Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Northshore Riverside Cafe- review

It's not often that Mr Pickings can get away for a longer lunch than a quick sandwich so I jumped at the chance when he said he had a bit of spare time -"so how about going out to lunch?".   I just as quickly suggested we go to Northshore Riverside Cafe as I had already been here for a quick bite recently and wanted to try some other dishes on the menu.  It was a typical winter's day in Brisbane; sunny with blue skies but a bite to the breeze when out of the sun.  We grabbed jackets and scarves and set off.




Northshore is a bit of a hidden gem, being a fair way upriver from the CBD and ending -currently- in not much.  This will change over the next few years as apartment buildings are starting to go up rapidly.  The City Cat only stops here sporadically till there are more commuters living here, which won't take long.  It is a lovely spot with a small beach which kids and dogs love, and a fabulous view of the river and the fishing boats going up and down the river.  We enjoyed a brisk (as in cool breeze) lunch as Mr Pickings was keen to sit outside and take in the river sights, including a small flock of graceful pelicans following the tiny yellow fishing trawler.
I started my meal with a glass of Chandon, while Mr Pickings had his usual indulgence of a strawberry milkshake.  He liked the presentation in the jar, and said it was cold - essential to a good shake.  We were pleased to see sweet potato fries on the menu- clearly a 'thing' at the moment- with us and cafes in general.
A friend had recently been bemoaning the fact that he couldn't get these here, unlike in NZ.  I assured him that yes indeed they were also now an Aussie thing as well as a Kiwi thing.  These were delicious- thin with what seemed to be a crisp coating on the outside- perhaps polenta?  Mr Pickings was very happy as these are his fave sort of fries.



strawberry milkshake - $8


sweet potato fries with aioli and tomato sauce-$10.50


We also enjoyed our mains of confit duck salad for me (I love duck!) and wild mushroom risotto for him. The duck was in small shreds; tasty but it would have been nice to have some bigger pieces so you could really get a good mouthful of the duck, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  Beetroots came out of a jar I would say; I don't mind this though some people may prefer/expect them house-made.  The overall flavours and textures with the hazelnuts, goat cheese etc made this a tasty dish.  Mr Pickings did not give much away about the risotto but cleaned up his plate quick-smart and told the lovely young waitress that he really enjoyed it.   He mentioned later that the rice was not gluggy and the flavour was great so clearly it was a hit with him.


wild mushroom risotto-$25.50

confit duck salad- $25.50


We ended our extended lunch with coffee and lemon curd tart for me, and hot chocolate for him.  The coffee was Di Manfredi, not a brand I had drunk before.  It was a really good coffee and I am quite fussy coffee-wise.  Mr Pickings said his hot choc was great, and he loved getting the marshmallows.  My tart was a tangy lemon curd in a short crust;  the crust was a good short one with plenty of crunch and texture and the curd was delicious.  We left feeling very satisfied and content, and completely unable to face the thought of any dinner.



lemon curd tart-$8



cappuccino-$4


hot chocolate -$4.50


I am sneaking in a photo of the drink I had last time-citrus crush- a deliciously icy and fruity drink.



citrus crush-$8


We found the service to be really good; the staff were very helpful, friendly and efficient.  Food was enjoyable though perhaps a bit expensive for a cafe.  Perhaps we pay for the views?  All in all, we enjoyed our little escape from weekday reality, and had a fine lunch.  I believe this place is very popular for weekend breakfasts too.


Concrete pavers have maritime facts about old Brisbane
etched into them giving you a chance
to increase your knowledge AND  feed the face.



Northshore Riverside Cafe on Urbanspoon


The cafe is open 7 days a week from 7am to 3pm.

Ph: 3868 4264
297 MacArthur Avenue,
Hamilton QLD


Friday, 18 July 2014

Nimish

Ok yes, I admit it- here we have yet another creamy flavoured dessert.  I am on a bit of a roll with these lately- and guess what!  There will surely be more.  This one is an Indian-inspired recipe made famous by Rick Stein in his TV series Rick Stein's India.  I am a big fan of flowery notes like rosewater and lavender, (I know not everyone is as keen, as it reminds them of their grandmother's facepowder)  and I love how saffron gives such a gorgeous yellow colour with a tangy undertone.  I thought Rick was being a bit cautious about leaving it overnight in the fridge, but it does allow the flavours and colours to develop most wonderfully.
It has been a very sad week in the Pickings household with one of my oldest and dearest friends passing away unexpectedly. I am still reeling, but it is a comforting thing to have a cherished memento sitting on my desk.  She was a very spiritual person, always seeking the answer to the purpose of life.  She spent quite a lot of time in India, seeking spiritual fulfillment.  I hope she has now found the answer.  I picture her at the feet of some guru thumbing her nose at the rest of us, saying, "ha ha I know what it is all about now, suckers!"  I am going to savour this rich and creamy sweet, and contemplate my navel for a while.  And I wish my dear friend all the love and peace in the world.

Ingredients:

100mls milk
pinch of saffron threads- very generous- and not saffron powder or the fake stuff
450mls thickened cream
50g icing sugar or icing mixture
1 tsp rosewater
pistachios and organic dried rosebuds to decorate

Method:

Warm the milk gently in a small saucepan; do not boil- you want it just a bit more than lukewarm
Add the saffron threads to the warmed milk and let steep for 20 minutes
Whip the cream while you wait for the milk to cool down.  Don't go crazy here-  you want very soft peaks; make sure not to overwhip
Sift in the icing sugar
Add the rosewater and the cooled saffron milk (with the saffron threads still in it)
Whisk it all together for a minute or 2 till it is smooth and softly peaked and a lovely creamy-yellow colour
Leave in the fridge for at least 8 hours but overnight is better
When you are going to eat it, sprinkle some chopped pistachios and rosebud petals over the top

(And for something different, I think orange blossom water could ring a nice change next time.)









