Wednesday, August 22, 2012

More glorious food

(this image of Pearl Cafe is from here)

Pearl Cafe is our favourite restaurant in Brisbane. After some time in Northern New South Wales, my husband and I went to Brisbane for one night. We had pre-booked a dinner reservation and had been looking forward to dinner here for months. However, after eating this huge lunch at Liliana's we cancelled dinner and went instead for breakfast.

We slept in and took our time the following morning, with a quick cup of tea at our motel and some antique shopping beforehand, we arrived at Pearl Cafe at about 10:00am. The place was packed and we waited almost an hour to get a seat.  

Was it worth it you ask? YES!

Have I mentioned already, that we have eaten the best food ever on this trip?

My husband ordered a 'ploughman's breakfast', something he had seen someone else eating as we were seated at our table. Simple but WOW! A baguette, a dollop of onion confit, a soft boiled duck egg sitting on a scrapping of djion mustard, the most divine aged cheddar cheese I have ever tasted (ever!) and the 'piece de resistance', the beef.

House salted beef was the description. Have I already said WOW! It took all my strength, not to get up and storm into the kitchen demanding the recipe.

What cut of beef was that? (maybe brisket) What ingredients were used? (there was definitely star anise in there somewhere) What technique was used to get this amazing, delicious, falling apart, melt in your mouth, best meat I've ever eaten, house salted beef?

I guess I'll never know, with restraint, I stayed seated. But if I find out, you will be the first to know.

I chose the 'eggs in a pan' with thyme, cream and wild mushrooms, served with rye toast.  

Oh my, the flavour! You couldn't believe the depth of flavour from those wild mushrooms. YUM. Both my husband and I commented that the last time we had tasted a mushroom dish that good was in Italy. That was a very long time ago and a lot of mushrooms have been eaten since then!

(sorry there was really bad light in the chinese restaurant)

With no need for lunch, we drove the 2 hours home, collected our children from Grandma and Grandpa's house and went straight out to dinner with my Dad for his birthday. A Chinese banquet for 10 at our friendly local Chinese restaurant. The typical Chinese fare: beef in black bean sauce, mongolian lamb, chicken and almonds, fish with ginger and shallots, lemon chicken, sweet and sour pork, piles of spring rolls and piles of prawn crackers, fried rice and deep fried ice-cream for the kids. Traditional (Australian) Chinese restaurant dishes that never seem to disappoint, so fresh and so tasty.


Just when I was vowing never to eat again, we were invited for a play date with one of my daughters friends. The mother had said to me, that a few other mums would be coming over too, very last minute and that I was to bring nothing. We took jam drops along.

When we arrived we found the children running around outside enjoying the the large acreage property. The mum's were sitting around large cheese and antipasto platters drinking wine. This was my first ever play date with wine and cheese. Nice. While we all got to know each other a little better, our host was jumping up and down getting more platters of food. And as the sun disappeared behind the hills, she promptly vanished into the kitchen to cook sausages and homemade nuggets for the kids. Nobody was in a hurry to leave, nobody had to, nobody wanted to.

With the children happily fed, she went again into her kitchen and brought out salads and yummy leftover nuggets. Then came home made pizzas. YUM. Finally sitting still and relaxing, it was time for me to get to know this mother a little better. She told me how much she hates to cook. I didn't believe her. For her, she cooks for her kids and her kids health. I was so inspired by this mum. Cooking from scratch is easier for me, I love to cook, but imagine if you hated it?

While sitting there I also got the secret to her yummy homemade pizzas. Her homegrown tomatoes are first roasted, then marinated for a few days in garlic and olive oil. Then she purees the lot and freezes it. This sauce is then used as a base for almost everything she cooks: pizza, pasta, casseroles, and for dipping. Brilliant.

And I thought I was just going out for an hour of jam drops and tea!

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