Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Where to get the good stuff for Christmas

Well Christmas isn't far away.  You're all probably much more organised than I am, and have your Christmas lunch planned down to what shade of orange your prawns will be.  As for me, I haven't even thought about what's going on the table.  If (like me) you have no idea, then it's time to start making plans.

To give you a head start, here are a few of my favourite suppliers of Christmas goodies:

Black Pearl Epicure

To be honest, if I could only buy my Christmas supplies from one shop, this would be it.  You name it, they've got it.  I love their massive cheese selection, but if you need more than cheese to celebrate Christmas (not me), the Black Pearl Epicure range includes Duchy Originals, Simon Johnson products, Osietra caviar, Almond Grove free range turkeys, specialty hams, Barossa chickens, Tetsuya's smoked ocean trout, Joseph olive oil, a terrific selection of chocolate etc etc etc.  On top of that, Emma and all the staff are incredibly helpful & friendly.  Make sure you pick up a special Christmas treat from Black Pearl - Christmas orders close on 4 December 2011.

36 Baxter Street
Fortitude Valley
P - 07 3257 2144
E - showroom@blackpearl.com.au
W - http://www.blackpearl.com.au/

Loria Continental Delicatessen

If you live within driving distance of Stafford Heights, pop over to Loria Deli one weekend.  It's a fantastic, family run deli, tucked in the shopping centre on Rode Road.  The strengths here are Italian goodies, including a great range of smallgoods, cheese, olives and cannoli, together with Italian cooking staples.  The prosciutto di San Daniele is the nirvana of pork (if you ask me), and wouldn't be out of place on anyone's Christmas table.  Again, the ladies at Loria Deli are always helpful, and prices here are some of the best you'll find in Brisbane for premium deli supplies.

Shop 21, 734 Rode Road
Stafford Heights
P - 07 3359 6087
E - loriacontinental@gmail.com


Every Christmas meal needs to finish with good chocolate, and for my money Bittersweet makes the best chocolate in Brisbane.  Their chocolate is handmade and incredibly delicious, with 60 flavours to tempt you.  My all time favourites are the white chocolate macadamia clusters and the champagne truffles.  If you're anything like me, you'll walk out with way more than you meant to buy, and then eat most of them in the car on the way home (and then have to go back again the next day for more).

Shop 8, The Barracks
61 Petrie Terrace
P - 07 3367 3323
E - info@bittersweetchocolate.com.au
W - http://www.bittersweetchocolate.com.au/

The Meat-ting Place

The Meat-ting Place specialises in organic meat, and is my favourite butcher in Brisbane.  Whether it's grass fed beef you're after, or a free range Christmas ham, the Meat-ting Place will have you covered.  The Meat-ting Place is taking Christmas orders for hams, turkey, ducks, pork, chicken & spatchcock.  This butcher should definitely be on your list if you're aiming for an organic Christmas this year.

Shop 3B Paddington Central
107 Latrobe Terrace
P - 07 3369 9522
W - http://www.themeat-tingplace.com.au/

Shop 6/7 North West Plaza
97 Flockton Street
P - 07 3353 8541
W - http://www.themeat-tingplace.com.au/

The Wine Emporium

The Wine Emporium is my favourite Brisbane wine store.  Sure, it may not be the cheapest, but their range is terrific, and staff are always helpful - don't be afraid to ask.  If you're looking for a special bottle of Champagne, Chablis or Chambertin to enjoy with Christmas lunch, pop into the Wine Emporium, and they'll steer you in the right direction.  Bernadette O'Shea has just sent around  their Champagne list for Christmas, which includes some very, very tempting bubbles.

Shop 47, Emporium
1000 Ann Street
Fortitude Valley 4006
P - 07 3252 1117
E - thevalley@thewineemporium.com.au
W - http://www.thewineemporium.com.au/

Sourced Grocer

Sourced Grocer is the new kid on the block in the Brisbane food scene, but it's quickly become one of my favourites.  It sells food that you just want to eat all the time - great stuff like Bangalow cheese, Gundowring ice cream, Mirool Creek lamb, Fever Tree tonic, Stella May terrines, Bangalow pork, Maleny Dairies milk and the list goes on & on.  Again, the guys & girls here are so friendly, they'll happily have a chat to you while you fill up your basket with everything that takes your fancy.  Plus they make a great coffee.

11 Florence Street
Teneriffe  4006
P - 07 3852 6734
E - hello@sourcedgrocer.com.au
W - http://www.sourcedgrocer.com.au/

The Wine Experience

If you haven't already guessed, wine is a big part of my life.  So I really enjoy visiting wine shops that are independent, and stock wines that you don't see every day of the week.  The Wine Experience at Rosalie fits the bill perfectly.  It may not be the biggest wine shop in the world, but real thought has gone into its range.  The Wine Experience has a terrific range of Australian drops, but also covers wine from Spain, France, Italy, South Africa, USA, Germany & Chile.  Not only does it have a great range, but prices are very reasonable and you're likely to walk out with a few extra bottles (just in case).

