The year is rushing by, as it always does. There’s always so much happening. So many small observations and half written posts that fly past without being captured and popped onto a digital page for posterity. The Project Manager in me needs to curate these thoughts. Get them organised. Document them. Here they are:
Carina North Quality Meats
A few months ago I wrote about my local butcher shop, Carina North Quality Meats. At the time I mentioned that owner/butcher Michael James would be captaining the 2014 Tri Nations Butchering Competition in the UK. The competition is a way of promoting and encouraging best practice retail butchering to drive productivity, sustainability and profitability and is supported by the Australian government and Meat & Livestock Australia. There is extensive preparation, practice in working together as a team, researching ingredients available overseas, organising props and serving ware, lead up competition ‘friendlies’ and time away from families and businesses. In the end, 10 months of preparation boils down to a few hours of competition where teams are judged on their butchery skills, innovation, workmanship and presentation. Michael has previously competed in the competition as a team member and told me it was ‘More stressful than my wedding day’. He says the Kiwis are the team to beat. The competition is in July and is fast approaching so join me in wishing Michael and the team all the best. Follow CN Quality Meats on Facebook so you know keep up to date with the latest news.
Carina North Quality Meats
3/182 Stanley Rd
Carina Qld 4152
Open 7 days a week
Tartufo Wood Fired Pizza
I have a real connection with Tartufo Ristorante. The food truly is seasonal and it’s not unusual for owner/chef Tony Percuocco to come out and tell diners about subtle changes to the menu because he has just bought the first of the Spring peas or to talk about how the pine mushrooms are particularly good at present. Dietary restrictions are not an issue either as he is happy to come up with an options that not only addresses the requirement but also satisfies the palate. The service is top notch as well. No matter how busy things get, nothing is too much trouble for the staff and they never get flustered. Basically, this place hums which is why it has recently been voted amongst Top 10 Queensland Restaurants.
I’m friendly with Tony as I often have a quick chat with him when I walk past his restaurant on the way home from work. He was also one of the Chef’s who generously gave his time and skills to the Starlight 5 Chefs Dinner. I’ve celebrated New Year’s Eve at Tartufo with friends and think the Vitello Tonnato is one of the consistently best dishes I have had at any restaurant over a number of years. Even if it’s not on the menu, I always know I can order it.
Recently, Tartufo installed a wood fired oven in the front of house. The highly technical filters that clean the smoke, make the oven carbon neutral and with its beautiful glossy red tiles and glowing interior, it’s turning out delicious thin and crisp pizzas. Perfect for lunch with a glass of wine, to order on their own for dinner or as part of a mix and match menu from the ala carte selection, the pizza has proven very popular. I took a dozen colleagues to Tartufo the other evening for a work dinner. Most were from interstate and they were blown away by the luxe interior and fantastic staff on what was a very busy evening with over 100 covers. We had many, many different pizzas but the ‘Tartufo’ with it’s curled crust and shaving of truffle is a house specialty and a must for anyone who wants to try something different.
1000 Ann St (at Emporium)
Fortitude Valley Qld 4006
Lunch & Dinner 7 days a week
Alfred & Constance New Winter Menu
Damian Griffith’s never stops innovating. Not only does he run Limes Hotel, Alfred & Constance, Alfredo’s and Chester St Bakery, but he’s just opened newbie, Kwan Brothers. Never one to rest on his laurels, Alfred & Constance have re-booted their menu for Winter, offering meals that hint at crisp days and chilly nights but are not too heavy for the balmy Brisbane Winter. Indeed, on Monday evening as I joined* a number of bloggers to sample the menu, we sat outside on the deck between the two workers cottages without jacket between us all.
American influences are evident in dishes such as Haloumi Sliders and Southern Fried Drumsticks with Bourbon Caramel Sauce. The chicken legs were whoppers and combined with a sautéed Pea Salad w Brussels Sprouts & Toasted Hazelnuts would be more than enough of a meal in itself. There’s a take on the ever popular Pork Belly as well as a Crisp Skinned Cone Bay Barramundi fillet. The fish was buttery and cooked perfectly – not easy when you’re feeding 40 guests!
Desserts are always a triumph at A&C with a mix of old faves such as Sticky Date Pudding and innovation in the form of Snicker’s Cheesecake w Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cookie Crumble served in an elegant parfait glass. As well as the menu items listed, there are always a selection of tempting cakes that have been baked in the wood fired oven at Chester St that same day.
Whilst the menu has been tweaked for winter, old faves are always on such as the Pork, Crackling and Apple Sauce carved straight from a whole suckling pig, served by weight. Burgers are still on as are the Memphis Pork Ribs. The menu remains incredibly good value with snack and small dishes under $15 and mains under $30. Throw in a beer from the dozen or so on tap and you can eat very well for under $40.
*TIFFIN raged on a Monday night at A&C as a media guest of Lucid Media
Alfred & Constance
Cnr Alfred & Constance Sts
Fortitude Valley Qld 4006
Lunch & Dinner 7 days a week
Going Palm Oil Free One Cracker at a Time
Palm oil production is having a devastating effect on the rain forest habitats of Sumatra and Borneo as they are cleared for palm oil plantations. Not only does this mean the loss of rainforest, it is also threatening the survival of endangered species such as the Sumatran Tiger and Orangutan. Palm oil is now used in many products as companies move away from trans fatty acids to ‘healthier’ options. It is used in almost 100% of soaps and shampoos on Australian shelves.
One of the tricks to moving away from palm oil is not to be fooled by labelling. As consumers become more aware of palm oil and its potential harm, manufacturers have started to use other names. Click on this link to see just how many guises palm oil is known under: palm oil’s many names. No only do manufacturers use lots of tricky names, in Australia and NZ labelling laws allow them to simply use the term ‘vegetable oil’. Chances are if you’re using a products that contains vegetable oil as opposed to named oils such as sunflower, canola, olive or rice bran, you are consuming palm oil.
Whilst we can debate whether 52% palm oil in a biscuit is really healthy or not, it’s clearly not healthy for the rainforests or animals. Therefore, in our house we have decided to make a conscious effort to move to palm oil free products, when we can. All water crackers in Australia currently contain palm or ‘vegetable’ oil so I looked for an alternative and found these Waterthins by Waterwheel Industries. They are not exactly the same as a water cracker but are a good substitute and I’ve yet to have anyone throw one back in my face when serving the cheeseboard. I also took a look in the supermarket today and see that Waterwheel have palm oil free alternative to cheese twists that everyone enjoys so much. Coles also has several of its own brand biscuits that do not contain palm oil – I took a photo of a few in store and there were several more on offer.
Yes, Waterthins cost more than generic brand water crackers but not too much more and I figure that it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. There are many other products in my pantry with palm oil in them but as they are finished, I will be looking for alternatives. Next on the list is Mr Tiffin’s spreadable butter. For more information on palm oil and palm oil free products on Australian shelves: