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Heather

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Everything posted by Heather

  1. Hi Roger I'm wondering if you've been to Calstock, near Deloraine, or heard reliable reports about it? We read about it in a food magazine - a rave of a write-up which coincided with the property opening. I've surmised that magazine's editor knows Calstock's managers, on account of the male half of the management team formerly working at Banc. The food magazine's editor is married to Banc proprietor. So, I'm not sure how much faith to place in that report. When we were last in Tasmania, we heard that the place is kind of uptight, the manager aloof. (Or maybe his French-ness just intimidates Tasmanians unaccustomed to dealing with it.) So, over to you. Is Calstock one of Tasmania's great gourmet travel experiences or a bit of an ordeal?
  2. Jinmyo, I've noticed you've started using a photograph of bibimbap as your avatar. I read about this dish in a recent story in the LA Times' online food section. I'm wondering if bibimbap is a favourite of yours? If so, could you please explain how to make a vegetarian version?
  3. Of late, Australian chefs have been producing some excellent cookbooks. Not sure if all of the below are available internationally but, even if they aren't, they're worth tracking down. A few of my favourite Australian cookbooks: Tetsuya by Tetsuya Wakada The most beautiful cookbook I've ever seen, by one of Australia's greatest - and most modest - chefs. He reveals the recipes for his famous signature dishes. Tetsuya's Japanese influences mean the recipes are relatively simple, so the book isn't purely gastro porn. You look at some of the recipes and think - "Wow! I could do that." The dishes are mostly light, with an emphasis on seafood, so the book is a real find for health-conscious food enthusiasts. Noodle by Terry Durack If you cook Asian-style noodles at home, you need this book. It has two sections: "Noodle iD" and recipes. In the noodle identification section, each of about 20 different varieties of Asian noodle, gets a double page spread. Big photo, and information about origin, cooking method, appropriate uses. The recipe section is divided by cuisine. There are terrific, authentic recipes from Japan, Korea, China, Vietnam, Thailand and other south-east Asian nations. Author Terry Durack, an Aussie now living in London, is a tremendously entertaining writer. The guy can get a lengthy laugh-aloud column out of the "death" of his beloved kitchen timer. Sydney Food by Bill Granger The man behind Sydney cafes bills and bills 2 shares the simple but inspired recipes that have made him the city's breakfast king. While bills and bills 2 are most famous for their breakfasts, the book's lunch and dinner recipes are fabulous, too. Breakfast recipes include ricotta hotcakes with honeycomb butter; pan-toasted sanwiches with tomato and fontina; fresh bircher muesli with stone fruit; coconut bread; french toast stuffed with peaches; potato and feta pancakes; lemon souffle cakes; crumpets with blackberry butter; roast mushrooms with thyme and taleggio; and toasted coconut waffles with fresh mango and palm syrup. Lunch recipes include spring onion pancake with gravlax; spaghettini with crab, lime and chilli; chicken noodle soup with lemon; ricotto and tomato tart; Puy lentil soup with Parmesan toasts; smoked trout and potato salad; coconut and passionfruit slice; and ANZAC biscuits. Dinner recipes include skewered swordfish with crispy coleslaw; barbequed whole fish with fresh herb relish; prawn and chilli linguine; baked snapper with lemon roasted potatoes and chilli relish; poached salmon with green-bean salad and tomato and anchovy dressing; individual blackberry crumbles; Pavlova; and coconut rice pudding with papaya and lime. Most of the recipes are dead simple. Many are quite light and healthy, even if they do sound decadent and indulgent. I recently saw the author on TV, and he said that he'd tried to create a cookbook people could use every day. He succeeded. Sydney Food is as practical as it is exceptional. Another Aussie cookbook to look out for: A massive 700-page reference book by Stephanie Alexander, titled The Cook's Companion here (but perhaps something else internationally). It's the new Aussie classic. Chapters devoted to all manner of ingredients and how to prepare them. It's not the kind of book that you flick though and think - "Mmmm, I absolutely must make that for dinner." But when you're knocking about the kitchen and think "I rather fancy some (insert just about any dish here)", you'll find the recipe - or one for a similar dish - in Stephanie's book. The answer to just about any culinary question you may have is in there.
  4. Hi! I'm an Aussie girl, wondering whether anyone has tried to make Aussie food at home. If you've given it a go, I'd love to hear about it. Or, if you'd like to try a classic Aussie dish, I'll happily part with my no-fail recipe for Pavlova.
  5. I second the recommendation of The French Shop at Queen Victoria Market. The owner gets some pretty sexy stuff in. My all-time favourite was an Italian truffle-infused cheese that we shaved onto scrambled eggs. Simply luxury. Be sure to ask for Julie. She's cool. Queen Vic is fairly accessible is you're doing business in the Melbourne CBD. Market opening hours: Tuesday (7am-2pm), Thursday (7am-2pm), Friday (7am-6pm), Saturday (7am-2pm) and Sunday (9am-5pm, Market open but French Shop closed). Jump on any tram heading up Elizabeth Street away from Flinders Street Station, and Queen Vic is the first stop after you pass McDonalds, which you'll see on your left. Tram ride is 3-5 minutes from corner of Elizabeth and Collins. While you're at Market, check out I Shed--great organic produce at three different stalls. Vic Market Organics is my favourite.
  6. Heather

