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Foodvixen Does Europe (Day 5) – Polignano A Mare

Our last day in Rome we decided that we hadn’t quite had enough of the Burrata and Pesto pizza at Antico Forno Roscioli so we met our friends there that were also staying nearby and yeah, well, let’s just say we had pizza for breakfast. Afterwards we all made our way to the airport to catch an afternoon flight. Not sure if I have mentioned it already but we are all actually in Europe for a good friends wedding. Many of us have flown over from Australia to attend the wedding which is in London next weekend, so obviously we decided to make a bit of a holiday out of it.


More pizza porn

We were meeting more friends in Polignano A Mare, a small seaside town in the city of Bari in Puglia for a bit of pre-wedding drinking, eating and relaxing. Puglia is well known for a few things, most importantly Taralli – a savoury biscuit shaped a bit like mini donut that I nicknamed the Italian Jatz because of their addictive nature. Secondly, Puglia is known for its Burrata. Some of the best Burrata in the world comes from Puglia and in both Rome and Florence I found menus with Burrata from Puglia on it. And thirdly the small little round pasta known as Orecchiette is also famously from Puglia.


Some Orecchiette I had during my time in Polignano that strangely tasted like Spaghetti Oops (or that may have been the 1 Aperol Spritz and 3 Negroni’s I drank beforehand)


When we arrived at Bari airport the five of us collected our  two rental cars with MS and I upgrading from our Toyota Yaris to a Renault Clio. It was cheap to upgrade and the Clio had built in Navman. Funnily enough our friends upgraded from their Alfa Romeo Giuletta to a Ford Mondeo wagon which proved to be an extremely bad idea when we arrived in Polignano to find the narrowest streets in existence. Thankfully both cars got away from the trip unscathed but only because of some absolute standout driving from both MS and the Ford Mondeo driver, PS.


This photo does not do the narrow streets of Polignano justice!

The town of Polignano A Mare is one of the prettiest little places that I have ever had the opportunity to visit. It is a quaint little town with a labyrinth of laneways filled with restaurants, cafes, shops and breathtaking lookouts over the Adriatic Sea. Unbeknown to us before we arrived Polignano was also gearing up for their second ever hosting of the Red Bull Cliff Jumping competition. Had we known that we probably would have stayed a couple more days but we had flights booked to leave the day before the competition began. I don’t want to ramble on too much about Polignano because to be honest, it’s all a bit of a blur of drinking and repetitive pasta and pizza eating so I am going to try and condense it into one (or two posts).


What Polignano A Mare is famous for!

On the first night in Polignano we checked into our Airbnb (La Casetta Nel Vico) and reunited with our friends at their Airbnb which wasn’t far from ours. We made our way to a popular little cocktail bar called La Casa Del Mojito down one of the laneways. There wasn’t much to it… a few metal stools to outside to sit on and some nearby steps but man did they do good, cheap cocktails! 7 Euros for a huge selection of cocktails that were certainly not stingy on the pours. I started on the Aperol Spritz and moved onto the Negroni’s which wasn’t the smartest move since I hadn’t eaten since my breakfast pizza. Over the next four days we visited a couple more times. La Casa Del Mojito was a definite highlight of our time in Polignano.


La Casa Del Mojito

During our stay in Polignano we dined at so many places that it really is just a blur for me now but I do have a few highlights. Fresh seafood is the name of the game in Puglia and there is a tonne of seafood places to eat. Il Pescato was on my radar after it was recommended to me by our Airbnb host Francesco however since much of the group (there was 9 of us) weren’t the biggest seafood eaters so 5 of us made a booking for lunch while the rest fended for themselves. The Grilled Swordfish on the menu was only 9 Euros (an absolute steal) so most of the table ordered that as a starter. It was freshly caught, perfectly grilled and with a squeeze of lemon over the top… Bliss!


Grilled Swordfish

I had the Tagniollini with Clams, Red Prawns, Squid and Fava Bean Puree. Fava bean puree with pasta is a first for me but hopefully not the last!


Tagniollini with Clams, Red Prawns, Squid and Fava Bean Puree

I sampled my fair share of pastas over the week with plenty of memorable ones and some not so memorable ones however the best one for me was at a restaurant called La Locanda Porta Picc. The Spaghetti with Seafood or as they say in Italy ‘Spaghettoni ai Frutti di Mare’, which sounds far better than the English version was a standout for me and the others at the table that ordered it. You can’t beat the simple flavours of top quality olive oil and garlic with freshly made pasta and seafood caught that very day!


Spaghettoni ai Frutti di mare – The best seafood pasta I had in Italy

I did really want to go to the Grotto Palazzese (a restaurant built inside a cave) but after reading some reviews about it and looking at the price of the menu I decided that it wasn’t really worth it at all. It seem you’re really just paying for the view and no doubt it’s amazing but I don’t need to spend 40 Euro per dish just to look at a view like that. I mean I work on a ship so that kind of thing isn’t all that foreign to me. Plus according to many a review the food wasn’t spectacular and the service was woeful so yeah, nah.


This is as close as I got to the Grotto Palazzese

Polignano is a popular spot for Italian’s that want a seaside holiday where they can lie on the beach in the sun and work on their golden tans. The actual beach at Polignano absolutely tiny. There are so many people crammed into one little spot, it’s quite a contrast to what we are used to in Australia. Not to mention that but the beach is also mostly rock. The ones in the know have special plastic slip on shoes that they wear to walk on the beach and swim in the water – kind of like a cross between a Croc and a reef walking boot. We missed the memo on that one so ended up painstakingly making our way in and out of the water. I also found the beach to be quite dirty. The Italians love a good cigarette and there is no shortage of cigarette butts littering the tiny beach. We even found a sanitary napkin right where we decided to lay our towels which just grossed me out and made me wonder what else was hiding amongst the rocks.


Polignano A Mare

Earlier that day we took the car north to find a sandier type beach about 7km away at the town of Monopoli. What we found didn’t really qualify as my idea of a beach and the large red graffiti on the seawall that said ‘Die Bitch’ was also slightly disconcerting so we had lunch and headed back to Polignano. Other friends had also been scouting for a good swimming spot and found somewhere just north of the main beach in Polignano where we spent a bit more time. I think we are pretty spoilt in Australia in terms of beaches and space as it sure is a premium over here.


The beach in Monopoli wasn’t so great

We had a fabulous 4 days in Polignano A Mare.  In fact it makes me kind of sad that it’s all now just a memory – a much treasured one at that. Afternoons on the terrace with Aperol Spritz’s, cheese and white anchovies and good friends is certainly something I could get used to but sadly all good things must come to an end. Next up Florence….


A cute Nonna I took a photo of doing tapestry right near our Airbnb

Foodvixen Does Europe (Rome) – Day 4

We didn’t have anything in particular planned for our fourth day in Rome which just so happened to be a Sunday.  Apparently quite a few restaurants and cafes were closed on Sunday’s.  At least all the ones I wanted to go to were anyway.  But after reading a few reviews and one in particular by Katie Parla (a New Jersey born, Rome based blogger) I had my sights firmly set on De Cesare Al Casaletto, just outside of the main part of Rome.  According to her blog Cesare is the place that she takes journalists that want to write about pasta and also where she takes Roman friends.  Sounds pretty near perfect to me and they were open on a Sunday so I asked reception at our hotel to book a table for four for that very evening.


