Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Masterchef Final

Sunday, 5 December 2010

a delicious bargain

The bookshop in the Caffiend Alley on the left bank of Grafton St currently has a large display of old editions of the popular ABC Delicious Magazine. At just $1 each this be an easy way to fill a bookshelf with an impressive food library.

This bookshop previously fronted Grafton St but has now been moved to a more inconspicuous position at the end of the arcade. You can stop at Caffiend on the way by for a coffee and snack .....

Sunday, 28 November 2010

food blogs, book launchings, and a farewell .......

The awards thing seems to be overdone at times, however I thought I would post the Australian Food Media Awards which this year included a blog section. There are some brilliant food blogs around and certainly Kitchenslut has a loooong way to go to reach the high standards being set.

Winner of the Australian Pork Award for best food blog was The Gourmet Forager. Blogger Trina is "a Sydney-sider who loves to forage for tasty culinary delights! More gourmet than gourmand, I love anything to do with crustaceans, I’m a sucker for new food experiences – good or bad (but mostly good) and I’m always on the search for those hole-in-the-wall eateries."

Highly commended was Stonesoup blog where minimalist home cook Jules Clancy has committed the rest of her life to recipes with no more than 5 ingredients. KS is not sure this is something he would personally be prepared to commit his life to but admires the commitment and motivation!?

Most interesting was the SAXA People's Choice Award which went to "your mother". Coincidentally, KS rocked up to the Tanks on Friday evening for Clare Richards book launch of Tropical Cuisine and procured a signed copy as a Christmas pressie for his Mum.  Clare will be doing a round of local markets in coming weeks so you too can fill your Christmas stocking with this impressive self-published book filled with reams of information on how to make the most of our local tropical produce.

Emotions were more mixed on Saturday night as a full house turned out to R.I.P A Lemonade Tree. KS was fortunate to enjoy the last Grilled Spatchcock ever to emerge from the kitchen. Thanks to Apit and Ray for their efforts and food over the last year. Perhaps there should be an award? Now I need a replacement to update the Kitchenslut Selections list?

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Fresh and local at Luxe

EVERY now and again you come across a restaurateur who truly loves what they do. Jamie and Anne Ah Gee are a prime example.

I met Anne Ah Gee after my father paid an awful amount of money for one of her artworks generously donated at a Harald's House fundraising event. I did not know until this week she was one half of Luxe Bistro and Bar in Lake Street. In fact, I did not even know Luxe Bistro existed.

Her husband, Jamie Ah Gee, is the head chef and inspiration for the re-launch of the restaurant. Not sure exactly what the name, Luxe Bistro, means but as they explain it, Jamie no longer wanted to be constrained by the stricly Italian menu of its previous incarnation and let's face it, Rimini came with some bad press and baggage that was hard for the new owners to offload!

Instead, he prefers to work out a menu based on what is in season and available locally, from week to week. As such, I could tell you about the Griddle seared pork loin cutlet with surprisingly moist and favoursome baked red onions, fresh pea puree and truffle scented honey ($32) I tried on Tuesday, or the intense flavours of the Broccoli, zucchini and blue cheese frittata on seasonal greens with a Napoli sauce ($22) ordered by my friend, but by the end of the week it may be replaced if something else takes the chef's fancy at Rusty's Market on Friday.

This is by no means an original concept. Jamie credits his former boss and mentor, Stefano di Pieri for the inspiration to stay true to ingredients based on freshness, seasonality and local availability. But it is refreshing to discover a Cairns restaurant prepared to put quality and taste ahead of the ever present pressure posed by other outlets willing to sacrifice both to get bums on seats.

With our meals, my companion enjoyed a glass of lively, international award-winning Maven sauvignon blanc ($9/$38) while I discovered the delight of a previously untried Villa Calappiano merlot ($10/$44) - just a couple of the 30 wines on offer by the glass with an sophisticated and interesting wine list.

While I declined dessert, I was quietly relieved when the waitress delivered two spoons with the Chocolate fudge cake with housemade raspberry gelato ($12) ordered by my friend. The dense, decadent texture of the cake was in stark contrast to the sharpness and softness of the real raspberry, rounded off by the sweet and complex bouquet of the Orange Valley Botrytis semillon ($10).

Luxe Bistro offers a dining experience which will be enjoyed by anyone who is as concerned about where their food comes from as how good it tastes!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

deep taste

The weekend brought us the final of the Taste Paradise signature dish competition and there was indeed some deep tasting happening as the Mayor tucked in! It revived memories of Kitchensluts most lost photo opp wandering past Villa last year where an ex Mayor graphically displayed himself with a mobile glued to one ear, pasta spilling grotesquely from his mouth, and a big glass of red in the other hand! Oh dear .... the Mayor of Porpoise Spit complete! More spag bol George and don't hold back on the vino *slurp* *slop* *burp* *fart*!?

However, our current Mayor displayed impeccable table manners and decorum despite hailing from Machans Beach!

Craig Squire from Ochre was the winner with his tempura bugs. Curiously the voters choice didn't even show for the finale and unless there is a good reason I would suggest it's just poor form? I did have an email from Nola Craig, which I have since lost, that Chriso couldn't make the finale because of another engagement. This seems to be confirmed by comments from Chriso's cheer squad. 

Monday, 8 November 2010

signature finale

The Taste Paradise signature dish competition reaches its finale this Saturday, November 13. The four finalists will cook-off at The Pier from 10am.  A panel of judges will declare  the winning dish that is the essence of Tropical North Queensland.

The first two finalists attrracted the most votes of more than two thousand submitted on the Taste Paradise website. A group of industry and tourism identity judges have selected their two finalist dishes that represents Taste Paradise. "The public tended to vote for their favourite restaurant or chef, the judges have looked at the ingredients of the other dishes." said Nola Craig.

There can be a fine line between a signature dish and a cliche so KS was pleased to see the proliferation of Barramundi entries excluded from the finalists. It is understood why it is so prominent on TNQ menus, however even Wikipedia will tell you it is not the finest table fish. KS has a theory that sportfish preferred by anglers will always gain a higher reputation than they deserve. What fisherman will not tell you so, and also be far more likely to consume his catch very fresh?

Kitchenslut also thinks that the Julaymba Journey tasting plate is sort of cheating in a way with a selection of different small dishes. I'm sure t's a wonderful culinary experience but seems to defeat the purpose of a 'signature dish' competition to KS?

Tropical Pan seared Tuna salad laced with a Mango vinaigrette, by Chriso the Personal Chef

Julaymba Journey, by Julaymba Restaurant at Daintree Eco Lodge

Tier of mud crab, mango and avocado, from Kewarra Beach Resort

Tempura bugs, green papaya salad, sweet chilli lemon myrtle dipping sauce, from Ochre Restaurant

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Caffiend Alley

The left bank of Grafton street has evolved into the cafe hub of Cairns. The Lilypad has always set the scene here over the road from Rusty's, but more recent arrivals such as Cocoa Amour and Caffe Bello have expanded on this with more recent modern styling and furnishings.

