… I couldn’t resist these eggs. My only Easter eggs. Thanks Pear!
… I couldn’t resist these eggs. My only Easter eggs. Thanks Pear!
The hardest part was deciding what to eat, as there were lots of vego options and even a vegan option with greens, sweet potato, black beans, tofu and dukkah. I ummed and ahhhed and went for the mushrooms with mojo verde (a tangy non-basil pesto?) on brioche with goats’ cheese. I ordered a potato and feta hash on the side. My friend was going to go for the haloumi (because obvious) but ended up having the herbed avo toast with tomato and a SIDE of haloumi. Genius. This is why I have such great friends. Because they piece together brilliant meals.
The café was busy but not full and we got quick service and meals. My mushrooms were well cooked and came with spinach but didn’t appear to come with the goats’ cheese. Instead, there was a yoghurt looking but cheesy tasting sauce under my mushrooms. It was still delicious and as long as no one mayo-bombed me (I don’t like mayo [but like aioli]) I didn’t mind. The potato feta hash was really good- I find that sometimes the cheese taste gets lost but you could actually pick it as an ingredient and I didn’t want to add salt to it. My friend was really happy to discover her tomatoes were in a really nice dressing and although she couldn’t pick the herbs in her avo, I think there was mint, coriander and possibly basil.
We paid less than $30 total for our brekkies including sides and my soy iced latte. I really liked the attention to the flavours in each item- whether it was a main or a side it worked well and didn’t need heaps of salt and pepper. We even got to see a guy ride past in a plastic canoe/bicycle thing. Value.
So when you’re trekking through the city, either on a shopping expedition (I wish!) or for whatever reason brings you to the CBD, there can feel like limited places to go. There are lots of places that serve vegetarian food, but Ben and I are quiet people at heart and enjoy somewhere to sit and relax.
It’s a damn shame that the Regent Theatre was shut down, but I’m so glad the foyer has been saved and that Aromas is still there. It’s one of the few places that feels away from the hustle and bustle of the street, even though it’s on busy Queens Street Mall.
There’s a limited menu and a lot of it is made off-site, but it’s good for a toastie and a huge iced coffee. Seriously. Huge.
Recently I wanted something substantial so I ordered the spinach and cheese roll with salad and relish. It’s not going to win awards, but it was hot and nice and served with fresh greens. It perked me up and was washed down nicely with a huge soy iced latte (although there chai is nice too, and made with real tea).
There is NOT a trendy crowd here, but it’s cool and dark and if you’re really good, I’ll buy you a packet of afghans. Holy caramel latticed chocolate biscuits, Batman, they’re good.
So I had some work people over for a dinner party. None of them were vego or ever ate much vego food, so I wanted to impress. No pressure.
I think cooking for non-vegos is an interesting challenge. I want them to be full, but I don’t want to simply replace a steak with a mock-meat and most importantly, I want it to be delicious.
After thinking about my guests, I decided to compromise on the mock-meat rule and serve vego sausages.
The other great thing about my choice is that most of it can be taken care of in advance and all you need to do is cook the polenta and serve up the icecream at the end.
The main course was a recipe I found in the newspaper years ago. It’s a Matt Preston recipe I adapted for vegos by swapping the sausage for vego sausage. I forgot to add on my menu that it would be served with a fennel salad with a tomato mustard dressing and a rocket salad. The first time I made this, I used regular mushrooms instead of porcini and it still turned out brilliantly. As you can see, the page is a bit worn and splattered from use.
I’m pretty organised in the kitchen. I didn’t spend all day on this and I didn’t go any prep the day before, which I’ll also try to do if there are lots of steps.
I didn’t start shopping until after midday.
I went to the Swiss Deli Cafe on Boundary Street and bought porcini mushrooms and a nice piece of Australian pecorino.
At Coles, I bought the rest of the ingredients.
At home, I broke the prep into stages: Chopping and veg prep, making the dressing, making the sauce, preparing everything for later.
Chopping and veg prep:
From left to right: Onion waiting to go into the sausage sauce, bowl ready for tomato prepping, fennel all cut and ready to store until the night, scraps bin. I used my food processor to get the fennel sliced finely. Chunky fennel is a bit intense. In the other photo are porcini mushrooms soaking. When drained, you reserve the liquid for the sauce and chop the mushrooms finely. They smell amazing! Regular mushrooms are fine too.
