Review: Hatch and Co, Brisbane CBD

You know when the list of places you’d like to eat in is longer than your forearm? Yeah, that’s me. Whether it’s lack of time, lack of sleep i.e. a night in on the couch is more attractive, or more important things to spend my money on (being an adult sucks), I often don’t get to some of the places I’d really like to eat at until they are very well established. Hatch & Co is one of those. I’m glad I finally got there though!

I had a long dinner with a friend there a couple of months ago, we only ever catch up every six months or so because we’re both pretty busy. Anytime we do catch up though, dinner is usually a pretty long affair. Anywho, the food. I was quite impressed with the food – there’s nothing better than simple and tasty. Quite often people get caught up in trends or fads where ten million layers make up a dish. That’s all well and good, but sometimes simple fare is the best. Don’t get me wrong, I love ‘fancy food’!

Hatch and Co pork and pizzaWe picked a few items – chorizo, caramelised onion, goat’s feta, oregano pizza(pictured to the right); the beetroot hummus, dill, pistachio, feta, wood-fired flatbread (pictured above); and chips with chilli salt, aioli (somehow, I always manage to buy them and eat most of them), and sliders (it was a while a go, I THINK they were pork, but the menu has changed). Everything was really tasty. When we read the menu, we both looked up and said, ‘so, the chorizo and goats’ feta pizza?’ and it lived up to our imaginations. The beetroot hummus was really good, loved the flavours and textures – a pop of tang when you eat the feta is always welcome.

I also went back a couple of weeks ago for a colleague’s birthday dinner. We again decided to go with a few share dishes – the same pizza, the same dip, and the same chips (again, ate most of them…I really do like chips and the seasoning on these is awesome!) – that says a lot! We also chose the 16-hour braised pork shoulder, rapini, artichokes and pork jus (pictured to the right) with a couple of sides: crisp and shaved zucchini, toasted seeds, mint, lemon (pictured below), and the broccoli with garlic. Wow. The pork was to die for. If I wasn’t already full (damn chips), I would have eaten half of it on my own – it fell apart, was still lovely and moist and the artichokes matched perfectly.

hatch and co zucchiniThe service wasn’t too bad to start with both times, but by the end we were desperately thirsty and there was no water to be found and no waiter. It’s disappointing, but I guess Hatch & Co is also a pretty popular bar so the staff may end up there?

I like the atmosphere of the room, I just hate the jars filled with pickled vege that have not handled their time in the sun very well. Apparently I’m just picky though.

I like Hatch and Co, I’ll definitely go back and as much as I like what I’ve already tried, I should probably try something else because it all looks pretty good!

Any recommendations?

 

The details
Hatch & Co Post Office Square
Open: M-F, 7am – Late | Sat, 5:30pm – Late
215 Adelaide Street, Brisbane CBD
http://www.hatchandco.com.au

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I’ve got pizza on my mind

pizza uncooked3When I was 16, I worked in the Italian restaurant down the road from my house. I started off making pizzas and later down the track I’d help the Chef prepare the other meals on Friday and Saturday nights when it was busy. During my time there, I became pretty fussy about pizza. Before working there, I think I was possibly too young to really understand what good pizza was and certain take away companies gave me the wrong impression.

A love of good pizza is something I share with my Dad. We both enjoy a thin, crispy (but slighty chewy) base with minimal, but tasty, toppings. I’m not a fan of pizzas where the toppings are piled on heavily.

pizza uncooked2We like pizza so much that Dad built a pizza oven in the backyard. Often, I wish I didn’t have so much on so I could go over and make delicious pizzas with him.

Given I’m so particular about pizza, I like to make my own bases from scratch. I don’t have a set recipe but it usually goes something like this:

  1. Grab a large bowl.
  2. Put some warm water in the bowl (2 cups) and a sachet of yeast and some salt (depending on your opinion of salt, it might be a pinch or it might be a teaspoon), mix to dissolve.
  3. pizza uncooked1A slug of olive oil.
  4. Add flour until a nice dough forms, not too sticky but not too dry either.
  5. Leave to proof in warm spot until doubled in size.
  6. Punch down the dough and then portion up (I make mine about the size of my fist).
  7. Let the balls of dough proof again (you can do this in the fridge if you like).