In that scene many people still have no idea that Caffiend exists up the nearby graffiti alley (this is in the half-arcade that links to the Mainstreet Arcade). The alley and arcade are their own tiny alternative Cairns community and adjacent shops include a BMX, skate shop, and the book shop that previously fronted Grafton. Oh, and Kevin Shorey jewellers and a few others. Like a small alternative community.

It's a really interesting small collection and Caffiend offers a more cosmolitan essence in the heart of the city. The board displays the coffee and when it was roasted. There is a small but interesting food menu including such as scrambled eggs with truffle oil, and chilli eggs for brekkie! There is various quirky seating which is something of a theme for KS!

I wandered out this week well caffiended after a brekie of avocado and fresh lime on toast with my single origin Tanzanian coffee ....... and wandered to visit Gil at Cruze Coffee in the Oceanwalk Arcade and walked out with an Ethiopian coffee to pursue the single origin concept.

As a passionate people watcher it's so interesting to observe the differing clientele in these places. Caffiend is more alternative, Lilypad has the people who like to think they are alternative (not a criticism I love the place), The new look Bello and Cocoa Amour entertain clients who would never be seen in Caffiend just a minutes walk away? Their loss, my win!

Meanwhile, over the road on the right bank, the bourgeoise patronise the Swiss Cake Shop and Beethovens which seem tired and faded, like a coffee shop in a retirement village ....... blue rinsely suburban? Oh, that does not however apply to right bank coffee artiste Billy in at Rusty's!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Gavin King Memorial Yak Vomit Award

In response to Gavin King's recent provocative attack on Cairns restaurants, KitchenSlut has decided to take the initiative and sponsor the inaugural Gavin King Memorial Yak Vomit Award for the most outstanding lamb shank dish at a Cairns restaurant. This award is named in honour of the finest descriptive prose from his infamous column:

"Maybe there was an international food competition in the rural provinces of Moldova, where this restaurant's lamb shanks scooped the top prize in a close decision against a traditional local soup dish made with just a pinch of salt and several generous scoops of yak vomit".

Kitchenslut hates to be pedantic given The King's reputation for accurate journalism, but one would have thought a Yak would have to stray some distance from its traditional Himalayan homeland to even be in Moldova? Perhaps Gavin meant some different kind of Yak?

We will also provide ratings with a yak symbol (below) so each lamb shank dish can be rated at one, two, three, four or five yaks. Restaurants will be able to display their Yak rating so never again will the Editor-At-Large wander the dangerous streets of Cairns ignorant of where to get himself a decent shank! A presentation shank feast at the winning establishment is anticipated.

However there are only so many lamb shanks one can eat in a limited time so Kitchenslut calls for nominations to be shortlisted. I will start here and update this post as we go .......... a few suggestions google gremlins have struck and deleted subsequent entries!

Nominations for the Gavin King Yak Vomit Award for 2010

Naked Nut
Lamb shanks, tomato and root vegetable concasse, potato duchess, French green beans  $29.50
Braised lamb shanks – bush tomato infused sauce – parsnip mash and gremolata  $30

Lamb shanks, rich casserole, slow cooked lamb served w potatoes  $28

Plantation Hotel Cairns
Lamb shanks braised slowly w rosemary, thyme, red wine and tomatoes served w roasted pumpkin, baby carrots, truffle potato mash and broccolini  $29

Bello Caffe
Lamb shanks, slow oven baked  on a bed of garlic mash soiled in a gravy of veg  $26.90

We use free pictures by

Monday, 18 October 2010

tasting the tablelands

Kitchenslut ventured out for a pleasant sojourn to Taste of the Tablelands at Atherton on Sunday.

Further reporting from ABC Far North

Friday, 15 October 2010

Fish D'vine

“You remember that I asked whether whisky and brandy were in the cabin. You said they were. How many landsmen are there who would drink rum when they could get these other spirits? Yes, I was certain it was a seaman." Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of Black Peter

Fish D'Vine is a rum bar and fish cafe, or vice versa?! Like Sherlock Holmes, Kitchenslut is suspicious of rum. So, without enthusiam he and a friend rolled up to the new bar and asked what we should try if we didn't like rum. The waiter proceededd to educate us on a vast array of rums and was able provide a concoction more than acceptable to our sceptical palates. The image and quality of rum has certainly come a long way and there is now also a boutique local Platinum white rum from Mt Uncle.

We didn't sample the food on that first visit but KS, whose passion is seafood, has since returned to sample the wares. I later dropped by for a lunch of fish'n'chips which was basic standard fish'n'chips but not good enough by any means for this to be the classic fish cafe lamentably absent in Cairns.

Kitchenslut susequently visited with a lady friend whose exotic background was attracted by the rum. The main food attraction at D'vine is the display cabinet stocked the fresh seafood for your selection.  From the available specials we chose a mahi and a red emperor dish. These were again ok without being exceptional as both were slightly overcooked, which in KS view is almost the only crime one can commit against such quality seafood. Also noted was that the winelist is very disappointing and neither of us were enthused with even having to make a selection. Yes, I know it's a rum bar but some still prefer wine when it comes to the actual meal.

More recently, KS the seaman staggered in after a rough day at sea on his Ocean Spirits local card to quaff a refereshing rum cocktail. Exuberant from the rum and ocean voyage the seafood display was too much so KS selected the tuna steak as looking the best of class. Size seems to matter with certain items in the seafood display and the tuna steaks were thick. The displayed oysters are huge but KS is one who is cynical of those who judge seafood by the size of their prawn, or oyster.

The tuna steak was fine, seared on the outside and pink in the centre. It came smeared with a wasabi mayonnaise, which I didn't think added anything and I scraped off to use with the chips. The chips themselves were average.

Fish D'vine follows their apparently successful outlets in Airlie Beach and Mackay. The food is modestly priced, service on all visits was frendly and professional, and the theme is attractive and welcome diversity to the Cairns scene. They are another that promote their awards including this from their website:

Queensland Tourism Awards 2008 Judge’s comments…

“What an unexpected surprise! It would appear that Fish D’Vine Café & Rum Bar has nailed the market, offering a substantial range of quality, fresh local seafood dishes to enjoy dining in or taking away. The café appeals as much to locals as visitors in an atmosphere, which is simply buzzing. The Rum Bar offers a unique point of difference & clearly the business mix is working well. It was evident that management has a strong commitment to customer service & understands the visitor’s needs – this came through in product presentation, menu design, guest interaction and business philosophy. Fish D’Vine & Café is punching well above its weight & has manages to add great local ‘flavour’ & tourism dimension to what could otherwise have been just another fish in a food court. Brilliant!”

A glowing reference with not a single reference to the actual food? KS is sure he will be here again for one reason or another it's just that he can't find a compelling reason to return for the food alone. Now, if they would sell me some of that seafood on display fresh KS would love to take it home for the BBQ!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Beckham says Cairns is cheap!

