Wednesday, 24 August 2011

awards season roundup

It must be the season for those often controversial awards with Gourmet Traveller gongs for 2012 now out. Only nine Queensland establishments made the top 100 with Nu Nu representing the Far North at #73. Perhaps some places in Port Douglas would like to challenge the ranking of NuNu as the leading restaurant in the Far North? The only other Qld restaurants outside Brisbane were at Noosa and Surfers Paradise?

Also, the Restaurant and Catering Awards for the Far North were announced last week. These caused a stir last year when somehow Hayman Island managed to be included in the region. The classifications are also always a bit curious here.

The award to M Yogo in the 'European' category is curious as my impression is that this place has faded from its early reputation. In terms of its Europeanness KS usually refers to M Yogo as the "Iron Chef French"?

It is always pleasing to see Bayleaf Balinese get recognition. KS agrees that Tha Fish is probably the best seafood place in Cairns so it was interesting to see it triumph over the Port Douglas challengers.

Meanwhile the curiosity of these awards down in Townsville was the proliferation of Coffee Club franchises in the cafe and coffee shop sections! Are they serious? If they had a 'European' category perhaps the winner would be Pizza Hut? The Far North can celebrate our clear superiority in the art of life!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

taste of palm cove

Kitchenslut has been a critic of this years Cairns Festival lineup and particularly the quite 'skinny' program of food related events. Taste of Palm Cove is pretty much the only food event of any substance and it's outstanding success this year demonstrated there is plenty of interest out there.

Last years Taste was a perfect sunny beach day and while there was a contingent there for the event it was mostly beachgoers who joined the queue outside NuNu for a taste of red curry bbq pork for lunch. This year the sun was out, the wind kept any wildlife away from the beach, a convenient park was not easy to find and the street was busy with queues at street stalls, and restaurants full of people there for the food itself.

Kitchenslut tried the red emperor miang wrapped in betel leaf from Nu Nu to try and get some ideas for his own prolific crop of betel leaf. Still not quite as good as the prawn miang were previously at the lamented *sob*, now departed Lemonade Tree. Clare Richardson refers to betel leaf  as wild pepper leaf in her book, Tropical Cuisine.

After some barramundi & whitebait balls Kitchenslut decided to avoid the queue for the spit roast pork and wandered down to Chill Cafe to fill up on a burger. The feedback from the bbq burger flipper at Chill was very positive and even some surprise at the high turnout. A very positive event and congratulations to the people at Palm Cove.

The same can't be said for that evenings festival parade with the change to a Sunday a flop in the opinion of KS despite the media reports. The crowd appeared to be down from observation and feedback to KS, and an earlier daylight parade has about as much pizazz as a boy scout jamboree.  

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Fratelli's at Trinity Beach

There is often some interesting stuff at fnqhome and he has recently posted on a breakfast at Fratelli's which, with permission, is posted below. Fratelli's is on Vasey Esplanade at Trinity Beach where the domes are, opposite the stinger net, which has always been one of the more idiosyncratic properties in the Far North (ie: What the f***'s this place even still doing here?). The restaurant at the front has now been renovated to be more modernly interactive with the street and beach (photo coming). This is more of the style we need.

The Trinity Beach dining precinct has evolved and expanded in an interesting way compared to it's more flamboyant and pretentious sister up the road at Palm Cove. Back from Vasey Esplanade places such as Blue Moon Cafe and Lime Tree also seem to be popular with a local clientele.

Breakfast at Fratelli’s

Date posted: Sunday 14 August 2011

After a bit of a sleep in this morning, I wandered around to Fratelli’s on Trinity for breakfast. It has moved into the what used to be the Atlantis, beside the white domes at Trinity Beach. I’ve been meaning to try them for a while, but hadn’t until now. The owners are apparently the original owners of Lunico, the pasta restaurant a little further up the beach. The renovations have resulted in a more relaxed atmosphere. It’s brighter, more open, and much more what I like in a cafe/restaurant. The music was almost right, but needed to be just a little more chilled.

After crashing at a front row table with views out to Yorkeys Knob and Cape Grafton beyond, I gazed at the breakfast menu and my eyes settled, as they usually do, on eggs benedict. I’m used to a choice between salmon, bacon or ham, but this morning in place of ham there was prosciutto. Hmmm… Should I go for bacon as usual, or try prosciutto? I expressed my indecision to the waitress, who told me I should try something different and go for the prosciutto. I accepted her recommendation.

Breakfast arrived – toast with wilted spinach, two slices of prosciutto, two eggs and lime-infused hollandaise sauce. I quickly realised that the waitress’s advice had been sound. I think bacon might have overpowered the sauce, the citrus note of which was delicious. It went beautifully with the prosciutto. The eggs were poached perfectly, and the whole thing was just about perfect. I could have eaten another quite easily, though I knew I shouldn’t.

So, the verdict has to be positive. Good, quick service. A great location with perfect views. Food that was excellent. I’ll be back.And so I’m now crashed on the rocks at the southern end of Trinity Beach, satiated and relaxed under blue skies with a Jon Sa Trincha mix starting up on the laptop as I type. Life is tough in the tropics.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Kitchenslut's Census Dilemma

Last night was Census night and as he worked through his eCensus several questions caused Kitchenslut to pause ever so briefly for thought, particularly when it came to the question of time spent doing unpaid domestic household work.

This question specifically related to the last week. The cooler season and some tempting un-tropical recipes from Matthew Evans in a recent ABC Delicious Magazine had inspired Kitchenslut to experiment with his pressure cooker during the survey week. Pea and ham soup, cottage pie with mustard cheese topping, and vodka-cured cod and potato fish cakes all consumed the week. While the fish cakes resulted in one of his less edible creations, the pea and ham soup was an outstanding winner!

