I did it. Here we are in the middle of August and while some people are probably congratulating themselves on making it through ‘dry July’ I’m more concerned with the fact I made it through July Good Food Month relatively unscaled from the food overload and with minimal additional pudge around the stomach region. (Having said that August has been equally as busy with foodie events!).
July really was a glorious, jam-packed four weeks. Filled with sensory delights and foodie feasts from “The Breakfast Club”, “Art + Food” (thank you Harvest exhibition and GOMA), “Let’s do Dessert” and the marvellous 10 days where the Night Noodle Markets graced South Bank. So in homage to the experience here is my round up of the wonderful eats, sights and sounds indulged in over courses of breakfast, dinner and dessert…
The Breakfast Club
Let’s start with what has to be my favourite meal of the day and recall the amazing breakfast deals that were running throughout July. With so many on offer (think Chow House for their coconut crumpets and Asian style omelette or Anouk for French toast) $20 got you a set menu meal plus a tea or coffee. After much deliberation and some directive from @daz_zling it was Au Cirque in New Farm that we graced with our stomaches. The adorable French chic-ness this hole in the wall café omits really is hard to resist.
Arriving early on a Wednesday morning we were champing at the bit for the breakfast platter of cheesy aged cheddar Soufflé Omelette with truffle oil, Turkish bread fingers with anchovy paste and Granola parfait layered with lemon curd, poached watermelon and Greek yoghurt.
I started with the Soufflé Omelette simply because the urge to dive into the skillet holding the pale yellow pillow was too difficult to resist. Scooping my spoon in was like taking a swipe at a cloud. Airy and pillowy it melted away on the tongue but had wonderfully rich bursts of intense cheese flavour, with melted cubes throughout and a blob of creamy mascarpone on top. It was both the best omelette and the best soufflé I have ever tasted enveloped into one glorious cheesy dish.
Moving onto the Turkish fingers where the anchovy butter glistened in the morning light, the taste sensation was eye-roll inducing. The layer of salty, tangy anchovy paste over the top of the butter on perfectly toasted fresh Turkish bread transported me straight to Europe.
Finally the Granola Parfait – sweet and tangy from the lemon curd it was breakfast opulence at it’s best. Crunchy golden granola was sandwiched by a layer of the tart curd and crunchy watermelon cubes with a giant blob of creamy Greek yoghurt on top. An interesting combination but it was heavenly.
That plus the coffee only cost us $20! Goodness knows how we managed to polish it all off…but we did. And it was worth every calorie.
Night Noodle Markets
If you’re reading this and didn’t make it to the Night Noodle Markets this year then I am truly sorry…and should warn you to probably stop reading now and continue to remain blissfully unaware of what incredible deliciousness you missed out on.
In what can only be described as an absolute home run of an event, the Night Noodle Markets were packed with people from the moment the gates opened at 4pm until wrap up at 10pm every day of the week they were on. I should know…I went three times! It was vibrant and a-buzz with people, music and good food and had a fantastic atmosphere with stunning city views. I was captivated by the character of the event with zoned areas, Asian lanterns that hung prettily over the entranceway, brightly hued umbrellas, dancing dragons, the glowing green allure of the Tanqueray Gin stage, the jazzy-house beats coming from The Fox’s “Apple Cider Farm” (complete with fake apple trees and hay bales) and the general hum of hungry crowds lining up at the vendor stalls.
With such an incredible environment I wanted to tuck into it all! I may not have managed every stall but I definitely managed to sample a good several. I’ll try to keep it brief but here’s a round up of the wonderful flavours tried, tasted and savoured…
Night Noodle Markets – Take 1
My first visit to the Night Noodle Markets was with two fellow foodie girlfriends @daz_zling and @teagan_west and fortunately we had a game plan…alternating queuing up for food and sharing each plate we managed to make our way through several stalls. The first was New Shanghai for their epic Pan-Fried Pork Buns, which were unlike any I have ever tasted before! A delicious doughy casing enveloped succulent pork meat and broth it was like a Xiao Long Bao just with a crisp fried bottom. Taking a bite into the top and then slurping the juices up before biting into the soft dumpling added to the whole experience and left us grinning like Cheshire cats as we made a right mess of our hands and shirts…
Next was Bird’s Nest Yakitori for their tender and tasty chicken skewers and interesting combination of pork belly wrapped cherry tomatoes. It was a good taster as we moved onto Mamak (visiting especially for the event from Sydney). A traditional Malaysian stall serving up what must have been thousands of plates of Roti with curry sauce (their line was never short of gigantic for the entire period) as well as traditional Malaysian drinks like hot milk tea, we couldn’t not give it a go.
The Roti was lovely – soft and doughy on the inside with a flakey, cirpsy outer layer. The canai curry sauce was slightly disappointing (I was hoping for more heat) but overall was a tasty experience. The hot milk tea was equally good – a taste sensation of sweetened tea it was a mix between a chai and a frothy, milky, sweet English Breakfast. Incredibly interesting in flavour it was definitely worth trying.
