2016 Food and Wine Festival – Toowoomba

Food

Hey! As you guys would know from the On The Spork Instagram, I’m the guest blogger covering the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers and Food and Wine Festival.

Last weekend I went to the annual Carnival of Flowers, which is held in Queens Park Toowoomba. Spring is the most amazing time in the Darling Downs, as its cool weather and wet winters create the perfect conditions for the most beautiful flowers and plants, which each year just get better and better. As part of the carnival, the Food and Wine Festival is held as a celebration of local food and wine, with a few well-renowned national wineries there as well.

There was live music from many Australian bands, including Emma Louise, Birds of Tokyo, Eurogliders and Models, a parade through the town centre and an art and flower display. While the Food and Wine Festival was sectioned off from the rest of the park (entry was $28 for students and $33 for adults), it was packed full of people and families gathering on picnic blankets, under trees and under umbrellas, taking advantage of the only sunny and warm day of the carnival.

While the flowers obviously stole the show, I’m here to talk about the food! There was a huge variety of foods available, from Indian, Thai and Hungarian cuisines to burgers, fish and chips and the classic potato spirals on sticks. Every second stall sold wine, and the Spotted Cow had a bar tent with plenty of beer and cider. Most of the food stalls were from local restaurants, however some had come from as far as Byron Bay.

My Order: Butter Chicken Curry and Rice from Everest Spice ($10) with Na’an ($3), Hillbilly Cider from the Spotted Cow ($8), Traditional Doughnut from Byron Bay Organic Doughnuts ($5).

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The first thing I had was a butter chicken curry with rice and naan from Everest Spice, which is one of the best butter chickens I have ever had, and by far the best in Toowoomba. It was so tasty, if maybe a little too mild (I like a bit of spice), but super creamy and warming. The naan was perfect, however I did have trouble eating the very orange curry with the naan while trying not to get any on my white dress! I had some rosé with my meal, however if I’m really honest I’m more of a cider gal, and I also tried some of the pineapple sangria, which tasted so fresh, not too sweet and had a hint of orange.

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Surprisingly the sangria didn’t actually have any alcohol in it, though last year when I went I had sneakily added some white wine to it, and it was great (it is the food and wine festival after all).

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The last thing I had while there, which I had been looking forward to the most, was the traditional cinnamon doughnut from Byron Bay Organic Doughnuts. Last year I tried the chocolate one, however this year I was craving a good old fashion cinnamon doughnut, and it really hit the spot. The doughnut was huge, you nearly needed to use two hands to eat it, and it was still warm and super fluffy. While it was a little bit too oily, I think that was just because it had come straight out of the fryer and was dusted with cinnamon sugar just as I bought it.

Other Order: Thai Chicken Salad from Claud’s Kitchen ($12), Pineapple Sangria from Tutti Fruiti ($8), Caramel Slice ($5), Death by Chocolate ($6) and Raspberry White Chocolate Cupcake ($6) from Reid St Kitchen. (Reid St Kitchen is a regular at the Jan Powers Markets in Brisbane, and Tutti Fruiti is a regular at Eat Street Markets).

My friend had the Thai chicken salad from Claud’s Kitchen, which I had never heard of before, but was told that it was also one of the best Thai salads she had ever eaten.

We had also bought some cakes from Reid St Kitchen to take home for later, which all looked great, however were a little let down by their icing. The caramel slice was way too sweet, and while the cupcakes were really moist, there was too much icing that tasted very average.

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I would definitely recommend you check out the Carnival of Flowers next year and get a doughnut, and if you’re ever in Toowoomba and are looking for a meal out or takeaway, go check out Everest Spice!

Miss Kay’s – Brisbane CBD

Food

Burgers and a whole lot of red.

It felt like a long time ago, but in April 2015, that was the first time I checked out Miss Kays. For all we knew, there was a burger pop-up joint somewhere along George Street that was not going to be around for long.

Miss Kays have now hit the prime spot for a lunch-time hang out or dinner/live-music venue. When we went nearing the 1pm mark, we laughed off that the 10+ men in front of us were the “business men squad”; there is nothing like seeing the whole crew get burgers together.

