Friday, 29 May 2015

Judith Lucy - review

Okay I confess - I love Lucy - Judith Lucy that is.  Who can resist that laconic drawl, that mad Harpo hair and the weirdly attractive clodhopper shoes with the black evening gown?  Well clearly not me. And the venue being the bloody fantastic Powerhouse, this is a winner all round.  Judith was in fine fettle last night, filling us in on her sex life and menopausal symptoms, and her toy boy fella, the one helping her to have the aforesaid sex life. (Apparently the neighbours are admiring of their noisy sexual shenanigans).  Judith did her best to engage (and embarrass?) the audience by checking in with some happy customers who had been indulging in espresso martinis.  Phew did we get intimate with one lucky lady!   Judith was addressing us on the subject of "dick pics";  the lady with her third martini happily told us she had received hundreds, yes you heard right, hundreds of them and yes indeed had slept with some of them after receiving the pics.  Wow!  I was impressed with her stamina and honesty as her current boyfriend was sitting right next to her.  Yep I am clearly out of the loop;  I did not know "dick pics" were a thing.

File:Espresso-martini.jpg
(author Srinivasprabhu933)

Judith says her best shows come after times of turmoil; I think she was a teensy bit too happy this time.  I mean sure she was funny and even outrageous but just too darn happy to be convincingly angst-ridden.  One of her previous shows some years ago was after she had broken up with a bloke, and yep that was hilarious.  I loved that the audience was made up of young and old, (a few) hipsters, trendy young things, menopausal women, and a whole gamut of middle-class punters.  I love the way she slings out the word "vagina" without cringeing; the way she tells us about taking HRT - "cos I was going crazy"; the Brazilian she had for her tv show, and that she just couldn't help herself but really like Julie Bishop as a woman.  

the Moth

inside the Powerhouse theatre; my fave venue in Brisbane 

sadly no encores

gritty, ruggedly sexy Powerhouse facade:)  

well, it was dark with no lights hence the ghastly photo   

some of the trendy young things 

We had a ball listening to Judith skewer herself and the audience (I could hear the ladies behind us saying how they never bought tickets up the front in case she picked on them).  I feel like she and I are just that little bit closer as I now know about her vaginal problems, hot flushes, and noisy sex life. So yes I love (Judith) Lucy; perhaps like Judith and Julie Bishop, I just can't help liking her as a woman.  

And just for your delectation, here is a recipe from Jamie Oliver for espresso martini:

For one!!:

50 mls vodka
35 mls coffee liqueur
25 mls cold espresso
ice
(some recipes say to add 30 mls of sugar syrup)

Shake madly together and drink (then tell dirty stories about the raunchy photos you have received on your phone).

File:Coffee-Beans.jpg
(author Evan-Amos)


(I paid for this ticket myself cos I just love Judith).

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Fuzzy Duck - cafe review

Fuzzy Duck cafe, formerly Little Paw Paw, is now quacking its way through Kedron.  Small but sweet, with outdoor dining at the front, Fuzzy Duck offers the usual cafe fare.  (I would love local cafes to offer more than breakfast dishes, and wish they were a teensy bit more imaginative). Lately you could be excused for not knowing which cafe you were in, as the menus all seem pretty much the same, and hipster disdain is becoming more of a "thing" among wait staff. (Dare I tell you folks, that our niece works at a food supply company and tells us that they provide a lot of meals to a lot of cafes?!).  But I think you knew that already. We turned up one Wednesday recently just before noon to have a quick lunch.  Mr P. went to place our order and unfortunately mentioned that I was a food blogger.  Oh dear, this led to hipster rejection, I fear.  They promised to bring out a business card for me, but it didn't turn up. They served another table before us, and slapped down our food with nary a smile, nor a kind word (sob).


looking into the cute cafe from the outdoor seating    

fancy a bit of basic knot tying, anyone?   

See how pretty my cup of Campos coffee was?  It took a while to turn up, but it was a decent brew.

small coffee $3.50

strawberry thickshake $8
 
Mr P. said his thickshake was good and very cold, which is an important quality in a milky drink (thus spake Mr P.)

