Tag Archive | food

Go Nude With Food? Yes, You Can!

Close to home #8 Stanthorpe

It’s always lovely to go on a long holiday to a far flung destination. There are times, however, when it’s not convenient or cost effective and a staycation, closer to home, is the way to go. The destinations in this series of posts are all within a couple of hours’ drive of our home. They’re easy to get to, there’s plenty to see and do and at the end of the holiday we’re home again in no time.

The small town of Stanthorpe, at the centre of south-east Queensland’s Granite Belt, is a popular tourist destination all year round. More than 12 000 people visit the area during “Brass Monkey Season” over the winter months; cosy chalets and blazing log fires keep the below zero chill of frosty nights at bay. When it comes to summer escapes, Stanthorpe is equally attractive because of the mild temperatures – usually 5 to 7 degrees cooler than the coast with clear blue skies and no humidity. At any time of the year, Stanthorpe’s main attraction is wine; there are more than 50 wineries on the Granite Belt and cellar doors offer tastings all year round. But what do visitors to Stanthorpe do if they’re not into wineries, or they’ve already tasted the wines the region has to offer?

The alternative is to go nude! The Granite Belt Nude Food Trail is a self-drive route that will satisfy the most demanding foodie; nude food is regional and seasonal, with low food miles. There are seven themed routes on the trail, covering 23 local outlets ranging from breweries to butcheries. Whether you have a sweet tooth or a hankering for cheese and chutney, there’s something for everyone.

Sutton’s Juice Factory, Cidery and Distillery, 13 km north of Stanthorpe, is a good starting point for a day of nude food exploration. The factory is surrounded by apple orchards; from February to June the trees are loaded with fruit.

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The apples are processed onsite and made into cider, brandy, juice and cider vinegar which can be sampled and purchased in the farm shop. At the Shed Café, the menu focuses on home-style cooking with a range of seasonal dishes including their signature dish, homemade apple pie with spiced apple cider ice cream. The waitress takes orders and gives advice at the same time. Her suggestion is to share a slice of pie and she’s right. It’s a generous serve, warm and cinnamon-scented.

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At Granite Belt Dairy Farmhouse Cheese, just a few minutes away from Sutton’s, there are seven artisan cheeses to taste. The cheeses are made from the milk of the farm’s herd of Jersey cows and sold in the dairy shop billed as Queensland’s highest and coldest, with an elevation of 925 metres and winter minimums of -15°C. Even in mid-summer, day time temperatures can be mild. What’s not mild is the flavour of the cheeses, which varies according to the weather and the seasons. Cold weather gives the cows’ milk a more intense flavour while lush pasture after rain enhances the colour of the cheese.

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Next door to the cheese shop is Jersey Girls Café, serving homemade meals with cheese as the main ingredient. The food miles here are negligible. Cheese maker Karen tells visitors: “If the food in the café isn’t grown on our farm, it comes from the next door neighbours.”

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One of those neighbours is Castle Glen Distillery, home of Cedric Millar, Queensland’s only whiskey distiller. His whiskey, aged for a minimum of two years and made without additives, is just one of Castle Glen’s beverages. He also produces beer, wine and award winning liqueurs.

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The showroom glows with a kaleidoscope of jewelled colours when the sun shines through stained glass windows onto the specially handcrafted bottles of liqueur. Cedric’s wife Carol-Anne encourages visitors to taste his products. When asked which drink is her favourite, she ponders before answering. “I do like a splash of soda water with some musk stick liqueur on a warm summer evening. It’s light and refreshing. In winter, I can’t go past the coffee and whiskey crème liqueur.”

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If beer is the beverage of choice, Granite Belt Brewery, five minutes south of Stanthorpe, is a must on the itinerary. Guests can see one of six handcrafted beers being created in the microbrewery. The craft beers complement the fresh country menu of the Homestead Restaurant where the waitress recommends the Brewers Platter, a four course degustation meal. “Each course is matched with a different beer; even the dessert, chocolate truffle cake with a strawberry and basil salsa, comes with a glass of Pozieres Porter!”