    Cooking with Duck Fat: The Topic

    The gourmet deli where I buy cheese sells jars of duck fat. I asked the proprietor what her customers use the fat for, and how much of it she sells. She said that she has a few customers who buy 10 or more jars of it at the one time, and use it to fill their deep-fryers--an exercise that costs more than $100 Aussie dollars. Apparently, they swear it makes the ultimate deep-frying medium.
  7. I also recommend going to The Grange, at the Hilton. Far from the kind of restaurant one would expect to encounter at a Hilton hotel, so don't be put off by location. My other recommendation is Star of Greece, which is maybe 25 minutes down the coast from central Adelaide, and close to the McLaren Vale wine district. It's not a Greek restaurant. It's a casual restaurant set in a former bait shop on cliffs above the beach, and is named for the wreck of a ship nearby. Great beachy atmosphere, killer views, deck for outdoor dining. Menu has seafood emphasis. Perfect spot for relaxed lunch. Featured in the just-released issue of delicious magazine, which has a pavlova on the front cover. If you've time, a visit to Adelaide Central Markets is also recommended. Stall 55 stocks a wide range of South Australia's finest produce.
  8. No kiddies, so my suggestions are based on the brown bag (or Tupperware container--how cool is the Zen collection?!) lunch options that my husband and I like. Onigiri. Japanese rice balls, as mentioned above, are excellent--our current favourite. We buy 400-500g of fresh salmon at the fish market on a Saturday. Sunday, we cook it teriyaki style, flake it. We use the seasoned salmon flakes as an onigiri filling on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. The teriyaki sauce seems to improve the salmon's longevity. Later in the week, we use an all-natural umeboshi (Japanese pickled plum) paste as a filling, or bonito flakes mixed with a little soy. Shredded salad--an Asian-ish coleslaw. So quick to make, if you have a mandolin-style slicer. We use all of, or a selection of, the following: shredded carrot, shredded radish, shredded Asian-style cabbage, shredded cucumber, and shredded red capsicum. Dressed with a combination of pure (not extra virgin) olive oil, soy, lemon juice and lime juice. Lately, we've been on an onigiri and shredded salad bender, and haven't been eating much else for lunch. In the past, we've made noodle salad, roasted vegetables, Chinese-style mushroom and eggwhite soup, tabouli salad, curried sweet potato and chickpea soup (with wholewheat bread croutons stashed in a Ziploc bag), Asian-style sticky rice parcels, Asian-style vegetable buns (these freeze so well), and chirashi (sushi rice with bits of veggie and/or seafood mixed through or scattered over; must be prepared same-day, not night before). Something that works incredibly well as leftovers is last night's home-made pizza. Guaranteed, when your kiddies open their lunch boxes, they won't be thinking "Oh no, not this again!"
  9. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think Melbourne might have better bakeries than Sydney. Perhaps Sydney does have great bakeries, but I've never noticed them because why go to a bakery for breakfast or brunch when you can go to bills (famous for its breakfasts and brunches)? I'm currently excited about a new-ish bakery in Fitzroy Street, St Kilda. It's called d chirico baker, or baker d chirico. It's run by a young-ish Italian guy, who bakes a great sourdough olive loaf and fantastic baguettes. He does other breads, too, although we always go with the olive loaf. Also, there are five or more varieties of veggie pie - mushroom and asparagus; roast sweet potato, pumpkin and corn; spinach and fetta; mild green curry vegetable. Brilliant sweet things, made by a diminutive Italian girl - chocolate nougat, chocolate macaroon "baci" biscuits, spiced plum cake, apple tart tartin. Service can be so spunky and sparkling you want to adopt the waitress, or so rather-be-elsewhere that you fancy slapping them. Still, it's more often the former than the latter, and the food is ample compensation. There's also our long-time favourite - Gertrude Steet Organic Bakery, in Fitzroy. It's not the hippy-haven of sprout breads that one might imagine. The light rye is superb - he bakes a whopper of a loaf and sells it in chunks. There are a couple of white sourdoughs, too, but you can't go past the Bakers 100% Wholemeal - he grinds the flour himself, and the bread is seasoned with a dash of olive oil, a hint of honey and just a little sea salt. It's wholemeal heaven. For snacking, there are hardcore wholesome, chewy sourdough fruit buns, and there are his sourdough focaccia slices - potato and rosemary, onion and thyme, apple and kirsch, rhubarb and sambucca. We have read very good things about Babka - on Roger's foodtourist.com website, among other places. We haven't been there yet. The "creatures of habit" syndrome strikes again! Which of Babka's breads/dishes do you recommend, Roger? We recently bought the book, Baker. It featured Babka's veggie bread recipe, which the baker suggested toasting and spreading with peanut butter. (I'd swap peanut for almondamia - a 50-50 blend of almond and macadamia butters, produced by Himalaya Bakery in Daylesford, and now available at Vic Market Organics. Look out for it when next you visit the market.) Can anyone recommend other Melbourne bakeries, whether for bread or for grazing? The only other bakery I've visited in Melbourne: Filou's - a French-style place in suburban Carlton -which makes delicious buttery pastries. Oh, and we buy bread occasionally from Laurent - it's more a conveniently located emergency option than anything. We've also bought Phillipa's bread - another emergency - from David Jones. We don't get excited about Phillipa's or Laurent, although Laurent is a great place to send visiting rellies who live in the sticks. The display cabinet of tiny tarts and cakes makes for great eye candy. When we first moved to Melbourne, we ate at Laurent once - just the two of us - but made the mistake of ordering three things. The waiter puts two of them on the table, and then wanders around with the third little thingy, looking for whoever ordered it - the thought never entering his mind that maybe we did. We were only barely game enough to claim it.
  10. Heather

