Saturday, August 27, 2011

Australian Farmers Market Love

We were back in Australia this Spring for 8 weeks; the first time since we left nearly 6 years ago that we have spent that amount of time back home. There were so many things we loved about being home, but one of them would have to be the abundance of Farmers Markets. We would go to at least one a week, switching between the Jan Power markets in the City on Wednesdays and the Davies Park markets at West End. The West End markets had a little stall selling a range of cheese & even fresh churned butter. We pick up a log of goat's cheese, and just happen to have some pickled walnuts at home that we picked up on one of our continental food shop missions, and have the making of a wonderful afternoon snack ...


The goat's cheese was divine, crumbly, salty and with robust flavors ... paired perfectly with the pickled walnuts.

What are you doing this weekend? Get on down to your local farmers market and as well as supporting local producers you will be bound to find a trove of seasonal treasures!

the West End Markets
Held every Saturday
6am - 2pm
Davies Park
QLD Australia

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Montague Road West End

Cupcakes with a chaser of chocolate - Max Brenner on the Gold Coast

So, my darling sister turns 20... one thing that has not changed over the years is her love for chocolate. After a huge dinner the night before, with some delicious cupcakes what better way to follow up the next morning than with chocolate by the bald man. Max Brenner is all about chocolate - the shops walls are lined with all sorts of chocolate mixes, drinks, cups, glassware & sweets with cabinets of hand-made chocolates and then the front counter home to a whole range of chocolate goodies, a warm pot of chocolate for drizzling and a coffee machine used mainly for foaming milk for the various chocolate drinks. The drink menu is a tad daunting, you look above the back wall and the boards are filled with each & every hot or iced chocolate concoction you could imagine - dark chocolate, spiced Mexican chocolate, Danish toffee, marshmallow, coconut chocolate, mint chocolate, hot chocolate with waffle bites & peanut butter iced chockie .... just to name a few! The little sis' goes for a suckao, milk chocolate.

Happy 20th Birthday!

As you can see, one very happy camper! A jug of warm milk and fine milk chocolate buttons sit on a little wooden tray and are added to a little suckao pot, with a tea light candle flickering below. The metal straw has a little spoon on the end, for stirring and collecting all of the melting chocolate. I have the hot chocolate with waffle bites and Mum the Danish toffee chocolate, both divine!

We share a chocolate souffle cake, with chocolate drizzle and vanilla ice cream.

Max Brenner

That's definitely our chocolate quota for the day .... now time for a stroll along the coast.

Max Brenner
Gold Coast - Main Beach
Shop 24 Ground Floor, Marina Mirage
74 Seaworld Drive Main Beach QLD 4217
T: +61 7 5591 1588

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Happy 20th Birthday Ally, now let's eat cupcakes...

While we were home recently my little baby sister turned 20... No longer a teenager! Happy Birthday Ally, so glad that we could be there to celebrate your special day.


We made a feast of a dinner, just what the birthday girl requested; Dad's corned beef with mustard sauce, potato rösti & buttered beans. Yum! We'd arranged some gorgeous cupcakes from The Cupcake Parlor in West End. Gooey chocolate fudge, toblerone topper & fairy floss varieties.


Great evening, great company & delicious cupcakes! Here's to many more happy years ahead....

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Adapting to life as an Australian Housewife ..... ah, Risa!

A shout out to our friends Ross & Risa, who we met in Hokkaido and who did the most awesome trip of Japan in their Delica with a Honda Mini Cub & bed in the back .... got married, and then took off to Australia. We caught up with them while we were back in Oz a few times, but were lucky enough to be invited around for a BBQ at their place. They have a pretty sweet pad in the Valley, with a nice outdoor space that opens up into the eating area. Ross cranked up the BBQ, and Risa had knocked up some true blue Aussie rissoles & even a potato bake.


All was enjoyed in the sunshine, with bread rolls, salad, white wine & even a bit of roo steak! Ross, & Risa adapting to life as an Australian really well, we will be back again next time we're home for another BBQ feast!;)

Yatala Pies, on the Highway, Brisbane, Australia

Best Pie in Australia ... now that is a huge claim! Growing up in NSW, Robertson Pie Shop was my go-to pie fix growing up. In the last couple of years, on the visits home to family, I have learned of Yatala pies. Yatala pies seems to be known QLD wide, and beyond, as producing some of the best pies in Australia. Yatala pies is over 130 years old, and has grown from a humble little roadside pie shop to a store just off the Gold Coast highway in beautiful landscaped surronds with inside & outside seating areas and a drive through! selling over 3,500 pies a-day. We certainly help boost that number whenever we are home!

It is conveniently located between where Dad's place, and where the rest of the relatives live on the Gold Coast. Pie, chips, gravy & a Bundaberg ginger beer and I am all set.


The pastry at Yatala is hands down some of the best pie pastry in the galaxy. Crumbly, short crust base and a super flaky puff top. The fillings can be a bit hit-and-miss, but on this occasion I try the lamb, mint & peas. Definitely my favorite pie from Yatala to date! It's like a roast dinner, in a pie. There are decent chunks of the roast lamb and plump peas sitting in a minted gravy.


It's also impossible to leave Yatala Pies without some sort of sweet treat for later. When the sister is present, that is guaranteed to be a caramel tart! Today, apricot pie with cream, glistening under a layer of sugar crystals.