David Beckham paid $US100 for a sandwich. The soccer star reportedly headed straight to the Barclay Prime restaurant on a recent visit to Philadelphia, where he splashed out on the expensive version of the region’s traditional dish Philly cheesesteak – thinly sliced steak and cheese served in a long roll. The restaurant’s gourmet sandwich is made from "sliced Kobe beef, melted Taleggio cheese, shaved truffles, sauteed foie gras, caramelised onions and shaved heirloom tomatoes on a homemade brioche roll brushed with truffle butter and squirted with homemade mustard”.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

coffee breaks

The Weekend Australian has run a story on the varying price of a cup of coffee around the country. They even ran almost exactly the same story twice in the same paper!In booming Perth a coffee is typically $4 or more, while in Melbourne good coffee can be found closer to $3. A quick look around town shows some variation in prices but i'm guessing the local average would be around $3.30-$3.50?

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Are Cairns restaurants too expensive?

Well I did say I would comment more on Gavin King's rant and KS being what he is finds it difficult to get too many thoughts in one place with what could turn into something longer than a Tolstoy novel. Maybe I would be more productive backblogging too many unposted real food experiences but ..... the comments exchange between King and Craig Squire from Ochre went like this:

Craig Squire: "how do you know that a similar dinner would be cheaper in southern capitals? I would beg to differ, in my discussions with colleagues and by experience Cairns mains are on average $5 to $10 cheaper than brisbane, melbourne and sydney."
Gavin King: "In terms of your comments about prices at restaurants in capital cities compared with Cairns - you need to get out more."

I hear this often but if there is one thing that should be able to be more objective it is this? So I went to the C'est Bon website to compare their prices between Cairns, Brisbane, and Melbourne. C'est Bon is interesting as it has restaurants in these capitals and also falls within the more upmarket expensive segment in Cairns.

The menu is not consistent but comparable between locations.  The prices are broadly comparable with all mains above $30. The Cairns C'est Bon 'fish of the day' at $30 is $5 cheaper than Melbourne. Coq au vin is $2 cheaper in cairns thann Brisbane. Some entrees may be slightly more exxy in Cairns.  The businesss lunch offers are the same at all.

KS is agnostic but open on this and is an obsessive where objective information is available!?

Monday, 4 October 2010

What Gavin King didn't say?

It wasn't until this morning that I sat down with my Weekend Post (it's a low priority for KS) and engaged in the rare pleasure of consuming Gavin King's opinion on restaurants in Cairns.

Kitchenslut intends a more detailed response and may even consider direct reply to the Post. There are things in this column I agree with and also some strongly opposed.  Particularly there is an intrinsic contradiction in Gavins request for a ratings system in a rant which disparages awards! Such reply will take further consideration however ......

The reason Kitchenslut first started a few years ago was discontent among a small group of friends who loved exploring food that there was no real independent opinion on food in Cairns. We had a sobering experience of posting negative comments on service only to subsequently be threatened with baseball bats (via unpublished comments)! That restaurant went broke quickly by the way!

However what Gavin didn't say is that the Cairns Post has actually been a problem here, not a solution. Its monopoly combined with an advertorial culture amidst a preponderence of tourism marketing publications has actually helped create what he now finds objectionable?

Guess who?

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Eat Safe Cairns?

Brisbane City Council is set to launch its Eat Safe program in November. Food outlets will voluntarily display their rating from two to five stars. A single star apparently is non-compliance. The rating system is based on the states Food Act and Food Safety Standards.

The Cairns Post recently reported that "almost one in five restaurants, hotels, pubs and other outlets in Cairns have been caught breaking food hygiene laws - but the authorities say customers have no right to know which they are."

So why not here?

Monday, 27 September 2010

menu psychology

While very US centric an interesting article in the Ny Times on menu psychology.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Tropical Cuisine

Clare Richards is in the final countdown to the launch of her book tropical cuisine: cooking in clare's kitchen. Discounted pre-release purchase is available before September 30, as well as a free sample for website subscribers.

The concept of a 'tropical cuisine' and a successful national book launch can only be positive for the region and our food culture!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

the world is getting closer

I presume the geographical centre is southern capitals but the point should not be lost

Friday, 17 September 2010

Wink at Rusty's

It's good to see Leon Walker still willing to try new ideas with a Wink Restaurant & Catering stall at Rusty's today. There was small range of their own products including the Wink 'house dressing' made to a secrte recipe apparently! KS grabbed some to try along with a satchet of smoked eggplant and mustard seed relish.

Always an enthusiast for streetfood KS walked away with a couple of their small Jamaican pies for brekkie ....... tasty but more expensive than the nearby Gavinda's samosas .......

The 'Best of Rusty's' produce this week: The heavy-as-a-rock Cooktown passionfruit at one of the Sheridan St stalls! 

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

tasteparadise signature progress score

The tasteparadise signature dish competition is still open to voters until midnight September 20 which is next Monday! The current status of voting as of this morning is copied below. Chriso the personal chef seems to be the surprise frontrunner and clearly either has a strong local support base or excellent direct marketing!Salsa Bar have employed their Facebook page without garnering anything like Chriso's support. My vote for Nu Nu isn't counting for much .... fools!!

There is also now a comments thread open there.......

Beach Almond (1%, 10 Votes)Cafe China (1%, 14 Votes)Cedar Park Resort (5%, 106 Votes)Chriso The Personal Chef (23%, 454 Votes)Coolums at the Beach (0%, 5 Votes)Eden House (10%, 196 Votes)Emerald Restaurant - Green Island Resort (9%, 173 Votes)Far Horizon – Angsana Palm Cove (7%, 134 Votes)Finz (1%, 11 Votes)Hanuman (1%, 10 Votes)Julaymba - Daintree Eco Lodge (13%, 245 Votes)Kewarra Beach Resort (1%, 27 Votes)NuNu (1%, 25 Votes)Ochre Restaurant & Catering (3%, 49 Votes)Olivers (3%, 64 Votes)Reef House (0%, 5 Votes)Restaurant 1770 (8%, 156 Votes)Salsa Bar & Restaurant (4%, 84 Votes)Salthouse (5%, 91 Votes)Shangri-la (1%, 26 Votes)Sheraton Mirage - Il Pescatore (3%, 49 Votes)Zinc (0%, 8 Votes)Total Voters: 1,942

Monday, 13 September 2010

award outrage!

Todays letters in the Cairns Post include a complaint from the owner of Paddywhacks over the Post's report last week on the 2010 Savour AustraliaTM Restaurant & Catering Awards for Excellence. These are the  awards of the Restaurant and Catering Industry Association. Several of the awards for FNQ were taken out by the ultra-up-market Hayman Island Resort leaving some local entrants wondering why it was included in this area?

KS has some sympathy with that view as obviously Hayman provides an exceptional quality, which is not disputed, but is not really relevant to residents here? Yet, curiously it has been included in FNQ rather than North Qld which includes Townsville, Mackay and Rockhampton! Perhaps a completely separate resort category would be more appropriate? KS also is cynical of the value of industry awards anyway as just an excuse for dubious marketing and lacking credibility. Nola Craig's comments on the Post link above are noted.

Anyway, the main complaint from Paddywhacks is that the Post story made no mention of who were the local winners, and didn't give the awards the recognition they deserve? So they are now posted below and can be found here. I find it a curious mix of categories, participants and winners but always great to see Bayleaf Balinese get a mention at least. I have never had a steak at Paddywhacks so wouldn't have a clue and don't feel inclined to rush there ......

