When I go out for dinner I like a glass of wine. Or a glass and a half to be precise. Yet in Brisbane it is very hard to find restaurants happy to serve a half glass of wine. For me, the advantages are clear why the half glass should feature on all good wine lists.
For the restaurateur it adds to the average wine spend, and for for diners, a glass and a half is a comfortable amount to drink and remain under the limit. It also allows you to try different wines and to match your wine to your course. I like to have a full glass of wine when I arrive and then order a half glass to match my main course.
New Farm Food operatives eat out often and always ask the question ‘can I have a half glass of wine?’. The recent strike rate is not good. So in the spirit of accentuating the positive, New Farm Food Stories initial Glass Half Full Award goes to – The Continental Cafe.
They’re French, they have a loyal clientele and they serve a half glass.
The campaign to embed the half glass starts today. Next time you are dining out, ask the question and begin to implant the idea in the minds of more restaurants. To kick along the campaign from next week we will start to name some of the refusniks. And please, send through your nominations for the Glass Half Full Award.
Two things make me happy – carefully prepared food and high quality ingredients. Double Shot owners Michael DeLaurence and Ross Skinner bring this ethos and more to their new cafe in Oxlade Drive, New Farm. Opened in March 2012, Michael and Ross transformed a small coffee stop into a 35 seat cafe serving breakfast and lunch six days a week.
Michael and Ross come from a background of high end dining, most recently Dish in Byron Bay which they sold two years ago. Before that they ran Utopia in Bangalow and from 1994 to 2003 well known gourmet retreat Taylor’s Country House at Byron Bay. This experience is evident in the professionalism in which they manage the kitchen and front of house at Double Shot.
Explaining their new venture, Michael said, ‘We made a deliberate choice to go from high end to small, neighbourhood and community minded.’ Already they have built a loyal customer base with many locals coming in a couple of times a day, and others dropping by to pick up some of Michael’s pastries and desserts to take home. In many ways the menu is tailored to the space. ‘We reorganised this tiny space to make it workable and the menu is oriented to the facilities. We wanted to do little with the food and the better quality the easier this is,’ Michael said.
All of the food is made in-house by Michael with a menu that is high on flavour and quality. Dishes are produce driven and deftly put together. For breakfast there is a range of home made croissant, Danish and muffins (4.50) as well Turkish toasties with fillings such as mushrooms, provolone, spinach and fried egg ($8.50). For a more substantial breakfast there is poached, fried or scrambled egg with bacon and tomato (14.50), a Croque Madam with a poached egg and onion marmalade ($14.50), and for the adventurous, Indonesian sticky black rice with banana and coconut milk.
For lunch, diners can choose from a range of gourmet sandwiches ($10.50), salads such as Thai Chicken Salad ($16.50) and an asparagus, harlequin tomatoes, basil and buffalo mozzarella salad ($14.50). There is also a deli board filled with delights such as prosciutto, fennel seed and garlic salami, olives, roast peppers and eggplant, chick pea puree and buffalo mozzarella with warm baguette ($18.50). For those with room left, there is the array of Michael’s home made tarts and pastries, Rocky Road or shortbread. The coffee is Abrisca.
Double Shot is a local community cafe with all of the quality and flavours of high end dining. Double happiness indeed.
My friend Bronwyn is a woman of a thousand ideas. Here is one of them.
The Demi Degustation
Degustation menus are increasingly popular with more and more restaurants. They allow the restaurant to showcase their best dishes, and for the diner, it is an opportunity to increase their food and wine knowledge through the matching recommended by the restaurant. The downside is that degustation menus are often quite expensive and the amount of food can be overwhelming.
Enter the demi degustation (or DD). The principles of the demi degustation menu are the same but on a smaller scale. The menu would be the equivalent of a two and a half course meal spread over four smaller courses and matched with four half glasses of wine. The DD has many advantages:
tourists would find it easy to order and to be educated about Australian food and wine
it allows younger diners to become knowledgeable about food and wine without the social awkwardness of not knowing how to order
diners will know at the start of the evening how much their dinner will cost and it allows diners of all budgets to experience degustation, not just the high end of the market
wine knowledge and consumption is increased as diners get the chance to expand their experience by trying new matches such as dessert wine.
The DD is perfectly suited for food tourism areas such as the Barossa Valley. It would allow visitors to experience the best of the district. In the long term, participating restaurants could have a DD symbol on their door to alert patrons to the availability of the Demi Degustation.
If you would like to support the Demi Degustation, please talk to local restaurateurs about the idea and let us get some momentum behind this innovative idea..
Stradbroke Island, across Moreton Bay from Brisbane, sits in the middle of a fish highway. From June to September the whales pass by, and all year dolphins’ surf off Frenchman’s beach and sharks stalk schools of fish off the Point. What the sharks don’t get, the trawlers do, with the Island supporting a fishing and oyster industry. It is this access to fresh seafood which forms the basis of eating on Stradbroke.
A holiday on Stradbroke Island is laid back and simple with food shopping on the Island pretty basic. There is a butcher at Dunwich and at Point Lookout a supermarket, bakery and a small general store, the Green Room. The fare is more white bread and neenish tarts than organic sourdough and sheep’s cheese, however the Fruit Barn on the East Coast Road at Dunwich have a good deli range for those who can’t live without truffle infused olive oil for a week.
For me, food on Stradbroke is about simplicity and freshness with the meals based around what the trawlers bring in that day. The best place for fresh seafood is Mal Starkey’s onTramican Street. At the moment, they have winter whiting, squid and prawns. The squid is large and fresh and the cold weather tends to something warming – a Greek Squid Stew.
Greek Squid Stew
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 cup white wine
½ tin tomatoes
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
To prepare the squid, chop off the tentacles below the head (try to avoid the ink sac) and put them aside. Pull out the head and the rest of the stomach. Feel at the back and pull out the backbone, which feels like a length of plastic. Wash the rest of the stomach contents from the tube and cut the squid into1 cmrounds.
Put some olive oil in a medium sized pan and gently fry the onion and the garlic. Turn up the heat slightly and add the chopped squid (including the tentacles) and cook quickly until it turns pink. Add the white wine and turn down the heat until the wine is slightly reduced. Add in half a tin of chopped tomatoes and the tomato paste. Simmer uncovered for another 30 minutes until the squid is tender.
Squeeze in the lemon juice and add the parsley. I serve this with rice and a salad. Serves four.
Most of my friends are good cooks and for lunch in summer we all produce versions of Gordon’s Salad. Gordon is an artist, cook and gardener and can be relied on to come back from the beach and hop into the kitchen to easily put this salad together. Here is his recipe.
Gordon’s Prawn Salad
1kg large prawns
1 mango (sliced)
2 cups of baby spinach
Kaffir lime leaves (finely chopped)
11/2 limes juiced
1 tbsp of fish sauce
1 tsp brown sugar or 1 cube of palm sugar
Peel and place the prawns on a large platter. Slice the mango and add to the prawns with the spinach. Add in the finely sliced kaffir lime leaf and lots of coriander. Mix the ingredients for the dressing together and then mix through the salad. Place on the table, pour a beer and dig in. Serves four.