Some random graffiti near our hotel that I thought was worthy of a photo


Earlier in the day we explored more of the city and I took us on a wild detour to find a gelato shop that had been recommended to me (again thanks Johanna).  Il Come Latte seemed a little off the beaten track as it was out of the main tourist areas and we found ourselves to be the only ones around which made me wonder if we had taken a wrong turn.  Turns out we did find it and my navigating was on point as usual.  Il Come Latte Gelateria was the cutest little gelato shop I think I have ever seen.  Very Pleasantville if you have ever seen that movie with Reece Witherspoon.  The menu was in Italian so we really didn’t know what all the flavours were but I was able to make out a couple of words including Pistachio and Ricotta so that’s what I ordered.  The inside of the handmade waffle cone was also drizzled with white chocolate (you could get milk chocolate if you prefer) with a chocolate dipped wafter chip on top.  Perfecto!  The server was lovely, even gave MS a warm cloth to wipe chocolate sauce off his shorts.


After our gelato we found ourselves back at the Colosseum eatery that we had eaten at on our first full day in Rome – Angelino Ai Fori – for a late lunch.  I had the Caprese Salad with some Bruschetta and MS had the Grilled Provola Cheese with Smoked Ham that we’d previously had.


My Bruschetta – would you look at those tomatoes?!



My mediocre Caprese Salad


We both thought the Grilled Cheese was pretty epic but my Caprese Salad was only ok.  For such a big and busy restaurant the waiter remembered us and was super friendly in his own brash Italian way.


Grilled Provola with Smoked Ham


Back to our hotel for a costume change and then off on the no.8 tram to head to De Cesare Al Casetto.  Upon arrival I had a look at the wine menu which seemed ridiculously expensive me.  Even my Google Translate app didn’t offer up any help so I asked the waitress if the prices were for a glass of wine.  She assured me that all the prices were for bottles of wine.  Phew.  15 Euro for a bottle of white Italian wine?  Winning!


One of the dishes Cesare is known for is the Fried Gnocchi with Pecorino and Black Pepper Sauce so that’s exactly what we ordered for our starter.  When it came out it was far bigger than I expected and it turns out the four of us probably could have just shared the one dish.  I could see why it’s a popular dish.  Mmmm it was delicioso!


Fried Gnocchi with Pecorino and Black Pepper


For my main (or as they call it First Course) I had the Tonnarelli All’Amatricana (9 or 10 Euros).  Two of my dining buddies ordered the same and the other ordered the Carbonara.  There was a slight mix up with the type of pasta that we received but that can only be attributed to the small language barrier.

Oh My Goodness… The Cured Pork Cheek was just to die for! This pasta was something special and to date the best pasta I have eaten on my journey so far, in fact the four of us all agree that our pasta dishes are the best we have eaten.


Tonnarelli All’Amatricana


This was also our last night in Rome so dinner at Cesare was a fitting end to what was a fantastic four days in Rome.  I honestly didn’t think I would like Rome, visiting mostly because it has quite a few ‘must see’ places that one needs to visit in their lifetime (i.e. Colosseum, the Pantheon and the Sistine Chapel) however I really enjoyed my time there, despite much of the city smelling like p*ss, and would love to go back again one day.

Foodvixen Does Europe (Rome) – Day 3

Today we woke up early because we had an earlyish tour of the Vatican City, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica.


St Peter’s Basicila – the sheer size of the place is unbelievable

When we arrived at the gates to the Vatican Museum to meet our tour group I was so glad that I had booked the Skip the Line tickets because the line just to get in was absolutely enormous.  Not just that but inside was mayhem.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many crammed into such small spaces before.  Anyhow I am glad that we made the time to do the tour – it was three hours but our guide was incredibly knowledgeable even if she did talk for the entire three hours without taking a breath.  Sadly I wasn’t able to get any pictures of the Sistine Chapel.  The place is under strict copyright from a Japanese Film Company that apparently paid to have the place cleaned some 20 years ago.  That didn’t stop plenty of idiots sneakily taking photos and having the guards yell at them.  It annoys me that people are too wrapped up in their phones that they can’t stop to appreciate something anymore.


Inside St Peter’s Basilica


After the tour we had time to go up to the dome of the Vatican and see the view but we decided three hours of statues and marble was enough and it was clearly time for lunch.  We made our way back to Trastevere near our hotel and to a bakery that I had been dying to get to that was literally about 30 metres from the restaurant we had dined at the night before.


They come thick and fast for the pizza at Antico Forno Roscioli


Upon arriving we were greeted with slabs of the most beautiful fresh pizzas I have ever laid my eyes on.  The brash lady behind the counter pointed to the most popular which was the Burrata and Pesto Pizza.  Without a doubt we were getting that one plus a few slices of the Burrata with Tomato and of course something with meat on it for the meat eater that I live with.


Decisions, decisions…


It was beautiful.  In fact I have to say it was the best pizza I have even eaten.  Beautiful thick, crunchy bread, unbelievable fresh toppings and generous serves for the price.  After finishing the first lot we decided we could definitely fit in another couple of slices of the Burrata and Pesto.  I mean we had been walking all morning so technically we deserved it right?


Burrata and Pesto Pizza from Antico Forno Roscioli could in fact well be the best pizza I’ve ever eaten


After a short siesta we met some friends that were also in Rome for some afternoon drinks on the rooftop terrace of our hotel.  15 Euros for an Aperol Spritz (that’s AUD$22) almost made me choke on my complimentary chips but it was such a nice spot to sit we figured we would have one.  To put it in perspective in the SE of Italy where I am now they are only 5 Euro.


Our AUD$22 Aperol Spritz’s


For dinner we took our friends to the pizzeria that we visited on the first night, Dar Poeta.  Since it was still technically early in terms of Roman time for eating (7pm) we walked straight in and got a table for four.  I probably didn’t need the two pieces of Gorgonzola and Honey Bruschetta before eating a whole pizza but hey I’m not going to feel bad about it anymore.


Olive, Salami and Gorgonzola Bruschetta


Dinner for me was the Super Bufala with tomato sauce, artichokes, buffalo mozzarella, olives and pecorino cheese.  The olives were a bit of a let down but the rest of the pizza was tip top.  We overstayed our welcome a little bit catching up with our friends that we hadn’t seen in 6 months until I finally understood what the waitress was glaring at me about and we cleared out.  Turns out there was a tonne of people outside waiting for a table.


My Super Bufala Pizza


We wandered down to a touristy area with marquees set up alongside the Tiber River and realised it was way too touristy for us.  Heineken signs and stuffed toys was the name of the game in this area so we didn’t stay very long.  As we were leaving we saw what MS swore was a cat swimming in the Tiber.  Upon further Googling it turns out it was a Nutria (a type of rodent but a bloody huge one)… Stay tuned for my next post!


Tiber River

Foodvixen Does Europe (Rome) – Day 2

We woke bright and early on our first full day in Rome, partly because my pillow was like sleeping on a bag of cement and partly because I can’t go to bed without an alarm set regardless if I’m on holiday.  We had a light breakfast in the hotel, well I did.  Espresso coffee and some fruit was plenty for me whereas old Fatty McFat Fat aka my other half stuffed himself with danishes, croissants filled with cream cheese, ham, fruit and more cheese.


