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Thursday, 1 August 2013

Yummy Fish Cakes, Pork Larb Salad and Sticky Rice at Thai Wi-Rat

photo of Thai fish cakes and Pork Larb Salad with Sticky Rice

On my many visits to Fortitude Valley, I had noticed the Thai Wi-Rat restaurant a couple of times. The name stuck in my head as I wondered if it was a good idea to have the word "Rat" in the name of a restaurant. A quick browse on the internet showed up good reviews so eventually, I got around to trying it to satisfy my curiousity.

The dark interiors were uninviting to sit in but housed happy Asian families and friends enjoying the many dishes they had ordered. This was a great sign so I chose to sit outside in the sun to enjoy the breezes whilst I tasted my fish cakes, and Pork Larb salad with sticky rice. The prices were on the expensive side so I questioned the authenticity of their food. However, when I actually got to taste it, I was very happy with the quality. The fish cakes were spicy but there was enough for me to try two and wait for the rice to come so I could have the other two with the meal. The salad was delicious and the sticky rice was presented in a cute little woven container.

Satisfied, I walked away hoping to find more restaurants of this quality within easy access. I miss the fantastic food Sydney has and the generous proportions at cheap prices.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Diving into Italian Tapas at Popolo Kitchen and Bar, South Bank

photo of Toasted Pane with goats curd and field mushroom

Popolo Italian Kitchen and Bar
Back in April, my research for interesting restaurants to try for my birthday dinner resulted in a first choice for Beccofino and a second choice for the Popolo Italian Kitchen and Bar. It had a unique menu featuring tapas with whitebait, mustard cress, sardines, risotto balls and lilliput capers! Some of the mains included suckling pig, white rabbit ragu and clams! There were simple pizzas on offer with just a few basic ingredients like tomato, basil and mozarella, and a range of simple but good quality sides like cherry tomatoes, baby chat potatoes and beetroot salad. So when a friend suggested we meet at South Bank, I suggested we do so at Popolo!

On arrival, I noticed it had a lively atmosphere and was quite popular. Surprisingly we managed to get a table even though we just booked an hour before. The lights were dim and everyone glowed somewhat in the bright orange neon light that spelt out Popolo.

Excited to try all the different items, my friend and I ordered enough for three! We found the pork and beef meatballs dry and it didn't come with enough sauce to balance it, but I liked the parmesan-crusted, anchovy-stuffed olives. My friend enjoyed the crispy whitebait with artichoke and caper cream but I found it was nothing to write home about. I did like that it wasn't oily though. My favourite would be the Toasted Pane, where you spread on the goats curd, placed field mushrooms on top and drizzled with Olive Oil and sprinkle with the interesting unidentifiable greens! I didn't even think I liked goats curd! This type wasn't bitter like the ones I've tried before. Finally, our white rabbit ragu with egg pasta arrived. The rabbit tasted and smelt like tuna, and was mixed with carrots and peas. The texture was mushy but then the egg pasta was a step away from al dente, and had parts that were almost crunchy...we had a few more goes but having had too much food, we left a lot behind.

I'm glad I finally got around to try Popolo as I've read a lot of mixed reviews and now I know how I feel, after experiencing it first-hand. There are some good dishes and some they could improve. Next time, I would like to taste the mains and perhaps, some desserts. I love the variety of dishes they offer and the simple, yet interesting ingredients.

More Restaurant Reviews can be found at:
Vietnamese Pork Belly and Prawn Pancake at Sing Sing, West End, Brisbane;
Food and Memories at George's Paragon, Brisbane; and
Licking our lips for Fresh Food at Taste Gallery, Sunnybank.


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Feeling a Burger Urge coming on!

photo of delicious-looking Magic Mushroom burger

9:30pm at night, what would be open in Brisbane? We headed towards the Kelvin Grove campus of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), thinking that the Urban Village where a handful of eateries existed, would be open. On arrival, I noticed that blocks of new residential apartments were just across the road but none even had a light on - it was a ghost town! Where were the students? Luckily for us, a couple of places were open - one of them being Burger Urge. Walking in, it became apparent to me that this was a franchise gourmet burger store. The signs spoke of using local produce and free range eggs and meat, the menu featuring similar prices as the Grill'd burger chain.

Having just come in from the Winter Solstice Festival amongst all the hippies, I must have been subconsciously influenced to order a Magic Mushroom Burger! And there were no regrets there! The bread was toasted, slightly crispy and in between was an amazing combination of grilled field mushroom, fire roasted capsicum, haloumi cheese, onion, pesto and salad. My friends enjoyed their combo of spicy buffalo wings and tempura onion rings, saying they beat Hungry Jacks by far.

Hopping onto the net, I discovered it was a Queensland chain of stores, established by "two local lads" who purchase their produce from the Rocklea Markets three times a week. They have five different locations at Fortitude Valley, St Lucia, West End, Kelvin Grove and Gardens Point.

Want to appreciate the taste of more fresh produce? Go to:
Eating my way through the Jan Powers Farmers Markets!