2010 Savour AustraliaTM Restaurant & Catering Awards for Excellence

Winners and Finalists - Far North Queensland

Asian Restaurant
Sponsored by Coca-Cola
WINNER - Oriental, Great Barrier Reef
Bayleaf Balinese Restaurant, Cairns

Breakfast Restaurant
Sponsored by APRA
WINNER - Azure, Great Barrier Reef
Cafe Fresq, Port Douglas
Lure Restaurant & Bar, Port Douglas
Olano's Ristorante, Cairns

Café Restaurant
Sponsored by Top Cut Foods
WINNER - Lure Restaurant & Bar, Port Douglas
Blue Moon Grill, Trinity Beach
Cafe Fresq, Port Douglas
Coast Roast Coffee Esplanade, Cairns

Caterer at an Event
Sponsored by Top Cut Foods
HONOURABLE MENTION - Port Douglas Catering & Events, Port Douglas

Contemporary Australian Restaurant
Sponsored by ALSCO
WINNER - Zinc, Port Douglas
Bistro 3, Port Douglas
Blue Moon Grill, Trinity Beach
Lure Restaurant & Bar, Port Douglas
Nu Nu Restaurant, Palm Cove
Salsa Bar & Grill, Port Douglas

Corporate Caterer
Sponsored by Bidvest
HONOURABLE MENTION - Hayman, Great Barrier Reef

European Restaurant
Sponsored by American Express
WINNER - La Fontaine, Great Barrier Reef
C'est Bon French Restaurant, Cairns
Nicks Swiss Italian Restaurant, Yungaburra

Event Caterer
Sponsored by Bidvest
HONOURABLE MENTION - Ochre Restaurant & Catering, Cairns

Family Restaurant
Sponsored by Coca-Cola
WINNER - The Beach Shack Restaurant Bar & Pizza's, Port Douglas
Lure Restaurant & Bar, Port Douglas
Mango Jam, Port Douglas

Fine Dining Restaurant
Sponsored by Vittoria Coffee
Hotel Caterer
Sponsored by Bidvest
HONOURABLE MENTION - Pullman Reef Hotel Casino, Cairns

Italian Restaurant
Sponsored by Vittoria Coffee
WINNER - La Trattoria, Great Barrier Reef
Bel Cibo, Port Douglas
Bucci Ristorante, Port Douglas
Olano's Ristorante, Cairns

New Restaurant
Sponsored by HOSTPLUS
WINNER - Harrison's Restaurant & Bar, Port Douglas
Beach Almond, Palm Cove
Salt House, Cairns

Restaurant in a Pub / Club / Tavern
Sponsored by Lion Nathan
HONOURABLE MENTION - Cairns Courthouse Hotel, Cairns

Seafood Restaurant
Sponsored by Witches Falls Winery
WINNER - Tha Fish, Cairns
2 Fish Restaurant, Port Douglas
Finz, Port Douglas
On The Inlet, Port Douglas

Specialty Restaurant
Sponsored by Oamps
HONOURABLE MENTION - Bayleaf Balinese Restaurant, Cairns

Steak Restaurant
Sponsored by Meat & Livestock Australia
WINNER - Paddywhacks, Cairns
Waterbar & Grill, Cairns

Thai Restaurant
Sponsored by Lion Nathan
HONOURABLE MENTION - Choc Dee Thai Restaurant, Palm Cove

Sponsored by Meat & Livestock Australia
HONOURABLE MENTION - Nicks Swiss Italian Restaurant, Yungaburra

Sponsored by Bidvest
WINNER - Hayman, Great Barrier Reef
Port Douglas Catering & Events, Port Douglas

Sponsored by Bidvest
WINNER - Hayman, Great Barrier Reef

Sponsored by HOSTPLUS
WINNER - La Fontaine, Great Barrier Reef

explaining what fresh means?

Ocean Wild, Sheridan ST

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Taste Paradise

The program for this years Cairns Festival has been released and also coincides with the launch of the new regional food brand 'taste paradise'. This slogan even emanated from the suggestion of a KS associate dragooned along to a regional food branding workshop earlier in the year!

The Longest Lunch on the Beachfront Angsana Resort & Spa Palm Cove

Friday 20 August 2010
11:30am for Noon – 3pm
Angsana Resort & Spa
Tickets: $110.00
Reserve by contacting: Samantha Halls, Angsana Resort & Spa on 07 4055 3000

Our opening lunch-time event, the Longest Lunch set right on the beach at Angsana's Far Horizons restaurant. Slip off your shoes and feel the sand between your toes! Relax under the enchanting shade of coconut palms and take in a five-course lunch featuring our region’s iconic ingredients prepared as a unique Taste Paradise lunch experience. Complete with a three hour wine drink package. This is surely Paradise.

Ben O’Donoghue Cooking Demonstration The Pier Farmgate Market
Saturday 21 August 2010 at 10am
Centre Stage, The Pier at the Marina, Cairns
Admission is Free

TV presenter, author and Celebrity Chef Ben O'Donoghue has travelled the world cooking for a whole host of rock-stars, celebrities, and other identities. He is well known for his television series of ‘Surfing the Menu’ and ‘The Best’ as well as guest appearances on several shows, including the recent MasterChef series.

Taste Paradise and Cairns Festival is proud to present this Ben O'Donoghue cooking demonstration at The Pier's centre stage, using some of local tropical foods from the Pier's Farmgate Market.

Celebrity Chef Luncheon with Ben O’Donoghue Sea Temple Palm Cove
Saturday 21 August 2010
12:30pm for 1pm – 3:30pm
Sea Temple Resort & Spa, Triton Street, Palm Cove
Tickets: $85
Reserve by calling 07 4059 9619

The culinary adventures head North to Palm Cove, where Taste Paradise guest chef Ben O’Donoghue will cook up a four-course luncheon on the beautiful Terrace at Sea Temple Palm Cove. For the chef and television presenter, cooking is a passion and a reflex, it’s something he’s done since childhood and it never ceases to stimulate his imagination. He unequivocally believes that food should be simple and distinctive, technically and culturally correct.

Join Celebrity Chef and a select group of Cairns Festival diners on the Terrace at Sea Temple Resort & Spa for a Taste Paradise 4-course luncheon — showcasing tropical foods of the region and matched with quality Pernod Ricard wines. An extraordinary meal and a foodie afternoon that is not to be missed. Book early as seats are limited.

A Taste of Palm Cove Locations around Palm Cove
Sunday 22 August 2010
11:30am – 3pm
Participating dining venues along Triton St, Veivers Rd and Williams Esplanade in Palm Cove
Tasting plates from $10.00 each
No reservations required

Stroll from one end of Palm Cove to the other on Sunday August 22nd when Cairns Festival's culinary odyssey heads to Palm Cove. Taste Paradise in this beautiful seaside town, when their award winning restaurants offer a grazing sensation to tantalise the taste buds. Special signature dishes on "tasting plates" will be featured from $10 each, for a fabulous way to try the delicious menus from Far Horizons at Angsana, Sea Temple, Deli aDrift, Nu Nu's, Bella Baci, Lime and Pepper, Il Forno, Beach Almond, Après Beach Bar & Grill, Vivo Bar and Grill and many more.