The strawberries in the salsa are grown at Strawberry Fields, five km further south on the New England Highway. From October to May, when it’s pick-your-own season, plump red berries glisten between the leaves of hundreds of strawberry plants. Visitors can fill a basket as they wander, or for those who don’t want to go to the effort of harvesting, the café sells tubs of freshly picked berries and strawberry flavoured treats. Guests can relax on the terrace next to the strawberry field watching others do the work, while enjoying traditionally made strawberry ice cream, parfaits or pancakes.

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If there’s time, stay in Stanthorpe for a few days. There are many more places on the Nude Food Trail but it’s neither possible nor practical to try to see them all in one day. Take the opportunity to sample the offerings of a few outlets each day and buy some supplies for later. Then leave with a carload of gourmet treats and your clothes still on – the food is the only thing nude in Stanthorpe.

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*This story originally appeared in Queensland Smart Farmer Magazine, February/March 2016.

In The Kitchen

Goin’ Cruising #9

Day Six – Willis Island/Sea Day

After enjoying our visits to Airlie Beach, Cairns and Port Douglas, a day at sea provided a welcome opportunity to relax. We shopped at the duty free stores, lost yet again in the tie break of the Cake and Coffee Trivia competition and went for our morning walk around Deck 14. To maintain this demanding schedule we needed sustenance,  and it was provided by the delicious food at the Waterfront Restaurant.

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We ate almost exclusively at the Waterfront during our cruise, and every meal was excellent. We were delighted by the efficiency and grace of the restaurant staff and amazed at how quickly we were served. We wondered how all this food was created day after day; with more than 1500 hungry passengers on board Pacific Dawn the demands would be enormous.  So when the chance came to experience first hand how all this wonderful food is created, we joined in with equal parts enthusiasm and curiosity.

First we went to a culinary demonstration in the Marquee Theatre. Executive Chef Alexander Keck and Maître d’Hôtel Darren Cholerton entertained us with a humorous commentary, often poking fun at each other while creating Broccoli, Scallop and Bacon Risotto and Crème Caramel.

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While the dishes were cooking, we learned that all the food served on board Pacific Dawn is sourced in Australia and, for a seven day cruise, 250 pallets of supplies are delivered to the ship.

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The scents wafting from the cooking station on the stage were enticing and we eagerly raised our hands when Entertainment Director Zoltina-J asked for taste testing volunteers. Mr ET was among the lucky ones to be chosen and he joined the others on stage for a close up view of the cooking.

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His verdict on the risotto: “10 out of 10!”

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When the demonstration was finished we headed to the Waterfront Restaurant for a behind the scenes walk through the kitchen, where staff members were busy preparing the lunch menu.

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Of course, when food is consumed, there is always washing up to be done. Around 32 000 plates and 30 000 pieces of cutlery are washed every day. We made sure not to stop in the cleaning area in case we were conscripted!

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Later, when we returned to the Waterfront, we sat down for lunch not just with healthy appetites but also a deeper appreciation of those who helped to bring such delicious food to our table.

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What’s For Dinner?

With more than 160 000 eating establishments in Tokyo there’s no excuse for being hungry. It’s simply a matter of finding the right food to suit the occasion.

If you’re in a hurry at lunchtime there are fast food outlets where you can watch while your meal is created. At this stall in Harajuku the chef forms takoyaki –  octopus balls. With a few deft moves of his chopsticks each one is perfectly shaped and steaming hot. Choose your own topping!

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You won’t have time for a sit down meal when you’re shopping at Nakamise in Asakusa. Restore your energy levels with some ningyo-yaki, small sweet cakes filled with red bean paste. They’re cooked to order in heated cast iron moulds shaped like miniature people; ningyo-yaki means “baked doll”.

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For a simple snack while out walking, you could try some goma-dango cooked over hot coals at a roadside stall, with a chilled cucumber on the side. Would you like some sake with that?

