Monday, May 27, 2013

Goodbye Australia... for now

Hello to all my fans and regular readers of Hungry Kittens food blog. I have been counting down to this day for many moons now and it's finally here!

From tomorrow, I'll be boarding a plane out of the country to embark on a 14 week whirlwind adventure through Asia and Europe.

The itinerary is thus: Singapore (brief stop over), Hong Kong, Shanghai, London, Paris, Bordeaux, Geneva, Zermatt, Zurich, Vienna, Amsderdam, Gierthoorn, Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Munich, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Venice, Brussels, Bologna, Florence, Amalfi Coast, Naples, Perugia, Rome, Athens, Santorini, Crete, Istanbul, Dubai and HOME.

Ah... that took quite a bit of typing.

In any case, I will be out of action re: Brisbane food reviews over this period of time and instead, enjoying the Northern Hemisphere summer, lack of work, culture shock, non-english speaking fun, cocktails, food and more...!!!

This is the FIRST time to Europe for both Marc and myself so if any of you kind readers have experience/foodie advice to impart, please e-mail me or drop a comment here.

Much love to you all and keep following because I will be back in September with a vengence :)

Sono Brisbane City for Lunch

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Sono Brisbane City
202 Edward Street, Tattersall's Building, Brisbane CBD

I really enjoyed the meal I had with my family at Sono Portside Restaurant. Ever since then, I was curious about trying the city location, which also has greatly positive online reviews. Even though the venue itself didn't appeal to me that much, the fact that it's right THERE in the city, where I wander around at least once a week, it seemed silly not to bite the bullet and try it out.

For whatever reason, I decided that last Friday would be the day. I think Marc had been there before (well, he seemed shocked to hear that I hadn't, which is rare for him) and enjoyed it so he was excited about going again. We were meeting up for lunch and my prior research of the menu indicated that the bento boxes were the way to go. They were definitely pricier than fast food Japanese bento boxes but hey, it's a fine dining restaurant so whatdya expect. I think we fabricated some excuse for eating fancy that day but I can't actually remember what our mutual lie was.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Dessert and Drinks at Passion Tree

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Passion Tree
103 Elizabeth Street, Brisbane CBD

I was looking through some of my favorite Brisbane food blogs this week, thinking about what I could cram into my last weekend here before the big Eurotrip. My heart jumped into my mouth when I saw DolceBunnie's post for Passion Tree in Brisbane CBD. I've been there twice now over the past weekend so this post will cover the items I've tried.

I had taken note of Passion Tree when it was still under construction with naught but a sign to advise us of its impending arrival. I filed that information away as 'important' because dessert is always important to me but then forgot to check it out when it actually opened. Dessert is one thing but Asian-style honey bread is another thing entirely.

Top Hot Pot

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Top Hot Pot
Shop 43, Sunnypark Shopping Centre, Sunnybank

As the weather gets progressively colder, I'm finding it more and more difficult to function. Even getting out of bed seems inconceivable at times and doing chores and other necessities is practically out of the question. To boost motivation to drive myself home to Toowoomba late Friday night, I talked Marc into having hot pot for dinner.

Hot pot is a bit like fro-yo for me. I could have both all throughout the year but the cravings are definitely season dependant. When the weather is hot and sticky, I could live off frozen yoghurt. When the reverse is true, there's nothing more suitable for dinner than a steamy, bubbling hot pot.

Breakfast and Coffee and Cocoawoo

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69 Charlotte Street, Brisbane CBD

I needed to kill time on Friday before a seminar in Brisbane. Breakfast is always a good place to start and provided you find the right spot, it's easy to linger and pass an hour.

I was wondering around the city looking for a likely spot when I passed Cocoawoo and doubled back. I know that it's mostly known for dessert, or at least that's what it intended when it first opened. The shop front is small and cosy and it pulls off being a hole-in-the-wall coffee shop.

