Review: Lunch at Creole Soul Kitchen, Spring Hill

Holy moly.

When I started writing this post about three months ago, Creole Soul Kitchen was still relatively new on the scene in Brisbane and it had only been open a few weeks by the time I’d eaten there six times! Mostly because I went with a different person every time – the old, ‘I want to go, but I can’t go with you today, let’s go next week!’ dealy.

Given I’d been so many times, I thought I should write about it because clearly I enjoy it.

I’ve never really had a lot of Creole food before. While there a plenty of burger joints in Brisbane, there aren’t a lot of Creole places to eat (feel free to send me recommendations!), so something authentic and delicious can be hard to come by. I’m also super keen to get over to Lousiana one day – beignets, po’boys, gumbo, Jambalaya…you get the idea! I’m sure there some nice cultural things to see too…………….

Creole Soul Kitchen has creole goodies like po’boys (lunch only, get on that!), gumbo, salads, pasta and pizza. They are also licensed, with some American beers on tap! Since I left Spring Hill, they have added beignets to the menu and other delicious things too.

Creole soul kitchen

It’s a small establishment, making the most of the deck they built out the front. There’s loads of memorabilia from the South on the walls and the back bar. It kind of gives you the feeling the owner my be a tad homesick, aside from giving the place a Southern vibe.

Can I also say, the chairs are comfortable!! So often you go to a new restaurant and the chairs are horrible to sit on, which makes for an uncomfortable meal.

When speaking with the owner on the first day I went there, he was telling me that so many of the products they needed just weren’t available easily in Australia, so he resorted to making a few himself. For example, he makes the Andouille sausage he uses in his sandwiches, pizzas, gumbos etc. himself – the texture is a little like Chorizo, but the flavour is different. I love that he’s just not willing to compromise on the ingredients and flavours.

You can make your own pasta, with a range of sauces and other ingredients, which is awesome because sometimes the pasta dishes in some restaurants are a couple of ingredients off what you really feel like.

I’m actually dying to head back to Creole Soul Kitchen because I haven’t even tried half the menu. I’m no longer working in Spring Hill, so that does pose a problem, but I think I’ll get there for drinks on a Friday night soon.

creole soul kitchen

As for what I have tried. I’ve been a staunch po’ boy eater, particularly the Soul Burger, which is insanely filling and really tasty. It reminds me of something I’ve eaten before, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. That’s probably why I’ve had it more than once. It’s a fairly simple burger with meat pattie, salads, sauce and cheese on one of their soft long rolls. I’m a bit fussy about bread and their bread does it for me! I also enjoyed the Andouille sausage po’ boy, but I’ve never been a huge fan of tomato sauce on a sandwich.

If you do go to check it out, you must get some waffle fries. They have a range of sauces, but what you need to get is the garlic butter. The chips are deep fried and then finished off in a pan with garlic butter. The first time we had them, that’s how the owner described them to us and that’s exactly how they tasted. Holy moly.

Writing all this is making me crazy hungry, can someone please go back with me soon?!

The details
Creole Soul Kitchen
448 Boundary St, Spring Hill
Opening hours: Mon, 11-3 | Tues-Fri, 11-11 | Sat, 5-11
Web: facebook.com/creolesoulkitchen/

 

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Review: Little Red Dumpling, Sunnybank

If you are a regular reader, you will know that I love love love Sunnybank for its cheap and vast array of amazing Asian delights. I have been busy eating my way around Market Square, Sunnybank Plaza and surrounding areas to provide a ‘go-to-guide’ for you all, though when I went to Little Red Dumpling the other night I felt it needed a post of its own!Untitled design (18)

Little Red Dumpling is situated in Pinelands Shopping Centre, and like a lot of the surrounding restaurants, its very small and very busy. When I mentioned to Karis that I was keen to check it out she instantly recalled a time she went there and also enjoyed herself.

After a small debacle of finding a car park (my pro tip: always plan ahead when parking in Sunnybank), and walking in the freezing cold windy weather, we were greeted by the friendliest of hosts and directed straight to a table. The drinks menu was 10 times the size of the food menu, so we spent more time wondering which jam jar concoction we would have with our dinner. Note: there are far more drinks on the actual menu than the website menu! I settled for a Cinderella jar, which was a citrus and soda water mixture. My friend had a lychee spritzer. Both were really simple, but tasty, though we could have done with them before our spicy ribs arrived – the lack of drink left my non-spicy-food-tolerating companion flailing her arms about trying to deal with the chilli. Nonetheless, it was hilarious, and she got her drink soon enough.

