World weather.

Thursday 5th January, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Today, Maria and I really dined in style, at Brisbane's top (in more ways than one) noshery, The Summit Restaurant on Mt Coot-tha. I had dined there once before, and I knew it was somewhere I had to take Maria. The Summit Restaurant is designed with terraced seating inside for up to 220 guests flowing to an open deck outside so everyone is assured panoramic views of Brisbane and the surrounds, stretching out over Moreton Bay. The award winning cuisine is a blend of contemporary Queensland style cuisine with Mediterranean and Asian influences. The wine list is reputed to be one of the best in Queensland, serving an extensive range of premium local and interstate wines by the glass. Sadly I was the designated driver, so I had to stick to cranberry juice. Maria could have tried a wine or two, but it was such a hot afternoon that she just couldn't go past an icy cold beer. Below, you will see Maria hobnobbing with Russell Barrett, the Summit's Managing Director.

I suggested that we order a selection of fresh dips and Turkish Bread as an appetizer, share an entree between us and order a main meal each. But Maria was worried that would be too much food and that we wouldn't have enough room left for dessert -apparently the most important part of the meal- so she vetoed the bread and dips. We started with the Vegetable Stack to share. That's it in the photo above, a tasty, tangy mix of oven roasted marinated eggplant, capsicum, zucchini, and field mushrooms, topped with bocconcini cheese and rocket. Leaning against the stack are thin, crunchy slices of parmesan toast and the whole thing is topped off with a capsicum tapenade and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. As an opening to a meal, I enjoyed the medley of flavours immensely, but I do have two complaints regarding the Vegetable Stack. Number one: I had to share it with Maria. Number two, she wouldn't let me lick the plate when we were finished... and believe me, it was so good I almost would have!

Choosing a main meal was a tough choice. Everything just sounded so mouth watering, from the kangaroo medallions with fresh rosemary twigs, to the grilled Queensland Hereford beef, to the barramundi, to the lamb, to the crisp skin Atlantic salmon steak. Ooohh somebody stop me! Anyway, I opted for the Grilled Sweet Highland Pork Loin Steak, a tender slice of lean pork with a honey and balsamic glaze, and served with the unusual accompaniment of a rhubarb and apple compote. The combination of flavours was divine, and it came resting against a thick potato cake made with the addition of Tasmanian blue cheese. Yum!

Maria couldn't go past the Lime Grilled Prawns, massive, fat ocean prawns basted with a lime pickle and served with a pancake of rice noodles and Asian vegetables, with a mango and tamarind chutney. I'm not a seafood fan, as some of you may already know, but those prawns looked so good, it almost made me cry. Perhaps Maria will let you know how they were. She certainly didn't leave a morsel on her plate, and that includes every last droplet of the chutney!

And then came the big smiles from Maria. It was time to order dessert. What is it with women and desserts? Normally, I'm not too fussed, and have often requested a second serve of a favourite entree when others around me place their dessert orders. But this was a special occasion, and there were just a few days of this five week eating frenzy remaining. So Maria and I each selected a dessert.

We shared a vanilla Panna Cotta, a type of rich pudding, served with a very Queensland fruit salad of strawberries and mango. It came with an Italian style biscuit called a Savoyard, but what made this dish truly unique was the rose petal syrup that was drizzled over the fruit. Now maybe I'm just not used to eating at posh restaurants, but when I get rose petals in my fruit salad, I reckon that's kind of special. And the delicate flavour of the rose syrup was just perfect to complete the dish.

Our other dessert was the Strawberry Vacherine. This was a dainty nest of meringue filled with fresh whipped cream and piled high with ripe, sweet strawberries, then covered in chocolate sauce. Deliciously rich in its simplicity, I'm sure this dessert is one of the most popular on the menu.

As we left, our waitress presented Maria with a small bunch of roses, a fitting touch to a delicious meal in one of Brisbane's most picturesque settings. Now Maria wants to know why I never give her roses.

Above is yours truly with the Summit's Managing Director, and below is the view of Brisbane's skyline, as best my poor little camera could capture it.

You can dowload The Summit's current menu here, or find out more information about the restaurant by visiting their website at www.brisbanelookout.com



MARIA'S ADDENDUM...
It seems we donít do anything else but eat, doesnít it? Well, to be honest, it is true. And we have been to a few great restaurants. One of them is The Summit, where we had a fantastic meal. Everything we ordered was fantastic, but when dessert came I felt the happiest woman in the world. Iím dreading going back home and trying to stick to my strict diet. Will I be able????????????

It is a weird feeling thinking than in a few hours we will be flying out of the country and in a couple of days we will be back in cold and rainy Europe. But as Russell, the Summit's Managing Director, said, Spain isnít, after all, such a bad destination. I guess it could be worse.