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

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