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Hip new Italian eating – Vapiano

March 27, 2011 8 comments

Looking for a trendy Italian place to eat, in Brisbane? Something different? Faster than the usual restaurant experience?

Check out Vapiano on Albert Lane.

They cook your food as you order it, in front of you. This brings an element of theatre to your dining experience.

The setup is innovative, but it helps to plan your visit if you need to get in and out in a lunchtime. The place is buzzing until about 1:30pm on any given weekday.

You line up for pasta, pizza or salad - no table service, no mixed orders

A fresh fry pan for every order & fresh food, fast

Pasta, made daily, on the premises

Gluten-free gnocchi with chicken breast, onion, pesto, baby spinach in a cream sauce (Pollo e spinaci)

The food was luscious, the service, enthusiastic and the ambiance, loud and fun. There wasn’t a complaint to be heard.

Buon appetito!

Categories: Australia, Business, Review

Hug Mug & Chocolate OD

February 27, 2011 4 comments

I rather like chocolate, so I took it upon myself to try out a chocolate bar on the Gold Coast. My friends might be surprised to learn that I’ve never quite recovered. The photos might explain why.

Chocolate bar

While I was happily drinking my hot chocolate in a “Hug Mug”, I was thinking two things:

Dark hot chocolate, milk hot chocolate (skipped the white hot chocolate)

1. Isn’t this mug a great idea?
2. What does it remind me of?

Hug Mug (was a man standing up, or sitting down, when he thought of this?)

As if sensing my thoughts, Miss Six asked, “Mummy, why does your mug look like a men’s urinal?”

After that, nothing quite tasted right. Otherwise, I would highly recommend the nearest chocolate bar, though you might like to order a bit less than we did….

I've never met a chocolate thing I didn't like ...

Everything with its own chocky dipping sauce

Milkshakes in curious vessels

Just a tiny bit more? (Monty Python's man with the bucket comes to mind)

Brisbane City markets

February 26, 2011 3 comments

An unexpected delight this week – a fresh food market in the city!

Just some of the little lovelies …

L-l-lurvved the spelt fig pistachio bread!

Funkiest little finger limes, Aussie natives!

Beads of lime heaven, ready to burst in your mouth.

Extraordinary tomatoes - tasting as they should

I was too busy shopping and eating to take any more photos, but take it from me, it’s worth a visit. The stone fruit was the tastiest I’ve had in YEARS, ditto the apples. The French bread shop didn’t disappoint, either. My lunch break ran out before I could get to the cupcake stand, which leaves me something to look forward to for next week.

Wednesdays, top of the Mall – enjoy!

PS. Thanks to my ‘tour guide’, SJ.
PPS. Want to see more about the finger limes, check out Bagni di Lucca and Wild Finger Limes – citrus caviar. Amazing.

Coffee shop? Really?

February 13, 2011 6 comments

Imagine my surprise, when my new boss led me in between and behind old buildings and under a boom gate for our first team meeting over coffee. Coffee shop? Where? Is this some peculiar initiation ceremony for writers?

Squeeze through a little gap to get around it, or just go under it. All in the name of coffee...

What was even more surprising, was that we couldn’t get a seat. It was packed.

Wooden bench seats & tables inside and coffee machines screaming their own happy tune. Brisbane's hip new place for caffeine.

What does this say about Brisbane’s sophisticated coffee-drinking set? Would you like to get mugged with your coffee, or would you like your coffee in a mug?

Now that I’m back in the city working, after a long stint in the burbs, I’d appreciate any tips on places to go. Do you know of any cool places?

P.S. This place is somewhere around Elizabeth St Brisbane. Have fun trying to find it!

Review: “Tron Legacy”, movie

January 8, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s a typical quest story: reluctant hero (Sam) gets a message which sets him off on his journey, where he meets a wise old individual (Kevin) and mythical creature (Quorra) on the way to defeat the bad guy (Clu) and save the world. Somehow, along the way, hero wins and the lost warrior does something to redeem himself.

Disney’s “Tron Legacy” is a hard one to review insofar as I think it’ll be loved by some audiences and hated by others.

