THE ENGAGEMENT ARRANGEMENT.

I’ve just realised that I haven’t yet shared the many pictures that I managed to accrue from my explorations in organising a little get-together with a few friends for our engagement party celebrations. How remiss of me! So, for those who are unfamiliar with Brisbane, it was held at the Continental Cafe, which despite it’s name, manages to serve up much more than just coffee and cake – although it does do a mean coffee and cake. Continental Cafe’s byline is noted as: “17 years of late lunches” so as you can probably tell, there is much ado with feasting and eating till you’re stuffed at this location.

The restaurant has a cute french provincial feel to it – think massive tapestries alongside rustic chandeliers and exposed beams – so a cosy little place to share in hearty food. The nice people at Continental also typed up and printed us some custom menus – although they got a little enthusiastic with their exclamation marks, resulting in: “Nan & Jane Engaged !!”

My pretty people: Fi (my sister) and Steve, Cliff and Jasper, a cute Vivi holding my one of my hand-stamped wedding favours (and a peace sign, courtesy of Jen).

These were the little favour bags that I spent the previous morning making – out of large lunch bags (cut down to small ones), some Ikea twine I picked up years before and the adorable Kikki.K stamp kit I received from Thomas – they were a hit and every bit of candy was consumed with fervour.

As much as we would of loved to invite ALL OF THE PEOPLE, we were constrained by the size of the place – we tried to keep our numbers down. We managed to squeeze seventeen of us into the restaurant’s back room, which turned out to be a pleasant number. Time between courses was spent eating sweets and joking about (oh and photo-spamming).

A few more of our lovelies: Joe and Kathy, Clifford Face and the ever-beautiful Jess Jess!

My dearest Kathy (and Joe) also bought us the sweetest engagement gift all the way from Taiwan! That’s right, little fluffy, alpaca bride and groom set! The girl alpaca is cotton-candy pink decked out with pears and a tiny little taira and veil while the man alpaca is actually a little stouter around the neck and legs and is proudly sporting a skinny tie! She’s insisted we incorporate them into the ceremony (I’m thinking that the rings can be attached to them somehow)!

Now on to the NOMS – which I think everyone wants to hear about more than everything else – the menu was quite decadent – and filled with all forms of intensely delicious and incredibly heavy food – quintessential European fare mixed with a handful of eclectic and seasonal meals – feel free to salivate.

Chilli-salt cuttlefish, wild rocket leaf salad, sesame dressing.

Risotto aux fruits de mer, roast tomato & garlic, local prawns,fish, mussels.

Spaghetti, prawns, baby spinach, smoked bacon, chilli, lemon.

Vincotto glazed turkey breast, sage and onion stuffing, peach and green bean salad, raw cranberry sauce.

Roasted vine-ripened tomatoes, put lentil ragout, chick peas, grilled haloumi.

A spoonful of Parisian fairy floss.

Sicilian cassata, marzipan coated sponge, liqueur, candied fruit.

And that was only a handful of the dishes that were available – so as you can see, pretty much everyone was happily stuffed by the end of the night (well, at least I hope they were)! To top everything off, we decided to indulge in some group photography – mind you the first shot was supposed to be “normal” and the second shot was supposed to be “like a boss”. Um, I’m not sure if we got it right or not – but at least we tried!

BEIJING; ALL THE THINGS TO EAT.

I’m thinking I should get this out of the way and dedicate an entire blog post to the food that I ate while on tour in Beijing. I have to admit, it was definitely an experience (and a delicious one at that). We got the opportunity to eat at some of the flashiest joints in Beijing without having to toe shuffle and wait about – show lucky is that? Very lucky, I should think.

BEIJING DUCK: The most definitively delicious point in the tour was found at this joint  - Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant (全聚德):

“This is Beijing’s most famous Peking Duck restaurant, and also one of the oldest, having been established in 1864. The huge, plush dining hall is filled with diners eager to try this dish in its most authentic setting. A basic duck starts at CNY108, but the pancakes, scallions and sauces are extra.”

Since our group of hungry tourists was quite large, they sent chefs, en-masse to to our banquet room, where they skillfully sliced and diced our duck for us. Mmm, delicious.

To be truthful, i'm actually not a fan of duck at all, but this completely changed my opinion - it's crispy, greasy and meaty texture, mixed with fresh spring chive slithers and wrapped in a thin pancake-like bread - ohhh, heaven.

