Prohibition Smokehouse, Truck Norris Texas BBQ and Bootleg BBQ… some smokehouse joints on the south island of New Zealand

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Prohibiton smokehouse


PROHIBITION SMOKEHOUSE, DUNEDIN

To start off with, Dunedin is a funny little town. It holds with-in its belly an intestinal tract of Victorian era buildings that house the students from the Universities in town, inducing a feeling of old meets new. Graffitied buildings and quirky student-y notes and signs adorn the walls and doorways of the city, which may have long since been set to rest without the influx of the learned, the sun and chilly ocean breeze blotted out by moss and vines never to caress the city walls again… either way this place is definitely worth a stroll…

But clearly I am no poet, so maybe I should just get back to I may be slightly better at; reporting the facts.

We hadn’t had a smoky-meaty fix on this trip yet and we were pretty keen to rectify that situation.

We stepped into the kinda-swanky-looking-for-a-smokehouse-joint restaurant and were quickly seated by the super nice staff. Straight up this was not something I was accustomed to from a smokehouse restaurant – no, I’m not referring to the super nice staff (Smokehouse joints always have super nice staff. Yes, that is a blatant generalization but I will be standing by it because I am stubborn and correct). I am referring to the swankiness. I am defo accustomed to a little more dank with my BBQ and I think that’s one of the things I truly like about it, but I had arrived on their freshly swept doorstep* with an open heart and open mind so I was ready for it… whatever it may be…

“Firstly, I would just like to let you know kids eat for free”, were the words from our waitress’s mouth.

At that point I was truly ready to forgo the lack of dank and any other preconceptions about BBQ that I may have in my stupid, opinionated head because as our dear lord once said, “If you feed my kids for free I can buy another bottle of wine which basically makes us homies fo’ life”.

We ordered, we drank, and Jennee and I laughed like the first time we met.

After a perfectly comfortable time period had elapsed our food hit the table. Or more literally – our food was placed nicely on the table in front of us.

The spread


We shared brisket with soured onions and truffle mayo ($34), ½ chicken with baby spinach and drunken raisins ($32), grilled broccoli with chipotle hollandaise ($10) and iceberg wedge salad with ranch and bacon bits ($8.5). The boys had buttermilk fried chicken wings and pork ribs, both with citrus ‘slaw (free for under 12s), and we got into that lot as well.

It was all a very nice meal indeed. The brisket was tender and juicy, but could’ve had some more smoke, I thought. The fried chicken, the pork ribs, the sides were all very tasty but I have to say the star of the evening was the ½ grilled chicken – tender, juicy, smoky and a heap of other great adjectives used to describe great tasting meat. It was some of the best grilled chook I have ever eaten, hands down. That with the iceberg salad took me to my very happy place.

I couldn’t get to pecan pie quick enough. Mmmm, that was some damn tasty pecan pie


We followed that up with a whiskey chaser and some dessert. All of the desserts were good but if you do not try this pecan pie ($15) you are a stupid, stupid man… or lady… it is really good pecan pie. Probs not so good if you are allergic to pecans though, but you’ll work that out I’m sure (or possibly become fodder for natural selection).

So for your dinner you shall be eating ½ chicken, iceberg salad, pecan pie, whiskey. Check.

Do it.

*A freshly swept doorstep which was later defiled by a young lady emptying the booze from her stomach into the gutter as the tables of diners at Prohibition watched on. We were the only table that cheered even a little bit.

The Truck Norris set up


TRUCK NORRIS TEXAS BBQ, METHVEN

The food truck scene is alive and well in the South Island of New Zealand.

Even the little alpine town of Methven has a food truck or two.

One of those food trucks is called Truck Norris.
My dear wife Jennee decided she would call it “Walker, Texas Griller”.

Truck Norris is run by a guy named Matt.

Matt told us he really liked cooking BBQ.

Matt made some really tasty BBQ.

Three meat platter – 30 bucks a pop


There was a nice little corral type set-up to keep Matt, his food truck and his two Johnson Smokers’ cohorts safe from the admiring crowds who would be gathering soon for a little taste of some top notch Texas style BBQ – The girls that would be chucking their knickers at him and gesturing to him with their tongues gently caressing their lips. The guys who would get emotional because the smoked meat is so damn delicious… and then they would become even more emotional (like, tears emotional) because “emotional” is a feeling they know not how to deal with (but they would still have enough wits about them to have their facial hair ready to smuggle a few morsels out of the yard for later). The dogs and the cats would get along together, just to share a little of that smoky goodness, a few fries with Matt’s special seasoning and maybe a little of that black-eyed bean salad.