What did we eat?

We had the best lamb ribs I have ever tasted – it was advertised as lamb and cumin (classically awesome combination). The lamb was succulent and fell off the bone, it was a dry spice rub added to the meat after cooking, so it was full of flavour, but unfortunately for my friend, after eating so much (and loving it) it had the lagged spicy affect, (see above for her reaction).

We also had vegetarian spring rolls, which were perfect- no complaints there. Pan-fried pork dumplings which were just as tasty, and as good as the ones I had earlier this year in Hong Kong (I’m working on that blog post- bear with me!).

Lastly, one of my favourite things ever – xiao long bao, which is a soup dumpling. If you have never tried these before, hit me up for some recommendations to go for the best in Brisbane because you NEED these dumplings in your life. They are a bit tricky to eat as you have to be careful picking them up to extract the soup before eating the dumpling. Sometimes, restaurants even have instructions on how to eat them! These xiao long bao were great, but I wish they were served with dipping sauce.

The best part of all this? It cost us $40 and we were both full!

The details:

Little Red Dumpling
Shop 19, Pinelands Plaza
663 Beenleigh Rd, Sunnybank Hills
Qld 4109
www.littlereddumpling.com.au/

Where is your favourite dumpling place? Do you have a favourite dumpling like me?

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Review: Ambrosia & Co, Bulimba

When you’re a hop, skip and a jump from Oxford Street in Bulimba (or as I call it, east Brisbane’s foodie haven), and you’re a foodie- you get really excited when a new place opens.

This one in particular I have been anticipating the opening for a while. As I was observing the construction, I noticed it was going to be somewhere I would enjoy, the open bright decor is very inviting, and when I went inside I felt relaxed. There are cute little sail boats on the tables that you raise the sail on when you are ready to place an order!

As you probably already know, I’m a huge fan of Greek food, so having a Mediterranean Restaurant open so close to home is fantastic. Even more so, when the food is great!

So what did we eat? To start we shared Pumpkin sumac spiced yoghurt and pita, it was light and full of flavour (I was also stoked that my pita bread we made at our Greek Feast was spot on!). We scraped the plate clean!

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Then we had Saganaki cheese, fig and current glyko – one of my all time favourites! Saganaki is like a oozy version of fried halloumi, but oh so much better! This salty, oozy cheese was served with a currant syrup which cut through the saltiness, to give it balance. I could have eaten two!

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Next, was Lamb and Pistachio Kofta garlic and yoghurt dip, basil puree and flat bread. I really enjoyed this, the flavours matched well, the meatballs were juicy and we were left wanting more!

To share as a main, we ordered the meat paella – personally I would ordered the seafood, but my date is allergic to shellfish! It was still incredibly tasty, moist and full of flavour. I find getting everything perfect can be really hard to achieve in a paella, so this was love in a bowl.

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To drink, we shared the rose sangria, it was fruity, fresh and very tasty, the perfect accompaniment for our meal!

I’m already planning my next dinner there, although I just looked at their breakfast menu and it sounds pretty good too! So many places to eat, not enough meals!

The details:
Ambrosia & Co.
Shop 5, 180 Oxford Street Bulimba
Ph 3395 6333

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Review: Asana by Pete Evans, Brisbane

My day to day diet is very healthy. I don’t follow a set diet, it’s more that I try to use a variety of ideas from various chefs and nutritionists to give me inspiration. The paleo and sugar free recipes are some that I use quite frequently, but I can never seem to say no to that sneaky chocolate or ice cream as a little treat!

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In saying that, I often find it difficult to find a guilt-free restaurant. It’s all well and good to have a splurge every now and then (I think it also helps with our sanity!) but sometimes its nice to have a meal out and not be tempted by the creamy heavy pasta or sugar laden desserts, and now I’ll introduce you to Asana.

Pete Evan’s restaurant, Asana, is completely Paleo. Its a modern restaurant with a relaxed feel. Surprisingly, it has quite an extensive menu, so even if you are a little anxious about the paleo concept there are plenty of options to choose from!

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We had grass-fed beef carpaccio with fermented daikon, bonito, and wasabi mayo to start – it was light and full of flavour , the wasabi gave it a little kick, and the fermented daikon cut through with some welcomed acidity. My only issue was there wasn’t enough!