Brekkie view in the garden at our hotel – Hotel Ponte Sisto


We had a Skip the Line Tour booked at the Colosseum booked for later that afternoon but figured we would go and see a few of the other sights before then.  Campo Dei Fiori where there was so many delicious things I wanted to buy but figured I am going to be in Florence later next week, then the Pantheon which we literally stumbled upon.  It’s a pretty awe inspiring place especially when you just stumble around the corner not expecting to see it.  Next up the Trevi Fountain.  We threw a couple of Euro over our shoulder – apparently there is more than 3000 Euro thrown into it a day.  God knows where it all goes but a good friend of mine said that last time she was there she saw a homeless lady fishing some of it out with a pole with a magnet on the end.  I must say I’m impressed with her ingenuity and DGAF attitude.


By this time it was about lunchtime so after a toilet stop – and by toilet stop I mean having a coffee at a café with the ingenious disguise of wanting to use their restroom we found ourselves near the Colosseum at Angelino ai Fori – a restaurant within close proximity to the start of our tour.  It did look like a bit of a tourist trap and considering how close it was to the Colosseum it most likely was but it was the best looking restaurant in the area so we gave it a go anyway.  Are expectations were extremely low but we actually really enjoyed it and even went back a second time a couple of days later.  Go figure.


Antipasti and Aperol Spritz for lunch at Angelino ai Fori

Three and a bit hours later we finished our epic Colosseum tour and headed back towards our hotel with a short stop at a restaurant that I well and truly had my sights set on, hoping to get a seat.  The waitress told us that the place was completely booked for the evening much to my despair but said we could come back in 45 minutes and try our luck.  45 minutes later and boy was I lucky.  Straight in and straight to an upstairs table at the highly regarded Roscioli.

My sister gave me a book called “Where Chef’s Eat” a couple of years ago (there’s a new edition every year) and I finally decided that I would have a look through it before this holiday.  I earmarked a heap of restaurants, cafes and patisseries in the places we were visiting and Roscioli was one them.  After doing some Googling there isn’t a blogger that comes to Rome that doesn’t go to Roscioli so as they say, when in Rome.


Love this cooking philosophy from the opening page of the menu at Roscioli

The menu is literally mouthwatering!  There were so many things on the menu that I wanted to eat and still now I am kicking myself for not getting the burrata (some of the best in Rome) but our entrée of Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Roman Oxtail Stew and Peppered with White Cheese Fondue washed down with a glass of Italian Pinot Noir was a decadent and tear inducing hot start to our dinner.


Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Roman Oxtail Stew and Peppered with White Cheese Fondue


Main for me was the Big Spaghetti with Albacore Tuna Marrow, Wild Fennel, Minced Tomatoes and Olives (19 Euro).


MS had La Carbonara with Crispy Cheek Pork, Malaisian Black Pepper, Paolo Parisi Eggs and Roman Pecorino Cheese Dop.


In the menu it states that all pasta dishes are cooked ‘al dente’ which is a little hard for my liking but again ‘when in Rome’.  Plus I don’t believe in changing dishes at restaurants.  You eat them how they are meant to be cooked and served.  So far this is our one and only pasta meal in Rome so we really have nothing to compare it to however my tastebuds know a good meal when they taste it and they were beyond content.

I am glad that I did some research of places that I wanted to dine at before we visited Rome because to me it seems like there are more tourist traps that great places to dine.  It does take a little bit of time to research but it’s so much more rewarding finding the hidden gems.  Plus it saves aimlessly walking in circles trying to decide which place to go to.  As for Roscioli, some reviews have said that the restaurant is too squishy inside but I actually really enjoyed the atmosphere and layout of the place plus being that close to the table next to us admittedly allowed me to eavesdrop on the miserable American couple next to us that clearly weren’t having a great holiday together.  The pasta was excellent, the service I found to be exemplary.  Whether this trip or another Roscioli is somewhere that I without a doubt want to go back to!

Foodvixen Does Europe (Rome) – Day 1

I have been meaning to get my webpage up and running again and what better time to do it than when I am on holidays?  Europe has never really been high on my list of places to visit.  Just ask my best friend SS who has been trying to get me over for close 7 years I reckon.  Now she’s getting hitched in London in a few weeks time and I find myself at Brisbane International Airport at 5am boarding a plane to Rome.  It’s not that I never wanted to visit Europe, I guess I just had a few places that I wanted to visit beforehand but now we’re making a holiday of it!


Breakfast in the Emirates Lounge at Brisbane International Airport

Fast forward about 24 hours – 14 ish hours spent on the plane from Brisbane to Dubai where neither MS nor I slept a wink and then another 5.5 hours from Dubai to Rome.  To say it was a long trip would be an understatement and whomever said that flying with Emirates is amazing must have rocks in their head because I have had better service on Jetstar (not even kidding).


Mini Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Bagels also from the Emirates Lounge at Brisbane International Airport

We waited a ridiculously long time at Immigration, grabbed our suitcases and made for the train station.  Catching trains in a foreign country I find is always a bit of a risk.  You never really know if you’re on the right train until you actually pull up at the station and breath a small sigh of relief knowing that – yes you got on the right train and yes it was going in the right direction.  Another short taxi ride and we were at our hotel in Travestere, Hotel Ponte Sisto.  If you’re coming to Rome anytime soon I definitely recommend it.  It seems to be very well positioned to see all the sights in Rome plus most importantly very close to some of the restaurants and cafe’s that I wanted to visit.

Dinner was next on the agenda so we found ourselves at popular pizzeria Dar Poeta, only a 10 minute walk from our hotel.  As I said it’s a popular choice amongst the locals and tourists so we put our name on the list at the door and within 10 minutes we had a seat inside away from the wafts of cigarette smoke from the outdoor diners.  Pizza was the name of the game at Dar Poeta and after reading through the extensive menu we ordered a pizza each, some still water and half a carafe of white house wine.  The place was buzzing with people and it was packed to the rafters but our pizza arrived within about 15 minutes.


Despite eating plane food all day and stuffing ourselves in the Emirates Business Class Lounge in Dubai we were still quite hungry.  I ordered the Bufala – Tomato Sauce, Cherry Tomatoes, Mozzarella Cheese and Basil for the bargain price of only 9 euros while MS chose the Rustica – Mozzarella Cheese, Speck, Potatoes and Soft Cheese (also 9 euros).  I don’t like to describe the food too much because I think the picture kind of speaks for itself.  Yes it was as good as it looks.


Bufala – Tomato Sauce, Cherry Tomatoes, Mozzarella Cheese and Basil (9 Euros)

We loved Dar Poeta so much – awesome prices, delicious food and a buzzing atmosphere – that we are seriously considering going back again.  I’ve heard so many people complain about the simplicity of food in Italy but I think simplicity is often the key to good food because it ensures fresh, quality ingredients and that really rung true to me after our first meal in Italy at Dar Poeta.

Perotta’s At The Gallery, Cairns


I’ve been to Perotta’s At The Gallery a million and one times for breakfast and lunch but I’ve only been there once for dinner way back in about 2004.  After a long day in transit on my way home from the NT capital, MS picked me up at the airport and after deciding that neither of us wanted to cook – who am I kidding MS doesn’t cook! – we headed to Perotta’s for dinner.  With my Entertainment Book Gold Card offering me ‘buy one get one free’ main meals I figured now was a good a time as any to try out the dinner menu.

The place was about ½ full when we arrived so we chose a seat near the entrance closest to the lagoon. We ordered wine to celebrate the first time seeing each other in 4 weeks and had a squiz at the menus. The menu at Perotta’s has something to suit most people with plenty of variety and not just your standard run of the mill boring dishes. My go to dish when I go there for lunch is the Chilli Salt Squid Salad and although that is featured on the dinner menu I figured it might be time to branch out.

