Breakfast at a Cafe named Pablo, Newfarm, Brisbane

IMG_9239
This is definitely about Pablo, but first we have a short detour a grab ourselves a coffee at Death Before Decaf – a little 24hr take away coffee joint just down the road. This place is defo worth a look on your way to breakfast… a little bit soup nazi from Seinfeld and a little bit punk rockabilly and a lot caffeinated.

I'd go there for the name and graphic alone...
I’d go there for the name and graphic alone…

…and then it was onto Pablo.

Pablo is normally a Hollywood name for a stereotypical Mexican guy with a moustache and a big hat, but today it is also the name of a restaurant in Brisbane’s Newfarm. Mad.

This place was fully pumping. Just like the pump station at a sewerage treatment plant in Mumbai – seriously effing pumping. People are flowing from its doors out onto the street. It seems that long ago the gentle stream turned into a raging river but, as if they are in cohorts with the man above (or possibly below) they do not seem worried, they do not faulter, it doesn’t seem to make a difference to the service times at all.

This is the back door. You will probably go in the front door
This is the back door. You will probably go in the front door

After a short wait we are taken to a table right next to “the pass” (the bench/shelf that bridges the worlds between front and back of house, and is where the food gets passed from the kitchen to the server), which is coincidentally one of my favourite seats in a restaurant… front row… where the action is at.

We order coffee and it arrives before I have even had a chance to thank the waitress for taking my order. I don’t know what the fuck black magic was in play here – some kind of Rick Moranis in Ghostbusters other world shit for sure – but I was grateful for my morning caffeinated beverage so I questioned not how it cometh, but instead ordered another… and a fresh juice to really check their styles. When the juice hit the table quicker than the coffee I knew something was amiss… there was surely a warlock afoot and we would need to keep our wits about us today that is for sure…

Too many options for me here
Too many options for me here

Sometimes I get a little afraid when I see a menu that has many options that I would be happy to try to break my nightly fast. But, as I am not a cow and I have only one stomach, I need to choose only one item that I will eat. This causes issues that I am sure to eventually over-come, but this day I was experiencing said too-much-good-shit-to-choose-from menu and also said decision making issues that came with it…

I finally decided on the beef and bean chilli (pulled slow cooked beef cheek, bacon, chorizo, speck and black beans with a fried egg, house made corn bread, guacamole and tomato salad, $18) but only because Seba (#1 oldest son) had agreed that he would get the roasted lamb special (slow roasted lamb, pumpkin, beetroot puree, labne, herb salad, fried egg and damper, $18) so we may share. Jen and Obi ordered some stuff but as they were sitting on the opposite side of the table they may as well have been characters living in a magical world in a J.K. Rowling novel because I really cared not for what they may be eating for breakfast and there was no way on god’s green Earth they would be getting a go on mine.

Beef and beans, Genovese coffee and great service made me very happy
Beef and beans, Genovese coffee and great service made me very happy

Our food was delivered in spectacular time, considering (or even not considering) the still unabated flood waters that are the crowds that a good, solid performer in the restaurant industry will command… these guys were the muther fucking Charlie Chaplin of the restaurant scene right now.

We ate, we drank and we were very happy.

The beef and beans number was fantastic; a lot of shredded meat with a few beans, a tasty tasty sauce, great guac and salsa, a perfect fried egg, all the goods. One thing though, the beans were completely covering the corn bread, smothering it’s creativity and not letting it really shine like it could’ve. This is one occasion where a few inches really could’ve made a huge difference – just getting that corn bread a little to the side of the plate and letting it be loved would’ve done it for me.

Oh so good
Oh so good

The lamb was another cracker although, if I’m totally honest, I didn’t really get too much of it into my belly as I was a little pre-occupied with the bean number and Seba appeared to be enjoying plenty fine by himself so that was OK with me.

This was a truly cracking breakfast. If I was wearing knickers I would’ve be happy to throw them to the chef in a display of gratitude, but alas I was not, so it was our verbal thanks that would need to gratify him and her today.

Nice job Pablo.

Pablo, 893 Brunswick St, Newfarm

A Tex-Mex feast starring my old friends, the Chicken Mole and Slow Cooked Briskett

The guys... hanging out... warming up for the party
The guys… hanging out… warming up for the party

It’s has been said that there are two things that are certain in this life we live;
1. Death
2. Taxes
3. A Tex-Mex feast of large proportions if you stay at our house for more than a day or two
4. And my lack of appropriate shills needed to do math

My Uncle Rob and Aunty Lizzie were fortunate enough to stay with us recently and, as they hit the “few day stay” bracket, a Tex-Mex feast did indeed eventuate.