    Home Made Ice Cream (2002–2012)

    An ice-cream place here in Melbourne makes a chocolate-chilli ice-cream (chilli being Australian for chile or hot pepper). I thought it would be "interesting" at best. But the combination is actually very good.
  11. Hi Rosie The Blue Mountains is a fantastic day trip out of Sydney. If you've not seen much of Sydney before, you might want to do just the one day trip out of town and spend the rest of your time seeing Sydney itself. Balmoral Beach, a sheltered harbour beach, is beautiful. A couple of excellent restaurants there serving breakfast, lunch, dinner. Bathers Pavillion at one end of the beach; Watermark at the other. A waterfront promenade, much of it shaded by old fig trees, connects the two restaurants. You could take a water taxi there from the city, or a 10-minute cab ride. Cliff-top walk between Bondi and Bronte beaches. Despite it's icon status, Bondi is really not that special anymore. However, the walk between Bondi and Bronte is spectacular. Bondi is maybe a 15-minute cab ride from the city. Sydney's botanic gardens are right on the harbour near the Opera House. Views galore. A harbour cruise is an option, but beware the mass-market ones with canned commentary and near-inedible buffet lunches. Bad, bad, bad. You're better to take a water taxi somewhere, or a commuter ferry ride. Round trip from Circular Quay to Kirribili affords excellent view of Harbour Bridge and Opera House and takes only about a half hour, so is time effective. Another mass-market experience to be avoided is dining at the top of Centrepoint Tower. Revolving restaurant. Bad, bad, bad. Just a few ideas for you. Feel free to PM me for other non-food-related suggestions re touring itinerary. Kind regards Heather
  12. Thanks for your bibimbap guidance. I'll give it a shot. Can I make it in a regular bowl? I'd like to see how much I like bibimbap, before making the trek out to the Korean precinct to buy the proper stone bowl. Although, it's hard to imagine not liking it. With the stone bowl, does the rice on the bottom go crunchy? And do you put hot rice into the bowl, or cold? And are you supposed to leave it on the burner for long enough to heat the toppings through? Also--sorry to have so many questions, but I've decided to go out to Korea land and do some shopping--do the bowls come only in individual serving sizes, or can you buy double-portion bowls for two? If so, which is the better option?
  13. Heather

