Saturday, December 31, 2005
Bloody hell. All I wanted was tempura mushrooms, not mushrooms with the shit battered out of them. Once upon a time, wee little Georgie Weston could stand at the Huon Valley Tempura Mushroom stall at Taste and wait in line while fresh little mushrooms were turned out for hungry little diners like me. They were so popular that sometimes I had to wait to have my mushrooms made fresh on the spot. They were sweet, juicy, and scrummo! So last night, on a nostalgic whim, I returned to dig into some tempura mushrooms.
These were not tempura mushrooms. These were battered mushrooms. They were hideous.
Thank god I had the Lalla Gully (pinot grigio this time) to save the day.
p.s. Have a great New Years Eve tonight … might see you at the Taste for a glass of bubbles.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
(With thanks to www.hobartsummerfestival.com.au, from whom I stole the photo)
Friday, December 23, 2005
"He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself; A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread; He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk, And laying his finger aside of his nose, And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose; He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, And away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight, "HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT."
Merry Christmas to all,
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Kicked off with a dozen natural oysters - plump and sea-water fresh - while hoeing into a great bottle of D'Arenberg cabernet. Followed this up with prawn and pumpkin risotto and kangaroo. The roo was tender and juicy and the risotto was great. My tip: unless suffering severe malnutrition, order entree sizes for both courses. Serving sizes are very generous here.
In a nutshell, Teef is a pretty great venue all round. It can get noisy inside on weekends in summer, which makes outdoor dining a must unless you like that kind of noisy ambience. The menu is usually peppered with tempting options and the food doesn't disappoint (well, has never disappointed me anyway). Love the staff, love the winelist, even love their coffee!
Friday, December 16, 2005
Can I just say, if you can't bitch about your family at Christmas time, when can you???
Anyway, since even my closest friends confused the pink background (and then green, if you missed it) for a whole new website (keep with the program people!), I have decided to return to the classic black. Maybe the whole thing was just my reaction to the lack of Christmas spirit in Hobart this year.
Last year I recall complaining about the over-abundance of Christmas demands. This year, one week from Christmas, I'm finding myself asking one simple question (to the strains of a very bad 80s song):
... do they know it's Christmas time at all? ...
Anyway, the tree is up, the pavolva recipe (mine NEVER fails!) is at the ready, and the cat is completely distressed. All systems are go.
I'll be back before Christmas, but in case you're not ... Have a great festive season, drink too much, eat too much, and strain many muscles laughing!
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Went to dinner at the home of my nemesis, cousin Sonya last night. Sonya was always a shit, but now I've realised some people really have no clue where food comes from!
To start things off I was offered a vodka lime & soda. Nice one! Except, the "lime" was that pretend lime juice out a green plastic bottle. Ok Georgie, I said to meself, stop being fussy. Smile and drink the bloody drink.
I drank the drink (cue cat's-arse facial expression).
Next on the menu was dip and crackers. The crackers were corn chips - Mexican flavour (blechh!) and the dip was Coles brand avocado. I am yet to come across a major label dip that doesn't taste like pencil shavings, seriously.
Deep breath, Georgie, she's promised a bbq, how bad can that be?
Well. Out came the frozen burgers. Microwaved before going on the hotplate, of course. The salad came out of a bag, the dressing came out of a bottle, the potato salad came out of a Coles deli tub. Not a single item in the meal was made with fresh ingredients (unless you count vodka!).
It's not that I'm a real food snob, and we all know I'm as much a lazy cow as the next bovine wench, but I just can't understand how some people have no perception of the taste of food. It's not cheaper to buy frozen burgers, they taste like cardboard, and they are full of all sorts of shit. And if you're too lazy to make your own burgers Sonya, what's wrong with a bloody lamb chop or a freaking sausage?
The worst thing about my cousin Sonya is that she thinks she's a great hostess (bless her). The best thing about being Sonya’s cousin is I can dob to Gran, who will tell Auntie Flo, who tell kick Sonya's sorry arse!
Aaah, family. Don't you just love Christmas time?
GW the HRB
p.s. Clearly not over the shocking pink yet. Loved your reaction, Stephen. Don't worry, it won't last much longer. You know how novelties are.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Tee hee, I've been playing with my settings. Don't worry, I'll get over the geek-tweeking soon and go back to my old sombre self. In the meantime, I've been doing some lateral thinking about Jack's shop ... think I've got it sussed.
Look out Jack, I'm comin'.
Friday, December 09, 2005
I'm a big fan of Pim ... she's a chick with my kind of lifestyle (I wonder if she's real???). Lots of jet-setting to sample all kinds of food in all kinds of places, friends all over the world, a seemingly endless dinner party! And a never-ending funding source by the look of it too! http://chezpim.typepad.com/blogs/
This is a semi-formal site with a bit of marketing, a bit of reviewing, a bit of consumer education. A bit sensible for me, but you might like it. http://www.accidentalhedonist.com/
The Stained Apron
Gotta love this site, it's the food industry's turn to do what we do ... have a good bitch ... except of course, they're bitching about us! Mostly waiters, but every now and then the odd chef gets to have a rave too. Love it. http://www.stainedapron.com/
Gone but not forgotten ...
I really love these sites, but sadly they are closed for business. Trawl through the archives, they're great for a chuckle.
Thoughts from my Anus
Gotta just love this site for its name. Better yet, it's a total piss-take on a Melbourne-based conservative who has a column in one of the papers over there. It's a cheeky tongue-in-cheek cack, just a shame it's time out there was cut so short. http://thoughtsfrommyanus.blogspot.com/
Things I Hate About My Flatmate
I discovered this site about two weeks before it shut down, but now to my surprise there is some action again. Hurrah! The current entry about a B&B is rather chuckle worthy, but check out the archive to read up on this dudes experiences with his flatmate. Funny, with cool images. http://ihatemyflatmate.blogspot.com/2005/12/some-replies.html#comments
Sadly, not many Australian sites to report (naturally, the only Australian site has the word "anus" in the title!). But I'm sure you'll all send me some suggested Aussie sites to waste pressures hours on.
Cheers for now,
Monday, December 05, 2005
Had lunch with the girls at Irish Murphy's. Not my choice. They do a $10 lunch special which includes a meal such as fish and chips or a chicken wrap and a free soft drink or coffee (woo hoo). The fish and chips were rather too oily, and I spent the next hour or two wishing I'd abstained. The soft drink was fizzy though (again, woo hoo).
Apparently the birthday girl hangs out at Irish all the time, hence her choice of birthday lunch location. I really must vet my friends a bit better.
The sad thing about taking a sickie when nobody else has, is you risk being the only booze hag at the table. Oh, the inner conflict!
Once I ditched my rather too sober friends I headed to Lansdowne Cafe in West Hobart for a catch up with Gran (I'm such a softie). I love Gran and I love Lansdowne Cafe. In fact, I love Lansdowne Cafe so much I think I'll move in. Yummy muffins, sexy lookin' menu, yummy coffee, very friendly service and groovy environs. Hurrah for the new wave of venues away from the cbd.
Next port of call was to meet up with my not-so-secret admirer at T42. We sipped a delicious cabernet (sorry, he paid, I've no idea what it was) while being entertained by a flock of Leavers in their formal attire and orthodontics. Gorgeous to a one. Particularly loved the girls who rocked up in the fire engine with sirens blaring. (And bah humbug to the shazza behind me who barked "My taxes are paying for that!" ... what an idiot).
Rounded the evening off with dinner at Sens (Peking Duck rolls, prawn dumplings, tofu rolls, vegetable dumplings). YUM. And what a reasonably priced wine list! We paid $15.50 for a bottle of D'Arenberg Stump Jump. Cool.
A balmy evening was finished off at home with more wine, some great King Island cheddar, and much smooching.
I love summer!
Sunday, November 27, 2005
I wonder how long it will take me to get lost.
Neil Perry designs the Qantas inflight menus for Business and First Class. I don't know if Neil also designs the cattle class menu, but by mere association he should hang his head in shame. I know there isn't a sweaty, cranky Neil Perry beavering away at the rear of my aircraft hand-crafting my lunch. Nor is he sweating his crack off in the Qantas kitchen gulag. But poor ol' Neil probably bashes his head daily against the bathroom mirror in fear of his name being linked to the mess just served up to me under the pseudonym "Honey Coriander Chicken".
Don't worry Neil, if I wake at 3am with stomach cramps and a serious dose of the shits, I'll be sure to call Qantas, not you.
To distract myself from the queasy feeling of the horrid chicken trying to find a home in my guts, I engage in entertaining thoughts about mid-air security. In my right hand, a plastic knife. Sensible. In my left hand, a steel fork. In front of me, a glass bowl.