Next Door Kitchen and Bar for Goodbye Dinner and Drinks

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Next Door Kitchen and Bar

In the past year, West End and South Bank has really become my backyard and local food hunting ground. It's been really exciting for me to see all the new cafes and restaurants pop up, especially in South Bank Parklands as it emerges as one of Brisbane's most concentrated dining hubs.

Next Door Kitchen and Bar opened a while back but like most new 'drinks' venues, I find it harder to generate an excuse to visit. Marc and I like a good drink as much as the next person but when we go out, we prefer places that primarily focus on food. To me, anything that has 'Bar' or 'Lounge' in its name will always seem more appropriate for larger social gatherings.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Breakfast at Reverends espresso

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Reverends espresso
372 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley

It's not often that I find myself roaming the Fortitude Valley by myself in the morning. I bought a couple of massage coupons on Travelzoo and they were for a place in the valley so twice I ended up there needing to kill time before my appointment. I grabbed a coffee at Riverends on the first occasion and liked it enough to remember to go back for breakfast the second time.

Riverends has a small shop front but it seems to extend towards the back. I didn't go exploring so don't hold me to that. There are a couple of lovely little tables at the front that are just perfect for street watching. I was lucky enough to score a spot both times I went.

Gold Coast - Breakfast at Beach Cafe

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The Surfers Paradise Beach Cafe
4 The Esplanade, Surfers Paradise

In Brisbane, Marc never wakes up early enough to get breakfast with me. I usually get bored/fed up and head out on my own. When we're away for the weekend though, we can compromise and meet in the middle.

We went for a stroll along Surfers. It was another gorgeous day but it still felt quite cold so I really wanted a spot in the sun. Unfortunately, everyone else seemed to have the same idea because all the spots in direct sunlight were taken up. We ended up at Beach Cafe because it looked nice and not too busy.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Gold Coast - Icecream on the water with Ben and Jerry

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Ben and Jerry's Surfers Paradise
Shop 1, Centro, Surfers Paradise

There are two things that for me, are synonymous with the coast. Sun and ice-cream. Without either of those things, I deem a coast trip to be a failure. I have no control over the weather but last weekend, Marc and I were blessed with clear skies and glorious sunshine. I always feel a bit piggish requesting ice-cream in the middle of the day but this time, I didn't have to. We checked into our hotel and Marc was the one who suggested we stroll out for an ice-cream hunt.

I had my mind set on Gelatissimo but as we were walking over to their Cavill Mall store, I spotted a Ben and Jerry sign out of the corner of my eye. I have a slight bit of history with Ben and Jerry. Well... ok, not really. In my early uni days, when I was unemployed and spent my non-study hours being domestic, I bought an ice-cream machine and several ice-cream recipe books. Ben and Jerry's was one of them. I don't think I actually used any of their ice-cream recipes but some of their other recipes for ice-cream 'accessories' e.g. cookies, fudge sauce and brownies are great.

Ben and Jerry ice-cream then started making an appearance in various Australian stores. I tried a tub here and there but I had never seen an actual Ben and Jerry ice-cream store before. Naturally, I had to check it out.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Lunch at Riverbar and Kitchen

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Riverbar and Kitchen

Whilst I am notorious for having a huge and ever-growing list of restaurants, cafes and bars that I want to visit, it's rare for Marc to bring up somewhere he wants to try. I mentioned Riverbar when it first opened many months ago and he said "Oh yeh! Where Broadwalk used to be" and sounded very keen to check it out. We tried to go on several occasions but fate intervened. Once we were literally on our way there and got pulled into Hanaichi Sushi Train instead.

Over these past few months, Riverbar and Kitchen has received very average online ratings and reviews so the urgency of trying it waned. Last Friday, we were looking for a suitable lunch spot and I was thinking about Taro Ramen but the weather was so stunning that it seemed like a waste not to be by the river.

Banquet at ROUJ Restaurant

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ROUJ Modern Lebanese Restaurant 

It was Marc's birthday last Friday and being the bad girlfriend that I am, I had nothing planned. As a last minute whim, I offered dinner out to any place of his choice on Thursday night. Being put on the spot, Marc got majorly confused about what he was in the mood for and nothing that I suggested seemed 'right'. With mounting desperation, I tossed up my last ideas of Turkish or Lebanese and they struck home. He decided that he definitely wanted something ethnic.