An previously posted pic of the Chilli Salt Squid Salad with Roast Pumpkin, Spiced Popcorn, Pomegranate and Rocket ($21)

A previously posted pic of the Chilli Salt Squid Salad with Roast Pumpkin, Spiced Popcorn, Pomegranate and Rocket ($21)

To start with we ordered the Garlic Bruschetta with Fresh Ricotta, Mint and Calabrian Chilli (AU$9) and the Burrata Caprese with Heirloom Tomato, Watermelon, Rocket Pesto and Raspberry Vinegar (AU$21). MS asked me what Burrata was and thinking I was all sophisticated and smart I told him that it was a type of Cured Italian Meat. Boy did we get a surprise when it the Burrata arrived at our table a short while later – a good surprise though! Turns out Bresaola is the Italian Cured Meat that I’d gotten confused with and Burrata is actually an Italian Cheese. Pfft I totally knew that.


The Burrata Caprese with Heirloom Tomato, Watermelon, Rocket Pesto and Raspberry Vinegar (AU$21) and the Garlic Bruschetta with Fresh Ricotta, Mint and Calabrian Chilli (AU$9)

In all honesty the Garlic Bruschetta wasn’t really anything to write home about but it was actually perfect for mopping up the last bits of Burrata and Rocket Pesto. I’m normally hesitant to eat watermelon since I was a little kid and my dad told me a watermelon vine was going to grow in my stomach after I swallowed a seed.  Thanks dad, way to scar me for life and now I absolutely refuse to eat any type of grape (unless in wine) or watermelon (even the ‘seedless’ variety). The Burrata with juicy Heirloom Tomatoes was a beautiful and tasty dish that we both enjoyed.  It was a great start to the night – I highly recommend this one.

Mmm that Burrata

Mmm that Burrata

Next up for our mains MS had ordered the Pork Spare Ribs with Fennel, Apple Cider Vinegar and Pickled Pineapple (AU$37) which came with a big bowl of chips and I had the 8 Hour Lamb Shoulder, 3 Wheat Salad, Almond, Mint, Pomegranate and Spicy Cumin Yogurt (AU$36).

MS’ Pork Spare Ribs were literally falling off the bone – the way ribs should be IMO – and were covered in a delicious tangy glaze. The Pickled Pineapple was nice but needed to be pickled just that little bit longer. We both thought the serving size was a little bit small for $37 but MS was pretty full by the time he polished them off.


Pork Spare Ribs with Fennel, Apple Cider Vinegar and Pickled Pineapple (AU$37)

My 8 Hour Lamb Shoulder was super tasty albeit a little on the small side for the price ($36). The added crunchy strips of bacon/pancetta/prosciutto whatever the hell it was really added to the dish. Despite the size of the dish I actually struggled to finish it. I find rich cuts of meat like Lamb Shoulder, Lamb Shanks and Beef Cheeks fill me up really quick and I can’t eat a whole lot although I want to. Give me Garlic Bread however and I can eat that carby goodness till the cows come home!  We wanted to stick around for dessert especially after I spotted the Eton Mess on the Dessert Menu (the only one I know of in town) but we just couldn’t fit it in.


8 Hour Lamb Shoulder, 3 Wheat Salad, Almond, Mint, Pomegranate and Spicy Cumin Yogurt (AU$36)

It’s got to be the number one place in Cairns for people watching – with wine of course! The wait staff are very friendly and professional, in fact it’s consistently one of the better places in Cairns in terms of service (something Cairns is usually lacking in). I do find that the food, particularly the mains, are a little expensive for what you get and this is something that seems to be reiterated in other online reviews I’ve read. Nearly 20 years of good food and service is certainly a mean feat in this small town. According to their website Perotta’s (as the locals like to call it) has been around since 1997 would you believe? Yes I was a little surprised by that too so I guess you could also call this place a bit of a Cairns institution – seems I’m using that word a lot these days.

Perotta’s At The Gallery

38 Abbott St, Cairns QLD 4870.  Ph: (07) 40315899

Opening Hours: 7 days a week 6.30am – 10pm

Rusty’s Markets, Cairns


I have been meaning to put up this post for quite some time now. As sappy as it may sound it holds a special place in my heart because it is such a big part of my childhood memories. The place I am referring to is the iconic Rusty’s Markets of course. With over 180 stalls featuring a delightful array of fresh fruit and vegetables, locally baked bread, flowers, art, crafts, seafood and so much more.


Up and running since 1975 Rusty’s Markets is quintessentially Cairns – kind of like what Qantas is to Australia.


I remember going there way back when I was a little ‘un. Every single Saturday morning my mum would drag my younger sister and I around the markets with her little black trolley filling it high with the fruits, veggies and other treats on offer at Rusty’s Markets.


My sister and I thought it was the most boring thing ever back then but mum bribed us with Cheese Twists from the Swiss Bakery and fresh pinepple juice from the Pineapple Man to keep us quiet. My mum and dad also owned a fresh seafood stall there for nearly 10 years in the 1980’s.


I remember Rusty with his bright red shirt walking around and greeting the stall owners and market goers. I remember Kaotica on the corner – the vintage/second hand type clothing store than has now moved to Oceana Walk. Mum used to marvel at all the clothes in there while my sister and I complained how hungry we were. I remember the bustling juice bar way back before the staff at Boost Juice were calling out peoples names. I remember hippies. Lots of hippies. I remember the humble beginnings Hashams Dips way back when there was only about 5 or 6 dips and pestos to choose from and way before you could buy them at IGA. Possibly even before IGA was around.


I remember the Unisex Hairdressing place that resembled a cave inside. I used to think how rude it was because there was ‘sex’ in the name. Little did I know that unisex actually meant men’s and women’s. I remember a nice old Italian lady making fresh pasta sauce for $15 a pop – a little overpriced if you asked me. It’s no yolk (haha) that Yamagishi Eggs, or ‘Happy Eggs’ as they are more fondly referred, are the still the best damn eggs you can buy… not to mention another icon of the Far North.


And last but not least I remember the man that used to sell all the phone cards. He’s still there to this day although he mostly sticks to selling fruit and veg.


Nowadays, Rusty’s Markets has changed quite a bit but it’s still the bustling marketplace that I remember it to be except now there is a nightclub in the midst of it all. Rusty himself is no longer there having passed away over 15 years ago according to my mum and dad.  Sadly the tree that my sister and I used to climb, along with all the other kids whose parents were dragging them around the markets, is now part of the Gilligan’s beer garden. Somehow I don’t think the Gilligan’s security would appreciate me reliving my tree climbing days.

Let’s not forget the multiplying number of food trucks up the northern end on Sheridan Street.  Off the top of my head theres Japanese, Vietnamese, Tongan, Thai, Burgers, pastries and plenty more.


Many Cairns locals also swear by Billy’s Coffee located inside the markets (on the Gilligan’s side). It’s the best coffee in Cairns some would say.


Truth be told, these days I don’t get to Rusty’s Markets quite as often as I should. For me it’s one of those places that I think about going to a day too late and end up at Coles or Woolies spending 4x the amount I would have at Rusty’s.


A couple of weeks ago whilst taking photos at the market I overheard a backpacker with a bag full of fruit and veggies exclaiming to his friends that what he paid $20 for at Rusty’s would have cost him nearly $100 at Woolworth’s. Maybe a bit of an exaggeration but who hasn’t had similar thoughts?


