Friday, October 23, 2009

I Heart BrisVegas is Moving!

Yes, I have outgrown Blogger. It has served me well in the three years I've been using it, but I'm needing some more functionality and the comments are problematic, so I'm moving to WordPress.

To go to the new site (and I've imported all of the old blog posts) go to:

I will post a few reminders here over the next posts, but from now on, we're at Wordpress.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ned's Deli Cafe

I woke up feeling cranky this morning. My first thought after "Geez I'm cranky." was "Oh I want coffee." I realised that I'd gone from a grande skim latte per day routine to almost nothing. I can only think of two coffees I've had since I've been on leave from work, and I'm used to at least one per day.

So since it was payday, I decided to go for a walk to my local shops and have a really nice lunch with coffee. I packed my bag with a good book (I'm reading The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan at the moment) and set off for a walk in the sunshine.

I decided to pop in to Ned's Deli Cafe, since I knew they do Merlo coffee (for those not in Brisbane, Merlo is one of the few locally roasted coffees in Brisbane - local really does make a difference.)

The service is always good at Ned's. I straight up ordered my skim latte and it was on my table very, very quickly. Merlo didn't fail me at all - even the scent of it had me feeling more sprightly.

I ordered their quiche lorraine with a side order of beer battered chips for lunch and one of their "Pick Me Up" juices, which is apple and watermelon juice with a touch of mint. The quiche was very good, full of ham and onion and tomato, which a lorraine doesn't usually have, but I wasn't complaining, and a hefty sized portion. It was also light and creamy through the egg which is how I like my quiche. The beer battered fries were a perfect side order size - not scabby but also not too huge that you either end up too full or leave half of them. They were cooked to golden, crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside perfection and served with aioli for dipping. The juice was lovely too, I could see them preparing it fresh and it had just the right hint of mint without being overpowering.

While I ate I sat in a cozy corner reading my book, and the staff didn't interrupt, which is something that really bugs me when I'm sitting reading over a meal. When I was finished the waiter came to get my plate and only when I looked up and thanked him, did he ask me how I found the meal. It's something that annoys me a lot, when waiters ask you constantly how the meal is. Even if I'm not reading alone, they always seem to catch me while I'm chewing or in conversation if I'm with friends. Even when the waiter came to get my juice glass he said "Excuse me, sorry to interrupt, but may I take your juice glass?" So nice to have my peace and quiet while reading respected.

I was so comfortable I decided to order another coffee, which again arrived really promptly, and the wait staff left me to it to savour it and enjoy my book. When I got up to pay and leave, then the woman behind the counter again asked me how my meal was and was really friendly. It was a delight to pay!

As I walked out the door, I realised that my cranky mood had completely gone. The spring was back in my step. I'm not sure if it was just the coffee or a combination of coffee and the lovely service. Either way, I'd definitely recommend Ned's Deli Cafe to anyone who is in the Yeronga area.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cupcake Grief

I had a bit of a weird experience today.

I'm on holidays from work and I decided to head out to Wynnum for a few hours, just to get out and about and as the weather was hot, I thought it would be cooler down there. For those of you who don't know Brisbane, Wynnum is a suburb out on the Moreton Bay side of Brisbane.

So I caught the train out there, wandered down to the central part of the suburb, bought myself a meat pie from Perrett's Bakery (not bad, tasty but not what I'd call fantastic by way of meat pies) and headed down to the esplanade for a bit. Found myself a picnic table, camped out with my book and read and had my lunch.

After awhile I decided I felt like a coffee, so I headed back up into the town part and spotted a nice looking place called The Olive Cafe. A pretty corner cafe painted in spring green, with yummy looking cakes and pastries and the coffee smelled really good. I ordered a coffee and a gorgeous "raspberry delight" cupcake, mostly because it looked so pretty. Here, check it out:


See? Isn't it pretty? Now cos it was pretty, I whipped out my iPhone (yes, I'm one of THOSE) and tweeted a quick picture to my tweeps. Then I got out my real camera (nothing fancy, just a Canon Powershot A550) and was taking a couple of decent photos, with the intention of blogging up how lovely The Olive Cafe are.

