Jenolan Caves, NSW

Picturesque, depicting a bygone era, Jenolan Caves House is one of Australia’s historic relics. Maintenance plus considerable changes over past years, has kept this interesting building retaining its grandeur from the early days as well as remaining modernly functional. Originally designed and built n 1897, this “wilderness” resort was designed with high society Sydney siders in mind. They would travel out here for rest, relaxation and to rub shoulders with the elite of their era.

This building replaced the privately owned small original accommodation which was ravaged by fire. Unfortunately the owner at the time, Jeremiah Wilson, could not afford to replace, which resulted in the NSW government resuming the land, employing English architect Walter Vernon to design and construct a wilderness retreat for the elite.

Ceiling heights within are huge, chandeliers and antique lighting still hang in some places, stairs take you to many nooks and crannies, with lounges dotted closely around the building. Between our room and the lift, there were two original decor lounges. You can visualise socialites in their finery, stopping to rest and converse in these lounges. Maybe discussing the events of the day, perhaps forming ideas on the expected progression of the state of NSW or Australia itself.To cater for the financially elite of society, The Caves House featured a grand dining room, billiards and a coffee room. Built using limestone from the nearby caves complex, the first stage of this building cost the NSW government at the time 30 000 pounds. Today this would equate in excess of 4 million dollars.

Located in a gully, close to to the Grand Archway of the main caves complex, the hills behind rise up to around 1700ft above the buildings.

The caves complex is an incredible mix of limestone caves, formed centuries ago. Aborigines found the caves, prior to the Europeans who first discovered the area in 1838. The entrance on each side of the caves complex is impressively huge. There are a number of different caves within. Some require higher levels of fitness, whilst others may only have a moderate few hundred steps included in the tour.

We chose the Imperial Cave tour on this day. One of the options of this tour is an additional 66 steps down and then back up again. I should probably mention these steps for the main part are steep and narrow. But, to do so, is well worth while. Check out the incredibly clear water flowing through the bottom of the cave.You can drink this water, there are taps around the shop and complex where you can fill our water bottle with this clear, natural H2O. Guides on the tours are informative, have a sense of humour and are ready to reply to any question you may have.

Natural rock formations are incredible. They change throughout every cave.

Should you be visiting the Blue Mountains of NSW, you need to include a nights stopover here and give yourself time to immerse your soul in the grandeur as well as the incredible wow factor of the area. Don’t forget to enjoy a pre dinner drink in the bar, as well as dinner in the grand dining room. It’s all part of the experience and very worthwhile.

If you haven’t yet visited, I highly recommend you do so. It can be incredible what experiences nature has provided on our own door step, don’t ignore it.

More photos are displayed on facebook/dinelivetravel, instagram/dinelivetravel as well as other platforms. Enjoy your caves experience, it is quite soul reviving.

Bathurst – Supercheap auto 1000

The air is filled with the smell of high octane fuel, the roar of high powered V8’s fills the air. Such an assault on your senses fills you with the thrill of anticipation. The intensness of this race is increased with drivers mannipulating their powerful sleek machines, at incredible speeds, around this most challenging Motorsport track, Mt Panorama.

Every year Motorsport fans flock to the mecca of Supercar racing. All with one aim in mind, to support their chosen driver or team and have them crowned, King of the Mountain. Hold over 4 days, there is so much to see and do, you will wear yourself out with excitement. Shootouts for grid placements, all different types of races, eventually culminating on the Sunday with the gruelling 1000km race.

Campers fill the camping spots, some have family traditions of attending every year. Others decorate their camping site with signs, banners or anything they can find.

We were lucky to secure a house for our group a mere half hour from the track. Bathurst Tickets for our group included the paddock pass. If you’re a fan, be sure to make the trip worthwhile and add on the paddock pass. You never know who you will rub shoulders with!Bring in your own deck chairs and set up your camp for the day wherever suits. This year the return trip up to the top of the mountain on the continuous bus service was a mere $5. It’s worth it. You haven’t really been to the mountain unless you have been up the top. The atmosphere is surreal up here, staunch supporters have their own generators and TV’s to keep up with commentary.