If you’re like me you have a particular place for different food items. I go to one stall for my avocados, another for my bush ripened Mareeba tomatoes, this one for my mangoes, that one for herbs and everything else is usually wherever takes my fancy.  I almost always end up leaving with double the amount of food I planned to buy.


It’s an absolute must see for anyone that is visiting Cairns. Whether you’re going to buy some of the fresh, local produce on offer or just stroll through and take in the sights and sounds there really is something for everyone at Rusty’s Markets.


Rusty’s Market is open every week from Friday through to Sunday.

Friday – 5am to 6pm

Saturday – 5am to 6pm

Sunday – 5am – 3pm



Eating Ourselves Stupid in Melbourne – Day 3

I have already put this pic up but it's such a good one don't you think?

I have already put this pic up but it’s such a good one don’t you think?

Yeah I am really dragging this whole Melbourne thing out I know.  Especially considering that MS and I went to Melbourne in December!  But, the memories of the fantastic food we ate are still as raw as ever which is why we are heading back again this month.  Day 3 in Melbourne wasn’t a particularly big food day for the two of us although it was MS’ birthday.  We ended up at a bakery out near the motorbike raceway out at Broadford getting pies for breakfast since we were on the road early.

MS had shouted himself a Champion’s Race Day for his birthday which included a full day of racing around a track on a motorbike and yeah some other guy stuff.  I wasn’t particularly interested but I did have to drop him out there and drive all the way back into the city to catch up with a friend for lunch.  EG told me that I could choose anywhere for lunch – something I had already planned on doing anyways – so after a legs workout at some random community gym in Footscray that I found on Google maps and then a quick stopover at a random clothing alterations place to get a dress taken up (I couldn’t look any less than smoking hot for MS’ at his birthday day dinner) we headed to the much hyped and hip burger joint Huxtaburger on Smith Street.

I’m not sure if I had heard about it in one of the foodie magazines that I read (Delicious, Gourmet Traveller and Feast) or whilst trawling through Melbourne cafes and restaurants on Urbanspoon (or all of the above) but it seems that everyone in Melbourne has been going crazy (especially those crazy vegetarians) for Huxtaburger.   And yeah I might be a little slow on the uptake (any Melbourne foodie reading this is probably like “der that was so 12 months ago”) but this was MY first experience at Huxtaburger.

At first I was like “How good can a burger really be?”  I was reading reviews from people saying things as simple as “best burgers in Melbourne” to the more profound reviews like it was “life changing” or “an out of body experience”.  Sh*t yeah these burgers must be good!  I must admit I still hold fond memories of the ‘Macca Burger’ at the JCU Refectory that my study buddies and I used to mung out on during my uni days as a Science student.

Upon entering Huxtaburger with my friend I had a strong feeling that the JCU’s signature burger that tied me over between my Statistics lecture and my second year Zoology lecture was not going to rate too highly on the ‘best burger in Melbourne’ scale.  My friend and I went to the flagship store on Smith Street but there is also one in the city and one in Prahran.


I had heard stories about people queuing down the street for their own Huxtaburger and I was expecting no less for our lunchtime burger experience so you can imagine my surprise when we walked straight in and straight to the counter to order.  The small list of only 6 burgers sounded bloody good especially the Denise (original Huxtaburger with jalapeno and Sriracha mayo) but I figured I should go with the original, that way I had a baseline to work with.  EG and I took up a couple of seats in a little cramped area of tables and chairs out the front on the footpath and waited for our burgers.

Within about 10 minutes out two Huxtaburgers had arrived, each served on a small silver platter.  Each looked like the perfect burger – almost like a cartoon burger.    I’m not going to go into a big speel about how good these burgers were/are because frankly, Melbourne reviewers have already blogged the sh*t out of Huxtaburger and I don’t really need to add my two cents into the mix but for my Cairns readers…  These burgers are the bees knees.  From the juicy beef patty to the soft but toasted and slightly sweet brioche bun.  Like I said, I didn’t understand how good a burger could really be… Until I went to Huxtaburger, and then I understood.  RIP Macca Burger.  I was going to have to bring MS back for his own Huxtaburger before we left Melbourne.

Huxtaburger - Beef pattie, mustard, mayo, tomato sauce, tomato, cheese, lettuce and pickles for AU$9

Huxtaburger – Beef pattie, mustard, mayo, tomato sauce, tomato, cheese, lettuce and pickles for AU$9

The next couple of hours involved catchups and flatwhites followed by me dropping my friend back to her place in Footscray, picking up my altered and smoking hot dinner dress and then driving an hour to pick MS up in Broadford.  By the time I arrived at the track I was so damn hungry that I think I ate my weights worth in Arnott’s Family Assorted sweet biscuits next to the tea and instant coffee which were there for the race day goers.  Although my Huxtaburger was out of this world tasty it was a little on the small side (put it this way, I could have easily eaten two).

Fast forward a couple of hours and MS had a great time and we were on our way in a taxi to Lygon St for MS’ birthday dinner – just the two of us.  There really isn’t too much to say about where we went for dinner nor is it worth mentioning (just another Lygon Street Italian restaurant) but the highlight of the evening for us was spotting Chestbrah walking along Lygon St – looking like a total douche in a black skivvy, black pedal pushers and white sneakers. MS wanted to get a photo with him purely as a piss take but then he didn’t want to give Chestbrah the satisfaction. (For those of you who don’t know who Chestbrah is, google him. He’s basically a Melbourne pretty boy/body building personality that takes lots of photos of himself with no shirt on at music festivals – I follow him on Instagram for a laugh and I’m still unsure if he takes himself seriously or not).

So after our dinner and 3/4 of a bottle of wine for me (MS had the other 1/4) – I stopped after that otherwise MS would have had to carry me home. Not something he wanted to do on his birthday! There was a club in the city that I had heard about a few years ago that I wanted to check out – only because it sounded cool. We found The Croft Institute hidden down an alley way in Chinatown and paid something like AU$20 entry – why the hell didn’t pull the birthday card?! The Croft Institute is 3 storeys – the ground floor resembled an old school science lab with shelves of odd shaped glassware, beakers and other Chemistry looking things that you’d think I could remember with all the Chemistry I did at uni.


The lighting was pretty dim in inside but not quite dim enough to see that it was a bit of a sausage fest in there (aka not many women) so we headed upstairs for a bathroom stop on the 1st floor. The bathrooms (well I can’t speak for the men’s room) were probably the coolest part of the place. The was even a hospital bed in there.

Inside the ladies toilets

Inside the ladies toilets

The whole atmosphere was pretty spooky and kind of like an old asylum – reminded me of that movie Gothika with Halle Berry.

1st floor of The Croft Institute

1st floor of The Croft Institute

Upstairs from there was another bar with a DJ playing… I can’t remember much from up there, only that it wasn’t as cool as the two previous floors and that everyone seemed to be completely off their head.


We went back down to the ground floor and ordered a couple of drinks. After watching the first season of Ray Donovan whilst out at sea I had become obsessed with tasting Cognac because that’s all they seem to drink on that show and they make it look so damn tasty. MS had tried to warn me that I wouldn’t like it but I am pretty stubborn like that so you can imagine my delight when I saw Cognac on the menu at The Croft Institute. We ordered a Cognac on the rocks and a Tequila and Orange Juice which came served with a syringe.  Another quirky feature of this crazy hidden club.