Visitors can indulge with a mini-treatment at Sea Temple, and then just wander the village amongst the age old Melaleucas and discover the boutiques, jewelry shops and art galleries that await. Enjoy live music and and good friends, or just relax on the beach and soak up the serenity of Palm Cove.

Ben O’Donoghue Celebrity Dinner Sebel Reef House
Sunday 22 August 2010
Pre-dinner drinks 5.30pm, Dinner 6.00pm
The Sebel Reef House & Spa, 99 Williams Esplanade, Palm Cove
Tickets: $149.00 per person
Reserve by calling The Sebel Reef House & Spa on 07 4055 3633
Ben O’Donoghue joins Philip Mitchell and his team to create a delicious Taste Paradise tropical 4-course Celebrity Chef Dinner at the Sebel Reef House & Spa as the sun goes down at Palm Cove beach. The menu will consist of local produce sourced by Ben and Phil. with Jacobs Creek reserve wines with each course and sparkling wine on arrival — proudly sponsored by Pernod Richard.

Ben first came to Australia’s attention through his ‘Surfing The Menu’ series with co-host Curtis Stone, but Londoners had discovered him years before as he headed some of the city’s finest restaurants — including the famous River Café. He was also head chef at the multi-award winning Hyatt Carlton Towers in Knightsbridge and Atlantic Bar and Grill in Piccadilly — one of Great Britain’s most brilliant eateries. Ben’s most recent challenge has been the opening of his new restaurant the South Bank Surf Club in Brisbane. Book early for this special Cairns Festival dining experience as seats are limited.

Taste Paradise Culinaire The Pier

The Festival’s Foodies Extravaganza takes over The Pier on 28 August with action happening in all areas of the complex. Leading local chefs will showcase their best recipes at the Taste Paradise Cooking Theatre with MC Tammy Barker at The Pier Hot Spot. Set among the Farmgate Markets, the public will be offered tastings of local fruits, vegetables and gourmet products throughout the day.

The Kid’s in the Kitchen program invites the region’s future culinary stars to join local chefs and learn simple cooking skill. Upstairs in the Shangri-la Hotel function rooms, there will be lots of chatter at the Taste Paradise Word of Mouth event will offer foodies chat sessions, with topical culinary discussions. In an adjacent room, the public can enjoy a showcase and tasting of Australian Wines, including North Queensland fruit wines, spirits, liqueurs and beers. If you haven’t explored the region’s extraordinary produce and foodways, Taste Paradise is your invitation to a culinary feast during Cairns Festival.

Saturday 28th August 2010
10:00am – 4:00pm
Centre Stage, The Pier at the Marina, Pierpoint Road, Cairns

Join our own regional celebrity chefs at The Pier’s centre stage where they will cook their favourite recipes using tropical food ingredients in cooking demonstrations throughout the day. Facilitated by Tammy Barker, catch a variety of chefs and demonstrators including Nick Holloway (NuNu), Jason Chuck (Eden House), David Bres (Olivers) Leon Walker (Wink) Bill, along with Geraldine McGuire (Rainforest Bounty) and Giovanna Mazzella (Cairns Cooking School). Come and meet the chefs, ask questions and have fun! Six demonstration sessions throughout the day on the hour every hour.

Saturday 28th August 2010
2:00 – 4:00pm
The Pier at the Marina, Pierpoint Road, Cairns
Free / Kids register at The Pier

Lot of fun for kids when local chefs and Thermomix give junior budding chefs the opportunity to learn about the principles of simple and delicious food preparation with some simple and nutritious recipes that can be replicated at home. By introducing tasty, healthy food when children are young to ensure they develop their palate and appreciation for good food for life-long healthy eating.

Saturday 28th August 2010
10am – 4pm
Trinity Room, Shangri-la Hotel, The Pier at the Marina,

Wind your way up the staircase to the Shangri-la function rooms, for a series of foodies chat sessions where tropical culinary discussions with celebrity and local chefs and identities, provoke thought and humour in fun fill gatherings including a debate with year 12 high school students. Six half hour sessions every hour throughout the day

Saturday 28th August 2010
2pm – 4pm
Trinity Room, Shangri-la Hotel, The Pier at the Marina,
$25.00 / Available at the door

Here’s a chance to taste and get to know some quality brand wines from around Australia, including wine tasting tutorials presented by local wine representatives. Included will be a tasting of Local Fruit Wines, Spirits, Liqueurs and Beers. Savour the tropical flavours that come through in these luscious fruit wines, liqueurs and spirits of the region that are making a breakthrough in the marketplace. Sponsored by The Pier and Shangri-la Hotel at the Marina.

Donnini's Ciao Italia

Donnini's has been around long enough to become a Cairns institution down at The Pier with a loyal following. Suffering the early symptoms of a swinely flu KS bravely ventured down to The Pier on a cool Wednesday night along with his Pasta-Fiend accomplice.

We were asked on arrival if we would be using our Table 52 card and then presented with a separate menu.
The Table 52 menu was mostly pizza and pasta and excluded the more highly priced a la carte mains although this appeared to be within the price range terms and conditions of the card.

KS sought some heat with an Italian sausage pasta while the Pasta-Fiend chose the Capesante Salmone e Spinache with salmon and scallops. The waiter congratulated on astute use of the card with these selections.  The selctions came with an appreciated bowl of chilli oil to provide and required additional kick!

Albeit with taste sensations somewhat restricted the Italian sausage pasta was excellent with enough heat to clear the head and induce some sensitive throat sensations. Perhaps I added too much chilli oil? The Fiend was also highly impressed with her selection and rated it among the best in town although still not a match for the recent 'best pasta ever' at Salsa Bar in Port!

The meals were more than enough to exclude any contemplation of a tempting desserts menu. With the use of the card and a vino each a value for quality experience. Donnini's also feature mature experienced wait staff with attentive and knowledgeable service sometimes absent in Cairns. 

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

the best pasta ever

A weeeknd soujourn to Cape Trib saw KS and his English Rose accomplice traveling home on labour day Monday. After a late start, diversions via Cow Bay and the back roads of Mossman, deliberations on a lunch venue saw us finally roll into Port Douglas just in time for a late lunch at Salsa Bar.

Hunger ensured deliberations were short and we both presciently went for the pasta special; a swordfish and tiger prawn linguine. The flavours were an exceptional combination including lime, garlic and subtle chilli infusion. The English Rose is something of a pasta fiend and simply declared it 'the best pasta ever'. The serving was enought to satisfy a healthy appetite and The Rose was beaten but refused to give in until the plate was empty!

Salsa Bar is consistently an exceptional experience and prices are far from exhorbitant for the standards and quality.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Restaurant Index Up

The Calculated Risk blog posts monthly an index of US restaurant activity. This may not seem much relevant to here but it does highlight the sensitivity of the sector to the broader economy and discretionary consumer spending. As they say it tends to be 'first in/last out' of any consumer recession. The US index has turned positive for the first time in almost two years.  