    Pasta

    Broccoli orecchiette. Into a pot of boiling water, drop a heap of broccoli florets. Cook until tree-frog green and al dente. Scoop out and drain. In the same water as broccoli was cooked in, cook orecchiette. Meanwhile, puree stale sourdough bread in processor to make crumbs. Toast breadcrumbs in pan with olive oil. Set breadcrumbs aside. Saute chopped garlic in olive oil, add chopped anchovies, then chopped oil-cured black olives. Add cooked broccoli florets, toss, and remove from heat when broccoli florets are hot. Mix the broccoli mixture with cooked orecchiette. Top with freshly grated Parmesan.
  14. Heather

    Appetizers/Hors D'Oeuvres Ideas

    Perhaps too late an addition to be useful - given that you're doing a tasting plate for tuesday, which it now is here in Australia - but will contribute anyway. Tetsuya's cookbook has excellent recipe for oysters dressed with soy sauce-rice vinegar vinaigrette, then topped with a little salmon caviar - abundant here in Australia, land of Beluga ban. My favourite local Thai restaurant - Emerald Buddha, South Melbourne - serves a fantastic snacky-sized appetiser on their mixed entree plate. Squid ball in tamarind sauce. The squid ball comes in tiny shot glass, is doused with liberal amount of sauce, and impaled on a stick for easy removal. Squid ball, btw, is minced-up squid, seasoned lightly, but sauce carries most of the flavour. If you want to do a little sushi, can't go wrong with a spicy tuna roll. Men, especially - even men who aren't great sushi fans - seem to love them. If you want to outdo yourself, tempura-battered spicy tuna roll, served topped with a little squeeze of Japanese mayo. Has to be Japanese mayo - the stuff that comes in squishy bottle with red lid. Tuna empanadas, as served at tapas. Dough encloses a mixture of cooked tuna, green olives, maybe some mashed potato. Another tapas favourite, for a sweet finish - churros! Stick-like Spanish donuts, which could be served with choice of caramel or chocolate dipping sauce. Back to savoury - Asian style sticky rice balls. I make mushroom sticky rice parcels. The sticky rice is flavoured with a mushroom mix that includes black fungus, white fungus, dried shiitake, fresh swiss browns, oyster sauce, coriander. Would probably work as little balls, too. Let me know if you'd like me to elaborate, or provide recipe for any of the above.
  15. Heather

    Love Lime!

    An all-natural organic lime cordial for making refreshing lime-and-soda drinks, when fresh limes are out of season. Here's an idea that borders on being a bit weird-sounding. If I have a recipe that calls for only the juice of a lime, I always zest the lime first and store zest in the freezer. That's not the weird part. What I use this frozen zest for most often is to flavour breakfast oat porridge. I've discovered that banana-raisin-lime is a wonderful porridge combo. Might taste a bit strange in a creamy porridge cooked with milk, but I cook my oats in water only. The salad dressing below includes lime, albeit not a whole lot: 6 tablespoons pure olive oil (not virgin or extra virgin, as you want neutral flavour) 1.5 tablespoons of a 50-50 mix of lime and lemon juice 1.5 tablespoons of Japanese soy sauce (Kikkoman is a decent, widely available brand) 2 teaspoons roast sesame oil Whisk all of the above together. Tastes brilliant on shredded salad of carrot, cucumber, red capsicum, radish, and Chinese cabbage Let me know if I've used an Australian-ism anywhere above, and you're trying to figure out what I mean. Obviously, flavour = flavor. Um, red capsicum = sweet red pepper. Not sure what you guys call Chinese cabbage. It also goes by the name "wombok" here. Sometimes Asian cabbage.
  16. Heather