Thankfully, it has grown into a popular hangout spot, in the best location at one end of Queen Street Mall. There are so many temptations with it being to and from the walk to QUT Gardens Point campus. Luckily with the free shuttle bus between campus’, we could save some travelling money towards our meal.

My Order: Ludacrisp ($12.50), Miss Kay’s Fries ($4) and Sunkist Soda Pop ($3.50).

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Although I could not remember having the Ludakrisp the first time round, it was still delicious. With its thin layer of crispy batter around flattened chicken breast, coleslaw, barbecue sauce and divine pickles. In comparison to the standard cheeseburger I usually get anywhere, although the chicken was great, I just was not in the fried-chicken mood. It was enjoyable, I was just too busy thinking about a juicy beef patty. Thankfully they have milky-like burger buns and not the standard sesame buns that are usually always too dry, but Brooklyn Depot still holds the best burger buns in Brisbane.

As for the fries, this is definitely the serving you want. Whatever that seasoning is, it is salty, unique and addictive… although after a few bites, the salt does drain everything from your body. It is still good though, and worth it.

Other Order: Mac Daddy ($14.50) and The Millie Vanilli ($8.50).

Unfortunately, there is no photo here of The Millie Vanilli before it was drunk, but it is the standard milkshake you would expect to look like from an American diner. For $8.50 however, I just could not break the bank on top of my burger and fries.

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Doughnut Time – Albert St, Brisbane

Food

Another store, another opportunity to grab some free doughnuts.

Although I nearly forgot about their new opening, luckily I walked past some students with Doughnut Time boxes to remind me that Albert St has a new addition of freshly made doughnuts.

Order: All About The Gains, The Butternut and Home Alone (Free)

I have tried The Butternut previously, and it is the perfect example for that simple, not too sweet, fussy or overly extravagant doughnut you may be seeking. Unlike All About The Gains, you can taste the freshness and softness of the doughnut, without all the additional bits that throw you into a food coma.

As for All About The Gains, maybe it was the fact that it was peanut butter, but it was the one that stood out for me. I am always intrigued by doughnuts that are not the norm, so this peanut protein was chosen.

Now I did not prepare myself as to how much effort it would take to just bite or cut into it. I may have decided to save the rest for another time, but of course, I did not want that day old stale taste as I have had before. This doughnut was a challenge to demolish because it was so sweet and it was essentially cutting into my dinner time (should have saved it for dessert).

Probably the messiest doughnut I have ever come across, but it does actually ooze out. Sadly, the mess just was not attractive and so, a photo did not make the cut. If you like the duo of peanut butter and chocolate together, then I am sure you will have no problem enjoying this.

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Toshi Teppan – QUT Kelvin Grove

Food

Best and crispest chicken on campus. To all those who go to QUT, everyone seems to praise Toshi Teppan/Toshi Ramen‘s Chicken Katsu Curry. As broke uni students, we like a decent meal special and QUT’s new C Block cafeteria continues to bring the goodies.

Order: Chicken Katsu Curry ($7.50)

Although the rice was not as soft and fluffy (possibly because it was not washed correctly) and did taste slightly undercooked, the fresh deep-fried chicken and not too spicy curry sauce won me over.

Unfortunately, due to the older gentleman tripping over whilst carrying these styrofoam boxes, the curry sauce was a mess.

All in all, the presentation did not matter, the taste was all I needed.

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Aqua S Pop Up – Wintergarden

Food, Uncategorized

This is what you get when you go to heaven. An ice-cream in a cloud that is the most ethereal, angelic-like dessert Australia has seen.

The Wintergarden along Queen Street Mall is renowned for holding VIP events with exciting shopping discounts and gifts, but on September 1st #shopthecity came alive, bringing Brisbane a glimpse of Sydney’s Best Soft Serve, Aqua S.