Thursday, 29 April 2010

ukulele preludes

The Cairns Ukulele Festival is now only two months away! Apart from a previous Seaman Dan concert at the Tanks few years ago Kitchenslut hasn't had too much interactivity with the ukelele so was impressed to discover these uke covers at the fun record/preserve/share blog.

Just love those Ooks of Hazard but sadly they wont be in the Festival line-up this year. Having mastered middle-c on the piano (but not his iPod) Kitchenslut is now contemplating the ukulele for his next musical conquest ....... or at least enjoying some more ukulele at the Festival?

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

nose to tail

The Digestive Tract recently posted on a visit to our shores by British exponent of Nose to Tail dining, Fergus Henderson. Fergus served up a 13 course banquet on the philosophy of using the entire pig literally frm nose to tail including  "pork spleen, presented as a slow poached rotolo reminiscent of a good quality liverwurst in flavour and the texture of slow cooked calamari. The crispy tail was unctuous and moist, the brawn and pigs ear terrine deliciously al dente and …well…delicious." To think that among the critical feedback of the now defunct Cafe Lumiere menu was that dishes such as braised Atherton pig's trotter were too adventurous for Cairns?

I was thinking on this while reading my latest book Heat by Bill Burford, "an amateurs adventures as kitchen slave, line cook, pasta-maker, and apprentice to a Dante-quoting butcher in Tuscany". The Dante-quoting butcher is Dario Cecchini whose philosophy of butchery is more akin to a romantic art than a trade! "A butcher works in meat during the day and plays in flesh at night. A true butcher is a disciple of carnality" It almost sounds good enough to entice Kitcheslut to take up butchery?
Back in New York to apply his Tuscan skills, Burford then acquired a freshly slaughtered pig and over a week butchered in his city apartment and devoured the entire animal, with some help from friends. He estimated the pig generated 450 servings of food at less than 50c a plate! Of course this wouldn't include his labour or educational costs of his time in Italy. 
Inspired by this and the somewhat les inspirational Woolies meat department, Kitchenslut has fired up the pressure cooker to contemplate the sensuality of a corned beef tongue ..........

Monday, 26 April 2010

Anzac Day

Sunday, Anzac Day and a long weekend certainly brought some much needed life and vibrancy back into the city! Rusty's and the city cafe's were buzzing in the morning as KS wandered the streets for a fix of food supplies and people watching! The sound of live music wafting down the graffiti lane from the excellent little Caffiend provided an extra cosmopolitan touch to Grafton St. It just felt good to be alive and in the city after the recent dead months.

Along with some fruit & veg KS also picked up a bargain anthology of erotic 17th and 18th century French poems from a Rusty's bookstall and wandered off around the boardwalk to The Pier for lunch. The restaurants at The Pier were also doing lively trade. Sadly I also note at the Alliance Francaise website that the excellent French Cafe Lumiere on the boardwalk at Harbour Lights is soon to close. A great shame!

Always opting for the more adventurous I went for the deep fried cod fillets with a corn cream sauce and rice from the $10 specials board at Cho Gao. I have wondered since why? Not that there was anything wrong with any of the components, especially for only $10, just that corn doesn't seem to me to be a good match with fish, especially deep fried? KS recommends removing the fillets from the sauce before the batter becomes a touch soggy and doing the corn sauce with the rice?!

Monday, 19 April 2010

green shoots or burnt fingers?

The Cairns Post ran a story last week on the imminent opening of the Fish D'vine fish cafe and rum bar. This will be where the Genkai (Yamagen) Japanese was previously next the Sebel (International). It's good to see something happening at this site and hope it makes a worthwhile addition to the scene. It was interesting to see their Rum Bar list includes boutique rums from the Ord River but nothing yet from FNQ?!

There is plenty happening with new openings presumably hopeful of improved seasonal trading in the months ahead. As well as the previously posted Wink II and Iraya Thai other happenings are:

Mado: Turkish restaurant soon to open on the Esplanade where 'As U Like It' was (same building as Michelangelo's). I'm looking forward to trying this in hope at last of some added diversity to the dining scene.

Mecca Bah: On the boardwalk in front of Harbour Lights this location has been vacant since construction. Mecca Bah have existing restaurants in Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra serving North African and Middle Eastern cusine.

Ristorante Rimini: On Lake St near the private hospital has changed hands with a revamped Italian menu and approach.

Fish Cafe: Shields St next to Tandoori Oven this site has seen a few configurations. I dropped in for lunch with hopes that finally he city had a great fish & chip cafe but was somewhat disappointed. I think they need to do better.

The Rattle n Hum expansion into the previous Mangostini's is also proceediing and should at least add some more life into the recently flacid Esplanade strip. Plenty of new places to try while they last ........

Friday, 16 April 2010

new food court opens with a bang

The new food court in the Cairns Square development opened recently with Red Rooster as the first and so far only outlet. That's it down the end near the Abbott St entrance.

Next to that the Kebab World franchise is set to open. Mmmm sounds exciting, NOT?! Walk by and turn down Shields to Yofi if in search of a kebab fix!

No problem finding a table here and I suspect this location will struggle for some time even up against the apalling Night Markets foodcourt. At least the refurbishment of this building on the cnr of Shields and Abbott is a positive improvement for the city!

My city preference for foodcourts if I have one remains the tiny Mainstreet Arcade with a few Asian offerings including the Curry Bowl and Snoogies health bar.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

good bad and ugly in palm cove

I stumbled on this report, a second chance in the tropics, at the SMH travel website. The writer ended up at Peppers after walking out of another un-named Palm Cove resort and again the focus is on service and quality standards in Cairns.

We had spent a night at another "top" Palm Cove resort and while it wasn't Fawlty Towers by any means, when you have just a week, and have come this far, you don't want to be disappointed. Poor airconditioning, crappy pools, uncomfortable beds and unsittable furniture were bad enough but $94 for a basic room-service meal for two was the last straw.

Most of the report is a big wrap for Peppers although one never know just how genuine or advertorial such travel reporting is? There were also some interesting snippets in the comments on dining options in Palm Cove:

Peppers offers four dining options, plus the best morning coffee on the strip. Lime & Pepper utilises local produce in its tropical menu and claims, for some reason, to offer "eccentric" cuisine. (They probably mean eclectic but whatever they mean, breakfast there was excellent).

Chok Dee Thai restaurant was well short of the high-quality Thai in Sydney but Nu Nu's Asian fusion was very tasty. Wonderful garlicky aromas wafted from Bella Baci Italian, teasing us as we headed out to take the kids to Macca's. The room service tucker was excellent too - promptly delivered, reasonably priced and an extensive menu of child-friendly options.

Palm Cove village delights in its exclusivity and is full of up-market resorts, villas, boutiques, galleries and restaurants. Even the greasy-spoon diner and general store, Pete's, boasts a rack of quality silk sarongs, tucked away between the magazines and breakfast cereals. Pete's does a terrific old-style hamburger and is open until 7 o'clock but rather quaintly - and a little gruffly - stops cooking at 6.30pm sharp.

Interesting here is that at the recent regional food branding workshp Nick from Nu Nu was vehemently opposed to any hint of the word 'fusion' in food marketing. The word apparently has poor connotations and acceptance from previous experiences. Maybe it's ok to fuse but just don't describe yourself that way and Nu Nu describe themselves as "predominantly asian and mediterranean inspired".

