Monday, 26 November 2012

Brisbane's best chocolates are about to leave the building

As you may know, I am a huge fan of the terrific chocolates from Bittersweet

It all goes back to years ago when I lived in Paddington, and became very good at finding any excuse to pop into Hot Chocolate for a coffee and a few chocolates.  Fairly soon I was addicted, and there was no turning back.  It's all been downhill from there, and now I head to Bittersweet for my regular chocolate fix.  I'm certainly no chocolate guru, but for my money they are the best hand made chocolates you can find in Brisbane.

So I was sad to find out last week that Bittersweet is closing this Saturday, 1 December 2012:

During our four years at the Barracks, our team has faced several challenges, particularly the sad passing of our founder Ann Atkinson from pancreatic cancer in March 2010. Our fantastic team who have worked with us through some very difficult times have helped us immeasurably in keeping Bittersweet trading. However, juggling the demands of a young family with a 7 day retail business has resulted in our decision to close.
Whilst we have made the decision to put Bittersweet on hiatus for now, our love for handcrafted chocolate and the unique recipes that our family has created over the last 30 years will surely mean that we will be drawn back into the chocolate business at some stage in the future. At this time however, our family needs to be our primary focus..  
If you have never tried the chocolates from Bittersweet, you've only got 5 days left!  Forget about your fantales, ferrero rochers and freddo frogs - put your hard earned money towards a dozen chocolates from Bittersweet and you'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner.  And if you can't decide what to buy, start with a few of my favourites - macadamia caramel, champagne truffle, salted caramel or the white chocolate macadamia cluster (I'm currently in the process of turning my wine fridge into a Bittersweet chocolate fridge, so there may not be any of those ones left). 
I'm sure that I won't be the only person in Brisbane that misses these amazing chocolates, and best wishes to Melissa, her family and her team of chocolatiers - hope we see your chocolates again soon!
The Barracks (next to Coles)
61 Petrie Terrace
Brisbane QLD 4000
P - 07 3367 3323
E -
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Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Sample Food Festival

As you all know by now, Bangalow is one of my favourite places to hang out.  I would live there in a flash - eating Bangalow pork, cheese and butter all day (with an occasional glass of vino). 

Other than it being a great little town, the food in the area is tremendous.  Which is why you should all go along to the Sample Food Festival, being held at the Bangalow show ground this Saturday, 6 October 2012.

It's going to be a massive day of amazing food, with 120 exhibitors, the Byron farmers market and a cooking stage featuring Steven Snow, Clayton Donovan, Gavin Hughes and Ben O'Donoghue.

The festival runs from 8am to 8pm, so make a day of it!  There's plenty more information on the festival website.

Sample Food Festival
Saturday 6 October 2012, 8am to 8pm
Bangalow Show Grounds
Bangalow NSW
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Friday, 28 September 2012

Sake Cherry Blossom Festival

Saké restaurant is currently celebrating their Cherry Blossom Festival, and I was lucky enough to sample a few dishes from the special menu which Shinichi Maeda has put together for the occasion.

During the festival, Saké is offering a menu which includes the following dishes (with sake matches of course):
Ikura scallops - fresh Queensland scallops topped with ocean trout caviar and ponzu sauce
Sashimi - a selection of the day's sashimi, served with wasabi and soy
Saké - Kozaemon Junami Daiginjo

Ocean trout - pan seared served with sweet pea puree and Asian mushrooms tossed with butter soy Lamb panko - fried lamb back strap served with pickled beetroot puree, Jerusalem artichoke and baby carrot
Saké - Kozaemon ‘Sakura’ Junmai Banshu Yamadanishiki 

Very strawberry sorbet, mousse, jelly, marshmallow, crisp consomméSaké - Choya ume shu 

The Cherry Blossom menu is $88, or $128 including matching sake.  My favourite dish from the Cherry Blossom menu was the Ikura scallops, which were fantastic, although the lamb panko wasn't far behind.  Apart from the food, the highlight of the night was being able to sample different varieties of sake.  Being a complete sake novice, it was a great opportunity to learn about how sake is made, and enjoy the variety of sake flavours, matched with a wide range of Japanese food.

Even if you're not looking for dinner, you can pop in and have a few glasses of sake after work.  And during the Cherry Blossom festival, there's a real cherry blossom tree in the restaurnt - it looks superb.  Other than the food (of course) the thing I enjoyed the most is that once you walk past the bar and into the dining areas of the restaurant, you'd never know you were in the CBD - it's like you've stepped into a peaceful Japanese hideaway.  Despite working almost next door to Saké, I had never made it there until this trip. After a terrific night there, I will have to make up for missed opportunities and get back soon - there are, after all, over 50 sakes to try!

food bling, Brisbane ate as a guest of Saké Brisbane.

Level 1, 45 Eagle Street
Eagle Street Pier
Brisbane QLD 4000
P - 07 3015 0557
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Monday, 26 March 2012

Enrich Brisbane - The Winners

Thanks to everyone who entered the Enrich Brisbane competition.  Due to the large amount of entries, I did a random draw tonight - it was too hard to decide between all the fantastic entries.

So.....[drumroll].....the lucky winners are both email entries - Milika, whose enriching experience was a memorable family meal at the Star of Greece in Port Willunga and Cat, whose entry recounted her family getting together from all parts of the world to meet up for a family Christmas in post-earthquake New Zealand.