We weren’t quite finished on the savoury front so we moved to the other end of the markets and set our sights on Chitty Banh Banh. This had to be the highlight of my Night Noodle experience. Their Wagyu beef skewers wrapped in betel leaf and smothered in crushed peanuts were absolutely divine. Juicy, succulent and ridiculously tasty I could have happily devoured a whole serve on my own. (Jake and Elle please bring back Chitty Banh Banh to Eat Street!)
Right next door to Chitty Banh Banh was Ii-naa and once we saw their Kaarage Chicken we couldn’t resist. Fried golden goodness coated succulent chicken that we covered with lemon juice. Although it could have done with a Japanese mayo.
Finally we were ready for dessert. Making a beeline to Mini Pancakes where tiny egg-based pancakes were being churned out at a rate of knots we chose to have ours topped with caramel sauce and icing sugar. The result was an Asian take on Proffertjes, which were puffy, gooey and crisp all at the same time.
Next we spotted Serendipity Ice Cream which was just too difficult to ignore – especially with their new Asian style flavoured sorbets! Tossing up between Spiced Plum and Coconut and Kaffir Lime sorbet I settled on the latter. It was a light and refreshing way to end the evening with creamy coconut flavours and notes of citrus from the lime.
Night Noodle Markets – Take 2
The next visit paid I knew immediately I wanted to get the BBQ Beef Betel Leaf Skewers and Spit Roasted Pork with Crispy Scallion Pancake from Bang Bang Pop-Up of Sichuan Bang Bang (thanks to Corrie at brisbanedevoured.com for that recommendation!).
The Betel Leaf Skewers were delicious although not quite a succulent and juicy as those from Chitty Banh Banh. The Scallion Pancake was certainly crispy but needed the extras of chilli, soy and vinegar to cut through the dryness of the meat.
Next stop and I couldn’t help but take my friend to get some more of New Shanghai’s Pan-Fried Pork Buns. These babies were once again phenomenal – the dough was not too bread-y and the juices just oozed out. Slurping away at the tops and then devouring them whole it was a messy eat but oh-so-scrumptious.
Finally for dessert we had our sights firmly set on Harajuku Gyoza’s Salted Caramel Gyoza’s with vanilla bean ice-cream. The deep fried gyozas oozing thick salted caramel sauce were seriously decadent and rich – the caramel was so intense it needed the vanilla ice-cream to balance it out. It certainly finished us off that night!
Night Noodle Markets – Take 3
My final visit to the Night Noodle Markets was completely accidental. I was already in Southbank for a lunch and found myself still there at 4pm when the last night of the markets commenced…so @feedmenowbrisbane and I decided to continue our afternoon of eating and grab an early dinner. A little after 4pm and the Cultural Forecourt was already abuzz with people and the line at Mamak well and truly formed.
@feedmenowbrisbane settled on a Chicken Pad Thai from Span Thai where giant woks of Asian stir-frys and noodles were well and truly on the go and looked and smelt amazing. Steaming up the glass façade the Pad Thai was saucy and a bright colour of orangey-red. The taste was unlike any Pad Thai I had ever tried – sweeter than most it almost had notes of ‘sweet and sour’ sauce through it – but it was certainly tasty.
I decided that I would finally try Longrain’s Pop Up offering of Murray Valley Pork Green Curry with Ginger and Thai Basil. I had toyed with the idea each time I visited (as I am a fan of Melbourne’s Longrain and love their speciality egg net dish) but each time had already filled myself up with other things…and this bowl was a meal in itself! This time though I wasn’t about to let the opportunity pass up.
The curry was extraordinary. Hot and spicy with a coconut base it had a lovely hint of sweetness and creaminess and wonderful bursts of fresh basil flavour. The pork itself was tender and succulent and soaked up the delicious soup juices. The crispy noodles that lay on top were the perfect accompaniment – softening as the green curry sauce gradually enveloped them. It was the best way to round out my Night Noodle Markets experience as we sat on crates and admired the “street art” being created before our very eyes. I definitely cannot wait for them to return next year!
Let’s do Dessert
As well as “Hats off Dinners” and “Bar Hop” July Good Food Month also brought “Let’s do Dessert” to the table, where – similar to the Breakfast Club – $20 got you a dessert and beverage combo. Chester Street Bakery and Bar were serving up their epic Molten Chocolate Pudding with Raspberry Swirl Ice Cream and Ovaltine Crunch, which came with the promise of a dessert wine as well (the latter I passed on, as it was a ‘school night’).
The verdict? Oh my gooey goodness. The molten cake arrived with the wonderful ‘just out of the oven’ waft of rich cacao and the raspberry swirl ice cream had already begun to melt against it. Cutting it open the middle just oozed lava chocolate and I had to use all willpower to capture the photo first before diving straight in.
The chocolate cake was seriously one of the best I have ever tasted. With the cakey outer shell and warm gooey liquid interior on the spoon with a scoop of the raspberry ice cream with swirls of tartness each mouthful was dessert bliss. That combined with the crunchy ovaltine crisps (it literally tasted like aerated ovaltine’s with the same texture as honeycomb…amazing!) and the effect was zomggg dessert indulgence. The best part? The Molten Chocolate Pudding is on Chester Street Bakery and Bar’s regular dessert menu…GET THERE.