Brisbane Noodle Night Markets: A Coeliac Review

When people ask me why I moved to Brisbane, one thing comes to mind besides the blue skies -there’s always something to do. Even in the middle of winter (a very mild one) there’s a whole heap of festivals, markets and days out to keep everyone occupied until spring arrives.

This week, from 25 July – 5 August, the Brisbane Noodle Night Markets are lighting up the riverside along Southbank. Open from 4pm at weekends and 5pm on weekdays, it’s a great spot to grab some food and watch the sun set over the city skyline. The markets are free entry and cash-free to make queuing easier and quicker, however expect to fight the bustling crowds and wait in line for your top Asian food stall picks.

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Lighting up Southbank

Before visiting, I hopped onto the Good Food Month website to check out the stalls and see if there was any information on gluten free dining. There wasn’t. After browsing the individual stall menus, I found just 2 options which stated gluten free and to be honest I was pretty disappointed by the lack of choice. However, I still wanted to experience the foodie atmosphere and allow my non-GF partner to enjoy the sumptuous Asian flavours on offer.

Just a short walk from the Cultural Centre bus station, the smokey sky reflected the mouth watering BBQ aromas which tempted your tastebuds before you entered. Considering it was a Sunday evening, it was pretty busy with food taking 10-15 minutes to churn out.

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The hungry crowds waiting for their orders

I visited the first stall that I found on the website to have gluten free options, Zagyoza – The Home of Gyoza. With no gluten free depicted on their menu board, I asked what GF options were available and was surprised when I was told they had gluten free chicken teriyaki on offer. The website stated they only had pork gluten free gyoza…. hmm. Riled by the taste of BBQ in the air, I trusted the serving staff and ordered 6. When I went to collect, they certainly looked very different from the other gyoza orders and the server asked if I wanted teriyaki sauce on top which was also gluten free (with GF on the squeezy bottle label).

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No Gluten Free options on the sign at Zagyoza

The filling and the sauce were flavorsome, however the gyoza dough was a little thick and stodgy on the bottom. I’ve had a bad experience with dumplings before but tried to put it to the back of my mind and enjoy the first of only 2 options I would be eating that evening. Overall, they weren’t anything worth shouting about – I understand the difficulties with replicating the dough but they still didn’t quite live up to expectations. Also, just 6 gyoza for $12 seemed a bit of a rip off – a common theme experienced throughout the evening!

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GF Chicken Teriyaki Gyoza at Zagyoza

Wondering around the stalls, I couldn’t see any gluten free options on menu boards or food signs. Considering Brisbane is a pretty GF-forward city, I was both disappointed and a little surprised by the lack of gluten free on offer. Either the food stalls didn’t want to be held liable for sickness, or they simply didn’t see gluten free food as a viable option on their menu. I’m sure others were as disappointed as I was.

My second (and last) option ended my night on a sweet note with a naughty gluten free waffle from Waffeland.

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Not advertised but all GF at Waffleland

All of their menu options were gluten free so I felt it would be a pretty safe (and delicious) choice. As my first taste of waffle, it was pretty darn good. I opted for Bangkok Night – a fresh baked waffle with warm, gooey Nutella and icing sugar, with optional vanilla ice cream on the side. For $14 ($12 + $2 extra for ice cream), I have to say it was the highlight of my evening. With Nutella all over my face and hands, I left the markets with a warm fuzzy feeling (although still a little bit hungry).

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Bangkok Night GF Waffle with warm Nutella

After getting home and eating some gluten free toast to fill the small hole in my stomach, I started to feel very sick, my stomach expanded to maximum capacity and I came to the realisation that the dumpling curse had most likely struck once more. After being very sick, covered in a red heat rash and hives, with a stomach to rival any pregnant woman’s, I went to bed thinking about how much money I’d just regurgitated into the toilet bowl (I won’t include a picture so here’s a nice one of the Brisbane Wheel instead…)

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The Brisbane Wheel glimmering at night

Morale of the story,  you should probably contact the market organizers or food stalls beforehand to understand exactly what they mean by gluten free. Let’s hope in the near future that markets such as these are a bit clearer with their gluten free options and their dedicated to providing 100% gluten free food for people who rely on their transparency (aka ME!)

Did you visit the Noodle Night Markets? How was your experience? I’d love to hear from you!

Happy reading 🙂

Gluten Free, Low Sugar Choc Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

I hate to admit it, but I’m an emotional eater. Even the slightest bit of stress triggers my sugar cravings. This is one of the main reasons behind experimenting with sugar-free or low-sugar treats – so I don’t have to punish myself or feel incredibly guilty if I do give into the cravings.