Don’t forget the jalapeno poppers


Yes, the world would get a little crazy just for a second, thanks to Truck Norris and it’s purveying of tasty smoky goodness.

It would be defo worthy of pulling off the highway (if there was actually a highway… perhaps it was just a country road…) to sample some of these smoky delights. Actually, you should sample all of the smoky delights… and drive all of the way from the where ever you live to do it.

Drive there from where ever and try all of the meats and all of the sides. Your face will love you for it.

This is what the Bootleg sign looks like


BOOTLEG BBQ, CHRISTCHURCH

This was a good looking bar and BBQ joint type scenario.

There were comfortable seats, central heating and 15 NZ craft beers on tap (changes often, we were told), which is fine by me because I really don’t mind seating on a comfortable seat, in a warm environment while sipping on a craft beer from NZ.

The staff were nice. They bought us food and drinks upon request. They were very nice indeed.

The menu that told us what we could order


We ordered “the BBQ platter for the squad” ($80). I’m almost positive this was not the name of the BBQ platter we ordered, but I also know it sure as heck could’ve been. That or Bobby Jones. Both very solid names for a big BBQ platter with all of the things on it. We also ordered a side of “fickles” (fried pickles) ($10) and some extra rainbow ‘slaw ($12), as we are firm believers in the “more ‘slaw is best” theory when it comes to eating half a butcher’s shop piled high on a large tray after spending varied amounts of time in a smoky oven which was “powered by pear wood and out the back in the kitchen”, we were informed.

We heard the holy angels trumpet the arrival of our meal/s.

All kinds of smoky goodness


The BBQ joint standard meat-holding platter was placed before us, it’s gloriously checkered interior and slightly chromed walls housed a plethora of meats. It was like visiting a petting zoo only with more eating and less petting*, which is pretty much how I like my dinner to be.

Someone obviously needed to get up early in the morning to cook this deliciousness just for us and for that I was very grateful. I wonder if that someone needed an alarm or if they were naturally an early riser… I’m just curious, that’s all.

Very tasty indeed


The meats were all smoky and tasty BBQ treats. Tasty as bro. The brisket and the jalapeno sausage were stand outs, as were the fickles, and if you visit this place I would suggest that you make sure your order contains these three things if you’d like to remain friends.

*There was actually zero petting perpetrated on this evening because even though New Zealand may be a little more relaxed in its rules than Australia, I’m pretty sure it is not that relaxed.

Someting boozy and tasty


ORLEANS, CHRISTCHURCH

This place was a nice little southern soul food type joint. It was not at the time of our visit, and to my knowledge nor is it now, a BBQ joint. I’ve just chucked it on the list because it did serve some tasty assed, southern inspired fare.

“Right on trend”, other reviewers who are real reviewers may say of this restaurant in their magazines and newspaper dining guide reports.

Also, I would hope they might have something nice to say about the food.

Many food


We ordered quite a large pile of it and we were pretty damn impressed with the whole shebang. One thing I noticed straight away is that these folks paid a little more attention to their sides and smaller dishes, where as it is quite common for this “style” of food joint to neglect the sides a little, like parent may neglect a new step child, or even as the average redneck turtle farmer may neglect his or her personal hygiene. Please don’t get me wrong, most of the sides we have had at every other joint on this trip have been pretty on point, but just a little under seasoned here, or a little over cooked there, but generally on point. But Orleans was 100% on point with the lot.

On point (I thought maybe I should say that one more time).

More food


Fried brussels sprouts with andioulle and corn bread crumb ($12), baked beans with maple bacon ($10) and their ‘slaw with peanuts ($10) were all bang on, as were our mainish choices – pastrami, andioulle sausage and pickles ($18), buttermilk fried chicken with ranch sauce ($14), grilled pork belly with corn puree ($18) and fried duck wings with peanut butter BBQ sauce ($20).

Our favourites were the feeding-a-late-in-life-Elvis style duck wings, for bang for your buck and flavour these things could not be beat, the fried brussels sprouts and the ‘slaw. We were consciously and constantly referring back to the “more ‘slaw is best” theory to help those duck wings and fried chicken make it through our system.

Freaking out at those fried duck wings


If you like this style of eating, like the sort of thing you may be able to see in these photos, then I think your belly will tell you your dollars were well spent after dining here.

It is worthy of note that the owners of this place also have a diner and a bar in the same laneway. They both looked pretty good but the diner was defo more our sort of vibe.