When you’re ready to make pizza, use your fingertips (I tend to be quite rough) to press out the dough (trying to keep it circular). Then I use a rolling pin to get it nice and thin.

pizza cookingSide note: Yesterday’s pizzas were made on a sourdough base and the flavour made a lot of difference!

HOT TIP (literally): When you put your pizza on a cold tray, the bottom sweats in the oven and you lose that delicious crispiness. So if you don’t have a pizza oven, pizza stones are great to ensure you get a nice crispy base. But, if you don’t have one, just heat up the tray in the oven before you put your pizza on it (I put the base on some greaseproof paper, top it and then transfer the whole thing to the hot tray).

 

Toppings?
pizza cooked

A really nice tomato base is so important. Mum used tomato paste when we were kids and I’ll never go down that road again. If you don’t have any in your freezer that you’ve made (I usually don’t), a pasta sauce in a jar is perfect for a quick solution. Alternatively, you can make your own Neapolitan sauce from scratch.

On top of the sauce goes any fresh herbs (basil, oregano etc.) you want to include, then meats (ham, salami, chorizo, chicken, smoked duck). If you like mushroom, thinly sliced mushroom should be included here.

Next, the cheese. If you don’t have any fresh mozzarella in the fridge, the grated kind is totally fine. Sprinkle on your cheese – I like a mix of mozzarella and Parmesan – don’t use a lot though, it makes the pizza too heavy.

pizza slicedOn top of the cheese goes things like diced onion and capsicum, pineapple (if that’s your thing), sun-dried tomatoes, olives etc.

Really, you can include anything you like on a pizza. I know people like potato/pumpkin/sweet potato or other grilled vegetables. It’s up to you really!

Yesterday, we did a few different things – from as simple as basil, prosciutto and bocconcini (top right) to a zucchini, smoked duck, cheese, onion and capsicum on a slathering of hoisin sauce (bottom right) certainly not traditional, but we wanted to have some fun with different flavours). Both were delicious!

 

Do you have a favourite pizza topping combo? Or any recommendations for good pizza in Brisbane?

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Mel’s favourite brunch spots in Brisbane

What’s my favourite meal to eat out? As a foodie, it’s a question I get asked quite a bit. The answer is always breakfast. Who can go past starting the day with an excellent meal and a perfectly made coffee. Friends of mine will know that I won’t ever take them somewhere with bad coffee.

The second question I get asked often is, ‘where are your favourite brunch spots in Brisbane?’ Well… Where do I start?

Willow & Spoon
How can I not start here! Willow & Spoon was one of the first cafés I discovered when I moved to Brisbane a little over three years ago and I just keep going back. I love that they have an ever-changing menu and on the other hand, I hate that I never get to taste all the dishes. They, hands down, have the BEST muesli, which actually became a game changer for me because I’d never order muesli for breakfast at a cafe! Think dainty flowers, with flavoured milk, handmade granola and cubes of jelly – it’s almost too pretty to eat. They also have a VIP club and if you subscribe to their emails you get reminders about their specials and theme nights (I promise it’s not annoying). Did I mention the coffee is good?

Paw Paw Café
Yes, this café has been big on the blogger sphere quite a bit lately and I just had to throw my two bobs worth in. It’s excellent. One of those failsafe always-going-to-get-a-great-meal kind of places. The atmosphere is cute, they are also open for lunch and dinner and wait for it – they have a coco-whip window! So, when you get those late night cravings for ice cream but you’re trying to be good, you can go to Paw Paw!

The Burrow
It’s a West End icon, an institution almost. This is the café I tell everyone to go to and they ALWAYS rave about it. Firstly, the incredible loft house décor that makes you feel like you are in an actual tree house, then the coffee and extensive juice menu. But the food is where it gets me. An excellent, changing menu that always leaves me satisfied. One time, I had candied speck with my omelette and I still have dreams about it!