Tequila and Orange Juice with a syringe for good measure

Tequila and Orange Juice with a syringe for good measure

So it turns out that Cognac wasn’t everything I imagined it to be. In fact it tasted pretty sh*thouse really. How the hell do they drink that crap so easily on TV?! Wasting nearly $15 on a glass of Cognac that we barely had two sips of out was soon forgotten when we found a $50 note on the floor next to some unsuspecting hipsters.  It was a cool club and fun place to visit but not somewhere that I (we) would want to spend any longer than the 30 or so minutes that we did.   MS and I finished off the night with a Cadbury Marvellous chocolate bar from the 7/11, a stroll back to the apartment and then me becoming good friends with the toilet bowl. White wine + cognac + tequila + chocolate = me being sick.  That and I’m a lightweight on the turps.  Oops.  Happy Birthday baby!


106 Smith St, Collingwood VIC 3066

Rear 357 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000

208 High St, Prahran VIC 3181

Check out the website for the different opening hours:

The Croft Institute

21 Croft Alley, Melbourne VIC 3000

Ph: (03) 9671 4399

Opening Hours: Mon – Thurs 5pm – 1am, Sat & Sun 5pm – 3am


Fasta Pasta, Cairns

I’ve been sitting on this post for a couple of weeks now… I started it a little while ago and just wasn’t in the mood to finish it plus MS was home from work so I had (ok wanted to more like it) spend some quality time with him, plus it was Christmas. I get very little blogging done when MS is home because I have way too many distractions. I have the attention span of a goldfish (about 3-4 seconds) so when I do my posts I can’t have any distractions – that means silence and no Facebook. So yeah…


What was supposed to be a takeaway night for me on a Saturday including watching the final episodes of Dexter (yeah I still haven’t gotten around to it) on my living room couch turned into a family dinner at Fasta PastaFasta Pasta was the place that I had originally planned to get my takeaway from since I had a craving for pasta and it was just down the road for me.  I hadn’t actually been to Fasta Pasta in years but my ex (not the alcoholic/loser one) and I used to go there quite a bit and take advantage of their AU$9.90 lunch special (I think it’s gone up in price a little since then).  At the time we found it to be quite good but like I said that was years ago.  I have heard good things about Fasta Pasta over the last couple of years plus it’s always packed (but then again so is Sizzler).  I’m pretty sure the Cairns branch of Fasta Pasta received a locally voted award for the ‘best service’ by The Cairns Post at some point.  As you may have already guessed my family loves food, cooking and eating out just as much as I do (where do you think I got it from?) and they all jumped at the chance to go out no matter where it was – so we headed on down for a 7.30pm booking.

We arrived on time and took some seats at our table of 6 (5 of us plus my brothers girlfriend).  The waitress bought us over some menus and a couple of baskets of bread with butter.  As is the norm with me I had already had a good look over the menu on the net so I knew what I wanted.  The rest of the group needed a little bit of time and by the time we went up to order at the counter there was a line of about 10 people waiting although the restaurant was only about 1/3 full.  I guess it was a bit of a peak time for them – for ordering I mean.  Anyway we all ordered our meals (some of us separately) but on the same table number.  I ordered my meal last. The man taking the order whom I am assuming is the owner since he has been there ever since I can remember was super friendly and made some funny comment about my mum looking more like my sister than my mum. Mum’s love that kind of thing.

We sat down at the table and awaited our food happily lathering butter on our pieces of bread and eating them in the meantime. I had ordered a main sized Fettuccine Puttanesca which was fettuccine (der) with a tasty Mediterranean sauce of garlic, basil, capers, olives, anchovies, oregano, chilli and Napoli sauce for AU$13.40. Not exactly bank breaking prices here at Fasta Pasta that’s for sure. Much to my surprise my dish arrived first, before anyone else at the table, despite me ordering my meal dead last out of the 6 of us. I did the right thing and waited for everyone else’s dishes to arrive, because I have good manners (I like to think so anyway). The next meal didn’t arrive for another five minutes and it was a Margherita pizza that mum and dad had ordered to share between themselves. Another five minutes later my sisters Ravioli Milanese arrived and then over the next 10 – 15 minutes the rest of the meals arrived in a scattered mess. So much for bringing everything out in some sort of order or at least in a group so one person’s (namely mine) didn’t go cold whilst waiting for the others to arrive.

So anyway, eventually all of our meals arrived and we were able to eat our dinner, together (after I took photos of everyone’s meals of course). The main thing that attracted me to the Fettuccine Puttanesca was the fact that it was Fettuccine and the anchovies of course. I know you either love them or you hate them but I frigin love those little furry fish. Only just last week I found a huge bottle of anchovies in my mum and dad’s pantry (yes I have posted about eating anchovy’s out of the jar at their place before) and I got a little carried away trying to be sneaky and spilt half the contents of the jar including the oil through their cupboard. It took me a long time to clean up and was totally not worth the 2 or 3 furry fish that I got to eat. Serves me right for being sneaky I guess.  Although I ordered a main serving I managed to gobble down the lot and still be hungry. It was a reasonable sized serve but I thought it should have been a little bigger for a main size. Having said that I really enjoyed my dish – however a little Tabasco sauce on it for a bit more flavour didn’t go astray. The pasta still had a bit of bite to it and tasted like freshly made pasta.

Fettuccine Puttanesca with a tasty Mediterranean sauce of garlic, basil, capers, olives, anchovies, oregano, chilli and Napoli sauce for AU$13.40

Fettuccine Puttanesca with a tasty Mediterranean sauce of garlic, basil, capers, olives, anchovies, oregano, chilli and Napoli sauce for AU$13.40

Across from me my sister had ordered an entrée sized Ravioli Florentina which was meat filled pillows of pasta, tossed with bacon, baby spinach and white wine in a Napoli and cream based sauce for AU$12.40. She reckons that is the same dish that she gets every time she goes to Fasta Pasta (which isn’t very often) and always enjoys it. In contrast to my main sized dish, her entrée was quite large. So much so that even she couldn’t finish it. Never mind – there were plenty of people at the table that were willing to give her a hand, like my dad or as I like to call him ‘Garbage Guts’. He’s a human Labrador that’s for sure.


Ravioli Florentina – meat filled pillows of pasta, tossed with bacon, baby spinach and white wine in a Napoli and cream based sauce for AU$12.40

My brother on the other hand wasn’t quite as happy as my sister and I with his pasta meal. He had ordered the Spirali Calabrese in a main size which was described as spirals of pasta sautéed with pepperoni, olives, chilli, garlic, basil, oregano, mozzarella and Napoli sauce for AU$14.40. I tasted it and it was pretty flavourless with not a whole lot going on. He doused it in parmesan cheese and then only ate half of it. For my brother to not eat all of his dinner then that says a lot to me because as a growing boy (he’s not even 20 yet) he has a massive appetite. He pushed it aside and finished off the remains of his girlfriend’s Canneloni.