150 Baroona Road

Paddington  4064
P - 07 3368 1572
E - sales@wineexperience.com.au
W - http://www.wineexperience.com.au/

Rosalie Gourmet Market

Rosalie Gourmet Market looks like a normal suburban deli from the street.  But when you walk inside, it's like a Tardis.  Everywhere you look, the place is crammed with food.  There's fresh fruit & vegies, a great range of oils & vinegars, a cheese cabinet to die for, smallgoods, a bakery, Bendele Farm duck, Christmas hams, Christmas puddings and the list goes on....  I love wandering in here on the weekend and tasting a few cheeses from the cabinet, before going home to gobble up something delicious for lunch.  Christmas orders close on 14 December.

Corner of Nash Street and Baroona Road

Rosalie Village, Paddington
P - 07 3876 6222
E - admin@rosaliegourmet.com.au
W - http://www.rosaliegourmet.com.au/

The Food Store

Yes, I know the Food Store is at the Gold Coast.  But I went there recently, and was so impressed with their range that I had to include it in this list.  The thing that stood out to me about the Food Store is that they sell stuff you just can't buy anywhere else.  The main attraction for me is their range of Salumi products.  If you've never tried any of the Salumi range, jump in your car to the coast, park it out the front of the Hilton and order a platter for lunch/afternoon tea/dinner.  They'll slice it to order for you as well - you won't regret it.  If you're not a meat fiend like me, then there's plenty to grab your attention - a great range of Australian & imported cheese, Sweetness rocky road & mallows, Gundowring ice cream, Stella May terrines, in house baked bread and a fantastic range of wine (including a good range from Queensland).  Best of all, prices here are very reasonable, and not what you'd normally expect to pay at an international hotel chain.

Hilton Surfers Paradise
6 Orchid Avenue
Surfers Paradise 4217
T - 07-56808000
W - http://www.hiltonsurfersparadise.com.au/restaurant-the-food-store

Wednesday, 27 July 2011


It was Saturday and I needed to find somewhere for dinner. After our trip to Melbourne, and the amazing variety of restaurants down there, I was feeling a bit disillusioned with the usual restaurant suspects. After ruling out the standard Thai/Chinese/Indian/Italian/Vietnamese etc places, I spent an hour or so Googling some new places to go.

To be honest I was hoping to find something completely new, like a Caribbean or Congolese place, but no such luck. Then I came across Meykadeh at Jindalee. I was expecting it to serve giant plates of meat, but was pleasantly surprised after reading through the menu on its website. So we booked and jumped into the car, off to Jindalee.

It's not the easiest place to find - Meykadeh is tucked in a bit of an odd spot in the Jindalee Home Maker Centre. We tracked it down eventually, but once we walked in the door we were made very welcome. A man who appeared to be the owner greeted us, and showed us to the table. The restaurant is all one room, with a bistro feel - white windows and mismatched wooden tables, without tablecloths.

The young waitress quickly brought us a bottle of water and the menus. The menu at Meykadeh is a prime example of why restauranteurs really should put a bit of thought into what they hand out to their diners. This is how the menu begins:

"A meykadeh is a meeting place. A place to relax, talk, eat well and drink.

Welcome. Please take as much time as you wish. There is no minimum spend, nor will you be rushed while you enjoy your coffee or Poor Man's soup."

I don't know about you, but that's exactly what I want to hear when I walk into a restaurant. Sure the restaurant wasn't full on the night we were there, but the staff were incredibly friendly, and there was no hurry throughout our meal.

After looking through the menu, the mazeh/starters really caught my eye. Here are a few of them:

KuKu-yeh Sabzi ($9) - a mixture of eggs, sauteed coriander, dill, spring onion, parsley, lettuce, crushed walnut and barberries, served with homemade garlic yoghurt.

Falafele-Aadas ($9) - lentils mixed with onion and fresh coriander, served with tahini sauce.

Nano-Paniro-Sabzi ($9) - Persian feta with mixed fresh herbs and walnuts;

Morgo badam ($9) - chicken and almond with homemade mayonnaise;

Masto-bademjam ($9) - smokey, slow-barbequed eggplant mashed and combined with homemade yoghurt, finished with caramelised onion, garlic and mint.

Although it was a tough choice, we ordered the falafele-aadas, nano-paniro-sabzi and morgho badam. All of the mazeh were served with barbari naan, a delicious bread (similar to Turkish bread) that was served warm in a small covered basket.

