Sunday, September 27, 2009

When everything goes right

It was Tiff's surprise birthday BBQ today and because it was a barbeque, I decided to make Kupcake Kabobs - an idea I got off my favourite cupcake blogger, Clara at Basically it's mini chocolate cupcakes with a peanut butter cream frosting on a skewer with rice krispies and strawberries. What an ingenious idea right?! That's why I love her! And her recipes are always spot on and so easy to follow too.

After my disastrous day with the muffins, I must admit I was a little apprehensive about more baking but I just had to do them because I don't go to barbeques often! So I got all the ingredients I needed and proceeded to make these creations. I had to split them up into 3 stages - baking all the cupcakes in the small amount of time I had before having to go to work (I ran a little overtime of course and managed to get to work in 5 minutes, record time!!), frosting all the cupcakes at 10.30pm after work and assembling the kabobs right before the barbeque the next day. It was a bit frantic on the day of the barbeque, the assembling took a little longer than I had anticipated but Y lent a much needed helping hand. I even suffered a skewer-stick injury, ha-ha! (Sorry, bad med joke).

But yeah, throughout the whole procedure everything just went according to plan and it was beautiful. All the cupcakes were baked perfectly and looked great, the frosting came out perfect and the kabobs were just oh-so-cute. Success at the party and they were gone in 2 minutes. Hurray! Too bad T got the wrong park (NOT happy!) and we missed the whole 'surprise' moment and because we were in such a hurry, we left the birthday present at home. D'oh!! Kupcake Kabobs are definitely a must-do again next time. Cocoa couldn't have any of course, but she did get lots of pats, a good run around and 2 balloons tied to her collar :)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pearl Cafe Review

Soo, it was a Friday night and T and I were driving home from a movie.. T asked me what we were going to do the next day and I replied enthusiastically "FUN STUFF!!" and so T said "You wanna go to that Pearl Cafe of yours??" upon which I responded with as much as a dance as I could manage while driving while singing "Miiiilkshake, I'm gonna get a milkshaaaaake" :D I've only been to Pearl Cafe once before but got fixated as I do, and have been going on about it ever since.

At the last minute, Y decided to join us with our lovely shared dog, Cocoa. As we'd heard, Pearl Cafe was packed full at lunchtime on a weekend (plus we needed an outside table because of Cocoa) so the lovely waiter took my name and number down and said he would call us when they had an outside table available. He gave us an estimated time of half an hour so we had a little stroll around, had a look at some artwork and in less than half an hour, I got a phone call and hey presto, we got ourselves a table outside!

Our waitress gave us a run through of their daily specials which consisted of a rump sandwich with caramelised onions and tomato relish, croque-monsieur/croque-madame, a prawn salad and a haloumi salad. We arrived at 12.45pm so we were told that the breakfast menu was no longer available and we had to order from the lunch/dinner menu, upon which T responded with a grumble and a "hmmpf". T and Y ordered coffees while I, of course, ordered my much awaited chocolate milkshake. Pearl Cafe offers many flavours of milkshakes, including malt, vanilla, berry and butterscotch (all of which I intend to try in my future visits). The other two enjoyed their coffees very much and I loved my milkshake, it was rich and chocolatey and heavenly on a searing hot day like today.

T then asked the waiter about Pearl Cafe's infamous fish finger sandwiches and the waiter informed us regretfully that they had JUST sold their last one. T was infuriated that he missed out and very much disappointed and I think that just ruined the whole lunch for him, tee-hee. The best comment that came out of his mouth about the food for the rest of the meal was "It's good". To make things worse, a little while later, the last fish finger sandwich was served to someone sitting on the table next to us!