The views from up here, back down the mountain, are phenomenal. Watching the race year in and out not the TV, does not do it justice. If you’re a fan, you need to schedule at least one trip to the mecca of Motorsport.So many view points to watch this epic race. Helicopters constantly circle, some TV crews, others give you a birds eye view of this incredible experience. In between the first and last two laps, you could score a trip in the chopper covering two laps for a fairly reasonable $90.00. Each lap covering a touch over 6km. Quite the experience. For me though, the top of the mountain was enough for the view.

Marvel at how the drivers handle those corners at such impressive speeds. Not only that their distances between each other are so close. They complete each lap in around 2.5 minutes. Pretty amazing when you see this track in real time.

Souvenirs, food, drinks, everything is available here. Sometimes those lines are long, but pick your moment and you can be served quickly. A little note here regarding the Red Rooster food van inside the Coopers Complex. The staff in here were amongst many at this venue, under the pump, yet held it together in noteworthy style. Well done to all the staff on the Bathurst site. Without your dedication to the cause this great event would come to a standstill.

Cleaners are constantly circulating the huge number of portable bathrooms, to ensure they remain at a reasonable standard of hygiene. Not sure what their schedule is, but these guys need a medal. Seriously, I saw some of the bathrooms they would have to deal with.

So many photos so many stories, yet this was the last year of Ford Falcons, the last year for Craig Lowndes driving as the main driver and possibly the last of the V8’s only. To witness Lowndes win this race was a truely heart pumping experience, no matter which team you follow. After 25 years, he deserved to go out as The King of the Mountain. Don’t forget the F18 who puts on the most impressive flying display, pre race. I was sooo lucky to be right place right time!

Would love to hear your feedback! Are you now keen to visit this Australian annual epic experience?

And for the record if you visit Mt Panorama during the off season, the speed limit is 60km. With around 40 residences on this mountain, I’m sure they dont want to have any of you chasing stars in your eyes and exceeding their speed limit and peace. Please respect that.

Scenic World – Blue Mountains NSW

The day may be dull, with fog and rain circulating through. But, nothing can dampen the sheer impressive beauty of this stunning scenery. No matter what the weather, take the time to stop in and explore the incredibly breathtaking scenes the Blue Mountain area has to offer.

At Scenic World, you can experience three heart stopping rides. The skyway has you suspended 270 metres above the ravine below. A glass bottom through the middle as well as the glass encased box gives you 360 degree WOW moment views.

Glide past the Katoomba Falls, check out the Three Sisters standing proudly near the cliffs edge.

Rides here are unlimited. Pay your entry fee then enjoy as any trips as you like on the worlds steepest railway, the cable car, or this suspended skyway.

Book tickets online or pay at the gate, around $43 per adult giving you that unlimited ride and experience.

Check out the angle of these seats on the worlds steepest railway! And yes thats the front of the seat pictured! Once seated on here, you are transported out over the edge of the cliff to roll down the rails into the enticing valley below.

Turn around and look at where you came from. That incline is unreal, and it is the steepest passenger train incline in this entire world. I’m not a heights or steep incline person, so for me, its a pretty big deal to do these things. In hindsight, I would have left this ride until last. Why? Just because the heights and steep slopes down are a big ask for me. I did feel if I had done both skyride and cable car, I would have dealt with the train much better, but, thats only my opinion.

Based on the recommendation of the entry staff, we took the railway down to the bottom of the gully, followed by the interesting and informative walk through to the forest to the cable car.

Not going to give away all the secrets here, as you really do need to experience this railway for yourself. Take some time here, go on the rides as many times as you like in the day. There is no limit and you don’t pay per ride. just scan your bar coded wrist bandThe area is seeping in history. As you make your way from train to worlds steepest cable car or vice versa, take a moment to check out all the historic features dotted along your walk.

Walk to the exquisite Katoomba Falls, its not too far from where the Skyway delivers you to the other side of the Jamison Valley. The incredible height of this flowing water will simply impress and amaze.

Just a brief touch on this incredibly breathtaking area of the world. Only because you need to go and experience this. The totally Jurassic feel of this forest and surrounds will have you checking out every corner for an approaching dinosaur. Enjoy!

Novotel Brisbane South Bank

Spaciousness combined with modern, inviting surrounds, greet you in the bar/restaurant area of Novotel Brisbane South Bank.

Refreshing to see such a large area devoted to comfortable lounge style seating in front of the bar. Add to this the bar stools, and you know you’ve found the ideal space to enjoy a coffee, pre dinner drinks or just wile away some time.

