Sunday, 17 January 2010


If I had to pick an idyllic spot to live somewhere in the South-East Queensland/Northern New South Wales area, it would be in the lush green hills around Bangalow. It's such beautiful countryside - amazing views out over the ocean, only a short drive to the beach and best of all the town of Bangalow would be the local "metropolis". The town itself is fantastic - a really unique range of shops, some great restaurants & cafes, a butcher that sells Bangalow sweet pork and a small grocery store that stocks a quirky range of food that covers all the essentials.

Very very sadly, my bank balance doesn't allow me relocate to Bangalow just at the moment, so we have to make do with short visits instead. I've already written an earlier post about Utopia, but we popped in again on our last trip and had such a memorable morning tea that it would be mean not to share it with you.

One of the reasons I keep going back to Utopia is because they always have a selection of gluten free cakes. So many cafes around Brisbane mistakenly seem to think that having a couple of friands or a Byron Bay gluten free cookie is all you need to keep gluten free customers happy. Luckily places like Utopia are 10 steps ahead of the pack, always offering a good selection, which usually makes my job of ordering pretty tough. Not only are there always a good selection of cakes and pastries, but they are all cooked on the premises.

On this occasion I couldn't go past the lemon curd boat. As you'd guess from the name, this was a pastry shell in the shape of a boat, filled with lemon curd. The pastry was lovely & crisp, but held together well (a rarity for gluten free pastry). The filling was the complete opposite - slightly runny and very tangy. The pastry boat was served with a slice of lime and some creme Anglaise. I'd have to say that the lemon curd boat was the best gluten free pastries I have eaten for a long, long time. After it disappeared off my plate and I'd cleaned up all the delicious creme Anglaise, I seriously thought about ordering another. I only stopped because I knew we were driving down to Byron for lunch, and wanted to leave room for a serve of nachos from Ozymex (which are my favourite nachos anywhere).

My wife ordered a mascarpone tart with passionfruit curd, which looked equally as impressive as the lemon curd boat. The base of the tart contained plenty of coconut, and was filled with a lovely light, tangy mascarpone. The tart was generously drizzled with passionfruit curd and was another memorable morning tea staple. Of course my lemon curd tart was better, but I'd happily eat one of these any day (even if I couldn't eat the base).

We each had a flat white, made with Zentveld's coffee. They were both good coffees, and were served with a little biscuit on the side of the saucer.

If you've never been to Bangalow, make a trip there one of your new year's resolutions. You can start the day with coffee and morning tea at Utopia, wander around the shops for a few hours (make sure you visit the very cool Japanese gift store) and then have a late lunch at Ate or Fresca on the deck of the Bangalow Hotel. High on our travel agenda this year is a weekend at Bangalow. Not only would I love to have morning tea and lunch at Utopia, I'm very keen to try out the degustation dinner at Satiate, which sounds like an absolute bargain at $65.

In the meantime, if anyone's selling any cheap properties in the hills of Bangalow, please think of me...

13 Byron Street
Bangalow NSW 2479
P - 02 6687 2088
E -
W -

Utopia Cafe Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, 11 January 2010

Green Oven

A couple of years ago, Green Oven at Alderley was one of my favourite Brisbane breakfast spots. That was until they decided to close on Saturdays (apparently because of staff costs), which meant no more breakfasts for me. Luckily we drove past a couple of months ago and noticed they had re-opened on Saturday mornings, so we popped in one lazy weekend for breakfast.

Green Oven is situated in a fairly drab row of shops on Samford Road, just up from the Alderley Hotel. Don't let the surrounding shops put you off. The real attraction of Green Oven is that where possible, the produce is organic. Although the prices are probably a tad higher than your usual suburban cafe, you can really taste the difference. Having eaten there plenty of times, the food at Green Oven actually tastes like someone has made a concerted effort to source quality organic ingredients.

Although the weekday breakfast menu is fairly brief, there are a few more options on Saturdays. I was after something fairly simple, so I ordered the tw'eggs with free range bacon ($13.50). Green Oven has plenty of gluten free options, so there was no trouble having the sourdough replaced with something more coeliac friendly. My breakfast came out with the two poached eggs sitting aside a gluten free muffin, with the bacon placed over the top and garnished with a small rocket & herb salad. The gluten free muffin was excellent, and one of the best gluten free alternatives to normal toast that I've come across anywhere. Although I prefer my bacon a bit crispier, it tasted lovely and the eggs came out soft, just as I'd ordered them. I was pleasantly surprised when our waitress actually asked how long I would like the eggs poached. I thought the rocket was a bit unnecessary in the scheme of things, so I left it on the side of the plate.

My wife ordered a serve of home made beans with sourdough ($16.50). This turned out to be a big serve of beans, sitting on top of a couple of slices of good sourdough. The beans were flavoured with a tasty (but not overly rich) tomato sauce, including capsicum, celery and onion. The plate was garnished with rocket, which worked better with the flavours of the beans than it did with my bacon & eggs.

Other Breakfast options we've tried on past visits include buckwheat pancakes, eggs benedict and organic fruit toast.

We both ordered a couple of flat whites with our breakfasts. Green Oven uses fair trade coffee, and both our coffees were well made.

Green Oven is also open for lunch, offering burgers, BLTs, quiche and specials which are written up on the big blackboard behind the counter.

There's also a cake cabinet next to the counter, that usually contains 3 or 4 gluten free delights, so I always have to pick up something sweet to take away. This time it was a triple chocolate brownie. Although it was very rich, it hadn't been cooked through, which was a bit disappointing, especially as it was $6.

The decor at Green Oven is pretty rustic and relaxed - non-matching tables & chairs are spread around the fairly small room. Service was fine on this visit, although we weren't in any hurry.

While there are plenty of places around that spruik organic, or "wholesome" food, Green Oven has taken the conscious decision to limit its menu and focus on organic ingredients. Not only that, but the organic produce is put together on your plate with care. The best comparison I can think of to explain the food at Green Oven is this - it tastes as good as the fresh breakfasts I used to eat at my grandparents' farm when I was a little kid - the free range eggs, real bacon and home-made bread still stick in my memory. It's hard to explain the food at Green Oven any better than that - you'll have to drop in to try it yourself.

food bling ratings
Food - Great
Service - Good
Value for Money - Good
Ambience - Rustic, casual & mis-matched
Gluten Free - Great
Vegetarian - Good

Green Oven
28 Samford Road
Alderley 4051
P - 07 3352 7225

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