Likely Supporters:
Computer geeks (nothing wrong with that, embrace it)
People who loved the original movie back in ’82
Boys aged 8+
Popcorn crowd up to the age of 40.

Likely Naysayers:
Script-writers & novelists (who get pounded by editors to write better characters)
Arts students (who know about “the arc”)
People who like well-developed characters
People who don’t like fast motorbikes.

The movie was a visual feast and the imaged cyber universe, quite impressive, but the dialogue and character development was lame, almost an afterthought. The movie was fantastical in the way that “The Matrix” was, but without the obvious depth. To its credit, however, “Tron Legacy” didn’t take itself as seriously as “The Matrix”.

If you’re a parent, wondering whether it’s okay for your teenagers, well, I’d have to say yes, insofar as it was a clean film: no sex scenes, no horribly smutty stuff (other than female robots in skin-tight plastic suits and stilettos), no frightful messages. It was a boy meets girl cliche in the end, but who cares. Your kids might hassle you for an RSPCA rescue pet as well, because it’s made out to be really, like cool – to impress the chicks, particularly.

Disney overclocked its computers and came up with a movie that will impress the crowds who know what overclocking means, and quite possibly, lots who don’t.

Review: “Tangled”, the movie

January 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Disney’s kids’ flick, “Tangled” came out in Aussie cinemas yesterday.

It’s a gorgeous, hilarious re-imagined, Disney interpretation of the classic fairytale, “Rapunzel”. To its credit, the film isn’t called “Rapunzel” (unlike “Gulliver’s Travels” which were nothing of the sort).

Even Rotten Tomatos loves this movie.

I won’t give away the story, but will say that it’s worth taking the kids to. Everyone gets plenty of laughs and the Disney magic sparkles. The tunes were cute, the morals were intact and the pictures sure were pretty.

And, does it make the parentals hide behind Kleenex? Indeed, it does.

Thumbs up. Go see it.
(And, parents of little girls, be ready for the conversation about how long they’re going to grow their hair….)

Road Test: Tupperware Turbo Chef

November 27, 2010 5 comments

When I’m this impressed with something, I have to share it.

Tupperware Turbo Chef - the latest & greatest

Tupperware has brought out something which exceeds the popular Happy Chopper. People who’ve had both, love the new Turbo Chef the best.

If, like me, you hate having dozens of single-purpose gadgets cluttering your kitchen, you might be wondering whether it’s worthwhile. In short, it is. So impressed am I, that I’m looking at buying another two for gifts this Christmas (just don’t tell Mum & Nanna).

Simple: 3 parts, no electricity or batteries needed

I use it every day to cut up onions, carrots, apples and garlic. It’s also handy for making pesto & chopping nuts. Kids can help, because there is no way they can cut themselves on any moving parts (and an adult would handle the blades) or electrocute themselves. All they do is pull the chord.

Do this quantity in 2 quick batches

No body double or hand model was used ...

After 7 easy pulls of the string

After about 15 spins, a finer chop.

Carrot, just as the chooks like it.

PROS:
* kid-safe & nanna-safe
* fool-proof
* great for everyday use & for camping
* easy to clean
* much quicker than a knife
* much less fuss than an electric appliance
* great size (300ml) for small batch chopping (food processors for big jobs)
* precise (with a food processor, it’s easy to overdo it)
* comes with a good lid that seals (not pictured).

OTHER:
* costs $54.95
* blades not covered by Tupperware’s otherwise awesome lifetime guarantee.

RECOMMENDATION:
Buy it.

If you don’t have a Tupperware rep, try:
Natasha Yannuccelli Mob 0412 527 840 tashtupperware@gmail.com
Carmen Rooke Mob 0403 825 627 carmenstephen@bigpond.com
Or, Tupperware 1800 805 396.

P.S. I have no relationship with Tupperware or any of its sales people and accrue no financial or other benefit in reviewing this product, or any others on this blog.

HAVE YOU USED THE TURBO CHEF YET AND IF YES, WHAT DO YOU USE IT FOR?

