Last week was a pretty sensational week in terms of eating wonderful Queensland food. And let me tell you, my jeans are now feeling very tight!!
Good Food Guide Awards
It kicked off with a bang at the Good Food Guide Awards last Monday. These Awards celebrate Queensland’s restaurants. For the first time regional restaurants were awarded more hats than those in Brisbane. My favourite winner was Josue (Josh) Lopez from GOMA, winning Queensland Chef of the Year. Josue shares my love of local food and is a strong advocate for farmers, native Australian ingredients and eating local.
Read about Josue and the other winners, and try and get along to a few of their restaurants. You won’t be disappointed.
Me with Alastair McLeod at the Good Food Guide Awards Image Source
Deer Duck Bistro, Auchenflower
The following night I dined at Deer Duck Bistro, awarded One Hat at the Good Food Guide Awards. When the Accountant and I drove past a few weeks earlier I mentioned that I had always wanted to eat there. Well, the stars must have been aligned, because two days later an invitation popped up in my email. YAY!
I dined with a gorgeous group of women, and we were thoroughly spoilt with the seven course Chef’s Menu (with a sneaky eighth course of duck), all served with matching wines (not a full glass of each, don’t worry! I was fully capable of walking out at the end of the night without stumbling). My two favourite courses were the mussel, carrot and dill – a combination I would never consider; and the beef, pumpkin, onion. The beef had been cooked for three days, and just melted in my mouth. Divine. These two courses left me wanting far more than a few bites.
While I also enjoyed the remaining courses, focusing on sweetbreads, barramundi, chicken, duck, rockmelon and chocolate, in my opinion they didn’t match up to the mussel and beef courses. However I could have drunk a large mugful of the sauce that came with the barramundi, and I was very tempted to lick the plate clean!
My dining companions were also all meat lovers, and happy to eat everything on the degustation, however a vegetarian degustation is also available, and I have heard that vegans are also very well accommodated.
If you are looking for somewhere to go for a romantic night out, or for a celebration, or just to try somewhere new, then consider Deer Duck Bistro. Bookings recommended.
Deer Duck Bistro
396 Milton Road, Auchenflower
Open lunch – Wed-Fri, dinner Tue- Sat
Salt Grill, The Hilton Surfers Paradise
I was grateful for a night on the couch eating veggies, as two days after Deer Duck Bistro I was whizzing down the freeway to the Gold Coast for dinner with Luke Mangan. Sadly, it wasn’t only me and Luke, as there were about 150 other people wanting to experience P&O Cruises’ Ship to Shore Dinner. Always the way.
The dinner was to celebrate a five year partnership between Luke Mangan and P&O Cruises, and was held at Salt Grill at the Hilton, Surfers Paradise. Salt Grill was also awarded one hat at the Good Food Guide Awards, so again I was duly excited about the prospect of eating there.
We were served a four course meal, with matching wines from Glandore Estate in the Hunter Valley. Two matching wines per course. I was glad to have booked a hotel room for the night!
The meal we ate was a reflection of what is served on the P&O ships with a Salt Grill by Luke Mangan on board – currently Pacific Jewel, Pacific Dawn and Pacific Pearl. Two more ships will join the Salt Grill stable in November – Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden.
I’ve never been on a cruise, and one reason is because I’ve never been convinced the food is as good as everyone tells me. If this is an indication, I’m prepared to admit I was wrong. Very wrong.
We started with salmon sashimi with ginger, eschallot and Persian feta, course two was scallops with polenta, shiitake mushroom and blue cheese, followed by Moroccan spiced Black Angus beef with truffle potato puree, green beans and shallot, with jus. My beef was perfectly cooked – no mean feat when plating up 150 dishes at a time.
The guest next to me was allergic to scallops (poor bugger!), so I was looking forward to helping him eat his serving. A passing comment about his allergy had Luke ask the kitchen for an alternate meal. Dammit! But just part of the excellent service I witnessed that night.
While I adored the scallops, I could barely taste the blue cheese in the polenta (however I took notes, so will be making this for dinner at home one night soon. With extra blue cheese of course!). My favourite course was the beef – I desperately wanted to lick the plate (yep, it’s a thing). The truffle potato puree was divine (I would have liked more, much more), and with a generous amount of truffle that I could both see and taste. I would have preferred asparagus instead of beans, however they are not in season right now, and Salt Grill prefers to use local and seasonal produce where possible.
Dessert was a very rich chocolate tart with banana, caramel ice cream and honeycomb. Far too rich for me, however I noticed that I was the only person down my end of the table who felt that way.
Salt Grill by Luke Mangan
Ph 13 24 94
Aratula Winter Harvest Festival
The week of food ended with a quick trip out to Aratula to the Winter Harvest Festival last Saturday. This event was part of the Scenic Rim’s Eat Local Week. I was invited last year but unable to attend, so nothing was going to stop me from going this year! Put it in your diary for next year.
Aratula is just past Ipswich on the Cunningham Highway, and took me just over an hour to drive there. It takes me longer to get to Chermside.
I dragged myself out of bed far too early for a Saturday as I wanted to be there by 10.30am to hear Josue Lopez speak. Yep, the Queensland Chef of the Year was doing a couple of cooking demos and I wanted to see them. And him. He cooked butter poached crayfish, all with local ingredients. Local crayfish, local butter, local avocado, local tomatoes, local olive oil and local whatever else he used that I can’t remember.
I consider myself to be a pretty good cook, but I always learn a new technique when I see a cooking demo by a chef. I learned a few from Josue last Saturday. How to kill and de-shell a crayfish quickly and humanely (not something I intend to do given The Accountant’s anaphylaxis to crustaceans), how to make a jelly from tomato and agar agar, and how to smoke avocado. The last technique is the one I will be trying at home. And maybe the jelly tomato. That was pretty fancy (but easy!).
There were plenty of local produce stalls to buy from so I stocked up on a few veggies for the week. Beautiful heirloom tomatoes, the last of the local garlic, a whole pumpkin, a tray of zucchini and a few other goodies. I also bought a bottle of blood orange infused olive oil from Olivia di Tabragalba and already I’m regretting not buying two or three.
Have you had a week like this? Where it was all food, food, food? I’m now taking tips for how I can make my clothes feel looser. Which I won’t really be taking up as it’s currently Good Food Month in Brisbane, which just means there are more fabulous meals to be eaten and festivals to attend.
Disclaimer: I was a guest of the Good Food Guide Awards, Deer Duck Bistro, P&O Cruises and Salt Grill (I paid for my accommodation at the Hilton), and the Aratula Winter Harvest Festival. Thank you to all of you for extending me an invitation, I really enjoyed myself at each of these events.