Archive for the ‘Seafood’ Category

Lumihai BeachWhen this post goes live J. and I will be lying on a beach in Hawaii. We have 7 days and nights of relaxation planned or not planned as the case may be in Kauai. Though we don’t have any activities planned, besides lying on the beach, we do have our food plans well and truly under control.

As I have mentioned previously, J. is more often than not in charge of our eating arrangements when we travel. He researches, reads, studies and discusses all the possibilities. He has been responsible for finding some of the most unique, out of the way, hole in the wall, restaurants/foodtrucks/shacks that we have ever been lucky enough to try. He is always organized for our trips but when it comes to Kauai he has taken it to an entirely new level!

Here is the evidence – THE SPREADSHEET!

THE SPREADSHEET

Puka DogA comprehensive document, organizing possible food choice by local. It details opening hours, location, whether they take cash only or credit card and possibly most importantly what kind of cuisine they serve. We have choices of traditional Hawaiian plate lunches, poke, seafood, burgers, Japanese and who knows what else. He has found us so many to choose from there is no way we will get to all of them!

We went to Kauai back in 2009 and discovered some amazing places to eat. They have made it Mark's Placeonto the spreadsheet, along with some of J’s new discoveries. The places I am looking forward to revisiting are Shrimp Station, Puka Dog, Mark’s Place and Hamura’s Saimin and a few others. The shrimp at Shrimp Station were delicious and amazing. I had never tasted anything like the hot dogs from Puka Dog. Mark’s Place and Hamura’s Saimin were just cool, low key locals joints.

Shrimp StationOf course J. has found us a whole new  group of places to try out. When we travel we try to stay away from the touristy places (although Puka Dog is definitely a popular destination) and go where the locals eat. Kauai, the second time around will be no different. I’m really looking forward to trying out Koloa Fish Market and also Chicken in a Barrel but there are so many other delicious options who knows what we will actually eat!

Hamura's Saimin

I’m sure as you are reading this we are either lying on a beach or eating some fabulously tastyfood! Stay tuned for Live from Kauai posts later this week!

ALOHA!

Advertisements

Tortino Pasta.jpgMy final night in Washington DC, I took a gamble and went to Founding Farmers, hoping that being by myself I could get a seat. Unfortunately the gamble didn’t pay off. They were booked out and there was also a line out the door. Never mind, I had a back up.

On my walks around the neighborhood near my hotel I had spotted a small, Italian trattoria that intrigued me. Tucked into the basement of a brownstone, in amongst residences, Tortino just looked like the perfect neighborhood restaurant. Inviting, small and fingers crossed, delicious!

I took a seat at the bar to eat and also because it was still happy hour, I ordered myself a bellini (prosecco with peach puree). The bellini was delicious and I had to make sure I didn’t drink in a few seconds.

I chatted with the bartender about football (NFL… GO BEARS!) for a while and then asked him to recommend a pasta dish Bellini.jpgfor me. After making sure I liked seafood he suggested the pasta special. Handmade spaghetti with cherry tomatoes, mussels, and broccoli in a garlic butter sauce! I went with his recommendation!

While waiting for my food to arrive I sipped on a second bellini – I couldn’t help it, they were just too delicious!

My pasta arrived! A large bowl filled with spaghetti and a surprisingly huge amount of mussels. The pasta was good, al dente, just how I like it and how it should be. The mussels were perfectly cooked and smothered in the garlic butter sauce. The crusty bread was great dipped in the sauce. And even though I am not a big broccoli fan, I ate every bite.

This was a lovely, intimate little restaurant – it would be perfect for a date night. The food was good Italian comfort food and they had lovely, friendly staff who chatted to me and kept me company at the bar. Oh, and the bellinis were yummy.

I was happy with my random choice, even though it wasn’t Founding Farmers. I will go back to this restaurant next time I am in DC and will also hopefully make it into Founding Farmers too!

Panfried Scallops with Pomegranate Glaze.jpgI’m back from DC and still have more restaurants to blog about but I thought I would go back to some home cooking for an entry to keep things varied. As I mentioned last week, I made J. a three course meal as payment for a bet we had made. Although I started with dessert in my blog last week, I thought I would share the delicious first course we started our meal with.

