Sunday, 22 February 2009

A Taste of Harmony

A Taste of Harmony is a new initiative to help us all recognise the amazing cultural diversity that exists in pretty much everyone's workplace. The idea behind A Taste of Harmony is to get your workmates together to enjoy a morning tea or lunch where food from everyone's heritage is included.

The event will take place between 16-22 March 2009. If your workplace is keen to participate, you can register on the website. Once you've registered, you'll receive an information pack to help you organise the lunch. There is plenty more information on the website.

There's also the opportunity for restaurants to register on the site, so that you have the chance to enjoy some culturally diverse food if your workplace isn't participating. There are a number of high profile "chef ambassadors" supporting the event, including Shannon Bennett, Tobie Puttock, Alastair McLeod, Guy Grossi and Kate Lamont.

It sounds like a fantastic idea to me and I hope plenty of people support it, so that it becomes an annual event. Australia now has so many citizens from such diverse backgrounds, that this is the perfect way to find out a little bit more about everyone's heritage. Best of all, you'll get a delicious lunch out of it.

A Taste of Harmony
16-22 March 2009
P - 1800 077 067
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Saturday, 21 February 2009

Boardwalk Bar + Bistro

I've been to the Boardwalk Bar + Bistro a couple of times now with a few work buddies. It's in an excellent spot - right on the river below Riparian Plaza. There's a great view out over the river of the Story Bridge and Kangaroo Point.

The Boardwalk Bar + Bistro has inside and outside seating. Both times I've been for lunch, and sitting outside, even in the shade, wasn't that appealing on steamy summer days. I'm sure the outside tables are popular with tourists, looking to soak up some sun while admiring the river views. There are a decent amount of inside tables, which are definitely cooler.

The menu covers grills, seafood, pizza, pasta and salads. Other than the salads, there aren't a lot of options you'll find for under $20. A few of the better value meals on the menu are the steak sandwich ($17.90), battered fish & chips ($19.90) and the pizzas ($17.20 to $19.90).

On my first visit, I ordered the braised lamb shank ($27.50). This was described on the menu as braised lamb shank with creamy mashed potato, baby carrots and a lamb jus. I was a bit disappointed with portion size when it arrived at the table. There was just the one lamb shank, and it wasn't a particularly big one, nor was there a lot of meat on it. The shank was sitting on a small serving of mash, with a few baby carrots on the side. Not exactly what I was expecting a bar to serve for $27.50. The lamb shank itself was ok, but not memorable.

On the next visit, it was time to give another meal a try. I thought maybe I'd just been unlucky with the lamb shank episode. This time I ordered the clay pot chicken ($27.90), described as chicken braised in a clay pot with white wine, onions, mushrooms, lemon and parsley. The hot pot was brought to the table, and looked impressive. Until I opened it. The pot had one chicken leg in it, with a bit of the thigh attached. It was a particularly small chicken leg, and I'd be surprised if there was enough meat on it to satisfy anyone for lunch. The chicken leg was sitting in what appeared to be a chicken broth, which contained a few bits of celery, some onions and a couple of mushroom pieces. It was basically a chicken broth served with one chicken leg. There were two small pieces of bread that came with the dish. Luckily when my friends saw the size of the portion, they were all too happy to ply me with plenty of chips from their plates. Even so, I had to stop at McDonalds on the way back to work for an emergency serve of fries, to stop my stomach from rumbling around all afternoon.

Although the food was disappointing, the bar does have a decent selection of wines by the glass, including a few Queensland wines. The 25 wines by the glass range in price from $6.90 to $9.90. There are also plenty of beers and a few cocktails.

Service was pretty snappy on both visits. You order and pay at the counter when you arrive. The meals are then brought out to your table when they are ready. We only waited about 10-15 minutes for our meals to come out, which is a good turnaround time.

The Boardwalk Bar + Bistro website proudly proclaims "More bang for your buck". Unfortunately, based on my two visits, I can't agree. The clay pot chicken was particularly disappointing, and both my meals were overpriced. I know they must be paying some hefty rent at such a great spot, but I really think the value for money can be improved.