We got our finest crockery out, and by finest crockery I mean it may have been vogue in 1978 but we’re still using it now because we think it makes us look pretty cool and shit. Whether there is any truth in the concept that old plates may us look cool I know not. But we were cooking a Tex-Mex feast, no doubt about it.

That’s really nice, isn’t it? We’re nice people, you know…

With out further adieu, and with no beating around the proverbial bush – a task I feel is best left up to Ron Jeremy and his band of merry 80’s porn stars, here is a recipe for my shredded chicken Mole, a must for any table that is supporting a Tex-Mex feast…

That brisket spent quite a number of hours hanging out with little wisps of smoke from the coals of the old hardwood that burns beneath
That brisket spent quite a number of hours hanging out with little wisps of smoke from the coals of the old hardwood that burns beneath

It is safe to say I am well and truly addicted to cooking on this puppy
It is safe to say I am well and truly addicted to cooking on this puppy
Some friends for the chicken, brisket and beans
Some friends for the chicken, brisket and beans
Everyone getting amongst it
Everyone getting amongst it
Time to get in my belly
Time to get in my belly

CHICKEN MOLE POBLANO (for 10-12 as part of a banquette)

2kg chicken breast
4 cloves
2 cinnamon quills
80g Mexican chocolate (if you can’t get hold of it use 1 tablespoon cocoa powder)
2x 400g tin diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock or water

the almond paste

2 corn tortillas, grilled or roasted with a little oil until brown
80g raisins or sultanas
80g almonds, roasted
¼ cup pepitas, roasted
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, roasted
1 tablespoon coriander seed, roasted and ground
4 cloves garlic
4 dried long red chillis, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes
1 cup water

• Blitz ingredients for almond paste until it nice and pasty like your chefs’ tan
• Fry paste off in a little oil until you are starting to detect delicious aromas with your nose. Yep. I’m afraid your nose is in charge of this one
• Add all other ingredients, except chicken, and chuck some salt and pepper in there too. Simmer over low heat, stirring often, for 30 minutes
• While sauce is cooking roast chicken breast in 180C oven for 15 or so minutes, until just cooked. Once cooked, shred chicken apart using two forks
• Add chicken to the sauce and check seasoning
• Serve it up with a heap of other shit such as slow cooked brisket, chilli beans, pickled jalapeno slaw, brown rice salad, guacamole, feta, charred salsa picante, jalapeno relish, natural yoghurt or sour cream and home made or shop bought tortillas

Miss Margarita Mexican Cantina, Byron Bay (part 2)… and film review “Gravity”

Self thought it has been a while since I have returned to my favourite Mexi-loco bar type restaurant-y haunt in Byron Bay. Also, Jennee (due to various unforeseen factors) was 0-3 on her attempts to be swooned by the taste of cheap eats, a punchy mojito and the service of fine looking bohemian-esque barmen. The only possible outcome for this monologue is a dinner of Mexican origin, a drink or two also of Mexican ancestry and an insight into another afternoon in the busy tourist hovel that is Byron Bay.

We fit right in with the rest of the cool cats
We fit right in with the rest of the cool cats
Mojito dreams are made of these
Mojito dreams are made of these

We arrived at 5:30, which was a stroke of luck as it was smack bang in the middle of happy hour and (stroke of luck #2) there was a table available. Margaritas and mojitos were 10 bucks a pop and Coronas were five. Done deal. I would take one of those Coronas thank you, and Jennee ordered a mojito. The corona tasted just like a normal Corona except cheaper, and the mojito tasted like a damn tasty drink… Jennee ordered another one of those straight up… I knew if I kept my cool and played my cards right she would definitely be getting her knickers off tonight. But first, let’s eat.

Corn chips with dips $12
Corn chips with dips $12

A plate of corn chips was a must. I remembered from my last visit (available for your viewing pleasure right here) that they were awesome and, for once, my memory served me correctly. Crisply awesome corn chips served with guacamole, sour cream and an average tasting random tomato salsa that was vastly improved with the addition of an equal quantity of salsa picante hot sauce.

