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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Koko Black Salon | Level 2, Indooroopilly Shopping Centre, INDOOROOPILLY QLD 4068

WARNING: The following post is not for the fainthearted.

I understand that on Monday most people suffer from Mondayitis, but this Monday, I died and went to chocolate heaven. Yes, Koko Black has finally arrived in Brisbane. If that doesn’t put a giant grin on your face from ear to ear then you must be darn hard to impress (or perhaps chocolate isn’t your thing so stop reading now).

It goes without saying that Koko Black has mastered the fine art of European chocolate making. I remember that the first time when I went to Melbourne many years ago, visiting Koko Black in the Royal Arcade was on the top of my to do list. I was mesmerised by the saloon's cosy décor and old world charm, but more importantly I was hooked on the chocolates.

Located amongst designer boutiques on level 2 of the newly revamped Indooroopilly Shopping Centre, Koko Black occupies a spacious shopfront. Designed by the team at Russell & George, the interior is simple, sleek and yet somehow captivating. Before I even entered the store, my eyes were drawn to the shiny display cabinet filled with delicious looking chocolates.

I was introduced to the founder, Shane Hills, who then spent the next two hours sharing his passion with the invited guests. We were literally spoilt for choices and so decided that the only logical thing to do was to try everything from salted caramel dark chocolate to Tasmanian Leatherwood Honeycomb inclusion in 54% dark premium couverture chocolate before sitting down at the table and being presented with the Dessert Degustation. At $26, I thought the degustation was great value. It's perfect for two and includes Chocolate Alchemy Cake, Raspberry Mousse, Chocolate Hazelnut Cluster, Belgian Mousse and chocolate ice cream. I'd be lying if I told you that I remember the flavours of everything I tried at the tasting, but I could not be more honest in saying that everything I tried tasted nothing short of mind blowing!

You see, Koko Black isn't just for chocolate aficionados, the salon is also the perfect space for catch-ups and some relaxation after a long day of shopping. But if you are anything like me, you'll probably binge on their decadent chocolates before, during and after a shopping spree. And rightly so!

PS. I strongly recommend the Hot Chocolate which is the signature beverage of Koko Black's and is freshly brewed according to a traditional Belgian recipe. The creamy, velvety texture will transport you to another world. Now that's my kind of choc-universe.

Disclaimer: this bunnie was an invited guest to the chocolate tasting. She is however currently suffering from Koko Black chocolate withdrawal syndrome and is planning on visiting the salon this weekend!

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Bounty Restaurant & Bar | 6/165 Baroona Road, ROSALIE QLD 4064

Given all of the rain we have been experiencing I though I would capitalise on gloomy whether by trying out the new kid on the block at Rosalie – The Bounty for breakfast.

The Bounty occupies the old site of Rosa’s Mexicano (and a few before that for those who know the area) which has been fantastically re-invigorated by Cameron Murchison (previously of Esquire) into a cool, New Yorker style casual eating spot. I particularly loved use of cooper, wood and stone throughout the open and airy dining space.

Now down to business, I ordered the smoked trout, asparagus, coddled egg ($18) and the other bunnie decided on chorizo hash, fried egg ($16).  We also elected for sparkling water upon being seated at our table (as we liked the concept of free carbonated water that is offered to at Blackboard) but were a little shocked to find out that Bounty offers ‘unlimited’ sparkling water at $5 per person.  Needless to say the other bunnie found his second stomach to ensure that we got value out of our $10 Aqua Chiara. Starting with my dish, I was immediately a little taken back when the plate (and I should say that the plates used and techniques on offer in both dishes meant that the meals screamed ‘take my picture’) was short my smoked trout. Now I know it was raining a lot but I am pretty sure that my fish had swum away before it got to my fork.  I enquired about my missing food to one of the waiters who initially thought that the fish roes atop the dish were in fact the smoked trout. He was mistaken as after devouring my dish (and I have to say it was a delicious dish with a great balance of flavours) I showed a picture of the dish to the manager who immediately confirmed that I didn’t get my smoked trout. Shock horror! Thankfully he scrubbed this dish from the bill but I was a little sad that I didn’t experience the full impact of the dish. The other bunnie’s chorizo hash was also another unique combination of flavours and he commented that the texture of the smokey chorizo filling was a welcome change to standard breakfast fair.  Finally, I can also confirm that my cappuccino ($3.50) was good.