For Main we shared a sweet potato gnocchi with wild mushrooms, smoked almonds, red vein sorrel and tarragon (devine!), confit belly of Borrowdale pork with vanilla braised parsnip, pimentos de padron and smoked candy apple, and spiced cauliflower, pomegranate and mint salad. The gnocchi was heavenly, just as they should be- pillowy clouds from heaven and the mushrooms and whole mustard seeds gave it a whole different- yet delicious flavour. The pork belly was perfectly cooked, and the accompaniments matched perfectly. Lastly, the cauliflower salad was fresh and tasty.

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We also had a kombucha cocktail each. It was made on tequila and was very refreshing!

After all that food we couldn’t fit in dessert, so we will have to come back again because it looked amazing!

All in all, my date and I agreed that the restaurant was great, the service was a little slow but we soon forgave them after tasting the food! Asana: We’ll be back!

The details

80 Albert Street, Brisbane QLD 4000
Toll-Free: 1800 110 800 (within Australia)
Phone: +61 7 3013 0088
Email: reservations.brisbane@capribyfraser.com

 

What’s your favourite healthy place to eat?

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Review – Sin Vida

It’s always a challenge when you need to find a venue for a function that ticks all the boxes. Some of the requirements include; is the food good? Is it easy to find? Is there parking available? Can they cater for large groups? Are they flexible? Is it going to be fun?

Sin Via 3

Well, Sin Vida delivered the goods!

Firstly, the booking process was a cinch. I went to their website online (and drooled over the menu) and made my request through the online booking system. Shortly after, I was greeted (which sounds so much sexier in Spanish ‘hola amigo’) by a very helpful team member, Ed, who went above and beyond to make this function a hit.

Ed suggested since there was a large group of us, to have a set menu, or what they call ‘La Fiesta’. We got a selection of their favourite dishes, and it meant everyone got to try a bit of everything.

I can’t believe I haven’t yet mentioned the Sangria! Anyone who knows me, knows I love Sangria, I even pride myself on my own recipe. I may have to have words with the barman, because his is better!Sin Vida 2

SO what did we eat?

– Guacamole and Sin Vida Corn Chips (corn chips were outta this world!)
– Quesadilla de Chorizo
– Quesadilla de Papa
– Chicken Wings
– Lamb Tostada
– Seven Chilli Goat
– Sides of Tortillas

I cannot wait to go back, because their tacos also sound to die for!sin vida 1

The details
Sin Vida
Address: 12/100 McLachlan St, Fortitude Valley QLD 4006
Phone: (07) 3625 0298
Email: bookings@sinvida.com.au

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Guilty pleasures

It only occurred to me the other day that there are some things I eat that are quite strange. I’m not talking about eating haggis or bugs on a daily basis but the little things, like maybe eating Vegemite on its own straight from the jar.

Yes, I eat Vegemite out of a jar.

I also eat a few other strange things, which absolutely must come from my Dad. I mean, he likes apple sandwiches!

I want to open up a Pandora’s Box of weird and wonderful combinations, quirky habits and downright strange foods! Lets put it all out there! Perhaps you love a strange but delicious sandwich concoction? When I told my roommate about my plans for this post she replied with, “When I was in Indonesia, we tried banana and cheese sandwiches, they were quite tasty!”

So here goes, no judgement (please!), my quirky foodie indulgences:

  • Roasted pumpkin skins (I just love to fry them or roast them and eat them as a snack).
  • The bones out of a tin of salmon (I swear mum tole me they were full of iron?).
  • The cream on top of fresh milk (I only buy milk with cream on top for that very reason).
  • Frozen peas (afternoon treat anyone?).
  • Raw sausages (Yes! I know…but a small mouthful won’t hurt!).
  • Tomato sauce sandwiches (I went through a massive phase in high school, its all I brought to school).
  • The crumbs in a pan from grilled lamb chops (I used to fight my brother for these growing up, behind mums back).
  • Frozen white bread (can you tell I like frozen things?).
  • Egg flips (OK, not so strange, but some people have a complex about me drinking raw egg!).
  • Bacon rind (sometimes Dad and I cut it off, then fry it until its super crispy)

So there it is, I said it! There is probably a lot more than listed above but its a good start.

What do you like to eat/indulge in that may be a bit strange to others?

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Review: Mondo Organics

I love those moments when you finally get to try a cafe that has been on your list for such a long time, and it exceeds all your expectations.

Last Saturday, I finally got to try Mondo Organics in West End. It’s hard to find a cafe that is not only healthy, but has a strong focus on organic, seasonal and locally grown produce. In fact, Mondo Organics is Australia’s first fully licensed organics restaurant, and they are constantly innovating new ways to improve their business.