A Pop-Up Free Ice-Cream Cone that looks like that? How can I not check it out… even though I had an assignment due the next day? At least the line-up was not too bad, but it was certainly worth the wait. To the workers knocking out free soft serve for 4 hours straight, I commend you for working so hard for us Brisbanites to have a chance of tasting the most delicious soft serve.

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Order: Sea Salt and Rose Soft Serve with Fairy Floss and Popping Candy (Free).

Can Aqua S please have a store here! It was the most fun, exciting and slightly messiest ice cream to eat. With its smooth and flavourful soft serve, you could taste how real the sea salt and rose flavours were. The fairy floss and popping candy just added to the entertainment factor.

Home Cafe – Ashgrove

Food

Brunch gives you the best looking Instagram-worthy dishes… well at least from my point of view.

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On Monday August 22nd, the usual after-uni feed was a burger planned adventure at the then-recently opened Getta Burger in Ashgrove. To our dismay, we did not realise it was closed for lunch on Mondays (and Tuesdays), so where to next?

Home Cafe has been on the list for as long as I can imagine, but due to the prices, I usually said “maybe next time”. Now, it was that next time, and everything about their meals and their colourful venue was spectacular.

My Order: Corn & Zucchini Fritters with Bacon ($16.90) plus, Haloumi ($4).

The presentation of it all ticked all the right boxes. Please disregard the fact that my friend ordered earlier, so she had to dig in before I could take a photo. From the photos on Instagram, I was a tad skeptical about how much I would get for the price I would pay, but it was definitely something I do not regret. When the plate came out, they were certainly generous. The addition of thick halloumi slices made it more worthwhile and I will never say no to some added halloumi.

The corn and zucchini fritters were light and crispy, not oiled down, and that tomato relish had a perfectly smoked essence to it. It had been a long time since I went out for a decent brunch meal and Home Cafe definitely does not disappoint.

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Other Order: Haloumi ($16.90)

Below, the order before she dug in. Can you just see how perfect that stack looks?

Drinks: Iced Chocolate ($7.90) and a Watermelon Smoothie ($7.90).

The only question I have about drinks is, why are they so expensive? I could have resorted to just a plain cappuccino, but obviously, with brunches like these, I have to go all out. It was a tasty and great looking Iced Chocolate, but for $7.90, is it worth it? Fun straws were a perk, but I am not sure I will spending more again on one of these overpriced drinks.

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Eat Street Markets – Hamilton

Food

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Only my second time at Eat Street Markets but I am never not excited. As soon as the entry fee is paid, I will walk straight through with an instant smile on my face.

First off, why can’t there be two “Eat” signs? This was hard to find.

Secondly, why can’t I have endless amount of money?

Prior to my Eat Street adventure, of course I just had to make prior decisions on what to eat. Calamari was my top choice, but after walking past numerous times trying to find the right spot, I just could not find it. However, once I bought my food, and we were looking for the gnocchi place, it turns out the calamari I wanted was right at the entrance.

I know I had to choose something different, but it was hard to ignore how good the food from my first time was, so I did end up having Koma Sliders, Hierba Santa and Chocolate Komberry Co. all over again.

My Order: Fully Loaded Fries ($10) from Koma Sliders.

The most delicious mix of Korean and American cuisine has brought us Fully Loaded Fries. Curly and Sweet Potato fries, topped with Korean bulgogi beef, kimchi, mozzarella cheese, spicy mayo and aioli. Flavour upon flavour and the right amount of textures, iProcessed with VSCO with c1 presett is hard to deny Koma Sliders when they knock fusion dishes out of the park.

Other Orders: Nachos ($10) with Guacamole ($2) from Chilli Sisters and Chicken & Chorizo Paella ($12) from Samba Catering.

I did end up have a small try of the paella, but to my personal taste, I would have liked the chorizo to have a bit more smoke and spice to it and that some acidic element was added to cut through the starch of the rice.

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Drinks: Aztec Blood, Hawaii Bombay and Black Lemon from Hierba Santa (Cup $4).