Coco Bliss
Since I live close, Coco Bliss has become a grab-a-protein-smoothie-after-boxing staple. They have recently re-furbished and it has done them wonders. Their menu is big, so be prepared to make some serious decisions. Will I have the juice (which they cold press and bottle themselves)? Or a smoothie? Or a tea (OMG delish)? Or will I try a smoothie bowl? I’m trying to make my way through the whole menu, but I’m sure they’ll change it before I even get close. Oh, and want to know another great thing about this place? It’s all healthy… guilt free Tim Tams anyone?
So if you head to any of these places on a weekend, it is quite likely that you will find me there too.

 

Where is your favourite breakfast/brunch café?

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The Sunday edition – Passionfruit yo-yos

I don’t know about you, but for me, Sunday is the best day to relax and get ahead and organised for the week. On a typical Sunday you’ll find me in my little flat in Brisbane: strawberry polka dot apron on, music playing and umpteen cookbooks open, wondering what I’m going to cook for the week.

Sometimes I surprise myself with how much I actually achieve! I may set out to make some chicken patties, and end up with banana bread, cookies, vegetable stock, and salads made for work the next day. It usually depends on my current mood or what I have been inspired by during the week.

This week, I was reminded by a colleague that I’ve never brought in any homemade goodies to share. This is mainly because it can be difficult to lug things on the morning commute, but I decided things needed to change.

Passionfruit yoyo biscuitsThis Sunday, I made my famous passionfruit yo-yos. I’m usually not one to make things over and over again unless I absolutely LOVE it, and this recipe is one of those. I must also add that, when I was growing up, I remember going to cafes with my brother and sister and always requesting a yo-yo or a melting moment because I loved the way they crumbled in my mouth. The short dough and the sweet passionfruit icing in the middle made them perfect.

I think these biscuits would be requested by any member of my family any time I asked if they wanted me to bake something. On family trips I always make sure to make a triple batch!

Here’s the recipe…

  • 250g butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup pure icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 cup custard powder
  • 1 cup icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • ½-1 passionfruit

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Place butter, sugar and vanilla into a food processor. Process for 2 minutes or until well combined.

2. Add flour and custard powder. Pulse until just combined (don’t over-process or biscuits will not have a fine texture).

3. Roll heaped teaspoonfuls of mixture into small balls. Place onto prepared baking trays. Press with a floured fork to flatten slightly. Bake for 12 minutes or until light golden. Allow to stand on trays for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining biscuit mixture.

4. While the biscuits are cooling, mix the icing sugar, butter and enough passionfruit pulp to make a smooth paste. Once biscuits are cooled choose two alike in size and sandwich them together with plenty of icing mixture.

 

So here I am, Sunday afternoon, enjoying a cuppa on my balcony, listening to maybe music, eating my passionfruit yo-yo (or two).

Bliss.

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Literary food – Enid Blyton

As I kid, I was bit of a book worm. I really enjoyed the Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon series and I absolutely loved Enid Blyton books. I’d regularly pile up all the pillows I could find in the house on my parent’s bed and hide myself away to read – the Famous Five and Secret Seven, Mallory Towers and St Clares. So many of Blyton’s books were based around the adventures of kids my own age, most likely why they appealed so much. What connected all of those stories together though, was food (also probably why the books appealed to me ha!).

Packing a picnic for a trip to the countryside, eating at a farm house in the mountains in Wales, sneaking around for a midnight snack at boarding school – so often I would read one of her books and get so excited when the food was described. Looking back now, the food was so simple – sandwiches and a tin of fruit or perhaps scones with jam and cream.

Here’s a few excerpts:

Soon they were all sitting on the rocky ledge, which was still warm, watching the sun go down into the lake. It was the most beautiful evening, with the lake as blue as a cornflower and the sky flecked with rosy clouds. They held their hard-boiled eggs in one hand and a piece of bread and butter in the other, munching happily. There was a dish of salt for everyone to dip their eggs into.

‘I don’t know why, but the meals we have on picnics always taste so much nicer than the ones we have indoors,’ said George.
― Enid Blyton, Five Go Off in a Caravan

Silky was pleased. She sat there brushing her beautiful, golden hair and ate sandwiches with them. She brought out a tin of Pop Cakes, which were lovely. As soon as you bit into them they went pop! and you suddenly found your mouth filled with new honey from the middle of the little cakes. Frannie took seven, one after the other, for she was rather greedy.
― Enid Blyton, The Magic Faraway Tree

A long, sturdy kitchen table was covered with a snow-white cloth, and on it was set the finest meal the children had ever seen in their lives.