UPDATE: The Turbo Chef is dishwasher safe (top shelf) although Tupperware recommends against putting the blade in the dishwasher.
UPDATE: I have 3 x Beauty & The Geek calendars to give away to readers commenting on the blog. They’re hilarious & I can’t possibly keep them to myself. Congratulations to Samantha – you get the first one!
UPDATE: 9:16pm Second calendar accounted for – Reader L came up with an amusing (but unpublishable!) use for the TC.

Categories: Australia, Products, Review

I’m in love with Caketopia

November 12, 2010 5 comments

Today’s must-share experience is all about cake.

Cake is one of my favourite subjects. I majored in cake at law school and it did me heaps good. A dear buddy once made me a birthday cake and couldn’t get the glass out of the middle. We wore silly hats in the uni refectory, which went with the well-meant but equally inedible torte della microwave. Lucky she’s really, really good at law, is all I can say. (M, maybe we’ll order from this site next time?)

Take a look at the Caketopia blogspot and tell me that you’re not in love too.

Two examples…

(With thanks, Reader A.)

Road test: BEERBIRD DIY BBQ Chook

November 6, 2010 1 comment

Dear Readers,

Today, I’m introducing a new correspondent (I can’t do all the fun stuff alone) to report to us on new things in the world of beer & barbecues.

Congratulations Lou! Lou is the kind of girl who turns up to a Tupperware party with an esky on wheels, full of beer – it sure made the balloon popping game at the last one fun.

Below, you’ll find an accurate and contemporaneous record of her first attempt at making a chook with the BEERBIRD device. I gave it a few days before posting, to ensure she and her family survived.

Who thinks of these things?

From the backyard of Lou: BBQ & Beer Correspondent

Alright…here goes!!! The fridge is stocked, the BBQ is cleaned, summer is here and one bird is going to cook! Ingredients are ready…chook, beer and spices. Preparation: Ensure adequate stock of favourite beer, open can and quench thirst (repeat as required) (DONE). Set aside spices (DONE). Open another can and take several gulps (about to commence this stage…stay tuned…so far tasks have been extremely difficult…hoping it gets easier)…

…now where was I up to…how many cans is that??? oh yeah…take several gulps (make them small gulps to that the can is still just over two thirds full)-(MOST DIFFICULT STAGE YET – WHEN TO STOP?? Mark says can is only half full…ok…get another can and redo that step…no worries)…rub spice mixture over bird…plunk bird over can…transfer to BEERBIRD grill and place in centre of covered BBQ…once lid to BBQ is closed, crack open another frostie, sit back and wait (HAD THOUGHT HARDEST PART WAS DONE BUT THIS DRINKING BEER AND WAITING IS TOUGH!!).

Beautiful aroma is wafting around the place one and a half hours later. Recipe says to leave in for one and three quarter hours however opened the lid to put the vegies in so will leave for a total of two and a quarter hours maybe…we’ll see how it goes.

Chook out…looks and smells great…fourteen year old son comments…that chook smells good! Vegies not cooked yet so chook on warmer in oven til vegies done…should have put vegies in earlier…anyway…all can’t go perfectly first time round…

Total YUM!

Ok, the verdict is…chook tastes pretty fantastic. Looks great when carving, still juicy and the flavours are just YUM. Can’t recall tasting a better chook in recent times. Asked fourteen year old male how the chook was after finished…”Heaps Hectic”…I think that is good…he went back for two more servings. Now for some finer details; the information in the recipe book was spot on, the beer can still had the same amount of liquid in after cooking as stated and the timing was right. After doing this whole beer process, there was a sentence down the very bottom which says BEERBIRD is also delicious when soft drink substitutes are used such as; cola, carbonated fruit juice and ginger beer. Now if I had known that I wouldn’t have had to drink so much beer to cook a chook…oh well…the things one does. I do think however I will stick with the process I used today as I believe in tried and tested and why change something that is already proven to be perfect.

The only thing we may have added that BEERBIRD doesn’t mention is that we use some Jack Daniels smoking chips in the BBQ as well.

As if it couldn't get any better ... (It's for the BBQ).