As I was snapping off a couple of shots, this old guy comes up to me from behind the counter and says "Are you enjoying the muffin?" I replied that I hadn't tasted it yet, but it was very pretty. He then said "Why are you taking pictures? If you're taking pictures you should give me money." I was a bit taken aback and I responded that it was pretty, so I like to take photos, to which he said "Then you should pay me!" And at that moment the other guy behind the counter, who I guessed was his son, spoke to him firmly in another language and he backed off.

But he spent the next five minutes giving me filthy looks until he and his wife left the cafe.

Now, tell me this people. I just bought the cupcake. With my money. Shouldn't I be able to do what I bloody well like to it once I've paid for it? I should be able to shove it in my left ear if I want to.

It really marred an otherwise lovely cafe. Because not only was it pretty, and the service I got at the counter from the other man and the young woman who made my coffee was lovely, but the cake was DIVINE tasting and the coffee (a skim latte) perfect.

I wonder if the old guy would have confronted me like that had I not been on my own? Or had I been a man? It was just really rude and unnecessary because I was actually planning to share the pictures and give his business some good blogosphere space. I would have bought a couple of the other kinds of cupcakes (which were as pretty as this one) to bring for a friend I'm seeing tomorrow but I was just really put off.

Well, since I took a few photos and it got me some grief, I may as well give you some more cupcake porn...

Raspberry Delight

Can you see why I took photos? It's GORGEOUS!

If you like good coffee and delicious cakes, definitely try the Olive Cafe at Wynnum. Hopefully you won't get harassed if you decide to take a picture of the pretty food.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Brisbane Writer's Festival Write Up

Last weekend was a big one in Brisbane. What with the Brisbane Writers Festival and Brisbane Festival on. The city and South Bank were jumping for a good four or five days across the two festivals.

I got to go to a lot of the writers festival, as I took the Friday off work. I did go to the reading at Greystone Bar at Southbank on the Thursday night, where Carl Cleves, Marie Munkara, Tom Cho and Christian Lander each gave a reading from their books. I particularly enjoyed Tom Cho and Christian Lander, both who are masters at the art of deadpan delivery. Lots of laughs to be had there.

Tom Cho
Tom Cho at Greystone Bar

Christian Lander at Greystone Bar

My first event on Friday morning was the "Conversations With Richard Fidler" session that was live to air for ABC radio. The subject was "Not Tonight Honey" with guests Bettina Arndt and Linda Javin. It was fascinating to be behind the scenes for a live to air radio broadcast and a great topic of conversation. I found Bettina Arndt absolutely delightful, and Richard Fidler is always good value. Not so impressed with Linda Javin, but she did raise some interesting points.

Bettina Arndt

The next session I went to was local author Krissy Kneen in the Red Box theatrette. Krissy has written a sexual memoir, and boy is she a brave lady. She has really put her whole life out there and isn't afraid to talk about it. I admire that, even though her life and her values are somewhat different to my own. She really hit the nail on the head when she said that she didn't care if people didn't like her personally (or her lifestyle) but she felt it when they criticised her writing. I deeply admire that attitude. A fascinating session, and hosted by a friend of Krissy's, Benjamin Law.

My last session for the day was the "Creativity: Art or Science" with John Birmingham, Rowan Gilmore and Mandyam Srinivasan. A lot more scientific talk than I had anticipated, but I did really enjoy it and it gave me some good food for thought.

I had planned to turn up early on the Saturday morning, but was knackered so I stayed home and had a bit of a sleep in, and hit the 11.30am session first up, "Disco Boy: What's in a Name" with Nick Earls and Dominic Knight, hosted by a very sexy Scotsman in a kilt, who I have subsequently found out is one Lee McGowan. Lots of laughs to be had in this session, as is always expected in any session featuring Nick Earls.

Disco Boy: What's in a Name
Lee McGowan, Nick Earls and Dominic Knight

The next session I went to, "My Big Fat Eccentric Family" with Gary Bryson, Tom Cho and Catherine Therese turned out to be both the biggest surprise and the highlight of the entire festival for me. Gary Bryson read a fantastic passage from his book a fiction piece that is very reminiscent of his own childhood life in Scotland. Tom Cho gave some readings from his book, including his fantastic reworking of Dirty Dancing. But it was Catherine Therese that was the surprise and delight. Her reading turned into a performance piece and she's such a delightful creature, honest and true to herself, and the inclusion of Bryson and Cho into the piece was fantastic.