    Brown Rice

    I've yet to have great success cooking brown rice in a rice cooker - or by the absorption method in a pan on the stove. For me, both rice cooker and stove-top absorption method produce sensational results with white rice. However, I find I prefer brown rice cooked using the rapid boil method. This is what I do: Bring large pot of water to boil. Dump in brown rice. Boil (as opposed to simmer) for 19-25 minutes, depending on variety of brown rice (brown basmati cooks quicker than brown long grain cooks quicker than short grain brown). Dump boiled rice in colander and rinse well. Brown rice cooked this way has a delicious nutty flavour and slighly chewy texture. However, as brown rice grains cooked this way are total separate - no sticking together - you can't use this rice for sushi. I've heard of there being specialised "brown rice cookers" available, for around $US250. I've not used one, or seen one, but apparently they're good. (As they would want to be at that price.) Hope this helps. Cheers H
  17. Vogue E & T frequently features worthwhile restaurants. Although, as Polly says, the powers that be do have their favourites. Also, so as its content is super-fresh and visually appealing, Vogue E & T often goes with that kind of very new restaurant that is a victory of style and hype over substance. You know, a place that looks terrific in photos, has name-value chef/backers that writer can ooh-and-ahh about, is momentarily restaurant of choice for "it" people, thanks to well-connected publicist. By the time issue comes out, place has often been re-staffed or made-over because previous (featured in magazine) incarnation "wasn't working". So, international Vogue E & T readers using the magazine to plan Aussie culinary adventures are advised to do a little research (the easy way: post here on eGullet's Down Under board) on places that Vogue E & T champions. And to be sure not to overlook some terrific Australian restaurants that have been doing great things for long enough that their excellence is old news, and therefore rarely covered in sexy foodie mags.
  18. Heather

    Eating in Perth

    Hi Lisa Welcome to our Australia board. Thanks for posting. One of my favourite Perth restaurants is an unassuming little Japanese place - Shige of South Perth. Skip the sushi. It's nice enough, but teriyaki seafood is what they do best. Fifteen dollars buys a hearty portion of teriyaki salmon, or mackerel, or dhufish, with rice, veggies and a side salad drenched with tasty house dressing (which Shige now bottles to go, as per his famous teriyaki sauce). Shige of South Perth isn't fancy, but it's fantastic. Other top choices include sauted scallops, grilled squid tentacles and salmon-bone soup. The small restaurant has a warm, friendly atmosphere and lots of regulars, who seem as comfortable here as in their lounge rooms. I've enjoyed some very good vegetarian options and local seafood at Frasers (expensive, by Perth standards), in Kings Park. Brilliant location and view; variable service, but the good more than makes up for the bad. A fresh, zesty gazpacho and flat bread with smoky eggplant dip were both memorable, as was a fillet of ocean trout, served on stir-fried exotic veggies, with a mandarin-soy sauce. It's simple food, well done, using top-quality produce. Frasers also serves breakfast (cheaper option than lunch or dinner). A la carte menu on weekdays is preferable to weekend buffet. Open throughout the day for coffee and cake. Cake is very good idea. Especially the chocolate number, served with chocolate sauce and chocolate ice-cream. Maya Indian Restaurant in Fremantle makes a delicious vegetarian dhal from their "Legume of the Week". (They're very proud of their legume-rotation program.) The best Indian restaurant in Western Australia, Maya also does a very good pea and potato curry. Eat in, or order to go. Shige, Frasers and Maya Indian are all reviewed in the Western Australia section of our website. For a weekend yum cha spread with bountiful seafood and vegetarian options, head to Genting Palace, at Burswood Casino. Highly recommended. Conceived for the pleasure of Asian high-rollers, Genting is ornately fitted out. Somewhat imperial atmosphere, attentive service, very moreish fried squid. Lamonts food store cum deli cum take-away, in Perth's CBD, is a choice option for a casual meal, or picnic supplies, or a reheatable dinner. Salad bar might include spiced fish with couscous, or Italian pasta wheels with roasted tomatoes and goats cheese. Take-homes might include eggplant parmigiana, Thai curry, pumpkin soup. Chocolate brownies are amazing (recipe in Kate Lamont's book "Food and Friends"). Kaiten sushi chain Jaws is the go for sushi. Turnover is high, so fish is super fresh, and choice belly parts are sold at the same price as regular cuts. Now that Kirin beer company has closed its casino sushi bar Edo Kirin, Jaws offers Perth's most satisfying sushi experience. For Perth's best fish and chips: Groper and His Wife, at City Beach. Choose your fish, choose your cooking method (deep-fried, pan-fried, grilled, whatever), choose from an expansive salad smorgasbord. You can have traditional fish and chips, or a lighter option with lots of veggies. Wide range, reasonable prices, friendly service. Eat in or order to go. We've heard from reliable sources that both Altos, in Subiaco, and Jacksons, in Highgate, serve superb food. Have not personally visited either. A couple of produce sources for DIY seafood and veggie meals: Innaloo Seafresh. Purveyor of Perth's finest seafood. Shop here once and you won't want to buy your seafood anywhere else. Huge range, helpful staff. They offer sashimi-grade fish and salmon roe, too. Mr Organic, at Fremantle Market. Perth's freshest and cheapest organic veggies. He takes his delivery each Friday. If you can't get there first thing Friday, you can phone Mr Organic and he'll pack you a box to collect on Saturday or Sunday. Other local organic produce suppliers: Earth Market, at Subiaco (which has a great healthy cafe attached, tofu cream pie highly recommended); and Manna Wholefoods, at Fremantle. While you're in Fremantle, check out the local Coles, which has a massive health food store-within-a-store; and, also, grocer Kakulas Sister, which stocks a huge range of legumes and dried fruit. The Asian grocer across the road from Coles is a real find, too. New Norcia Bakery. Outstanding woodfired breads. At weekends, calzone and pizza bianca (flat bread, basted with olive oil and scattered with sea salt and rosemary). Phone ahead and ask the bakery when their next batch of pizza bianca will be ready - it is never so good as when eaten fresh out of the oven.
  19. Hi Hasmi The ANA hotel is in the Rocks district, and many rooms have excellent harbour views, encompassing the bridge and Opera House. Very handy to Sailors Thai and Rockpool. On the hotel's top floor, there's a Japanese restaurant, Unkai, which also offers excellent views. Quality of the sushi is variable enough that I'm not inclined to recommend eating dinner at the restaurant. However, if you're planning to eat breakfast at the hotel, I do suggest avoiding the downstairs buffet (average) and enjoying a Japanese-style breakfast on the hotel's top floor, with the Japanese guests. I haven't stayed at the ANA for a year, but I assume they're still serving Japanese breakfasts on the upper floor. Regards, Heather BTW, I second Andrew's recommendation re Pier. Eaten there only once, but it was a memorable meal.
  20. Heather

