brisbane eating II

noodles with tempura veg

I missed my post last week as I headed to Brisbane for the Baroque Festival for the second year running. It was a quick trip, flying early up on the Sunday morning and returning Tuesday morning.

The Handel opera Agrippina was playing as part of the festival and it was a must see for me. As I expected, it was magnificent. I could happily have sat through the whole 4 hours the next day. We also saw King Arthur, a staged semi opera by Henry Purcell, great music, but a VERY dull play with odd staging. We also went to a very enjoyable lunchtime organ recital on Monday. In between lots of walking and listening to music, we also managed to eat. ūüôā

My friend and I revisited the two branches of Vegerama that we went to last year. There are a few in Brisbane, we chose the one in the Myer Centre food court (not classy, but it was close to the City Hall venue) and the more up market one in the West End 10 minutes walk from our apartment. Both experiences were mixed. Last time I ate at the Myer Centre branch I stuck with Indian food which they do well, this time I sampled the lasagna and a pie. Both were a bit disappointing, both were not hot enough and the bechamel on the lasagna was almost like transparent glue. The pie was good. Still it was ribsticking food, good for filling me up. But I had food order envy, my friend chose a vegan frittata which was really tasty, and her tiramisu wasn’t too bad either.

At the other Vegerama in West End, we both chose an udon noodle dish, one with tofu and one with tempura. My tempura one was so, so good, but my friend’s was a tepid, tasteless mess swimming in oil. It was so bad she sent it back and replaced it with the same one that I’d ordered. The waiter said the manager was insistent that this is how it was meant to be (in which case I’d take it off the menu as I cannot imagine anyone ordering it a second time), but they kindly didn’t charge to replace it with a different dish.

On our last night we ate at a place called Vegeme. This was also a mixed bag. It has a pan-Asian menu with a focus on Japanese and Korean dishes. There were so many exciting small bite type dishes that we over ordered – vegetable dumpings, sweet potato fritters, corn fritters, miso soup, salt and pepper king mushrooms.

The dumplings were overpowered by way too much pepper, the sweet potato dumplings were almost dessert like they were so sweet and the corn fritters reminded me of corn jacks that used to be sold at chip shops. Oddly, they came with tomato sauce. The miso soup was good. But the star of the meal was the mushrooms. Crispy on the outside and chewy king oyster mushrooms on the inside made for a perfect combination. We had no problem polishing them off, unlike the other dishes which we didn’t finish. The place has been well reviewed by others, perhaps we just chose badly.

Our breakfast needs were served by Ripe, a hole in the wall coffee place with friendly service, good coffee and an OK range of the usual breakfast staples. We had some sourdough toast with mushrooms, beans, avocado and hash browns. The breakfasts came with each item in a separate dish. I have a dislike of soggy toast so I was pleased to see the beans served that way, but it was otherwise a bit odd. I asked for some spinach and it came raw.  The next day I had a foccacia made up with spinach, mushrooms and a tomato relish.

A very enjoyable visit to Brisbane but a mixed bag on the food front, more misses this time than hits.

 

Vege Rama Myer Centre
91 Queen St, Brisbane CBD
07 3012 8586
vegerama.com.au

Vege Rama West End
Shop 2A, 220 Melbourne St
West End, Brisbane
07 3255 3388

Vege Rama Restaurant & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Vegeme
Shop 9, 220 Melbourne Street
West End, Brisbane

www.facebook.com/VegeMe

Ripe
33 Merivale Street,
South Brisbane

1300 657 041

a new pizza oven

garlic oil, caramelised onion, cauliflower, olive tapenade and parsley pizza

I love pizza and I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a¬†pizza oven for a few¬†years. I’ve even had fantasies about building a wood fired one. Back in the real world where there is no way I am going to build up a wood fire over hours in order to cook a pizza, I decided that gas is more practical for instant gratification.

Still I wondered whether I should get even a gas one. On the one hand I am opposed to single use items unless they are seriously good and cheap (such as a rice cooker), on the other hand it is just difficult to cook a decent pizza in a conventional oven without preheating it for ages. ¬†Even then, the pizzas can be a bit hit and miss. A conventional oven just isn’t hot enough. A pizza oven will heat the pizza stone with direct heat, cranking the temperature up to 500F in a short time.

After seeing some incredible¬†pizzas come out of a friend’s oven, I finally succumbed a couple of weeks ago and bought a new outdoor gas fired pizza oven in a box at half price on Gumtree. I’m currently obsessed with it.

I’ve been turning out really sensational¬†thin, crispy, artisan style pizza for which I¬†would¬†normally happily pay¬†$14. ¬†They cost about $1. I’ve also been making a lot of flatbreads too. I think I have recouped my investment already. I’ve been using it a lot!