(photo by Saeed Akhtar-public domain)



(stock image)




Luba's plate from Turkey sitting on my desk as I write




Friday, 11 July 2014

Maple mousse--for Canada Day


Okay I am a bit late for Canada Day! I noticed last week that July 1 was Canada Day. How I have never known this before escapes me. Of course I know that July is big on national celebrations like Bastille Day and US Independence Day, but this one has escaped me up till now. I thought I should make a dish in celebration; just for solidarity you understand. I am not Canadian and don't know any Canadians, but I felt it would be a nice gesture. Apparently it celebrates the anniversary of the enactment of the British North America Act 1867 which united 3 colonies into a single country within the British Empire. Interestingly Quebec has their own National Holiday celebration on June 24, which must cause some conflict here and there when organising events.

Well, I had good intentions last week but other priorities caught up with me so I didn't get around to making this creamy dessert till this week! A friend from Tasmania was up for a few days and coming over to dinner, so I killed 2 birds with one stone and made this for dessert. She has a few health issues at the moment and could only taste one mouthful, but I guess the good thing was that Mr Pickings and I got to eat more of it:) I have had to do some thinking about food and what and how people eat lately, as we had a vegan friend staying last month so we had to change our diet somewhat to accommodate her. For our Tassie friend we had to make sure the food was plain and simple; nothing too hot or spicy or inflammatory. We ended up having baked salmon and cous-cous and salad- very tasty and easy on the digestion. And this sweet dessert was a lovely finish to the meal. I found the recipe on the Toronto Sun amongst some other maple syrup dishes.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (125 ml) maple syrup - make sure it is real syrup not the fake stuff
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp (5 ml) cornflour- use gluten free and everyone can eat it!
1 Tbsp (15 ml) rum or 1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 cup (250 ml) whipping cream


Method:

Put the maple syrup, egg yolks and cornflour In a heatproof bowl over a bain marie (ie place the bowl over a saucepan which has a couple of inches of simmering water in it

Whisk together the maple syrup, egg yolks and cornflour in the bowl

Keep whisking gently until mixture lightens in colour and thickens enough to coat back of spoon, about 6 minutes.

Remove from heat; chill over large bowl of ice water, whisking occasionally. Whisk in rum.

Beat cream to firm peaks. Stir about a third of cream into maple mixture. Spoon the remaining cream over maple mixture and fold together until it is an even colour- don't go crazy with the stirring; just till nicely mixed

Spoon into small dishes or bowls. Cover and refrigerate until set, about 6 hours.


I didn't have any rum in my kitchen so I used 1 tsp of rum essence and 1 tsp of my home-made vanilla extract. This gave it a lovely taste without being too rummy!






Tip:  place the egg whites in a freezer bag and they can go in the freezer for 3-6 months.

File:Tapping a sugar-maple tree, Ohio, by Keystone View Company.jpg
(library image)


(library image)


Monday, 7 July 2014

Form7even Cafe

Believe it or not, it does get quite cold here in sunny Brisbane during the winter months and we are currently experiencing a bit of an Antarctic chill in the air.  Skies are still blue and the sun is shining and warm, but the air is freezing- well at least to a Queenslander!  So when Mr Pickings and myself went out to lunch last week at a local cafe, we rugged up good! :)  We sat outside bravely and they were kind enough to turn on the overhead heater.  We were pretty much on our own outside as less hardy souls went into the warm interior.
I had heard good things about this cafe so was looking forward to trying it out.  I was pleasantly surprised by the scope and quality of the menu, considering that this place is next to offices in a very small commercial zone in outermost suburbia.  Well, these days Stafford Heights is touted as inner-city almost.  Funny how the inner-city keeps creeping further and further out from the CBD:)
Mr Pickings and I started with a hefty milkshake each- foolish of me 'cos I find they fill me up so quickly. But they were delicious and presented quirkily in a large glass jar.



delish milkshakes in glass jars-$6.00


I moved on to the fish of the day after downing my shake.  Fish was barramundi, and came with scallops and prosciutto and avocado salad.  It looked beautiful and tasted wonderful.  Can you believe- in the interests of research of course- that we had sides of sweet potato fries AND beer battered potato fries with aioli?  Go forth dear friends and have those sweet potato fries with wasabi aioli.  You will not regret one mouthful.


tasty barramundi-$22.50


to die-for sweet potato fries-$6.50


Mr Pickings opted for the grass-fed veg hoagie which was in fact a vegetarian felafel sandwich.  He said they were the best felafels he had ever eaten, moist and very flavourful.  Mr Pickings usually chooses the vego option when we go out so this was quite a rave from him.



heaps of juicy felafels  $16.50 -and see those fries!
-$7.50 as a side but they come with the hoagies


love those lights! and see the counter
- you can grab a muffin on your way out


They use Maleny milk in their drinks and Elixir coffee from the well-loved roasting house not far away in Stafford.   Good to know there is a kids' menu too.  And they do dinner on Friday and Saturday nights.  Good news- it is licensed so you don't have to go roaming the streets to find a bottle shop:)  Did I forget to say they have tapas also? - with the usual suspects like the fries, chicken wings, oysters, stuffed olives and arancini to name a few!  This cafe has a nice feel to it; staff are helpful, and prices are very reasonable.  I intend to grab a few friends and hop along to dinner one night soon.


lovely front courtyard with beautiful trees




this is my artistic shot of their front area


Form 7even (Form Seven) on Urbanspoon



Form7even cafe
69 Wilgarning St, Stafford Heights 4053
07 3630 5225