If this place hasn’t impressed you yet – they also have cooking classes and catering! I can’t wait to sign up for one of their classes, Spanish tapas anyone?

So what did we eat?

I am a fritter lover through and through, so I couldn’t go past the zucchini, fetta and herb fritters, poached eggs, sprout salad and turmeric labneh. It was light but filling, and all the flavours complemented each other so well.

One of my friends chose (after much begging to choose something different than me) hash browns, crumbed egg and wilted greens. It was refreshing to see something so familiar yet so different on the menu, and it tasted sensational.

Lastly, my other two friends had wood-smoked free range bacon, poached eggs, greens, slow-roasted tomato and sourdough. You could tell the sourdough was homemade, and the smell of the wood smoked bacon was enough to make us all to drool!

So there you have it, another healthy option for dining out in Brisbane. I cannot wait to go back for dinner!

What’s your favourite healthy cafe/restaurant?

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Creating a top notch cheese platter

Taste on James Street (heaven on earth if you’re a foodie) recently celebrated their 10th birthday and invited foodies from all over to participate in their festivities, which included cooking classes.

We were lucky enough to join in on both a cheese class and a charcuterie class with Fino Fine Food, a Brisbane-based wholesaler of specialty foods (read: totally delicious).

Fino Fine Food’s food stylist, Shelby Chalmers took us through setting up a top notch large cheese platter and breaking it down into smaller plates. While I knew most of what Shelby took us through, I had a lightbulb moment when one lady at our table said she had learned so much. I spoke to Shelby when it was all over and asked if she wouldn’t mind me writing up a post about both sessions. I grabbed her email address and here we are, with the top 5 keys to making an awesome cheese plate:

The mix
When I do up a cheese platter, I usually have a mix of cheese textures on the plate (a hard, a soft and often a blue) because generally that means there is something for everyone. Shelby believes less is more, so you’re better off having three really amazing cheeses than trying to fill a platter with a heap of ‘so-so’ cheeses. Her top tip: “I like to stick to three good things and have a cheese that hails from each of the following categories: a hard or semi-hard, a blue and a soft mould”.

The accompaniments
Whenever you see a cheese platter, it’s usually cluttered with a bunch of different accompaniments, but you don’t have to go all out. Shelby recommends honey, fresh fruits and marmalades. During this class, we had some amazing fruit pastes and baby figs. Yum!

If you like nuts on your platter, Shelby urges to avoid walnuts, unless you can get them fresh. Most often, walnuts are already rancid and impart a horrible bitter flavour.

No wonder I’m not keen on walnuts!

The bottom
I say ‘the bottom’ because I wanted all my sub-headings to match.

Here, I’m referring to what to eat the cheese with. This one is pretty easy though, fresh crusty sourdough, crackers, fresh fruit, lavosh, the list really goes on.

The match
It would be crazy to have an amazing cheese platter and nothing to drink! Shelby recommends some cold craft beer, because it just goes so well with cheese. Chardonnay also works well, and light-bodied reds like Pinot Noir.

The presentation
This is last for a reason, there’s plenty to say!

  • I’m a big fan of serving whole cheese wheels and blocks. Not only does it look better, but people can also decide for themselves how big of a slice they would like (I may or may not like eating slices of cheese bigger than the bread I’m eating it with).
  • As per the above point, please don’t chop cheeses into squares! In fact, I loved Shelby’s presentation of her hard cheese – using a knife to ‘crumble’ large pieces of cheese off the block to encourage people to do the same. Sometimes it’s the worst, waiting for someone else to start a untouched piece of cheese.
  • For a big platter, get yourself some nice ramekins or other containers for your accompaniments. For smaller platters (for maybe 3-4 people), a spoon or two of the accompaniments directly on the plate will work well.
  • As mentioned above, you don’t have to get as much as you can on the platter. If you have three cheeses, you only need three accompaniments and a couple of different crackers/breads. I totally agree with Shelby’s words, “all killer, no filler”.
  • You can serve it on whatever you like, you don’t to use a wooden chopping board just because everyone else is. A ceramic platter, or as I’ve done before, a whole table!
  • When you’re laying out your items, spread them out nicely, so people can get to everything.

What’s good right now? Shelby said she can’t get enough of their 24-month-old Comté, a semi-hard french cheese. Drool.

Fino Food & Wine has an online store where you can buy amazing cheese packs for your next shindig.