I left Strange Lane (the actual name of the lane) with the knowledge required to happily recommend a pre-dinner drink or lunchtime chicken waffle burger at the Lower 9th Diner.

For the bar, I have nothing.

Absent on this day; Smokey T’S BBQ, and Fully Pitted BBQ

The Italian Diner… plus bonus birthday activities

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Aaaah, another day of birthday extras. One can never really get too much for ones birthday now can one?

So what would it be today? Jennee had something planned and well, lose lips sink ships eh so she wasn’t saying a thing… for at least the first hour or so.

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Baked eggs

Baked eggs with tomato, pancetta, rosemary and taleggio $16

Poached eggs with arrabiatta salsa , side of mushrooms with caponata

Poached eggs with arrabiatta salsa $10, side of mushrooms with caponata $4

Jenne goes nuts for coffee

Jennee goes nuts for coffee

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First it was breakfast at Bangalow’s (very anticipated) newest eatery, The Italian Diner. A small breakfast menu, concise and to the point, but it still had what I needed. Today it would be the baked eggs with stuff. It was good baked eggs but it could have had just a little more stuff for me, I was looking for a big hit from the taleggio, pancetta and rosemary. Don’t get me wrong there was a hit, it just wasn’t the TKO I was looking for. Jen had the poached eggs with arrabiatta salsa and a side of mushrooms with caponata. Once again it was all good, but I think the arrabiatta salsa needed a little kick (I believe arrabiatta means “angry” in Italian and refers to the chilli heat. That’s what I believe anyway…). The coffee was great, so great in fact that Jennee had three. Yes three. It’s hard to find a good soy piccolo around the joint so when she does she grabs hold with two hands and gets ready for one hell of a jittery ride. All things said and done (and breakfasts eaten and coffee drunk) the place did damn well for somewhere that has only been opened for a week, a couple of little kinks to iron out and I’ll certainly be looking forward, as it is the best way to look if that’s which way you are walking. It stops you from bumping into heaps of things… no… I’ll be looking forward to it reaching the potential height it can. I am heaps keen to get back in there for lunch or dinner, as I think that’s where they are really going to shine*.

What’s next? Jennee lets it slip that we shall be going for a Thai massage. Yeah, that’s what I thought. A FREAKING THAI MASSAGE. This girl has really gone all out this year. This story is quite literally going to write itself. Honestly, this is a subject I shouldn’t be allowed to step near to… I immediately get my dark glasses and “shady guy” hat out and get keen for this “massage”. We arrive at our destination, immediately I am gob smacked that this “massage” joint was on the main strip in the middle of town. And another thing, it wasn’t full of fat businessmen smoking cigars and hiding in dimmed booths. No. This looked like a place of honest repute… and damn it, it was! We stepped into a curtained room where we received a massage. Just a massage. A damn fine massage, but just a massage. No sneaky reach around, just a really good massage…

Oh well, even with out the gratuitous ending it was damn fine.

The degree of awesome of this massage did indeed make me contemplate if an all day massage is a feasible option? I certainly wouldn’t want to be face down in the couch all day but I’m thinking you could get up every now and then, maybe for a meal, and you could still sit back on the couch and get a foot massage? And then back to the massage table for another couple of hours? I am keen!

But, as a very wise carnie once said (actually he was the wisest of all of the carnies. “Big chief the wisest” was his name), what goes up must come down… no. All good things must finish eventually. Yeah, that’s right, all good things must finish eventually… so we paid the fee of a bowl of rice and two dried fish and bid our hosts farewell.

I wonder if that couple at the front are talking to each other?

I wonder if that couple at the front are talking to each other?

Rare rump, pickled beetroot, coleslaw, aioli and a smoky bbq sauce/ chutney on sourdough, with  pan fried kipfler potatoes. I think it was 18 bucks. There was a bit of good looking food floating about the place

Rare rump, pickled beetroot, coleslaw, aioli and a smoky bbq sauce/ chutney on sourdough, with pan fried kipfler potatoes. I think it was 18 bucks. There was a bit of good looking food floating about the place

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Next stop; The Roadhouse, whiskey bar/cafe/restaurant/hipsters hang-out. Classic Byron Bay vibe right here. Skinny jeans, beards and tattoos… and that was just the girls. Jennee really didn’t like this place. She didn’t like anything about it; the cost, the lack of attention we were paid when we came in, the vibe, the whole lot, except possibly the location. She wanted to write a review but I thought it best that I handle this one… she’s a bit more opinionated then I am and I could tell a review from Jen was going to crumple and coffee stain the crisp starched blue collar shirt that is this blog. What the hell kind of an analogy was that?! Quickly, let’s move on.

