Friday, October 31, 2008

Barefoot on A Sunday Afternoon

One of the best kept secrets in Brisbane, is the monthly barefoot bowls and barbecue at Yeronga Bowls Club.

On the first Sunday of every month, from 3pm onwards, Yeronga Bowls Club holds casual bowls for anyone who would like a roll up, with a barbecue dinner at about 6pm for... wait for it... $7. Yes, that's SEVEN DOLLARS. I don't know anywhere else you can get a meal for $7, let alone an afternoon of fun, relaxing entertainment too.

Now I believe the price is going up on that deal soon, to a ridiculous... $9. Good God, don't rob a bank now will you?

Not only do you get such a cheap deal with the bowls and barbecue, but the drinks are really cheap too. A glass of white wine is under $3. A basic spirit with a can of softdrink is under $5. And a can of soft drink on it's own is $2.

What I love most is how relaxed it is. No rules, no scoring (unless you and your friends want to) and they play music across the greens all afternoon. I call it "roll and giggle". Dinner is simple and hearty, usually sausages/steakettes (cooked really deliciously), simple salads and bread and butter. Delicious.

If you want a leisurely, cheap afternoon with a hearty meal at the end, Yeronga Bowls Club (map) is a great Sunday afternoon's entertainment.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Riot of Purple

As you may have guessed by the header of this blog, I absolutely love jacaranda season in Brisbane. Jacarandas just scream "home" to me, even though I believe they are native to South Africa.

I love that gorgeous purple colour, and how they leave a carpet of purple underneath them when they are in flower. Even though they shed blossoms everywhere, and then those said blossoms do rot all over the place, I think they're one of the most beautiful features of Brisbane.

On Saturday night just passed, it was my birthday. I went to Kapsali's restaurant at South Bank with a group of girlfriends (the Brissie Cysters). We were seated at a table outside, right under a jacaranda tree, shedding it's gorgeous blossoms all over the table, the chairs and of course us. Sure, there were a couple of flowers fished out of wine glasses and cleavage as the night passed on, but I didn't mind, they're so beautiful it's worth fishing them out of various places they land.

I've always said, when I get married, it will be under jacaranda trees in full bloom.

There's something special about this time of year, driving through Brisbane (or in my case, travelling on the bus) and seeing that riot of purple all over the landscape. It's stunning.

Incidentally, the photograph I have used for my header comes from Brisbane Images, a digital image collection through Brisbane City Council Library Service. If you go to their catalogue website eLibCat, you can click on the "Search Brisbane Images" button and then use the search engine to find pretty much anything Brisbane related right back to the mid-1800's.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Think I'm Turning Japanese

Last night I went out for a belated birthday dinner at Wagamama in the Wintergarden with a friend.

I really enjoy Wagamama. I know some people shrink from the idea because it is in fact part of a franchise, but I really believe it's the least franchise-y of all of the franchises.

Wagamama's food is simple, tasty, nourishing and reasonably priced. They do the best ramen I have ever eaten (super-duper fresh ingredients are the key) and it always arrives at your table quick sticks. Last night I tried one of their spring cocktails, a concoction of mango, apple and mint with Absolut vanilla vodka. It was absolutely divine. Fruity and fresh and deceptively potent. I reckon two or three of those and I'd be under the table.

So last night I had the sweet potato kusabi, which are a thinly sliced sweet potato chip with wasabi mayonnaise, chicken ramen, which has REAL chicken breast and fresh vegetables and banana katsu and coconut ice-cream for dessert. Delicious, every morsel.

The only thing I'm not fussed on at Wagamama are the bench style seats. I don't mind the big communal tables, and I wouldn't mind bench seating if they weren't so PAINFUL to sit on longer than half an hour. They're just at the wrong height and depth. I'm not short and actually have longer legs than my body, but still I find myself with my feet in the tippy-toe position on the floor on those bench seats, and it's never comfortable. I'd enjoy my dining so much more if I didn't get fierce cramps from the seating!

But that said, it is worth the uncomfortable seating just for the food. It really is high quality and well priced to go with it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Great Cuppa in Brisbane

How about we start with a great cuppa? Because no matter what, if you can get a decent coffee/tea/hot chocolate, it always makes the day that little bit better. Let's break it down a wee bit:

Best Everyday Cuppa

That morning cup of coffee before work is essential for me. I just don't function so well without it. And my morning cuppa of choice is always a grande skim latte from Cool Beans and Baguettes, which you will find in the food court of Brisbane Square, 266 George Street. (Map) Regular baristas Gus and Kat never fail to brew up a perfect coffee (and they do a great tea, hot chocolate or chai too) mega quickly, and with fantastic service. They never forget a regular face and name (or the cuppa that goes with it) and have got making everyone's perfect morning cuppa down to a fine art.

Best Hot Chocolate

This would have to go to Batavia at South Bank, Cnr Ernst and Grey Streets (Map). Hot chocolate is served here in little hot jugs of chocolate and milk, which you pour yourself into a lovely big round cup that just feels fantastic in the hands. Smooth, rich and creamy, with a lovely sense of ceremony, the hot chocolate here is just divine, and you can get some lovely variations on the basic. Batavia also has a lovely feel to the cafe, and they sell furniture and decor with a distinct style as well as the cafe.

Best Tea

I personally like T-Licious, also at South Bank, on Little Stanley Street (Map). Not only can you get all kinds of cuppas as far as tea is concerned (black, green, white, herbal, infusions - every kind of flavour and combination) but they also sell their tea in take home packs and have a lovely range of tea accoutrements. My particular favourite is their Apple Strudel (which is actually a fruit melange, rather than a tea) which is spicy and fruity without being sickly sweet. Of the true teas, I really like the China Jasmine.

Best Coffee

This is a tough one, but I think I will go with Ned's Cafe on Fairfield Road at Yeronga, at The Village on the corner of Fairfield Road and Kadumba Street (Map). Merlo coffee, always prepared well, and a lovely selection of cakey things to go with it. It's often a bit hard to get a table there, particularly on a weekend, but if you can, it's worth it.

What's Your Favourite?

So here's where you tell me what your favourite cuppa is in Brisbane. I will do my best to try it and if I do, review it here on this blog. Leave me a comment to tell me the cuppa you love here in Brisbane.

Kicking Off - About this Blog

Just recently, I realised that I spend a lot of time telling people all about cities I've visited, but I never really talk about the city that I choose to call home. It's a bit strange really, because of all the fantastic places I've been, and the places I could choose to live in, I don't sell this one half as much as those that I've not chosen to live in.

Does that make sense?

I love Brisbane. It's a great city, ideal for me to live and work in and also relax and socialise in. I work for the local government here too, and while it's not perfect or flawless in any way, I do really enjoy my job and I'm here because I'm passionate about the industry I'm in and the city.

So why don't I "sell" this city to people? Why don't I share the cool things I can do here, great restaurants and cafes, places to see? Probably because when you live somewhere, it becomes every day, so you forget to appreciate it. Which is kind of crazy when you realise it's the place you have chosen to be all the time!

This is where this blog comes in. I'm going to talk about all my favourite things about Brisbane, the places, the people, the food, the culture, the events, everything. And I hope, that as this blog grows, it will not only get people visiting Brisbane, but help those who have chosen to live here appreciate it more. I also hope it will open up some new places and experiences to you, my readers, and that you will in turn share with me YOUR favourite things about Brisbane, so that I can experience them too.