What does all this mean? A bar & bistro with a great location overlooking the river, serving a range of pub type food, but not particularly good value for money.

food bling ratings
Food - Ok
Service - Good
Ambience - Modern bar, with lovely river views
Value for Money - Poor
Wine - Good selection by the glass
Vegetarian - Ok
Gluten Free - Very limited selection

Boardwalk Bar + Bistro
Boardwalk Level, Riparian Plaza
71 Eagle Street
Brisbane 4000
P - 07 3221 0026
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Boardwalk Bar and Bistro on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Australian Wine Trade Bushfire Raffle

In response to the terrible bushfires over the last week or so, the Australian wine industry has banded together to raise money for those affected. The result is the Australian Wine Trade Bushfire Raffle - tickets are $25 each, and first prize has a retail value of about $25,000.00.

Proceeds of the raffle go to the Red Cross - Victorian Bushfire Appeal 2009, so please spread the word, and consider supporting this great initiative. You can find out more information, including where to buy tickets, here at the WineStar forum.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Seppeltsfield 100 Year Old Para Tasting

Keeping on the subject of wine tastings, The Wine Emporium is running a tasting this week featuring one of Australia's truly unique wines - the Seppeltsfield 100 Year Old Para Vintage Tawny.

I've never been lucky enough to taste it, but as you've probably guessed from the name, every vintage is 100 years old. Sure it's expensive (about $1,000 a bottle), but there aren't too many wines in the world that can compare with this. James Halliday is clearly a fan, declaring in his 2009 Australian Wine Companion:

"In prior years I have given the wine 98 points, which is clearly wrong. This is the one and only 100-point wine made in Australia."

The tasting will also include 3 muscats, 3 tokays and four tawnys, but I imagine most people will be there to try the 100 year old Para.

Tickets are $50, and bookings are essential.

Seppeltsfield 100 Year Old Para Tasting
Wednesday 18 February 2009, 6.15pm to 8pm
Fine Wine Cellars
Constance Street
Fortitude Valley 4006
P - 07 3252 5052
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Great Southern Dinner

Wineaway's first tasting for 2009 is a Great Southern region dinner. For those of you that don't know every nook & cranny of Australia's wine regions, the Great Southern region surrounds Albany, Denmark and Mt Barker in Western Australia.

I was lucky enough to visit the region a few years ago on a fantastic driving trip from Perth. For a long time Western Australian wines have been overshadowed by Margaret River, but Great Southern is starting to make more people notice its excellent wines. Pick of the Great Southern wines for me is the Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Vineyard riesling, which is a perfect wine to open on a steamy Brisbane summer night.

The Wineaway dinner will feature wines from West Cape Howe, Howard Park and Harewood Estate. Here's a list of the wines that we be opened on the night:

2008 West Cape Howe Riesling
2007 West Cape Howe Styx Gully Chardonnay
2007 West Cape Howe Book Ends Cabernet Sauvignon
2007 West Cape Howe Two Steps Shiraz Viognier
2005 Harewood Estate Riesling
2005 Harewood Estate Chardonnay
2005 Harewood Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
2005 Harewood Estate Frankland River Shiraz
2008 Howard Park Riesling
2006 Howard Park Chardonnay
2005 Howard Park Scotsdale Cabernet Sauvignon
2005 Howard Park Scotsdale Shiraz

Gavin Berry, a winemaker from West Cape Howe, will be in attendance to guide you through the wines. And Brent Farrell from Brent’s The Dining Experience will be putting together the food for the evening. Tickets are $85, including dinner, wine and cheese to round off the night.

Great Southern Dinner
Friday 20 February 2009, 6.45pm
Unit 3, 276 Abbotsford Road (entry via Taylor Street)
Bowen Hills 4006
P - 07 3852 1891
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Saturday, 14 February 2009

Yogen Fruz

You might have noticed that a Yogen Fruz store has opened on Albert Street in the city. As you can probably guess from the name, Yogen Fruz sells frozen yoghurt. It kicked off in Canada, and stores have since spread all over the world. Anyway the good news is that the city store will be giving away free smoothies between 8am and 9am on Wednesdays for the rest of February. So you've got two chances left to see what all the fuss is about, for free. I'll definitely be giving it a try, unless my plans get thwarted by the rail strike next week.

Yogen Fruz
225 Albert Street
Brisbane 4000
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Monday, 9 February 2009


Jellyfish is John Kilroy's newish seafood restaurant in the city. Not content with having the best meat eatery in town, he's now stepped out to conquer the seafood side of things.

Jellyfish is in an excellent spot. Right on the river (well as close as you can get in the city), with excellent views across to the Story Bridge.

We were shown to our table, at which time our waiter explained the menu. There's a selection of 8 line caught fish every day, cooked as the chef chooses. If you don't like the chef's choice, then there are 10 different ways you can have each of the fillets cooked, including with tarragon & star anise batter, or perhaps gluten free crumbs if, like me, you've never come across gluten free crumbed fish in your life before.