A good steak sandwich and a nice spot in the sun was doing it for me. That and an injection of retro bohemian funk and I was done… almost.

One waffle cone please my good man

One waffle cone please my good man

Just a quick little walk through Byron and a little gelato from Jen’s favourite gelateria… and then just one more coffee before we grab the kids… that’s it. Birthday number two over, the mission a success, zero casualties, no sightings of Vietcong, returned home with full contingent.

Nice.

*Future Graz can confirm that because we went back through for coffee after lunch and the wood fired pizzas were looking the goods! I wanted to eat one. Actually I wanted to eat two but I was way too full to eat one so there was certainly no point in me ordering two… or one even… we just had coffee and left… slightly confused.

Town Cafe, Bangalow

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It’s been a while since we’ve ventured into the multi award winning Town Café. Seriously. This place gets an award for something at least a couple of times a year. Their last accolades came from the “Delicious Magazine Produce Awards” in the form of the award for best use of local produce by a restaurant. Pretty good effort I say. Oh, did I mention that one half of the husband wife team that run/own this place is Katerina Kanetani, ex pastry chef at Pier when it was a three hat experience, and the very same Katerina Kanetani who in 2007 became the first pastry chef to take out the  “SMH Good Food Guide Chef of the year”. Husband Karl has also cooked at a heap of great restaurants including Tetsuya’s in Sydney. These guys are the cream of the crop, as the saying goes (not that it really makes any sense to me). They are the blue ribbon bull at the local show (now that makes sense to me). They are the kid who has just found his dad’s porno collection (more sense). They are winning

Now with the whole “top of your game winning heaps of awards” scenario comes the expectations. Expectations of a great meal, great coffee, great service and the great wall of china… maybe not the wall, but there are expectations to be sure.

The court yard

The court yard

So we wander in, immediately running into to a few old friends. That’s always nice but really has nothing to do with this story. The place is full out the front so we head straight to the back courtyard dining area. We have this little patio to our selves, and I dare say this has more to do with the close to zero temperature and not so much to do with our pet carnie’s outrageous body odour. This was certainly a nice change.

Straight up, the staff were attentive. Even though we were the only people out back the waitress still paid us every second of attention we were due. They were happy and looked like they were genuinely enjoying themselves… and not because they were drunk or taking prescription medications of dubious origins. I like places like that.

The coffee was fantastic. No probs there at all.

My initial glace over the menu left me feeling like it needed a little something more. There was nothing jumping out at me. Nothing punching in the face with it’s “eat me now” fist. Nothing begging me to supple it’s ample bosom or… or… where am I?

Town Café! That’s right.

Porridge with apricots, cranberry, chia seed, barley and honey $13.50

Porridge with apricots, cranberry, chia seed, barley and honey $13.50

Jennee ordered the porridge, which was absolutely cracking. Oats, barley, chia seed, dried fruit deliciousness. And it seemed like it would probably be quite good for you too. I dove head first in to the home made baked beans with pork and pepper sausage and sour dough toast. The toast was great. I think I have mentioned before that I am a fan of char grilled toast for breakfast. The sausage was great also. Made by local guys “Hayters Hill” it was damn tasty, peppery goodness. My only qualm about the sausage is there was only one of them and it wasn’t huge, and we all know there is nothing worse then being left yearning for more tasty sausage. Which brings me to the beans. They lacked the depth flavour (sounds wanky I know but I’ve got nothing else…) of slowly oven-baked beans and tasted more like quickly cooked stovetop beans. And there was some lettuce on the plate which had defo seen better days.

Home "Town" bake dbeans on sourdough toast with Hayters Hill pork and black pepper sausage $15.50

Home “Town” baked beans on sourdough toast with Hayters Hill pork and black pepper sausage $15.50

As I paid the bill I couldn’t help but notice a pile of friands, right there in front of my face daring me to eat them. Calling me a pussy. Taunting me. Saying that I have a stupid face. So I just ordered a couple of those little suckers and let my face retaliate by eating the shit out of them. They were delicious. Pussy indeed…

Worth a go, even if it’s just for the coffee and cakes, but I think the real eating starts when this place opens it’s upstairs dining area at night, aptly named Uptown, with a seven course degustation menu to be not to be messed with.