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BEST DRINKS ON THE PLANET. Do I need to say more? Forget alcohol or other beverages on offer, Hierba Santa is a must when at Eat Street Markets. Iced tea that is not too sweet? It is the perfect refreshment with any meal. First time I had this, I bought a Litre of Black Lemon, and there were no regrets with that whatsoever (maybe only the fact I had a pressing need to pee when we were on our way back home).

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Dessert Order: 1 Salted Caramel Soft Serve Conut ($12) and 1 Salted Caramel & Chocolate Soft Serve Conut ($12) from Chocolate Komberry Co.

Sweetness overload and diabetes ensured. As delicious as these conuts were, it feels as though you are just eating teaspoon after teaspoon of sugar granules. The amount of sugar all together made it hard to devour and all I really wanted was more of that hot fudge sauce. Albeit, the ice-cream was thick and smooth, but I could have asked for more salt. This was probably the first time I did not finish a dessert, but at least I have finally tried it.

Next time? I will opt for The Doughnut Bar’s doughcone.

 

Brooklyn Depot – Southbank

Food

Brooklyn Depot has put a permanent smile on my face.

From its New York Green High Line inspired decor and its Brooklyn contemporary industrial interior, I am happy to say this is one huge step up, taking over the previous South Side Diner.

The name “Brooklyn Depot” constantly popped up everytime I went online. Just from the images of the food and location, I knew I had to visit this sooner and not just leave it waiting on my list of places to visit. After attending the Cindy Sherman exhibition at GOMA, choosing Brooklyn Depot as a “pre-birthday” treat was the best birthday gift I could give myself.

When I first read the menu, I knew it would end up becoming my go-to place for a well-needed feed. Not just its burgers, but its Po Boy Sandwiches, Hot Dogs, Chilli Fries and Milkshakes, I just wanted to buy the whole place.

As we sat down and watched as the waiters carried boards of burgers and baskets of fries and onion rings, at first I was a bit skeptical. Taking over South Side Diner’s location, my initial thoughts were “will this be underwhelming like South Side Diner?” I had only been to South Side Diner once, and for the price and size of their burgers, I was very disappointed. BUT, although the burgers looked small, it was worth it.

My Order: Brooklyn Classic [Grass fed beef, American cheese, oak leaf lettuce, tomato, Depot special sauce] ($10) and Beef Chilli Cheese Fries ($10)

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After my burger from Brew, no burger bun would please me if it were not a milky bun. Thank Brooklyn Depot for continuing on this deliciousness with a beef burger that oozed with perfection. The bun was soft to the touch, the lettuce – a refreshing crunch, the tomato – although it did not look as fresh, worked so well as it was covered in Depot special sauce, and finally, the beef pattie – a crunchy outside and grilled to the utmost delectable, juicy patty I have had in a lone time. 50/10 burger in Brisbane; I am sorry, but all you burger joints, you have to step up your game because Brooklyn Depot has got my vote.

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Between the Garbage Fries and Beef Chilli Cheese, Brooklynising skinny fries to Beef Chilli Cheese just made my first experience here even more spectacular. A $10 set of crispy shoestring fries looking like that? It puts McDonalds to shame. You do not even have to get a burger and you can just eat it all by itself, because it will fill you up in an instant. If you like chilli, its a perfect hit and just the right bite in addition to the beef topping and fake-cheese sauce. I hope I am not insulting the chef, but what is an American diner without that fake-cheese taste; superb fries though.

Other Orders: Brooklyn Classic ($10) and Flip The Bird [Pulled BBQ chicken, hickory smoked bacon, Depot slaw, guacamole & sweet BBQ sauce] ($10)

I did end up having a bite of Flip The Bird, but like my other burger attendees, there were mixed feelings about this. I cannot say this is one burger I would choose since the Pulled BBQ chicken was just too sweet. All together, even though the bacon would have complimented with its salty flavour, I found it was not enough for me to enjoy that burger. All in all, it just lacked in texture and flavour.

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Although I have figured out some pros and cons, Brooklyn Depot can expect me back for more.

 

The Street Food Depot – King George Square

Food

All I wanted was to go to Officeworks, buy envelopes and go home.