And if you don't just want a simple fish option, there are 9 entrees and 8 mains to catch your attention (including non-seafood options like beef, duck and lamb).

But if you wander in to Jellyfish, you're here to eat seafood. Always being one to trust a chef's instinct, I couldn't go past a couple of the line caught options. Plus it's not every day of the week that you get a choice of 8 line caught fish. The hard part was picking which two to have ($38 for two fillets). The choices were:

  • Seared hiramasa king from Port Lincoln with olive & caper sauce
  • Crumbed coral bream from Bowen with home made chilli sauce
  • Grilled butterfish from Bowen with chermoula emulsion
  • Oven baked coral trout from Bowen with saffron emulsion
  • Crumbed flathead from Auckland with home made chilli sauce
  • Deep fried whole flounder from the south island of NZ with Asian dressing
  • Tempura goldband snapper from Gladstone with Vietnamese sauce
  • Oven baked barramundi from Cone Bay with lemon & shallot sauce
As you can see from that excellent list, it's pretty hard to narrow it down to two fillets. After a lot of thought, I went for the butterfish (because I'd never tried it before) and the barramundi (because really good barramundi is hard to beat).

Accompaniments are $6 each, and include shoe string fries, seasonal veges and an Asian salad with cucumber, chilli & mint.

By this stage of the meal we definitely needed a glass of white wine to accompany the seafood which was soon to arrive at the table. I was really impressed with the wine list at Jellyfish - they have really done their homework. It must be one of the best wine by the glass selections anywhere in Brisbane. How many other Brisbane restaurants serve 5 rieslings by the glass? None as far as I know. Sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, pinot gris, gewurztraminer, semillon sauvignon blanc, chardonnnay and Chablis round out a fantastic selection of whites. All the white wines by the glass are priced between $9 and $16.50.

I ordered a glass of the Spring Vale gewurztraminer from Tasmania ($11), which was excellent. If you've got plenty of time up your sleeve, there are of course plenty of bottles on the list as well. I had to go back to work, so sadly a bottle of wine just wasn't an option.

My fish came out fairly quickly. The fillets are served with their sauces in separate little containers, which I think is a great idea. That stops one strong sauce completely overpowering all the fish on your plate. The butterfish turned out to be one of the best fish fillets I've had in a long time. It was only just cooked and had a perfect texture. It just melted in my mouth, and I wish I'd ordered two fillets instead of one. The chermoula emulsion was also a good match with the butterfish.

Unfortunately though the barramundi was underwhelming. It was a fairly small fillet, and really came off second best next to the butterfish. I wish I had gone with my first thought and ordered the coral trout instead.

Although my barramundi was a bit disappointing, Jellyfish is exactly what Brisbane needs. A clever selection of line caught fish, coupled with a great view and a super wine list. It's the perfect spot for lunch on a Summer's day. No doubt it will be a hit with both tourists and locals alike.

I have to say though that the service wasn't up to the standard of the food. Our waiter was a bit lost when it came to wine selections (luckily we knew what we wanted anyway), and also told us that jamon serrano was French ham. With a bit of tweaking, the service can be improved to make Jellyfish a memorable spot for your next seafood meal. It's not exactly cheap though, so you won't be able to pop in for a weekly feed.

It's good to see a new restaurant throwing down the gauntlet to Brett's Wharf, which I've considered to be Brisbane's best seafood restaurant for the last 5 or so years.

If it's seafood and white wine you're after, toddle along to Jellyfish. It's the perfect spot for a lazy lunch.

What does all this mean? An excellent selection of line caught fish, a great position and a brilliant wine list.

Boardwalk Level, Riverside Centre
123 Eagle Street
Brisbane 4000
P - 07 3220 2202
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Jellyfish on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

New Zealand in a Glass

The annual New Zealand in a Glass wine tasting is happening in Brisbane on Sunday 1 March 2009.

If you haven't been before, it's an excellent way to try out plenty of New Zealand wines. Some of my favourite NZ wineries will be there, including Craggy Range, Villa Maria, Spy Valley, Martinborough Vineyard and Huia. They've obviously responded to the huge support this event has had over the last few years, because this year it's being held at the convention centre. Tickets are $35, through Ticketmaster.

New Zealand in a Glass
Sunday 1 March 2009, 6.30-9.00pm
Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre
Corner Merivale & Glenelg Streets
South Bank 4101
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