A great ham sat ready to be carved. A big tongue garnished round with bright green parsley sat by its side. An enormous salad with hard-boiled eggs sprinkled generously all over it was in the middle of the table. Two cold roast chickens were on the table too, with little curly bits of cold bacon set round.

The children’s eyes nearly fell out of their heads. What a feast! And the scones and cakes! The jams and the pure yellow honey! The jugs of creamy milk!
― Enid Blyton, The Mountain of Adventure

Is it any wonder that so many foodies have obsessed over food in Blyton’s books too? Even now, if you Google ‘Enid Blyton and food’, you’ll come across a myriad of results from bloggers testing recipes and some just listing every item of food mentioned in a Blyton book ( I quite enjoyed reading the list).

Blyton made you want to jump into the pages and share the meal with her characters. The characters could be running from a villain, but the action always stopped for a meal.

Do you sometimes have these nostalgic moments when you feel the need to buy or do something that brings you back to that time? I know I have them. In fact, in one of those moments, I began a really long search to find a copy of Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer by Jane Brocket. The idea of a recipe book based on books from my childhood was just so appealing, I couldn’t help myself.

Sadly, the book didn’t contain the recipe I was dying to try: Silky’s Pop Biscuits from the Faraway Tree. In the Faraway Stories, the food was always so fantastical. Pop Biscuits would explode and from them, delicious honey would pour into your mouth. They also had Google Buns (way before the search engine came along!), with a large sherbet-filled current in the middle. There’s also the sweet I’d love to try, but may require the help of Heston Blumenthal to make: toffee shocks, the sweets that expanded in your mouth until they finally exploded into the nothing. I’m sure it would give me a fright, but it would be worth it! That, and shocking everyone else!

If you’re looking for me, I could just be hiding in my room re-reading The Mountain of Adventure (another of my favourites). I hope you’ll join me (just not in my room, I can’t share the pillow fort).

What’s your favourite book food? Harry Potter? Anne of Green Gables? Something else? I’d love to hear about it!

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Oktoberfest ist wunderbar!

It’s that time of year again! This post is a tad late because Oktoberfest traditionally begins in September, but late is better than not at all!

Australia is certainly a multicultural society and we LOVE to celebrate Oktoberfest! This isn’t surprising of course, because we really do love our beer.

I was thinking about Oktoberfest because I’m planning to head to the Brisbane Oktoberfest at the RNA Showgrounds and thought, ‘hey, why don’t I put together a post about why I enjoy Oktoberfest’, so here goes:

food at Oktoberfest
Courtesy of Oktoberfest Brisbane

Chicken dance: If you’ve never done the chicken dance at an Oktoberfest celebration, you haven’t lived! I could be wrong, but I feel like Oktoberfest celebrations are the only places where it’s appropriate to do the Chicken dance as an adult. Last year, I went to the Brisbane German Club and laughed so hard doing the chicken dance with strangers (I’d only had one beer at that point!) that I thought I was going to faint.

The food: Ok, sure you can get good German food any time of the year, but I’m not sure if you’ve noticed – food always tastes better if it’s a celebration! From pork knuckle to good ol’ wurst and pretzels (warm and delicious), you won’t be hungry. In saying that, apparently at Oktoberfest in Munich, roast chicken is the real food star – they go through almost half a million! It’s a wonder there are any left in the country afterwards.

Laughter: It can be quite funny watching swarms of costumed people wandering around Brisbane during Oktoberfest. I don’t really do the the ‘dressing up’ thing during Oktoberfest, but other people tend to get really into it. Even if the clothes aren’t amusing, you’ll laugh yourself silly dancing.

The bier: Well, this one’s a given really. I think I’d be worried about myself if this wasn’t on the list. Thankfully we have some great beer in Brisbane and plenty of craft breweries to choose from and I’m fairly sure most (if not all) will be doing something celebrate the the king of all beer celebrations.

Collectibles: It’s always nice to have a keepsake from an event like Oktoberfest (especially as some people won’t remember it per se). I love collecting things I don’t really need, but they are proof I was there!