CHEAP BEER: We managed to be seated with a group that weren’t big beer drinkers. Interestingly enough, when we asked to switch out one of our bottles of beer for a bottle of Coke we were told that we could not – apparently, Coke (and other Western soft-drinks) are twice as expensive as beer. JAW. DROP.

BEIJING YANJING BREWERY: the company is one of the largest breweries in Asia. The company has approximately 20,000 employees, and is one of the largest beer manufacturers in China. They produced 3.11 million tons of beer in 2005 alone.

SNOW BEER (雪花啤酒): Directly translated as "snowflake beer" - apparently this is the world's biggest selling beer? I don't know, I'm just repeating what The Google tells me. PS. It's pretty tasty.

ALL YOU CAN EAT ADVENTURES: This gem was one that we scrounged out at the Silk Market – “Beijing Duck” Patio Pizza - which apparently specialises in Beijing Duck Pizza – an all-you can eat extravaganza, it also features a few sneaky tricks – if you want a cup of tea, be prepared to fork out a few yuan. Sly, sly, sly.

My favourite thing they served? Chicken nibbles - hey, I didn't say that the joint was healthy, did I?

TEA: All sorts of tea – of course China would be the place to go and buy silly piles of tea. We were carted off to a place near the Olympic City, joyfully labelled “Dr. Tea” (茶博士家) where we got to sample different types of tea and surround ourselves with all things tea-like. Chamomile is still my favourite – Pu er tastes manky to me and always will. The lady doing our demonstration had the most clean accent I had heard up to that point, in Beijing – without the very curly Beijing accent attached to it.

BEIJING HOT POT: Now, we had hot pot previously at a chain-restuarant, but this time we went to a legit place (complete with birds in cages singing and hanging from the ceiling) to experience some hot pot loving. They pulled all the stops at this place and made sure all the tables were decked with a huge choice of additions. Oh my.

Various vinegars and herbs are tapped-off these and used in the soups and sauces.

BUNS AND DUMPLINGS: We managed to score a booking at the famous Gou Bu Li (狗不理) Restaurant in Tianjin (天津 ) – which, apart from epic traffic jams (seriously, epic), is a town known for being the home town of these steamed buns – which are usually stuffed with meat filling made of pork, fresh shrimp and all things delicious.

I only managed to get this sorry excuse for a picture as everyone at the table had managed to snake one from the plate before I could even get my camera out. Oh, those old people, faster than they look, I tell you.

The name “Goubuli Baozi”, literally means “stuffed bun that dogs are not interested in”.  The name originated from a boy’s nickname. Many years ago, a chinese family found an abandoned child in a garbage dump and adopted him. Alluding to his good fortune in not being eaten by dogs, they nicknamed him Gou Zi, or “Doggy.” The child grew up to become an accomplished chef whose steamed dumplings were unparalleled in the area. His buns were very popular and his business became so exceptionally good that his customers would have difficulty getting his attention. People began to refer to him as “Goubuli (Doggy ignores us).” With the passage of time, the bun became widely known as “Gou Bu Li Bao Zi”.

COFFEE: Is REALLY bloody difficult to find – well, a good coffee is really bloody difficult to find. Being from a city that’s doing it’s best to rival Melbourne as the coffee-city of the nation, I found it heart-breaking to be in a country where nobody really thought of coffee as an important beverage. This left me super sad – and after trial after trial of drinking odd Starbucks concoctions (in the hope that they would suddenly be better if I kept on drinking them), I gave in and glugged instant coffee and looked hangdog-awful for the days we were in Beijing. Moral of this story? Well, it doesn’t have a moral really – I just wish Beijing had better coffee.

At the airport when leaving Beijing, we found a Costa Coffee joint - packed with people and the smell of coffee in the air. We practically ran inside and snuffed up the store.

MARKET MISCELLANY: One of the more memorable moments was spent at one of the undercover markets in Tianjin (天津) – filled with people selling all sorts of wares (mostly tacky things with goggly eyes) but also all sorts of food stuffs and random animals spewing strange bubbly water and eschewed with numerous tentacles. Tasty!

In case you're wondering - yes, that IS an alligator head. It's actually pretty small, all things considered.

Snails - making a brave escape from their not-very-effective casing.

MORE BBQ-ING, THE MERRIER.