J. had requested scallops… he hadn’t said anything about how he wanted them cooked or with what… just scallops. This left it open for me to try something new and a little different to how we would normally eat them. After looking through recipes and more recipes, I was inspire to mesh together a half dozen ideas to create my own Frankenstein of a dish. I shall call it “Pan-fried Scallops and Baby Spinach with Spiced Pomegranate Glaze.”

Pmegranate Glaze.jpg

I started on the glaze early so I could set it aside and concentrate on the main course but it was relatively quick and easy. In a small pan I combined 1/3 cup of pomegranate juice (use 100% juice for best flavor), 1 tablespoon of honey, a pinch or dried thyme, cinnamon and red chili flakes. I mixed this together and placed it on a medium heat to bring to a simmer.

While this was heating up in a cup I mixed together 1/2 teaspoon of cornflour and 1 tablespoon of lime juice. When the pomegranate mixture was boiling I poured in the lime mixture, stirring it in quickly. I then just left this to simmer for 15 minutes until it had reduced and become syrupy. Once syrupy I set it aside… that’s the hard part of this recipe done!

Scallops.jpg

A few minutes before we were ready to eat I cooked up the rest of the course.

I lightly oiled a pan and brought it up to heat. When the pan was nice and hot I added 6 large fresh scallops. I had seasoned these lightly with some freshly ground black pepper. I only cooked these for about 90 seconds on each side before removing them from the pan.

Into that same pan I put around 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 2 large handfuls of fresh baby spinach. As these cooked down I seasoned with salt and pepper. When the spinach was slightly wilted I turned off the heat and put together the dish.

Spinach in a small pile with the scallops on top and the glaze drizzled over the top… done!Baby Spinach.jpg

I was surprised by how delicious this was. I love scallops and could eat a plate of them with nothing else but salt and pepper. The pomegranate glaze really brought out the sweetness in the seafood which was amazing. This really was the perfect way to start the meal. Light, delicious and different. J. enjoyed them thoroughly which I guess is the most important thing but the fact that I loved the dish as well just makes it even better!

Mussels.jpgLast night I walked around downtown DC and worked my way towards another delicious dinner, recommended by Everyday Sarah Jane.

St Arnold’s Mussel Bar on Jefferson Street was my final destination and it was worth the walk. I arrived at a great, but small basement bar. There was a line out the door but the one benefit of eating alone is getting to skip the long line, and be seated immediately.

Though there are other delights on their menu I was always going to have mussels, it Pilsner.jpgwas just a matter of choosing what flavor to go with. In the end I chose to have the House Specialty, forgoing the Thai curry mussels and the Mexican inspired mussels. The specialty is Mussels St. Arnold’s – Mussels cooked in a house beer sauce with caramelized shallot, garlic and thyme and finally… wait for it…duck fat! Seriously, who cooks mussels in duck fat!

After ordering my mussels, my beer arrived. They have a fantastic selection of beers to choose from and I am sure if J. was here we would have made a night of it. When i say we, imean me and J. would get me home… Traveling alone I settled for a single beer, a Bavik pilsner. Yum!

Frites and bread.jpgThe mussels arrived accompanied by frites and bread… Carbs, seafood and duck fat – I was in heaven!

The frites were crunchy and perfectly cooked, not too oily. Dunking the bread into the beer sauce seemed incredibly decadent. The mussels themselves were perfect. The steaming cast iron pot was filled with plump juicy mussels, all open, which I think is the mark of a good seafood restaurant.

The broth was sweet and savory at the same time. Not oily or fatty at all. If I hadn’t Duck fat broth.jpgbeen bursting by the end of the meal I would have asked for the broth to go and had it as soup today. So deliciously good. They were some of the best mussels I’ve ever had.

It was a good thing I had a 2 mile hike back to the hotel to work dinner off. Thank you fellow bloggers, we’re two for two on restaurants! Being seated quickly also meant I got happy hour food prices with the mussels and frites costing less than $10!!!! Love it.