It didn't take long for the mazeh to arrive at our table, and they were all well presented. I'd have to say the best of the three was the falafele - they were fantastic. Many falafel I've had over the years taste only of garlic, but these had a more delicate flavour, and had been perfectly cooked.

The other two mazeh weren't far behind the falafele. The nano-paniro-sabzi was simply plated up - about 6 or 7 large cubes of Persian feta, some fresh walnuts, sliced radish, basil leaves and some parsley. Drizzled over the feta was a herbed dressing. These were all simple ingredients on the plate, but the combination was a winner. By the end I was scraping the last little specks of feta and dressing off the plate.

The final mazeh was the morgho badam. This was a mound of chicken pieces covered in a creamy mayonnaise, that had almond pieces mixed through it. I enjoyed it as a contrast to the other dishes, although it didn't have the same wow factor.

After enjoying the mazeh I was looking forward to the mains. Although most of the mazeh were vegetarian, when it came to the mains, they were mainly meat (with only one vegetarian option). Here's an idea of what was on offer:

Kabab-e Barg-e Bakhteeyari ($28) - char-grilled lamb backstrap with onion, bell peppers and grilled tomato, served with saffron rice & sumac;

Maheeche va Ghorme Sabzi ($28) - lamb shank & aromatic herbs with red beans and dried lime braise on steamed saffron rice;

Fesenjan-e Tahere ($22) - pomegranate and walnut stew with meatballs served with saffron rice;

Kabab-e Shandiez ($34) - marinated lamb rib chops, char-grilled and served with Barbari naan and fresh herbs.

Although the grills sounded good, after having a massive mixed grill plate at Achelya in Melbourne the week before, I was looking for something different, and ordered the Fesenjan-e Tahere (I was fairly sure I'd never had a pomegranate & walnut stew before).

The fesenjan-e tahere was brought out in a boat shaped silver dish - on one side was the stew itself, and the other contained the saffron rice. There was also a small salad on the end of the "boat" which seemed fairly unnecessary to me (but may well be very traditional). The stew was a dark colour, and contained plenty of small meatballs. Although it had a very rich flavour, the tanginess of the pomegranate helped to cut through the richness & lift the overall flavour of the stew. The rice itself was fantastic - a very long grained rice that was extremely fluffy, and didn't cling together. I was wondering how they had managed to cook the rice in order to keep the individual strands from joining together. Overall I enjoyed the fesenjan-e tahere, but would have probably enjoyed a few more dishes with it, to contrast the rich flavour of the stew.

We also ordered the fesenjan-e Bademjan "Khadijeh" ($22) - a stew of pomegranate and walnuts with fried eggplant, served with saffron rice. As we expected, this was basically the same as the dish which I had, but served with eggplant instead of the meatballs. It was the only vegetarian main course, so we didn't have a lot of other options when it came to ordering.

The menu also contains a number of salads, a few of which sounded delicious. Overall, I really enjoyed our dinner at Meykadeh. It certainly ticked the box of something new for dinner, with the added bonus of friendly, welcoming service and a good looking dining room.

If you do go to Meykadeh, I strongly recommend going with a bunch of friends, and ordering a good selection of dishes both from the mazeh and the mains, to share around the table. That's probably the best way of enjoying the food on offer at Meykadeh.

food bling ratings
Food - Good
Service - Great
Value for Money - Good
Ambience - Relaxed, wood table-bistro feel
Vegetarian - Ok
Wine - Limited selection, but appeared to allow BYO

Shop 22 Jindalee Home Maker Centre
34 Goggs Road
Jindalee  4074
P - 07 3715 7776
W- http://www.meykadeh.com.au/

Meykadeh Persian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Little White Lies Competition

Thanks to the good people at Hopscotch Films, it's competition time!

Food bling, Brisbane has 5 double passes to preview showings of Little White Lies, a new French movie which is about to open in Brisbane.

Guillaume Canet has assembled an outstanding cast of some of France's finest actors - headed by Academy Award-winning Marion Cotillard - to make an entertaining and acutely observed drama of manners. A group gathering is hosted every year by a couple at their beautiful beach house where they kick-off their summer vacation by celebrating the birthday of one of the gang. Fun, fine wine and seafood mix with sun and sand as they all leave their city stresses and inhibitions behind.

But this year is different. One of them is badly injured in a serious motorcycle accident just as they are about to leave Paris for their seaside reunion. His friends flock to his bedside, where their unconscious pal is still alive but in intensive care. What to do? Stay in Paris to be by his side, or leave for their vacation having been assured that there is nothing they can do? By the time they return he should be conscious and up for visitors. After some intense discussion, they decide to head off for enjoyment and relaxation. Over the course of the next week, all the tensions within this group erupt into full daylight.