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I’m starting to see a somewhat troubling pattern in my eating habits – or perhaps it’s got to do with being particularly fond of barbecuing ALL OF THE THINGS – but just the other weekend, we took to eating char-grilled meat and vegetables at my friend’s acreage. Yes, they live on an acreage and have two dogs, a cat and an enviously large back-yard. Of course I wanted to frolic through their back yard, but unfortunately did not get the chance – a huge, Typically Australian thunder storm rolled in and made things (and one of her dogs) uncomfortably wet. I’ll just have to leave frolicking to another time.

BEAUTIFUL SUNSET: Driving out bush to their place, I decided to take advantage of the fact that I wasn't driving.

I finally got the opportunity to trial my mixed-drink making skills and even I was impressed by the delicious out come - even though I haven’t yet thought of a name for it – sicne I figure, that’s what you do when you mix a drink – you give it a ridiculous name.

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RECIPIE:

  • 1/2 shot of strawberry syrup
  • 1 shot of Ketel One (or vodka of choosing)
  • Fresh strawberries (muddied)
  • Chunk of lemon, lightly squeezed
  • Ice
  • Fill with lemonade to top

I even bought appropriately coloured paper straws for the event – only to find that even though they’re damn pretty, they’re also pretty damn useless. Within minutes, the straws (which I thought were composed of wax paper) turned into pretty paper pulp. Moral of this story? Buy some normal straws next time.

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Nan’s idea of a “delicious drink”, on the other hand, is slightly different to mine – and even though he conceded that my Strawberry Girly Drink was delicious, he decided to make his own take on a “mixed drink” – by shoving as many lemons and limes as he could into a tumbler with a a massive dose of vodka and soda. Classy.

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To distract us from our drinking shenanigans, our lovely hosts had prepared for us a veritable feast of things on sticks - chicken drumsticks, chicken hearts, chicken giblets, tripe, intestine, lamb, beef, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, quail eggs - you name it, it was on a stick some where, grilled to perfection and then liberally stuffed into our faces with candour. Mmm, all of the delicious things!

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BUTTER: We all love butter, quite a bit.

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QUAIL EGGS: Yes, those really are quail eggs on sticks - talk about extreme!

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GOOD COMPANY: Of course a barbecue is nothing without good company - it was great to catch up with a few friends over a delicious feast!

Oh yes, did I mention they also have an absolutely ADORKABLE CAT? Her name is fluffy and I want to steal her – for a 14 year-old feline creature, she looks fairly perky – and she has the most adorable little white boots! Gnaaawwww.

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FLUFFY! CAN I STEAL YOU?

NEW YEAR SHENANIGANS.

Yes, it’s yet another New Year – another reason to make ridiculous resolutions that one resolves to keep, but never can, and ends up either a) forgetting completely about them, or b) resenting the confining conditions of their, no seemingly ridiculous resolutions. This year, I have resolved to not make any resolutions – for a change. No, it’s not because I’m obstinately against the idea of “conforming to the norm”, nor am I attempting to “make a point” – I’m just very certain in my lack of ability to keep them.  Call me a realist.

In any case, on a whim, my boyo and I suddenly decided to host a mini “New Year BBQ” at his place to sluggily welcome in the New Year with piles of grilled meat, beer and friends. I say “on a whim” because we happened to be walking through Coles when the idea took us, and I place “New Year BBQ” in heavy inverted commas as we decided this on the second day of January. Don’t you know Asians are ALWAYS fashionably (and annoyingly) late?

So, with this in mind, we jumbled together a small number of friends, cleaned out the backyard and the old gas barbecue for a good two hours – Jif’ing and pressure-sparying the ever-living-crap out of the place to finally decide that we would go and buy a new charcoal kettle barbecue instead. Because we’re classy like that. 

After a quick detour to the local Bunnings (yes, open on New Years, like 70% of the shops), we returned with a sturdy Wiltshire BAR-B and after a group-effort construction feat, we had a new barbecue and were impatient to put it to good use.

OH DELICIOUS SALAD: My sister's delicious salad - baby spinach, rocket, cherry tomatoes, red onion, fetta and ground pepper corns with a light french dressing. Oh my, be still me beating heart!

BEVERAGE CHOICES FOR THE EVENING: Imported Heineken (of which I have been expressively told, is far better than it’s Australian-produced yokel of a cousin), Lowenbrau (BEST light beer) and a comically large can of Asahi (which we we weren’t actually allowed to open – but admired from a far).