How to work out the number of hours and allocate the time spent multi-tasking while simmering the ham hock? Shopping time is also included which would mean the time spent wandering around Rusty's and out to Marsh's at Stratford for a ham hock. Food and drink preparation are within the guidelines for unpaid domestic work, so is this really unpaid domestic work for many people or is it now a leisure activity?

The survey week was also the final week of Masterchef. Would households have been inspired by this to take to the kitchen and accumulate domestic work hours, or would they instead be sitting in front of the TV with takeaway pizza?

Kitchenslut is also body corporate chairman for his unit block and during the survey week spent an irritating amount of time dealing with recalcitrant resident disagreements on gardens, maintenance and financial issues which all seem to fit within the category of unpaid domestic work. Consequently, Kitchenslut appears in the Census stats as among the most overworked and underpaid in our community for the survey week. This presents something of a dilemma as it appears to be inconsistent with his reality!

Among other aberrant behaviour during the preceding week Kitchenslut was led astray by Hillbillywatch to rediscover the AM band on his radio and find out from John MacKenzie what was really going on in our failing society. There, he learnt from a talkback caller that "a certain religion" had a perfidious agenda to influence the Census results . Who could they be, he wondered, as he ticked the Islam box for choice of religion on his eCensus?  Kitchenslut now has a further Census dilemma of how to reconcile his religion with his ham hock?

Note: Kitchenslut was also curious about the question of whether he required the company of someone for body movement activities. This seems rather personal as there are certainly some body movement activities for which Kitchenslut at least prefers good company. It was presumed that the reason for such assistance required in the subsequent question would be within the category of 'other cause' 

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Kamikaze Parrot sinks Golden Boat

The King Parrot is at it again! Following on from last years notorious lamb shank beat up, he has now sqwuarked on Chinese food in Cairns with a correspondent complaining about the cost of a meal at the Golden Boat in Lake St. Yes, it is the Golden Boat, which can be confirmed from the menu KS has among the collection in his bottom drawer.

Now when it comes to Chinese food Kitchenslut is of an era when Chinese food was breaking out. Sydney's Haymarket was transforming into a more upmarket Chinatown. The Old Tai Yuen remained a classic with students and somehow KS still asocciates the best Chinese with bent greasy spoons and chipped laminex tabletops.

However, when  it comes to the menu comparison  below one can't help but think it is stuck in an aspic timezone before that era. I can imagine a debate over whether the sweet & sour pork has enough pineapple! As far as I am aware Golden Boat is regarded by many as the best Chinese in Cairns.

We took a couple of friends to lunch at a Chinese restaurant in town, as a good Chinese meal is one key to the heart and soul of most Australian families. While we will not specify our actual menu – our bill for four people amounted to $157.40 for limited “picky style” dishes and included 2 beers each – absolutely outrageous. We were so incensed over the cost that we have compared a suggested mainstream Chinese meal for 2 people at this Cairns CBD Chinese Restaurant as compared to an award winning Chinese Restaurant on the Gold Coast.



Prawn Toast 6.10 3.50
Won Ton (6) 9.15 2.90


Chicken & Sweet Corn 6.10 4.80


Sweet & Sour Pork 19.60 12.80
Prawn in Black Bean 25.90 17.60


Large Fried 15.10 7.00

TOTAL 81.95 48.60

A difference of $33.25 or 40.2% more expensive in Cairns than the Gold coast. WHY?

 OK, so lets look at what googles for Chinese restaurants on the Gold Coast and these throw up as typical:
Yum Cha Robina: Won Ton (4) $6.80; Prawn Toast (4) $7.80; Sweet & Sour Pork $19.80; Prawn Stir Fry 23.80; Special Fried Rice $12.80;

China Pier: Won Ton (6) $5; Prawn Toast (3) $5; Chicken & Sweet Corn Soup $6; Sweet & Sour Pork $15.50; Black Bean King Prawns $21; Fried Rice $10.50.
So is that very different from the Golden Boat? So lets look at the Casinos and the highest profile Chinese:

Zen at Jupiters: Won Ton (4) $10; Sweet & Sour Pork $25; Prawn Stir Fry $37. Special Fried Rice $16.

Cafe China at Reef Casino: Prawn Toast $7.80; Chicken Sweet Corn Soup $7.90; Prawn Stir Fry $29.80; Sweet & Sour pork $24.50; Large Fried Rice $13.50.
Zen doesn't even have Prawn Toast so can be discounted as an ordinary place, eh? I have no doubt the King Parrot's correspondent from the Gold Coast has a fave value Chinese there. However, is that a valid comparison or more a reflection of asynchronous information and local knowledge? As posted here recently, worldly visitors are astounded at the value at places such as Lilypad.

However, as also posted here recently the proliferation of Indians in town recently is interesting and if there is an area where we fall well short it is Chinese which one would have thought should be a growth focus?

Monday, 1 August 2011

the locally made magic pudding

The Weekend Post (hardcopy) featured a story from our flamboyant King Parrot on the economic miracle of consuming more locally produced food. Now, Kitchenslut loves his local food when it is high quality or unique specialty produce typical of our region. However, the million dollar a week claim is sort of like our own locally produced magic pudding. Similar estimates proliferate among the websites of local food and environmental interest groups elsewhere, particularly in the USA. These all appear to imply that if everyone buys more food locally then everyone can be better off. can you see a problem here?  It also appears to imply some heroic economic multipliers which also imply some internal contradictions with the basics of economcs.

KS will take up some of the economics of this later over at loose change rather than here .......

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