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Another food truck event at King George Square, and the worst possible time when you come into the city hungry and you want to save money. If I took a different bus from uni, this could have been avoided, but the temptations rolled in when I was bombarded with trucks and stalls I had never even heard of.

The Street Food Depot was filled with endless options, so craving after craving built up and I just could not make a decision. After the checking out Wednesday’s Jan Powers Farmers Markets the week before, I was eyeing a bratwurst from Brat Haus, but ended up at Brew instead.

My choices were either between Calamari, a Bratwurst or a Banh Mi from Rolls Pho Mi, but for a decent $10, German Dog House Sausages it was.

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As difficult as it was to eat in public without dropping sauerkraut and tomato sauce everywhere, it was one enjoyable meal.

Order: Cheese Kranski ($10) with Sauerkraut, Grilled Onion and Tomato Sauce.

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I asked the guy behind the table whether I should go with a Cheese Kranski or a Milk Bratwurst. His joking around about how much product was on the grill ended in confusion as initially, the Cheese Kranski was recommended, but the Mild Bratwurst won me over. Unfortunately, the girl piling on the sausage, sauerkraut and onions did not hear my selection change, resorting me to a Cheese Kranski. It was only until I was walking away to find a seat when I realised this misunderstanding; at least I got some form of Bratwurst.

The first bite of the Cheese Kranski was lemony, or somewhat tangy, so originally I thought I may have had sauerkraut mixed into it, but I was wrong. I did ask for more sauerkraut than onion, but it was a bit disappointing that the sauerkraut did not have as much bite and kick to it. As for the Cheese Kranski, as I took one bite after another, it felt as if the flavour disappeared. Somehow I was just eating because I was hungry and not because I was savouring the flavour.

Next time, I will make sure to get a Mild Bratwurst in order to (hopefully) get a punch of flavour, spice and a little bit of eat.

Brew – Brisbane CBD

Food

Of the week starting Monday July 25th, it was food after food after food. But this laneway served the best tasting burger I have had in a while. Just off Queen Street Mall through Lower Burnett Lane, Brew Cafe & Wine Bar is one quirky, unique and questionably interesting place. Although the inside looks like more of an underground, secret, alternative music venue with its dark vibe, its certainly one everyone must go and check out, whether for its a lunchtime visit or for a drink after work.

The only reason that would stop me from walking in is the underaged school kids lurking in the laneway or the hipsters that end up smoking in the entrance one after the other. Our experience this time round, sitting just outside on milk crates, was eventful. As we waited for our meals to come, we were entertained with teenagers being caught out and moved from outside the venue. As they wore their school’s uniform and one clearly being at least 13, their 1pm adventure was shot down. (Please stay in school).

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Other than witnessing a usual event, when the food arrived it was one spot-on presentation. Each dish looked like a piece of artwork and was definitely something I classify as being worth every cent. So much finesse and detail for my kind of meal, hands down, these chefs know what’s up.

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Other Orders: Smashed Avocado on Toast ($12.50) served on rye with goats cheese ricotta mousse and fresh cut lemon, with Bacon ($3.50) and Warm Superfood Salad ($14.50).

My Order: Brew Crumbed Fish Burger with house made tartare sauce, spinach & tomato with a side of truffle fries ($17)

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Every element of this burger just proved to get better with every bite. The two fish pieces were perfectly crumbed and crunchy with the fish fillet just melting in my mouth. Those tomato slices, I have never seen so fresh and vibrant, and the ratio of that tartare sauce made me want to devour a whole jar. But, although the fish was hard to beat, the milky bun won the dish. Whilst most burger buns I have had are either quite dry or very crumbly, this bun was soft to the touch, delicate in a sense and the crust of being on the grill just added that extra crunch that held the burger together. 10/10 burger bun.

The extra tip added to the garlic mayo was certainly on point, whilst the “truffle” fries had a perfect crunch to them. Although they were quite salty, I cannot say they tasted any different with the truffle element; it did not taste different at all.

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It may not exactly be a proper restaurant as such, but Brew may have become one of my favourite places to eat.