I think that I will have to go back to The Bounty again perhaps for lunch or dinner as I am sure that one slippery piece of smoked trout should not discourage what is otherwise looking to be a great food venue in the inner suburbs.

Total Bunnie Dollars Spent: $29.50 (after the smoked trout was taken off the bill)

Bounty Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Buffalo Bar | 169 Mary Street, BRISBANE CBD QLD 4000

So what do you get when the team from Mighty Mighty - Cue & Brew in Fortitude Valley take over the site of the old Belgium Beer Café in Brisbane…. An American food Bonanza!

The other travel bunnie and I recently had a hankering from some hardcore American Chow and given the bunnie pad is only a stone-throw away from the Buffalo Bar we decided to do it.

Getting a reservation was difficult as the initial interest in this new American eatery is still extremely high (and don’t forget that it is the silly season) so we had to make do with a time slot of 5:30 – 7:00pm.

The interior for those of you who hadn’t previously been to the Belgium Beer Café is warm, simple and homely (which is very much in line with the heritage building it is situated in). The staff however were as energetic as you would expect from a newly opened food venture.

We got down to business quickly and as I was having flashbacks to our time in the USA, I was immediately drawn to the LARGE selection of Buffalo Wings.  After much debate (with myself) I went for eight pieces of the Salted Cola Toffee wings ($12 *no longer available*) (with all wings coming with a side of celery and the I-Cant-get-enough-so-I-asked-for-more Blue Cheese & Buttermilk Dipping Sauce).  Now I like to think that I am a bit of a wing connoisseur given that the other travel bunnie has assured me that after making a batch of home make spiced, crispy wings once a fortnight I have perfected the art (his words not mine) so when I say that the wings I ate here were finger-licking good you can take my word for it. I also had some Monterey Jack Corn Bread -Smoked Dripping Butter ($3.5) before I hoed into my wings but I must say that while it was good it could have done with a little more zing in the dipping butter.  The other travel bunnie elected to start with Jalapeno Poppers - Blue Cheese and Buttermilk Dipping Sauce ($9) and he loved the flavours but was again hoping for a little more spice (but you can guess where his dipping sauce went).  His main, which was hands down the dish of the night, was Crispy Fried Duck and Waffles - Cold Smoked, Crispy Fried Duck, House Made Waffles, Sour Blueberry Compote, Maple Hollandaise ($34) and it was amazing. That’s it. Nothing more to say. AMAZING. The duck was perfectly smoked the point where the each shred of its flesh gave off a tantalising aroma as it passed my (well of course we shared) lips. Then, the crispy skin just took the dish the extra step to balance its textures.  The waffles also served their purposes which was clearly to up the buttery Hollandaise sauce that the duck was swimming in.

So there you have it. Hearty, heavy, sticky American goodness in the heart of the CBD. And to top it off, a huge selection of American Craft Beers with the other travel bunnie assures me also assist in washing down all the food.

Total Bunnie Dollars Spent: $71.50

Buffalo Bar on Urbanspoon

Shanghai Part.1 | Shanghai, CHINA

I apologise for leaving a huge gap between my last China post and this one (which I hope you are about to read). I tend to get carried away very easily and I've obviously gotten ‘busier’ since mini bun George's arrival (not to mention that we've just been out eating lots).

So yes, I am back to finish off the China trip that the other travel bunnie and I took. Last year. Again, sorry.

Bunnies' Route: Ritz Carlton Pudong → Xintiandi → French Concession → Tianzifang → Green Massage at the World Financial Centre.

We were meeting up with my parents in Shanghai and had one day just to ourselves. After a leisurely breakfast at Scena overlooking the picturesque Bund, we caught a cab which dropped us off at Xintiandi, which translates to New Heaven and Earth which is a shopping precinct that's lined with upmarket shops and dining venues. The site of the first congress of the Communist Party of China is also located in this area. One of my grandfathers worked as intel for the Communist Party during the World War II and my other grandfather worked as a doctor for the military, so visiting the site had some special significance to me. Afterwards we took a leisurely walk through the French Concession to admire the beautiful art deco apartment blocks before ending up at Tianzifang, which shares a similar concept as Xintiandi but offers more affordable food as well as shopping options. We couldn't help ourselves but to make a quick stopover at a toilet themed restaurant as I found the quirky décor great for photos.

We had a very low-key afternoon packed with massages and great food as I knew that the next day would be action packed.

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