I chose Fuzzy Duck Benny with smoked salmon, while Mr P. had corn fritters with a side of fries. My eggs Benny were as expected, and tasted fine apart from the bread.  It was dried-out and stale, and had only seen the side of the grill for a nano second.  The hollandaise on the other hand had a delicious taste and texture; I am tempted to say it may not have come from the factory.  Mr P. found the fritters tasty with a good amount of corn. I asked him if they were really fritters or just corny pancakes but he assured me that there was a fair amount of corn.  After taste-testing, I agreed that they were not simply pancakes, and registered on the fritter meter at 5 out of 10 - i.e.- half pancake/half fritter.


Benny with smoked salmon $15.90

corn fritters $15.90 and a side of fries $7.90  

There are a few other items on the menu including a Wagyu mince burger, and the usual suspects of coffees, teas, smoothies; spinach, bacon etc as sides, and a couple of more unusual items like banana bread and quinoa Bircher muesli.  There are also daily sandwiches and cakes in the cabinet.  If you are after a quick cuppa or an all-day breakfast dish, this is a decent place to sit and enjoy the passing traffic.  It is what it is, as the saying goes, and that ain't bad.


Fuzzy Duck on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Gerard's Bistro - review

One of my (many) sisters'-in-law - or is that sister-in-laws? - had a birthday last week so she decided to head to Gerard's Bistro in Fortitude Valley for a birthday celebration.  Another sis-in-law was down from the tropical north, so it was definitely time for a celebratory dinner.  The birthday gal was hobbling on crutches due to a gammy knee, so we sat outside in the courtyard where there was a bit more room to manoeuvre.  Thank goodness we had booked some time ahead as the Masterchef episode with the head chef from Gerard's-Ben Williamson-had been on telly the night before. The waitress told us that the phone had been ringing off the hook since then, and instead of doing about 80 covers for a Wednesday night, they were doing 120, and were filling up with interstate visitors wanting to try out Ben's food.  I have to say we had a great dinner with amazing food, and the cost of the meal was actually better than I had expected for 8 people - always a bonus!  The one thing we all found a tad annoying is the over-complicated menu/ordering.  And when I say "all" I mean the waitress also:)  She was getting just a teensy bit fed-up with our prevaricating over the menu.  Hand on heart I say it was not our fault!  The menu is a jumble of sides and mains, and dishes for 2 or more, all thrown together on the menu and needing explanation by the afore-said waitress.  Imagine having to explain that over and over again to each table, with quizzical looks and puzzled queries from the punters.  So apart from that minor snafu, the meal went well.  We were slightly concerned that we would not feel well-fed, as the dishes are quite small (for 8), but by the end of the meal, we were all happy little chappies.  Our waitress warned us that the dishes would just come out higgledy-piggledy, in no particular order and as the chef made them.  This was because the dishes were meant to be shared, she told us sternly.  Fortunately we were all happy with this arrangement.

Sis-in-law from the Deep North and I started with a glass of Chandon Brut Vintage $13. As there were several drivers in the group and one person on (prescription) drugs, she and I were the only ones drinking!  Oh, and before I forget, just so you know, there are unisex toilets ( a pet peeve of mine).  I really hate being stared down by a snooty hipster boy when doing my ablutions.


oysters with buttermilk and smoked chilli-varying prices from $4.50 to $6.50    
The differing prices were dependent on the size and provenance of the various oysters.  I always love a beautiful fresh oyster which these were; buttermilk not really necessary for me.


organic house bread with smoked cultured butter $8
This butter was delicious; I could happily have smeared it all over myself and had someone lick it off. No no, I mean I could lick it off.  Hmmph, enough of that sort of talk:)

braised lentils and rice  with caramelised onions and cummin $14 
 This was a really tasty dish, with lots of flavour and texture.  We all liked it!


fried cauliflower with spices and pomegranate seeds $16
We are a family of brassica lovers, so this cauliflower dish went down well with us all.