Friendly staff help to make this home away from home experience even more enjoyable.Unfortunately on this occasion, we did not have the luxury of staying, this was merely a visit for a business function. Very lucky though to be given a tour of this fabulously fresh and new hotel.

Given the standard of the food we did try, combined with the atmosphere, delightful staff and overall feel of this venue, Dine Live Travel will be back.

A lot of thought went into the design and decoration of this new hotel. Only opened in May of this year, this particular Novotel has been based on a European design which embraces the local area. Here, the outside comes in.Given the handy location to South Bank and all amenities in this area, how cool to see rooms with the bed head area dominated by these incredibly real depictions of the local area!

Immerse yourself in the city of Brisbane, drifting off to sleep under the very real feeling, canopy of the South Bank Arbour. Or, perhaps your room will feature the Channel 7 Wheel of Brisbane.

What a nice surprise when you open the room door to see what delightful artwork is waiting to make you feel a part of this vibrant city. Looking forward to hearing what you think!

From standard hotel rooms to suites with their own lounge, there is plenty on offer for you to to overnight or take a well needed staycation. Some rooms face over the spacious greenery that is Musgrave Park, others towards Southbank and the city. Maybe you will be able to clearly see the real Wheel of Brisbane from your room.

Suites feature an inviting deep bath. Immerse yourself here, with bubbles and champers. Oh yes, can you feel it??

The on site restaurant Spice Central, gives you some pleasant dining options. Here you can choose table dining, or, perhaps you would like to interact with kitchen staff. In this case, choose the bar stools located around the open air kitchen. What a great way to become a part of your meal production process, without the work or the dishes!Highly suggest you pay this venue a visit. It really does tick those boxes. And for those looking to enjoy the many events on offer either at South Bank or in the city, then this location, will definitely suit your needs. Give it a test run, we are going back. Might see you there!

Outback Steakhouse – Aspley

With a refreshingly different style of menu presentation, the Outback Steakhouse provided us with a very pleasant venue for a Fathers Day treat. Once you realise the markings throughout the menu are actually part of it and not the scribbling from a previous patron, you will be somewhat amused!

Staff here will introduce themselves before tending to your table. Overall service was fine, and suited the location. Bar staff deliver the drinks whenever ordered and your wait staff often arrive out with trays to deliver your main meals.

Even when you are the driver for the day, the non alcoholic Mocktails are quite tasty. Yum to this thirst quenching Cherry Limeade!

There’s always a popular favourite entree, here, its the blooming onions. Onion pieces, encrusted in the Outback Steakhouses special recipe, these golden delights are handcrafted for your pleasure. No double dipping now….

This is quite filling, plus those blooming onions, really are quite moreish, you just cant help picking away. Well, I guess its not an everyday thing so once off is ok.

Steak meals abounded at our table, I mean, after all, this is a Steakhouse. This steak was quite eye catching, it really looked like a little loveheart. Rather cute.

Of course Dad is going to want the all in, ribs and steak, no surprises there!Too big a meal for me but hubby loved it and ate every tantalising morsel.

On this occasion I opted for the steak salad. Very happy to see a really good serving of steak covering the salad. Not only that, the steak was quite tender. An enjoyable dish, not too filling, not too light, and, yes you’re right, there were more blooming onions throughout the salad! Too easy to get addicted too!

Now Ive saved this photo for last, if you’re a burger lover, I think you are going to like this.Check out out this packed bun, bursting at the seams. A little note here too, those side salads. Not only pleasing to the eye but very appetising. They side salads exceeded expectation, a lot more than just lettuce mix.

Usually I’d finish with delectable dessert, but on this occasion, we were just too full. Ooops, but I guess you have to knock back on the calorie intake somewhere!

Outback has a number of locations, plus they offer pickup or delivery takeaway meals too. Drop in, its a nice experience. Let me know your thoughts.

Snapshot on Newcastle, NSW

As you fly into Newcastle airport, golden sands and clear blue waters stretch languidly beneath you. On this occasion the smoke haze from the many fires burning left a low fog, cloud impression as smoke drifted across the sea.

Only a very brief flight from Brisbane, it sure beats a 10 hour drive each way when time is limited.