The beast $19
The beast $19

Another thing I remembered from my last visit was me telling myself that I needed to come back and try the chimichanga (fried burrito for anyone who is not in the know), so try the chimichanga I did. This thing was a beast. An awesome beast. A beast of awesomeness. Mr A. Beast. You get the picture right? It was filled with pulled pork, beans, cheese, tomato salsa and other things, and had some guacamole, sour cream and ‘slaw on the side. The burrito was great but they should have left the coleslaw for someone who liked cabbage that has had all of the cabbage flavor sucked out of it and also had a salt removal tablet added just in case any seasoning accidently fell into he mix.

Crispy snapper salad with tamarind and ginger $21
Crispy snapper salad with tamarind and ginger $21

Jenny had the salad with crispy snapper, tamarind and ginger, which she really enjoyed.

Our friend the hot sauce
Our friend the hot sauce

We also tried all of the hot sauces we could lay our hands on. Most were very manageable but one, I do recall, removed a layer of skin from my tongue and evaporated it into the air of that cactus and spice filled room. It was sooo good.

The queue out the front was growing
The queue out the front was growing

Dinner was done and now the queue on the foot path out the front was growing. We bid our hosts farewell and made room for another parched traveller. “Adios amigos”, they beckoned to us as we left the bar…

I was pretty damn full by now but Jennee was hell bent on ice-cream. Knowing how these things work with a women I settled for the double scoop waffle cone, even though I have immense issues with how that looks on a man; walking down the street licking a slowly melting ice cream cone. If it were a twenty-something toastie hot chicky babe it would be a different story altogether, but alas, it was a thirty-something bearded white man.

And then there was the frozen yoghurt… As we were leaving Byron we passed a new frozen yoghurt/juice bar type serving icey cold treats Jennee liked to call “frogurt”. She straight up suggested that we should stop and try their (allegedly) tasty wares. Now, I begrudgingly dealt with the whole walking down the street trying to look like a man with a double scoop waffle cone thing, but frozen yoghurt (trendy name or not) was not going to be happening on my effing watch. No way Jose (or Jennee as was the case).

I was getting us the fuck out of dodge.

Now for the movie; “Gravity”. This was av-er-age. If we had have paid money to see it I would have been proper pissed. I suggest if you have the opportunity to watch it you should instead spend your 90 minutes more wisely by digging random holes in your backyard or maybe punching yourself in the face or, stop at the frozen yoghurt place because sissy is something you will eventually learn to live with, “Gravity” is something that will steal moments of your life that can never be returned to you and leave you feeling empty inside…

Amy and Justin come to stay… part 1

I’ve been a little MIA the last few weeks. Partly due to the fact that the holiday time is a guarantee of a good ass raping every day for a month if you work in the hospitality industry, partly due to the masses of friends and family we have had stop by in between times, and partly due to my flashbacks from ‘Nam… black helicopters in the sky. No wait up, that was just the channel nine traffic report guy.

Our home is always up for a bit of a shindig with some old friends. Maybe a beer or a sangria, some good food and a heaps of unadulterated stories about the good old days. Other times we’ll just poke fun of the carnies we keep in a cage on the verandah. Funny little carnies. Eat your cabbage. Eat your damn cabbage!

One such couple was Amy and her new Canuk husband Justin. They are in Australia for their honeymoon. Although Justin is Canadian and Amy seems to end every sentence with “ay” after living over there for 8 years, we thought it would be nice to welcome them into our home, and treat them like one of our own. We had some beers and ate a heap of food. Justin played guitar and we sung late into the night very badly (gotta apologise to the neighbours for that one). I even took the spy camera in the teddy bear out of the spare room so they could get a good nights sleep… well that’s what I told them anyway. The footage will be up on you tube soon!!!

The first night they stayed we enjoyed a Mexican feast featuring all our favourites that I have told you how to cook previously through the technology that is blogland and more specifically, this blog; chicken mole poblano, avocado salsa or guacamole, tortilla, tomatillo salsa and corn rice… which I think I owe you a recipe for. And you shall find said recipe if you are not too lazy to get to the end of the page.

put your guests to work. Amy made the avocado number...
put your guests to work. Amy made the avocado number…
el time to eat
el time to eat

CORN RICE for a heap of boarder jumpers

4 cups cooked rice

2 cobs sweet corn, charred, cut from cob

2 tablespoons of what I like to call “mexi seasoning”

  • Mix it up plenty good, season and eat

MEXI SEASONING

¼ cup ground dried chilli

¼ cup dried thyme

½ cup dried oregano

1 cups whole cumin, roasted and ground

Good food, good company, good shit!