The joy of a gas pizza oven is that it heats up in about 10 minutes. I’ve been making a batch of dough early in the week and putting it into containers ready for rolling out in an instant.

I’ve switched toast at breakfast for flatbread. I head out to the oven, turn it on, feed the animals, take a couple of minutes to admire the garden, roll the dough and slide it into the oven and in the time it takes to make coffee¬†it is cooked.

I’m using the no knead bread dough which works perfectly.

Here are some creations from the last couple of weeks. A roasted capsicum paste, garlic oil, roasted pumpkin and vegan parmesan pizza, a garlic oil, fresh tomato and basil flatbread, a flatbread beautifully puffed up, a garlic oil, olive tapenade, roasted pumpkin, potato and rosemary pizza and a flatbread with avocado and fresh tomato. The photo at the top of the post is a pizza with garlic oil, olive tapenade, cauliflower, caramelised onions and fresh parsley.

maccaroni osteria italiana

pappardelle ai funghi

Maccaroni Osteria Italiana has generated a bit of a buzz on a couple of social media vegan dining groups recently. I was first alerted to it when a friend went there a month or so ago and our vegan dining group immediately resolved to eat there as soon as we could organise it.

There were 15 of us and we asked to have the banquet which was $40.  For $40 the food we got was astonishing in value and flavour. This was terrific food, sometimes homestyle sometimes beautifully presented, and all so generous.  In quality, it was well above an average local cafe, but still priced like one. I think it will become a regular favourite.

My only complaint is that I was so full that I couldn’t move afterwards.¬†The fact that I managed to taste everything when I was really full is a testament to how delicious it all was. My mouth could happily have kept going, but my stomach was unwilling.

The restaurant¬†has an extensive vegan menu as well as a non vegan one, so it would be a good place to dine with non vegan friends or family. Frankly they wouldn’t be disappointed if they dined from the vegan menu. There are also several marked vegan wines on the menu. The service is friendly and helpful.

But enough raving about how good it was, here is what we ate.

Appetisers and entrees

We started with bruschetta made from homemade toasted bread served with two sauces, a Kalamata olive tapenade and a delicious sun-dried tomato puree.

Also in this course was a platter of misto fritto consisting of small arancini, crumbed ascolane olives, panelle (chickpea fritters) and potato croquettes. All delicious.

Last of the entrees was macco di lenticchie – a lentil and vegetable soup served with croutons. It was smooth and very flavourful, it impressed both soup lovers and haters alike.

Main dishes (six of them!)

First up was a dish named Pita Panormus. This turned out to be a baked potato pie with Palermo onion sauce and black olives. It was delicious comfort food and unfortunately I went back for seconds. This would later turn out to be a mistake as there was so much food still to come.

The Pappardelle Funghi e Tartufo Р fresh pappardelle pasta with mushrooms and truffle creamy sauce was probably my favourite dish of the night. Definitely swoonworthy and hard not to lick the plate.

Next up was Gnocchi Forest Рpotato gnocchi with vegan Bolognese sauce and mushroom. I loved the gnocchi. They were light and pillowy, but I was not so fond of the sauce as some others. It was good, just not my favourite.

Fagottino di melanzane con cuore di pasta – Tagliatelle with Sorrentina tomato sauce wrapped in fried eggplant with basil. This dish was both beautiful and delicious. I am scared of undercooked eggplant, but this was impeccably¬†done, with silky soft insides and crispy skin. Teamed with perfectly cooked fresh pasta I could have eaten a full plate of this…if only I hadn’t been so full. As it was I did go back for a second serve.

The baked lasagna¬†with bolognese was popular, but it was probably my least favourite dish. It was good, but I just couldn’t do it justice when I was so full that I was barely able to move. Luckily for me I’d worn loose pants.

The last main was a vegan scaloppine with mixed wild mushroom served with potatoes. Again this was excellent. The scaloppine was great with a perfect texture. The sauce was also good, but a bit similar to the pappardelle. For variety I’d have preferred something different.

We heaved a collective sigh of relief at the end of the mains and prepared ourselves.

Desserts

panna cotta and choc hazelnut desserts

Last up were our desserts Рa chocolate and almond mousse with Frangelico and crunchy nuts and a vegan pannacotta with a mixed berry coulis.

Mercifully the desserts came in small glasses that held just a few mouthfuls. This was a perfect amount, anything more and I’d have been defeated. Both were delicious, but the star for me was the panna cotta.

There is no doubt I will be back, I’ve already spoken with my sister about organising our next family dinner here. But I will eat less next time. At least I hope so!

 

Maccaroni Osteria Italiana
201 Queens Parade, Clifton Hill, 3068

9642 0440
http://www.maccaroniosteria.com.au/

Maccaroni Osteria Italiana Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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