Newcastle is morphing into its own true destination. Like a shy child who has found their identity, this seaside jewel is stretching its wings proudly for the world to see. And I believe we should be looking. There’s a light rail system being installed at the moment throughout the city, which, when finished, will be an added bonus to the area. Add that to all the construction and you can see this place is really growing. Its been a couple of years since we last stopped by here. This time, unfortunately was a very brief, less than 24 hour trip. Taking advantage of my Accor Plus membership, a booking at the fairly new Novotel Newcastle beach was organised. Take a look at this view! Shame in many ways we just didn’t have the time to sit and enjoy. Maybe next time.

And what a nice touch! On check in, Accor Plus members are given a little gift bag, containing drink vouchers, wifi and water. Very cool, just unfortunate we could not utilise those drinks vouchers on this occasion.

But, should you be looking to fill in some time, or enjoy a leisurely meal, highly recommend the superb Bar Petite. Right next to the Novotel, with charge back to your room, this bar was a fantastic place to catch up wth friends. The day we flew in cold winds left you searching for inside warmth, and we found it at Bar Petite.Their large share board was not only superb, but also filling. Delicious, garlic baguette, mince in lettuce cups, duck pieces, bratwurst sausage, and even sauerkraut, we enjoyed this intensely appetising foodie experience. Chef did well to produce this delectable delight.

With a lovely smiling, helpful and knowledgeable staff member, tending to our every need, this really was a wonderful place to spend an afternoon.We would definitely return to this bar next time we visit Newcastle. It certainly filled the spot for us with the hotel restaurant not opening for lunch.

There’s plenty of comfortable seating choices too, with couches or rustic wooden tables to choose from. Too cold on that particular day for the inviting little outside area, otherwise would have been a lovely spot to sit.

Our day ended with a function at Paymasters, an easy downhill walk from Novotel. We were upstairs in the awesome little function room on offer, sporting a long balcony and views across the harbour.

Staff were really helpful and I’m sure they would have been worn out, by the end of the evening going up and down the stairs. Not a bad way to get your steps up for the day!

Should you be considering a function in Newcastle, be sure to drop by and have a look. They have the restaurant downstairs as well, where you too could try some of these delectable dishes if you would prefer.

Our meal started with interesting little platters, full of focaccia, olives, dips and among other things, the most deliciously tasty popcorn ever!

Main meals followed with many tempting dishes on offer.Given we eat wth our eyes first, the presentation left you simply salivating. This steak meal was an absolute joy to eat. Every morsel was quite a treat.

Should you be visiting Newcastle, drop by these venues for a meal, drink or comfortable stay. Lasting memories are formed from places like these, dont be shy, drop on by!

More photos from this trip are on facebook/dinelivetravel and instagram @dinelivetravel. Enjoy!

Tips for your first day onboard

With a blast on the ships horn we head off on a short three night wine and food cruise, safely onboard P & O’s Pacific Dawn. Having only completed longer cruises, this quick little trip was going to be interesting. Ive been researching for questions from those who have never cruised, this article is number one in a little cruising series I’m going to do. Be interesting to see what you learn.

Let’s start with why we choose a cruise holiday over staying at a resort?

Because we love cruising and no matter what level cabin you choose, your holiday is as packed or chilled as you would like it to be. Everything is done for you. Accommodation, travel, meals and entertainment are all included, except for a few specialty restaurants or some activities onboard which have a surcharge. Added to which you have the bonus of a changing landscape, and, if you’re on one of the longer cruises, different ports to visit without having to pack and unpack.

P & O have a handy little login called cruise control which becomes available once you’ve booked. From this site, you can monitor your payments prepay and order onshore activities, purchase spa voucher/s, or pre order special packages. For instance birthday or special occasion package, or even a bucket of prawns and bottle of wine. Something for everyone. Your final cruise payment is 75 days prior to boarding. After this why not go in and prepay in the months leading up to your vacation, its really worthwhile.

Boarding procedures are the same, no matter what style of cruise. For those who think of they turn up a couple of hours prior to their boarding time they will board the ship early, don’t bother. You won’t. There’s a process starting with priority boarding, depending on your cabin choice. The lower value cabins board last, higher value first.

With priority boarding we were amongst the first keen cruisers to embark. Quickly drop your cabin to drop off hand luggage, meet the cabin stewards, these are the people who work at keeping your cabin clean and ensuring you have what you need, so look aft them.