Through a succession of incidents, the group is pulled apart and dragged together by their ties of loyalty and marriage. Their relationships, convictions, sense of guilt and friendship are sorely tested. They are finally forced to own up to the little white lies they have been telling each other.

As far as I'm concerned, Marion Cotillard is reason alone to see Little White Lies (although I'm sure the plot/setting/other actors are also very important). If you would like the chance to win one of the preview passes, you need to tell me about your favourite French food or wine experience - it could be memories of your favourite meal in Paris, your favourite French recipe or the time when you ate a whole packet of Lescure butter for lunch.

To enter, either post up your French food or wine tale as a comment to this post, or email it through to me at ricardogardiner[at]gmail.com.

Finally, these preview tickets must be used on 10, 11 or 12 June 2011, so make sure you're in town that weekend.

Entries close on 4 June 2011, so if you snooze, you'll lose.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

The pub with no (gluten free) beer

It's been a hard day/week/year. You need a drink. You head to the closest pub thinking about an icy cold beer. You walk in, look through all the taps and even in the fridges, but they don't have any beer. Sounds a bit bizarre? Not if you have coeliac disease.

Over the last 5 years or so, that's what faced me every time I walked into a bar/pub/restaurant/wedding/football game etc. Luckily for all the coeliacs out there, things are changing, at least in Brisbane.

I was at Kerbside recently, lining up at the bar for a drink. I'd already decided on a good G&T (with Bombay Sapphire) but was just scanning through the drinks fridge, because there was a pretty impressive line up of beers. All of a sudden I noticed they had O'Brien's gluten free beer stubbies in the fridge. I couldn't believe it, because I'd never seen them in a bar, so I had to ask the bar tender:

Me - "Is that actually O'Brien's gluten free beer in the fridge?"

Bar guy - "Yep, we have two types - the premium lager and the pale ale"

Me - Dumbfounded. Can't decide. NEVER had this many beer choices in the last 5 years at a bar. (The guy must think I'm crazy while I try to decide) "I'll have a premium lager." Walk off, still amazed, guzzling down the beer.

Anyway, since that trip to Kerbside (which is brilliant by the way), I've found out there are a couple of other bars in Brisbane serving gluten free beer:

Kerbside - O'Brien's Premium Lager and Pale Ale

Archive - O'Brien's

The German Club - O'Brien's

Bavarian Bier Cafe - Schnitzer Brau (A German gluten free beer brewed from millet)

Hats off to those bars! Each of them is now top of my list next time I really need a beer. If you know of any other Brisbane bars that are serving gluten free beer, let me know, and I'll add them to this post.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

New Zealand in a Glass 2011

One of my favourite wine events each year is New Zealand in a Glass. If you haven't been before, it involves loads of NZ wine producers touring around Australia, so we can all taste their current release wines.

This year NZ in a Glass is coming to Brisbane on 28 February 2011 at the Convention Centre and a ticket will set you back $45 (which includes a Riedel glass to take home). You'll need to grab your tickets through Ticketek.

If you've only ever drunk sauvignon blanc from NZ before, this is a great chance to taste all the other terrific wines that the country produces without having to jump on a plane over there. Some of my favourite NZ wine producers will be attending this year, including Huia, Hunter's, Lawson's Dry Hills, Spy Valley and Vinoptima.

This event has sold out in the past, so grab a ticket soon if you're intending to go. As I'm wandering around on crutches for the next month, unfortunately I think I'm going to have to give it a miss this year (or maybe I could show up with a modified Homer Simpson Duff beer hat).

New Zealand in a Glass 2011
Monday, 28 February 2011
Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre
Corner of Merivale Road & Glenelg Street
South Brisbane 4101
W - http://www.nzwine.com/events/new-zealand-in-a-glass-brisbane/

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Baked Relief

The flooding in Queensland has no doubt affected someone you know.

My mum lives in Yeronga, and although she was extremely lucky and just avoided the floods, I was over in the suburb on the weekend and felt numb driving around the streets. I spent over 20 years of my life in Yeronga, so it was pretty devastating to see how badly some streets had suffered from the floods.

Luckily there have been loads of people helping out those that have been affected, which is important not only for the rebuilding of the city, but also for everyone's morale. One of the people that is making a big difference is my friend and fellow blogger Danielle, who writes Digella Emporium. Danielle came up with the idea of Baked Relief - supplying home-cooked food to those who need it around Brisbane, as well as to all the impressive volunteers.

If you are a keen cook, please get in touch with Danielle via her blog or Twitter. If you can't cook to save your life, then there are other ways you can help, including donating to Baked Relief.

In the meantime, I'll leave you all on a positive note - I love this photo from Dalby which has been doing the rounds on Facebook - good to see even the animal kingdom is helping each other out in times of crisis.