A quick search on Urbanspoon brought up Rouj Modern Lebanese as a likely candidate. It was located just a short drive away from us in Rosalie. We parked a fair distance away from the main strip of restaurants and walked over. Rouj is located in the same complex as Tomato Brothers, opposite Cold Rock.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Breakfast at Bitter Suite

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Bitter Suite

It was time for my last catch up with Nina before she relocates far, far away. For this special occasion, we selected Bitter Suite, a venue we had both been hearing great things about. Bitter Suite is a casual beer lounge at night and a cafe by day. We went for breakfast on Saturday morning.

Dinner and Drinks at Helm Bar

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Helm Bar and Bistro at Surfers Paradise

Last Saturday, I was invited to try the dinner menu at the brand new Helm Bar and Bistro. Drawing influences from its sister bar in Darling Harbour, Helm replaced the old Titanium Bar with a more modern fitout and stronger gourmet focus.

We took the opportunity to stay a night at the Gold Coast and for once, the weather gods were smiling down. The days were beautiful, albeit just a wee bit frisky. Winter is drawing near. It was a short stroll from our hotel to Helm Bar and Bistro. As we headed inland, Marc started assuming that the venue couldn't possibly be that good because we were walking away from the ocean. Contrary to his expectations, Helm was perched right over Nerang River, which provides lovely water views without the heavy beach crowds.

Coolum - Breakfast at Sorrento's By The Beach

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Sorrento's By The Beach
1786 David Low Way, Coolum Beach

On our last moring in Coolum, something strange happened. This may surprise some; in fact, Marc simply classes me as 'alien' because of it, but I don't really like bacon that much. Apparently regular humans refer to it amongst the tastiest of food items ever but I find myself almost shunning the thought of it. This morning, however, a strong impulse for bacon took over me and I insisted that we must get some for breakfast.

Coolum - Lunch at Raw Energy

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Raw Energy Coolum 

Our first night in Coolum involved pigging out on self-made burritos, entire bottles of wine and corn chips. Feeling understandably under the weather the following day, Marc and I took a stroll along the beach before settling down to some much needed rest and sunshine. Come lunch time, we were resolved to find something healthy, fresh and light.

Walking past the restaurants and cafes that lined the main road, we came across Raw Energy. It boasted freshly made sandwiches and freshly squeezed juice so it was exactly what we were hoping for. We lined up to order before taking up a seat at one of the many outdoor tables.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Cooking Class at Spirit House Cooking School, Yadina

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Spirit House Cooking School 

What to buy a girl who buys everything? I'm sure this is the question Marc faced when it was my birthday a couple of months back. As my present, he organised something I wouldn't have thought of doing myself: a trip to Coolum with a cooking class at none other than Spirit House!!! I'd heard only great things about Spirit House so I was shrill with excitement and just couldn't wait.

We were staying at Coolum Beach and although I wouldn't say it was a huge journey to get there, the road did get progressively less 'developed' and windy. Spirit House was tucked away to one side of the road and we nearly missed the turn off. On the plus side, there was ample parking outside.

The buildings were very tranquil and tastefully shrouded in greenery. I had never been to the Spirit House restaurant before but I saw the restaurant building from a distance. The cooking school was in a separate area.

Hancook for Dinner

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Hancook Korean Restaurant 

Every now and again things just work out perfectly. It's rare but even the smallest happy coincidences create a fist-pump moment in my heart. One night, I was craving Korean food and it just so happened that we had a booking/coupon for a Korean restaurant that night! Woohoo! Stars aligned.