In the end, T and Y both got the croque-madame which is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with a creamy sauce and an egg on top (hence the "madame"), I got the scallop carbonara and we just had to get the prawn salad to share between us. The scallop carbonara was absolutely delicious - smooth and creamy with bits of juicy bacon and scallops that were cooked perfectly. It was a nice-sized portion, perfect for lunch. I had half of Y's croque-madame and I did like the grilled ham and cheese and the creamy sauce but we all thought that there was a bit too much bread and that it would've been better as either an open sandwich or tightly pressed together with the bread toasted. The prawn salad was absolutely amazing - perfectly cooked prawns with spinach, artichokes, tomatoes and yes, CREAMY dressing. I'm not a salad person at all but this is probably in the top 3 category for me in terms of favourite salads I've had in my life.

Pearl Cafe has a pastry chef who comes in and uses anything that is in stock so their dessert selection changes extremely frequently. There isn't even a dessert menu, it's what's on display that day. I went and had a look right after we finished eating and I wanted about 7 desserts on display! After much debate, we made the tough decision of narrowing it down to two to share between us and we got the chocolate roll with mascarpone cheese as well as the lime and raspberry tart, both with ice cream. Y and I thought it would be great if they could have a little tasting platter of all the desserts! I bet everyone would choose that option. The chocolate roll with mascarpone was an interesting combination and the chocolate sponge was soft and spongy. The tart was zesty and fresh and got everyone's vote as the favourite. Not my favourite desserts ever and they didn't warrant an obsessive urge to have them all day everyday (as some desserts do) but still, one of the best lunches I've had in a long time.

I will be definitely be going back again and again and again to Pearl Cafe and I'm pretty sure everyone who tries it will do the same. They're not open Mondays and Sundays but they are also open for dinner so get there to try the awesome food and service there, it's totally worth it. The ambience is of a cosy, relaxed cafe and I will probably be there, slurping on my milkshake with unbridled glee :)

Rating: 9/10

Pearl Cafe
28 Logan Road

Phone: 07 3392 3300

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Anise Bistro & Wine Bar Review

Now, I am no stranger to Anise.. I've been going there for over a year now but I thought it would be good to do a review of it right after eating there again and actually took some (really crappy) photos on my phone! Mind you, since I only started doing this blog, I keep forgetting to bring my camera out so as a result, I keep having to resort to my phone for photos so I apologise in advance!!

We intended to go out to eat somewhere else but ended up at Anise, hoping against hope that we'd get a seat because, if you don't know already, Anise only seats 21 customers max and it's very unique in the sense that everyone sits close to each other at the bar. There are NO tables so if you're agoraphobic, you might want to give Anise a miss ;) It was a concept I was sceptical about at first but accepted it in stride, soon grew accustomed to and actually started to like.

A pleasant surprise greeted us when we opened up the menu as they had just recently tweaked the menu, yippee!! A (not so long) while ago we were going to Anise VERY frequently and inevitably, fickle ol' me got pretty bored of it and we haven't been back in awhile but I'm SO glad we went back that night because it was great :)

Let's start with the amuse bouches. We ordered the foie gras terrine (for T because I haven't quite acquired the taste for it yet.. I'll get there, I swear!!) and half a dozen oysters baked with spanner crab meat and tomato hollandaise which verged on orgasmic haha!! Just the combination of creamy oysters, bits of crab and creamy tomato hollandaise - notice the emphasis on CREAMY? Yep, we loooove our creamy, rich food.. T very generously offered me one of his oysters so I had 4! Yumm.. they still had me wanting more though.

For entrees we had the spanner crab crepe with fresh truffle, pastis creme and english spinach which had replaced the spanner crab souffle on the old menu and also the southern blue fin tuna tartare with horseradish, herb and quail egg. The terrine was a nice fresh mixture of herbs and raw fish served with mini bits of toast but the real winner was the crab crepe! It was, you guessed it, ultra creamy. The crepe was light and the truffle sauce and pastis creme pulled everything together in one mouthwatering spoonful. It was ALMOST perfect, it would've been perfect if there was a bit more crab in it.