Making the dressing:
The dressing a combination of the tomato gel sacks discarded from the sauce (from about 4 good sized tomatoes), a squeeze of lemon, 1/2 tsp of mustard and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. You strain the dressing to remove the tomato seeds and press the gel through the sieve to get the most flavours.
Making the sauce:
Very easy. Brown two onions in olive oil and a little butter, add the sausage and brown, add the porcini, add the tomatoes, cook whilst stirring for a few minutes, add the porcini soaking water and simmer (I reserved half of the liquid for reheating).
Preparing everything for later:
Firstly I lined up my extra porcini water, measured out my polenta, grated my parmesan for the polenta, shaved my pecorino for serving, chopped and crumbled my dutch gingerbread biscuits, did the dishes, and left the kitchen. The fun part is preparing the table.
I didn’t start any prep until 3, but had from 5-6.30 to get ready and relax in time for our guests to turn up at 7. After cheeses and entrees (which my guests brought along with a bottle of Mumm champagne!), I cooked the polenta (which takes 20-30 minutes but as our kitchen and dining are the same room, remains social and easy to do).
I didn’t take a photo, but to serve, I grabbed a big board and tipped polenta down the middle, making a well. The sauce got pored over the top and then the pecorino goes on top. As it’s plonked down on the table, it got many “oohs” and “ahhs”, which is pretty much crack to a home cook. Eight people were invited, six turned up, but there was enough for about 10 reasonable eaters (or 6-8 starving people). We couldn’t finish nearly all over it and I sent people home with leftovers.
Sweets were chopped gingerbread biscuits with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream and gingerbread crumbles over the top, with a shot of black coffee poured over, affogato style. It’s super easy, requires no baking or fuss and was delicious. The coffee (a triple shot long black bought earlier in the day at a local cafe) runs over the ice cream into the biscuit below and makes it all gooey. Heaven.
As I clear plates, I rinse and stack them. When guests are gone we take out the rubbish, tidy everything away and wipe down benches and tables. It was too late to do dishes without disturbing the neighbours, but they are neatly stacked and ready to go the next day. This is the cooking equivalent of taking your makeup off before bed- it saves you a lot of heart ache, even if it’s a pain sometimes.
This is really a fancy, maximum impact dinner for little work.
Leave out the dairy in the polenta and sausage sauce topping and choose vegan cheeses and ice cream and it’s a vegan meal, too!
We had a quick catch up without food, just coffees. Ben had a latte, Friend had tea, I had a mocha. We all oggled the menu board (for next time?) and the display cabinet.
We were lucky we ordered when we did, because this is a busy place on the weekend! You line up to order but meals and drink are brought out to you.
We all enjoyed our drinks. It had been ages since I’ve had a mocha and this was was nice. Love the freckle with your drink! my friend had to wait a while for her cake, but the staff were very nice and apologetic when we inquired. Curious to try the food properly next time.
*Urbanspoon link will be updated when The Chopping Block gets added*. Thanks for your patience (but feel free to remind me).
So if you go to Cafe CheCoCho on Hardgrave Street, you must not sit at the Hobbit Table.
What is the Hobbit Table, you may ask? Well, frankly, it’s my table. Okay not literally but it’s decoupaged in dozens of pictures taken from Tolkien stories and as someone who has read “The Hobbit” over a dozen times and “The LOTR” about six, I feel compelled to sit there and sad when I don’t. Don’t worry, the other tables are just as charming and skillful. I’m also partial to the vintage ladies table when the Hobbit is occupied.
So enough about tables.
I passed Cafe CheCoCho (Chess, Coffee, Chocolate) for years before I finally went in. I’m sorry I didn’t go earlier. Until the move this year, we went there while our laundry was washing up the street on a Sunday morning. It was a ritual we had. Although I don’t miss lugging laundry to a laundromat, I do miss that ritual!
CheCoCho does a standard-ish cafe menu really well. You’ll find some lovely vegan options for breakfast and drinks and they make a mean bowl of chips.