Liz McGuiness does sushi train

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The train

The train

...and the "carriages"

…and the “carriages”

Nothing pleases me more than eating good food. Nothing. The effects of a good meal far outweigh the effects of the calories ingested with it. So when my number one son (as in the first one – not because I think he’s superior to my other son, that would be favouritism and against my Communist values) asked if he could take me out to lunch, I said absolutely. Even though he is a teenager, I knew that he had been through the kitchen nightmare that is Grazza’s apprentice and therefore knows that to offer me a poor dish is to be struck from the will.

He chose Sushi Train. Now after a few years of snacking on this and that, I have come to learn that there is Sushi, and then there is Sushi. I had heard good things about this little place in the back of Redcliffe – which let’s be honest, is really backwater country if it’s the “back of Redcliffe”! So we journeyed on. Well, he drove and I glanced furtively for anything he might run into. He’s on his ‘L’s.

Arriving at our destination, unscathed, we locked the car and thinking that it may be the last time we ever saw it again, gave it a loving pat as one would a faithful steed outside a bar before walking through the batwing doors. We walked through two glass sliding doors to a tiny café with wooden stools placed around the central counter, upon which, ran a French diesel train pulling at least ten carriages laden with ricey goodness.

We made up the last two of the eight patrons there at the time, although by the time we had finished, they had a waiting list. Sadly for those waiting, there was no bar to languish by and the closest thing to standing room, was the alley way outside. Never mind, I didn’t care, and neither did my offspring as we chopsticked our way through 11 plates of deliciousness.

I started with an inside out sushi roll with avocado, cream cheese and chicken all rolled in sesame seeds. Now, you know that sometimes you can have sushi and it’s as dry as a nun’s nasty and you spend the thirty seconds after the first mouthful trying to scrape it off the roof of your mouth? Yeah, this was nothing like that! For starters, you could see the sushi rice being made fresh – as with all Sushi Trains – but the sushi on the train was rotated regularly so it wasn’t sitting there for more than 3 go-rounds of the train.

My joy was increased when a giant plate full of chicken karage came around, steaming hot. It was made the right way, with just a slight brushing of breadcrumbs on the outside and deep fried to perfection. It wasn’t tortured to death by drowning in a hard paste of concrete breadcrumb mixture then fried so hard that you break a tooth chewing it up. [Note – It could have been quite embarrassing for my boy to have his mother break into a sweat of ecstasy over some chook, if he was not doing the same. We’re like that in our family. It’s everyone or no-one.]

After eight dishes of rice with pork, rice with chicken, rice with tempura vegetables, we decided to forgo the rice and just choose the huge plate of tempura vegetables. Bliss. Sometimes, I’ve found that tempura vegetables can be limp and oily. Much like an old man after a happy ending massage. This happens when the oil isn’t hot enough and it softens the batter and the vegetables instead of just crisping up the tempura batter.  If you have properly iced your batter and have your oil at the correct temperature, your tempura should come out crisp and golden, and the vegetable inside should be hot and al dente. Not at all like an old man after said massage.

something nori

something nori

The beast

The monster

The beast again

The monster again

By this time, we were pretty full. The son asked if I wanted another one and I said that I might see what comes by. My final undoing was what I like to call – the monster. The monster came along on the train, seemingly innocuous. It initially slipped past my notice until it held up a big red flag saying “I bet you can’t eat me”. Well, nothing pleases me more than food, we’ve established that, except for food throwing down a challenge. Just before it moved out of my reach, I grabbed that plate of rice monstrosity and I made it mine. It was about three times bigger than a normal sushi slice, and there were two of them! They were filled with rice, avocado and teriyaki pork, then wrapped in a very thin crepe and lovingly drizzled with Kewpie mayonnaise. Aooohhhhhhh the stuff of Gods.

After the sushi train demolition

After the sushi train demolition

After that, I was done. And the monster had done it to me, but I wasn’t going to tell it that! Since it was his shout, my son paid the dues – we offered money but the Japanese chef wanted to take him out the back and flog him, so we went with that.

And, to top it off, we walked outside into the bright light of day, and our car still had all its tyres!

Liz McGuiness, Roving Reviewer… the intricasies of the humble roast

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Liz McGuiness is renowned for her skills as a roving reporter, and chased in the streets for her witty reviews, but there’s other facets to this woman that be fer sure. She likes, nay, loves a roast and has provided her comprehensive guide on how to make it a roast worth turning up for…

One of my all time favourites is roasted ribeye, with some good shit on the side

One of my all time favourites is roasted ribeye with some good shit on the side

I think I should warn you that this blog piece may turn a little violent, but if you are into Game of Thrones or Spartacus, then you’ll find it pleasantly titillating. It’s all about me actually, and my favourite thing to eat in the world. The roast. Now I’m not going to give you a step by step guide to cooking the perfect roast – that’s all over this blog if you want it. I’m going to give you the skills to detect a “fake” good roast and a “oh my effing god I’ve just had 40 orgasms at once” good roast. I’m also going to let you in on a few little secrets on how to get the most out of said roast.

