IT’S a tasty Tuesday of Gorgeous Geisha’s and Konichiwa Kimonos and while I have never seen Mount Fuji, or Japan itself, nor marveled at the famed Rising Sun, there’s plenty of reason to smile. Back in Brisbane briefly between travel assignments, I’ve taken a delicious detour to the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre (BCEC) to preview the menu for The Coffee Club Telethon Ball 2015. It’s a Journey to Japan I’m taking this delightful day, all plated up and easy to digest for this hungry traveller. And the cause is equally as evocative. Staged to raise money to fund vital research into the most devastating childhood cancers, The Coffee Club Telethon Ball is considered to be one of the most vibrant charity balls in Queensland.
More than 1200 guests are expected to attend this year’s ball on October 17 at BCEC with this year’s theme inspired by the story of the ancient Japanese Peace Crane. A stunning 17,000 suspended and folded paper cranes will decorate the venue in a bid to bring luck, good fortune and health. And these kids need it. Kids such as a little boy called Connor who at the age of three developed a temperature and started having difficulty walking. Three days later Connor’s parents were told that he had numerous tumours in his abdominal area, pelvis, spine and right knee and he was officially diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma. The next day Connor began treatment and has since endured six months of intensive chemotherapy, major surgery, a bone marrow transplant, radiotherapy and six months of immunotherapy. On May 18 this year, after more than a year of treatment, Connor “rang the bell” to signify his last chemotherapy treatment at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital.
Money raised from the 2014 ball enabled the Children’s Hospital Foundation to continue to fund research to achieve faster diagnoses, better treatments and ultimately cures for the most devastating childhood illnesses.
“Thanks to research, kids are now surviving cancer more than ever before, however, little boys and girls still lose their fight and this event makes sure less lose the fight,” The Coffee Club’s John Lazarou says.
“There’s always more we can do for our sick kids and that’s why we need your help. Kids like Connor and so many more need us, and we need to step up and say to them ‘we are here’. Is there any better call to answer?”
BCEC Executive Chef Martin Latter pays homage to Japan in this innovative menu, while giving his trademark nod to local produce such as fresh Queensland crab and prawns. The result: delectable dishes dressed up in creative course names such as The Rising Sun Starter in which guests will be treated to the likes of Tuna Tataki Salad with Matsuhisa Dressing; Octopus Carpaccio with Pickled Daikon; Green Wakame; Fried Eggplant with Miso Sauce; and Vegetable Tempura.
The Konichiwa Kimono Entrée consists of Hoisin Glazed Chicken, Water Chestnuts, Bamboo Shoots, Toasted Sesame Caramel Dressing; and Marinated Salmon, King Prawn, Spanner Crab, Avocado Shiso Leaves, Daikon, and Miso Mayonnaise.
The Mount Fuji Main promises to be as grand as the famed landmark boasting Grilled Wagyu Beef Fillet, Enoki & Shitake Mushrooms, Asparagus, and Teriyaki Glaze; and Breast of Corn Fed Chicken, Sushi Rice, Fava Beans, Fried Leeks, Fragrant Chicken, Ginger, and Spring Onion Glaze.
Possibly my favourite course of all, not only because it’s sweet but also due to its description, is the Gorgeous Geisha Dessert of Fruit Sushi: Crepes, Rice Pudding, Mango, Coconut and Strawberries; and Lychee & Honey Mousse, Vanilla Bean Coral Sponge, White Chocolate & Green Tea Crumble, and Almond Milk Jelly.
Hosted by Channel 9’s Catriona Rowntree and The Today Show’s Karl Stefanovic, Lisa Wilkinson and Richard Wilkins, the Who’s Who of sport, television and music will grace this event. Consider taking your taste buds on a journey to Japan to help those less fortunate closer to home. To find out more, go to http://www.tcctelethonball.com.au/
MONDAY, bloody Monday and I am in the sort of mood other people normally reserve for dentists and funerals. I despise Monday so much, that if there was an Olympic sport for this kind of thing, I would be the reigning gold champion. With such contempt do I hold the first day of the working week, that I am utterly convinced no one else on this planet could hate it as much as me. Except for my good friend Matthew, who is the silver medallist in this sport. Our email conversations on Monday run along the lines of “Only 51 more weeks until holidays”. But not this Monday. You see yesterday we hatched a plan to escape to Japan, if only for a few hours. Yesterday, we went to Sake Restaurant Brisbane.
For those who have been hiding under a rock, and clearly I am one of these people (in my defence, it’s not like I ever go on a date), Sake opened in November 2010. In true Brisbane style, this riverside establishment not only survived the 2011 floods at its Eagle Street pier location, but has thrived during the past five years, winning a coveted Queensland Good Food Guide Chef’s Hat every year since it opened. And it’s easy to see why.
