March 30, 2009

The Ice Cream Trilogy: Ice Europa

Ice Europa
cnr Caville Ave/Surfers Paradise Bvd, SURFERS PARADISE

ice europa

For the final installment of the Ice Cream Trilogy we visited Ice Europa. When we bought our cones from here we were already full after eating at Absynthe bakery across the road, but more on that in a later post. I was feeling a bit too full and thought maybe I should give the ice cream a miss, but damn it...nothing was going to stop me from eating MORE ice cream. The display in the window looked way too inviting to just walk past, and by now I had seen ALOT of ice cream displays.

Ice Europa Ice Cream Freezer
Ice Ice baby

I went for the coconut and dark chocolate combo, I was aiming for the Bounty of the ice cream world. It was an awesome combination and the coconut ice cream itself tasted like an intense burst of the tropics, I LOVED IT! Sadly.....and not surprisingly, I managed to eat it before taking a photo of it. I think the scenario went a little like - right hand, ice cream - left hand.....brain to mouth......"lick camera...take photos with ice cream....hang on that's not right.....oh forget the photos just eat the ice cream!" I did manage to take a couple of snaps of Daz's ice cream. He opted for Kit Kat and Nutella. Oh man did it taste good, the pieces of kit kat were tiny, so you got the full flavour of the kit kat without being distracted by the chewing that is required to eat large chunks of chocolate covered wafers. The Nutella was pretty good too, I know you can get a pretty decent Nutella ice cream pretty much anywhere, but this particular version had generous swirls of Nutella through out the scoop. The calories don't count when your eating someone else's ice cream...right?

Kit Kat and Nutella Ice Cream
Kit Kat and Nutella Ice Cream

Before Daz finished his ice cream, a strange yet cold figure appeared in his ice cream, no it wasn't a vision of the Holy Mary, but it did look human like. It had two eyes, a nose and seemed to be drooling. We decided to call him Squishy, but sadly he didn't hang around for long....Daz decided to end his life before global warming got the better of him. Sad, but someone had to do it.

Ice Cream Monster
Ice Cream Monster.....or strange eating technique?

I did a quick google search on Ice Europa and it looks like the Surfers Paradise shop is the only one around. I'm glad I managed to stumble onto it, it was a good way to end the ice cream journey. I hope you all enjoyed reading the Ice Cream Trilogy, I sure did enjoy eating it!

March 29, 2009

The Ice Cream Trilogy: Royal Copenhagen

Royal Copenhagen Ice Cream Cone Company
Surfers Paradise Shop 204, Paradise Centre

Royal Copenhagen Ice Cream company
Copenhagen Denmark? or Copenhagen Ice Cream???

For the second installment of the trilogy, we have Royal Copenhagen Ice Cream Cone Company, not to be confused with Copenhagen the capital of Denmark. The sole reason I was attracted to this ice cream establishment was that they make their cones fresh on site, and in plain view of the entire public, and as a food blogger I couldn't help myself, I had to take photos of the entire process, much to the amusement of the poor fellow making the cones. 

On this particular night there was a VERY FAST young man on the waffle irons, so much so that 90% of the photos I took of him making the cones were of his blurry hands! He was a cone master! hehehehe. I'll let the photos do the talking, with very descriptive captions.

open waffle iron
Step one - Open the hot waffle iron, no brainer....pretty simple


Pouring ice cream cone batter into waffle iron
Step two - Pour waffle batter onto hot waffle iron


remove cooked waffle
Step three - Remove cooked waffle and begin to roll into cone shape


finished waffle cone
Step four - Inspect your fine handy work, repeat step one - four 

Now onto the Ice cream. Since they are located on a corner they have about 4 different freezer full of ice cream, making the choice of which flavour to get extremely difficult.

Royal Copenhagen Ice Cream Freezers
Freezer full of ice cream......check.

On this particular night I thought I would be adventurous and go for the Midnight cookie (bottom) with the maple macadamia (top), yep you read right....maple syrup and macadamia nuts. You can opt for toppings or opt out of toppings. Who am I to deny someone the pleasure of placing the crowing glory onto an ice cream, and who would have thought that ice cream could get even more unhealthy! The toppings were whipped cream and chocolate fudge sauce. There's supposed to be a pecan ontop too, but some how it was left off.

Royal Copenhagen Ice Cream
Ice cream with cream, ANNNND chocolate that my Doctor calling??

I would love to say that the ice cream tasted awesome, but it didn' was horrible! But I'll leave it at that. I enjoyed the whole process from the humble beginnings of the cone to the extra toppings that I cant bring myself to saying a bad word. All I know is that I've been to Copenhagen, and I wont be going back. Copenhagen in Denmark is a different story.