Never thought I'd say it, but Amanda Vanstone and I seem to have something in common. We've seen through the "apparition of security" provided by plastic knives. Just as well I'm not prone to violence or mid-air hijackery. Wouldn't want to get any ideas about putting someone's eye out with that fork or smashing that glass bowl and doing a mischief with some broken glass.
But at least I won't be stabbing anyone with my plastic knife. Unless I discover who cooked that bloody chicken!
GW the HRB
The recruitment ad said Grape will be a wine bar and specialist bottle shop. It looks like Grape will step into the old Zum site (I'm guessing from the address listed on the ad, but correct me if I'm wrong).
A dedicated wine bar and bottle shop for Salamanca? About bloody time!
So all you shit-hot wine hounds out there. Get you arse down to Grape and grab those jobs by the horns (you have to turn up at Grape at 5-ish on Monday night).
And hurry up about it, I'm thirsty.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Last year I went into conniptions at the opening of Jean Jacques on Goulburn St (near corner of Molle St). And I sing to the hills every time I have any of their delectable little tarts or their scrumptious breads (have been known to scoff a whole loaf in a day, but don't tell anyone!). But alas their coffee is sad. Latest little tattle tale told of being served a "short black" that was actually a long black in a small cup. Gasp!
But, Jean Jacques promises to be a patisserie, not a cafe.
So, Lansdowne Cafe, as you are not promising to be a patisserie, a boulangerie, a bum-crackery, or a knackery, but indeed a CAFE, I'm afraid I'm getting my hopes up.
I'm waiting with bated breath!
Friday, November 18, 2005
Just got back from the Velure gig at Trout. Meagre crowd, but they got into it. And well they should. As I mentioned the other day, Velure are a tasty mix of Massive Attack and George, with a nice touch of Portishead thrown in for good measure.
Oh, and Mercury-music-reviewer-whose-name-I've-so-easily-forgotten ... Velure are indeed a live band. Having heard the CD first (and yes, I've heard them live before), there live sound is as fresh and hypnotic as the CD is intoxicating.
Think you've missed out? Saturday 5-7pm at Syrup and Sunday arvo at the Lewisham. Get there. I don't care if you have to sell your grandmother's soul to the devil. Just do it.
Failing that, their CD "Care for Fading Embers" is available from Tracks Music in Murray St or Aroma in Elizabeth St. If they don't have it in stock (clearly they could have sold out), get them to order it in from Shock Records. Then slap them for not having more in stock!
And for their next tour, lets get the bloody Uni Bar and the Republic on side!
GW (music review impostor extraordinaire!)
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Summer’s coming (can you feel it?), and I’d like to reflect on a few of my favourite things:
- Sitting in the sun sipping champagne or coffee
* T42 (wins hands down) – Elizabeth Pier
* Blue Skies (gasp) – Murray St waterfront
- Making a pig of myself in a fancy frock with nice shoes
* Marque IV – Elizabeth Wharf
* Stillwater River Café - Launceston
- Making a pig of myself in jeans and a t-shirt
* Mai Ake – Elizabeth St, Nth Hobart
* Mmmm, struggling, ummm, my house?
- Making a pig of myself on holidays
* Franklin Manor - Strahan
* Supper Inn – Celestial Lane, Melbourne
* Dish – Cnr Johnson and something Sts, Byron Bay
* Matterhorn – Cuba St, Wellington (more on that later!)
- Lunching lazily on a Sunday with a hangover
* Yum Cha at Sens – Elizabeth St, North Hobart
* Fish and Chips from Mykonos (with Nan's home-made tomato sauce) on the floor at home
- Having a “meeting” (aka Liquid Lunch)
* Blue Skies (for location)
* Henry Jones Atrium (if it’s raining) – Hunter St
- Having an orgasm
* No details necessary – just seeing if you’re paying attention
- Having a blood red steak
* Hill St Butcher and then cooked at home
- Friday night DVD and take away
* Butter Chicken from Little India and something stupid like “Dude where’s my car”
* Sushi platter from Orizuru and something sci-fi like “Minority Report”
* Chilli Prawn Fettucine from Paesano (and don’t “pae-lease” me again, it’s still good!) and something cool like “The Incredibles”
- Mad nights with friends
* Group booking Yum Cha and karaoke (oh the shame) at The Loft / Aromas of Asia – Galleria Arcade, Salamanca ... followed by dancing like Kath Day-Knight at Syrup
* Dinner parties at my place (tomorrow night, beef rib roast, bottles of Craigie Knowe Cab Sav … you’re all invited!)
Feel free to add your faves.
By the way ... Haul your arse to Trout in North Hobart tomorrow (Friday) night, Syrup on Saturday arvo, or Lewisham Tavern on Sunday to check out Velure. Saw them live in Melbourne, way cool, my fave of the mo' (cross between George and Massive Attack). Wish they were playing somewhere I could engage in a gorgeous cocktail to suit the Velure mood.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Well. Bugger me. I thought it was good food and great service that predicted the viability of restaurants, either individually or as an industry.
I know it's tough out there in restaurant land, and the GST hasn't helped. But I would have thought that those restaurants who run a tight ship, hire good staff, and use the best of produce (and yes, charge us appropriately .... note the use of the word 'appropriately' here) should have nothing to fear from the dining public. If you're good, we'll come. And then we'll come again. The ability to fire at will and push one-sided workplace agreements should not come into the equation.
But what do I know?
Friday, November 11, 2005
On the first occasion I almost choked on my coffee while you yelled at one of your waitresses in front of a full house at the Nose Bag. You might think your punters consider this acceptable behaviour, but I certainly haven’t been back as a direct result (although your coffee wasn’t that great either).
The second time was the other week at T42. There you sat, arm draped over the back of your chair like Christopher Walken in a really bad movie, coolly tearing a pale and helpless-looking girl to pieces. She looked totally crumpled and completely defeated. Other T42-ers nearby looked decidedly uncomfortable with your very public display. My most recent meandering past the Nose Bag saw you and the crumpled girl behind the counter. Do you treat all your staff like this?
In case you’re wondering, Nose Bag Dude, you are recognisable. Oh, and you are a classic example of a narcissistic middle aged man lording it over vulnerable young women who for whatever reason can’t fight back.
I hope it makes you feel good about yourself, tough guy.
p.s. If you find yourself in Lower Sandy Bay (Nutgrove/Long Beach) and feeling peckish, visit the Beach House Bar & Café under the Beach House apartments. Great spot to sit in the sun and plot the liberation of the Nose Bag girls.
Monday, October 31, 2005
This site started as a pissed experiment, mere musings that I thought would never see the light of day. Boy was I wrong. I think being chastised by Daniel Leesong from Tourism Tas was one highlight. Being courted by Tim Cox of ABC Radio was another. What a year it’s been!
Initially there were shouts of wonder from those amazed that someone else was speaking their thoughts aloud. Every now and then some tanties have been thrown (and you know I don’t respond to tanties). More recently some delicious banter has sprung up between regular visitors (nay, contributors) to the site.
But after 12 months we’ve seen few changes. Mostly the same restaurants with the same variations on a theme (the theme is “Windmills of my Mind”, I’m sure). Between us we’ve grumbled and moaned, to no avail. All we manage to stir up is the occasional snipey comments from a few kitchen hands furiously proud of their establishments. Well good on you.
We still bang on, punters united far and wide. We have hungry mouths and sad lonely wallets. But tourist dollars still hold the power. Lucky for those who love a crumbed scallop.
I won’t kid you, I’ve considered shutting down the site many times. And one day I will. But one year is only one baby step. I wonder what the “terrible twos” will be like!
Happy dining, and long live freedom of speech!
GW … with all my love
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
When I was a wee slip of a bitch, I had my only experience waiting tables in a taco joint. In this humble establishment I was taught to wait until the customer had finished their entree before advising the kitchen it was ok to commence preparing the main.
I was not taught (even in a taco joint) to ask the customer:
"Have you finished your oysters yet?"
"Because your next course is ready."
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Coffee at Amulet
Food at Raincheck
Call me perverse.
Coffee at Amulet was very good. Excellent in fact. I took advantage of the late afternoon sun and the fags in my handbag to sip al fresco. Tres nice. Do I think it tops Aroma? Mmmm, no but only because I really like the whole Aroma concept, and that plus good coffee is a good package.
My meal was absolutely atrocious. And I am really sorry to say that, because I think they are trying hard. Pink Ling should be thick and sweet, not thin and bitter. The night I was there I heard someone at another table complain about the fish, so it's not just me and my unqualified taste buds. And I'm never impressed by fries that look like McCain Crinkle Cut Home Fries. It's a subtle thing, but it speaks volumes.
But, and this is a good but (nothing like a good but), the cocktails at Raincheck are excellent. Try their English Country Garden on a balmy evening. Fucking awesome. Maybe Raincheck should morph into a cocktail bar with a good light meal/snack menu. This would be something they could manage very well. As it stands now, I will certainly go back to Raincheck time and again for the cocktails. As for the food and the coffee ... prove me wrong Raincheck, I'd like to see you succeed.