shallots stuffed with smoked eggplant $18
The shallots come with charred onion consomme; only one of the 2 bowls we ordered came like this.  The other was consomme-less:)  Still great nonetheless; melting and unctuous.


coal-grilled broccolini and kale $16
This dish was light on the broccolini (sis-in-law said she found a piece) and heavy on the kale.  While it tasted fine, I am not so keen on kale so would have liked a bit more of the other green.  It was also heavily salted, too much for our tastes, which is saying something as I am a huge lover of salt.

accompaniments to the wagyu beef brisket 

slow-roasted heirloom carrots with labne, dukkah and lemon balm $16
 These were so tasty I could have eaten more.  They were sweet and well seasoned, and very moreish.


the meltingly tender beef brisket (for 2) is pulled apart by the waitress at your table $52
 Everybody adored the brisket; so tender, so flavoursome, so lip-smacking.


bread that accompanies the brisket 
Sis with the gammy knee is a coeliac so genuinely can't have gluten; the restaurant was unable to provide any gluten free bread for her which I thought was a leetle bit unusual these days, especially as they state they are gluten free friendly on their menu.


free range duck with the ubiquitous pomegranate seeds $39
By this time, I really did not want to see another pomegranate seed.  They seemed to be on every dish, and truthfully I don't find them terribly interesting or tasty.  But hey they are pretty for sure, and add a bit of crunch.


slow-cooked lamb with sweetbreads and eggplant $34 
The younger eaters amongst us did not realise that they were partaking of sweetbreads so happily ate it all up.  They may not have been so keen if they knew, but clearly it was delicious as it all vanished down their eager mouths.  We even managed dessert after this eclectic and palate buzzing repast.


tipsy date, carrot cake, cummin cream and walnut snow (with actual carrots)! $16
 Fabulous cake!  Spicy and sweet with those interesting twirls of carrot to go with it.

fermented honey, citrus sorbet, pulled almond biscuit $14   
 This was lovely.  Very fresh, very tangy.  Yep I wanted more.

rosewater meringue, vanilla scented cheese, pistachio crumb and raspberry sorbet $16  
I found the vanilla scented cheese a little too stiff in texture, but the other components of this dessert were delicious. You can't go past a beautiful raspberry sorbet!  The 8 of us shared 3 desserts but I wish we had ordered at least one more!  Okay yes I am greedy but they were so delicious that they didn't last long.  I think the interstate customers will be very happy once they have eaten here, and will find it well worth the trip.





Gerard's Bistro on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Bread and Butter Pudding - Jaffa style

Obsessions? Who, me?  Okay, yes I've had a few - as the old song goes.  My recent obsession has been with enamel baking dishes.  I have many different sizes, and even some bright orange ones that I assume are from the 70s.  I like their lightness, and great heat conducting properties, and their ease of use. Maybe it's because our mum had lots of them years ago, like everyone else's mums and grannies. Mum's were yellow with green trim, whereas these days they are usually white with red or blue trim, and sometimes grey.  (I told you I had a lot!)  A lasting memory is of the puddings she made in these dishes.  Bread and butter pudding was a cheap way to feed a family of 6, so we had this quite often. Her version was plain, made with milk and white bread and probably margarine.  But still delicious!  I like to ramp it up a bit, so I use croissants and include cream and a big splash of rum. And to make it just that wee bit more interesting, I turn it into a jaffa pudding.  (Did you know Jaffas i.e. choc orange balls of yummy were made only in Australia and New Zealand?)

Crowds watching the Cadbury Jaffa Race, Baldwin St, Dunedin
The Annual Dunedin Jaffa Race held each July down the world's steepest street, in New Zealand  (Tourism Dunedin) 

They let loose 30,000 Jaffas down the hill (some poor bugger has to label all of them), for charity. My pudding is nowhere near this laborious - in fact it is very easy, and great for a winter night's supper.
(Recipe adapted from here.)

ingredients:

1/2 cup sultanas
60mls rum
(extra butter to grease the baking dish)
4 eggs
500mls milk
300mls pure cream
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
zest of 1 orange
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup caster sugar
7 small croissants (buy them ready made at the supermarket)
20g. butter
3-4mls (just over 1/2 tsp) natural orange extract (I used Queen brand)
40g. chocolate melts
2-3 tbs demerara sugar