Nacho Beans Made by a Gringo

MORE MEXICANO…

It’s cold again… or still. I could take a photo of the weather (or maybe just the tribe of eskimos who have set up their camp in the corner of my yard and, to my surprise have been living off Icelandic ice fish ever since) but that would just be stupid and contrary to popular belief I am not stupid. Maybe just a little simple… or maybe not. Nah, simple is like tying your shoelace after 23 years practice, or scoring some weed at the Nimbin Mardigrass (this is an actual event PS), or cooking a dog to medium-rare in a hot car…

Good weather for some Mexicano style chilli thing I hear you say. Or maybe not. I guess their climate is not exactly cold and wet is it? No, they seem to like their food hot, and their climate hot, and their women… well Penelope Cruz, need I say more. What? She’s not Mexican? She was in a film called “the Mexican”. No? eff it… I’m fully shit at this. My ignorance is clear now, yes? I’m not simple though…

Look behind you, a dingo. It’s got your baby…

There was an actual opera called “the man who mistook his wife for a hat”…

Still here… Dammit.

So the fact that I really don’t know anything about Mexico has been brought into the spot light. I admit it. I know nothing about Mexican food and culture (I could tell you a couple of things about tequila though). And also, I really mean no disrespect to anyone right here. I’m sure those little fuckers would love me.

And I do know that they cook great food because I’ve seen it on TV.

Which begs the question. If they cook such good food why the hell would you want to keep them out of your country? If I was America I would not even bother patrolling that border. Gosh, it’s not like they’re gypsies or something. In fact, I would send them all an invite to grab all of their recipes and someone who looks like Penelope Cruz, and come the fuck over and live with me…

NACHO BEANS made by a gringo

Firstly, it needs to be reiterated that I am a white guy putting together some flavours that seem Mexican to me. This is not a Mexican cooking bible. I don’t even know if they eat nachos. They were probably created by some white guy fast food chain owned by coke back in the fifties…

Secondly, you need to be able to make some kinda guacamole. If you can see, you can make this. Diced avocado, tomato, red onion, coriander (and a bit of basil today), seasoning, lime or lemon juice. Or, if you don’t have any eyes, do as my good friend Gitana does, and serve half an avocado with some lime juice and salt and pepper. Kick-ass.

Whack some mince or corn in there if you want

Thirdly, make some nacho beans.
1 brown onion, peeled and chopped up all dodgy as if you were at a roadside stall
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tin crushed tomatoes
1 tin red kidney beans
1 tin refried beans
1 tbls dried oregano
1 tbls cumin seed, roasted and ground
a pinch dried chilli flakes or half a fresh chilli, chopped
a chopped capsicum if you want
1 bottle of tequila
a case of beer
limes for the tequila and beer
• Sauté the onion and garlic (and capsicum if using) until starting to soften. You’re starting to get quite good at this now. I guess there was hope. I shouldn’t have said those things. Sorry.
• Now add your oregano, cumin and chilli and cook out until fragrant
• Have a shot of tequila
• Add all of the other stuff, and give it a good stir. Cook out on low heat for 20 minutes, adding 50-100ml water if it starts to catch*
• Have another shot of tequila. Now we’re talking. Ole
• Have a beer with some lime in it. Now start dancing around the kitchen singing “La Cucaracha”. Stop! Pull yourself together. We have to get this meal to the table yet…
• Pick one of the options below and make something with your beans
• Have another cheeky shot of tequila
• Make something with the beans tomorrow night

FIVE THINGS WITH NACHO BEANS…

1. Use them to make nachos. That’s pretty obvious isn’t it? Pour them over corn chips, cover them with cheese, bake them and eat them with guacamole, sour cream or natural yoghurt and jalepenos.


2. Put it in tacos with prawns and heaps of good shit. As in Mexico, employ slave or cheap labour where-ever possible. If your 6 year old children aren’t out the back smoking cigarettes, get ‘em working.


3. Make nacho tortilla pizzas. My kids love these. Heck, you can even get them to make them. See point #2.
4. Use leftovers for a wicked jaffle**
5. Have for breakfast with scrambled eggs and heaps of melting cheese
6. Add shredded leftover roast beef or chicken or pork, serve with rice mixed with some charred corn, and coleslaw

Jalepenos are recommended in all applications, as is guacamole, coriander, fresh lime and a heap of beer.

*to catch. A term we in the cooking world use to refer to the point when your soup, sauce or stew will start to over caramelise (burn) and stick to the bottom of the pot. Hence, to catch.

**I’m not sure if the jaffle has made it across the world, but it’s kinda like a pie, but made with bread pressed in this crazy contraption and grilled over a flame