Archive for June, 2008

Campeones, campeones, oe oe oe!!!!

Monday, June 30th, 2008

From Down Under, I can only say: “Que viva España!!!”

Steve enjoying a capuccino at Tichum Creek Coffee Plantation.

The Atherton Tablelands… again

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

I’m sure if you follow our adventures in Tropical North Queensland you will be thinking we visit the Atherton Tablelands way too much. Well, it’s Steve’s favourite part of the region, and since he’s the one who drives, he decides where to go. But I must admit that it’s nice to get away from the city for a few hours and enjoy a change in the scenery and weather as well.

Our first stop for the day was Tichum Creek Coffee Plantation, and, as we did a few months ago, we enjoyed a delicious coffee and a chat with Mario, the owner. After leaving this coffee plantation in the Atherton Tablelands, the road took us to De Brueys Winery, where Elaine and Bob showed us around and shared their future plans for their winery with us. Hopefully next time we visit them they will have finished the wine tasting room, which is already looking pretty good to us, and they will have started with their wine cellar tours.

Steve enjoying a capuccino at Tichum Creek Coffee Plantation.Bob and Elaine, owners of De Brueys Winery.

Granite Gorge is a must see place for everyone, an incredible family friendly activity in Tropical North Queensland. It’s a “natural reserve” where you can see wallabies in the wild and will have the unique opportunity to feed them. The wallabies are very friendly if you have food in your hands, otherwise they get tired of you pretty quickly. We tricked them a few times, but by the time we had been there for a while, other people had already come offering food and we were absolutely invisible for them from then on. However, we managed to take a photo of one of this gorgeous creatures (Colleen, the owner told us this specie of wallaby only lives in the part of the world) carrying a baby wallaby on its pouch. Soooooooooo cute.

That's me, patting a wallaby at Granite Gorge.Wallaby with its baby in its pouch, at Granite Gorge, Atherton Tablelands.

We also went for a walk there. Granite Gorge is pretty amazing (we always say this word is overused, but in this case is the word that best describes this corner of Tropical North Queensland). It combines massive rocks with sandy creeks and refreshing waterholes. If you feel energetic, you can go for a walk around the area and you will discover pretty unusual rock formations, some of them resembling different animals. Won’t spoil the surprise for you.

Boulders at Granite Gorge.Steve standing on massive footprints on the rock, at Granite Gorge.

A few minutes after leaving Granite Gorge we arrived to The Peanut Place, which we were really looking forward to exploring, since Steve is a big peanut fun. Too much of a coincidence that he finished the peanut butter this morning. I think he had everything planned. Of course, we couldn’t leave The Peanut Place without buying a few items. It was hard, everything looked really tasty. But after a while looking around, we bought their famous peanut butter, absolutely gorgeous lime and chilli peanuts and eucalyptus honey. And we took another photo us “our beast” in front of the Big Peanut (as we did a few months ago with our long gone friend the van).By that time we were already feeling hungry so we headed, as fast as we could, to Millaa Millaa, where we know of a fantastic place to have lunch or just a snack. And, according to Steve, they sell the most beautiful beef pies in Queensland. The place is called “The Falls Teahouse” and apart from delicious food and a fabulous view, they also offer accommodation.

Our Cairnsunlimitedmobile in front of The Big Peanut, near Tolga, in the Atherton Tablelands.The famous beef pies at The Falls Teahouse, in Millaa Millaa.

As you all should know by know if you read our blog regularly, the Atherton Tablelands is very well known in Australia for its Food and Wine Trail The weather in this part of Tropical North Queensland is perfect for the growing of different tropical fruits, coffee, tea and many restaurants and eateries take advantage of the local produce from the region. So if you love food and wine, the options are endless and we strongly recommend that you spend a couple of days of your tropical holidays following the self drive itinerary we have put together in our Tablelands Food Trail and discovering this area. And since we knew what was coming ahead of us, we didn’t order dessert at The Falls Teahouse, but waited until we got to Gallo Dairyland, where you can choose from a wide array of flavoured chocolates and local cheeses.

And that’s all we had time for today. You cannot believe how good it feels to be away from the computer for a few hours, even if we mean that tomorrow we will have a big day in front of us. But as the Spanish saying goes: “Tomorrow will be another day”.

Spanish food in Australia … a bit of a challenge: Spanish Bar and Grill in Clifton Beach

Friday, June 20th, 2008

You might imagine that Maria is quite the food critic when it comes to Spanish food outside of her home country, and rightly so. The gunk that some restaurants pass off as paella is just insulting. And if you order empanadillas in a restaurant, you don’t expect to get the exact same product that you can find in the freezer aisle of your local supermarket.

Which somehow reminds me… have you seen the price of fuel lately? I paid over ninety bucks to fill the Cairnsunlimitedmobile earlier this week, and prices aren’t set to go anywhere but up, so the experts say. But back to the point - I really just wanted an excuse to link to our car :)

When we heard that a new Spanish restaurant had opened its doors in Clifton Beach recently, it was only a matter of time until we found an excuse to try it out. We had planned to visit on Wednesday night, but then received a phone call from a hapless customer of ours who had somehow lost one of our brand new Digital Underwater Cameras, and that sort of knocked the wind out of our sails.

Then about mid-morning yesterday, our neighbour had a visit from some tradesman who set to work trying to drive us insane with the use of a hammer drill just through the wall. We had already had our normally peaceful Yorkeys Knob morning disrupted by the arrival of no less than four noisy Ergon trucks in our quiet little street, and it’s hard to concentrate on work with your teeth shaking from a hammer drill. When the four Ergon trucks made their reappearance a little after noon, that was the last straw. We jumped in the beast (I just can’t help it) and roared off in search of the Spanish Bar and Grill.

At first, our quest was fruitless, as I had assumed that such a restaurant would be on the beachfront, or at least no more than  a block back from the esplanade. But we finally found it in the local shopping centre, adjacent to the Captain Cook Highway. An unassuming location, I thought, but let’s give it a try…

After being seated on their pleasant patio, Maria suggested that we should have checked the menu. “Nonsense” I said with false bravado, “we can afford it” as I imagined myself washing dishes for the rest of the afternoon to pay for our lunch. But we needn’t have concerned ourselves, as the waitress quickly explained their lunch deal; any starter, any main, any dessert, and a glass of wine for $22.50. Did she say $22.50? Surely that would be just the price of the main, no?

Well, we both started with an entree of red pepper stuffed with meat and rice. Delicious, but served on a ludicrously large and deep plate/bowl which only served to make the food difficult to get to. I don’t want to ruin the suspense, but that would prove to be my only criticism of the whole meal.

Maria chose paella as a main, and it was stuffed with quality seafood; mussells, scallops, prawns and generous chunks of fleshy fish. How they can put that much into a main as part of a three course lunch special is beyond me. My rib fillet was equally impressive - and surprising, considering the price of the whole meal. It was cooked to a textbook ‘medium’ (which, thakfully was what I had requested) and was a delight from the first bite to the last lick of the plate. It had been so long since I’d had a great steak that I had almost forgotten how good it can be.

For dessert, Maria chose a apricot frangipani tart, and also ate most of my flourless chocolate gateaux with chocolate icecream.

I do have one other complaint… that we had to come back to work, and couldn;t spend the rest of the day soaking up the perfect Cairns afternoon and sipping wine. One of us took a siesta as soon as we got home… I’ll leave it to you to guess whom!!