I never used to like peanut butter – I mean I still wouldn’t eat it out of the jar – but I’ve used it a lot in Asian-style cooking and decided to try baking with it too. The majority of commercial peanut butters contain a lot of crap – high in sugar, fat and oil. I decided to try a healthier, low sugar option and I found that Mayver’s Smooth Peanut Butter ticked all the boxes. It’s all-natural with no added sugar (only 0.8g of sugar per 1 tablespoon) and dairy, gluten and cholesterol free. PLUS it was the same price as most of the standard peanut butters so it just made sense!

A delicious alternative!

With my low-sugar or sugar-free recipes I replace the sugar with granulated natural sweetener (Natvia is my current preference). I feel that artificial sweeteners are a) too sweet and b) full of weird and wonderful chemicals that I would just rather steer clear of ( I also think they may be linked to many of my stomach issues in the past but we’ll leave that for another day!)

My favourite sugar alternative!

These cookies are super easy to make and bake in around 12-15 minutes. They will come out feeling way too soft, but harden up as they cool.

Boyfriend approved!

INGREDIENTS
3/4 Cup Granulated Nativa (or any granulated sweetener)
1/2 Cup Butter (Melted)
3/4 Cup Peanut Butter (Room Temperature)
1 Egg (Beaten)
1 1/2 Cups Gluten Free Self-Raising Flour Mix (I used Orgran)
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
1 tsp Gluten Free Baking Powder (I used McKenzie’s)
Handful Choc Chips

Mix, divide, roll and bake!

METHOD
1. Preheat oven to 180°C and line baking tray with baking paper.
2. Add melted butter, beaten egg, vanilla essence and Natvia into a bowl and combine.
3. Add in the peanut butter and combine.
4. Sprinkle in the choc chips and mix throughout.
5. Sift in the flour and baking powder and mix well to form a soft dough.
6. Measure out a tablespoon of the dough and roll into a ball.
7. Place the ball onto the baking tray and press down lightly on top.
8. Repeat above until all the dough has been used – placing balls around 3cm apart.
9. Bake in the middle of the oven for around 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
10. Allow to cool before enjoying!

The end result!

Are you a fan of low-sugar or sugar-free baking? Do you feel it has helped you to manage your sugar cravings? I’d love to hear from you!

Happy baking! 🙂

Restaurant Review: The Wolfe, East Brisbane

Looking for a more decadent, celebratory fine-dining experience? The Wolfe is the ideal place!

Located on Stanley Street East, nestled in-between aged buildings, anyone would walk straight past this restaurant without even realising. Inside, however, The Wolfe’s dark wooden decor certainly makes an impact. Since we left the booking a little late, we were seated in the outdoor courtyard towards the rear of the main dining area. We were happy to be seated outside with the cooler air making for a more pleasant experience, even with the mosquitoes attacking my legs. Decorated with leafy greens, the courtyard was just as elegantly designed as the dining room, making you feel no less important that the interior diners, including the continual dedicated service throughout the evening.

Un petit appetizer

Since we booked and arrived at a later time, many of the menu items were already sold out (which shows just how fresh the produce is) including the oysters, much to my friend’s disappointment. However, we were greeted with some delicious (and dainty) appetizers whilst we scoured the menu. Many of the menu items were gluten-free, much to my delight, making my decision a lot more enjoyable – opposed to the usual experience of just choosing whatever is gluten-free! The menu is changed on a monthly basis, so don’t expect to find the same items I ordered below on the current menu!

I opted for the quail ballotine with red grapes and woodear mushrooms to start, wanting to experience new dishes that I could actually enjoy on my strict gluten-free diet.

Starter: Quail ballotine with red grapes woodear mushrooms

My first time eating quail, it was perfectly moist, tender and perfectly matched the red grapes and woodear mushrooms…and that sauce! Lately, I’ve been opting for more raw dishes to start, so having a cooked entree was a good choice to mix things up a bit. Next up, my main was another first for me – wagyu beef (and a sizeable portion of it too!)

Main: Wagyu beef with enoki mushrooms

When my main first arrived, I was a bit disappointed that I hadn’t ordered a side to go with it, but half-way through my plate I realised that it simply wasn’t needed. Once again the combination of flavours and the perfectly cooked steaks were to die for, leaving me wondering if I’ll ever be able to enjoy another steak again! And for dessert…

Dessert: Chocolate Mousse with Berry Sorbet

Anything chocolate is a winner to me, but this was just the most divine way to top off an amazing meal. The richness of the chocolate mousse was perfectly balanced by the tartness of the berry sorbet and the crunch of the white chocolate shards. Once again what looked like a small portion turned out to be just the right size for the dish. Whilst the dishes took a little while to arrive, it allowed time to relax and enjoy the atmosphere and good company. Unlike most restaurants, we weren’t rushed out at the end of our meals and the table service throughout deserved a 5 star alone.