March 26, 2009

The Ice Cream Trilogy: Gelatissimo

Surfers Paradise, shop 2, 15 Cavill Ave

Gelatissimo Gold Coast

Ice cream trapped inside a glass box, I hope someone lets it out soon.

While on the Gold Coast I got to eat loads of Ice cream, which can never be a bad thing....right?. Considering it was fairly warm and I was walking around alot, I thought it only fair to increase my ice cream intake, and thankfully I was spoilt for choice. It seemed like every corner on every street was occupied by an ice cream place, a bit like MacDonalds....but without the burgers and scary clown. 

We had walked past Gelatissimo a couple of times, and the crowds assembled in front of the ice cream freezer meant that I had to have my first ice cream here. I went for a combination of pistachio (one of the best ice cream flavours ever invented) and chocolate.

Pistacchio and Chocolate Ice cream

I wanted to eat it so badly, that I rushed the shot and only took a very blurry photo

The ice cream here was scary good. There were whole pistachio's, which were nicely toasted and crunchy, the amount of times that I've had soggy dodgy nuts in ice cream is enough to turn anyone off the icy creamy dessert. The chocolate flavour was rich without being bitter and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I don't often choose chocolate because it can so easily be stuffed up. I'm glad to say that after a quick check of the Gelatissimo website I've discovered that there is a store right here in Melbourne! Yay! Lygon Street needed just ONE more ice cream it's complete. So now I can have crunchy pistachio ice cream any time of the year, all I need to do is keep my physical activity levels up.....what are the chances of that?  

March 20, 2009

Cafe di Stasio

Dining Date: March 2009

2009 Rating: 30th, 2 Stars

Chef: Steve Rofe

Location: 31 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda, Victoria

And so the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival comes to an end. This weekend I volunteered at the Cellar Door event at South bank. I thought it would be a good idea to immerse myself fully into the food and wine experiences of Melbourne. I wont say much about it because it wasn't such a pleasant experience, all I'll say is that I have a new found respect for event staff.

But before the Festival came to an end, I managed to squeeze in another value lunch. This time at St Kilda's Cafe di Stasio. 

The view from outside

Daz and I got down to St Kilda last weekend when winter came early to Melbourne. I thought that the foul weather would deter many diners, but I was wrong, the restaurant was well and truly packed. The tightness of the tables was a little tricky to maneuver as a customer, I don't know how the wait staff managed to get round it. It seemed like they had it under control, well every table expect ours. I had to ask for the bill twice, and I don't think my water was ever topped up, even after asking multiple times. But that doesn't upset me so much, I know how busy it can get in restaurants, and sometimes its easy to over look things. I managed to snap this photo in between tables being changed. I took it because I like the "unfinished look" of the dining room. It really reinstates that fact that you are sitting in a cafe, despite the fact that the waiters are very formally dressed in white waiters shirts and black slacks. 

The dining room in Cafe di Stasio

Now onto the food. Again we decided to go for entree and main option. Daz received the Rigatone al forno (Baked rigatone with tomato, mozzarella and Parmesan). Apparently he wasn't too impressed by it, but said it tasted pretty good. I didn't get to try it, I was WAY to involved in my dish to care what was on the end of his fork.....which is odd for me.

Rigatone al Forno (Baked rigatone with tomato, mozzarella and Parmesan)

For my main I decided to get the Pate di Fegatini di pollo (chicken liver pate). This dish was made up of two quenelles of chicken liver pate, with some herb olive oil drizzled over the top, a piece of chargrilled toast, with more olive oil, I'm guessing the orange blob was fresh quince paste (it was delicious) and then  salad comprising sliced sweet spiced gherkins, parsley and Spanish onion. I really liked this dish, it was really yummy. I thought that the size of serving was very generous and I was so pleased that they were generous. I really like a good pate, and this was one of the better ones I have had. The pate was smooth without being greasy, the tart salad was good to cut through the richness of the pate and the sweetness from the quince paste lifted the flavour of the entire dish. The only fault I could think of is that it needed more toast, thankfully I had saved my complimentary bread roll and use that to spread the pate goodness onto. YUM!  

Pate di Fegatini di pollo (chicken liver pate)

The mains, poor Daz it looks like his totally lucked out on our trip to Di Stasio. I'm usually the one receiving the less interesting dishes, now it was his turn to stare lovingly at my fork! He received a very boring Spezzatino di Manzo con Piselli (Yearling beef ragu with peas). It came with a very bland buckwheat polenta. Last month we had eaten a similar version at The Grand which was flavoured with Parmesan and was quite pleasant. This version was just plain old polenta. I don't know why Daz ordered this dish, I'm pretty sure he doesn't like peas anyway. But you know what they say, one persons trash is another persons treasure....hang on....I'm using the wrong analogy right? 