I was brought up in a time when men where men, skinny jeans were not invented yet and women baked a damn fine cake. I was brought up in a place where he who had the biggest cattle shed won, and all others were pretenders. Where a child’s worth was measured by how many head of cattle they could handle on their own for a 1000km drive, and where dogs were shot if they were stupid. Ah….good times, good times. But I can tell you one thing that wasn’t around when I was knee high to a grasshopper (as opposed to now where I am knee high to a ridiculously tall cricket), was small meals. If you went to a restaurant – or let’s face it, in SW Qld in the early 70’s a restaurant was a truck-stop that had more than potato scallops and chiko rolls – and you ordered a steak, you could expect that half a cow would come out on a serving platter, kept company by a Mt Everest of powdered mashed potato, pumpkin and peas, corn and carrot mix. All spread over by a luxurious smothering of gravox. Mmm mmm. That’s some good eatin’. Or not – depends on how hungry you were. You could expect to use your eating utensils to the maximum as you tried to chew your way through the leather that was cleverly disguised as steak. Probably fell off the back of a truck and was beaten to death by Indonesian meat workers to make sure it was dead first. Too far? Too bad. Yay for freedom of speech. Anyway, my point for this blog piece is that a good roast should be lovingly prepared and not eaten – but navigated and explored. When sitting down to a sublime roast, you should expect a whoop-assly large serving of everything and to be given a map and compass as you explore the plate and all it’s terrain.

I cooked a pretty good roast tonight actually, and I can tell you that everyone at the table was given a map and compass. The meat should not be of the “roadkill” variety, apart from the icky invertebrates on this kind of meat, it sucks dead man’s balls when it comes to taste and flavour.

When you have picked your piece of meat from your local butcher, and cooked it in one of the many ways on this blog, you need to rest it for longer than 2 minutes before carving it. I’m telling you, the longer you rest it, the more of a chance there will be that you will get lucky, because everyone knows, if the meat is tender, the loving is rough. Wait. Is that right???

So after carving your meat, it should be carefully fanned out on one side of the plate to maximise the area that will be exposed to gravy loveliness. The vegetables should be creatively piled around the remaining half. But not willy-nilly, oh no. Baked vegetables have a pecking order. Potato is obviously at the top. The perfect roasted potato should be golden brown on the outside and fluffy white on the inside. It should look like it is robust until you cut into it, when its integrity fails a little to welcome the gravy like a horny teenager. Pumpkin should be baked so that it is caramelised, not sloppy. It should say “ hey good looking, my name is Bob and I’ll be your pumpkin tonight” and you should say breathlessly “yes”. Carrot and onion are like pumpkin but obviously not as high up the pecking order.

A good plate of roast anything should not, repeat NOT EVER have the dreaded 3 vege frozen mix of peas, corn and carrot, or any of its peers. If you are going to have corn, make sure it’s a nice, juicy, plump cob, not something dragged out of the freezer that’s been forgotten about since the resurrection of Christ. Your greens should be free from freezer burn, and like the corn, be picked from the fairy garden at the bottom of your path, or if you don’t believe in fairies, freshly purchased from your local growers market which may well be populated by a few fairies anyway.

Now to the gravy. The sauce of any dish is the glue that binds the dish together. But this is just an analogy – you don’t really want it tasting like glue. If it does, chances are you have fucked it up and need to start again. At no stage, should your glue go anywhere near the plate of roast. I’m not going to tell you how to make gravy or jus, because there’s shitloads of that on this blog somewhere as well. But am I going to tell you that if you want to use gravox, because you are the timid sort where sauces are concerned, that is ok. Provided you use the meat juices and some plonk.

So you’ve made a roast in a roasting pan, you say. So you don’t really want to use plonk and flour to make an outrageously good jus, you say. That’s fine. Perhaps you’d like to take some course sandpaper to your tastebuds because you obviously don’t need them. Anyway, if all you have is gravox, a saucepan and a damn fine roasted piece of meat, dress that gravy up by resting the meat and after you have carved it, and made the gravy, pour the meat juices into the gravy and stir.  If you make glue, you will die alone. If you have gravy with meat juices in it, you will pull tonight. If you make a magnificent jus with meat juices and plonk, you will live the rest of your life in a disease free whore house where your every whim will be catered for. Do you see where I’m going? Good.