Friday night I am going to try Founding Farmers, I wasn’t able to get a reservation but thought I might try walking in, even though it is incredibly popular. I have a back up if necessary. Wish me luck!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the big advantages of my job is that I get to travel. In the last few months I have been to Las Vegas, Charlotte and Austin… all for work. There will be posts about all the deliciousness I ate on those trips.

In the next couple of months I am going to Washington DC and Dallas for work and then on vacation to Hawaii.

With all this upcoming travel, I have a lot of food planning to do. This is usually J’s responsibility but he isn’t coming to DC with me, so it falls on my shoulders.

Ben's Chili Bowl

I have been to DC before and done all the sightseeing. Last time we were there  was around 3 years ago. We ate some great food on that

Capitol City Brewing Company – I don’t have any photos of the food we had here but it was good quality pub fare. Most importantly they had a large and delicious range of their own beers which were most enjoyable.trip!

Ben's Chili Dog

Ben’s Chili Bowl – From everything I hear, this is an institution in DC! We dragged our friend with the meat phobia here and even convinced   her to try one of the chili dogs. Telling her that President Obama had eaten here convinced her it would be ok. It was fantastic! It was my first chili dog and I probably will never have one anywhere near as delicious as this was. This place is an example of exactly the kind of food and place we love – simple, hole in the wall just doing what they do very well and deliciously!

The Dancing Crab – This was one of J’s discoveries when he was researching our trip. Being huge seafood lovers, it was a must and we weren’t disappointed. Giant trays of spicy crabs were brought Dancing Crabout. Dressed in our plastic bibs, tools in hand, we dug in and ate ourselves silly! Again, this is the perfect kind of place, out of the tourist areas with great service and food. This crab was unlike any I had eaten before – I might have to make a trip back to this place – if I can figure out how to get there!

Oyamel – If you have read any of our posts about Mexican food, you will be familiar with exactly what our thoughts on it are… if you haven’t read J’s entry about this topic. Oyamel is not our usual Mexican fare. It is pricey, fancy and more like a tapas restaurant then the hole in the wall, divey places we usual frequent. However, the Oyamel Tacosfood was good and it was our chance to take a friend out for their first Mexican restaurant experience in the US. We ate tacos, mole, yummy desserts and I can’t remember what else. It is a restaurant with an interesting concept combining Mexican food and tapas, with good service and food. I have to admit though that I still prefer my hole in the walls back here in Arizona.

So that was our first trip to DC! There were other places we ate, including a random Oyamel MoleBBQ place that none of us can remember the name of, but these were by far the best experiences we had.

I would like to have great food experiences on this next trip too. This is where I need your help and advice if  you know of any great places in DC. I will be staying downtown, close to the Convention Center and am limited to public transport and taxis…

Where should I eat? I can’t wait to hear your recommendations!

Grilled Qual.jpgJ. and I like to watch a local PBS show called Check Please, Arizona. It is a funny little show that reviews restaurants here in Arizona. We have discovered a few places from watching this show and have also written off quite a few.

A few months back we were watching, looking for places we could possibly take my parents when they came to visit and Rancho Pinot was reviewed. It is a little fancy for our usual tastes but the Wild West décor and some of the menu items caught our eye.

We do occasionally like to try out some of the fancier restaurants so we decided try it out to see if it was the kind of place we would want to take visitors. The restaurant is decorated with a giant cactus skeleton in the middle of the restaurant – who knew they had skeletons. The walls are then decorated with Southwest themed photos, painting and bits and pieces. All very quirky and different.  I thought that it was something different for visitors.

Anyway, to the important stuff… the food.

Scallops.jpg

To start we ordered the small plate of grilled quail with sweet corn polenta, sautéed greens and peach mostarda. This was delicious and we were hoping it would set the tone for the rest of the night.

J. order scallops for his main course. He had seen them on the TV show and they were one of the main reasons we went there… His plate came out with 3 diver scallops that had been mesquite grilled, on a bed of corn risotto with tomato broth and bacon-fennel relish. Doesn’t that just sound amazing!! It was a small serving and I knew it wasn’t going to be enough for him so I had ordered accordingly.