I highly recommend the Wolfe for an evening of decadent dishes for a special occasion. Remember to book well in advance as the dining room fills quickly and perhaps book a little earlier in the evening to ensure you don’t miss out on some of the delicious fresh produce.

Happy eating! 🙂

Mount Barney Lower Portals Trek

This weekend we decided to embark on a slightly more intense trek and found that Mount Barney National Park had a range of different tracks on offer. Considering the drive to Mount Barney was going to take nearly 2 hours, we decided to embark on the 3 hour Lower Portals track and set off before 8am (we are still beginners after all!)

Driving down from Brisbane we planned to stop for our ritual pre-trek breakfast at Rathdowney on the Mount Lindsay highway. Just outside of the town centre is Rathlogan Grove with its very own Hilltop cafe nestled amongst the olive trees. The cafe is quite charming with its rural surrounds and small store selling a range of goods from country kitchen wares and boutique skincare to their very own olive oils and dressings (of which we purchased a few). Although their menu didn’t clearly state gluten-free options, they were more than happy to provide gluten-free bread which turned out to be of the best handmade variety.

Breakfast & Views from Hilltop Cafe, Rathlogan Grove

After fuelling up, we made our way to the start of the trek at the Lower Portals car park in Mount Barney National Park. As Upper Logan Road steadily transformed into a dirt track, we were baffled as to where the Lower Portals car park actually was and ended up at Yellow Pinch Reserve.

Upper Logan Road towards Mount Barney

At this point in time we had both lost mobile signal so we were without navigation. Luckily for us, there were some handy (though no very detailed) maps at the Yellow Pinch Reserve notice board and we discovered we’d somehow driven past Lower Portals road.

Mount Barney National Park Map

We eventually found Lower Portals car park (the sign for Lower Portals Road was obscured by a sign for Barney Creek Vineyard Cottages!) put on our hiking boots and headed out on the track. The Lower Portals track is a class 4 track (based on Australian standards) with a distance of 7.4km return – taking around 3 hours in all.

Lots of creeks and rocks to climb over

The track itself had a mixture of terrains, with some very steep inclines and a small amount of rock climbing at points. What started off as a fairly cloudy and cool day quickly turned into a very hot and humid one – add steep and uneven tracks in the mix and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a sweaty hike!

We were already worn out by the time we reached the first creek

Despite the intensity, there seemed to be a great mixture of people attempting the hike including young children and some elderly folks (who we were unsure were going to make it to the end!) Matt described some parts of the track as an ‘arid hellscape’ with the red-orange rocks and tree roots engulfing the steepest inclines. It was certainly a step up from our trek at Lake Wivenhoe!

Amongst the flora and fauna

After around 1 hour and 20 minutes of ups and downs we reached the creek at the end of the track (hurrah!). I was surprised that the creek was so clear and clean and began to regret not taking any swimwear with me (I was pretty hot and sweaty by this point!)

The first point of the creek – the water is so clear!

Although you can swim at the first point of the creek (the first part is surprisingly quieter), you have to jump over the stepping stones and clamber over some rocks on the other side to reach the more popular swimming holes.

The more popular swimming holes & sunbathing spots on the other side of the creek

Here we found congregations of families and friends eating picnics, enjoying a swim and sunbathing on the many rocks. After removing socks and shoes and dipping our feet into the water, we both decided that we probably wouldn’t have been swimming after all – the pool was freezing cold even despite the heat! Despite the large amount of people there, the creek had a rather relaxing vibe to it. We even saw a wild turtle milling around in the water, keeping its distance from the splashing children.

Well worth the trek!

Overall, the trek was quite intense in terms of the steep inclines, high humidity and temperatures, but thoroughly enjoyable all the same! The track provides an array of different scenery and terrains meaning you’ll never get bored of repetition and the creek at the end is just an added bonus! Ensure you take plenty of water, optional swimwear and perhaps a picnic to enjoy once you reach the creek. Expect to be out for at least 4 hours so remember your sunscreen and protective gear. Oh and bear in mind there’s little to no mobile phone signal so make sure you download your offline maps beforehand.

Have you recently completed a Mount Barney trek? We’d love to hear from you!

Happy hiking! 🙂