Monday, October 10, 2005
Anyway (big sigh) ...
I've been on a mission to try some coffee on 'the strip' and here's what I've discovered:
Zum - better than the original. A very small enclave for coffee lovers and sweet tooths alike. My tip would be to grab a street-side seat when the sun is shining (late afternoon?). Speaking of Zum, rumours have it that (a) the old site is to be taken over by a restaurant/club (cool concept), and (b) Zum Salamanca will resurface next door in the old photolab space.
Aroma - is it a record shop, is it a cafe? I love it here, and having just discovered the rear courtyard (which catches lovely morning sun), I have redoubled my efforts to visit Aroma. They do great coffee and the food is rather delish too (my favourite is the avocado on toast - so simple, so yum). The real challenge is to escape Aroma without giving in to the temptation to buy some funky CD (so far I'm not winning).
Raincheck Lounge - Heard good stuff about food and coffee when these guys first opened. Coffee is inconsistent (very bitter today). Last time I was there I sat outside with a menu in my hand, eventually realising the staff had forgotten me. The temptation to partake in a cocktail left and so did I.
Would have contemplated giving Amulet a run for their over-confident coffee-making money today, but they were closed (obviously there is a God!).
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Monday, September 26, 2005
The thing about Maldini is that at first glance it is a classy old building with funky big colours on the wall. The second thing about Maldini is that it doesn't pay to look too closely. An overdose of men's bodies with red shirts flapping from their heads adorned the walls, along with a very ugly Venetian festival image and an even uglier red Venetian mask. Sometimes I think plain sandstone has a lot going for it.
The menu was fairly standard, although a couple of interesting options stood out. Couldn't resist the chargrilled sardines on a caremelised onion tart. Really tasty. Actually, really big flavours. It was classed as an entree (although you can order it as a main size). I can't imagine that anyone could face a second course after the robustness of this dish. I liked it, but glad I wasn't staring down the barrel of pork chops or an eye fillet to follow.
I knew I was ordering a tastebud-busting dish, so ordered a garden salad to break it up a bit. Unfortunately, the salad seemed to be last night's antipasto left-overs tossed through some salad mix. It was tart and sweet and completely wrong. As there was no alternative to provide a bit of flavour freshness, this was flavour over-kill and very disappointing.
On a positive note, my eyes greedily followed plates of seafood pasta around the room all night. I spied big mussels, clams, prawns, and so on jutting perkily from bowls of herb-tossed pasta. Defintely worth going back to try these dishes on for size.
Verdict: Maldini passes muster foodwise (except for that stupid salad), but food service was very slow (the very professional and friendly waitstaff looked as frustrated as I was), and interior decor could do with an overhaul. Coffee was better than I remember. I'll go back to try the seafood pasta.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
The décor is tastefully Japanese, as is the sushi chef! He handed me a menu and I found a range of sushi was available. I ordered the mixed maki (nori rolls). It was made fresh while I waited. Mr Kawasemi (not his real name, I’m sure) handed me my 14 pieces and asked for $10 in return. Fair exchange I thought. And being a Japanese Tea House, sushi is not the sole focus at Kawasemi. There are Japanese curries and all sorts of stuff. And let’s face it, any Japanese menu that has a whole page devoted to Japanese desserts has to be interesting (coffee jelly for example!).
Now, here are my instructions:
Go to Kawasemi immediately. Have a look at the menu, order something that takes your fancy. Then book your staff Christmas function, your bah mitzvah, or your wake. Tell your friends, tell your enemies. I think it’s awesome that something as authentic as this is available in Moonah.
Well done Kawasemi-san!
(Actually Kawasemi is Japanese for Kingfisher)
Kawasemi Japanese Tea House
109 Main Rd Moonah
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Thursday, September 15, 2005
"Do they do good seafood there?" I asked, never having had the pleasure.
"Oh yeah, it's alright," he said.
He then went on to talk about "that place down by the water, what's it called, you know the one ..."
"Mure's?" I ventured.
"Yeah, that one." He said he took a lady there some time ago for a treat.
"That's pretty special," I said, "what did you think?"
"I reckon it's not all it's cracked up to be."
Couldn't help but laugh. Happy birthday mate.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Coffee duly arrived and I sipped away. It was inoffensive and warm. Not very hot, not very great. But I smiled as I sipped, recalling the recent accusation of my 'McDonald's taste in coffee'.
Today's coffee at Retro: Better than McDonald's, but barely indistinguishable from Hudson's. Oh alright, that's harsh. The milk wasn't frothed to within an inch of its life.
p.s. I think my taste may have matured a wee frad ... I no longer heart Hudson's, although I remain a coffee guts ... in case you were wondering.
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Across the road from the cop shop in Oatlands is the Redback Gallery and Espresso. Noice knitted scarves, interesting glassware, a bit of jewellery, etc, etc. The chick behind the counter is very friendly (and a bit of a radio personality on Midlands FM I hear). She makes good coffee and serves it with little yummies (most recently amaretto macaroons). As a bonus, local characters lounge about the place making for entertaining eaves-dropping.
All in all, well worth the stop.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
And I spy with my little eye a sushi bar about to open next to the BP. Hurrah!
Happy first of spring, as the weather improves so does my appetite. And you know what that means!
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Bloody oath. Obviously I'm the tortoise, not the hare in the culinary race in ol' Hobart town.
However, there is a silver (chrome?) lining. I've seen the ads for the little "Japanese tea house" in Moonah. And I reckon we should all check it out.
I'll race ya!
GW the HRB
Friday, August 26, 2005
Too early for the famed Meyjitte Boughenout effort at Q1 (yet-to-be-completed tallest residential building in the galaxy). But, a fairly decent yum cha (by GC standards) can be had at Mandarin Court in Mermaid Beach. I heard a rumour that there is a very groovy cafe in an old 50s beachhouse (apparently there are 50s costumes for diners to dress up in if desired), but alas I couldn't find it before I left. Next time.
Degustation challenge - Byron Bay
Thought I'd challenge Byron's best to see if they could make my guts explode. Came close!
1. If you believe the awards in the window, Fins on the waterfront at the Beach Hotel (co-owned by Strop and Delvene Delaney I'm unreliably informed) would be the front-runner. I've been to Fins a number of times, but usually only for post-cheap meal dessert or wine and cheese. Service on this occasion was sadly not up to usual standards. Dishes were plonked down politely in front of us, but with no explanation as to what it was we were eating. Given that I'd made my mind up to be utterly 'degusting' before I arrived, I hadn't memorised the menu. It was a bit like eating blind. Food was good, but the experience was overall a bit of a let down.
2. Take two was at Dish. Ah Dish. I love Dish. I think I could live at Dish. They have the BEST cocktails - try an affotini (espresso martini) or the martini with apple liqueur and cardamom-infused vodka. Yes please! And while you're in the mood to be a boozy lounge lizard, Dish has lovely raised cushioned platforms for you to loll about on. Magic. Anyway - the degustation: This was where I came closest to a Mr Creosote moment. Just a wafer-thin waffle and I would have been guts galore! Food was ace, service was brilliant, my only complaint would be that there was perhaps too much food (fish dishes were spectacular, duck was divine, and the lamb shoulder was wonderful, so I'm not sure which dish I'd scrap - bugger it, have 'em all!).
3. While in Byron we also ate at Olivo. I loved it, but the bloke thought it was a bit of a yawn. Check it out for yourself. Highlight ... as an appetiser, oven-warmed olives were served with our pre-dinner drinks. Very classy.
Next stop - Sydney
All I can say about Sydney is: I love Macleay St Bistro. And if that waiter smiled at me like that one more time I just might have disgraced myself.
I have fond memories of Canberra. This trip soon took care of that. Ate at some groovy-looking place in a groovy-looking laneway (Cafe Essen? Something like that). The food looked good (pasta with roast vegetables), but was overly oily and the pasta was stuck together. Couldn't find a decent bar to save myself. Spent three days in our nation's capital feeling completely shitty! The bloody Lakeside Hotel did nothing to improve my mood.
Had the yummiest prawn and lobster ravioli at the Terminus Hotel in Richmond. It was a surprise to me too! My buddy had lamb shanks that easily rivalled those available at Teef (sorry Jim). When in Melbourne I like to dine in shabby style at Supper Inn, preferably at around 1:00am. Kitchen usually closes around 2:30 in the morning, by which time the place is bursting with staff from other Chinese restaurants around Little Bourke St. Gotta be good with clientele like that. I recommend the live pipis and the pigeon (served with the head on). Then, if you're in the mood for a bit of a boogie, check out Transport. It's a three-story venue across the road from Flinders St Station (part of the Fed Square complex). Outrageously tacky 80s disco on the ground floor had me drunkenly serenading the security staff (while somehow avoiding being thrown out). On the top floor is a gorgeous (and incongruous) jazz lounge. Loved it. Another excellent post-Supper Inn bevvie can be found at the Supper Club near Treasury. You'll need someone in the know to take you there (the entry is marked only by a plain wooden door, no sign). And for memories of affotinis, Double Happiness serves a delightful Espresso Martini. Had a lovely lunch at The Deanery, and will eagerly head back there for dinner next time I'm in town.