Spirali Calabrese – Spirals of pasta sautéed with pepperoni, olives, chilli, garlic, basil, oregano, mozzarella and Napoli sauce for AU$14.40

I’m not a big fan of Cannelloni. Not because of anything to do with Fasta Pasta but more so because of the cannelloni that my ex’s mother (JC) used to make when we came over for dinner on occasion.  Yes, I am talking about my ex again (the same one that I used to go to Fasta Pasta with).  I am still very good friends with his parents, particularly his mum JC.  You might remember that I wanted to take MS there for dinner but he thought it was a little weird to go to his girlfriend’s ex boyfriends parent’s place for dinner but he has since gotten over that as he has gotten to know them better. It’s only weird if you make it weird hey? So anyway JC used to make this cannelloni with heaps of onion and capsicum which just so happen to be two of my most hated foods at the time, only now to be overtaken by celery. Being the polite and well mannered individual that I am I always thanked her for dinner and told her how delicious it was. It was a vicious cycle because I was trying to do the right thing and show my gratitude for her cooking dinner while nearly gagging on this cannelloni and here JC is thinking ‘wow she must really love this cannelloni, I must cook it again next time’.  It took about three years until I finally came clean that I really didn’t like JC’s cannelloni and it turns out that JC thought that the Pumpkin Risotto that I had cooked for her and her husband one night was equally disgusting.  This was about seven years ago and I like to think that my risotto making skills have significantly improved.  There you go – an insight into the impact that cannelloni has had in my life and something that JC and I still joke about. She reckons she will give me the recipe one day so I can cook it myself.  Yay.

GH (my brothers girlfriend) thought her cannelloni was delicious, although she may have been being polite also.  From closer inspection by me it looked like there was no onion or capsicum lurking in her dinner. The Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni was fresh pasta tubes filled with ricotta and spinach, oven baked in a Napoli sauce and served with basil, garlic and cream sauce for AU$15.40 for a main. It was a large serve and she couldn’t finish it all, hence why I said my brother finished it off when he didn’t want to eat his.


Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni – Fresh pasta tubes filled with ricotta and spinach, oven baked in a Napoli sauce and served with basil, garlic and cream sauce for AU$15.40

Next up was my mum and dad’s pizza was a Margherita Pizza – large size with fresh tomato slices on a tomato and mozzarella base topped with shaved parmesan and baked in the oven for AU$13.90. Hmmm, well, it was probably the worst pizza I have ever had whilst dining out. Except for a Hawaiian Pizza that I had in Phuket. You don’t order Western food in Asia IMO. Always stick to the local cuisine whatever that may be. This pizza that mum and dad had ordered tasted like a McCain’s pizza and a crappy one at that. The base was thick and hard like cardboard, the cheese tasted like plastic and the other toppings were so flavourless that only half of the pizza actually got eaten and that was more out of curiosity by the people at the rest of the table than anything else.  It was truly horrible and how you could stuff a pizza up this bad was beyond me – even the human Labrador didn’t want it.  I suspect it had been pulled straight from a box in the freezer.


Margherita Pizza – large size with fresh tomato slices on a tomato and mozzarella base topped with shaved parmesan and baked in the oven for AU$13.90

Mum and dad also ordered a Puttanesca – the same as me – but mum changed the Fettuccine to normal pasta.  She thought that the pasta was undercooked and didn’t enjoy it as much as I did.  I wouldn’t exactly give them any points for presentation either.   It just looked like all the meals had been slopped into their respective dish with no care really taken, not even a sprinkling of parsley around the edge (that’s a joke).

Fettuccine Puttanesca

Fettuccine Puttanesca

So there you go – our family dinner at Fasta Pasta wasn’t exactly a memorable one, not that we really expected it to be.  I was hoping for a quick, tasty meal to cap off my week so I could go home and sit on the couch in my undies.  I know that Fasta Pasta is a family restaurant and it is busy because of the fact that you can feed your whole family for between AU$50 and AU$100 – not to mention the friendly service from guy taking your orders at the counter.  Another thing is that it’s also nice and loud in there so the kids can scream and do what they do and I doubt anyone would batt and eyelid.  But… that doesn’t excuse the way our meals were staggered to arrive at our table over about a 20 minute period. I must admit it put a sour taste in our mouth pretty much from the get go.  And that pizza!  WTF?!  The food at Fasta Pasta definitely represents good value for money however it’s not difficult to bring all the meals out at once so everyone can eat together! It might be good value but it certainly ain’t fast.

Fasta Pasta

68-72 Shields Street, Cairns QLD 4870

Ph: (07) 4041 0388

Opening Hours: 7 days 11.30am – 3pm, Sun – Thurs 5pm – 10pm, Sat & Sun 5pm – 11pm


La Fettucina, Cairns


It’s taken me quite a few years but I finally got to one of Cairns’ longest serving restaurants… La Fettuccina.  About six months ago I got an email from a man in Sydney (DB) asking for Cairns restaurant recommendations for a tour group of about 20 or so retirees including himself.  After months of correspondence via email DB and I came up with three entirely different restaurants for him and his tour group to dine at showcasing some of the best produce that Cairns has to offer.  So what are the three restaurants you ask?  Mwahahaha wouldn’t you like to know?  Anyway so the tour group arrived here on Tuesday and I am hoping to hear back from DB soon in regards to just how the three restaurants stacked up (maybe I’ll tell you when I hear back).  But, as a way of saying thank you to me for helping with the recommendations DB took MS and myself out for dinner last Monday night.  I don’t often receive many ‘kickbacks’ (okay I never do) for doing this – I do it for the love of food and boy do I live and breath it – but I was actually pretty stoked at the opportunity to help out and it was really nice to for DB to show his gratitude by shouting my partner and I out to dinner.  DB asked me if I wanted to choose the restaurant for the evening.  He thought maybe we could dine somewhere that I hadn’t been and wanted to write about so the pressure was on for me to choose somewhere that I deemed to be up to scratch, somewhere that I hadn’t been before and also somewhere that was reasonably priced (since DB was paying and I wasn’t about to choose something too expensive because that’s just not the right thing to do when someone offers to take you to dinner).

After much deliberation I chose La Fettuccina on Shields Street.  Although I hadn’t been there before I had heard recommendations from friends, studied online reviews and found that they were open on a Monday night.  Plus they have been open for over 25 years so they had to be doing something right at La Fettuccina.  I made a booking for three people for 7.15pm and after picking up DB from his hotel on the Esplanade we managed to grab a park right out the front of the pub next door.  I joked to DB that I was taking him into the back area of the pub for a Crumbed Sausage and Veggies for AU$6.50 but I am not sure he appreciated my sense of humour unfortunately.  When we arrived at La Fettuccina at 7.10pm the place was absolutely packed and considering I’d thought twice about making a booking on a Monday night (it’s a Monday night in Cairns – there will be plenty of tables, yeah right!) I thanked my lucky stars that I had actually picked up the phone and called La Fettuccina.

Diners appeared to be a mix of locals and tourists but mostly tourists and both DB and I were extremely surprised at just how many people were there on a Monday particularly somewhere that is a few blocks back from the main restaurant drag along the Esplanade.  Anyway so like I said we arrived about 5 minutes early and waited at the door behind a small group of people.  The waitress asked if we had a booking to which I replied that we did and told her the details.  She said that they were just getting the table organised and we could either wait at the door or take a seat at the bar and have a drink.  We figured we would just wait at the door as the bar appeared to be a little cramped and not exactly conducive to having a three way conversation.  It took a good 20 minutes from that point till we were seated at our table inside and although the waitress kept us in the loop it was a little annoying that I had booked for 7.15pm and we weren’t seated till after 7.30pm.