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C
Soak the sultanas in the rum for about 20 minutes to plump up
Grease your baking dish - 5cm deep, 17cm x 28cm or just a large enamel dish with sloping sides:)
Whisk together well the eggs, milk, cream, vanilla, orange zest, cinnamon and caster sugar in a large bowl or jug
Tear up the croissants into smallish pieces
Place half of them into the bottom of your dish
Dot small pieces of the butter over the croissants
Spread half the sultanas and rum over the croissants and butter
Add the rest of the torn croissants then the rummy sultanas
Sprinkle over the orange extract
Scatter over the chocolate melts
Pour the egg mixture over the croissants
Squish down well with a large spoon to make sure the bready mix is well covered
Sprinkle over the demerara sugar
Bake for 35-40 mins till puffed and golden and custard is set (I prefer to leave my custard a little underdone as it will firm up when cool)

croissants and greased baking dish 

ingredients   

whisking the egg custard ingredients together 

tearing the croissants into the dish and adding butter  

throwing on rummy sultanas

on go the chocolate melts

pouring on the egg custard 

squishing it all down 

sprinkling on the demerara sugar 

puffed and golden 

yep I added more cream!

Leave out the orange and chocolate element if you like, or soak the sultanas in orange juice so it is suitable for children too.  Mr P. and I however really enjoyed the jaffa style pudding, and the chocolate melts gave it a huge chocolatey boost, somewhat to my surprise!
(Yay, 2 years of blogging and my 250th post!)


Thursday, 14 May 2015

Toowoomba - Trendy, Tasty and Terrific

Mr P. and I were last up in Toowoomba about 18 months ago to see the spring Carnival of Flowers. He grew up there and remembers cycling to school in rain, hail or sleet; chopping wood for the fire, and throwing the snow off his bedclothes in the mornings.   Nah - kidding!  (Our American friend does tell stories of doing exactly that as she and her sisters slept on the porch without windows so the snow did come in over their beds during the night).  But Mr P. and his siblings did have to tough out the cold winters without heating in their rooms.  Actually so did my siblings and I in cold Melbourne weather!  Never mind all that, this story is about our trip last week to Toowoomba for a couple of nights so Mr P. could attend a conference up there.  And how magnificent it was, with glorious trees full of scarlet and yellow autumn leaves, brilliant blue skies and sunny days.


so stunning

golden leaves beginning to fall  

We had a quick lunch at the Park House cafe once we got to the top of the range, before settling into Beccles B&B, a really comfy and welcoming home away from home run by the lovely Janette and her 2 gorgeous dogs.


don't tell Janette how many biscuits I gave her :)

gorgeous day 

gotta love an all-day breakfast menu (excuse the shadows; I was sitting in direct sunlight)  

lovely front garden 

having wine and cheese in the delightful living room at Beccles

trendy elephant mural in a laneway  

love this artwork in the Regional Art Gallery  

what an amazing lightwell on the external wall of the Gallery   

inside the Gallery   

part of the Bimblebox exhibition currently showing   

Mr P. hanging out in a trendy laneway  

drinking coffee with the hipsters at Ground Up Espresso Bar 

my fave trendy mural!

Mr P. doing more hanging out 

but I'm not an ibis!, said the duck:)

guess what this is!  a chocolate shop

and where else do you go on a freezing cold Toowoomba night? 

you eat ice-cream of course!  

Mr P. loves strawberry  

We had such a lovely weekend; I highly recommend spending a couple of nights here especially if you like a bit of a chill in the air.  We will definitely be going back soon!  Oh, and I forgot to mention the heavenly breakfasts made by Janette. She had another guest staying when we did, who had to leave by 6:30 so Janette was up and about at some ungodly hour cooking up the bacon and eggs.  You won't need lunch after one of her fab breakfasts. 


the charming breakfast room at Beccles 

(All meals and accommodation independently paid for)