You've both won a double pass to Enrich - hope you have a fantastic day there!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Competition Time - Enrich Brisbane

Roll up, Roll up - there's a new food/wine/lifestyle event coming to Brisbane in late March - Enrich.

Luckily for me, they've planned it so it runs over my birthday.  For the rest of you, food bling Brisbane is offering a few free tickets, so you can enjoy it as much as I will.

So what exactly is Enrich?

If you enjoy entertaining family and friends, nourishing your body with the tastiest, most wholesome food matched with premium quality wine and filling your world with the latest innovations in an at-home fun and relaxing environment, Enrich Brisbane is for you. Come along and interact with and be entertained by some of the nation’s best-loved food personalities, stars and other extraordinary Australians including Alastair McLeod, Ben O’Donoghue, Frank Camorra, Ian Parmenter and Lyndey Milan.

Over the course of the weekend there will be sessions on lifestyle, food & wine.  A few of the sessions which caught my eye were:

  • Sustainable Seafood - Australia's seafood is unbeatable; we have access to an abundance of fresh fish, shellfish and crustaceans sourced from pristine waters. Here we have a look at Australia’s seafood sustainability and fresh cooking ideas to make the most of this wonderful and nutrient-rich resource. Hosted by Fast Ed (Ed Halmagyi) and featuring demonstrations by Lyndey Milan and Alastair McLeod;
  • Two Great Loves - Wine and Lindt Chocolate - Through decadent, expert matches discover how the right wine can bring out the best in your favourite chocolate. Featuring a range of Lindt chocolate, this fun and interactive event will have you discovering a stellar line-up of Australian wines and their ideal chocolate match. Get ready for some delicious results.  Hosted by Michael Quirk, with panel members Thomas Schneltzer, Nicole Gow & Chris Barnes.
  • Being Alternative? New varieties for new climates - Discover a diverse collection of wines as we explore and taste the future of Australian wine; new varieties, emerging regions, organics, biodynamics, climate changes and trends shaping what we taste in the glass and the future of wine. It promises to be a very eclectic and exciting tasting experience.  Hosted by Max Allen, together with panellists Tony Harper and Christian Gaffey.
  • Something about Spain - The impression Spanish culture has had on Australian food is amazing and the cuisine is definitely growing in popularity. Come along to taste and talk about Australia's love affair with Spanish food and culture – from rich tapas to intense paellas. Plus, learn how to inject a little Spanish into our lives. Hosted by Ian Parmenter with demonstrations by Frank Camorra and Pablo Tordesillas, this will be one of the hot sessions for the weekend.
As you can see, some of Australia's leading food & wine personalities will be lending their expertise to Enrich over the weekend, including Alastair McLeod, Anna Gare, Ben O'Donoghue, Thierry Galichet, Lyndey Milan, Frank Camorra, Pablo Tordesillas, Max Allen and Tony Harper.

To be in the running for a double pass, all you have to do is let me know your most enriching food or wine experience.

It's always impossible to pick just one, but to get the ball rolling, here's one that always sticks in my memory.  We went to Morocco for our honeymoon, and one night we set out on camels from our kasbah in Hassi Labied (Kasbah Mohajut) into the amazing dunes of Erg Chebbi, in the Sahara. 

We headed out late in the afternoon, just as it started to cool down (relatively speaking - it wasn't actually cool at all).  We had the full "Lawrence of Arabia" look going on, with scarves wrapped around our heads to try and keep the sand out.  After a couple of hours of riding through the Sahara, our trusty camels brought us to a small Berber camp, which was literally in the middle of nowhere. 

Apart from one other couple and our guide Mohar (that's him leading the camel in the picture), we were the only ones around for miles.  It was an amazing feeling, and so quiet.  We got to watch the sun set over the dunes of the Sahara, which is one of those moments I think I'll always remember - the dunes and the sun kept changing colour every few minutes - pictures just don't do it justice...

While we sat on the highest dunes watching the sun go down, Mohar worked his magic.  There was a tiny little hut with a two burner gas stove on the edge of the camp.  Mohar had disappeared into it, and to be honest, we didn't know what we'd be eating for dinner.

We walked back to the camp just as it got dark, sat on a giant rug and watched the stars light up the sky.  While we were being mesmerised by the stars, Mohar brings over mint tea and freshly made popcorn, as pre-dinner snacks.  So far, so good.  That was followed by a beautiful vegetable soup, that he'd managed to whip up.  But, not to disappoint his visitors, he then brings out two tagines with rice, including a meltingly tender lamb tagine.  We had some great tagines while we were in Morocco, but these two were right up there with the best.  I was completely amazed that he'd been able to make such a fantastic dinner with such limited cooking resources.  Going to sleep out under the stars in the middle of the desert was the perfect way to finish off a brilliant Moroccan experience.

So that's one of my amazing food experiences that I'll never forget - a memorable combination of a completely unique location, amazing hospitality and wonderful food.

For your chance to win a double pass to Enrich Brisbane, let me know your most enriching food memory.  Either post it up as a comment, or email it through to ricardogardiner[at]  Winners will be drawn on Sunday, 25 March. 

I'm looking forward to hearing about them!

Enrich Brisbane
Friday 30 March - Sunday 1 April 2012
Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre
Corner of Merivale & Glenelg Streets
South Bank
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