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.

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