 

So where do we celebrate in Brisbane?

food at Oktoberfest
Courtesy of Oktoberfest Brisbane

Brisbane Oktoberfest at the RNA – Oktoberfest Brisbane is Australia’s largest German Festival and ranked by National Geographic in the Top 10 Oktoberfests outside Germany – a true testament to the passion of the two German-Australian families who decided to share their cultural traditions with Brisbane in 2008. Now in its eighth year, the festival puts its own special spin on Munich’s world famous festival for its 37,000+ visitors, over the second and third weekends of Oktober. You can buy tickets online.

Brisbane German Club – The official Oktoberfest at the Brisbane German Club is over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate there on the weekend. I recommend booking if you plan on eating (and drinking) there on a Friday or Saturday night – the beer hall where most of the action happens tends to fill up quickly. And, heaven forbid you miss out on Andrew’s musical stylings.

Barvarian Bier Cafe, Eagle St Pier – Every weekend, they tap kegs and spin prize wheels (based on my search of their website). It’s always pretty busy, so I recommend booking in advance if you plan to go.

How do you get involved with Oktoberfest celebrations? And, can I come?

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Images courtesy of Oktoberfest Brisbane.

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Review: Spring Hill Deli Cafe

Even though Karis and I work in the same building, it is not often that we actually get to catch up during office hours. You might think we are crazy that we’ve only just realised we have an opportunity to try an assortment of amazing cafés, considering we are so close to the city. However, herein lies part of the problem – we work on the top of Spring Hill! Which means, that an hour for lunch really isn’t enough time to gallivant around the Brisbane CBD, though we would definitely like to!

chai - spring hill deli cafeA lot of our colleagues know how fond we are of food, and often recommend places for us to try. Spring Hill Deli Cafe has been on the top of this list, based on colleagues’ comments about their awesome coffee and infamous chocolate brownies.

Last week, we ventured out – no hill climbing here thank goodness – and had lunch. The quaint red building isn’t hard to miss along the ever growing Boundary Street precinct, although Karis had never noticed it before on her lunch trips to other establishments in the area. Once she knew what she was looking for though, it’s hard to ignore it.

The interior is very warm and welcoming, with the space for eating broken up into three areas. I thought that was a great because it’s perfect for a nice semi-private lunch if you wanted to celebrate a birthday (as we often do in this office). I recommend reserving a table though, because it was quite busy when we were there. There’s a bookshelf full of interesting books (and cookbooks!), which is brilliant if you forget your own book.

wrap - spring hill deli cafeFor some ungodly reason I didn’t feel like a coffee (I regularly get my morning coffee from here so I can tell you they are very good), so Karis and I both ordered chai lattes, and we weren’t disappointed.

The lunch menu wasn’t huge, but all the options sounded delicious, so it took a while to decide. In saying that, Karis takes forever to decide no matter where she goes (her words, not mine). A great positive is that the menu changes regularly, so even if you’re in there often you won’t get bored.

One thing we did notice about the menu was that a majority was on the healthy side of the spectrum, so you certainly wouldn’t feel guilty about your lunch for the rest of the day.

french toast - spring hill deli cafeI ended up taking a lighter option and ordered the lentil patty wrap with spinach feta and chilli jam, and Karis had the French toast BLAT with melted cheddar, spinach, maple bacon, tomato and garlic balsamic vinaigrette (again, food envy!).

The lentil wrap was full of flavour (there’s nothing worse than a lentil patty with no flavour!), and despite it sounding like it wouldn’t fill you up, I didn’t need anything else.

Karis said her French toast was not as ‘eggy’ as she was expecting, but the whole dish was nonetheless, nice. It wasn’t too rich and it wasn’t too over the top – nothing like a sweet version of French toast.

The Verdict:

We both enjoyed our meals, so I can definitely say we’ll be back! I must also add that I had SUPER food envy when the lady beside me ordered the sweet potato salad – it was huge and drool-worthy!

The details
Spring Hill Deli Cafe
Open: M-F, 7am – 4pm | Wkd, 8am – 2pm
537 Boundary Street, Spring Hill
http://www.springhilldeli.com/

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