Do not forget the onboard daily activities guide, (trust me on this one, that guide will become your lifeline), then head straight up on pool deck to the bar! Nothing like being first in line!

From here, consider your dining options and duck into Salt Grill to ensure you book any desired special evenings before their bookings fill up. After which, cruise by the Pantry for lunch. Choose your cuisine and staff will serve you. Gone is the old help yourself buffet, no more dirty spoons contaminating other foods. As a tip, the food on the other side of the buffet is the same as this side. Keep that in mind.

Peruse the activities guide whilst partaking of a leisurely lunch. Eventually, time to leave the table and head off to the entrance to Waterfront restaurant. Here, put names down for activity bookings, or dinner reservations. As a side note, you could enjoy lunch here too which is an a al carte menu, with sit down service. A tip here, you will need to reserve your dining space for the evening meal if you wish to dine at the Waterfront. The Pantry does not require bookings, just go on in whenever you are hungry. They are only closed a couple of hours throughout the day.

For the Waterfront, Breakfast and lunch are walk ins, however dinner is pre booked only. Same applies to specialty restaurants onboard, for example Salt Grill, all which must be booked in advance.

Swing back past the cabin, pick up the life jackets, and work out your muster station. Trust me, yes you need these jackets today. If its a beautiful day, head back up on the pool deck whilst you wait for all passengers to embark and the ship to set sail.

Of course if you are one of the last ones to board, my tip to you would be to head straight to the cabin, pick up your life jacket and keep it with you until the drill begins.

Once all are on board, everyone has to present to their muster station, including crew, for the mandatory emergency drill. This is where you must have your life jacket. Your cruise card is scanned so they do know who is there. Don’t be the person holding everyone else’s holiday up trying to get out of it, the crew will find you.

Formalities over its time to drop those life jackets off and enjoy your time on this floating resort!

Now you explore, drink in hand if you so wish. Check out the bars, the spaces, spa, gym, adults only area. If you spend your first afternoon orientating yourself to the ships facilities and their location, it will make your onboard life so much easier…..Work out where your favourite spot might be, there’s so many comfy areas to choose from. For the smokers, there will be one corner of seats allocated up on pool deck plus usually one side of ship around a middle deck. Strictly no smoking anywhere else, including your balconies.

Remember that activities guide? Yes? Well make sure you take some time each day to go through tomorrow’s guide and work out what you’d like to do. The guide will appear in your cabin mailbox each afternoon/evening. The choices in this four page publication are phenomenal. Some activities are free, some have a charge. Another tip, if you like a drink, sign up for the cocktail making or tasting classes, They are great value.For the wine drinker, this is the most expensive drink on board. On 7 day or longer cruises, consider the drink packages, they do represent good value. Another option is to prepay and preorder packages prior to boarding.

On our short cruise, I had three bottles of wine included in packages we ordered, already paid for, with some delivered to cabin before we boarded, others arrive when you ordered your package to be delivered to your cabin.

One last question for this article, what sort of cabin should we have booked? My answer, entirely up to you. But, consider why you are going cruising. If, like us, you like to have some quiet time away from it all, then yes highly recommend a balcony. We love to sit for a an hour or two each day and just chill out in privacy.

But, if you’re a party animal or some one with kids who will always be on the go, then go the cheaper inside cabins, you’re not going to be spending any time there anyway so what pay for the balcony privilege if you don’t need it.

Enjoy your cruise! Watch out for the next in this little series and comment any questions you would like answered!

Luke Mangans Salt Grill – P & O Cruises Pacific Dawn

May I have your attention please! T bone Steak for two from our favourite fine dining restaurant. As I started with the Chefs Table, let’s continue with the dining on this series of cruising blogs.

Why is this our favourite fall back, fine dining experience? Well has a lot to do with service, atmosphere, food quality, but, I think it also comes down to the fact, a visit here usually means we are indulging in a cruise break.

The service here goes above and beyond, to the point that if you treat yourself more than once on the same cruise, staff will remember you and your favourite drinks. The job of the staff is make you relax, and enjoy an meal which is not just a meal, but an entire experience in itself. Is it worth the cover charge per person? Well yes, we believe it is.

Every meal is going to commence with this delightful bread starter. You then choose, your appetiser, entree, main and desert.