Berkshire Pork.jpg

Though there was nothing wrong with the dish J. wasn’t raving about it and considering this was the main thing he had wanted to try, it was a little disappointing. He was also still well and truly hungry after he had finished it.

Fortunately I had ordered the Berkshire Pork. This was huge and served with creamy polenta, green beans and a roasted tomato. The pork was tender and flavorful, the polenta was tasty. Thankfully there was plenty for J. to finish it off.

Since we were out on the town for the night we ordered desserts. J. wanted to try the Olive oil cake with meyer lemon curd, which was tasty. I had the Shaker Meyer Lemon Tart, which was different from other tarts I had tried, more like a lemon pie, with pastry on the top as well as the Olive Oil Cake.jpgbottom. It was yummy and tangy, as a good lemon tart should be.

I don’t like giving bad reviews, and this isn’t really bad, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the food or the service. I would never tell someone not to go here. You will get good food and good service and be in an interesting restaurant. Plus they have a really good wine list.

Unfortunately though for us, it wasn’t memorable and it certainly wasn’t worth the price we paid. The most memorable thing for me all night was the Arizonan wine I had with my meal! As you can probably tell from this entry we weren’t really impressed or disappointed… it was all just fine. Not what you want when you spend $100+ on a meal.

Lemon tart.jpgWhen we are going somewhere nice for a special occasion this won’t be at the top of our list, there are other places that are more memorable and places that we rave about that come before this. They do have seasonal menus which means we might go back some day and try a new menu and could be wowed!

However, this is just our opinion and what we like – maybe you will have a better experience and it will be exactly what you want.

Plus, where else can you get Wild West fine dining!

The Feast.jpgThis is our 100th blog. This is such a milestone, J. and I wanted it to be one about something that was special to us. That is why it has taken so long to post. To make it even more special I thought J. should write it… So from J. and I thank you for your support of the first 100 entries, we are looking forward to the next 100.

C & J

Take any style of cooking or cooking technique.  From any country.  I’ll give you a second to think about that for a bit.  No, really, think of any country or cooking style… Italian, French, Greek… you name it.  Guess where they got their origins?  China.  That’s right… any type of modern-day cooking technique has come from the Chinese.  Grilling meat over coals… they came up with that.  You think the French came up with sautéing?  Guess again.  The Chinese came up with that in a little vessel called a wok.  You thought boiling noodles until they were al dente came from the Italians?  Chinese came up with that centuries before Marco Polo made his trip back.

For all of their amazing techniques, you’d think there would be a lot more authentic Chinese food here in the US.  Unless you happen to live in San Francisco or New York and within walking distance to their respective Chinatowns, chances are what you know as Chinese food here in the US is fake.  I hate to burst your bubble, but P.F. Changs or that chain with the smiling panda found in most airports are Pork with Capsicum/Peppers.jpgabout as close to real Chinese food as those Gucci purses that just happen to be on sale for $20.

So when C and I had the opportunity to enjoy a banquet to end all banquets prepared by a Chinese grandmother, we couldn’t help but document the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  Let’s be honest, grandmothers kick ass in the kitchen.  That Italian grandma you have who came from the old country who makes that great polenta you like?  Nobody can duplicate it.  That Polish grandmother who makes the best pierogis?  She’ll kick your ass with her kitchen skills.  With this banquet, we were bowing down to the one true kung-fu master in the kitchen.  Grand Master Qi Fen (for an apprentice like me, I must refer to her as master or shi fu)!  Grand Master Qi Kung Pao Chicken.jpgFen just happens to be a brand new grandmother after her daughter (SW – C’s sister in law) gave birth to a bouncing baby boy over the holidays, and she was gracious enough to prepare an amazing meal of 10 dishes for the whole family.  I’m going to let that settle for a bit… that’s right… 10 dishes!

She spent the entire day shopping, prepping, and cooking the amazing meal and I had no choice but to take my place as the apprentice, knowing that I didn’t even come close to her kitchen prowess.  That place just happened to be the kitchen stool next to her.  Watching her knife skills, her seasoning technique, her marinating technique, ingredients she used, and most importantly, her ability to balance up to 5 dishes being cooked at the same time yet making sure each was closely Mapo Tofu.jpgwatched.