Kitchenslut was also perturbed to discover his own culinary skills have a local competitor in the field of eccentric cuisine! How dare they!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Wink II and yet another Thai

The Esplanade site of what was previously The Chapel has certainly been through many changes in recent years. he entry has even been remodelled twice toremove the dual upstairs entrances and then replace them.

It looks like it is now fully occupied again with the opening of the 'Contemporary Thai' Iyara upstairs. This location certainly had a great balcony although I'm not sure that yet another Thai restaurant in town really excites me if it's going to be just a standard menu? The menu now on display here is smaller and far more expensive than standard Thai offerings. Perhaps too expensive in the current climate with barramundi fish mains at $35. I look forward to some feedback but unless i'm there on the balcony it's likely I would still prefer to wander around the corner to Lemonade Tree for my Asian fix with more Indonesian influences.

More interesting is downstairs where the Cocoa Amour cafe will now incorporate the Wink II  restaurant and wine bar. This is associated with the Wink restaurant on the cnr of Spence and Grafton.

KS dropped in for an excellent morning coffee and perused the dinner menu of tapas style selections along with a small list of five mains. The food looks interesting enough to try as would be expected from the Wink people so will be back to sample the fare. I'm not sure the wine list really grabbed me enough to make it a genuine winebar of the type missing in Cairns. There is also a breakfast and luch menu which in some respects I felt competed with the Cocoa Amour all-day savoury selections so it will be interesting to see how this dual arrangement works out.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

romance sarcasm math and language

I couldn't help but love the comics of xkcd. Described as a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math and language. Funny, clever and whimsical they are worth taking some time to browse.

No, not food related except maybe for this one :)

Thursday, 25 March 2010

99 out of 100?

Australian Traveller magazine has released a list of the 100 greatest Australian gourmet experiences. As reported today by the ABC the only North Queenslander on the list was Flames of the Forest (near Port Douglas) at #99.

I find that a bit sad which is no reflection on Flames but rather on our low profile and quality of experiences generally. We are off the pace compared with other food regions when we should be regarded as the premier tropical food region of the world. KS recently attended a regional branding workshop as part of the current program to promote our regional food. This is belated catch-up but at least a promising start.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Palm Cove Sunday @ Vivo

The sun emerged and the wind abated to make for a beautiful Sunday sojourn to Palm Cove. Oh, how I wish there was a ferry service from the city out to the Palm Cove wharf on days like this. It would make for a great day out for a long lunch and a few vino's at the beach followed by a sunset cruise home.

Palm Cove certainly now has a good diversified offering of places to eat. Nu Nu has been regarded as the choice fine dining experience in the Far North, however the current lunch offering doesn't really grab me. So I wandered down to the ever popular Vivo which also seems to pull the patrons in for lunch

The Vivo building has a lovely tropical ambience and a table on the front deck is a great place to enjoy the sea breeze and colours over a relaxed lunch or even the entire afternoon with friends. A great touch at Vivo is the art room currently showing works by Robyn Baker, Barbara Dover, and my pick of the three Anna Holan (love the high heels theme but can't find a link!)

I went for the blackboard special as usual; char grilled lemon pepper tuna w baby squash, tableland beans, snow peas, wasabi potato croquettes, & dragonfruit vinaigrette for $25.

I prefer tuna seared on the outside but still pink and moist at least in the centre. This tuna was cooked all the way through and was perhaps too 'well done'. I didn't let that otherwise spoil the chilled demeanour and ambience while washing it down with a glass of chardonnay. 

KS is looking forward to further Sunday sojourns to the beaches and Port Douglas as the seasons change in coming months. Palm Cove has some good offerings but my fave is still the Salsa Bar sunday in PD?! 

The Eat and Go Theatre Show

Kitchenslut was at the CoCA centre last week for the Jute production of Macbeth and discovered a pamphlet for The Eat and Go Theatre Show from centrestagescripts. We posted a link previously to a Ted Talk on food education by Jamie Oliver and this program looks like an innovative approach on a similar theme:

The Eat and Go Theatre Show is an integrated studies program designed to reinforce the message of healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle. With the national increase in childhood obesity, diabetes and related illnesses, the need to address these issues in schools is paramount.

This program allows students to explore the issues through play acting and performance. Since a child's greatest instinct is to play, explore, imitate and create, a theatre program is an effective teaching tool. While facilitating learning, it develops a range of other skills, attitudes and behaviours.

Hanuman slips

After previous rave reviews and annointing of Hanuman as number one in Cairns I would have to say I was a little disappointed with a return visit last Saturday night.

The service had slipped from the previous exceptional level. Perhaps we just had an inexperienced waitress who wasn't able to clearly tell us what was on the tasting plate. Looking around we also noted that for other diners being served the crispy whole fish that this was no longer filleted at the table by the waiters as it has been previously. This was a reason we decided not to choose the whole fish which had been a highlight for it's theatre and ease of sharing.

My dining companion and I chose a selection of four entrees to share. All the selections were well presented and high quality without inspiring the previous rave reviews. The standout were the trumpet mushrooms, topped with a fine mince of pork, prawn & spices warmed with coconut cream.

On this experience I really can no longer say that Hanuman is a standout ahead of the pack. My lovely dining companion however ensured an exceptionally enjoyable evening. Good shared company is as important to a dining experience as anything else!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

What's a Shawarma?

"What's a shawarma?" is a question that may be asked by many more familiar with the humble kebab, souvlaki, or gyros. YOFI is at the corner of Shields and Grafton on a site previously occupied by a somewhat down-market greasy spoon with dubious clientele. I didn't even notice it for a while being used to briskly walking by enoute to more salubrious destinations.

Walking by this week I stopped, after a recommendation from a friend, for a look at the offerings of 'food from the holy land'. Yofi was doing great business this night with all its footpath tables filled with diners, includiing byo wine. The small inside area is also warm and inviting.

Kitchenslut wandered off with a take-away lamb shawarma which was fresh, tasty and worked well for a quick evening bite on te streets. Must revisit for a more leisurely experience in the coming weeks ......

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Lilypad leaps again!

Yes, after a short lived previous foray the laidback Lilypad has again leapt into the night. Lilypad is now open in the evenings from Tuesday to Saturday. The simple menu is not as adventurous as previously but still does feature some interesting selections such as the Georgian-style quail.

Wednesday nights also brings live music from Paris Texas providing Lilypad with an ambience unique in Cairns .........

.......... but ....... it has once more had a short life and Lilypad by night is again no longer *sob*

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

feast of the senses

The 'feast of the senses' kicks off in Innisfail next week on Friday, 19th March. I have just stumbled on this after listening to an ABC radio interview with Clare Richards from Tropical Cuisine. Clare is to be a judge in the Ultra Tropics BBQ Recipe Competiton as part of the Festival of the Senses in Innisfail, which starts the 19th of this month.

This could be an opportunity for any aspiring foodies out there to show their style however entries close this Friday so you will have to be quick! There will be a final cook-off at the market day on Sunday, March 28.

