Libertine – Paddington
Having grown up in Australia, we have the privilege of being exposed to a myriad of food cultures. The standard and authenticity of these select foods is outta this world, due to our multicultural population. What is crazy though is not being able to get a decent meal after 9pm. “Kitchen closed” What the shiz?
I first realised the high quality of ethnic food in Australia when I moved to Sweden and sampled various “Thai” and “Japanese” restaurants which were run by people of said ethnicity, however I can only guess that due to a more conservative taste palette of the Swedes (not very spicy) or to cut costs with expensive, albeit obviously necessary ingredients, some things, like taste and flavour, were thrown outta the imported plane window.
I spent most of my food-appreciating, wining and dining years in Brisbane and food culture there is immense, focusing on everything from raw, vegan and wholesome, to hearty and artery clogging and everything in between. Traditonally, certain suburbs became well renowned for different types of food, depending on who immigrated there, however with the gentrification of all the inner-city suburbs this has changed and good food of any nationality can be found pretty much anywhere.
Still though, some remain pertinent. Want Greek? Head to West End, Lefka’s has the best cinnamony Mousakka, lemon potatoes, fried haloumi – OMG! and lamb shanks as big as your head. Ouzeri is casual, alfresco sidewalk eating that is the place to go for group parties; their platters are of sizeable quantity, without substituting quality, I can still taste their fava beans. yum. West End is also home to many Vietnamese restaurants with Kim Thanh being my personal favourite for Hue spicy soup, prawn and pork rice paper rolls and a very much missed 3 colour drink. Huangs also has the best Massaman curry I’ve had outside of Thailand.
Take-away section of Lefka’s. So. freaking. good.
Sunnybank, traditionally home to a predominantly Chinese community, however in recent years has grown further to include Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese, basically all Asian cultures, specialises in the cheapest and largest pan-asian cuisine. Singaporean Hainanese Chicken, Taiwanese drunken chicken, Korean Chimaek 치맥 beer and chicken plus all other vegetable and animal combinations can be found here. Just be careful, sometimes the area can be quite literally on fire.
However, being a 2-zone city girl myself this was always too far out for me and instead I milled about the city fringe for good Asian fare. Hubbed around Elizabeth Street in the city is a growing selection of Korean bbq, traditional restaurants and noraebangs thanks to the growing Korean student population. Good Japanese sushi trains, hand roll boogaloo’s, ramen joints, gyoza and izakaya places, as well as fine dining can also be found around here. King of Kings Yum Cha in the Valley was also a staple for the craziness and awesomeness that has to be experienced to be believed.
Good Italian restaurants are also found around Teneriffe/New Farm with Vespa Pizza having an amazing cinnamon roast butternut pumpkin with dried chilli, sage and fetta although the 3 little piggies was always the favourite for my best friend Veracakes. We also shared some serious d+m’s over their smashed kipflers and a good, or cheap – depending where we were in our pay cycle – red from our selected favourite bottleshopboy of the moment.
Paddington, my old hood, home to many cafes that serve up a mean eggs benedict with a babycino for the bambino and provide a water bowl for your little white yap-yap, is also home to some of the best pub steaks when you wanna get your bogan on at the Paddo or the Cacko. “Rib fillet, medium rare with mushroom sauce” is the catcall, the wolf whistle, on Tight-ass 2-for-1 Tuesdays.
Fine Italian can also be found at 1879 which does amazing Pizza and Vio’s, an elaborate setting for an elaborate menu.
Old locals for me, The Lark which does inventive mod-aus fine dining with an impressive whisky collection and amazing cocktails (and will let you stay on after closing time and persist for weeks on end with my silly requests of a long lost cocktail – he did nail it in the end) and Cartel – the bar where everyone knows your name and you can kick back on one of the couches, play some videogames, watch some Star Wars, listen to some local music or just enjoy good craft beer or Monteith’s on tap – brilliant.
Other staples were the dark and atmospheric Spanish tapas bar Peasant or the vibrant French/Vietnamese fusion fare at Libertine, which has a magical vibe at dusk on a balmy Summer’s eve. And whilst most people crave a greasy fry-up when hungover, I always could be found at the sushi train Sunday afternoon sipping my hangover away over miso soup and a giant Kirin.
However, let’s be brutally honest here, Harry’s diner has also saved many a drunken night with a deep fried dim sim, spring roll or chicken chips to soak up the inebriation. Also worth a mention is the Paddo Bottle-O – open until midnight – the latest in the city fringe and a 5 minute walk, 2 minute run away from my old beloved terrace house.
On the other sober hand, Fundies, a local institution, has organic vegetarian, vegan and raw salads, bakes, burgers and cakes, as well as having a store next door to pick up all your essential grains, groceries and gourmet snacks.
Fundies nosh. yum.
Oh, I miss home now.
I haven’t even mentioned Indian, Mexican, Nepalese, the cafe brunch scene and amazing Modern Australian which is basically a fusion of everything available. Check out the menu at Esquire here for an idea of good Australian food, kimchi and beef ‘bbq’ chips? Scraped raw Wagyu beef with soy, ginger and fried rice? And in the year that I’ve left there seems to be whole new wonder of restaurants, cafes and bars to tickle the fetish of anyone, regardless of what you’re culinarily in to.
But this wasn’t meant to be a post on the Brisbane food scene. Or food scenes in general. Clearly got sidetracked, but realise I’ve written too much now to simply delete and start again. The nostalgia of home has been warming.
But rather, this is the intro into a series of travel snaps. Travel times. Time travel.
Whilst obviously the Korean food here is very authentic, it is hard to find other food that hasn’t been korean-i-fied. Pickles with your bulgolgi pizza? Pickles in a Vietnamese rice paper roll? Kimchi tacos and burritos? This has made me reflect back to not only food available in Brisbane, but the traditional food I’ve eaten whilst travelling.
Pizza and ah, pickles?
I am interested in how the food traditionally eaten by different cultures affects their lifestyle. Different cultures have certain rituals with food, unique ingredients, cooking techniques, eating styles, which affects their lives in so many ways; their relationships with family and friends, weight, complexion and facial features.
Food is the focal point of celebrations, tragedies and everything in between the world over. Travel, real travel off the beaten tour package path allows us the privilege to witness first hand these different cultures, norms and cooking practices whilst gaining wisdom and insight into the interaction and relationships of people from different backgrounds.
“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” – Mark Jenkins