I saw a Travelzoo deal for Hancook in my inbox and it looked pretty good so I clicked to buy. We had a minor hiccup getting to the restaurant because we walked past the shopping centre it's located in (Marc pointed and said "is it in there?" to which I incorrectly responded "no"). The restaurant is on the second floor of Princess Plaza, on Annerley Road, next to Ben's Vietnamese and Chinese Restaurant.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Lunch at Super Whatnot

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Super Whatnot 

I wanted to go to Super Whatnot since it first opened shop goodness knows how long ago. One minute it didn't exist and the next, it was being featured in every Brisbane food culture publication imaginable. Not only is the name quirky and intriguing, the photos I saw of the small bar looked awesome and the menu descriptions I read were right up my alley.

It took me a while to find the opportunity to go there. Because the venue is so cosy, I figured it'd be very busy on weekend nights and as Marc and I aren't rich in patience, a quiet weekday would be more suitable.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Coffee stop at Paladar Fumior Salon

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Paladar Fumior Salon Espresso

Living part-time in South Brisbane for the past year, I've grown very familiar with the area. Nevertheless, a certain building on Merivale Street remained a mystery to me. Every time I walked past, it seemed closed. Was it a bar? Was it a coffee shop? Or a hair salon. The eye-catching red walls and rooftop terrace made it very appealing to me yet I couldn't figure out what it was or how to get in.

One morning, I was on my way to the city when I noticed the door to the red building open. I discovered the name of the place to be Paladar Fumior Salon (hence why I thought it was a hair salon at one stage) and that it was a coffee shop. It was very busy at that time of the day with a queue almost leaking out the door. I altered my routine for the morning and decided I would be having breakfast there before continuing to the shops.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Dinner at Cactus Mexicana

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Cactus Mexicana

After our 'appetizers' at Green Beacon Brewing Co, Marc and I (the pigs that we are) needed something more substantial to fill our guts. We were both in the mood for pizza and I was eager to revist Beccofino but that place was so busy that there wasn't even anyone spare to tell us they were full. We took the impatient route and hopped across the road to Cactus Mexicana. Marc seemed hesitant in suggesting this place. Perhaps he thinks the 'food blogger' is too snobbish for sloppy Mexican food. To that I can only say: nahhhhh.

Cactus Mexicana has an unexciting fitout with tables indoors and a generous outdoor sitting area that looked slightly more lively. We opted for the latter. As we were walking to our table, several posters caught my eye advertising restaurant specials. Unfortunately, none of the many specials applied to the time/day that we were there. Why is that always the case!?

Drinks and Snacks at Green Beacon Brewing Co

Green Beacon Brewing Company

I'd seen so many mentions of Green Beacon online that it was inevitable for me to try it and see what the fuss was about. I knew that Teneriffe was gaining reputation as a new dining hub but Marc and I had never been so it was as good of a reason as any to visit. On the way there, Marc quizzed me about what kind of food was on offer. I really wasn't sure because for once, I hadn't researched the menu. I knew that they supplied vast amounts of beer so I deduced that it would be pub fare.

We found Green Beacon as an isolated warehouse aware from other restaurants and pubs. I later asked Marc if he thought they made the beer of premise and he looked at me like I was utterly stupid: "didn't you see the big vats right there in the room?" So there you go... Green Beacon Brewery is actually a brewery. There are long tables for people to sit at but most of the action is at the huge bar where people are chatting, nibbling and sipping from beers on tap.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

I know, I know... I've been slack and slow

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First off I'd like to apologize for the lull in reviews. I've had a crazy month, mostly taken up by moving house. Buying an old gable seemed like a good idea at the time when I was lured in by the charming french doors and proximity to work. The reality of a close-to-100-year building with the associated gross carpet/walls etc was a huge wake up call. These past few weeks have been a mad dash to make the place inhabitable before I leave for Europe.

I put up with not having internet for a whole week before giving up and purchasing a wireless dongle. I hope to have proper internet connected by next week but the thought of surviving another week without was just too much so I caved into a temporary solution.

Aside from all that, I had whole bunch of blog posts drafted in my tablet... which then crashed, so I'm in no mood to rewrite those ones. It's tedious going over the same thoughts again! When I a) go to some new restaurants or b) get my tablet back with data recovered, whichever comes first, I'll start putting up new entries. Promise!