Catherine Therese
Catherine Therese

After that, I dashed over to the Breezeway to the "Adventurers: Moving On from the Boy Scouts" session with Chris Bray, Gary Weare and Andrew Westoll. We heard about their boys own adventures, in the Himalayas, Arctic and South American jungle. Inspirational to hear their stories and perhaps find my own adventures.

The final event for the writers festival for me was a major disappointment. I went along to "Strong Women Write Strong Women" with Tobsha Learner and Marianne de Pierres. I would have enjoyed it a whole lot more if they'd had someone other than Tobsha Learner, who was more interested in talking about how successful she was rather than the strong women that she apparently writes. Marianne de Pierres would have been interesting enough to see on her own, she is a rare creature of Australian authors - a female speculative fiction writer. Very disappointing session to end on.

That said though, as a whole I really enjoyed the Brisbane Writers Festival 2009, especially as they've gone back to the format with plenty of free events available. The average person can't afford four days worth of events that start at $10, so I missed a couple of years there. It's good to be able to go and see writers from all over Australia and around the world strut their stuff.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Burgers in Brisbane

Oh how I love a good burger. A REALLY good burger.

I'm not talking about your McDonald's greasy kind, or your local takeaway where they do the plain but hearty kind. I'm talking about your beautifully grilled, good quality meat, real cheeses, a selection of hand made sauces, mayos and relishes, and real onions and potatoes on the side.

Luckily for me, this kind of burger is becoming really easy to find in Brisbane.

There is the chain Grill'd, which have several locations in Brisbane and I heard last night that they're opening up one in South Bank, just down from the cinemas where Batavia used to be. I've been to the one at Bulimba and the burger I had there was delicious. And the chips... oh I could sell my soul for those herbed chips. So it will be a welcome thing to have one as close as South Bank for me. Even though it is sad to see the lovely Batavia go.

Last night I took some lovely Twitter ladies to Beastie Burgers at South Bank before we went to BTUB, the first Friday of the month Brisbane Twitter get together at Greystone Bar. One look at the menu and I was stuck. Which of these delicious burgers was I going to chose? One with haloumi, the king of cheeses? One with sweet potato, the queen of potatoes? I ended up going with the Swiss Miss, the princess of burgers. A beef burger with swiss cheese, seasoned mayo, onions and gherkins. I also ordered a side of "fries".

I wasn't disappointed in my choice. The burger was HUGE, the meat was really good quality and the other fillings all married up in a delicious medley. When the fries came, they were actually little chat potatoes that I think had been roasted, served with aioli. Damn they were good. Sadly the burger was so huge that I couldn't eat them all, and everyone else was pretty full too.

One of the ladies in our group also ordered a Lindt chocolate milkshake, and when it arrived I could smell it's chocolatey goodness. She was unable to finish it, it was so rich and huge.

All in all, one of the best burger meals I have ever had, and I'll certainly be revisiting so that I can try some of the other varieties. If you're at South Bank and want a good hearty meal, perfect for before a movie or a big night out, or for a weekend lunch, I definitely recommend trying out Beastie Burgers on Little Stanley Street.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Fete Fun

It's been a long time since I went to a school fete. But when my friend Paul told me that the school his boys attend, St Brendan's Catholic Primary School at Moorooka, would be having one this weekend, and that his Beatles tribute band would be playing there, I decided it was time to renew my acquaintance with a good school fete!

It started with a Trash n' Treasure sale in the courtyard of the school. Lots of books, games, clothes, and general bric-a-brac. I picked up these two cute glasses for about 50c.


Then out the back through a fabulous food court that was a true multi-cultural fare. From Sudanese afternoon tea, Vietnamese spring rolls, English strawberries and cream or Devonshire tea, a Tongan barbecue, Ethiopian coffee to a good old Aussie Lions club steak sandwich or sausage sizzle, there was something for everything. It was a fairly breezy day today and the scents being carried throughout the school grounds were absolutely heavenly.


Outside there were the traditional fete stalls. Sweets and cakes, plants, a silent auction, lucky dips and tomobola, face painting, raffles and lock and key games.