Back to the apple isle and spent a couple of nights at Hatherley House in Launceston. I only have two words to describe the gorgeousness of Hatherley House .... honour bar!
Thanks for your patience while I was away. And thanks to Ninje for sticking up for my appalling taste and utter lack of credentials. Silly me, I thought having tastebuds was credential enough.
p.s. Due to recent spamming to the HRB comments section, there is now an extra step in adding comments to this site. You're clever bunnies, you'll figure it out.
Saturday, July 09, 2005
Last night was opening night at Marque IV on Elizabeth St Pier, next to T42. It has taken over the site of what was the abysmal Athena’s. Not sure I love the name, but ‘Marque’ is French for produce I was told, and the IV is in reference to being the fourth restaurant to occupy the site. Clever.
The menu is an exercise in torment. True to their name, it is produce driven, and local, local, local: Marrawah beef, Dootown venison, Spring Bay scallops, Macquarie Harbour ocean trout. There is squid ink risotto with baby abalone, duck, oysters, the list goes on. Choosing is almost impossible, and there are four courses to choose from: appetizers, entrées, mains, and dessert (entrées were around $16, mains were around $30). The better news is that not only is the menu enticing, these buggers can cook! The wine list is good and not over-priced.
Waiters were friendly, professional, and efficient, and knew their menu inside and out. Recommendations were spot on. I saw Jim from T42 buzzing about like a busy bee, and the spunky blonde guy from Teef (and from Brew as I’ve said previously) was also on hand. Do the Teef crew have their fingers in this little pie too?
The décor is rich and lush and warm. Burgundy, bronze, gold, with gorgeous and quirky details (such as a 50s conch shell lamp that I’m sure I saw the other week in a second hand shop). The feel is warm luxury. There is even moisturiser in the ladies loo.
All bets are off, I am no longer maintaining my neo-virginal status in anticipation of Meyjitte’s Hobart restaurant. Marque IV is my new love.
A truly divine dining experience, with the holy trinity of food, service, and ambience well and truly covered.
Well done, you rock!
Thursday, July 07, 2005
I had a rather interesting red (just the one glass, it was a 'business ladies lunch' after all) - it was Portuguese. Haven't had Portuguese wine before. Rather liked it. It smelt a bit like nail polish, but it was good in the mouth (ah, like so many things). Nice cherry 'finish', as they say. Added a lovely rosy glow to my cheeks.
The biggest problem I have with the menu at T42 is knowing what to order. I'm always stuck between two or three equally interesting choices. Was tossing up between ratatouille risotto and goats cheese and hazelnut ravioli. In the end I ordered the ravioli, because it was served with a sticky shiraz glaze (hmmmm, red wine on winter days and I'm anyone's). The entree size was plenty for me. It was tasty, and allowed the subtle flavours of the hazelnuts, the goats cheese, and the fresh pasta to come through the wine glaze. Yummo.
If only I could have spent the afternoon drinking, eating, talking. (Really, I'm beginning to think I have an oral fixation!)
Saturday, July 02, 2005
Boo hoo, where's Brenna gone?
We settled down on the verandah for coffees and muffins. The wicker chairs were still there, with their plump cushions. But inside the display of gorgeous teapots and pretty dishes and cups and saucers was greatly diminished. A sign said 50% off (better be quick). No more teapots. They will be replaced by "Tasmanian Craft" we were told. Oh.
There were some books on the counter (something about breaking bad food habits - whatever they might be), and a rather large Ganesh-style elephant with a great gob of resin for a teardrop from it's eye. It all smacked of something far too serious.
The good news is that there are little dainties to nibble on from Jean Pasqual. Bad news is the coffee seemed a little watery. But maybe this is just a teething problem. The service is warm and friendly, and the location is great (got to sit on the verandah, no matter what the weather). The sad shame is I only corrected someone the other day who accused me of having another favourite cafe with the reply "No, Satis is my favourite". Well, maybe it was Brenna who was my favourite.
Satis is still there, still pretty, still serving Chai Lattes. But it's just not the same. However I wish Satis the best of luck in its new guise. And I'm sure I'll get over my broken heart for the lovely Brenna. Eventually.
GW the HRB.
Monday, June 27, 2005
I was slumming on the couch at the lovely art deco Lido Apartments in Launceston. After far too many attacks on the mini bar, I was flicking lazily through the in-house directory. At the back I found some photocopied Launcestonian menus. I thumbed my way through the menus for Me Wah (must get back there to try their Peking Duck, looks good), the Prickly Cactus (must not get back there, ever), the something-or-other Brasserie (I will endeavour to remember their name and go there, the menu looked good), the Jailhouse Grill (where you can have your potatoes baked or as fries ... but fries cost extra), and The Metz.
And lo and behold, there was a little sign of gastronomic sabotage! On the first page of The Metz's menu was stuck a little note that read: Save yourself ... Avoid
ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
The author had gone on to leave a little note on each page of The Metz's menu commenting harshly on their service, their pizzas, even their Tabasco sauce!
ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
But it didn't end there. Under the first note was another, in a different hand, dated 25 May 2005. This one read: Maybe just 1 last chance before you write them off completely, I hear they've changed hands recently
I couldn't bring myself to remove the little missives. Maybe if I stay at the Lido again I'll find more. Maybe hotel directories world-wide will become little repositories for guests' thoughts on the establishments promoted therein. Ahhhhh, what a lovely world it would be.
I toddled off to dream gin-soaked dreams, chuckling all the way.
p.s. I thought the brasserie with the interesting sounding menu was called something like the Lawrence St Brasserie ... but can't find it listed.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
The coffee's good, and comes with a complementary mini-muffin. I didn't stay for lunch but the menu looks impressive and their display case contains all sorts of yummies: giant “Nanna” meatballs; filo bits; goats cheese stuff; muffins. And yes, they have chocolate brownies that look like they fell straight from heaven. Oh, AND the biggest bikkies I have ever seen (too big to fit in the bikkie barrel I was told!).
Dukkah is warm and groovy-lookin', with good music and a relaxed vibe. Nice friendly staff who deserve a bloody good go from the likes of us. I reckon Dukkah could be next on my list for "business ladies' lunches".
Monday, June 13, 2005
Elizabeth St, North Hobart
Fish and bloody chips. Trumped up bloody school cafeteria. Loud, clattering, find your own seat, order and pay at the counter. Oh, they also offer “take out”. (Maybe if you can’t afford your meal you could put it on “lay away” too.) I actually do not care how good or otherwise their fish and chips might be. I’m pissed off. North Hobart has lost one decent restaurant in Lickerish and what used to be a decent deli in the 7 Day Super Store, and what do we have in their place? Pizza and fish and chips. How bloody imaginative. Well done.
The tourists might like it, but as promised on 25 April, I am spewing!
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Anyway, on a road trip to the reunion, Romy and Michelle walk into a diner in their smart suits and ask the waitress if they have a "Business Woman's Special ... because we're business women". (They claim to have invented Post-It Notes, but that’s a whole 'nother pack of giggles).
So, when my girlie friends and I hop out for a rapid-fire one-hour lunch mid-week, I often find myself giggling, tempted to ask for the "Business Woman's Special". But being so restrained (and classy) I don't. But here are my recent efforts at Business Ladies' Lunches:
Knopwoods - food's been back on at Knoppy's for a while now (hurrah). The menu has recently changed and gone are the chilli mussels (boo hoo) to be replaced with nachos, chicken laksa, and a monster beef burger. I had the laksa the other day (very cheap, something like $7 or $9 - excuse my memory). It was presented in a small noodle bowl with a large layer of garnishes on top (bean spouts, fried onion, chopped egg, coriander, etc). The problem was that I found myself having to eat a layer of mulch before I could get to the laksa. This resulted in the laksa tasting bland cos all the yummy garnishes were gone. The laksa needs to be in a bigger bowl (not a bigger serve by any means, great value for the price) so that I can at least get my spoon into it and appreciate all the flavours as they were intended.
Blue Skies - Bet you never thought you'd see the day, but I had lunch at Blue Skies. And liked it, what's more. First day of winter, and I sat in the warm sunshine blissing out. Off came my coat, then my scarf. It was warm. First day of winter my arse! Lunch was pretty good. I'm not convinced that blue cheese and sugar snap peas are an ideal taste combination, and I'm not sure that it's kind to overwhelm succulent and sweet chunks of lobster with blue cheese sauce either. But you know what? It kinda worked. Maybe it was the sunshine, maybe it was just so ace to sit looking out over the water, sun streaming down on my cheeks. The dish was an entrée (around $17 – it was lobster after all) and very filling. But I tell you what; the two behutches who plonked themselves at the next table and complained about how hot it was sure shattered my spell. Whinge, whinge, bloody whinge!