Spezzatino di Manzo con Piselli (Yearling beef ragu with peas)

My main was a little more exciting, Filetto di Maiale con Barbabietola (Salt and pepper crusted pork fillet with beetroot). I'm a sucker for beetroot, so there was no other option for me, I had to have this dish, and I was pleased I chose it. The salt and pepper crust on the pork was a good way to prepare the meat. Every bite of it was perfectly seasoned.....funny that. Looking back actually, the dish was very simple, pork and beetroot. The flavour of pork goes really well with root vegetables, and I had never thought of pairing it with beetroot before. I am ashamed to say I ate every bite on the plate, and I did not share.

Filetto di Maiale con Barbabietola (Salt and peper crusted pork fillet with beetroot)

I'd like to go back to Cafe di Stasio. I'm not sure that we received the normal service that is on offer, and I'd like to go at a time when there is no pressure to quickly turn over tables and have the comfort to order anything on the menu. In the meantime I'll have to make do with reading every one else stories. 

March 18, 2009

Results - Fig and Raspberry Crostata

Fig and Raspberry Crostata

Crostata's are a traditional Italian tart usually made with jam filling and folded over edges, in this recipe Rockpool has put a nice summery twist to it. I both love and hate this recipe, it was really easy to make and was very tasty, but it didn't turn out exactly as planned, mine ended up fold-less. But, that's half of the fun of cooking, you try something and it might not turn out exactly as you planned. My theory is, if it tastes good, regardless of what it looks like - its a success!

Figs in situ

One of the things that I really like about figs is the colourful filling of the little fruit. From the outside they look quite ordinary, with their pale green flesh, but once you peal that outer packing away it reveals a creamy white flesh pack full of pink seeds. Every bite is heaven, and I can't help but be taken back to my childhood every time I bite into a fresh fig. I particularly like hot figs that have been warmed by the summer sun, the juiciness of fig is increased and it almost tastes like fresh fig jam, but not quite as sweet. I guess its a perk of having a a fig tree in your very own backyard.

Chopped up figs, ready to go onto the pastry/frangipane base

So, back to the Crostata. There is nothing really to report on the actual making of the tart, it was extremely easy, almost no skill required at all....or so I thought. I assembled the crostata exactly as explained in the recipe. I even went to the point of pulling out a ruler and measuring the size of the pastry, just to make sure it measured up. I really, really wanted it to be perfect. And before it went into the oven, it really did look perfect. 

Perfectly looking Crostata...right?


Somehow, during the cooking process my crostata went from this, to this.....FIG PIZZA!!

Ta da....Fig Pizza!

To say I was heart broken is an understatement. The smell emanating from the oven while it was cooking would have knocked out Martha Stewart herself. I was salivating way before the pastry even starting cooking, it really smelt delicious. When I opened the oven to sprinkle the raspberries ontop, I saw that the pastry had unravelled itself. In the end when I pulled the Crostata out, cut it up and served it with some creme fraiche, I didn't care that the sides were not folded had no impact on the taste and consistency of the tart at all. The pastry was crumbly, the frangipane was smooth creamy and gooey, the figs had almost caramelized and taken on a whole new flavour which went well with the tartness of the warmed raspberries. The combination of all the flavours were very well thought out, the only set back to the dessert was my presentation.

Maybe I didn't fold the top over enough, maybe I needed to leave a longer piece of pastry to fold over, maybe I didn't pleat the pastry firmly enough, maybe my oven was too hot when I first put the crostata in. I really don't know what happened. If anyone has any idea I would be truly grateful. But I do know one thing, this recipe is way too good to not try again. All I need are some figs. Here figgy fig fig. 

Seconds always taste better than the original, especially when you add icing sugar


March 16, 2009

Fig and Raspberry Crostata

Restaurant: Rockpool (NSW)

Recipe from Chef Catherine Adams  (appears on Gourmet Traveller website)

2009 Rating: 3rd, 3 Stars

Before we went away to Queensland my mum had HEAPS of ripe juicy figs on her tree. When I was a kid I didn't quite understand the joy's of eating a perfectly sun ripened fig, now in my older age I can certainly appreciate it. So I collected a real bounty of the little parcels of softness, once I got them home I realised I needed to do something with them...and quick. And then I saw this recipe, and boy was I excited! So, following tradition, here is the recipe and of course...the results are to come.