The best breakfast option is by far the $9 All Day Brekkie. The veggie option comes with roast veggies instead of bacon, which sounds unusual but works so well. This time, I ordered The All Day and Ben ordered an omelette. Ben got a latte and I got a chocolate milkshake. Vegan milk options are happily used.
I love how consistently excellent the poached eggs are here. I really can’t recall getting a bad one and as regular readers will know, I eat a fair few poached eggs in and around Brisbane. Just after this breakfast, I took a good non-vego friend here who also ordered the vego All Day Breakfast and she loved it. It was totally satisfying sharing the poached egg love.
I’m also happy that there are a few places left that serve milkshakes in metal canisters. Does anyone else remember getting them when you were little? I loved that. Or, at a close second, in a milkshake glass with the leftovers in the canister and both served to you. I’m getting flashbacks to this diner from my childhood in Victoria called …something “Park” which served milkshakes this way and HAD A SMOKING SECTION (Today, there is no smoking in any Australian shopping centre or food service area). So very old. I digress. Here’s our drinks (Ben always enjoys the coffee here and orders a huge one):
Seriously, just eat here. It’s old, it looks a little grubby at times, it’s not air conditioned but it’s really affordable and it sells books for $2 (Such a cool and varied selection as well). It’s just very West End.
EDIT: The owners have had to get rid of most of their decoupage tables except for the big indoor one because, due to age and rain, they had gotten gummy and were peeling. This means the Tolkein Table is gone and I am sad forever, but I’m sure I’ll adjust to eating on a non-fantasy epic table. In time. Perhaps.
Lots of people have to work holidays, but they don’t get to have GF raspberry brownie and cold pressed soy coffee from Lift while they do it. So I feel smug.
The coffee is pressed locally by Rouge and is very sweet and strong, so be warned! (The soy option is called the Dalai Lama- gotta love it!). The house-made brownie is not to be shared. Seriously, get your own brownie. This one is mine (saving the last bite in the picture).
Thank you for the chats and coffee recommendation, Johnathan. Now to take advantage of this coffee buzz and finish my work.
PS- 100th POST! Thank you to my supporters for the encouragement that makes blogging fun and rewarding!
So I first went to Kobblers last year before it was named and sometimes simply referred to as Scotty’s (the owner).
Kobblers is nestled on the corner of Simpsons Road and Morgan Terrace in Bardon. Unless you live right near there, you probably wouldn’t know it existed. I would never have known if it wasn’t for my sister. I love Bardon for its tall trees and surprisingly old pockets and that’s why there’s curb appeal for Kobblers- the building and adjacent shops (a thift shop and an architecture firm) are old charming buildings.
Sitting on granny pillows in an old shop window, we watched tiny red-chested birds wheel about and perch in the verandah rafters and a lady and her four kids came in to buy ice cream. There’s also a drinks fridge with a curious combination of energy drinks and old-fashioned soft drink. But that’s Kobblers all over. Nothing matches and that’s why it’s interesting.
Since January, Kobblers has expanded its seating area and now is a Food Connect pick up point. There is a bit of food sold here but I think people really come for the drinks. Like coffee.
I really, really like their coffee. I ordered an iced latte and Ben a hot. Both on soy. Considering Brisbane has started heating up for the summer, I think I ordered well. I love the fruitiness of their beans. They may have changed, but I believe they use Blackstar beans.
Ben was not as impressed because they added sugar to his latte. I was asked when ordering if I wanted sugar in the coffee (I thought he just meant my iced latte) and I said no. Ben got it anyway and was pretty ticked off about it (although he’s enjoyed coffee here in the past). Either that or Kobblers stocks the sweetest beans we’ve ever tried. We thought this was a bit odd as we were still given spoons and the table had sugar. Nonetheless, my ice latte was really good and I know Ben would go back because we’ve had great coffee here in the past.
The hours and days can change a bit because it’s a small operation. I recommend following their Facebook page (link above) for updates.
I love the ramshackle wholesomeness of Kobbler and, despite sugar, think they serve a darn good coffee.
So I’m on two week holidays.