Telegraph Hotel - The old Brooke St Bar goes by the more sophisticated moniker of The Telegraph Hotel these days. They've put some comfy couches into the dining section. I've eaten here three times. About six months or so ago I had a calamari salad that was abysmal (sorry, but the calamari was like rubber bands). A couple of weeks ago our table was served a cold lasagne and a cold soup (which were promptly nuked in the microwave when pointed out, but by then the mystique was gone), and then the other day I shared nachos that left me feeling the other side of well. The Tele is great for a Friday night bevvie (if you can wade past the hordes of lawyers and Hydro employees), but until proved otherwise, this is off my Business Ladies Lunch list.
Fish Frenzy - Have eaten here thrice. Twice having the smoked salmon salad (delicious) and once having the "seafood" chowder (if they'd called it fish soup with carrot and celery they would have been more on the money). Fish Frenzy's salads are definitely a goer. I'm not a huge fan of deep fried stuff, but their chips are great. Prices aren't bad and a good wine list.
Verdict: I would say that Knoppy's is the best value (and what a good venue for a winter lunch in front of that fantastic fire). But please, bring back the mussels; I'm having withdrawal symptoms!
Monday, June 06, 2005
Friday night it was butter chicken from Little India (cnr Harrington & Collins). I put butter chicken in the same category as chai lattes ... sweet and yummy, not real food at all. Cheap ($11 for a large without rice - prefer to cook my own) and such good comfort food on a cold and blustery Friday night.
Saturday was slightly more impressive. A sushi and sashimi platter (in fact "party plate #2") from Sakura in Sandy Bay. Since this place changed hands a while ago, the standard of sushi has gone up a few notches. It's no Orizuru, but it's not trying to be. Compared with some of Sakura's other platters, the #2 has more sashimi and nigiri and less "filler" California rolls. The more raw fish the better, I say. And good value ($38 and we were both stuffed). Washed it all down with a bottle of Wave Crest Riesling while watching "Lost in Translation" (the coincidence only striking me now).
Last night we tried Khaow Thai on Harrington Street. We had a coconut seafood soup and a green seafood curry. Excellent value at a total cost of $19 (including steamed rice), and enough to satisfy two little gluttons like us.
Speaking of gluttony, I know I said I was going to be good until Meyjitte gets to Hobart, but it was cold and I'm lazy. Three nights of take-away in front of the tellie (two sins at once - and who says I don't have a life!) Oh well. Tonight I think steamed vegies and brown rice are in order. Followed by various forms of self-flagellation (anyone got a birch switch I can borrow?).
Sunday, May 22, 2005
The food was, well, all I can say is ...
Oh my God, yes, yes, yes, YES!
And guess what, there will soon be multiple orgasms for all, cos the Boughenouts and their little ones are moving to Hobart. Hurrah! Get your credit card balances in order, keep you diary free, and get ready to add your name to what will no doubt be a lengthy waiting list. Rumour has it (in fact, it ain't rumour) that properties around Hobart have been eyed off (including the Elbow Room site). My heart is going pitty-pat as I write.
The sad news is that Strahan will lose its brightest star, which is a shame for such a stunning location. After Franklin Manor, Risby Cove is perhaps the next on Strahan's dining ladder. To compare these would be insufferably cruel. Risby Cove is not bad; the site is lovely and the staff are enthusiastic and friendly. Simplify the menu and you'll be apples.
But getting back to my culinary sex life: I'm going to try to be chaste and virtuous until Meyjitte opens his doors in Hobart, at which point I will attempt all seven deadly sins at one sitting. Woo hoo, can't wait!
Faithful correspondent Bingeing Ninja wrote:
Not often am I the first with news but...
Sign went up today (Friday) over old Baker's Delight shopfront in North Hobart. Looks like Zum is about to open a satellite store. Further along Elizabeth Street the new fish restaurant is taking shape and the bar area has gone in – they must of spent a motza all up (and no TV network to help 'em either). Pity about the sign featuring the vaguely cubist fish with "coming soon" below. We've been reading it as "ugly fish coming soon" for the last month and still snicker when passing by (what do they say small things amuse?). And Black Pepper is now open. Yes, I know *another* pizza place but at least they're sticking to just pizza and really Hobart could do with a decent pizza restaurant…. just whacking "gourmet", "wood fire" or "Sandy Bay" in front of a sod ordinary pie doesn't cut it. We shall see. Which reminds me….. am I the only one who finds the McCains new frozen "wood fire" ridiculously funny? And is the Canadian owner of Amulet really going to Bruny Island?
Keep up the good work
PS You might want to check out the boys over at Pinot Island:
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
112 Liverpool St
Tomorrow night the impish Lindsay Tuffin will speak on JOURNALISM & DEMOCRACY IN TASMANIA. A limited (and cheap) bar will be available for those who find listening thirsty work.
And have I got the best ever gossip? But you'll have to wait; one snippet at a time my hungry little poppets.
Sunday, May 08, 2005
However there is a “but”.
The ball was held at the Grand Chancellor. Hang your head in shame I say. My $85 got me a self-serve buffet: some fairly ok oysters, bland vegetables, dry pasta, and “5 star RSL carvery” lamb. The dessert buffet was fairly comprehensive, but kind of Fitzy’s City Caf. I sat there drinking the crap Stoney Ridge wine, eating my crap dinner, thinking about what I’d get for $85 a head at any number of my favourite restaurants.
Function coordinators need to understand that function food doesn’t have to be crap. It is lazy, unimaginative, cheap, and nasty. I could never recommend the Grand Chancellor’s food for functions. Sorry, it’s as simple as that.
Monday, April 25, 2005
But back to the real world. Here's what I've found out since returning from yon hunt:
Stepping into the old 'green store' site in North Hobart (the Seven Day Super Store that became anything but super) is something with a fishy logo. Judging by their staff advertisement, they won't be selling waders. I swear, if it's fish and chips I'll spew
Brew now proudly displays two sizes for take away coffee - regular and large. Brillo! And what a bloody tasty large take away coffee I had. Ta boys.
Did I see Maeve O'Mara in the Choux Shop t'other day? Might have been the glare of lights, camera, action, but I'm sure it was. Remains to be seen if it was for that excellent SBS show Ms O'Mara co-hosts, or for the less glamorous Better Groans and Gardens.
Black Pepper Pizzeria is soon to replace Lickerish. Ace. Just what Hobart needs. Another pizzeria in Elizabeth St. My heart sinks.
By the way, I heard part of the Lickerish/State Cinema stoush was over the owner of the cinema (also owner of the restaurant site) wanting to put a walk-through from the cinema into the restaurant. Classy.
Oh, and apparently I got the whole Amulet story completely wrong (see that entry's comment). Silly me.
GW the HRB
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
As you know, I love The Local at PB, it’s cosy and it’s good. In fact, I’m looking forward to winter so I can sit before their fire and make a pig of myself. The restaurant is something else altogether. It is a vast cavernous space, all polished concrete, high ceilings, quality tableware, and subtle lighting. From outside it looks like a great wave of glass and steel.
On the night of our visit, the restaurant was divided in two, with a wedding taking place on the other side of the divider. The sound-proofing in the restaurant was pretty good compared to the racket heard from the corridor to the loos, but I would recommend the staff avoid competing soundtracks in future. The restaurant’s subtle mood music was no match for the wedding singer’s rendition of Khe Sanh.
We had a really good meal accompanied by excellent wines. The wine list at PB is a marvel. And what’s more, the waiter assisting us knew far more about wine than is seemly for a man of his young years. But take advantage of his fabulous knowledge we did, much to our edumacation.
To round off our meal, on young wine-genius’ recommendation (double his salary immediately, Mr Currant!), we supped on a glass of heaven. It was black, it was heavy, it was sticky, it was Spanish, and it was fucking awesome! Pedro Ximenez by Cardenal Cisneros. Bound to be good with a name like that.
So apart from Khe Sanh (which made us laugh anyway), PB’s restaurant pulled the goods. I’ll be back, and I hope Pedro will still be there cos I’ve now got a serious crush!
Monday, April 04, 2005
"John Wayne Instruction Manual"
incl. Alistair Dobson, Joe Pirere, Randall Muir, and Konrad Park
112 Liverpool St (used to be the old Whirling Rainbow Cafe, above Diamondworld)
Friday 8 April, 8:30 pm till late
Door charge: $4 students/$5 workers
Presented by the crew at 112, a community organisation. So go on, pull your finger out and go support them!