At the end of a day filled with walking and watching, you’ll be looking forward sitting down to a delicious hot meal. Instead of reading the menu at each restaurant check out the window display to see the chef’s specialties.

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Although these tempting dishes look real, they are actually handmade plastic models – a traditional art form known as sampuru. Even when you know the food is fake, it’s hard to believe when you see the intricate details of each dish.

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So what’s for dinner? Let’s have barbecued pork with a crisp green salad, rice and hot miso soup…

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and my favourite, Chicken Karaage with steamed greens and rice…

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followed by a green tea KitKat for dessert!

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Justin Beaver found some fake food too.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Changing Seasons #2

When we walked into the foyer of the Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel one December night we were surprised to see it lavishly decorated for Christmas. The Christmas tree towered over the guests and staff and hundreds of fairy lights were sparkling.

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This beautiful gingerbread house was on display in front of the hotel’s restaurant, and I half expected to find that someone had taken a sneaky bite out of it!

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The DOs and DON’Ts of visiting Munich

DO climb to the top of the bell tower of St Peterskirche. The views of the city and the Glockenspiel in the Neues Rathaus opposite are unrivalled.

DO go to Galeria Kaufhof and take the escalator to the basement. The variety of fresh and gourmet food for sale in the food hall is incredible, and it took us a very long time to decide what to buy for dinner. I can recommend the orange rooibos tea -it’s delicious.

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DO eat pretzels, chocolates, strudels and those luscious German tortes with the strawberries and red jelly on top. You will walk it all off anyway.

DO take the time to read your train timetables carefully so that you know where you want to go and which train you need to catch. This will avoid having your travelling companions suddenly exiting, when they decide that you are all on the wrong train, just before the doors close, leaving you stranded in the train while they are on the platform, then watching you disappear down the track. (I was actually on the right train and had no trouble making my way back to our apartment but had to wait for them to get the next train because I didn’t have a key! This photo wasn’t taken in the train station, but these are the culprits.)

DO visit the Frauenkirche. The Pope was once the Archbishop there, and legend says that the devil left his footprint in the entrance when he left in a fit of bad temper after being tricked by the builder of the Church.

 

DO splash out and buy yourself a BMW when you go to BMW Welt, even if it is a matchbox car sized one. Let’s face it, you wouldn’t fit one of these in your hand luggage.

DON’T spend just a day or two in Munich. You need to stay at least a week to really see everything and enjoy it. We did and every day was amazing!

Weekly Photo Challenge – Wrong

After spending several hours exploring the wonders of Schloss Nymphenburg in Munich, we were ready for a luscious afternoon tea at the Schlosscafe Palmenhaus. The Palmenhaus was a greenhouse in its former life and its gracious interior reflects its history. This enormous cream puff with ice cream, fresh whipped cream, cherries and chocolate sauce may look a little wrong, but it was oh so delicious!

To Market, To Market

There are 140 shops and stalls at the Victualienmarkt in Munich, selling gourmet delicacies and local foods as well as beautiful flowers and plants. This was our first morning in Munich and indeed our first morning in Germany, and after an overnight flight the market had just the atmosphere we needed to reclaim our bearings and start to enjoy all that Munich had to offer. The market has been trading in the square behind the Church of St Peter since 1807 and has become an important meeting place for local shoppers and visitors.

Asparagus season was in full swing and it was for sale at many stalls. The white variety was new to us and its fresh, plump tenderness was very tempting.

At the greengrocers we were amazed to see the countries of origin of many of the fruit and vegetables. There were bananas from Panama, tomatoes from Spain. The variety was endless.

The garden shop was lush with greenery and gorgeous flowers ready to take home. Most of the flowering plants were familiar to us – it was strangely comforting to see them in unfamiliar surroundings.

We bought our evening meal of bratwurst at the butchers and some fresh crusty bread to go with it from this bakery. The enormous pretzels were on our “must eat” list immediately.

There is a beirgarten – of course, which opens an hour later than the market, at 9am. All of Munich’s beers are served here as well as those giant pretzels that are so salty and delicious…

probably more delicious than this spirulina brot!