    Dinner! 2002

    Thursday 18 April Stir-fried broccoli, leafy Asian greens, spring onions and tofu, in blackbean sauce (salted black beans, soy, oyster sauce, sugar, ginger, garlic). Mine served with leftover brown rice, my husband's with leftover white rice. Fast, easy, not too much mess to clean up, although choice was mostly dictated by what we had left in the fridge. Saturday being shopping day, supplies tend to be running low by Thursday.
  21. Heather

    Dinner! 2002

    Tuesday 16 April Vegetarian version of pad thai (classic Thai noodle dish), based on the recipe in Terry Durack's fantastic cookbook "Noodle". If you fancy cooking Asian-style noodles at home, this book is a winner. Being a weeknight - we try to keep Monday-to-Friday cooking as healthy as possible - we added lots of extra julienne vegetables to the pad thai. Wednesday 17 April The most amazing home-made ravioli, from the freezer. My husband made it the other weekend. Even after cooking, the ravioli dough was bright yellow from the organic free-range eggs he used. (I recall someone in a home-made pasta thread being disturbed by their pasta going grey, post-cooking. Free-range organic eggs will likely rectify that problem.) Ravioli filling was a pureed mixture of swiss brown mushrooms sauted with shallots and garlic, a few tiny, pitted, oil-preserved olives from a store that imports great Italian products, and some young goats cheese. There may have been something else in there. Parsley, perhaps? Last night, simmered ravioli was tossed through hot olive oil, in which Grahame had fried anchovies, shallots and garlic. Served with freshly grated Parmesan and chopped parsley. Big salad of red capsicum, cucumber and tomato on the side.
  22. Hi! Thanks for visiting our Australia board. I'm afraid I've yet to have a particularly memorable meal in Cairns. Port Douglas, a small resort town a short drive north of Cairns, is your best bet for good food in Far North Queensland. Lots of simply prepared local seafood and tropical produce, served in some glorious locations. The key is sticking to simple fare, where flavours are left to speak for themselves. There are no culinary geniuses up here, but there are a few very good cooks. I recommend On the Inlet - a casual place, built over the water, with a beautiful view. It is a fish shop, takeaway and restaurant all rolled into one. Options include fish and chips to go, or a simple seafood meal in the restaurant. The dining room is indoor-outdoor - open on all sides, but undercover. Great place for a leisurely meal, and for kicking back for a whole afternoon, watching the sealife in the water below, and the boats coming in. On the Inlet used to serve sunset specials - buckets of freshly boiled prawns, for instance, for a very low price. I would imagine they still do. Great tropical, beachy holiday atmosphere. Relaxing. Excellent food, if you stick with the simple stuff - prawn buckets, natural oysters, fish and chips, seafood platters. I've heard from reliable sources that On the Inlet also does a mean fish curry, now. For something fancier - but not too full-on - try Sassi Cucina. I've not eaten there; only at its previous incarnation, Sassi Island Point, which was enjoyable. Same proprietor-chef. Simple, Italian-ish food. Open lunch and dinner, breakfast on Sundays. Here's their website, which will give you an indication of menu and location (water views). On the site, there are a couple of quite recent reviews sourced from Australian newspapers. Here's the address: http://www.sassi.com.au A Port Douglas restaurant, dinner only, that gets a lot of press is Nautilus (where Bill and Hil dined during their '96 Aussie tour). It is a romantic setting - outdoors, amid tropical foliage, lit entirely by candlelight. No music, only the sound of frogs and beetles. I've seen it, but not eaten there, on account of having heard and read that the food is ordinary, a bit passe and a let-down in such a magical setting. I've also heard people say their meal at Nautilus was their favourite ever, although these are people who would serve macaroni cheese