EVERYTHING IN SAUCE: and everything on sticks. Being of the Lazy-Variety of Humanoid, we decided to put all that we could on a stick - and slather it all in delicious BBQ sauce. Delicious.

BBQ CORN: Have you ever tried this, slathered in asian BBQ sauce? If you haven't you should probably make a point of finding out soon.

NAN’S PRIDE AND JOY: His new Wiltshire BAR-B – which, with a few modifications (zip cords here and there) is super sturdy. Oh yes, it also makes delectable meats.

After stuffing ourselves liberally with deliciousness, we decided (spontaneously) that we required a little exercise. I had brought sparklers – so the instant assumption is that we should run about with them lit and hooting with glee – thereby making the neighbours hate our guts. Of which we performed with much gumption.

OOPS, FAIL: Proof of my incompetence - a backwards 2012. Yeah, some things I'm just not fabulous at.

H A P P Y  N E W  Y E A R ,  E V E R YO N E !

FOOD: PEASANT.

A well-stocked bar? Well, thank-you.

A really long time ago we decided to celebrate my friend’s/friends/friends’ birthdays. Yes, the placement of the apostrophe will remain to be a enigma to my simple brain. I wasn’t created for higher thinking. That’s just the way my mind works. In any case, we wanted to take my good companions out for a nice dinner and after a little poke around the food-o-sphere, I managed to dredge up this little beauty: Peasant. The big thing going for this place is definitely the decor and atmosphere – I have to admit, the food portions are a little on the tiny and pricey side, but the sangria is an overwhelming food experience in itself!

Mini blackboard tapas menu.

The birthday couple, who I like to call joekat. Tee hee.

The rustic and artsy interior is riddled with cute, personal touches.

I’ve recently heard some fairly awful things about the service here, but when we went we encountered an absolutely lovely waitress and waiter combination that were more than eager to explain the items on the menu to us – this was a welcome gift as, let’s face it, we didn’t have much clue as to what was actually on the menu – it being riddled with all sorts of delicious sounding food that we couldn’t even begin to pronounce let alone understand what they actually were. We were tended to quite well – all things considered and were often asked if we were enjoying our meal. I have to admit, this MIGHT of been because we had in tow several large cameras. I may be reflecting a cynical view of things, but I’ve found that if people know you might be doing a review on them, they have a tendency to be a little bit more service-friendly.

Sangria by candlelight.

While were were there, we drank far too much sangria – yes, that’s right, two delicious carafes of the stuff – taking care to try both the white wine and red wine takes on the Spanish classic. The white wine version is deliciously tropical and is laced with so much freshly chopped fruit, it feels much like you’re glugging down an SPC-sponsored version of sangria. The red, on the other hand is heady and full-bodied and left me feeling a little light on my toes (but in a good way, of course). Taking a look at the menu now, I wish I were more immune to being dosed by alcohol – there are some absolutely delicious looking cocktails staring back at me from my my computer monitor, just asking to be drunk down in a heady glee.

MY FAVOURITE: Wagyu sirloin with romanesco sauce and horseradish creme friache.

Quail and broad beans.

Bread with roast garlic.

Spicy clams in manzanilla sherry with garlic migas.

Spanish tomatoes with basil.

Chicken with Spanish roasted potatoes. 
(Special of the day, so it probably had a much classier name that I can’t recall)

Jamon and egg croquettas.

The food portions are not large, I have to admit, and can seem a little pricey – but don’t be put off by this – the price is reflected by the sheer high quality of the meals sent out – I have to say though, if you’re on a budget, it’s probably best to either stay away or only cruise in for the bar and a light snack (the churros here, I’ve heard, are delicious). To be honest, the main rave items seem to be those on the lunch time tapas menu (only available Fridays and Sundays) – which was a little saddening. We finished the night comfortably full after an entree, four tapas dishes and two sharing plates, with just enough space left for dessert.

The busy kitchen.

The Barracks.
PS. Happy Birthday Joekat! We love you dearly!

Peasant on Urbanspoon

  • Address: 61 Petrie Terrace, Paddington, QLD 4000.
    Open: Tuesday – Friday: 10am – 9pm. Saturday: 11am – 9pm. Sunday: 12pm – 9pm.
    Phone: (07) 3367 8066
    Price: Tapas: $6 – $26. Shared Plates: $25 – $32. Desserts: $12 – $22.