We have done a chook on a rotisserie with these chips on the BBQ before and as nice as that chook was, BEERBIRD is easier to do, easier to clean, tasted better and more juicy. There are a few different flavours in the recipe book. We used the BBQ Beer Bird spice recipe for this one but will be keen to try the others in the future. We are thinking of getting another BEERBIRD so we can have two chooks for when we have visitors. Another interesting point on further reading is that if you don’t have a hooded BBQ, this can be done in the oven at 180C but since we have one, we will continue the aussie tradition of outdoor quality BBQ entertaining with a few amber refreshments on a gorgeous summer’s day or night.

Joke taken from the BEERBIRD recipe book – Q: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? A: Neither, The Rooster

FINAL VERDICT: BEERBIRD is heaps hectic. Go get one. Or, two. Beats Christmas turkey!

UPDATE: An email from Barry @ BEERBIRD:
Hi Theresa,

Just read the blog – brilliant, thank you!

Please pass our thanks on to Lou – I’m thrilled that she liked it so much. Please tell her that it also comes in a double version (for cooking two chickens.)

Best regards,
Barry Owen

QUESTION: Have you had any BEERBIRD or other BBQ tips or experiences you’d like to share?

Categories: Australia, Life, Products, Review

Review: Life As We Know It (Heigl movie)

November 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Yours Truly was recently treated to a birthday movie by the Ladies.

Admittedly, I enjoyed the movie, but couldn’t remember the name of it when asked. (Sign of age-related memory loss, or a movie in need of a more memorable title – I’m not sure.) All I could remember was that it was a movie with Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel and that they were made guardians of their mutual best friends’ baby, Sophie. And Heigl and Duhamel are easy to look at. And the baby was a good actor. Or, was that the other way around? Never mind.

It was a good brain-in-the-bucket, romantic comedy. It pressed all the right buttons, building tension, making the audience laugh and cry, although there were one or two EWWW moments (like when they had sex in the deceaseds’ bed). I would’ve preferred if the script-writers had found another way of bringing the leads together, without killing off the baby’s parents, because it did put strain on the viewers and stretch the credibility of the characters and story, just a tinsy bit.

Holly Berenson (Heigl) and Eric Messer (Duhamel) are introduced to viewers as victims of a set-up date which goes wrong: they are polar opposites and hate each other at first sight. They keep crossing paths, being on their friends’ wedding party, then becoming godparents to Sophie. A car accident kills Sophie’s parents and leaves her in the care of Holly and Eric.

From there, the story follows the structure of a typical romantic comedy plot and follows the trajectory of two single, self-absorbed people who suddenly become parents. There are a lot of poo and spew incidents which give good laughs, especially (methinks) for those of us who’ve experienced something similar.

Poo jokes don’t get old when they make you recall your own special baby poo incidents. One of my own involved Dear Husband offering to be helpful (WARNING WARNING WILL ROBINSON) and taking our first child for a nappy change. For his comfort, he turned the change table around. With nappy off, he gave the gassy one a bit of help, gently pressing knees up towards abdomen, only to spray green poo all over the curtains. So helpful. So, maybe part of the enjoyment of this movie involved reliving one’s own parenting dramas. No Sleeping? Check. No eating? Check. Parents going mental? Check. Cue: empathetic laughing.

In the middle of the movie, I did wonder whether I was having deja vu or another senior’s moment, when I was sure I was back in the Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin movie, “It’s Complicated”. Similarly, it involved the leading lady being wooed in her own patisserie in the middle of the night, letting go and learning to be loved while doing some manic baking. Then, the leading lady has not one eligible man after her, but two. Then they get stoned. Marijuana must be back in vogue.

Were there similarities, or was I 'in the wrong cinema'?

Does it matter that it follows the rom-com formula and that it borrows substantially from “It’s Complicated”? Not really. “Life As We Know It” delivers the happily ever after and that’s what the viewers are expecting.

(With special thanks to: Antonella, Tina, Donna, Jen, Deb, Helen, Leanne, Suzie.)

Categories: Movies, Review, Writing