Tag Archives: food

LADY MARMALADE

So in order to catch up with a friend before Christmas, I just HAD to go to Lady Marmalade at Stones Corner for lunch AND they just won map magazine’s best lunch 2013 award. Life is tough.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Lady Marmalade Cafe on Urbanspoon

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LITTLE LARDER

So when my sister recommended The Little Larder recently I was taken back to stories from my last job where a colleague would Facebook photos of her all day breakfast with lewd tomato sauce messages written on her plate by her friend the waitress. The waitress and the colleague have moved on, but the story remains and makes me laugh.

Even though it was the weekend and busy, we were served promptly and our meals didn’t take too long. My sister ordered pesto scrambled eggs with salmon, so I didn’t photograph it, but I ordered the mushroom polenta with avo and poached eggs and a beetroot, carrot and orange juice.

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The poached eggs were a little undercooked in my fussy opinion but the polenta was superb and with the balsamic, cherry tomatoes and hot sauce, was truly interesting and yummy. You’re going to pay New Farm prices here with most hot brekkies over $15 each. We finished with a stroll around New Farm, acting like complete tossers and behaving in a way that only sisters could probably understand. If you and your sister swear a lot and talk about Brisbane gigs, architecture, libraries and boys.

So exactly like you and your sister.

Little Larder on Urbanspoon

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Culinary debauchery: Savoury baked brie!

So I have been seeing sinfully delightful things like baked brie on Pinterest lately (damn you, Pinterest!) and decided that one day, I would try that. Then some friends came round for seasonal jollies and I decided that, as part of a cheese plate, I would make a baked brie.

I got waaaay too excited about this and posted on Facebook: I’m baking a mother f***ing brie tonight. Kitchen and cholesterol bad-ass.

Yeah, I was excited. And lame.

But the problem was, I don’t really like sweet things with my cheese. I’m not a quince paste and grapes with my cheese kinda girl (although I don’t mind a slice of apple or pear) and so I thought I’d make this savoury. I studded the brie with cloves of garlic and rosemary sprigs, rolled that bad-boy in a sheet of store bought puff pastry, added pretty pastry leaves and left it in the fridge in cling wrap until I needed to bake it. It turned out great and between my recent dinner party, Ben’s amazing pizza dough that we took to a pizza party and the brie, I think we’ve established ourselves as kicking ass in the kitchen with these group of people.

If you ever want maximum effect for minimal effort, this is your dish.

Enjoy.

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DES ALPES

So for Ben’s Big Family Pre-Christmas Dinner Instead of Doing Gifts Bash, we went to Des Alpes in Mitchelton.

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I used to live around the corner from here but NEVER ate here because I didn’t think they had any vego food judging by the walk-past menu. Turns out they have a vego AND a Gluten Free menu online AND can cater for vegans. Admittedly, that meant for three years we went to the awesome Mexican place across the road (which also happily caters for vegans) and Delicatezza next door which did a mean pot of soy chai and had the loveliest owner ever. Anyway, I digress.

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Nine adults and two kids turned up and, I have to say, I was impressed. Admittedly, they brought out a seafood pancake instead of a vego one and I had to wait for my meal to be cooked again, but they handled out big group well.

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Ben and I shared the cheese fondue for an entrée. Ok, it wasn’t the one we ate in Paris (at a place call Pain Vin Fromage if you ever want to go!) but it was pretty good and fun to eat. I had the vego pancake which came with ricotta, spinach and walnuts with a tomato sauce and cheese on top. It was ok, but I was blown away with the potato rosti that was served with it.

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Ben ordered the French Rosti that came with pear and blue cheese. Yum. He loved blue cheese and enjoyed his meal.

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This place is not cheap- I think the food and drinks Ben and I ordered came to $75ish (one entrée for two, two mains, a German beer and corkage for Ben’s local beers), I really liked the restaurant overall and would come back to try their creamy mushroom vego pasta, to eat more rosti and to umm and ahhh over their amazing sweets menu. Perhaps just with Ben for a romantic date?

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Des Alpes on Urbanspoon

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Ben’s baked eggs

So this is probably the last eggy dish in an unofficial egg series of blogs. This was something I whipped up for Ben when he was feeling ill. It’s the easiest, most versatile thing ever.

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  • Grease a ramekin
  • Add veggies of your choice (I added leftover sauteed spinach with garlic and ricotta)
  • Season
  • Bake until eggs whites are cooked to your liking (anywhere between 20-40 minutes, depending on your oven).
  • Eat.

You could also add cheese, or make them more Spanish by adding a tomatoey sauce at the bottom of the dish.