Ever see a Chinese cook use a meat cleaver as precisely as a paring knife?  It’s something else.  You think you have good control with chopsticks?  I’m half Korean and have been eating with chopsticks since I was 5.  Grand Master was using long giant ones as if they were built into her wrist.

More importantly, watching Grand Master allowed me the opportunity to find out how the Chinese get those amazing flavors in to their food.  I don’t mean to give up a secret here, but you only need a handful of ingredients to get great authentic Chinese flavor in your dishes:  dark soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine, green onion, garlic, and salt.  Stuffed Pork Meatballs.jpgThat’s it folks… you figure that out, you’re about 2% there in becoming the next Grand Master.  The other 98% I think is attributed to years of experience and repetition, but what do I know?

I’m not about to give out recipes in this post… that would take an eternity and I think C would rather give out that information after we take a shot at a few of these dishes ourselves.  I’m not about to name all of these dishes either but I’ll do my best in trying to describe them.  On to the food!

Kung Pao Chicken – Cut chicken thighs marinated in dark soy, Chinese cooking wine, a little salt and green onions quickly cooked with Chinese chili flake oil and green peppers with peanuts.  Who knew a dish in almost ever neighborhood Chinese restaurantPork Belly with 100-Year Old Eggs.jpg menu would taste this good.

Pork with Capsicum/Peppers – Thinly sliced pork (sliced with a meat cleaver no less) cooked with thinly sliced green capsicum/pepper.  I dare anyone to try and cut pork as uniformly as she did with a cleaver, and not lose at least part of a finger.

Mapu Tofu – Ground pork with spicy tofu.  The dish to judge all Chinese cooks by.  This one was flavorful and delicious. We have made this before – but we do it the cheats way.

Kick-Ass Fish.jpgStuffed Pork Meatballs – I have no idea how those balls went from hollow fried spheres, to soft, flavorful stuffed globes full of pork.  The dark soy/Chinese cooking wine marinade was excellent once again.

Pork Belly with 100-Year Old Eggs – Ever seen what the Chinese call 100-Year Old Eggs?  These weren’t those but they sort of looked like them with the dark soy infusing to the egg whites.  Soft pork belly slow cooked with that rich marinade.Salted Cucumber.jpg

Kick-Ass Fish – I challenge anyone to cook a flavorless white fish like tilapia and have it packed with as much flavor as Grand Master did in this dish.  One of the better fish dishes I’ve had in my life.

Salted Cucumber – A simple dish to cleanse the palate.  Crunchy cucumber cut uniformly with a giant cleaver.

Shrimp with Egg.jpgShrimp with Egg – Ever try de-veining 30 or more shrimp with a cleaver?  Try doing it and let’s see how many fingers you’ll have left.  Grand Master did that for every single shrimp (prawn for you Aussies) we had.

Snowpeas with Garlic – Crunchy snowpeas that went so well with rice.

Vegetable Medley – Gotta love that corn starch slurry to give it that classic Chinese shine!Snowpeas with Garlic.jpg

Definitely a meal I won’t soon forget.  I feel as if we’re indebted to Grand Master for this meal.  Maybe one day I’ll get to make my famous (to a circle of about 8 people) BBQ ribs for her, although that won’t even come close to the spectacle she put on for us.

If Grand Master Qi Vegetable Medley.jpgFen ever has a chance to read this, she’s invited to our house any day for dinner.  If the meal we cook for her is even halfway as good as the meal she prepared for us, then I would consider that a success.

Prosciutto Salad.jpgNow that I am working I am finding less time to blog so I am still filling you all in on the wonderful food we ate in Australia back in December and early January. I am hoping I will get into a better blogging routine once I am used to working again! In the mean time I wanted to share a great salad we ate Christmas Eve in Australia.