Now I suggest you decide before boarding your cruise, if you have any important nights you wish to celebrate with a fine dining meal, or, any evenings you feel might be best for you to dine out. Make a Salt Grill booking when you board, either by dropping past the restaurant, or calling in your booking from your cabin. Be advised though, many people like to call through bookings upon boarding, we find it much quicker and easier to head to the restaurants direct to make our bookings. When you book, staff will enquire as to allergies of any patrons at your table. Be sure to advise as they are very careful to ensure those with allergies are looked after too.

Through the softly veiled windows, we were treated to superb horizon sunset. Order from the drinks menu, take your drinks in from the bar if you still have them in hand. We had preordered some packages which included a bottle of wine in the weeks prior to the cruise, hence myself arriving with the ice bucket and bottle in hand! No problem doing that either.

Tempura prawns and carpaccio pictured above. It’s really very difficult to describe the dishes as they are all simply superb. Upon ordering you will have been asked to order sides for your table. There’s quite a selection to choose from, don’t be shy! Order to ensure there are sides enough for everyone.We always say if the sides are for one or both of us. We don’t often share sides as we both have different preferences, hence advising the staff so we are not inundated with plates of sides.Dessert is always a nice finish to the your dining experience. If you can fit it in!

Another tip for this restaurant, let them know when booking if you want to take your time to dine. Staff are trying to accomodate many different bookings, you need to be fair to the staff and clear on your intentions.

We have referred a number of cruisers to Salt Grill, every one of them has always enjoyed and remarked on on the outstanding ambiance, food quality and service.

I’m hoping one day to run into Luke Mangan himself on one of the cruises. As a hint I hear he does tend to favour the shorter food & wine cruises. One day we hope to have the opportunity to personally thank Luke. We have probably dined more than a dozen different times now, and still the experience does not wear thin.

Well done to Luke and the staff. You all do a fantastic job!

An Exclusive Chefs Table Showcase – P & O Cruises (Pacific Dawn)

So much to tell you about, I really don’t know where to start!

Firstly, we have just enjoyed our first short cruise, a mini break. Wow! After having always cruised on longer holidays, this one was a superb, refreshing, clear the mind sort of cruise. Oh and did I mention the theme was Food & Wine…aaah wonderful!

Ive decided to start with the Exclusive Chefs table dinner we attended. Limited to 14 lucky cruisers, my first mission onboard the ship was to book. First names down, nailed it!Yes there is a cover charge, yes it is over $100 per person, BUT! the charge does include the matching wines, superb food, with everything fully explained by your wonderful hosts.

On this occasion, we were fortunate to have our culinary creative Chef, Prue Daly who started out with the purchase of a unique inverted bakery in Deagon Qld. Prue had partnered with Peter Gross who was representing Black Pearl Epicure, Brisbane, and last but definitely not least, Tim Davidson representing Wirra Wirra Wines, South Australia.Located near the entry of the Waterfront restaurant, a wonderful wall of wine, provided the backdrop for this highly anticipated evening.

Our hosts were not only engaging, extremely informative, but also very entertaining. The three personalities blended well and provided the guests with an outstanding evening. A mention here to the staff, both back and front of house. Their skills and assistance were above and beyond expectation, for that, I give you a big thank you!Lets get down to the business at hand, indulging in this delicious degustation feast.

Our starter dish consisted of oysters, au naturel. Simple, yet eye catching presentation, they did pair wonderfully with Wirra Wirra’s Hiding Champion Sauvignon Blanc. Prue offered a little tip here, try one of the oysters after pouring a little bit of the Sauvignon Blanc over it. She was right! This completely changed the taste of the oyster compared to the first one. Try it sometime, with this particular wine, it really was a superb little experiment.

The pale straw colour of the wine, with the odd glimpse of green, added to a bouquet bursting with lime, passion fruit, grapefruit and gooseberry, created a wonderful mix, which saw lime juice, enliven the mouth, finishing eventually with the grassy lemon and fruity palate. Yes, I’ve spend a bit of time describing this wine, as you will find it paired with a couple more dishes on this menu.

We moved onto the Chicken Pate and Goats curd. Hiding beneath the thick layer of melted butter, which, as Prue advised, was entirely your choice of eating or moving aside to indulge in the mouthwatering pate lurking underneath. The butter was to provide an interesting touch to presentation. Most certainly did that, with its bright colour and smooth finish.