at a dinner-party. Other Far North Queensland food experiences to look out for as you travel around: The home-made ice-cream guy at Kuranda Markets. He makes his ice-creams from local tropical fruits, some of them quite unusual. Yum Yums - the local fruiterer at Mossman - sells many of the tropical fruits grown at farms in the area. If you're really into food, you may want to take a tour of a local tropical fruit farm. If this sounds interesting, I can source details for you. There's a cut-out article somewhere in my file. OK, now Sydney. You could eat out here lunch and dinner for at least a week, and continue to be blown away by the quality of the food. Book now for a meal at Tetsuya's. Australia's greatest-ever chef. Multiple small courses. Amazing! Some people rate Rockpool right up there with Tetsuya's, so you may want to book a meal there, too - ASAP. A personal favourite is Sailors Thai Canteen, Australia's best Thai restaurant. It's in The Rocks, a central historic precinct that you would likely visit anyway. Communal table, no reservation required (or taken, for that matter). So devoted to authenticity that coconut milk is prepared from scratch, and the owner contracts farmers in Far North Queensland to grow suitable tropical produce. Open kitchen, modern fit-out, harbour glimpses, friendly staff, speedy service. There are reviews on both my site (www.hgworld.com) and co-moderator Roger's (www.foodtourist.com). A protege of Sailors Thai's owner has opened Longrain, a funky Thai restaurant in Surry Hills. Hip crowd, sort of tapas-bar concept. Brilliant food. If you think it might survive the trip home, buy a jar of their chilli jam to go. Consider having breakfast or lunch at Balmoral, at either Watermark or Bathers Pavilion. Balmoral is a sheltered harbour beach shaded by massive old fig trees. A foreshore reserve stretches the length of the beach, with Bathers Pavilion at one end, and Watermark at the other. Both afford mesmerising views of the beach and harbour. Being on the reserved, moneyed "north shore", the restaurants are classy but not flashy, and the food beautifully done and modern but not ground-breaking. With most tourists heading to a more famous harbourside eatery at Watsons Bay, Balmoral is peaceful and it'll likely be just you and the locals. Both restaurants serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. I suggest eating breakfast and/or lunch at Balmoral because, during winter, it gets too dark too early to enjoy the water views over dinner. I've always thought a great thing to do, for visitors to Sydney, would be to take a water taxi from the city to Balmoral on a particularly fine day. Enjoy breakfast at either Watermark or Bathers, linger over your meal, loaf around on the beach or under the foreshore figs for a while, and enjoy lunch at the eatery at the other end of the beach. Just a thought! bills - a cafe in inner-city Darlinghurst - is famous for its breakfasts. Scrambled eggs deemed "world's best" by the New York Times. I've always had terrific food there, although a new eGullet user seems to have had a bad bills experience. Whether you eat at bills or not, take home a copy of cook Bill Granger's "Sydney Food" cookbook - available at most Aussie bookstores. It's a great Sydney souvenir. Yum cha/dim sum (lunch) in Chinatown might be a goer, especially if you're in Sydney over a weekend. Weekend yum cha has become as much a tradition outside the Chinese community as it is within, in Sydney. Kam Fook, a mega Chinatown yum cha palace, is excellent. You may have to queue up to 45 minutes, but all the better to meet the locals. If you happen to be vegetarian or vegan, you might want to try Bodhi, a vegan buddhist yum cha place in a CBD harbourside park. Al fresco dining areas have water views. Captain Phillip Park, perhaps? I'll find the address, if you'd like it. Veggie heaven, but scary as all hell to meat-lovers. I'm sure others will have myriad Sydney suggestions. Go with recommendations, and be wary of taking a punt on harbourside eateries. Often, the food is wretched and the bill enormous.
  23. Heather