This salad is a meal on its own but we were lucky enough to have it with some delicious Moreton Bay Bugs. These are a type of crayfish found in Queensland. They are one of my favorite types of seafood and something we traditionally have at Christmas time. We eat these plain… they don’t need to be boiled in spices or anything just cooked simply, cut down the middle and this time we served them with a mango chili mayonnaise. (Recipe for the mayonnaise to follow later).

Back to the salad.

In a large (and I mean LARGE!) salad bowl put a mixture of salad leaves. You can choose any kind you like, we did a mix of my parents’ home grown lettuce. Drain around 270 grams of semi dried tomatoes, make sure you keep the oil though because this becomes part of the dressing. Add the tomatoes to the salad leaves.Moreton Bay Bugs.jpg

Next, slice up 1 bunch of asparagus into about 1 inch lengths. Blanch these for a few minutes, but make sure they are still crunchy. Set them aside to cool.

Add to the salad bowl ¼ cup of pine nuts and 1 thinly sliced red onion. Finally add in the cooled asparagus and toss all the ingredients together.

Now the thing that makes this salad more like an entire meal is the topping. On top of the tossed ingredients the deliciousness is layered. First, pan fry 6 large slices of prosciutto. Break these up when cooked and layer them over the salad. The shave large pieces of fresh parmesan cheese over the top of the prosciutto and salad. I like to use a vegetable peeler to get the big chunky shavings of parmesan. Now, I know some people don’t like parmesan so you could use pecorino or even a mild Mango Chilli Mayonnaise.jpgcheese like swiss over the top.

The final part of this salad is the dressing, quite possibly the simplest dressing ever. In a bottle mix the drained oil from the tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Shake this well and then drizzle over the salad.

Serve and eat… It is such a delicious, hearty salad and I could eat it as a meal all by itself. The bugs were just an awesomely delicious bonus. The saltiness of the prosciutto and cheese with the crunchiness of the pine nuts is so yummy! The bugs dipped in the mayonnaise on the side was a perfect warm summer’s day lunch!

Mixed Grill.jpgI am a city girl, I love the noise, the pace and the variety that a city offers… Until I moved here to Arizona, I had been living smack bang in the center of Melbourne city… The strange thing is, is that I grew up in the country. Small town Queensland. When we moved from first small town to second small town (of 10,000 people) when I was 14 I was so excited because they had traffic lights and fast food places… McDonald’s, KFC, Red Rooster… What a metropolis! I would never move back to live in a small country town but I love visiting and my parents still live in a small town so I get plenty of fresh air, country hospitality and good food when I visit them.

One of the great things I find about Australian small country towns is that there is always a good pub. At least one, sometimes 3, even 4 or more sometimes! You are never short of a pub in the country. The food at these out of the way pubs can often be some of the best, largest and most delicious pub food you will ever get. Meat so fresh you would think they had just carved it off a cow, servings so large to help fill the hole that country air seems to create. They would give many city pubs a run for their money when it comes to their food… not to mention their cheap drink prices.

Lamb Shanks.jpg

The Saturday night after we got back to Australia we had driven up to Mum and Dad’s and decided on the way we wanted to go to Meringandan Pub. This is a tiny, tiny little “town” about 10 minutes from my parent’s house and 15 minutes from a pretty big city (by Australian standards) but they have possibly the best pub food I have ever eaten!

The four of us, J., my parents and I headed off for our yummy meal. J. had decided to take on the challenge of the mixed grill that many have tried but failed to finish. I um’ed and ah’ed but finally decided to go with the surf and turf option. My Mum went with braised lamb shanks and Dad went with the bone-in rib eye.

I went up and ordered for us all and of course it is never as simple as that… the questions began… how would you like it, what kind of sauce; veggies or salad & chips??? So many options to go along with our meat… lots and lots of meat!

Surf & Turf.jpg

Let’s start with the smallest meal – Mum’s lamb shanks were quite scrumptious. Nice and tender – the meat falling off the bone. She had veggies with her shanks, there were a variety of veggies, including potato done two ways… mashed and roasted. I think she was very happy with her selection.