I had the double roasted duck with cherries, dutch carrots and golden eschallots that has been on the menu for a looong time and still my utmost favourite. I'm not a fan of duck and only a few places (probably about 3) do duck the way I like it.. crispy skinned and juicy just like expensive KFC, or should I say KFD hahaha!! T had something new, the bouillabaisse of local seafood with saffron aioli crostade and though I didn't try it, he said it was really good and sigh, sorry to say this again, CREAMY. He also found the seafood very fresh. 

The part of dinner that I was most excited about, dessert of course, was unfortunately the most disappointing for me. Out of aaaalll the new desserts, we chose the profiteroles with pistachio ice cream and chocolate sauce and I found the pastry to be a bit too crunchy and hard and the pistachio ice cream that reminded me of toothpaste. Sigh.. I knew we should've gone for the turkish delight semifreddo!! It's okay, there's always next time!

Anise has always been one of my favourite places to go for dinner. The waitstaff behind the bar are professional, efficient and have a vast knowledge of wine. The food is always good, unique and fresh with seasonal changes to keep things interesting. The wine list, is of course extremely extensive and if in doubt, the wait staff will recommend something to suit your liking. The ambience is comfy and sophisticated. They are now open on Sundays from 5pm and offer a Sunday supper menu which is a smaller version of their original menu and I'm soo glad they do that now because I can't tell you the number of times T and I have been craving to eat at Anise on a Sunday but haven't been able to go. Anise also offers a degustation menu which chnges every season and your choice if you want incredible matching wines or not. A word of advice, pick up the phone and book before you go if you want to be one of the 21 people eating there that night.

Rating: 8/10

Anise Bistro & Wine Bar
697 Brunswick Street
New Farm, Brisbane

Phone: 07 3398 7839

Monday, September 21, 2009


I hate baking.. I really do

So I had like a kilo of beautiful fresh strawberries that T and I got from the markets when we were at Mt Tamborine but because we bought them a week ago, I wanted to DO something with them before they started going rotten! So I decided to bake my trusty White Chocolate & Strawberry Muffins (recipe from - BEST SITE EVER) because they were really easy to make and I just loooove them.

Anyway, it was all going really well.. I prepared the ingredients and all the steps were coming along nicely and I was REALLY looking forward to eating them because it all just flowed so smoothly and I thought "Man, these are gonna be the best muffins ever!!". I put them in the oven and started packing away all my stuff on the kitchen bench and then as I picked up my laptop off the bench.. *JAWS MUSIC* .. I'd forgotten to put in the BUTTER!!!! *scream* 

I ran upstairs to wail to T about what had happened and he said to take them out and mix in the butter *horror* so I ran downstairs screaming "I'm NEVER gonna bake again!!" and my poor muffins, they looked so pretty, halfway done and innocent, not knowing the horror I was about to inflict on them.. I managed to stir in some butter and whereas before they looked all even and pretty, now they just looked like globs of oily lumpy batter.. So I put them in again *sigh* and now fingers crossed for edible muffins.. Gawd, please just make them EDIBLE!!

NB: No photos in fear that my traumatised mind will snap and make me shoot myself

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sardine Tin Review

After an extremely satisfying day of shopping in the city with T on our ACTUAL 5th anniversary day, we were pretty hungry and decided to have an extremely early dinner... at 5pm :) So after tossing around a few ideas for dinner, we decided to try Sardine Tin in Southbank for the first time. The place is TINY with about 6 tables that seat about 4 people on average and a small bar area which could probably seat another 6-8 people. Some people may find the height of the tables and chairs a little uncomfortable but it adds to the quaintness of the whole place.

Both the menu and the wine list were very small and there was a specials board with about 4 items on it. Sardine Tin is mainly a tapas restaurant with the menu designed to share so as you can guess, we ordered a heap of stuff!! Prices range from about $8 to $15, with the Steak Sandwich and the Ploughman's Lunch being the biggest on the menu. We started with the Pickled Anchovies and Chorizo & Potatos. The anchovies were understandably sour and would probably be better with some bread and the chorizo was tasty with crunchy fried potatoes.