But one special new kind of fete stall that I am starting to see pop up at fetes and fairs these days, in our lovely multi-cultural city... a henna tattoo stall.

Henna Artist

I've always wanted to have a henna tattoo done. Those of you who know me know that I love the permanent ink, I have three tattoos myself. And while henna tattoos are not permanent, they're a beautiful form of ink body adornment that I've always had a fondness for. So I decided to indulge and have my left hand hennaed.


Beautiful huh? It's even nicer now that it has dried and set.

Finally we settled in to enjoy Paul's band, ironically called "The Beetles". They did a fantastic and fun set of the early Beatles stuff before we had to scoot.


I enjoyed them and so did their audience, which were of all ages.

A little Audience for the Band

I really must make the effort to get to more fetes and fairs around this city, they're always such a lovely way to spend a weekend afternoon.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Broadening Social Horizons: BTUB and Greystone Bar

It's been a little while since I talked BrisVegas with y'all, hasn't it? I've actually been working on a few things, but none of them have been up to scratch, so I'll sit on them for a little longer until I'm ready to share it with you all.

Instead, tonight I'm going to talk to you about two things. The first being BTUB, the second being Greystone Bar at South Bank, both of which are now quite firmly linked together.

Let's start with BTUB. For those of you that don't know, BTUB is the Brisbane Twitter community. It stands for Brisbane Twitter Underground Brigade, though now that Twitter is hitting the mainstream, the U can be interchanged for "User". Either way, it's a collective group of Brisbane Twitter users (and any that are visiting to our fair town are welcome too) who use Twitter to meet socially as well as online.

My first involvement with BTUB was a breakfast at the Pancake Manor I went to one morning before work. A handful of people, all guys that particular day, met for breakfast and I tagged along. Everyone was very welcoming and friendly, and I enjoyed meeting new people and having a bit of socialising before work. Since then I've been to cupcakes in New Farm park, various coffees and breakfasts, high tea at the Stamford Plaza and have added the first Friday of the month get together to my regular social calendar.

I'm amazed at the whole BTUB thing. In the past few months I have met so many very cool people, from all kinds of walks of life, age groups, interests and careers. And one common thread I find through the majority of them are that they are lovely open-minded and open-hearted people who welcome anyone to the fold. Not only have I broadened my general social circle, and been able to be part of a bunch of new experiences, but I feel I've made some lovely new friends along the way.

If you're in Brisbane and are looking to expand your social circle, this is the way to do it. If you're not, check if there is a "TUB" for where you are.

Which brings me to Greystone Bar. For the past two months, the regular BTUB "First Friday of the month" social event has been held at Greystone Bar at South Bank. I only went to one at the previous venue, The Ship Inn, and while the space allocated was very good, with plenty of room and lots of seating, it didn't feel like they wanted the custom of this rather large group of paying customers. Which kind of boggles my brain, as it is a good sized group, guaranteed to be spending on both food and drinks, and is a mellow, happy group too. No fights, no bad behaviour, courteous and fun.

But anyway, their loss is our gain. The past two months as I mentioned, the venue has been Greystone Bar in Little Stanley Street, opposite the South Bank Cinemas. And I doubt they could be a more welcoming venue. They actively interact on Twitter with pretty much anyone in Brisbane (well, mostly the lovely Laura from Greystone Bar does all the tweeting!) in a personal, friendly, natural manner. They understand the Twitter community doesn't want to be sold to, and that it's not just about people broadcasting about what they had for breakfast. They welcome the BTUB folks, treat them like valued customers the whole night (not just when they first get them in the door) and welcome them back at any other time with just one friend or a group.

Greystone Bar are welcoming, have a great atmosphere, lots of gorgeous cocktails made with good quality ingredients (no cheap flavourings or mixes) for a reasonable price, as well as all the beer, wine and spirits you can think of, tasty finger foods and lots of comfy seating and heaters for the outdoor areas for those that suffer in what Brisbane calls winter! They also have a finger on the pulse for all of the events happening in and around South Bank. I can highly recommend them.

If you're on Twitter, here are the accounts to follow:

Greystone Bar are also on Facebook and are an active Facebook presence!