My surf and turf was unbelievable… it came with a mountain of beer battered chips, a great garden salad and then the meat… I a couple of battered prawns and some crispy calamari on top of a huge perfectly cooked medium rare steak. I had a chosen the pepper sauce and it was great for dipping both the chips and steak in. I was unbelievably happy with this. The meal was so big I didn’t even come close to finishing it, the steak was hanging off the plate it was sooo big. I just have to say though that the chips were amazing and I just couldn’t stop eating them!

Dad had his rib eye on the bone, also with chips, salad and pepper sauce (we weren’t so original with the sauce choices). His steak was huge as well and perfectly cooked. That is something I have found at this pub – you never get a badly cooked steak!Rib on the bone.jpg

Last but certainly not least was the monster of all meals, J’s MIXED GRILL!!!! A plate piled high with salad and chips and then stacked with a steak, a lamb chop, a pork chop, a beef sausage and some bacon just to top it all off! J also got the pepper sauce just as a side note. Now my uncle has tried to finish this as have some other friends of ours but no one has ever succeeded… until now! J attacked it with a vengeance… head down, no conversation, he was a man focused and obsessed!

I was so proud of my man for conquering the mixed grill and it was enjoyed at the same time. He said it was great steak (he usually refuses to eat steak outside of our own home) and the rest of the meat was just delicious. He couldn’t believe how tasty the pepper sauce was either – who knew it would be that yummy!

Our dinner here was just fantastic… everytime we go home to visit my parents now we will definitely make a stop off here. If you are ever in Queensland – out near Toowoomba – stop here, get some lunch or dinner… just be prepared to sleep off a feast in your car afterwards if you have to keep on driving! Another great pub with fabulous food in a small country town… unbelievable!

Let me know if you know of any great country pubs with amazing food for our next trip home!

Fish & Chips.jpgWe arrived back in Australia (into Brisbane) early Friday morning… Greeted at the airport by my joking Dad and my teary Mum, we quickly headed to my Granma’s place to shower, refresh and then head out on the town… It was only 8.30am!

By lunchtime we were out eating already with my good friends K (I have spoken about K in earlier blogs) & R and their brand new baby H. My parents & K’s parents also joined us. So a big group of us for lunch – what better way to keep awake and beat jetlag.

There is a restaurant that I’ve been wanting to try since it opened in Brisbane, Alfred & Constance… unfortunately we had time limits and location difficulties for everyone to attend so we had to choose somewhere else. Check out the A & C website though… if you are in Brisbane sometime I think they would be worth a visit! Ok, enough about where we didn’t eat.

We met at one of the local shopping centres (mall) where we knew there is a variety of restaurants with outdoor seating and decent food to choose from. After some debating and studying of the menus out the front of each restaurant we settled on Groove Train.

The menu was quite eclectic and would offer everyone coming to lunch something to choose from. J. and I were Chicken Parma.jpgstarving by this stage and craving some Aussie food. Unfortunately there weren’t any pies on the menu but plenty of other stuff to choose from. In the end I went for fish & chips because I hadn’t had a great beer battered piece of fish since I left Australia and J. went with a Parma… or for those non-Australian a Chicken Parmigiana.

Lemon peppered beer battered served with lemon, fresh garden salad, chips and tartare sauce… how good does that sound! Anyway, I was incredibly happy with the fish. A nice crispy batter and not too greasy at all and the fish itself was delicious and flaky… it just fell apart as I cut into it. I can’t really say much about the salad, it really was just a regular garden salad, nothing terribly fancy about it at all… it was fresh though which is always important. The chips were yummy, perfectly cooked. My main thing with a fish and chips is that it can’t all be greasy and soggy and this wasn’t so it was a winner all round for me.

J’s parma came out and it was quite huge… this wasn’t a bad thing since he was starving. It looked pretty good – he was a fair way down the table from me so I didn’t manage to sneak a bite, though I kind of wish I did. It came out covered in Napoli sauce and melted mozzarella with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. He also had the salad and chips as sides so it was a big plate of food. He really enjoyed it.

It was a great lunch for us, and so fun to catch up with great friends. We were exhausted and jetlagged and probably not the best company for others but that’s what friends are for. After lunch we headed off into Brisbane city for a bit of exploring… stay tuned for the delicious delights we found during our adventure!