The Kitchenslut is famous for his pyrotechnic seafood bbq, however as I have never learnt to follow a recipe, this is more a process outline than a defined recipe which would meet the competition criteria.

Kitchenslut seafood bbq process:
1)Open wine bottle.
2)Mix n match various combinations of quality seafoods, lime, garlic, ginger, mint, chilli, coriander, nahm jim, green mango or whatever else seems like a good idea at the time while consuming vino.
3)Do not commence cooking until at least half the bottle is consumed.
4)Limit extra virgin olive oil sprays during cooking to short bursts to reduce possibility of distracting explosion (note: ignore safety warning on can)
5)Don’t overcook!

The only other critical factor is a secret, well seasoned, stainless steel mesh seafood grill which is a family heirloom acquired many years ago now and passed down by my dear old dad.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Theatre deadlines @ The Edge

Some of the Kitchensluts more prominent dining angsts in Cairns have revolved around theatre deadlines. These can be tricky! A 7.30 or 8pm start for a show doesn't leave much room for great night to enjoy both food and entertainment.

Consequently some memorable experiences include leaving cash on the table and just running from Naked Nut; cancelling desserts; and dashing from Khin Khao Thai down Grafton St to Civic to arrive breathless as the doors are being closed. ALL after being absolutely assured that they would feed us get us out of their restaurant in ample time for the show! Did they lie to us!

Tonight KS was scheduled in for the Little Theatre at Rondo and by rights this night should have turned into a disaster. Almost an hour late for dinner (our fault after drinks elsewhere) we even considered scuttling the show to give time to at least enjoy the food.

Had wanted to try Yama at The Edge for a while and finally getting there, timepoor, there was no disappointment with the food and especially the service! The urgent timeframe kicked in fast with advice on what they could get out of the kitchen to still get us to theatre on time.

The sushi kitchen was loaded with orders so that was out! The hot kitchen delivered with more time to spare than any of the other previously mentioned restaurant failures and rescued the night to have as the show with time to spare! Will even have to check out the menu on what we had for more detailed food comment sorry. A tasty chicken dish, some beautifully presented light seafood and vegetable tempura, and the standout was the dumplings ..... exceptional!

How good is it to be able to write about such a wonderful experience in Cairns for a change!?

A sign of the times

The small French Cafe Lumiere, on the boardwalk in front of Harbour Blights, has ceased tradingfor dinner. This precinct has never taken off and remains half vacant with just Dundee's and Olano's now trading for dinner.

My only experience at Cafe Lumiere last year was excellent and included a delicious Coquille St Jaques and a tasty rabbit dish. Its menu wasn't cheap although I couldn't complain about the value for money.

The shame is that Lumiere was one of the few in town to openly promote local produce on the menu board. So, I didn't get to try their braised Atherton Pig's trotter and instead wandered along to Olano for some OK mussels with not enough crusty bread to mop up the juices.
Update: I did drop by Cafe Lumiere at the weekend and shared a vino with some delightful company. A discussion with the owner confirmed that it wasn't worth their while opening in the evening with business so slow. More disappointing was her comment that some had criticised their most recent menu as "too adventurous for Cairns" while the plethora of franchises and pizza shops continues to grow.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Eyes bigger than Belly

The Cairnsblog restaurant debate drew a comment from Joy who writes the Eyes bigger than Belly food blog. Joy is based in Brisbane but as a sales rep is a visitor to the Far North and has previously posted some comments on a few local dining experiences.

Joy has posted on Sebel Cairns, Sushi Zipang, Sushi Train, Ba8, and Skybury Coffee.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Lively Cairnsblog debate on Cairns Dining

There has been lively comments discussion over at Cairnsblog on the local dining scene with some observations and recommendations not too far removed from the Kitchenslut perspective. The discussion follows a post of yet another tale of woeful service experience in Cairns.

Note: Dutchie has also posted a comment in that debate disagreeing with my views below on the zucchini at Istanbul Kitchen which he reckons is too bland. I missed it this week so will have to wait until next friday for a second opinion .....

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Istanbul Kitchen

We have previously posted on the potential of 'street food' at the Rusty's precinct and while wandering last weekend noted the new Turkish offering there. KS looked but didn't buy which sounds like it may have been a mistake from email scuttlebutt floating about such as this today ....

"I tried out the dolmades from Instanbul Kitchen last week and they were absolutely divine. So fresh and such a contrast to the sodden morsels that have languished 4 weeks in the display cabinet at the supermarket deli! Can’t wait to taste the rest of the repertoire -- there was about 4 different traditional, freshly made salads, stuffed zuchinni flowers, condiments and a couple of things I cannot remember the name of... not to mention a tempting array of sweets (which should be a great compliment to Barista Sista)! A full plate costs only $9."

I have since tried this on the following friday. Apart from the dolmades, the stuffed zucchini were a standout. Also the green bean salad for a healthy fix, and the orange and cinnamon baklava for dessert made up a cheap light sunset beach picnic at $14 for 2. Geez I hope I got that right as he was too busy to work it out with a few people waiting and all wanting a selection so I worked out the bill and rounded it up to $14!

Update: No sooner had it all started than it was all over. Istanbul Kitchen is gone already despite being popular. An absence of motivation apparently!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Kafka's Soup

Kafka's Soup, a complete history of world literature in 14 recipes by Mark Crick, was a brilliant little discovery among the cluttered cookery book shelves. The shop assistant at A&R strongly recommended the Lamb with Dill Sauce a la Raymond Chandler although I think my favorite is the Boned Stuffed Poissons a la Marquis de Sade:

"should not the supreme aim of gastronomy be to untangle the confusion of ideas that confront mankind, and to provide this unfortunate biped with some guidance as to how he should conduct himself and his appetites? Buffeted continually by the studies of scientists, the inventions of dieticians, the fashions of restaurateurs and the disguised marketing campaigns of a thousand trade associations, his own tastes are often his last point of reference. The tyrrany of political correctness, undermining him further, makes of him a man who avoids endangered species, factory farming, deforestation, genetic modification and inhumane slaughter. If he is unfortunate enough also to have a religion, then he will probably live the meanest of lives in the most tightly fitting of gastronomic straightjackets. By walking such a culinary tightrope, he believes that he will reap his rewards in long life, good health, moral superiority and in heaven hereafter. Yet all around him our unfortunate sees good vegetarians pushing up daisies, teetotallers' hearts tightening and sugarphobes queueing in dentists waiting rooms. Reader, recognise that all your years of abstinence and your naive trust in low-fat yoghurt have not saved you from a pot belly, heavy jowls, and an inadequate sex drive. A life of dieting has rendered your face pinched and furrowed from harsh judgement of your fellow diners and your evenings long and lonely."

Throw in the Quick Miso Soup a la Franz Kafka a an entree, and the Rich Chocolate Cake a la Irvine Welsh for dessert for a fun menu of literary cuisine.

Although I was somewhat perturbed to discover that there appears to be a subsequent edition "the complete history of world literature in 17 recipes"? Perhaps the 14 recipes was not quite so complete?

Koek! an interesting food blog from Cape Town has just posted similarly on Kafka's Soup ......

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