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Simple. Great if you’re feeling ill or lazy.

 

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SWAMPDOG FISH AND CHIPS

So fish and chip shops are not normally the most veg friendly places. Have you ever been to the typical FnC shop and seen the vegetarian fare? Potato cakes, pineapple fritters and, if you’re lucky, a sad vegetarian pattie passing for a burger. I was sitting with a friend who had ordered food at Swamp Dog and realised I had to go back.

A few days later I was sitting with Ben trying the fresh huge salads and yummy chips with housemade aioli.

We ordered the mixed salad- half Greek salad, half Asian salad. They were both delicious.

There was so much food we had to take some home.

Fresh food from a fish and chip shop? Hell yeah.

Swampdog Fish and Chips on Urbanspoon

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Vego Dinner Party for Non-Vegos

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.

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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.

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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!

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DAKBLA

So I have no idea what “Dakbla” means, but in West End, it means nice Asian and Vietnamese food.

I first went to Dakbla with friend as a table of four and we had four meals and two entrees for less than $80. Impressive. Dinner also came with green tea from the manager, who was lovely.

Ben and I went back recently for lunch on a hot day. We felt like something light and full of veggies.

I immediately ordered a coconut water, as did Ben. These are the real deal and even come with young coconut pieces to fish out of your glass and chew on. So yum.

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Like many Asian cuisines, there are vegan options if you’re careful to avoid fish sauce.

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I ordered the Rice Paper Rolls with Tofu and Ben ordered the Temple Delight. Another vegan warning is that the tofu is made with egg, so vegetable dishes might be the way to go.

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Our meals arrived together, but the service was very slow. We think it was because it was lunchtime and only one other table had people at it, so by having us sit by the window for a long time, we looked good for business. This is a shame as we had very speedy service the first time we came here and the food really is lovely and affordable (most vego dishes hover around the $14 mark).

my Rice Paper Rolls were perfect: light and filling with a great dipping sauce. Ben’s dish was more filling and substantial and also delicious.

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My suggestion: If you don’t want a drawn out lunch (we were there for over an hour start to finish) eat here for dinner or at busier times.

Here’s another gratuitous coconut water shot, because it was a hot day and I was thankful for it:

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Dakbla Vietnamese and Asian Cusine on Urbanspoon

Enjoy.

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THE BURROW

So I love Alice in Wonderland. It was read to me often as a child and a beautiful full-coloured illutrated version was given to me by my nanna and pop for my 7th birthday (obviously Lew Carroll wrote it, but this version was illustrated by Greg Hildebrandt). I still have the book, the plastic cover that protects it and the caterpillar bookmark I made to use just for that book.

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When The Burrow opened up on Mollison Street in West End, I got it. Even if the rabbit’s feet on the logo has nothing to do with Alice in Wonderland, I don’t care. I pretend it does.

The location used to be a Turkish restaurant, but it really shines as a pizza and beer bar. The backyard, side yard, verandas and  upstairs space are well-utilised to create nice pockets to sit and eat and drink in.

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You have to love the pizza names. With titles like The Kracken and Snoochi Bootchies (Jay and Silent Bob fans much?) you’re gonna have fun just reading the menu. We ordered a Mama Said pizza (Char-grilled eggplant, zucchini, asparagus, feta, roast capsicum & mozzarella) and a bowl of chips with relish and aioli. They were out of aioli so we got tapenade instead. Ben ordered too many different beers to mention, but the list is extensive. They pride themselves on finding interesting local and international craft beers and have a regular rotation on tap.

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Our food was timely and delicious. The pizza crust is homemade and thinnish, but with good flavours. The chips were like pizza: Even when it’s bad it’s good. But these were really good. I wanted to take that tapenade home and bed it.

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Downstairs, large wooden communal tables are used and it’s kind of nice. During busy times, it’s a little awkward to be put next to a large group on a communal table if you’re just two, but considering big share tables seem the way to go in Brisbane these days, suck it up (Please).

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On their lunch menu, there’s a pizza called the Stephen Seagull, which is Napoli base, mozzarella, topped with hot chips and aioli. It’s only available during lunch and, if you’re like me and enjoy both hot chips AND pizza equally, life changing. Order this pizza. Or lie and tell me you did.

Not particularly vegan friendly (unless you’re happy to order a vego without cheese, as I would be), this is a great casual option for a birthday or dinner with friends.

My suggestion? Book ahead and don’t be in a rush. This place is hugely popular and this can mean slow (though always nice) service.

 

 

The Burrow on Urbanspoon

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