And I celebrated with:
I also went to the Cotton Tree Sunday markets with Ben and a friend and had brekkie. The place was packed. It’s on King Street and even thought it’s a tiny market with lots of clothes, it’s worth a lap and near to lots of places to eat, the Maroochydore beach and the parks near the river. It’s increasingly busy, but with locals unless it’s the school holidays.
We found a table at Nude Deli Cafe. My first impression was that it was expensive. Lots of brekkies were $13-$16 plus, including an avo and tomato toast! I ordered Eggs Your Way and got poached. Ben ordered a soy latte in a mug (he doesn’t do big breakfasts) and my friend wasn’t eating. It was $15.30 for the eggs and coffee.
I’m not quite sure what makes this a “Deli”. Possibly nothing? Although it was busy, the service was fine and although not speedy, not a big wait. Ben’s coffee came out first and he thought it was ok. My eggs came a little later. I thought they were well poached but very small eggs and served on two slices of buttered thick white toast.
It was all fine, but not good enough value to tempt me away from Raw Energy (same street but closer to bowls club) or Envy (around the corner). We finished with a stroll around the markets and I discovered the bestest Frida Kahlo bag ever.
After returning to BrisVegas, I tottered off on a walk around the river with a good friend (completely destroying my feet in the process) and found that there was new art down by the river at Kangaroo Point. A bunch of these:
Covered in things like this:
Which to me looked like they were out of a botany book (I didn’t photograph the bugs!)
We were rewarded with this on our way home:
The sky is on fire.
So while I’m not going to post pictures from my mum’s birthday, I am going to post other nice moments from this weekend. Mum’s dinner went perfectly. Good food, wine and cake was had by all at Daisy’s Place on Steve Irwin Way on the Sunshine Coast. Although the clientele demographic seemed a bit older than places Ben and I frequent, it was superb service, great food and they were completely accommodating of our arrangements for mum, like coming in early and decorating with roses, homemade Bunting and paper crowns and bringing out birthday cupcakes with candles (even though we ordered sweets off the menu as well).
In respect for mum, I didn’t take blog photos, but amazing vegetarian food was had, like mushroom risotto, Greek salad, warm cheesy breads, astoundingly good pesto and a fantastic cheese plate for two. My sister ordered “beetroot three ways” served with goats cheese and loved it. They also had a great looking vege curry that I would have ordered in a flash had it not palm sugar (ahhh sugar, you strike again).
it was expensive, but what you would expect for $25+ mains: excellent local produce, care, attention to detail, excellent vege options (in fact, a vege chef!), and a great international and local cheese and wine selection.
The next day was election day but we had all voted early because of mum’s birthday (four of us were outside of our electorate) so we went to Envy Cafe at Cottontree for breakfast. Envy says it’s healthy but to be honest, I don’t understand why, as although they do fresh juices and smoothies and have vegetarian options, they serve bacon, no vegan options beyond toast, and beer battered fries at lunch time. I really liked the food and the service had improved since I first went there early last year, but I just don’t get the “healthy” tag.
I had a Pride juice (celery, parsley, apple, spinach; can’t remember the price) with a spirulina boost ($1.50) and poached eggs on toast ($10). Ben had coffee and my sister had the corn fritters. My mum got sourdough toast with marmalade and dad got fruit toast.
The service was prompt and friendly. My eggs were cooked ok (whites still a bit too runny for my taste) served with plenty of toast. My sister thought the corn fritters were ok, but apparently lives near “The best corn fritters on earth” in Melbourne, so she might be spoiled for choice! The toast servings were generous for everyone’s meals.
Overall, we thought everything was nice, we didn’t have any mistakes or problems even though there were six of us. I was impressed by the speed and friendliness of service. Just don’t get the “healthy” tag! Don’t get it at all!
Ben and I finished off the weekend with a wander around Eden Gardens nursery at Carseldine, which is just amazing and reminded us why you can’t just go to Bunnings Warehouse for plants and pots! Such care and expertise was really lovely and, as old lady as I am about to sound, makes for a relaxing and sweet-smelling wander. Plus there was a cat in a box in the gift shop.
Then it was time to relax, reflect, smile at the pretty flowers and drink too much coffee at Pear.
So many Zzzzzs needed.