Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Casual Dining - The Wickham Hotel

If you've visited the Valley over the last twenty years(ish), then you would know about a little corner of the trendy inner city suburb that has an interesting and checkered past.  The Wickham Hotel is well known in the Valley as being a traditional gay venue (LGBTI) since 1996 and it's fair to say a rollicking good time has been had by many an adventurous Brisbanite.  While it's recent past has been dominated by the Big Gay Day and if memory serves me correct, Boy George spinning some tunes on the 'ones and twos', the Hotel has been around for a lot longer.

Originally estabilished in 1885 by famous Brisbane architect Richard Gailey, The Wickham began it's life as the Oriental Hotel and for all intents and purposes was one of the 'grand old pubs' of Brisbane.  It's a pub that SC had spent a bit of time in 'back in the day' when it would be Sunday beers between Ricks Bar and the Wickham Hotel.  The hotel has been ever changing and if you frequent the Valley or drive down Wickham Terrace, you would have noticed that the next incarnation of the hotel has been underway.

We were pretty excited to be invited along with a number of Brisbane bloggers to check out the renovations and get a peek of the new renovations.  Given that the Valley is a short walk for us, we'd taken the opportunity to have a nice easy walk into the Valley for our Wickham experience.  We'd entered through the new 'car park' area, which used to be the Wickham's car park but was not an outdoor dining area.  It was a large space with lots of share dining tables spaced about, as well as some group seating around different sized cable 'barrels'.  It wasn't until we walked through to the main part of the pub that we saw the magic.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Casual Dining Lunch - Marchetti Cafe in Tattersall's Arcade

I've talked a lot about my love of wandering around Brisbane and noticing the changes, both big and small.  There have been many, many changes to our fair city in the last twelve months, many of which involve the completion big new buildings, many with food offerings. It's not just the big changes that get me excited, but the small changes, the little additions, the tweaks that, if you weren't paying attention to, you would miss.

One of Brisbane's older arcades is the Tattersall's Arcade, which houses a number of specialty shops that cater to the well heeled of Brisbane, including Longchamp.  I often use the arcade as a short cut from Edward Street to the Queen Street Mall and noticed one of Brisbane's little tweaks a few months ago.  In one of the few vacant spaces in the arcade, a cute little cafe had sprouted, which was very reminiscent of European and Melbourne style cafes.   Owner Michael Makras, owner of nearby Optiko, had spotted an opportunity and teamed up with architect Stephen Cameron to develop a perfect little space for relaxing in one of Brisbane's most elegant arcades.

Tucking away this fact for a future visit, I'd wandered past the little shop numerous times, and each time I'd made the mental note to get along to see what was on the menu.  It wasn't until I found myself with a spare hour for lunch that I'd resolved to get in and check out the Italian diner and bar.  I'll let you in on a dirty little secret though, I'd actually initially been looking to buy some KFC in MacArthur Central before being confronted by a queue that was way too long.  Now, don't ask me why I'd been going to KFC to begin with, I couldn't rightly say, but I did have a hankering for some chicken nuggets.

Tartufo - this time its all about the Pizza

A couple of months ago, I started an adventure to try to find the best pizza in Brisbane (see posts here), but after eating a little too much pizza in such a short time, I paused for a moment.  After going without pizza for almost two months, I started to get that feeling in the pit of my stomach that can only be resolved with a dose of pizza.  Not just any pizza, margherita!

So far in my travels, I've had some great pizza with my favourites being Sorellina (see post here) and Beccofino, which to date had been my favourite by quite some distance.  It was time to get some hatted pizza and by that, I mean get some pizza from one of Brisbane's best restaurants, Tartufo.  I've been to the Tony Percuoco restaurant a heap of times and rate it as one of the best Italian restaurants around but it's only been relatively recently that I became aware that Tony had moved into another great love of his life - pizza!

Being a native of Naples, the home of the margherita pizza, following in the footsteps of the most famous pizzerias in the world, Brandi, Da Michele and Trianono Tradition, it was only natural that a pizza oven would grace the floor at Tartufo.  With a view of using only the freshest ingredients of the highest quality, Tony aims to be accredited through the 'Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana' (AVPN), an association dedicated to the protection and veracity of the 'true Neapolitan pizza'.

We'd been trying to get in to see Gone Girl for a couple of weeks, so we'd had a plan to get in to Tartufo right on pizza opening time of 5:30, so we'd have enough time to eat and then get over to the CBD for the movie.  Surprisingly, we were able to score a park on the street, right out the front of the Emporium, the Valley complex where Tartufo is located.  

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Brisbane Good Food and Wine Show 2014 - Barilla cooking class with Sammy and Bella

One of the big ticket items on the Brisbane foodie calendar is the Good Food and Wine Show, held over at the Brisbane Convention Centre each year.  Over a three day period in October, the foodies of Brisbane congregated and celebrated all things food and wine. Not only is the Good Food and Wine Show an opportunity to sample the amazing produce and wine that Australia has to offer, but is an opportunity for people to get up and close with their favourite chefs and talk to the people who spend their lives bringing the good stuff for us all to enjoy.

I've not been in Brisbane during the show over the last couple of years, which has been lousy timing, but I was definitely around this year and was excited about getting finally getting back amongst it. There was extra incentive, with an invitation to participate in the Barilla pre-show, hands on cooking class with My Kitchen Rules Season 2 winners, Sammy and Bella, to learn how to cook one of their favourite Sardinian breakfast dishes.  Given my status as a person who prefers to eat out as opposed to cook, I thought it might be a good way for me to 'get my hands dirty' and give that cooking caper another try.

The cooking class had been arranged by Barilla, one of the Good Food and Wine Show's major sponsors and was at the Barilla stand.  The class itself was scheduled to kick off at 8am, but I've been getting up extra early lately and found myself wandering into the convention centre just before 7:30.  This had a couple of benefits, I was easily the first person to arrive, which gave me the opportunity to find a great spot to cook from as well as chat to the chefs who would be assisting the class.  It turned out that I'd jumped the gun (oops) a little bit and got booted out of the arena while the setting up was finished off.  By that time, the queue for the class had already started and I was at least able to join the front of the queue and watch it grow and snake along the convention centre floor.


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