Serves 8 

Cooking Time Prep time 20 mins, cook 50 mins (plus chilling) 


10 figs, halved or quartered, depending on size
1 tbsp vanilla sugar (see note)
120 gm raspberries (about 1 punnet), plus extra to serve
To serve: crème fraîche

Sweet pastry

200 gm flour
150 gm cold butter, coarsely chopped
100 gm caster sugar
40 gm egg (about ¾ egg), lightly whisked


50 gm butter
50 gm pure icing sugar
50 gm almond meal
1 tsp plain flour
1 egg, lightly whisked
20 ml dark rum

1. For sweet pastry, place flour and butter in the bowl of a food processor and freeze until well chilled (30-35 minutes). Meanwhile, combine sugar, egg and 1 tsp salt in a bowl, whisking until sugar dissolves. Refrigerate until required. Process flour and butter in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Gradually add chilled egg mixture, pulsing to combine. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface, bring pastry together with the heel of your hand, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (1½-2 hours). Roll pastry out between 2 sheets of baking paper to a 30cm-diameter circle and place on a baking paper-lined oven tray. Refrigerate overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 170C. For frangipane, beat butter in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Combine icing sugar, almond meal and flour in a separate bowl and, with motor running, gradually add to butter until completely combined. Add egg, beating well to combine, then slowly beat in dark rum.

3. Spread frangipane over prepared pastry, leaving a 3cm border. Lay figs on top, cut-side up, fold in pastry border, pleating as you go, then scatter with vanilla sugar. Bake until light golden (25-30 minutes). Reduce oven to 160C, scatter with raspberries and bake until golden (15-20 minutes). Serve with extra raspberries and crème fraîche.

Note Vanilla sugar is available in the baking section of most supermarkets.

March 14, 2009

Bistro Vue

Dining Date: March 2009

2009 Rating: Not in top 100

Chef: Shannon Bennett

Location: 430 Little Collins Street (off New Chancery Lane), Victoria

YAY! Melbourne Food and Wine Festival time! One of my favourite time of the year, and you know what that means, great lunches for responsible prices!! This year I have the chance to eat at two great restaurants, with Bistro Vue being the first. Originally I couldn't get a booking, but luckily someone had to cancel and I was offered a table. It always pays to be on the waiting list!

So what was on offer for 2009?

Lets start with the wine. The red was a 2005 Dalzotto Barbera from the King Valley in Victoria and the white was a 2008 Quealy 'Senza Nome' Tocai Friulano from the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria.

Wine anyone?

The first course was a 'Tarte a la Tomate' (Tomato Tart). From what I could tell, it was a very crispy piece of pastry with thinly sliced tomatoes placed on top. Green lefty salad, crumbled pieces of mild feta (?) with a drizzle of olive/olive oil puree. I didn't expect to eat anything that would particularly knock my socks off, for two reasons really 1) it was a set menu of $35 for two courses, so simplicity was on offer and 2) Bistro Vue prides itself on delivering french classics, so I interpreted this as...simplicity on offer. And that's exactly what they did, simple dishes but done really well. This tomato tart tasted like summer itself (too bad it seemed like it was a cold Melbourne winter day today!). It looks pretty straight forward, so I'm going to try to recreate it some point.

Tomato Tart

Right, second course. 'Coq au Riesling' (chicken with white wine sauce....I'm guessing Riesling hehehe). On the very bottom, there was a very buttery and absolutely awesome mash potato, then the chicken sitting on top, with a crispy piece of prosciutto, pan fried mushroom a couple of cherry tomatoes (left whole) and to finish the dish a rich white wine sauce. This dish was delicious. Exactly what I needed really. While in Queensland, we ate alot of very complicated and rich dishes, this chicken dish was real comfort food to me so I thoroughly enjoyed it! Even Daz joked next time we come we should just have 2 courses of the main course. 

Chicken with White Wine Sauce

We had the choice to have dessert for an extra $12, but we decided not to. I was verging on very full and eating dessert would have made me uncomfortably full. So to end the meal, we had coffee with canelle's (tiny little orange flavoured muffins). I love canelle's! I need to find me some moulds so I can drive myself crazy making them.

On the way out I thought I would take a picture of the passage way wall. The last time I was at Vue de Monde this wall was actually functional, they would grow some of their herbs here, unfortunately now they are little pots filled with ivy. Sigh.

The Wall of Pots


March 2, 2009

A Short Break...


First of all I would just like to say thank you to all of you who have stopped by and read this blog, it makes my hobby that much more enjoyable knowing people actually like what I write.

I will be away for the next week or so on assignment on the Gold Coast. When I say assignment, I mean more like a holiday which involves eating, and when I say the Gold Coast, I mean more the general Queensland area. Hopefully I will be doing a whole heaps of eating (I have my reservations and hot tips in tow), a whole heap of frolicking in the sun, and possibly some throwing up on amusement rides (ride first - eat later). 

When I get back I planned on burning the keyboard up with all the tales I will have to tell. 

So stay tuned!