So the gravy/jus should be the last thing that is layered onto the plate. And it should be hot. Not lukewarm, not cold, not frigid like a little bitch, hot. And if you are receiving the plate, you should be able to tell that the gravy was placed over the roast in a loving and reverent manner – hopefully accompanied by some midget monks giving it their blessings. You should be able to smell the different components of the roast on the plate. You should be looking for your map and compass because you don’t know where to start, it all looks so fucking fabulous.

If you receive a plate of roast where any of this hasn’t happened, you need to walk out. Unless it’s at your mother-in-law’s house and your father-in-law likes to shoot big guns. That would be the only circumstance where it would be fine to eat a crappy roast.

Lunch at Le Relais Bressan, Flaxton

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Lunch at Le ble bleu blah blah… Or lunch at Le Relais Bressan (if you can speak French a little better then Joey from “Friends” circa 1990s sometime), Flaxton.

This place was the best dining “experience” of our trip. Good food and wine, great service and meals that hit your table fast… Three courses in little over an hour is a pretty effing good effort.

We all opted for the $27.50 lunch menu which had a choice of three entrees, three mains and three desserts. No joke. 27 bucks, we couldn’t go too far wrong there. We also ordered some house made bread to start and an extra entrée of snails in garlic butter because they weren’t on the special menu and Seba was hell bent that he was going to eat snails today! I’m pretty glad they were available because I didn’t fancy the chances of me rummaging around in the garden like a red bearded Don Burke for long enough to find enough snails to feed my ravenous son.

It was a lot of food. I thought the courses may have been a little smaller because of the price, but no, this is French country hospitality at its very finest.

House made bread...

House made bread…

Snails in garlic butter. This was heaps garlic-y awesomeness

Snails in garlic butter. This was heaps garlic-y awesomeness

How awesome is the snail dish! We soaked up every last bit of the butter with our bread

How awesome is the snail dish! We soaked up every last bit of the butter with our bread

The terrine was goooood

The terrine was goooood

...and then I had the beef. The boys had the chicken with mushroom sauce which was the pick of the bunch

…then I had the beef and they give you complimentary vegetables for the table. The boys had the chicken with mushroom sauce which was the pick of the bunch

...and then a cheese plate. Now I am seriously effing full

…and then a cheese plate. Now I am seriously effing full

Jen's brulee was damn fine

Jen’s brulee was damn fine, but the fruit was a little past its prime

The food came out and it was very clear that these guys did not give a fuck… in a good way. This place is to unpretentious what pin striped flares and sexually transmitted disease was to the 60s hippy movement. There was no deconstructed-milk-skin-covered-edible-soil-emulsification or micro shiso leaves in sight. They didn’t care what you thought about their choice of décor or the 1980s salad garnish. But all the same they were very happy to have you there. It’s like you were dining in their home… or a bigger, slightly more eclectic version of it. Does that even make a tiny bit of sense?

The service was magic. There were only two people working the floor and probs 40 or so heads eating. They were polite, they had time for a chat and a laugh and then it was quickly onto the next table for a little of the same, in French this time because he is clearly speaking to another Frenchman. A la vous bon scouns mirepoix! Whatever, I’m just jealous because I can barely speak English let alone a second, heaps sexier language.

Seba was so impressed he wanted to personally thank the chef. On returning from his jaunt into the kitchen he did comment that he didn’t understand anything the chef said… well, you certainly don’t need to be able to speak English to cook. I think both Pauly and myself are living, breathing proof of this! Arms and legs help but English, not a bit.

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A giant cock

Just like every good French restaurant, there is a giant cock out the front!

If you’re ever in or around Montville suss it out.