    Your favorite frozen ingredients

    A few items in my freezer that I haven't noticed mentioned in this discussion already: Frozen chunks of banana. I'm a picky-picky banana eater - I like them medium ripe. Once they start to get black spots on them, it's too late - even though, technically, they're not overripe. So, I peel them, and cut them in chunks and put them in a Pyrex container in the freezer. (Pyrex like all of my containers, because it doesn't absorb flavours). Frozen banana is brilliant in smoothies, giving them a thickshakey quality. Alternatively, you can puree the frozen banana on its own, to create a rich, creamy, fruit-only soft serve. For vibrant colour, add some frozen berries. Frozen legumes. Cooking legumes - beans especially - from scratch requires forethought and time. So, I typically make a big batch and maybe use some straight away, freezing three meals' worth in individual portions. Great to have on hand as a base for healthy mid-week meals. Pre-cooked, pre-sauced Japanese freshwater eel fillets. Even Australia's best Japanese restaurants use these imported frozen fillets for their unagi-don (grilled eel on rice) and eel sushi. We buy them at our favourite local fishmonger, which has an impressive sushi section. Defrost overnight in the fridge, reheat in a moderate oven for around six minutes. A rare example of frozen seafood being tremendously tasty.
  24. There are only a couple of Brisbane restaurants that I fancy eating at, none of which have ever been hyped. But, hey, when one of those restaurants is Korean Barbeque Restaurant and they do me an all-you-can-eat seafood BBQ special... It has been a while since I was last there, but I can't imagine anything will have changed. The restaurant is on one of Fortitude Valley's Chinatown pedestrian malls - the one closest the city. Often, Korean restaurants offer chilli-mush seasoned with meat, or - if you go the seafood option - with thawed imported baby octopus. At this Korean place, you get platters of delicate kingfish slices, maybe marinated in a little sesame and spring onion. Prawns, squid and scallops receive similar minimalist treatment. Meals served with five different light, fresh, vinegary salads - bean shoot, cucumber and cauliflower, among others. Rice is good, and comes with cute Korean boy to serve it up whenever your bowl approaches empty. Every Korean restaurant I've been to post-Korean Barbeque Restaurant has been a major disappointment. I could eat at this place every night. I did enjoy Green Papaya, too, which I initially went to on account of friend's huge crush on owner's rock star son (he fronted Regurgitator). And I always enjoyed the sushi at Oshin, on Adelaide Street, in the CBD. I went to ecco once and didn't get excited. My main was a piece of overcooked salmon, on a big pile of avocado mash with soggy whole blanched almonds mixed through it. But perhaps I just wasn't in the mood to appreciate it, on account of being on the date from hell at the time. As for why there are few places in Brisbane that offer decent meals, I think Niall has got it right when he says "that's just Brisbane".
  25. Heather

    Best Laksa??

    My current favourite laksa is Skinny Laksa, at Melbourne's Ah Mu. Chef Allan Woo uses skinny milk. I know it sounds kind of offensive, but I think it's delicious! I tend to go with assam laksas over coconut-based laksas, on account of the amount of saturated fat in coconut milk. So, to me a "skinny" coconut-infused laksa is a very exciting thing indeed. Although I don't know that laksa purists would agree.
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