Saturday, April 02, 2005
The oysters were once again bloody stunning. Oysters should sparkle on the tongue, and these do, like little bursts of mermaid sherbet. The BBQ duck was also delicious. The steak was a bit overcooked. At pubs I order steak rare so it will be cooked the way I like it, medium rare. I hope I won't have to do this at Steam Packet as well! Surely just a blip. Unfortunately, the pink eyes with rosemary were a bit too reminiscent of “wedges”. Service, as always, was impeccable.
So, when can we expect to see a ‘seasonal’ menu change?
I still have a bit of an issue with the ambience of the Atrium, I have to say. The pelting water feature did wonders for my bladder, which is fine, but I think some music wouldn't go astray. The Atrium is a difficult space, but they'll get it right eventually. At least with the cooler weather the sails have gone.
Nothing the Steam Packet can do about unattractive couples snogging in the glass elevator though (classy).
Thursday, March 31, 2005
The calamari was a bit oily, but not bad. Loved the smoked salmon though.
In general, for a “business ladies lunch” (admit it, you love Romy and Michelle too) it was fast, cheap, and scrummy.
Can’t comment on the crumbed, deep fried, adulterated seafood, but hey, I’m so cynical I wouldn’t order it anyway. But stuff it! There’s more to life than a fisherman’s basket.
Sunday, March 27, 2005
Hadn’t been to Lickerish for about a year. On that occasion we got frightfully hammered on Craigie cab sav (how disrespectful!) and ate who knows what. A travesty! Too pasted to recall the food. Mon dieu! Well, we had every intention of rectifying this shameful waste and had planned to go back last week. Then the drunken-hide-and-seek, locked-in-the-oven, cough-cough-cough scenario* stepped up to prevent our best laid plans.
No matter, thought I, another time perhaps.
Now bugger me but Graeme Phillips tells me in this morning’s Sunday Debacle that Lickerish have held their last supper. Rather fittingly on Maundy Thursday.
Maundy (or Holy) Thursday is the celebration of the Eucharist, the commemoration of the Last Supper. Being the day before Good Friday, in our house Maundy Thursday is referred to as Appalling Thursday. Only logical really, and besides, crap stuff seems to happen on Appalling Thursday (having to go to work being one example, the closure of restaurants another).
It is traditional on Maundy Thursday for the rich to distribute alms to and wash the feet of the poor. (No-one washed my feet, or gave me any bucks, so I’m assuming that means I’m not poor. Any of you guys get a cash windfall or a bit of a tootsy scrub? How was it?). Numerous Catholic rituals and celebrations occur on Maundy Thursday, including the reconciliation of penitents.
Which brings me back to Lickerish, cos I hope there is some bloody penitence going on today, because there sure as hell wasn’t any reconciliation. According to Mr Phillips, the story goes that a barney over the lease of the Lickerish site (and lets imagine a bitch-slap, cos it adds to the drama) resulted in the Lickerish girls flipping the bird and flapping off to greener pastures. Good for them.
I'll have to settle for last year's pathetic effort at sampling Lickerish’s grub (I’m sure it was delightful, and I do have a hazy recollection that the young waitress was a treat), but I’m hopeful that the gastro-adventurers will be back with something new to tempt our tastebuds soon, soon, soon.
Farewell Lickerish. I may not recall your fare, but I liked your curtains.
* Children, don’t try this at home.
Sunday, March 20, 2005
I wasn’t going to dob. But I had a dream the other night (from which I literally woke laughing) that convinced me I had to.
Brew in Sandy Bay. Looks good. Nice boys making nice coffee. All good. Except for those early morning lectures. Gently telling me off is one thing, but hearing you chastise other customers wanting a large coffee is a bit much. Good natured though it may be, it’s a bit rough on the early morning nerves. Give it a rest boys.
You might say: “Don’t like it, go elsewhere”. You might even say: “We don’t need customers who want the coffee equivalent of a bucket bong”. I would say: “Fine, but that’s a gutsy call in a small town”.
To be fair, I understand that you are coming from a good place. You aspire to coffee excellence and you want to teach us the difference between excellent coffee, good coffee, and shit coffee. I applaud that. However, sometimes a customer just wants what they want. Case in point: a country café on the big island lists on its coffee menu the “Why Bother?” – seemingly brewed by waving a coffee bean under the steam while frothing the milk. I agree - why bother? But that’s what some people want and I congratulate the café owner’s good business sense in providing same.
Coffee menus are great places for educating customers, lectures are not.
Reasons to go to Brew: The coffee’s good, not too expensive, and comes with a chocolate-coated coffee bean (dine-in), the coffee-meisters are very friendly (lecturing aside), and the spunky guy from T42 works there. It’s a nice café, personally I prefer Satis, but that’s just the E.M.Forster in me.
The dream I had the other night? I dreamt that I told the head Brew-boy that the décor reminded me of Hudson’s. Oops.
Not really, but it had the makings of a good fib.
So where have I been? I won’t bore you with sordid details, but let’s just say there is a good reason why children are discouraged from hiding in refrigerators. The adult-version should be this: Playing hide and seek while drunk is fun. Hiding in a recently cleaned industrial oven is stupid. Dangerous even.
Monday, March 07, 2005
1. Rockerfellers sat me on my arse with a gorgeous possum stew. Yes, I did say possum. It was rich and tomatoey with a velvety mash (yeah, yeah, I know, but what’s a stew without spuds?), beans and native pepper berries (almost too dominant, but worked). And the possum? Tasted like chicken. Kidding! Rich and gamey, about half-way between roo and emu (but tastier than a regal shield). I am now inspired to appear on the New Inventors with my very own possum trap attached to mum’s old crockpot. Yum.
2. Meadowbank really blew me away with an outstanding whole smoked salmon. Oh yes, it was whole, it was gently smoked, and it was enormous. It sat pertly upright on its little stand and appeared to be riding a wild wave of mesclun. Eyes sparkling, teeth bared. It was a beauty! If not for the formality of the occasion I would have shoved the leftovers down my top a la Dan Ackroyd in Trading Places.
Hurrah! This is the type of innovation (the possum) and exciting, respectful treatment of grand produce (the salmon) that we’ve all been baying for.
The sad news?
The possum was a fleeting special on the Rockerfellers menu. As I paid my bill I overheard the waitress tell another patron there was no more. And the whole salmon at Meadowbank was not standard fare, but part of a function menu. Fingers crossed, a special request in advance might result in a surfing salmon for you too.
More please. I like surprises.
Thursday, March 03, 2005
There’s not a cloud in the sky. It’s quite warm. But summer is over.
Even though summer has gone, this is my favourite time of year. Winter’s coming, but it’s not here yet. It’s like that last five minutes you steal in bed before you finally face reality and get up.
Soon it will be dark before we leave work of an evening. It will be cold. We’ll get the flu and spend a fortune at the chemist. We’ll yearn for next summer, wishing our lives away.
But not yet.
We greedily devour autumnal days because soon enough there’ll be no more BBQs. No more salads. No more sitting on the beach and eating sandy fish and chips. No more sunburnt noses. When winter comes, there’ll be no more sipping of champagne in the warm evening glow while the sun lazily sinks.
But winter’s not so bad. There’ll be roasts and soups, stews and breads, curries and casseroles. There’ll be snuggly Sunday sleep-ins, delaying placing that first foot on the cold cold floor. There’ll be open fires and snow on the mountain. And there’ll be the best excuse in the world for drinking red wine.
Bring it on I say!
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Paesano (Italian - West Hobart, 6234 2111). Good stuff: risotto, calzone, gourmet pizzas, cheap. Not so good stuff: size doesn’t make it an attractive dine-in option, but they do describe themselves as ‘specialising in take away’
Steam Packet (“Modern Australian” - Henry Jones Art Hotel, Hunter St, 6210 7700). Good stuff: the food, the service, the wine list. Not so good stuff: a couple of teething issues, but getting there on the whole.
Novaro’s (Italian – Launceston, 6334 5589). Good stuff: it’s all good baby. Not so good stuff: nah, still can’t think of anything
T42 (“Modern Australian” - Elizabeth St Pier, 6224 7742). Good stuff: view, staff, food, coffee, wine list. Not so good stuff: mostly just the evening bar clientele (T42 is a bit of a “scene”)
Sen’s (Asian/Yum Cha - North Hobart, 6236 9345). Good stuff: duck, wonton soup, yum cha, steamed bok choy, custard tarts, cheap. Not so good stuff: take away (unless ordered from the a la carte menu), wine list could be better.