344 Flaxton Dr, Flaxton, QLD, 4560

(07) 5445 7157

(Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays)

Spirit House Restaurant and Cooking School, Yandina, Qld

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Now that we have our sea side adventures out of the way, it’s time for us to try a little mountain life. Like top o’ the range, can see for fifty kilometers to the Pacific Ocean (good to keep an eye out for sea born invasion), king of the hills type business. Git right up into them thar hills and do what any holiday going family in our situation would do; Try out local fare, the local fair and local fair maidens… cos that’s just how you gotta roll when you’re on holidays! Well that’s how I gotta roll. The boys on the other hand… The boys have been hell bent on skating every skate park in a 50km radius, and doing it at least twice, more like thrice, a day. Which in turn means I am re-acquainting myself with my skateboard too. I used to be able to work a wheelie board with a certain amount of prowess, but to say my skills are now a little rusty would be a rather incredible understatement. I’d say my skills have corroded so far back they were reforming into heavy metals on the elemental table. “But what does this have to do with Spirit House Restaurant my friend?” I hear you ask. “Absolutely nothing,” would be my reply. And then I would throw down a smoke bomb and amazingly vanish before your very eyes, only to be spoken of from time to time when you tell your grand kids of that strange guy you once knew. They’ll never believe you though, and eventually you’ll be too senile to stop yourself from repeating the story so they’ll have you admitted to a home where you will spend the rest of your days telling staff about the guy who once vanished before your very eyes… put your hand up if you think this story has gone too far. Now put your hand down… was anyone watching you? You may find yourself in that home earlier then expected…

Seba really wanted the seared scallop on sticky rice cake with pigs ear salad (as did I. Actually I think I want anything that has a pigs ear salad) and Obi was set on the pork belly with citrus caramel, so I went ahead and ordered both of these plus stir fried prawns with snake beans, baby corn and puffed rice, cuttlefish with chilli jam, and Hainese chicken. It was really good. I have not been so satisfied by an Asian meal in many years. The satisfaction I have received from many an Asian prostitute is a different story but that, my friends, is a story for another time… another time. I would defo like to go back there a couple more times to give the whole menu I right going over (dirty old pirate styles. Roughly from behind…), mostly because I overheard our waitress telling another table about the beef tartare on lotus chips and also something about a duck sausage (these dishes do exist. I just checked the website). AM I SERIOUSLY THAT FUCKING BLIND? Honestly, I am going to start wearing my glasses (in actual fact I probably will not start wearing my glasses as they are the same glasses I have owned for the last twenty something years and they have probably left their case less times then you’ve masturbated… hold up. Bad analogy. Maybe they have left their case less times then you have made an actual woman reach orgasm. Yeah, that works)

Crisp pork belly with citrus caramel $14

Crisp pork belly with citrus caramel $14

Seared scallop, sticky rice  pork cake, pig ear salad and green nahm jim $14

Seared scallop, sticky rice pork cake, pig ear salad and green nahm jim $14

The pork and scallops were everything I love about Thai-esque cooking; textures, a fresh herb hit, and balanced flavours. Seriously good.

Stir fried prawns in sweet jungle paste, snake beans. baby corn, puffed rice $26

Stir fried prawns in sweet jungle paste, snake beans. baby corn, puffed rice $26

The prawns were magic. I would eat them again and again.

The broth, the chicken, the rice, THE siricha

Hainanese chicken. The broth, the chicken, the rice, THE siricha $34

The combo was good

The combo was good

The Hainanese chicken. This was good. It wasn’t outrageous and it’s not the dish I’d keep coming back for but it was good. On the other hand the siricha sauce that came out with it was bloody outrageous. Slightly smokey and definitely a recipe I would like to go back late at night and steal from the vault…

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Fried chilli jam cuttlefish, wild ginger, red nahm jim dressing $29

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It was all about the cuttlefish

The cuttlefish. Aaaah the cuttlefish. It’s not something you see heaps on restaurant menus but I’m not sure why… it’s available by the cuttlefish scoop load where I’m from, but that may not be the case in other towns, like Mount Isa. Maybe people are scared of eating it or chefs scared of cooking it. Whatever. I love it and this was a fine cuttlefish dish indeed. Damn fine. Really, really fine. I FUCKING LOVED IT. Crisp cuttlefish, chilli jam, papaya, ginger, other awesome bits… this is my kind of Asian food. This and young Thai lady boys, but I guess they may not be absolutely correctly described as food…

A statue in the garden

A statue in the garden

Another statue. I think the other one was my favourite

Another statue. I think the other one was my favourite

There is a pond, bamboo garden and other pretty things for you to look at while you eat, or you can close your eyes and imagine you’re waiting in line for your turn at a massage parlor in your favourite Thai province.

As for the cooking school I have no effing idea about that, simply because I was just there to eat. I’m sure it’s good though, and I base my findings on nothing. Absolutely nothing.

So, in summation I say go to Spirit House for a great Thai-esque meal, I damn fine surroundings, served by really effing nice staff!

Stay tuned to keep up to date on what we eat while we’re up in the hills. No more scary statue photos, I promise… well, maybe just one… but it’s a cracker.

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