Apart from the fact Matthew likes to match my Monday complaining (I am the Edamame to his Sapporo), he is also a Japanese aficionado, known to enjoy the food as much as the skiing there and hence, he makes the perfect lunch companion on this occasion. A creative way to experience the menu here is to indulge in the “omokase” which, loosely translated, means “we create the menu for you.” In fact, around half of this restaurant’s guests choose this option, leaving it in the hands of head chef Daisuke Sakai and his team to make magic.
Drawing inspiration from the new winter menu, we were treated to a number of dishes, starting with a scallop tiradito with yuzu lemon and rocotto chili; and spicy tuna rice, tuna sashimi with crispy rice blocks.
A wagyu gyoza with ginger, chives and butter ponzu followed; as did tonkatsu pocket buns with panko crumbed pork belly, spicy miso sauced on a steamed white bun.
Our last two savory courses consisted of grainfed wagyu teriyaki cooked medium rare with sautéed shiitake, buckwheat and yakiniku sauce; and Osaka sushi roll with prawn, sweet ginger, egg sheet wrap with okonomiyaki barbecue sauce, and dancing bonito flakes.
The outstanding flavours and texture of the spicy tuna rice made this dish a clear winner for both of us due to the clever crunchy base. For my money, the salty wagyu teriyaki was a close second, while Matthew enjoyed the tonkatsu pocket buns, describing them as upmarket sliders. The Osaka sushi roll prawn promised much, but fell short due to its overpowering ginger, and had the chef possibly deconstructed this dish, as I ended up doing, the beautifully distinct taste of the egg wrap became evident, as did its other individual elements.
A really nice touch is the wine list, with an Austrian white from near the Austrian/Hungarian border and which tastes somewhere between a Riesling and Chablis, a perfect pairing to this menu. The restaurant has also sourced a rare Japanese white wine – Gris de Koshu – which comes from a Japanese grape, and is also a great drop for this kind of food. As the name suggests, Sake is home to numerous drops of the potent Japanese rice wine with 30 varieties of sake on the list. While Monday is pretty dire in my opinion, I did resist reaching for the sake bottle, instead, admiring the sake barrels on the wall, which I am told are used for traditional opening ceremonies.
Matthew had to rush off for a meeting before dessert arrived, but not before he ranked the experience a 9/10. As someone who hosts business lunches of his own, he found the private space in which we were seated, the varied menu, and the use of local produce such as Hervey Bay scallops, impressive. I was all set to give the restaurant an 8/10 (we both agreed the thumping lounge club music in the background was a distraction), until dessert arrived. Even the name of this dish, on this melancholy Monday, made me smile. And the “nihon nemesis” – a delicate chocolate cake with raspberry, matcha raspberry sorbet and honeycomb, was enough to brighten even the darkest day. With stunning service, fabulous food and such creative cuisine, this restaurant is worthy of a 9/10 and a repeat visit. Just like Monday, I’ll be back.
The Global Goddess was a guest of Sake Restaurant – http://www.sakerestaurant.com.au
Cheer up, sleepy jean
Oh, what can it mean
To a daydream believer
And a homecoming queen (Daydream Believer, The Monkees, 1967)
I HAVE a confession. I am a daydreamer. If I could, I would spend all day in my head, conjuring up salacious stories about the world around me. But in a bid to take a break and get out of my head for a bit over the Christmas period, I embraced Instagram with gusto. Just a few months ago, when I joined Instagram, I had a total of 13 followers, which was pretty remarkable, given I never posted anything. Yes, somewhere out there on the planet there were 13 insanely optimistic people, just waiting with baited breath for me to post something…anything. Quite the enigma was I. But things have changed, I’ve attracted a stack of new followers, and I’m now looking through the world through my eyes as well as my head – and most importantly my heart. And so, I thought I’d share a few images of what I’ve been up to this summer. If you’d like to follow me on Instagram, you’ll find me @aglobalgoddess
Possibly my favourite pic all summer was of the University of Queensland pool on a hot summer day. Few things excite me more than a cool body of water when the mercury is sky high. I got lucky and the water seemed to dance for me as I snapped this photo, while picking up the shadows on the bottom of the pool, and framed by the lane ropes.
Someone told me that people like food pics. Personally, I think they can be a bit indulgent. It seems strange to me that a bunch of overweight white people take photos of their food while half the world is starving, but I gave it a shot and received a ravenous response.
This melting moment presented itself as I was leaving a pub on a hot summer night. I love the way the wax formed these patterns and it seemed to sum up the scorching day.
From candles to cushions and cars, I fell in love with colour and so have been searching for as much of it as I can find in everyday items.
I reminded myself to look up, as this photo of the Brisbane Powerhouse on a later summer afternoon attests…
And look down. I took this sneaky pic of this woman’s feet sitting opposite to me in the hairdresser. And I also experimented with black and white.
Never forget your own backyard for beauty, as my perfect bunch of frangipani flowers proves.
And some days, even the subjects will pose for you, as Tilly proved up at Tamborine Mountain.
Which was your favourite pic from my summer collection? What would you like to see more of? I’d love your feedback. And please remember to follow me @aglobalgoddess