Yatala Pies
Exit 38, Yatala North
48 Old Pacific Hwy, Yatala QLD 4207, Australia‎
T: +61 (0) 7 3287 2468‎
Open 7 Days a week, 7.30am~8.30pm

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Fish & Chips at the Fishery, Milton, Brisbane

I have an issue with cooked fish ... I didn't even eat battered & fried fish as a kid. I ate lots of chips, and pluto pups, and bacon egg rolls, and pineapple fritters. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy eating fish! Mainly raw fish though. It's the texture of cooked fish I generally don't like. Living in Hokkaido for close to 3 years though, I have developed a whole new appreciation for fish .. tsubodai is my favorite thing to get at an Izakaya now - a rich, fatty fish from the Northern seas of Japan that is salted and hung to dry for a day or two before being grilled over charcoal. I even somewhere along the way, in my last couple of visits developed a real liking to battered fish - even when it tastes of more than oil & salt.

Now, we eat a fair bit of fish in Japan, as you would ... but it's the same with beef. We are blessed with some of the most premium beef & seafood products in the world. The quality is gob-smacking, and that's just the stuff in the supermarket! But, like we still often crave for a nice, grilled steak as everything you get in the stores is small portions, usually sliced very thin, and so rich I don't even think eating a 300g steak would be possible without some serious stomach cramps!

Fish is the same, the quality and variety of fish we get at the supermarket exceeds anything I could have dreamed of. But again, because of the quality & just their culture of how they eat, fish is eaten in small amounts, often raw, or grilled bone in, used to flavor stocks or salted & dried. A huge chunk of meaty, white fish coated in a thick batter and fried until golden .... nuh uh, not around here. Even if we are lucky to find seafood other than shrimp tempura'd, the batter is much lighter and the pieces of seafood would be tiny bite sized bits. Which brings me back to Fish & Chips. Something I now crave when heading back home. Sitting outside, by the water, a whole spread of deep-fried goodness with wedges of lemon & a Bundaberg Ginger Beer, bliss!!

The world of twitter introduced me to The Fishery at Milton. This was on our must-eat list. The address is punched into the Tom Tom and before we know it we are headed towards the GBB? "Take the GBB?!" WTF is the GBB? ahhhhhhhhhhh, the Go-Between-Bridge. We put our faith in Tom Toms hands and arrive at a little community shopping village. I imagined it would be by the water? We head inside and place our order.


There's a large menu on the wall, some daily specials, and showcases filled with all sorts of fresh seafood delights. We settle on some fried cod, crumbed whiting & sea scallops, home-made potato scallops & of course chips.


The chips are golden & crunchy, the perfect nest for all of the fresh, delicate seafood on top. The sea scallops were sweet, still translucent in the centre with a golden crumb coating. The whiting was salty & delicious, and the huge battered piece of cod was divine. We had home-made tartare & aioli to dip everything into and both stopped in our tracks with the first bite of potato scallop... Thick cut chunks of potato were coated in a dreamy batter and fried until the color of the sun on a clear Summers day.... Yeah, those little fried potatoes messed with my head.. hot, crispy, salty overload!

This was the first of several fish & chip meals on our visit home, and something I am already missing now we are back in Japan...

The Fishery
6A / 16 Baroona Rd
Milton QLD, Australia 4064

T: +61 (07) 3369 4707
Open Daily, 10am-8pm

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Friday, August 12, 2011

90 years strong ....

After a brief stopover in Seoul, we find ourselves back in Brisbane on the morning of my Oma's 90th Birthday. A quick freshen up, and we are on the Gold Coast before lunch time. Way back on May 14th, 2011 (was that really nearly 3 months ago??!) my one and only grandparent, Klara Cornelia, or Oma, turned 90. To be there with her to celebrate this milestone, truly a blessing. She has been there for me throughout the years on countless occasions, and spending time with her while we were home and seeing that she still has her sense of humor & cheekiness was extremely refreshing! Lunch is had, and little things that day will stick with me forever. As we all sit down, a casual "What would you like to drink, Oma?" and we are quickly put in our place with a "Well... I haven't even seen the drinks menu yet .." *smile* We all help her navigate her way around the menu a little, as of course the font is quite small. The words Iced .. Coffee .. Ice-cream pass through my lips and her eyes light up. 1 iced-coffee, with ice-cream, for the Birthday girl. She was truly glowing throughout the day, I think a very rare occasion having the family together like this, as well as iced coffee with ice-cream, was probably why.


To be honest, I can't even really remember what we ate, as it certainly was not the thing on my mind this particular day. But, looking over the photos I see the one that we have from lunch was a steak sandwich - toasted white bread, steak, caramelized onions, tomato sauce & even some bacon speared with a toothpick and with a mountain of hot chips. Oh yeah, we are back in Australia !!


Oma, Happy 90th Birthday !! You are an inspiration & aspiration to us all.

Tornado Potato!

Deep fried & things on a stick... 2 of my favorite food groups! While wandering through Insadong I spotted a Tornado Potato cart. It was a one-man show, taking a raw potato and feeding it through some fancy contraption where he was left with a spiral of starchy potato. One at a time, the whole thing was then carefully threaded onto a wooden stick. And then, the whole thing, stick and all, was placed in a vat of hot oil.


When the golden tornado emerged from the oil, it was left to rest a moment on the tray, before I was faced with the grueling decision of choosing a flavored salt. There was several flavors, but the Chilli and the Cheese flavors were what interested me. A quick dip of one half into the chilli salt, and the other into the cheese salt.


And there we have one stick full of deep fried, salty, crispy goodness from the streets of Seoul.