I hope your cheese platters will be amazing! Keep your eye out for charcuterie platter tips next!

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My favourite time of the year – making gingerbread

Yes, the festive season has been and gone! Since my years of working in retail are behind me, I’ve really felt like I can really get into the festive spirit!

One of my favourite ways to get ready and excited about Christmas is to get baking. That’s right, crank up the Christmas carols, put the corny apron on, and dance and sing while the smell of freshly baked gingerbread wafts through the house!

I find some gingerbread recipes can be too dry, and others very sticky, but luckily this one is just right. I have been using this recipe for years, it never fails me. Since my family have few traditions when it comes to Christmas, this is one I have started myself and one I want to carry with me for years to come.

This year, I had two amazing helpers, my room mate Beth, and her three year old niece Imogen! It was messy at times but we certainly had plenty of fun.

Ingredients

  • Melted butter, to grease
  • 125g butter, at room temperature
  • 100g (1/2 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) golden syrup
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 375g (2 1/2 cups) plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • Plain flour, to dust
  • 150g (1 cup) pure icing sugar, sifted
  • Food colouring of your choice

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C and brush 2 baking trays with melted butter to lightly grease.
  2. Use an electric beater to beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy.
  3. Add the golden syrup and egg yolk and beat until combined.
  4. Stir in the flour, ginger, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda.
  5. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.
  6. Press dough into a disc. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
  7. Meanwhile, to make the icing: place egg white in a clean, dry bowl. Use an electric beater to beat until soft peaks form.
  8. Gradually add icing sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Divide icing among bowls (as many bowls as you need colours) and add food colouring. Keep covered in fridge until needed.
  9. Place the dough between 2 sheets of baking paper and roll out until about 4mm thick.
  10. Use a 9cm gingerbread man cutter to cut out shapes. Place on trays about 3cm apart. Repeat with any excess dough.
  11. Bake in oven for 10 minutes or until brown. Remove from oven. Transfer to a rack to cool.
  12. Place prepared icings in small plastic zip lock bags. Cut a small hole in a corner of each bag. Pipe icing over gingerbread men to decorate.

Note: I got inspiration from Pinterest and google for decorating!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. We ended up making over 120 biscuits, which took forever to ice, but the overwhelming awesome feedback we received from them was worth every second!

Merry Christmas to you all!

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Review: Nom Nom, Salisbury

Another one of those places I’ve finally made it to. Why did I wait so long?!

In a very quiet block of shops in Salisbury, a clean little cafe is serving some very tasty Vietnamese food.

nomnom     rolls

The menu has a good range of items, from pho to Vietnamese chicken curry. Although I love a good pho, I was in the mood for banh mi. I made the extra difficult decision of which meat and went with the honey pork patties. My lunch date also chose the honey pork patties, but in his bun (vermicelli salad) instead. Both were fresh and light, just the way they should be.

It’s also really hard to say no to rice paper rolls, so we picked two types – the grilled pork and the lemongrass beef. Both full of flavour and I think the paper used was more like the paper used in Vietnam (very thin and you don’t drown it in water before using it). The menu has three sauce options and we chose the hoisin and peanut (boy, I love hoisin). However, when our order was taken, the staff member said, ‘I’ll give you two sauces because I think these will taste better with the nuoc mam cham (fish sauce)’. I loved that! Who knows their food best than the person serving it and he wanted to share his knowledge with us. His nuoc mam cham, was definitely very tasty!

salad     roll

I got my usual soda chanh – a very refreshing lemonade I always order when eating at Vietnamese restaurants. It’s really easy to make: juice of one lemon, sugar or sugar syrup (to taste), topped with soda water or mineral water. Give it a good stir and drink!

coffee     drink

We also ordered a Vietnamese iced coffee. It was brought to the table with the drip filter still doing its thing, which I really liked (but my lunch date didn’t because he wanted it ‘now!’). Before I had a chance to explain what needed to happen, my date asked the staff member who took our order what on earth he was supposed to do because he had never been served one like that before. Much like the explaining the sauce, he was only happy to give a quick tutorial. He probably walked away shaking his head though.

Overall, a really good lunch at very good prices.

The details
Nom Nom Cafe
Shop 1/272 Lillian Ave, Salisbury
M: 7:30am-3pm | W-F: 7:30am-3pm & 5pm-9pm  | Sa: 8am-2:30pm & 5pm-9pm | Su: 8am-2:30pm | Tues: Closed
www.facebook.com/NomNomCoffeeShop

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