The light, creamy texture of the goats curd, provided a fresh, clean flavour to match the delicious pate. Team this with the Hiding Champion Sauvignon Blanc, and we have another winning dish.Beautifully soft Gorgonzola Gnocchi followed, delivering a wow factor to the taste buds and teaming exceptionally well with the Scrubby Rise Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon, hinting at mulberry, dried herbs and raspberry. A bold wine, enhanced by the delicious creamy, cheese enriched gnocchi. Another superb match, perfectly showcasing the produce of all our hosts.

Time to cleanse the palate. Exactly what this Green Bean, Cow Feta, Hazelnut and Fennel Salad was designed to do. Would have to say, this delightfully simple dish, served its purpose well. Enticing cow feta, followed by the soft fennel salad and finished with a crunch of green bean and hazelnut, was just superb. Match this with the zesty lime of the Hiding Champion Sauvignon Blanc and again we race past the winners post!

Palates now cleansed, we moved on to the main dish of the evening. A wonderfully superb Peppered Lamb rack , resting on a Wild Mushroom and Leek Risotto. The intense, ripe tannins of the blended Church Block Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz Merlot, boldly marched on the palate, providing an extra zest to the succulent peppered lamb and superbly blended softness of the risotto.

How did we finish? Well by now everyone was overflowing with an overwhelming amount of good food & wine, as well as great company. Wth much laughter, hilarity and camaraderie, we moved on to the final dish.Time for the sweet, savoury finish. The visually appealing Berry Cheesecake tasted as good as it looked! Simply delicious! Paired with the deep golden sweetness of the Margan Botrytis Semillon, the burst of berries from the creamy cheesecake was certainly an awesome finish to what can only be described as a superb meal and evening.

But wait there’s more! Black Pearl Epicure supplied some vastly different cheese blends to end the meal. Cream and a dash of sharpness were really the final taste sensations of the evening.

Thank you to our engaging hosts who provided us all with a superb evening of insider knowledge, wining, dining and hilarious entertainment. Support all of their businesses, and don’t forget to book yourself in to this awesome opportunity on your next cruise.

We received a copy of Prue’s the Grass Tree Kitchen Cookbook, autographed by all three hosts, a special copy of the menu and a wonderful group photo to keep the memory alive.

Oh for those of us celebrating our special day, a surprise little plate!

Make sure you treat yourself! Not only are you creating an enriching memory, these experiences are great for the soul!

Corner Store Cafe – Toowong, Brisbane

Open the gate, come on in. Welcome to the Corner Store Cafe!

Always enjoy seeing the fresh garden produce available to chefs. Not all venues have the room, however as our city rapidly expands. Refreshing plots of fresh produce at your choice of cafe or restaurant, gives you that relaxing vibe. It really does just wash over you in one of those aaah moments!

Sharp eyes will have noted this venue is cycle friendly. There’s rack room out the front of the gates under the beautiful umbrella shaped tree, and, on a Sunday, plenty of parking in the streets around. Or, a private little table where you and your bike can enjoy an awesome coffee or top up your energy levels with food.

Note the subtle green blanket on the chair back. not something you see often in Brisbane, however a nice touch for those chilly, pre stunning day, winter mornings.

Somewhat out of the box, but today my choice was this superbly creamy apple & cinnamon porridge, topped with tasty berries, strawberry compote and a most delicious, macadamia crumble. Presentation was superb, I mean, end of the day, this is porridge right?? But, to make a porridge look and taste this appetising, takes some talent.

Should you have a preference for greens, why not try the green bowl. Add a side of salmon if that is to your taste. Again, presentation superb!

I must mention the staff. Not only were they were smartly dressed, all were friendly and happy to oblige. Finished dishes were cleared in reasonable speed and no request was a problem.Perhaps your preference is chorizo. This chorizo and potato hash was a delightful dance on the tastebuds. If you are a chorizo fan, give it a try. Most likely something you will not only enjoy, but savour.

Last, but not least, sweet potato waffles paired with a curried savoury mince, and an added side of delicious bacon. Superb pop of added colour with the beetroot!

Coffee, I’m told was superb. I can definitely confirm the Sri Lankan, honeydew green was a very nice tea choice.

Drop by here, they are well worth the visit. Should you feel the need the need to dispose of the breakfast calories, there are tennis courts across the road! Or just bring your bike.