Stillwater River Café (“Modern Australian” – Launceston, 6331 4153). Good stuff: don’t get me started, I’m dribbling already. Not so good stuff: Price, but it doesn’t have to be expensive (unless I’m there, then it’s Family Violence Act time for my wallet)
Siren’s (Vegetarian – Victoria St, Hobart, 6234 2634). Good stuff: vegetarian with imagination. Not so good stuff: Vegetarian Nazism (check the “rules” on the menu)
Satis (Bistro-style Café, not open for dinner – Sandy Bay Rd, Sandy Bay, 6224 0551). Good stuff: the tea, the coffee, the teapots, the cakes and bickies, the bruschetta. Not so good stuff: it’s for sale.
“The Local”, Peppermint Bay (“Modern Australian” – Peppermint Bay, Woodbridge, 6267 4088). Good stuff: great day trip destination, view, venue, food’s good and not expensive, excellent wine list. Not so good stuff: tourists with loud voices/mobiles. (I can’t comment on the main restaurant at PB.)
Mai Ake (Thai - North Hobart, 6231 5557). Good stuff: prawn cakes, bbq octopus, stuffed chicken wings, prawn choo chee, larp gai, basically cheap but good Thai. Not so good stuff: Has lost something since the move to bigger premises, but always a great meal.
If you’re on the list, don’t get cocky. By naming you guys up, you now risk being shot down in flames by a gaggle of people who think you suck. But I like you. Don’t stuff it up.
Kafe Kara (Bistro/Café, Hobart). Now open for dinner Fridays. Has always been good for lunch
onetwelve (‘occasional venue’). Hobart’s legal answer to a speak-easy. Cheap drinks, good music, good community events. Watch out for gigs by The John Wayne Instruction Manual (classic funk) and the occasional jazz gig. But you need to be in the know. Go to http://www.onetwelve.blogspot.com/ to get yourself on the mailing list.
Bush Inn (Counter Meals, New Norfolk). Nice view, typical pub fare. Australia’s oldest or longest running or some other bloody “old” status pub. Nellie Melba stayed and performed there. I reckon it’s haunted.
Magic Curries (Indian, Battery Point). Good curries, bad name.
Missing in Action:
These are places that I don’t feel qualified to comment on (yet), despite excellent reputations, because I’ve never been or I haven’t been for ages or I was so incredibly pissed when I did go. But keep your eyes and ears (and taste buds) peeled: Lickerish (Modern Australian, North Hobart), Red Velvet Lounge (Café - Cygnet), Mitsuno (Japanese - Sandy Bay), Franklin Manor (“Modern Australian”? - Strahan), Calstock (French - Deloraine), Criterion Café (Criterion St, Hobart).
And that’s your blooming lot (now you know what happened to Peter Cundall after the fall).
Sunday, February 20, 2005
How delightful. Written invitations were sent out to all the pregnant lady’s friends, who promptly replied. Such was their great excitement and joy.
But then a week before the celebration, or thereabouts, the restaurant called and cancelled the booking. They said “We have too many lunchtime bookings. Maybe you could come around 3?” The ladies frowned and scratched their heads in wonder. Too many lunchtime bookings? Weren’t they a booking too? Weren’t they promised room to talk and laugh out loud, room to drink cups of tea or glasses of champagne, room to oooh and aaaah over little baby presents and to munch on delicious cakes? And weren’t all those lovely cakes going to be more plentiful at midday rather than at 3?
The pregnant lady’s friends put their heads together and scowled a little. “We’ve already sent out the invitations, we’ve already got all the RSVPs. We’ll need to tell everyone of the changed booking time. This is a problem.” So the ladies sent out fresh invitations announcing a change of venue, not time. They weren’t happy with having their booking seen as less important than other bookings. “How rude”, thought they.
But one of the ladies decided to play detectives. She rang the restaurant and played confused. “I’m confused”, she said. “I thought we were coming to eat cake with you, but now I think we have to go elsewhere because you have too many other bookings. I’m so confused.” The man on the telephone was most helpful. He checked the bookings list and said “Yes, we have a cancelled group booking. There’s a squiggly line right through it. But it doesn’t say why the booking was cancelled. We don’t have any other bookings at that time”. The lady’s eyebrow arched high above her left eye. “Oh, really. That is so confusing”, she purred. “But thank you anyway, you’ve been most helpful.”
The ladies had their baby shower yesterday, at another venue of course. They had lots of room to talk and laugh out loud, and to sip their glasses of champagne. But they didn’t have any cake at all. Instead they had an enormous lunch. They munched on pizzas and chicken, on seafood and dips. They talked and laughed about the other silly restaurant, and how glad they were that they hadn’t gone there. There were lots of presents for the pregnant lady, whose belly moved up and down with each laugh as she tore off the wrappings to see the gifts inside. She was surrounded by loving friends who cared about her and her baby. She was wrapped in joy. A happy ending after all.
Imagine. Eighteen women charged with champagne and indignation, feeling defensive on behalf of their pregnant friend. Imagine the power of these women as they march about Hobart furiously declaring their anger at the shabby treatment of their friend with the tight round belly. Imagine how this story will grow along with the growing child, how the baby shower was less important than other bookings. Other bookings that didn’t exist at all. Thank you to one of those cranky indignant ladies who regaled me with this story in great and glorious detail last night over a debriefing champagne. "Class act", she seethed, "Dumping a pregnant lady’s booking in case more money could be made from walk-ins. What’s next, strangling small furry animals?"
Amulet n. Something worn on the body as a charm against evil (Collins Australian Pocket English Dictionary)
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
It was fresh from the duck-hangery and still warm when brought lovingly home to me. It was sweet, it was tender, and it was spicy in a star anisey kind of way.
In the past I’ve instructed you all to give the bain-marie at Sen’s a very wide berth. In fact, I would say that unless you’ve sat at a table at Sen’s and ordered from the menu (or the specials board) you deserve what you get and have no right to tell me that Sen’s sucks. I still stand by this mantra. And now my love of Sen’s simple and cheap food for the soul has been strengthened by their blessed duck. To know that this is my rescue from cheap Butter Chicken when I want a Friday night at home has made it all the more sweet. I’m craving more as we speak.
But this long weekend it didn’t stop at the duck (mercy me). On Sunday we had what some may call a “delicate condition” going on. I’d been carousing into the wee hours of the morning and was craving something far more than stroking my own forehead could provide. I needed soothing in a big way, and the only way to get that kind of soothing (from the inside out) is a big bowl of Sen’s wanton soup. Clear broth, bok choy, prawn and pork wantons floating like bloated goldfish. Heaven.
When I have to agonise over menus that make me freeze with petit mals of boredom, it’s so comforting to find that Sen’s (with a little touch of traditional Chinese music to welcome the Year of the Rooster) can still pull the goods.
See, sometimes it really is just the simplest things. And not a mash in sight!
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
She pointed her finger and waggled it at me ferociously “Who the hell do you think you are!” I frowned a sulky frown and pursed my lips and scuffed my feet on the floor beneath me. It was worse than the dressing down I got in Grade 10 Home Economics.
On that sordid occasion Mrs Fatso (really, that was her name!) had been standing behind me just as I felt the need to announce how much I hated her daggy menu for our school formal. “Fatso” I declared “wouldn’t know an exciting menu if it jumped out and bit her dimpled arse”. Oops. Mrs Fatso clipped my right ear (I should have sued) and sent me to the back of the room to read Margaret Fulton and write an essay on the gentle art of menu design. Bloody hell she was harsh!
Look, I’m the first to admit that I know jack shit about menu design (I’ve blanked out that essay’s content) or food science (I failed Home Ec). But I do know what does and doesn’t excite me, I do know what does and doesn’t taste good (to me!), and I’m not afraid to tell. But that doesn’t make me right (or wrong if you disagree with me). It’s just my opinion.
I have a mouth, and sometimes it runs away with me. Worse yet I can type as fast as I think (show off!), so I have a wee tendency to regret my actions from time to time. Should I shut down the HRB, banish myself to a dungeon and not come out until I have learnt to be a silent and penitent shadow of myself?
But, the idea of “Hobart Restaurant Bitch” is to have a bitch, not be a bitch. And I don’t want my big mouth to get in the way of a valid restaurant experience, therefore I do not accept freebies or invitations to ‘review’ (the “invitation” from Henry Jones wasn’t actually an invitation), I do not book tables under Georgie Weston or HRB, and I do not reveal that I’m a “reviewer” (mostly because I’m not a reviewer’s arsehole). See, I have ethics.
So there I was this morning getting a bloody good dressing down, having flashbacks by the boatload and feeling right sorry for myself. “Who the hell do you think you are,” she asked again, finger still waggling, “some bloody expert or something?” Hmmm, maybe she had a point. But like my rebellious teenage self, there I stood, sulky and shitty and wanting to fight back. “Expert? Hey, it’s just my OPINION!”. “Who are you talking to?” my husband asked, startling me so that I jumped and dropped my toothbrush on the floor. I looked back at the mirror, she was still there and now sprayed with toothpaste. Oops.