Friday, 28 June 2013

Celebrating the Winter Solstice with Hippies

logo for Winter Solstice Festival

In the olden days, it was very common for people not to survive the harsh winter months. Cattle and other animals were usually killed just before the onset of the season to avoid more mouths to feed. With all this fresh meat available at the same time as wine and beer finally reaching fermentation, it was a great time for celebrations and festivals to occur. The Winter Solstice marks the beginning of winter, offering us the shortest day and the longest night of the year.

Located at the Northey Street City Farm in Windsor, we followed the little hand-made lanterns placed on the lawns. They led us around walls of trees and foliage to discover groups of people enjoying the bands on stage. The ground smelt very earthy and I noticed people walking out of nearby wooden huts and wondered if they lived there. People had brought blankets to lay on whilst they enjoyed their plates of food. On closer observation, we noticed that people were dressed like hippies with alternate hairstyles, beards, knitted beanies, some with bare feet and long dresses .

We decided to join a queue for the Chai Cafe - and I was glad I had it with soy milk because there was no real taste. Long lines had formed, particularly to get the organic Himalayan curry which I also wanted to try. I could smell mushrooms in the pan and I pondered whether I should opt to make my own pizza at the woodfire ovens but one of my friends didn't want to eat there so we left and ended up going to Burger Urge. Although it was a really cold night, I think it would have been nice to stay another hour to sample the food and watch the circus acts and bonfires!

What other events would you have gone to? Read about: 
Sundays Reserved for You - Ideas Fiesta at the City Botanic Gardens;
BrisStyle indie Twilight Markets in King George Square; and
Enjoying the Basics "Feet First" Invitation to Dance.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Eating my way through the Jan Powers Farmers Markets

photo of the Calamari available for tasting at a counter

Set against the backdrop of the Brisbane Powerhouse, where the World Press Photos were hosted, the Jan Powers Farmers Markets was surprisingly a lot busier and bigger than I expected. Farmers Markets they're called? More like Food Markets!

As I visited each stall, I was impressed with the quality products on offer, many available for sampling. I tried organic gluten-free cereals with yoghurt, fresh apples and acid-free pineapple. I watched the other market-goers grab organic coffee and pastries, kransky sausages with sauerkraut, Chinese dumplings and buns, freshly-squeezed fruit juices and home-made jams. A few larger stalls sold produce and there were plenty of people lining up to pay. And if you're game, there's a goat pie stand, strangely, ten metres away from real live freckled brown baby goat!

Unlike the Twilight markets and the Manly markets, don't look to feast your eyes - look to feed your appetite! The Jan Powers Farmers Markets are here every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month from 6am to 12 midday.
Love your food? Go to Taste-testing and Entertainment at Asian Cooking Classes!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Lanterns and Markets at the Winter Lights Festival

photo of the parade, with huge people-sized lanterns

The Winter Lights Festival was held on Saturday from 3 to 9pm, signifying the onset of Winter. On arrival, it was a bit off-putting that we had to pay five dollars each to attend an outdoor market. The way I see it, these events attract people to the area, giving surrounding businesses a boost and stall owners already pay their share of money to the council. 

Parts of Racecourse Road was sectioned off and market stalls of jewellery, clothing, toys and food were on display. There were farm animals, showground rides and balloons for kids. A few music acts played and artists painted on randomly placed easels. We shared a Cheese Kransky roll and walked up and down the street. Many had ended up in the surrounding pubs, cafes and restaurants - maybe due to a lack of things to do or maybe due to a lack of seating. 

Just as we were about to leave, a little parade came down the street with cartoon characters and people holding some amazing lanterns. They were large and shaped like musical instruments, animals and people! On a closer look, you can see that they were made by some sort of paper stretched over wire. This entertained us briefly but we left not long after to have a sit down meal. Maybe we'll make our own lanterns a bit later! 

More Brisbane Events can be found at:
Making Cosplay Wings with Frances Foo at Brisbane Square Library; and
BrisStyle indie Twilight markets in King George Square, Brisbane City

Monday, 17 June 2013

On an Oasis at the Stokehouse on South Bank, Brisbane

photo of interiors within the Stokehouse on South Bank, Brisbane

With one of my besties in town, we decided to try a new restaurant recommended by one of my Chef friends – the Stokehouse on South Bank. A scenic walk along Eagle Street Pier, the City Botanic Gardens, and the Goodwill Bridge led us to our destination. The sight of the wooden planks and interesting angles of the architecture quickened my pace and once inside, I enjoyed the interiors and views as well. Soft bread rolls were brought to our table in little brown paper pouches to be eaten with olive oil. The delicious pistachio-crusted quail was the highlight of my meal, followed with the textured scallop squid-ink linguine. We also tried a tender beef rib on the list of specials but didn't manage to finish it, even with his big appetite! All-in-all, a nice meal. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

The mere presence of my best friend offered me enough comfort and perspective than I have had in months - I realise who I am again.
I have to let you go. Goodbye for now...

More Restaurant Reviews can be found at:
Food and Memories at George's Paragon, Brisbane;
Grumbles from Celebrations at Jade Buddha; and
Vietnamese Pork Belly and Prawn Pancake at Sing Sing, West End, Brisbane.