When we finally took our seats just one table in from the front door the waitress handed us a menu each and took our drink orders.  Much to DB’s dismay neither MS or I wanted to drink – we really don’t drink much.  I ordered a soda water and then DB asked MS ‘Surely you will drink with me’?  Ha!  Fat chance of that happening – MS is even more of a p*ssy than I am when it comes to alcohol – but after wording him up on things a little earlier in the evening (we couldn’t both have soda water but my hands are tied at the moment) he chose a bottle of Monteith’s Apple Cider while DB chose a glass of Sauvignon Blanc from the Wine Menu.  We discussed various things from wine lists, to menu items that were selected for the tour group, to previous tours that he has done, to mine and MS’ professional background’s to DB’s three sons, to the absurdity of an ice cream shop topping the list of ‘best restaurants in Cairns’ in between having a look over the menu.


MS had selected the Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca with Capers, Anchovies and Tomatoes for AU$22 but of course had to put his own spin on it taking out the anchovies and asking to add chicken.  Sigh.  Although he had originally chosen the Puttanesca also DB decided that he would choose something different so I would be able to review a couple of dishes rather than the same one.  In the end after being distracted by another pasta and seafood dish on the specials board DB chose a small serve of Spaghetti Alla Pescatora – “Fisherman Style” with Prawns, Fish, Garlic and Chilli lightly panfried in Olive Oil for AU$19.50.  Considering pasta isn’t exactly on the menu for me at the moment (something that makes me sad particularly when dining at an Italian Restaurant) I had to be a little more selective with my choice and chose something off the specials board – the Grilled Chicken Breast filled with Seafood and served with a Creamy White Wine Sauce and Salad for AU$29.50.  The two men also chose a plate of Bruschetta Bread for AU$12 to share amongst themselves for an entree.

The Bruschetta Bread arrived about 10 minutes after we ordered with four reasonably sized pieces of toasted Italian Bread topped with fresh tomato, red onion, garlic and olive oil.  I do believe that some of the best bruschetta bread that I have eaten anywhere is at Ciao Italia (it will always be Donnini’s to me) at the Pier but after having a small taste I decided this one was pretty good too.  Getting the right mix of garlic and basil can be a tricky task for some restaurants but La Fettuccina have definitely got the ratio down pat.  MS gobbled down his two pieces of bruschetta while DB took a little longer, savouring his pieces while we continued to chat.

Bruschetta - Toasted Italian bread topped with fresh tomato, basil, red onion, garlic and olive oil (AU$12)

Bruschetta – Toasted Italian bread topped with fresh tomato, basil, red onion, garlic and olive oil (AU$12)

Next up our mains arrived all at once with quite a large plate of pasta set down in front of MS and a slightly smaller one in front of DB.  The small serve of Spaghetti Alla Pescatora that DB had ordered was actually much larger than I was expecting and I believe that it may have even been enough for little old 5ft nothing me whom has been know to devour larger bowls of pasta than my over 6ft tall partner.  What good is a pasta dish if you are not rolling around on the ground in pain from eating too much afterwards huh?  No but on a more serious note it was quite a decent serve.  I am forever the skeptic with small sized pasta dishes after dining at Lygon Street with my family a few years ago.  My poor dad ordered the special which was ‘Handmade Eggplant Gnocchi’ or something like that and when it arrived at the table it was literally about 3 mouthfuls while the rest of us had rather large dishes ordered from the normal dinner menu.  In the end it turns out that they had run out of the Eggplant Gnocchi, with only a few spoons left when dad placed his ordered but they figured they would serve it anyway.  WTF?  When it was time to pay the bill I was about to complain when I noticed someone had forgotten to put a $45 bottle of wine onto the bill so in the end I said nothing.  Pretty poor way to run a restaurant if you ask me but I can’t for the life of me remember the name of that damn restaurant to name and shame.  Anyway so that is the story as to why I am a pasta skeptic which has absolutely nothing to do with La Fettuccina or this post for that matter.  Moving on…

DB’s Spaghetti Alla Pescatora was filled pieces of prawn and fish cooked ever so lightly in garlic and olive oil.  It looked delicious but DB did have one small hangup about the dish.  He found the strands of fresh-made pasta to be a little bit too long and he would have preferred to have them cut up a little so he wasn’t constantly twirls ridiculously long strands around his fork and trying to suck them up and out of his bowl.  I get what he was trying to say but maybe this is how fresh-made pasta is supposed to be?  I have no idea since I really know nothing about pasta, having never made it before.  All I know is that it tastes good and I like to eat it.  So other than that he said it was an absolutely superb dish.

Spaghetti Alla Pescatora - "Fisherman Style" with Prawns, Fish, Garlic and Chilli lightly panfried in Olive Oil for AU$19.50

Spaghetti Alla Pescatora – “Fisherman Style” with Prawns, Fish, Garlic and Chilli lightly panfried in Olive Oil for AU$19.50

MS declared that his pasta was undercooked and after knowing exactly how he cooks his pasta at home (he cooks the sh*t out of it) I had a taste and realised it was actually ‘al dente’ the way pasta should be.  The sauce was packed full of capers, tomato and extra chicken (of course).  MS was grateful that he had listened to me when wondering what shirt to wear because rich sauce would have been a b*tch to get out in the wash (what does he care, we all know that he wouldn’t be the one doing the washing anyway).  It was a large serving that MS managed to polish off quite nicely, more than content with his choice of Puttanesca by the end of it.  I managed to steal a little forkful of spaghetti action from MS’ plate and by all accounts the Puttanesca was a winner.

Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca with Capers, Anchovies and Tomatoes for AU$22

Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca with Capers, Anchovies and Tomatoes for AU$22

My Grilled Chicken Breast filled with Seafood and served with a Creamy White Wine Sauce and Salad was also a lovely dish but really, lets be honest, no one goes to an Italian restaurant and gets a chicken breast except for me of course.  For the time being anyway, but again we won’t go into that.  The Creamy White Wine Sauce which I ordered to have on the side was delicious but more buttery than creamy and really just tasted like a jug of butter more than anything else but it may have separated in the jug while waiting to make it my table.  The side salad was your basic side salad with a couple of olives, some tomato and cucumber.  Just decoration really.  The seafood filling inside the chicken was chock a block with garlic and seafood.  It kept me burping up garlic long after our dinner was over much to MS’ displeasure later on (especially in the car on the way home after dropping DB back at his hotel).  Don’t get me wrong the chicken was yummy but it wasn’t a big bowl of saucy pasta, nor was it delicious, crunchy, bruschetta bread *sigh*.


Grilled Chicken Breast filled with Seafood and served with a Creamy White Wine Sauce and Salad for AU$29.50

Well this post seems to be going on for ever and ever…  Maybe because I have sat down to try and finish it no less than 4 times.  So without further adieu here is the spill.  The service didn’t miss a beat except for our 20 minute wait for our already booked table at the beginning.  That did sour things slightly for me but it was soon a distant memory considering how lovely our dinner was – until I sat down to write this post anyway.  The restaurant is small enough that pretty much all of the wait staff ‘help out’ a bit at each of the tables regularly walking back and fourth towards the kitchen eying our glasses of water/cider/wine for top ups or to fetch another one from the bar.  The way I have explained it sounds totally overbearing but it’s not at all.  Empty plates were clearly quickly and without fuss and at no time was anything too much trouble, even when MS asked to have the anchovies taken out of his Puttanesca and instead put into DB’s Pescatora.  DB, MS and myself all enjoyed our meal at La Fettuccina but I also felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders when everything including the food, the drinks, the service and the conversation well… it just worked.

La Fettuccina Restaurant and Bar

41 Shields St, Cairns QLD 4870

Ph: (07) 4031 5959

Opening Hours: 7 days 5pm – 10pm