Call me crazy, but I suspect that, like me, you guys like to eat out occasionally, preferably without having your wallets ripped out through your botty holes or your taste buds bludgeoned to death with the boredom stick. I’m sorry if we don’t see eye-to-eye on all things. But I’m not sorry for expressing my opinion. As a consumer with a voice I can say what the hell I like. But via the HRB you get to say what the hell you like too. And that means all of us hungry little consumers can have a say.
And that’s the point Belvedere … as long as I can face that scary bitch in the mirror tomorrow morning.
Monday, February 07, 2005
We struggled with Gondwana’s selection, I’m afraid to say. It took us a rather long time to wade through the options. Unlike Stillwater where a degustation takes the agony of choosing out of my hands, at Gondwana the agony of choosing was not about being spoilt for exciting choice. It was a comprehensive enough menu, but just plain uninspiring.
Calamari … could have been Fish Frenzy, could have been Rockerfellers, could have been my Nanna’s kitchen (admittedly my Nanna does rock with a deep fryer!).
New York Cut of Ocean Trout … perfectly cooked but bland fish (trout just doesn’t compare to salmon in my books, unless it’s raw) sitting on, you guessed it, A BED OF MASH (yawn).
God I sound hard to please. The truth is I’m not! Really! If you have a whole commercial kitchen and a plethora of fresh produce at your feet, there is no excuse for not dazzling my tits off! Seriously!
The most exciting item presented to us was the little “palate cleanser” … vodka and apple juice with a tart little dollop of sorbet. Sheer delight.
Look, the service was good. And laughing boy seems to have grown up and was actually rather pleasant. We were well looked after, we were offered tastes to assist in our wine selection, and so on. But it wasn’t enough to overcome the failings of the menu. The food was not bad, it was just a bit ho hum. And I had such high hopes!
I’d write more, but to be honest I can’t be bothered. Like our be-shackled mates of days gone by, when it comes to the Great Southern Land, we couldn’t wait to escape.
Thursday, February 03, 2005
I have two very distinct wine-related memories from my childhood. The first is a scene from Daddy Long Legs (an appalling film with Fred Astaire and the revoltingly saccharine Leslie Caron). It is a balcony scene where ol’ Fred and young Leslie are having breakfast and they clink their OJ glasses together. That subtle act is misconstrued by nosy parkers as evidence of an affair (surely paedophilia) because “nobody clinks orange juice”. Hmmmm, I thought, at the age of 7, don’t they? So I promptly made sure to clink my OJ, my coke, my raspberry cordial, but definitely not my water! The second wine-related childhood memory is even more obscure. I recall another charming quote whereby a man states: “A woman’s breasts should fit inside a champagne glass (no, not a flute you tit), as more than a handful is a waste”. Maybe it wasn’t a film, maybe it was Oscar Wilde. Maybe it was my friend Beryl. Can’t remember.
The point (I hear you beg)? The point is, how did these snippets of information feed into my psychic template of the enduring grandeur of wine and champagne? Dunno.
Regardless, at the tender age of 15, I rather precociously and memorably announced to a bunch of 70-year old golfers that the Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec on offer was “not bad for a cocktail”. I recalled at the time that the words on wine labels usually denoted the variety of grape from which the wine was derived … hence the ‘cocktail’. What I was doing drinking wine at 15 with 70-year-old golfers is another story (and not as sordid as you might think!).
Now as a supposed grown-up, I find that my wine knowledge has not expanded exponentially with my increasing years. For example … I recently discovered that sometimes wine labels do not denote the grape from which the wine is derived (shock, horror) … sometimes wine labels tell fibs!!! One of my all time favourite cab savs, for example, is actually a petit verdot (gasp!).
Well. But does it really matter what’s in wine, how it’s made, which type of oak (if any) it’s barrelled in, what the sugar content is, or whether the vintner is a cross-dressing Albanian nun? Who cares, as long as it tastes good, right? Well kind of … I do wish Tamar Ridge well for the sake of the region, but knowing what’s in it (Gunns $$) I can’t bring myself to like it because I can’t bring myself to drink it. What a dilemma!
And what of the wine epiphany … the discovery of a joy-inducing wine that becomes one’s personal holy grail? Alluring, tempting, intoxicating, and yet unattainable (just like me really). Such was my tale of woe, twice. Recently with Lalla Gully Sauvignon Blanc (see my bit on Stillwater River Café), and in the past with a Moorilla Cabernet Sauvignon.
Aaahh, the Moorilla. It was 1993 and there used to be a little wine cellar around the corner from Salamanca that had the most wonderful array of secrets and lies. I found a bottle of Moorilla Cab Sav … 1986! It was only $18! Naturally I bought it, but a word from a wise man made me too scared to drink it (“Only $18 for Moorilla … be careful, be very very careful”). So I was careful. I took it to a family function with half a zillion cousins who I don’t particularly like. Opened the bott. Splashed it about the place like a great big show-off, and downed the one sip left for me in one great gulp. Oh my god. What had I done? It was honestly the best wine I had ever tasted.
It took me another 10 years to realise that no matter how much I pestered, Moorilla were not going to magick me another bottle of the stuff. Quel domage.
These days I still know little more about wine than I did at 15. My palate and nose have been educated, but not my viticultural knowledge banks. But I still know what I like. I like wine. And champagne. Who could ask for anything more?
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
I can take responsibility for my own failings. Sure, I read the paper, but obviously not with all my eyes! And then I get the emails … Hey Georgie, what did you think of xyz? Crikey … did someone forget to tell me that I'm omnipresent, omnipotent, and all those other omni’s (mmmm … champagne).
If Maggie Beer is a guest chef somewhere ... I need to know. If they've taught dolphins to find truffles ... I reckon I'd need to know. If seven sexy sirens are hacking out haggis in Howrah (don’t ask me, I just write this stuff) … I need to know. And if eight maids are milking … I’m probably watching the late movie on SBS … and don’t really need to know.
Please. Have you no’ heard of email laddie? Such a simple concept really … IF YOU LET ME KNOW … I CAN LET OTHER PEOPLE KNOW TOO. It’s called marketing!
p.s. check this out (thanks for the tip boys!) ... I think I'm in love ... http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,1147-1191979,00.html
GW the HRB ;-)
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Here's an "is not ... so there!" that popped up this afternoon:
" ... the food at prosser's is about 100 times better than the stuff you get at kellys or mures,the new year's eve menu was not overpriced,the reason the that table had crayfish was because they phoned up and asked if was possible to have two for new year which it was. "
Well. That clears that up.
Sunday, January 30, 2005
Lipscombe Larder, Sandy Bay Road, Sandy Bay.
The reputed mothership of suburban gourmet food stores (aside, of course, from the Wursthaus, which is in a league of its own).
Pretty good basil pesto, although I’m newly addicted to their spinach pesto … I’m hoping not to eat the whole jar in sneaked spoonfuls!
Excellent bread, possibly the best on offer in the foodstore mould. Love their Olive Toscano … could eat it all day.
Fabulous range of cheeses and Tassie wines.
Excellent cakes and chocolates and all that evil stuff.
The Hill St Grocer, Hill St, West Hobart.
Very often in the news, it seems.
Best range of produce this side of heaven. (Just watch me go berserk when the sacks of fresh broad beans or peas are in!) … Great deli section, with excellent variety of pre-prepared meals (try their couscous salad!).
Fabulous range of ‘international’ treats (mmmm, Dutch Breakfast Cake with coffee!).
“Not so squizzy” since their renovations a few years ago, but one still risks serious injury from basket rage at busy times. Such a shame (but what can they do?), as it means that I will avoid the place if it’s “that time of day”.
The Salad Bowl, Macquarie St, South Hobart.
Also undergone some sexy renovations.
Produce is good, good deli section, good bread … but what hooks me every time is their specials in the grocery section … Three tins of crab meat for bugger all, tubs of mussels for next to nothing. Cheeses discounted by the bucket load.
I love a bargain, and if it’s nibblies I’m after … it’s the Salad Bowl for me!
So, in a nutshell each of the triumvirate is unique in its own way. At Lipscombe you risk losing an eye from the proliferation of upturned collars. At Hill St you could be run down by a fleet of Subaru Foresters as you jostle for a park, or you could lose a kidney as you manoeuvre past me in the rush for the peas. As for the Salad Bowl, you’re more likely to be blinded by bare midriffs or rendered olfactorily senseless by the unique aroma of the Tarkine perfume. BUT … If it’s bread and pesto your after, head for Lipscombe. If it’s the full gamut of fresh produce you need (or indeed food advice), go to Hill St Grocer. And if you want a nibbly bargain, scoot to the Salad Bowl.
Don’t listen to the cries of “Oh, but it’s so expensive” to shop at our gourmet stores. This is a myth. No-one is suggesting you regularly buy your kitty litter or eau de cologne here, but in the case of fresh delicacies … if you want to prioritise price over flavour, go to Woollies … your choice.