From the specials board we ordered 3 out of the 4 items. The Falafel with eggplant caviar was a little too "green" for me and after having one, didn't venture to have another one. The Tempura Sardines with sweet potato & tartare was unique and resembled a modern day fish and chips (the sweet potatoes were served in tiny deep fried strips)! Lastly, the Pork Belly with apple and leek was a great dish with the flavours all complementing each other perfectly and the pork belly skin crisp to perfection. Needless to say, T ordered another serve of the Tempura Sardines and the Pork Belly.

We then ordered the only two desserts on the menu - I got the Banana and Chocolate while T got the Espresso Creme Brulee. While we were waiting for our desserts to arrive, we noticed another table get oysters deliered to their table. We hailed the waiter to ask about them and it turned out that our first waitress forgot to mention that they had oysters as their specials that night too! T was abit annoyed (cos that's how he is) but I swiftly ordered 2 oysters and that pacified him somewhat. The oysters were served with a very generous dollop of orange sorbet which I thought was a little bit TOO generous and hard to get the whole thing in my mouth. The sorbet did not cut into the taste of the oyster as much as I wanted it so I guess I could've done without them after all!

Our desserts arrived and my Banana and Chocolate dessert turned out to be little cake dumplings filled with melted chocolate and banana and covered with cinnamon dust. I found the dumplings a little too doughy and would have liked more chocolate and banana in them. However, T's Espresso Creme Brulee was served in a little espresso cup and was creamy and had just the right amount of espresso flavour in it. I also ordered a hot chocolate which was absolutely decadent, one of the best I've had in a while. It was rich and chocolatey, just the way I like it! Definitely getting one of those when I go back there!

All our food came out VERY quickly, which T very much appreciated. The service was good - we had one who was always cheerful - although with 3 waiters in such a small place, I thought it would be a lot less flurried. All in all, the Sardine Tin is a great little place to grab a quick meal and coffee/hot chocolate or have a small intimate gathering with plenty of delicious tapas to share around.

Oh, and our bill came in the cutest little... you guessed it, sardine tin!! Love it :)

Rating: 7/10

Sardine Tin
Shop 3a, Arbour on Grey Street

Phone: 07 3846 1146

Songbirds Restaurant Review

It was 8pm, it had been a loooong day and T and I had just spent the last 1.5hours driving from Brisbane to Mt Tamborine and getting lost on the mountain in pitch black, trying to find the freakin' resort. Let me explain, it was our 5th Anniversary romantic getaway weekend and because T had meetings till 6pm that night, we were forced to start out journey A LEEEETLE later than we'd liked. We hadn't had anything to eat since lunchtime and needless to say, we were cranky and starving, not to mention the headache I got from his crazy driving up the mountain!!

So anyway, we finally found the place, parked in the parking lot and carried our bags to Reception (which turned out to be right next to the restaurant) only to find out that we had to get back into our car and drive 1 minute to our villa. T was pretty cranky that we had to carry our bags in and out but then again, that's just the way he is. So we got back into the car and drove to our villa (1 of 6 in the entire place) and did a quick look around before walking down a quaint little pathway lit up by lights back to the restaurant as we were told during check-in that the kitchen closed at 8.30pm!! By this time I had a pounding headache and felt nauseous (as I do when I really hungry) - this was NOT the way to start our romantic weekend!!

However, the bubbly waitress Jasmine and the friendly manager Justin were so professional and efficient and we got our bread rolls to start in a jiffy. Two bites into the soft, freshly homemade bread and my headache dissipated and things were starting to look up! We also got an amuse bouche of blue cheese in a cauliflower puree and macadamia nuts which was heavenly. I'm not usually a big fan of blue cheese but the cauliflower puree and macadamias cut through the strong taste of the cheese and it was a pleasant taste sensation indeed.

