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This is what we get every few months or so when the Food Bloggers of Brisbane get together to break bread, share stories and learn a thing or two about blogging, food and about each other. I love it. Blogging can be sometimes a little isolating. As I write this I sit in the back room of my house, we like to call it the ‘Library’, but really it’s just a junk room. And I write. And I fiddle with photo post-processing, but the best bit is getting out there and finding things to write about. Cooking and gardening is wonderful, But sharing a meal with like-minded people is one of my favourite things about this blog. It has allowed me the opportunity to meet so many new and different people, with such varying backgrounds, but we’re all brought together by our love of food.
Tognini’s at Spring Hill very kindly offered to host us for the night. Their warm hospitality and homely meal made us feel so warm and calm after such a cold week here in Brisbane. Narelle Tognini, the owner (along with her husband Mark) of the 3 Tognini restaurants in Brisbane sat with us and shared the meal, which was a very communal affair, large, overflowing platters of slow-cooked, nurtured food was brought to the middle of the table and we all served each other.
The cheeses were specially selected by Narelle, who explained to us about each… while we all sat impatiently waiting for someone to take the first nibble of cheese! All three were delightful. The Italian Gorgonzola Dulce was the best blue I’ve ever tasted (I’m not much of a fan of blue cheese, so this was pretty amazing), a French soft (and very moreish) wash-rind cheese and Testun di Pecora Chestnut – a very hard sheep’s cheese wrapped, and flavoured, with chestnut leaves.
This is Narelle Tognini (by the way, fellow pronounciation-nazis! She vocalises the ‘g’ – i.e. it’s not silent!). She’s pretty amazing, and quite insprirational. She has worked hard at this business for 17 years and it’s paid off! Her passion for what she does shines through.
One of the mains was in-house hickory smoked chicken breast with Mediterranean vegetables and a delightfully soft polenta. The chef came out to let us know what was in it. Now, I do apologise Mr Chef, but you did tell a table-full of bloggers your recipe. So hence, I must spill the proverbial beans.
This is the recipe!
1 part polenta
2 parts milk
1 part cream
1 part…. butter.
and lots and lots of love.
My mouth waters as my arteries harden!
This was served with slow roasted kipfler potatoes and a simple rocket and parmesan salad.
Also served with the polenta dish was a mound of risotto, with mushrooms, peas and crumbled Italian sausage. Risotto is growing on me slowly. This was very rich but very flavoursome. We can only take a reasonable guess and surmise that the risotto was just as ‘healthy’ for us as the polenta!
Ok, so here’s a sneaky peak around in the fromagerie – the cheese room. Lordy look at those dairy delights! Truffle Infused Pecorino anyone? They also have a whole range of takeaway food, the “Turbo Range”. This is cooked in the restaurant kitchen and vacuum packed. Because the chefs are so creative the range changes constantly. You can pick up a gourmet meal and cook it yourself in under 10 minutes. They have a full complement of deli goods, something that is truly lacking here in Brisbane.
Dessert was a lovely and rich creme brulee with poached quince. It was quite dense but velvety.
To be honest, I don’t think I have EVER eaten so much dairy in one sitting before. The food was beautiful though and you could tell a lot of love and affection went into making it. I really felt like I could have been sitting around an old table in a sprawling backyard in a small Italian village, under a chestnut tree – with family and friends.