this visit we were after some breakfast. It was about 9.30 on a Sunday morning, and the only spot inside (which is air conditioned) was on the couches in the corner. Not thinking our co-ordination was up to juggling bacon & eggs with a coffee on the couch after a big night out, we sat out the front instead. There are a few tables out the front, which really don't have the ambience of inside, and I think are a bit pokey. But weekend breakfasts at Pandemonium are always busy, so outside it was.

Pandemonium's breakfast menu covers toast, muesli and a good selection of hot options. I was really in need of something a bit greasy to help with a hangover, so although the spinach and feta omelette sounded delicious (three eggs, spinach, feta, tasty cheese & thick toast with Pando's sauce on the side - $12.50), I ordered the bacon & eggs instead ($12.50 with gluten free toast).

It was a big serving of bacon rashers, with two poached eggs that had been poached in moulds. Whenever I'm served eggs from a mould it brings back memories of cooking poached eggs when I was about 6 years old. They don't exactly look as cool as eggs which have been freely poached in a big saucepan of water. Anyway they were perfectly cooked, so once I'd busted them open, their shape was quickly forgotten. The bacon & eggs were served with a cooked tomato and one piece of gluten free toast (which I thought was a bit miserly given all the bacon and eggs). Next time I'll have to remember to order two pieces.

My partner in partying the night before ordered the avocado toast with a side serve of baked beans ($9.50). This was two enormous thick pieces of toast, smothered with fresh avocado. The toast wasn't gluten free, so I couldn't eat it, but it looked (and apparently tasted) fantastic.

There are plenty of other breakfast possibilities, including French toast ($9), a breaky panini ($8), pancakes with mixed berries or seasonal fruit & ice cream ($12.50) and the steak breakfast if you are ravenous (150g rib fillet, bacon, sausages, eggs, homemade hash browns, mushrooms, tomato & thick toast - $19.50).

I had a flat white ($3) with my breakfast, which was good. We also ordered a coffee frappe, which turned out to be terrific. I don't normally order iced coffees, because I usually find them way too sweet. This one however actually had an authentic coffee bitterness to it and, coupled with the icy/slushy texture, made for a great start to a very warm day.

My only gripe with Pandemonium was the water. They don't serve any water for free. A small bottle of water will set you back $1. I know it's not much, but I really can't understand why a cafe can't serve water free of charge.

Pandemonium is a good place to visit if you're looking for tasty, home style food. There's a good reason why its been popular for so long - prices are very reasonable, service is usually snappy and the portions are healthy. They are also happy to accommodate coeliacs, vegetarians and vegans.

Pandemonium is now open for dinner on Thursday and Friday nights and also offers a catering service.

What does all this mean? Tasty, home-style food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with good sized servings and friendly staff.

food bling ratings
Food - Good
Service - Good
Ambience - Retro/70's feel inside
Value for Money - Great
Wine - Small selection or BYO
Vegetarian - Good
Gluten Free - Good

Pandemonium Cafe
215 Given Terrace
Paddington 4064
P - (07) 3369 4420
F - (07) 3876 2094
E -
W -

Pandemonium Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, 10 November 2008

James Halliday's Australian Wine Companion

I'm the first to admit that I'm a bit of a wine tragic. Over the years I've bought loads and loads of wine books, plenty of which end up lying around the house collecting dust.

When it comes to books on wine, I think James Halliday's Australian Wine Companion is the best guide to current release Australian wines. The 2009 edition was released recently. This book just gets bigger every year, reflecting the ever increasing number of Australian wineries.

The 2009 edition contains information on 1,661 wineries and 5,778 wines, from Abbey Creek Vineyard through to Zonte's Footstep. It's well set out, easy to follow and means your next wine purchase shouldn't be a dud. I always take a copy with me when travelling around wine regions, to make sure I always get to the best local wineries.

If you're looking for a guide on Australian wine, this is a great place to start. The recommended retail price is $34.95, but I picked one up on sale at Borders for $24. Happy drinking!

Sunday, 9 November 2008

food bling update

Just the other week food bling, Brisbane had its 10,000th visitor. I just wanted to say a big thanks to everyone who has been reading the blog since it kicked off 12 months ago. It's great to see so many people interested in the Brisbane food scene.

There's been plenty of feedback about getting more pictures up, which I'm trying to address. I've just bought a snazzy new digital SLR camera, so I will be doing my best to get more photos posted in the future. As always, feel free to send me any suggestions, improvements or comments that you have for food bling, Brisbane.

My collection of notes, menus, clippings and other food bits & pieces has recently graduated from a manilla folder to a shoe box, so that should give you some idea of the amount of posts I need to get through. Over the last couple of months I've eaten at Urbane, Isis, the Lab Bar, Morgans, the Litse Lounge, Zafron, Miros and Wilson's Boathouse, so keep your eyes out for those upcoming posts.

On the other hand, the list of places to visit is never-ending, believe me. I'm going to Absynthe at the Gold Coast in a couple of weeks time, and I can't wait. Other places I'm trying my best to get to are Simpatico, Alchemy, Suburban, Sprout, Lure, Dell' Ugo, Montrachet, The Lark, Salon, River House, Pearl, Paolo's, Jellyfish, Mao Mao's, Vida and the list goes on ...

So thanks to all the readers out there and happy eating!

Queensland Wine Awards

This year's winners of the Queensland Wine Awards are being judged today, 9 November 2008.

If (like me) you're not lucky enough to be a wine judge, you can try plenty of the great Queensland wines at the public tasting next Sunday, 16 November 2008. The public tasting will be held at the Mercure Hotel and tickets are available at the door for $20. It's a great chance to try some new Queensland wines, as well as to find out which wines picked up the medals this year.

Queensland Wine Awards Tasting Day
12pm - 4pm, Sunday 16 November 2008
Mercure Hotel
85-87 North Quay
Brisbane 4000

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Pisco Sour

I've already given a wrap to the Pisco sour, which is basically the Peruvian national cocktail. If you're keen to try one out, here's how to make it:

90 ml Pisco
30 ml sugar syrup or 1 tbsp sugar
30 ml fresh lime juice
1 egg white
4 ice cubes, crushed
4 drops of Angostura bitters

In a blender, pour in egg white and mix until foamy. Add ice half way up, mix and add the rest of the ingredients, except the bitters. Keep blending until ice disappears. Serve and top with drops of bitters. Makes 1 cocktail.

I haven't yet found a bottle of Pisco in Brisbane, but the extent of my search has been my local bottleshop (which I knew wouldn't have it anyway). When I track one down, I'll let you know.

If you'd rather have someone else whip one up for you, pop into The Bowery. I was there last night and was glad to see that the Pisco sour makes an appearance on their current cocktail list. As you can see, there's a fair bit of Pisco in the drink, so be warned.