We ordered the Sashimi of Hiramasa Kingfish and a dozen oysters (half natural, half with Tobiko, finger lime caviar and wasabi foam) for entrees. The sashimi dish was just beautiful - fresh and tangy - and we were left wanting more whereas the oysters were fresh and the unique dressing was something different. I loved them, T.. not so much! After that, we got a palate cleanser of mango and pineapple sorbet which I think was okay.. and could be a little bit more interesting, more sophisticated.
For mains, I was tossing up between the Crisp Skinned Tasmanian Salmon and the Assiette of Lamb and eventually went with the latter because let's face it, I'm a lamb person.. T went for the Confit Duck Leg and I must say, it was the winner of the night!! The duck leg was succulent and the skin oh-so-crispy and it also came with a forest mushroom pithivier that was absolutely divine - crammed full of mushrooms, the pastry was light and fluffy and it had just the right amount of saltiness. I wasn't impressed with the lamb dish, nothing on it really stood out for me so we ended up switching plates of course! I kind of wished that I tried the salmon instead. But oh well, you can't win 'em all!

And now for my favourite part, DESSERT!!! I was almost certainly going for the Valhrona Chocolate Tart and I knew T was definitely going for the Passionfruit Souffle (because that's just what he does) but Justin came on over to our table to refill T's glass of wine and I asked him what HIS favourite dessert was. The answer? The Madagascan Vanilla Fudge.. It's not usually the kind of thing I'd order but I agreed to give it a try and YOU KNOW WHAT?! I'm soooo glad I did!! I loved every single bit of it! It came with rice crispy crunches, compressed strawberries and witches chase goats curd ice cream - O..MI..GODDDD!! It was devastatingly yummy. Every element on the plate just worked together so well and one spoonful with a little bit of everything on it was just to die for. T's souffle looked beeeautiful, rising up soo high and the colour was dreamy.. texture was soft and the chocolate sauce was awesome but I thought it was just a teensy bit too eggy for me. Of course, I'm not the biggest souffle fan around and T DID love it :)

So all in all, that first night was a HUGE success in that we arrived cranky, hungry, in pain and it turned us around into a happy, smiling, nodding-after-each-bite couple. But ahh.. the story isn't over yet! We had our SECOND night at Songbirds Restaurant as well!! I'll keep it short, we HAD to have the bread rolls again cos they were yummylicious! We also ordered an ENTREE-sized portion of the blue cheese amuse bouche that we had the inght before because we loved it so much AND we got a different amuse bouche that night!! It was a little chilli garlic prawn that was sooo cute and tasted swell :) We also got the an entree of the kingfish sashimi for EACH of us and we both ordered the duck again for our mains. The palate cleanser was the same ho-hum sorbet and now... CRUNCH-TIME!! Dessert again.. What should I do?! Should I try something DIFFERENT? Like the Valrohna dish that I wanted the night before?? ....... No, I just HAD to have the Madagascan Vanilla Fudge AGAIN. You know why?? I'd been thinking about it AAAALLLL daay and I just had to have it one more time. In fact, I've been thinking about it ever since we left that place and that was a week ago! Aaargh! Someone get me to Songbirds now pleeeze!

So as you can see, we LOVED the restaurant. The food was absolutely amazing, thanks to the wonderful head chef Trent Dawson. The wine list was extensive and the service impeccable. As we were checking out at the 3rd day, Justin was in the midst of printing out new menus for the restaurant and I'm glad to see that they're keeping things current. I really wish they were in Brisbane so I could go back there over and over again. Very very highly recommended.

Rating: 8/10

Songbirds Rainforest Retreat
Tamborine Mountain Road
P.O. Box 275
North Tamborine
Queensland 4272

Telephone: 07 5545 2563

Lunch: Wednesday to Sunday - bookings essential
Dinner: Wednesday to Saturday evenings - bookings essential